Caring for our Living Planet. By Dr. Stephen Gill, Canada


Adlai Stevenson has given a beautiful analogy in which he compares the earth to a spaceship, carrying the present world population that is close to four billion. In order to survive it is imperative for every passenger to make a sane and planned use of all the limited facilities, including the oxygen and food provided in the spaceship. This fact should inculcate a sense of deep responsibility in everybody concerning the care of the ship because its destruction is the destruction of all.
It is saddening that the atmosphere inside the ship is beset with mistrust, mutual jealousy and self-interest. Leaders and statesmen are engaged in bolstering their national pride, and the scientists are discovering new avenues of happiness as well as of death and annihilation. The bulk of individuals is occupied earning for their daily bread. In the pursuit of their interests, most people have no time left to even think of the ship`s safety. Those who think of its safety have left this concern to others though there is a wide spread unrest in every corner and sphere of the ship. This unrest is being witnessed also in the hearts and minds of the passengers. The energy crisis and the economic crisis are clear warnings that a major catastrophe awaits the ship if something tangible is not done to avert it. An analysis of the symptoms has pointed to four areas which have been paving the way for this catastrophe. These areas are energy, environment, population and distribution. There is no planning for a fair distribution of the limited resources available to humans, and if there is any, it is being guided by the groups and nations who are interested in themselves. It has created a situation similar to one in which various sailors pull the ship in different directions. Such a situation will never let the ship pilot toward its desired destination. This situation creates chaos and waste. Obviously, the safety of the ship depends on the resolution of the crew. But at present there is no one who is in command of the ship. It is like a town without its mayor.
This prevailing state of affairs has been allowed to exist in spite of the repeated warnings given by concerned people against dangers lying ahead. They have and are still warning that the ship will not be able to sustain life for a long time if the waste, pollution and ineffective distribution continue at the present rate.
It is certainly a noble cause for scientists and national leaders to work together for the improvement of the quality of life of the people. No one will argue against it. It is also a noble cause for the scientists to find means for longevity, to combat diseases and to establish links with other planets of the universe. But these endeavours become meaningless if the ship in which the entire humans are travelling is crippled. The destruction of the ship is the destruction of the hopes of humankind; its death is the death of life itself. Consequently, the first duty of all the passengers is to give active support to the people who are engaged in saving the ship.
The safety of one passenger is inseparable from the safety of rest of the passengers. In other words, the ship`s survival depends on the direct intervention of its passengers to insure its safety. Yet, the crew has still to accept this reality. It is comforting that a few concerned groups and individuals have taken it upon themselves to save the spaceship, exposing dangers to every passenger. They know that it is better to do something now to save the ship than to awaken when it is in the grip of destruction.

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