There is still hope for Mother Earth. She is very sick, and getting worse by the day. Yet when young people take an interest in trying to save her, we can look forward to a better future. It is the youth who can change the world, who have the courage, the strength and have a vision to save Mother Earth. When they decide to channel their energies for the good of mankind it is very heartening, and an encouragement for all of us.
The Rotaract Club of the University of Sri Jayawardenapura had launched a two day program for Growing Green Earth Day Event. They had commenced with a tree-planting program, with the confidence that they will make sure the trees will grow up to provide shade and serenity to the future students of their university, because they are grateful for those who planted the trees that are already there.
Even if we get a headache we blame America, but there is a lot we can learn from them, still. Earth Day began in the United States, on April 22, 1970 with 20 million Americans participating from around the country. It was started by Denis Hayes and an American Senator, Gaylord Nelson.. Today one billion people from 192 countries join in the Earth Day movement. Even Hollywood is contributing to save the Earth. Several studios are planning to attain 100% sustainability in the coming years. Prof. Ajith de Alwis of the Moratuwa University, in his address reminded us how the Earth Rise photo from Apollo 8 mission 1968, inspired the Americans to fight for our Earth.
It was the Earth Day Network which initiated 'Reading for the Earth' program for American children in 2012, to honour Dr Theodor Seuss Geisel (Life into Arts, 18th July, 2012).
Incidentally, it was a century ago, April 22, 1870 that Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was born, and another Vladimir, the writer Nabokov was born in 1899.
What we have to realize is that Everyday is an Earth Day. This is our home. Our only home. We have nowhere else we can go to, if we destroy this home. Earth Day is really our Mother's Day. The earth is our Mother, our Mother Goddess, worshipped by early man.
The success of the first Earth Day in 1970 inspired Hayes to set up the Earth Day Network, and we hope and pray that the Jayawardenapura youth will be inspired to continue the good work they started, keep it alive throughout the year and spread their network to the rest of the country.
The presentation made by Prof. Ajtih de Alwis too would have provided greater motivation and new avenues for the students to explore. Prof. Alwis explained the contributions they have been making for over two decades to make our home a better place to live in. He showed how they were converting food waste into biogas, overcoming all the resistance and apathy of some of the students. How they are working on reuse and recycling of plastic, glass and paper. Here too our hopes are that what the students learn and experience here would be useful for them and for the country, when they move out in to the world.
Though we do not realize it, the changing climate can persuade the ground to shake, volcanoes to rumble, and tsunamis to crash on to unsuspecting coastlines. We ignore that this solid earth we stand on, is just a thin crust, the tectonic plates that move and shift and grind. Mother Earth could be writhing in pain, or growling in anger.
We should think of our Mother Earth as a living entity, named by James Lovelock as Gaia. Gaia could be sending us these warnings, one after the other, but we are too blind to see them, or too arrogant to accept them as warnings. She warned us in 2004 with the Indian ocean tsunami, 2008 Sichuan earthquake, 2010 Icelandic volcano and 2011 Japan tsunami, which are just a few of them. Gaia has shown that nothing man-made can withstand her fury. There is a possibility that the 2008 quake could have been caused by the 320 million tons of water in the Zipingpu reservoir. On 20th, April another earthquake hit Sichuan in the same area.
Man began to abuse and destroy Mother Earth from the day he became a biped and began to use his forelimbs for destruction, in the name of development. Culture became the major enemy of nature. We believe that our intelligence and our technology combined can outdo nature and that we are today more powerful than God.
We are fooling ourselves with the concept of 'Sustainable Development'. The terms are contradictory. All material and cultural development, progress of civilization, science and technology, always means destruction of our natural surroundings and our natural resources. The only way 'Development' can be 'Sustainable' is if we consider our spiritual and humane Development, devoid of desire, greed and envy.
If we can accept that Mother earth is a living entity, then all we have to do is give her our loving kindness, practice ahimsa, try to treat her as our own mother. Then we will think twice, before doing anything that would hurt our mother, or her children. Her children are our brothers and sisters. We are all one family, all the human beings, all the animals from elephants to ants, and all the plant life from vanaspathi trees to algae.
Our university students are among the cream of intelligent youth on Mother earth, and they CAN make a major contribution in the attempt to save our only home.
To repeat Dr. Seuss once again, "I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues...Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better."