Learning to control the elements is the only way left to negate human effects on climate change

The fact that climate change and its potentially disastrous consequences if left unresolved has been a hot topic of debate for quite some time now. Even school going children have greater awareness to this threat to our planet and our survival. On March 15, they took matters into their own hands. Tens of thousands of them around the world skipped their classes and took to streets to demand greater action to control pollution and save the environment from their governments and world bodies.

Why has the focus on climate change increased? One reason is because scientists and researchers have comprehended that the 6th mass extinction event is underway on our planet. The trademark identification of such an event are the increasing cases of complete extinction of many species of animals because of the overpopulation of one or certain number of species.

Population explosion of humanity and industrialization, especially in the last 100 years has exponentially increased green house effects. But what many people do not know is that this is not the first instance of our planet experiencing the drastic and adverse effects of green house effects. Herbivore dinosaurs had chomped their way through massive forests and expelled humongous amounts of methane gas from their belly after digestion creating massive greenhouse effect.

I had attended a seminar on wetland conservation at the Agricultural University in my hometown a few weeks back. One of the speakers was a researcher on greenhouse effect and he did an excellent presentation on the topic. But I realized that one critical factor was missing from his presentation. If our planet is in the midst of the 6th mass extinction, it means complete destruction of our planet and all its beings has happened five times before. Each time nature has been reset and life has taken roots again. The last time it happened dinosaurs became extinct. But interestingly, crocodiles, cockroaches and turtles survived. So if it happens again, can we survive and what will it take for us to survive? I asked the speaker these questions and he admitted that he had never considered those aspects in his research.

Interestingly, I found the answer to my question on social media the next day itself.

The arrival of the Spanish Inquisition in Central America in the 16th century and the subsequent destruction of the thriving civilization of the Incas resulted in the Amazon forest reclaiming its lost land to people. The unintended effect of this reforestation was the drastic drop in temperature in Europe in the 17th century and large number of people dying because of unbearably cold conditions. We keep adapting to small increases in temperature and changes in weather conditions without realizing that the overall impact of the changes is considerable. Only when the changes are reversed by nature will we know what its effects will be on us.

The floods in Kerala and the destruction it caused is a fresh reminder of what can happen to us when nature resets itself. Kerala has traditionally been a rainfall abundant region because of its proximity to the Indian ocean and Western Ghats. I have learned in school that after Cherapunji, it is Kerala that receives the most rainfall during monsoon season every year. In spite of this known fact, people encroached into low lying areas to build their houses.

While rainfall in Kerala has decreased considerably in the last decade or so, it never meant it would never rain like before. When it did rain, water had nowhere to go. So where water could flow it swept away everything in its path and where it couldn’t flow it got stuck causing massive floods. There was also an enduring image circulating on social media of a bridge filled with plastic bottles and containers, which the water had deposited back on to land.

So mass extinction and resetting of nature has been an ongoing phenomenon on our planet. We can blame human overpopulation and wanton industrialization for climate changes now but that has always been the problem with dominant species as the dinosaur case illustrates. We are the only species on the planet that destroys nature’s ecosystem to create our own. No animal cuts trees to make its own shelter.

Animals adapt to what is available in nature. The reason could be that we were created to rule over nature and not protect it as the quote from Bible suggests. In Genesis 1:26, God says, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, to RULE over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.”

The question now is how to control our effect on climate change. I believe we are a little too late to think about it. A few billion of us have to die off to restore parity in nature. But there is a catch here. The few billion of us have to die without disturbing the nature, which is impossible without a natural calamity on a massive scale or a man made disaster like a nuclear war. There is an analogous situation happening right now. Flickr, the online photo sharing community has created a new rule which restricts its free users to upload and retain only 1000 photos on its website. The difference here is, nature cannot tell us the size of the human population it can manage. The onus is on us to find it out, reduce our population accordingly and keep it below the threshold number.

