One cannot recall any movement in world history which has gripped the imagination of the entire human race so completely and so rapidly as the Green Movement which started nearly twenty-five year ago. In 1972 the World’s first nationwide Green party was founded in New Zealand. Since Then, the movement has not looked back.
We have shifted------one hopes, irrevocably---from the mechanistic view to a holistic and ecological view of the world. It is a shift in human perceptions as revolutionary as that introduced by Copernicus who taught mankind in the sixteenth century that the earth and the other planets revolved round the sun. For the first time in human history, there is a growing worldwide consciousness that the earth itself is a living organism- an enormous being of which we are parts. It has its own metabolic needs and vital processes which need to be respected and preserved.
The earth’s vital signs reveal a patient in declining health. We have begun to realize our ethical obligations to be good stewards of the planet and responsible trustees of the legacy to future generations. The concept of sustainable development was popularized in 1987 by the World Commission on Environment and Development. In its report it defined the idea as “Development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”, i.e., without stripping the natural world of resources future generations would need.
In the zoo at Lusaka, Zambia, there is a cage where the notice reads, ‘The world’s most dangerous animal’. Inside the cage there is no animal but a mirror where you see yourself. Thanks to the efforts of a number of agencies in different countries, a new awareness has how now dawned upon the most dangerous animal in the world. He has realized the wisdom of shifting from a system based on domination to one based on partnership.
Scientists have catalogued about 1.4 million living species with which mankind shares the earth Estimates vary widely as regards the still-uncatalogued living species-biologists reckon that about three to a hundred million other living species still languish unnamed in ignominious darkness. One of the early international commission which dealt, inter alia, with the question of ecology and environment was the Brandt Commission which had a distinguished Indian as one of its members---Mr. L.K. Jha. The first Brandt report raised the question-------‘’Are we to leave our successors a scorched planet of advancing deserts, impoverished landscapes and ailing environment?”
Mr. Lester R. Brown in his thoughtful book, The Global economic Prospect, points out that the earth’s principal biological systems are four------fisheries, forests, grasslands, and croplands- and they form the foundation of the global economic system. In addition to supplying our food, these four systems provide virtually all the raw materials for industry except minerals and petroleum-derived synthetics. In large areas of the world, human claims on these systems are reaching an unsustainable level, a point where their productivity is being impaired. When this happens, fisheries collapse, forests disappear, grasslands are converted into barren wastelands, and croplands deteriorate. In a protein-conscious and protein-hungry world, over-fishing is common every day. In poor countries local forests and being decimated in order to procure firewood for cooking. In some places, firewood has become so expensive that ‘’what goes under the pot now costs more than what goes inside it’’. Since the tropical forest is, in the words of Dr. Myers, ‘’The powerhouse of evolution”, several species of life face extinction as a result of its destruction.
It has been well said that forests precede mankind; deserts follow. The world’s ancient patrimony of tropical forests is now eroding at the rate of forty to fifty million acres a year, and the growing use of dung for burning deprives the soil of an important natural fertilizer. The World Band estimates that a five-fold increase in the rate of forest planting is needed to cope with the expected fuel wood demand in the year 2000.