Perhaps, the Pakicetus had metamorphosed into Ambulocetus and then into whales only to be plucked out of their kingdom of waters centuries later.
Whales are essential carbon trappers. Their excreta help thrive certain phytoplanktons, which tackle the carbon of the atmosphere, ensuring a better environment for all animals. As per estimates, 400,000 tonnes of carbon are extracted from the air due to the activity of sperm whales.
In a world where carbon emitters spring up like fast trees, carbon trappers are in dire need of conservation. Be it the forests, the whales, or any other entities.
Recently, Norway has renewed its long-standing ban on hunting herrings in the Lofoten region—a critical sanctuary for marine life. Costa Rica has aimed to emerge as a carbon and plastic-free country within just two years. Both incidents hum the songs of hope in this hopeless world and flaunt a loud expression that presents the fact that catering to nature’s needs should come first, instead of letting “development works” and corporate greed ravage the planet’s alchemy. After all, development will be rendered futile in the long term if it’s more detrimental than sustainable, more polarising than uniting. As Vandana Shiva says, our planet will find her way. It’s the living beings that will pay the ultimate price.
Also, on the contrary, Botswana, a country with Africa’s largest elephant population, has lifted its long-withstanding ban on elephant hunting. Their justification? The large elephant populations were menacing to the farmers’ livelihoods. Japan too, is set to initiate commercial whaling from July, diminishing the population of carbon trappers.
These are just a few examples though. Many more good and bad decisions co-exist, of course, but the detrimental ones overpower the healthy ones. The weather that batters us regularly is a glaring example.
In a matter of time, our Sundarbans may turn tiger-less, rivers dead, winding creeks dried up, hills levelled, air un-breathable (as if it’s any breathable now). Forests will only have trees, their wild animals gone. Factories and hotels will bloom like flowers. There may be no custodians of the trees; hence the indiscriminate felling may go on and on.
The discourse on Rampal may be quiet now, but it’s of utmost importance that it rises again. Although promises have been made about how Rampal would do no harm to the Gangetic dolphins and other animal species around its periphery, we are only a disaster away from realising that the promises were perhaps futile. I hope no disaster transpires though. I really do. But how will the authorities undo the damage once a shipload of coal spills into the saline waters of Sundarbans, floating through the tributaries, the creeks, and settling into the nook and corner of the whole region? How will the authorities undo the damage once the herons and storks and many alike in the region are coated in thick, dark liquid and suffocated to death? How will the authorities undo the damage once the air turns toxic due to the emissions from the Plant?
Sure, we will have electricity, and apparently, we will be richer than the Indians by 2030, which means we can bask more in the coolness of air conditioners in our homes, cars, and offices. But at the end of the day, ice caps will keep melting, forests will keep dying, factories will keep replacing trees, the bones of ozone will keep breaking and breaking. At the end of the day, there will be no soil under our feet, the air will keep destroying our lungs. Perhaps, we need an evolution for this gunmetal, fiery, and foggy age of Climate Crisis. Gills for lungs, fins and tails for hands and legs would be just perfect to help us swim when everything’s under water.
Ban on hunting in the Lofoten and Costa Rica’s decision to go carbon-plastic-free have paved an unwrinkled way for every other nation to follow into their footsteps towards a healthy system. We can only hope that other governments are inspired.
I hope we reach a point one day, when news of anti-environment development projects won’t batter our conscience—only the act of saving certain ecosystems, the act of putting environment before development will soothe our minds.
I hope Bangladesh too does something that’s environmentally sustainable—stunting the emergence of carbon-spitting factories, enacting strict laws on felling of trees, poaching of animals, filling up of rivers, cutting of hills—and puts nature before development, and stuns the world like Norway did.
If done so, we may still have the earth beneath our feet and better air to breathe. It is high time investments were thrown into preserving the nature than skyrocketing our multi-faceted “development” ratings across the globe. After all, if development means the death of natural entities, it is development against development. Capitalism against nature. The grim conditions around us herald the emergence of an unwanted future lurching towards us. We don’t want to slide into a dystopia, where, among other things, we may need synthetic lungs for breathing toxic air.
We are on the verge of welcoming another world, only we can decide whether it would be good or bad.
Shah Tazrian Ashrafi is a contributor to SHOUT and Star Literature and Reviews Page. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org