Sounds ridiculous right? We cannot wipe off our own population that too on such a massive scale. What we can do is control our population growth and not increase our negative impact on nature anymore. One purpose all species procreate is to stay dominant in nature. We do not need to procreate like other species anymore. All of us do not have to leave our own unique genetic imprint on our population.

There is something more left for us to do though. Humans have been trying to understand nature from the dawn of our existence. Exponential technological advances we have made has helped us to investigate and understand every aspect of nature closely. Even then, we are restricting our research to simply collecting data about nature. The more we learn about something it is natural that we also learn how to control and manipulate it. This is how the field of medicine has grown and how we have learnt to treat diseases.

But surprisingly, other than cloud seeding to create artificial rain, we have not been able to control weather and climate changes. There are places in our country like Kerala which receive abundant rainfall and other areas which suffer from extreme drought every year. All government departments and research institutions watch this unfold every year helplessly. None of them have even wondered if it would be possible to distribute rain clouds or rainwater to all parts of the country uniformly.

There is a story in ancient Indian texts about the young Hanuman who leapt into the sky to catch the rising sun to play with it. Indra, the God of lightning and thunder, in his apprehension threw the Vajrayuda (thunderbolt) at Hanuman who got struck by it and fell back to earth unconscious. Maruti, the God of wind who was Hanuman’s biological father got enraged and pulled out all the air flowing on earth and relented only after Hanuman’s health was restored. The takeaway from this story for me is that air flow on our planet can be controlled. Ancient Indian texts are treasure troves of extremely advanced technology and interpreting them correctly can answer and solve most of the problems we are facing now.

There are primarily three obstacles we are facing for space exploration and one of them is creating and controlling weather conditions suitable for us on other planets. The key to this lies in greater understanding and controlling weather and climatic changes on our own planet. The fact that children are speaking about climate changes reflects poorly on their parents and exposes the ignorance they have on the subject. People have to start talking about solving social problems and these discussions have to start from educational institutions. The research that the speaker did on the greenhouse effect creates no value because all the effort he put in does nothing to help humanity. What is the objective of doing research on any subject if it is not helping in the survival and evolution of our species?

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Humanity’s wake up call

Yesterday night, I was having a casual chat with an MBA schoolmate when the conversation veered off into uncharted waters. She said she has a strong feeling that the world is going through or is on the verge of going through a phase of spiritual awakening. I have been going through one from time to time in my life but it has been very pronounced in the last 4 years, from the time I left my job to pursue MBA and my granny passed away. I have been reading a lot about spiritual awakening and how it can save humanity from further moral descent, but no one had told this to me in person. Question is, is spiritual awakening happening?

Every year, my MBA Alma mater throws challenges to teams from business schools all over the world to devise innovative solutions in order to address humanity’s most pressing needs around the world. People are getting opportunities to work on some amazing projects through this initiative. When I was doing my MBA, the challenge given was to solve the problems with the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative and make it a reality. As I watched teams come up with business strategies, I realized one thing. The objective is to solve humanity’s problems only. It seemed to me that humanity is being treated as a separate entity from everything else on our planet. Access to clean drinking water for humanity was one of the challenges in a previous year. Isn’t it the right of all living beings on our planet to have access to clean drinking water? The way I see it, as our awareness about humanity is increasing, the lesser we are thinking of the factors and entities that are harboring and nurturing us on this planet. Do we consider ourselves as part of the ecosystem of our planet? I do not really think so. We have been living on the lofty assumption that being the dominant species on the planet gives us the privilege to do as we please.

