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Ifrah Kamil

Year-Prize: The 13th Eco-generation Environmental Essay Competition     Item: Time for Nature

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Redemption for Earth Might not be Too Late


Ifrah Kamil (Pakistan)
Honorable Mentions



Mother Earth houses millions and millions of species of various forms and kind, ranging from planktons which are microscopic in size to giant blue whales which tread the majestic waters of Indian Oceans. All this flora and fauna has a complex, interconnected linkage which ultimately results in the provision of healthy environment for all including breathable air, clean water, fertile soil and much more. In fact, every luxury and benefit mankind enjoys owes to the bounties of nature. Hence, nature is not something that should be taken for granted, rather it is crucial to our well-being and should be integrated in all aspects of our lives.
In 2016, Marc Roser from the University of Oxford, posed a very interesting question. What if there was no daily news rather, there was news after every 50 years ? What would be the headline today? Will it pertain to the Vietnam War, USA’s war on terror, the rise of information and communications technology in the world or something else? Maybe none of the above. It will perhaps be about the Great Acceleration. Ever since the industrial revolution, particularly within the last 50 years, there has been an increasing economic activity resulting in habitat loss and degradation, pollution, invasive species, climate change and overexploitation of natural resources. Resultantly, over the past 200 years, ecosystems and species have borne numerous losses. Reports suggest that there has been a sharp decline of 60 per cent in the wildlife population from 1970 to 2014 . Let this figure sink in. It is more than half of wildlife species vanished from the face of earth. To think that there must have been some colossally threating group of species that would have had wreaked havoc on nature would have made some sense. Nonetheless, there is only one specie that is to be blamed: Homo sapiens. Only human race is capable of such harrowing feats and only in its hands lies the fate of our whole planet. Hence, this makes it all the more imperative that we, as humans, must step-up our game, take responsibility and play our part in the sustenance of this planet.
Nature is very fascinating in its own form. It is a very dynamic system that is continuously changing and evolving on its own. However, increased interference from humans has disrupted its flux and resultantly, earth is facing a myriad of threats. For instance, plastic pollution in marine water is one the pertinent issues facing our ecosystem. It ranges from microscopic to macroscopic particles, that are either leached from products such as soaps, creams, toothpaste or present in the form straws, plastic bags or bottles , . Studies suggest that 90 per cent of the world’s seabirds have ingested plastics which will increase to 99 per cent if decisive actions are not taken . However, not all is lost. While there have been many disheartening instances, there have also been moments of inspiration and hope. For example, Principe, a small island in Western Africa has a plethora of different species in its vast rainforests. The residents of the island depend on import of many products for their sustenance. In order to combat the increasing plastic pollution, they have introduced plastic exchange program whereby they bring 50 plastic bottles to the harbor and get one metal water bottle in exchange. The plastic bottles collected are shipped off to Portugal for recycling. This has resulted in a behavioral change amongst the population whereby people are more motivated to remove plastic from the land. Experts say that there has been a marked reduction in plastic on the beaches, as well .   
Blind Indus River Dolphin, endemic to Pakistan, is one of the four freshwater dolphin species left in the world. Its population has faced severe threat due to the construction of dams and freshwater pollution which has destroyed its habitat and forced it to migrate. Dumping of industrial wastewater in the rivers of Pakistan have caused massive pollution; as a result, traces of Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) and other pesticides have been found in the tissues of Blind Indus River Dolphin. However, rigorous government conservation efforts to revive and thrive the species have paid off. The efforts included community awareness and rescue of the stranded dolphins. As a result, the population has increased from 132 dolphins in 1972 to 1987 in 2020 which is a promising sign.
Human nature is like two sides of a coin. It has the potential to annihilate and simultaneously nurture as well. It depends on the circumstances, resources available and understanding one have of the invaluable resources it has been granted. Change can happen if everyone of us vows to adapt our lifestyle and be mindful of the fact that we are not the sole occupant or ruler of this planet, rather we share it with the millions of species who have just as much right as us to live here. This generation has had the unique and simultaneously unfortunate experience of facing the direct consequences of degradation of ecosystems. It might as well be the very last generation, if concrete actions are not taken now to save our future.


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