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Environment Day? What environment day?!

World Environment Day was this week. Lucky for us that's not a problem in India, right?

Rohan JoshiThe world came together to celebrate Environment Day this week, Environment Day is of monumental importance because when the aliens find the greyed-out husks of our civilisation 20,000 years from now, they will comprehend the precise reason we died out; because every time we encountered an extinction-level threat, we responded by thinking about it for 24 hours a year. Mostly on our smartphones, built of materials torn thoughtlessly from the face of the Earth by a nine-year-old in Rwanda.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar gifted PM Modi a sapling, following which he released a new poster, because nothing says “I love you Mother Earth” like printing a ton of paper posters that nobody will ever use. pic/PTI
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar gifted PM Modi a sapling, following which he released a new poster, because nothing says “I love you Mother Earth” like printing a ton of paper posters that nobody will ever use. pic/PTI

Environment Day is more important than ever in 2014, because this is the year of El Nino in South America, and while I don’t know much on the subject, I will say this; I think Brazil has the home advantage and they’ll probably win. Vamos Les Bleus!

A bunch of very smart people seem to think this will be a particularly bad year, except nobody is listening to them, which historically is the number one way of telling if such smart people are correct.

What happens is this, ever so often, a band of warm water that shouldn’t be there develops in the Pacific Ocean near South America. And because the knee bone is connected to the thigh bone, the planet starts behaving like it’s auditioning for the lead role in a Roland Emmerich movie.

The worst El Nino in recent memory occurred in 1997. That year there was a flood in Peru, a tropical cyclone that stands among the strongest ever recorded in the Pacific, a spike in diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and other vectors, and drought-like conditions around the world. By my count, that’s death, pestilence, a great flood and a famine. That’s not an environmental problem, it’s a basis for the birth of religions.

You may ask, “Did India do anything?” Be prepared to hear a disappointing answer. Good news! This time we did not sit on our hands as our future slips away from us. We responded with a flurry of initiatives and activities. First, our Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar gifted PM Narendra Modi a sapling, following which he released a new poster to commemorate the day. Because nothing says “I love you Mother Earth” like printing up a ton of paper posters that nobody will ever use.

Fear not. We are not a nation of token-gesture makers (except when we are). We did more than that. For example, the Economic Times reported that the environment ministry is also considering a proposal to rework the parameters that must be met to strip forest-land for mining. Whew, thank God our forests will be protected, you’re thinking. Allow me to George RR Martin your hopes, because the ministry is actually reducing the number of ecological parameters required to clear a forest for mining. HA! Mining corporations have responded to this news by slaughtering a kitten at an altar made of dead plants, because that is how I imagine mining corporates react to everything.

But there is hope, the numbers are encouraging; for example, in the Environmental Protection Index 2014 India made great strides. We marched over 30 spaces downward to 155th (of 178) on the list, below Kyrgyzstan, Iraq and (cue the outrage) Pakistan. But hey, we’ve never lost World Cup match to any of these guys, so hi-fives and cigars for everybody! However, please refrain from lighting those cigars because Chad is 156th and catching up.

We need to step up. We need to heal the world, make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race (I just made that up).

Let’s go back out there and take back our environment from the miners and the builders who are taking a gigantic dump on a mangrove somewhere as you read this. Let’s do this. Not today though, it’s hot as hell and I’ve got the AC just right. Also I’ve already done my bit because this column was written on 100 per cent Recycled Ideas.

Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo. You can also contact him on www.facebook.com/therohanjoshi

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