From the time of Renaissance, we have been tirelessly working on improving ourselves technologically and technology has indeed revolutionized our lives. Out of this came the need for strategies and innovations to manage both technology and business. What we need to look at is, for all this time, we have been focused completely on ourselves, we have been consistently overlooking our planet, destroying nature’s resources and ridiculously taking for granted that nature can tolerate our assault on her forever. It is high time we started remembering that we are born from nature and we will go back into nature some day. It is also high time to make sure everything we do including our business and technological advances are aligned with nature. How? Consider two recent developments. In Spain, algae are being made to create crude oil by artificially speeding up the process of creation of fossil fuel which usually takes millions of years. This is true innovation. And where have they set up their factories? Near cement factories, which emit high levels of carbon dioxide, the most essential component for fossil fuel creation along with sunlight. This is a genuine strategy. This example proves that innovation and strategy creation is possible by aligning ourselves with nature. Another one, a car that runs on salt water. The objective of both these innovations is to use available resources on our planet and cause zero or minimum negative impact on nature. We need to differentiate clearly between maximum utilization and depletion of available resources. Lack of this awareness is why we have used up all of our fossil fuel. Apple’s HealthKit app is another example. Though it is made exclusively for us, it allows us to understand the functioning of our body better and for me, which is one step taken in getting closer to nature.

So what is true spiritual awakening? Knowing ourselves better is just the starting point. Every living being on our planet has a reason or purpose for its existence and its own contribution for maintaining the balance of our ecosystem. Consider the story of Hanuman, the monkey king with extraordinary strength and abilities in the mythological Indian saga The Ramayana. It is said that Hanuman is the reincarnation of Lord Shiva and was born to help Lord Rama, the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu to defeat and annihilate the evil demons on earth. Hanuman is worshiped for many reasons, for being blessed to have an eternal life on earth, for his mighty strength, his wisdom and his unwavering devotion towards his master which is being attributed to his perpetual bachelorhood. What we have sadly ignored is, it is said that he knew his purpose in life from a very early age. That may have been the single reason why he could stay a bachelor because knowing the single most important purpose of his life took precedence over everything else that came and went from his life. Maybe that was the reason why it is said he was given eternal life and made the guardian of our planet, because of his unwavering focus towards the task entrusted to him. I have been taking photographs of birds, butterflies and beetles around my home for a while now. I was thinking that these birds, butterflies and beetles will still be around in 5, 10 or 50 years from now. But are they going to be the same birds, butterflies and beetles that I am seeing today? Definitely not. They will all die and get replaced by similar ones. But from nature’s perspective, each organism has its own reason for its existence. When nature identifies each living being uniquely, why do we identify only fellow human beings uniquely? We mourn so deeply when one of our own dies, but do we realize that nature is mourning when we are mercilessly and rampantly destroying everything in nature for our needs? Is it enough to cut one tree and replace it by planting another tree? Maybe yes for us, but it has to be a definite no for nature. The tree that was cut had an objective for its existence and we cannot replace it by planting another tree. Can we kill a human child and give another child as replacement to the killed child’s mother? This attitude of taking everything for granted has strained our relationship with nature and everything in it, including our own fellow beings.

For a long time, we have been procreating, like the rest of the animal world, to maintain our population and become the dominant species on the planet. That objective is long over. What have we been doing from then? Differentiating ourselves based on religion, race, caste, gender and skin color and fighting for domination among us. What is the road ahead? One, understand the true objectives of our existence on our planet. Two, expand our procreation to other planets. We have unfortunately opted to take the second option. That is why so much money, resources and time are being utilized for Mars and deep space exploration. I have never believed that we became so intelligent by chance or by evolution. When I look at the mechanisms of the human body, I know it is perfection beyond our capabilities of creation. The fact that living beings from other planets have been visiting us for thousands of years is gaining ground rapidly. I also got to know that once US military fired artillery at approaching alien ships but had no effect on them. If they are so advanced than us, why don’t they simply conquer and rule us? Why are they only monitoring and studying us? It may not be simply because conquering us will create more bloodshed. It may be because we were created by far more superior beings, we were given this planet as our home and we were delegated the task of administering and maintaining our home. All we may need is an awakening, to see ourselves in the true light. But instead of understanding our home better, we are planning to journey to other planets to colonize them. But there is a catch. How will we create the environment for our survival on another planet if we do not know our own planet properly? What will we find on another planet if we cannot find a passenger plane that simply vanished without a trace on our planet?

Is there a true spiritual awakening in the air? Not yet. Will it ever happen? I sincerely hope so.