Switch that light off!

As I walked down the hallway at work, I switched lights off, that were only illuminating those typical corporate worldish pieces of furniture, in couple offices … offices that would normally be the center of serious discussions about improving audio quality and that short yet irritating blip we heard on that fancy blue LED adorned headset that just had to go.
“Are you saving the planet?”, said an observant and smart coworker.
“I’m trying to!”, I replied.

“I wish I could!” is what I really thought in my head. If only I could save the planet by switching couple lights off and carrying my cloth bags to the grocery store! They say it makes a difference…. maybe it does. Maybe it makes it a slightly slower death… like to the negative zillionth power. I thought all these things and left work to drive home in my 28 miles/gallon car…. and I felt guilty! I felt guilty turning that ignition on… it felt like a million stabs in my gut and I could see that otherwise mighty polar bear run out of breath, choke and succumb to the depths of the ocean as it lost sight of an absolutely gorgeous future home in the distant horizon. Maybe it was one of those days when I was being overly sensitive but is that what it takes for us to even consider making a difference?

India and China are being pointed at for their exponentially increasing consumption of resources. Yes, it’s increasing and yes they should take steps to not reach the shamefully high levels that US is currently at, but let’s talk about the present. Let’s talk about what we call the “most developed” country. The United States have exploited and abused these resources for years now. This status of being the most developed didn’t just happen by having the best research institutes et all, it happened by this short-sighted and liberal use of everything this planet had to offer. And now that it’s all running out, they turn around and blame the developing countries and say, “Oh! you better not use any resources coz we are too short now and the planet is dying!” How’s that fair?

I’m not saying that developing countries should go crazy using all that’s available. So what if countries that were a little ahead in the race were negligent consumers, that shouldn’t prevent Chindia from taking measures to prevent it from becoming a worse situation than it already is. In fact, it puts an extra burden on those newly formed bones to carry this forward in a more responsible manner. I have serious doubts though that this is happening. In Lonavala, you can’t see a single sparkle in what once used to be a star studded sky. An auto rickshaw ride in old Ahmedabad would literally make your eyes water like you had just chopped 20 onions because the poor drivers can’t afford anything more than kerosene as fuel! And why would they worry? Their daily motive is to provide a meal a day to their dozen dependents who would have to go without food for yet another day. Think about it, food versus global warming! It’s a pretty clear choice to me! To make it worse, there are responsibilities like safe guarding their families from people of the opposite religion! Do they even have time to think about how their actions might be contributing to the floods every monsoon, to the earthquakes somewhere in a country who’s existence they are completely oblivious of, to the deaths of animals that might look to them like a huge bear some kid left uncolored because he was too lazy? Really, don’t we have enough problems to deal with already that people put on their blinders and fight in the name of what’s the right way to attain God? Do they even know what they are fighting for and if there even is a God?

I could go on and on…. but the question is, what am I doing to make it any better? What are you doing? What’s the person sitting next to you at work doing?
May be this isn’t a problem that we can expect people in their cushy multi-million dollar jobs or those in their miniature 8×8 rooms shared with 5 others to solve. Maybe this is in our hands and the weight of the planet is really on our shoulders. Just a thought to ponder over….