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Does the human race need to slow down?

To understand the context in which this question has been posed, I believe one needs to delve deeper into the mindless and relentless pursuit of means for comfortable living by human beings. When human beings first emerged or better evolved from their primitive genetic forefathers, they found themselves surrounded by beasts, scarce food and harsh climatic conditions.

They had no weapons to defend themselves against fierce predators, neither did they possess means to produce food for them nor had they discovered ways to protect themselves against the forces of nature. For thousands of years, they roamed the planet seeking security and stability. In spite of all this shortcomings, they possessed a highly evolved brain to help them succeed in their quest and here we are after thousands of years of struggle we have managed to reach the epitome of our progress. We have progressed so much that we have started to believe that we do not belong to the nature altogether. We have eliminated or domesticated those beasts which could threaten our survival. We have cleared the forests and made a niche for ourselves. We have finally achieved security and stability and in doing so we have paid a heavy price, haven't we?

Man's desire to control nature has brought us on the verge of an invisible war which could ultimately lead to our own demise. We have a 7 billion strong population which is thriving on earth's resources. We are used to calculating our output in terms of GDP which is a measure of the amount of earth's resources that have been put to use in a particular year. With our unsustainable reckless methods we are gradually running out of supplies. But if we pause for a moment to think what is this all about? Why are we still pursuing this path of growth? What is it that we really want? Yes, if we continue on this chosen path, we would have continued supply of physical amenities which would make our life easier than before but then is the life worth living that way? I think it is time we gave it a thought and even reconsidered our strategy for the so called "growth" and "modernization".

Let me elaborate on why I think we should stop and rethink what we have been doing so far. Today's man is physically secure in the sense that he no more fears the elements of nature. He lives in a house and doesn't wander in search of food instead; he goes to a supermarket and buys it. He does not have to worry about mating either, all his needs are taken care of if he has to offer something in return, which is "money". Money in today's world defines you. The world is divided among people who have this "money" and others who don't have enough. Those who have it more than others tend to be extravagant and driven by the desire to possess he spends this excess money in goods he does not even need. Consumerism is a menace which has emerged out of our present growth strategy and it encourages wastage. We decorate our homes with exotic furniture, we bring home world's best electronic gadgets, we spend on items which we do not even need, only to replace them sometime later, all of this to what end? This desire to possess and satisfy our complex hollow social life has created havoc with the nature and its resources. Many species of animal and plant kingdom are on the verge of extinction. The air, water, land are all polluted and global warming is on the rise. The waste we create is getting impossible to manage and richer countries are paying lesser developed countries to act as dumping grounds. Human race itself is getting divided with rich people turning blind eye to the plight of poor. Isn't it a doomsday picture? I reiterate the question, all to what end? Is this what we would like to call progress? We need to understand that it is possible to live in harmony with nature and still manage growth and development of human race. We just need to adopt more sustainable ways of resource utilization and that too urgently or else we will soon be facing the road to extinction.

Prem Kumar

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