Published: 13th August 2019
Choose ecology over economy, choose courage over fear: Kaajal Maheshwari, environmental conservationist
Kaajal Maheshwari believes that as adult parents, politicians and teachers we have failed in safeguarding the future of the coming generations because of which the damage is serious
Around 1.5 million children across the world are staging protests every Friday and asking for climate justice — Greta Thunberg has inspired an entire generation. Do you all agree that we are stealing our children's future? Yes? I'm glad.
As per a NITI Aayog report, 21 Indian cities will run out of groundwater by 2020. The very fact that in the past 20-30 years, tens and thousands of species have gone extinct shows that we have moved nearer to mass extinction more rapidly than any other civilisations. And all of this is happening because of one species — Homo Sapiens. When you cannot return what you take, it is stealing.
Are we not getting the signal that the Earth is rebelling? why else do you think just in this one year the Arctic ice has melted at an exponential rate, Siberian forests are burning, Europe has experienced its hottest summer. Closer home — we saw Cyclone Fani in May, a series of four floods in the past two to three months. Do we really need more signals than this?
It is time to press the panic button. You need to get out of your comfort zone. Individual efforts are in our comfort zone. We have failed because we have not worked collectively. Democracy is a team sport. All of us have been spectators. How many of us asked for a green manifesto during the elections? We are waiting for our political leaders and the media to tell us what we need. We allow them to shove their agenda down our throat. That's why we are spectators.
Mother Nature has not been giving us these signals just now. We have been getting these signals for a long time. But we choose to shut our eyes.
All for mother Earth: Self-trained environmental conservationist Kaajal Maheshwari speaking at Edex's 40 Under 40 eco-conclave
You know how the political scenario is. Lately, all of us feel very vulnerable. Be it the RTI Act, which was passed with a high-handedness without giving a single reason for the necessity of such an act or the UAPA law — we are all scared that we might end up on the wrong side of the law. I am here to tell you that fear breeds fear, courage breeds courage.
Today, when we are in the midst of a climate crisis and lakhs and lakhs of people are getting displaced — you know what has taken centre stage? The Kashmir issue. I am here on an environmental meet and not a political one — I know. But I am here to debunk a myth. The environment is political. The more you run away from it the more you are running away from solutions. A problem as big as climate crisis requires a solution at the policy level. Climate is apolitical, not non-political. All of us are here working with waste management, sustainability and a lot more but what is at the root of these? Climate change. So let's not do this circus of running around in circles. Attack at the root.
I represent Fridays for Future. But I am not asking you to like my page. What I am asking is for you to do your duty. As per the Constitution, it is our duty to protect the environment. Just like anti-government does not mean anti-Indian, non-action on the environment questions your credibility as a citizen. All of your (Facebook) pages have to be pages of environmentalists. I am not an environmentalist. I am just a citizen doing her duty. I stand out because you are not doing your duty.
That hidden courage that comes out when your children or your near and dear ones are threatened — it's time for that courage to come out because there has never been a bigger climate crisis. It is now. And if you think that you are privileged and will not be affected, you are wrong. It's a sinking ship. Everyone will be affected. Don't think you are safe. There is no planet B.
Choose ecology over the economy. Choose courage over fear. Contribute. Be a part of it.
Kaajal Maheshwari is a self-trained environmental conservationist. Seeing destruction in the name of development, she started taking part in Citizen rallies to protect trees and save groundwater. In 2016 when the government proposed to declare an almost zero percent eco-sensitive zone around KBR National Park, which meant sacrificing 3000 trees, Maheshwari and friends did not agree. She is the founder of Citizens For Hyderabad.