Prof Dwijen Sharma, an eminent naturalist, said it would not be possible to stop the conflict between nature and development as long as capitalism controls everything.
The planet would be awaiting an apocalypse if people continued to exploit nature, he told The Daily Star in an interview on the eve of World Environment Day, which is today. This year, the theme of the day is “connecting people to nature”.
These days, a much-talked-about campaign is going about sustainable development. But as long as capitalism is there, such development cannot protect the world from destruction, he said. "We all know capitalism is a mystery. It controls everything.”
"They think sustainable development would be able to save the world. But that's not true," the professor said.
While describing nature's importance for human beings, he said the human race has been on this planet for “the last two lakh years or so”. But they learnt agriculture just 10 to 15 thousand years ago. “Before that, people lived extremely close to nature and still today, they share a close bond.
“That's why people's mood shifts with natural events like the sunset, sunrise, moonlight, fountain sounds etc. If people are disconnected from these, their physical and mental health is harmed.”
When humans started to form societies, they made rules and laws, ultimately chaining themselves within them. The conflict between nature and development began soon afterwards. Later, humans started waging war against nature for their own benefits, he said.
People evolved from the agricultural age to the industrial age and the war just intensified. The conflict between nature and development only increased with people's never-ending hunger for development.
For ages, people believed that nature was an endless resource but the view is now changing. They have understood that putting pressure on nature only increased threats to their own civilization.
Development has a limit and history shows how dangerous it could be if the limit is crossed, he said, adding the solution was not easy.
“If we stop the development works, our economy would suffer a setback. It would turn disastrous. Tens of thousands of people would become jobless and anarchy would rule the world.”
For many days, people believed communism may solve the conflict. Karl Marx once said the exploitation in the society and destruction of the nature would be over if communism is fully established in the society.
“But we do not know how far communism can reach. The destination of communism looks foggy.”
On the other hand, what the radical environmentalists say about the conflict between nature and development is not clear. They say the community ownership of natural resources would help reduce the conflict.
“Wise men say people have lost their foresight. They are destroying the planet earth and also destroying themselves.”
However, Rabindranath Tagore was hopeful. He said it is a sin to lose faith in humanity. Someday a new civilization will emerge and that will happen after an apocalyptic event.
But it is hard to say more about that at this stage regarding what will happen at the end, said the professor.