Nepal | August 12, 2020

Making a difference

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Samridha Man Shrestha
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When I was eleven, I was out buying some groceries with my family. My brother decidedly told the cashier that he did not want a plastic bag as it was harmful to the environment. But, my parents told him that it made no difference if a single plastic bag was used.

This is what our children grow up to be. Our education system prides itself on teaching our children about climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss from a very young age. But it fails to show how the kids as individuals could play a more pragmatic role in fighting these looming problems today. It’s more important in schools if you can list solutions for pollution in exams than if you actually recycle in your homes. It’s almost as if the adults are teaching the children that the school and the home were two separate worlds.

This lack of connection has led to an atmosphere of apathy among the youths.  However, the public is unaware of a
greater problem looming over the horizon, the sixth mass extinction.

This extinction is happening in the newest geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Scientists predict the sixth mass extinction will wipe out 60% of all living species on earth by the end of this century. And it is significant due to fact that it is a result of direct unprecedented human activities unlike previous mass extinction events which were a consequence of non-human natural activities.

Once an ecological hot spot, Kathmandu, ten decades ago, was very different from the maze of concrete and buildings it is today. The air was not thick with dust and smoke requiring people to wear a mask; the rivers were not dirty with black slime and there was a decent amount of greenery in the valley. Smog is ever present over cities during the winter months.  The drains that are directly empty on the rivers in the capital have wiped out the aquatic life in these rivers.

Effects of biodiversity loss through deforestation can be seen in mere years, not in hundreds of years or even decades today. Droughts and massive flooding have increased in duration and magnitude over the past decades.

It is unjust that our children might only see the Red Pandas and Bengal Tigers as illustrations on a screen or in a  book; they will only read that there once existed green forests whereas there is only compact human settlement and roads today. It is a death of a whole school of human thought. It is time to act.

 


A version of this article appears in print on May 22, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.


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