Saturday, 19 August 2017

An apocalypse unfolding: Earth@Risk

Earth @Risk written by Dr. Jami Hossain is about environment, our fragile ecosystem, our planet Earth, The Earth Day last week as usual only brought to board discussions and arguments on how to stop the catastrophe that man is inflicting on Earth the only home we have. The Earth @Risk deals with these very topics but in a lucid, scientific narrative,

Dr Jami Hossain is world renowned expert on alternate energy, wind energy in particular. He has written for international journals and also two authored books. His book Emergence of the Wind Option received a Gold Award from wind industry in India in 2008

The book is lucidly written for a lay person, taking care to explain patiently the scientific jargon, fiction like, almost as if the author is having a conversation…so interesting that even for a science challenged person it is un-put-down able.

“The Earth@Risk is the story of the Earth, a life bearing ship going solo in this vast Universe as it suffers at the hands of its own children – the modern day humans” explains Dr, Hossain

The book is divided in four parts. The first named The Jewel of the Cosmos describes in most poetic way (it’s rare to see fusion of scientific facts with poetic symbolism) the uniqueness and beauty of our blue planet. How it is only one of its kind (only known) in the universe. Its chemical composition, atmosphere, the ozone layer is explained, Also its fragile nature is highlighted warning human race that it should not take it for granted very long.

The second part  The Crystal describes how different man induced abuse on the planet is effecting it, how solar flare is not something that we read about in books, but a stark reality in which depleted of its atmospheric protection the sun can burn out all the life on earth or the earth’s molten core may spew out in life destroying volcanoes, Erratic urbanization, mining, depletion of almost 50% of earth’s forests, wars and  nuclear accidents are some of the reasons why the earth is under distress, The earth according to Dr Hossain is not impregnable terra firma as we know it…it is fragile like crystal.

 

The third part The Labyrinth goes on elaborate the depletion of animals and plants, pollution of oceans and rivers mountains because man does not only want to own everything, but also feels no empathy when he destroys it. In this chapter he warns of ‘sixth extinction’.       “The earth is not in business as usual mode anymore, it is changing fundamentally and in an irreversible way” he says. It is frightening to read that Earth@Risk talks of a time when photosynthesis, the food factory of all life on earth may face shut down, needless to mention that it would destroy almost all organisms, Life exists only on the thin layer, the life bearing biosphere that covers the solid rock which we call earth. What would happen if this layer, the cocoon shrivels up?

 

Its interesting that wars fed by petty human ego, ethnic religious conflicts would be meaningless against this one calamity that would destroy us, all of us irrespective of what color we are, where we come from and what religions we profess

And lastly the last chapter the Temple takes us to ancient wisdom of Vedas, Buddhism and Islam how the scientific knowledge in our ancient heritage was pro-life unlike modern science which aims at possessing and using the resources that the Mother Earth has so generously bestowed on us. Dr Hossain emphasizes that it’s important to have understanding of this universal ancient wisdom for he feels that is where we need to go for solace and solution,The first few chapters have vivid quality about them as the author takes the reader on a journey. It’s like being on a rollercoaster ride as he takes you on the peaks of highest mountains to the deepest abyss of the oceans, to the poles to the dark and lush rainforests, Dr Hossain says that he draws inspiration from 19th century French novelist poet playwright Jules Verne (known as father of sci-fi) except this is not fiction, it’s the story of the Earth who we live on but know little about. But only when we know her we will understand how vulnerable she is and how fiercely we need to protect her.

The Earth as we know is millions of years old but in only 200 years, after the industrial revolution to be precise we have put her in grave danger by relentlessly exploiting her resources.  With our unquenchable greed to take away without replenishing it, in our stupidity to think we can exploit her forever, not thinking of future generations, in our blind anger to avenge kill and destroy we have put this planet Earth under tremendous pressure.

 

Massive loss of biodiversity has driven thousands of plant and animal species to the verge of extinction as they lose their habitat. Even in face of dwindling number of tigers in the subcontinent, 50% of depletion of forest cover, alarming temperature rise, shifting of weather pattern or rising sea levels we are continuing with the rampage, Dr Hossain warns that we will see the effects of this abuse not in some remote future but in our own lifetime if we do not urgently act on reversing our actions

Naheed Varma is a journalist and a writer . She has worked for The Times of India, Indian Express and The Lucknow Tribune. Her special interest is in women and child rights and politics

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