Turn off the A/C
- Mahesh Dattani
- Ours is clearly a culture of self destruction. Nothing else can explain our wasteful lifestyles!
Everybody is talking about it, doing little about it, and contributing a great deal towards making it worse. Here I am writing about it, wondering what best I can do to save the world while my air conditioner blasts in cool air, and in using such a contraption I am silently but surely aiding and abetting the killing of this planet. The world is turning into one large microwave, spinning all that heat around that will eventually nuke us all out of existence. Remember the old song Stop the World and Let me Off? Well, it will stop eventually but there wont be any letting off. The new tune is now called Turn off the Oven and Let me Live.
But can we really save the world? Its a tall order by any standards, but maybe little drops of water do add up and amount to something. I mean the little bits of CFC and noxious gases did amount to something significant enough to damage the ozone layer, right? So the reverse must also be true. If we do something right, it might just make things a little better.
Fortunately, alarm bells are ringing across the world and the wealthier countries, who incidentally started it in the first place, are fast realising how environmentally destructive consumerism is turning out to be. Reminds me of the old adage about the cat who ate a hundred mice and then wanted to go on a pilgrimage.
Politicians in the west are making capital of growing concerns over global warming. Al Gore used that as his pitch for presidency but sadly he lost the election. For winning elections he needs to learn lessons from desi politicians who use communalism, vandalism and other hate spreading isms.
A documentary I saw recently called The Inconvenient Truth proved to be quite informative and provoking. Apparently, it is not the heat coming in through the atmosphere that creates global warming but also the heat that stays trapped on the earth as a result of layers of carbon that prevent the heat from escaping. This results in warming up and melting down of the ice in the poles, sending the sea temperature up. Also the water from the melted ice will eventually drown most coastal cities. This is something we all know about. We also know about what needs to be done to prevent a disaster. Burn less fossil fuel, consume less natural resources, etc., etc.
But what really prevents us from carrying out these measures? Its just plain bad habits. We want our rooms to be cool but our water to be hot. We leave the water heaters switched on and our air conditioners at freezing temperatures. Most offices need to keep their temperatures below 20 degrees otherwise their computers will fail. So while some shiver and wear jackets in midsummer, some others are dying of heat waves caused by this very wanton consumption. We want things cooler or we want things warmer. We want to get from Point A to Point B faster, but we dont want to get to the television plug switch to turn it off at night. We dont want to walk so we have cars. We drive in those cars to the gym so that we can walk on a treadmill.
Ours is clearly a culture of self-destruction. Nothing else can explain our wasteful lifestyles. The axiom that defines existentialist philosophy has changed from I Think, Therefore I Am to I Consume, Therefore I Am. A culture is always defined by the values it upholds. While we are still dealing with negative values of hatred and prejudice, we are also building values around artificial needs and horribly skewed assumptions of what constitutes wealth and a sense of well-being.
We are the biggest parasites on Earth. We are not the organisms that sustain this planet. It is perfectly capable of sustaining itself. We are simply sucking from its life source like leeches or weeds. We thrive on the nutrients of other organisms including Earth. Our waste is toxic. Our very existence is toxic to the planet.
Who knows? Maybe carbon emissions and the resultant global warming is natures weed killer. Maybe Mother Earth does want to nuke us out of existence, the same way we kill bacteria by heating our food. And once the biggest parasite has been eliminated, the world can breathe easy. We, of course, wont be around to enjoy the cool breeze and clean air.
Courtesy: The Week