A case to STOP celebrating World Environment Day (v2)

As published in the June 2023 edition of Indian Plumbing Today

        You can find the original version of the following article online at https://online.fliphtml5.com/xctsh/luvb/



  • Every year we see unprecedented number of start-ups – 305 million (3 crore and 5 lakh last year) – created in the world[1], of which 7.1% were in the fin-tech space, followed by life-sciences & healthcare (6.8%), AI (5%), gaming (4.7%), Ad-tech (3.3%) and ed-tech (2.8%)[2]. Just for your information, 10% of all these will survive and become full fledged business enterprises due to their “ultra-high mortality” rate. And within a decade a mere 1% will remain.
  • Online shopping has hit an unprecedented scale today, with increasing numbers of online retail platforms selling millions of products every day.
  • The entertainment sector is at its biggest, at its most ‘artificial’ and its most ‘fictional’ today, whether in the form of video games, VFX in movies & TV shows, plastic surgery or intelligence, they tend increasingly towards the ‘Artificial’.
  • We see the manufacturing of countless ‘unnecessary’ products – gadgets, fidget toys, plastic products, party ‘decorations’, strange writing equipment, etc., today.
  • As per Investopedia.com, the five biggest sectors driving the economy in the United States of America are, in descending order – healthcare & pharmaceutical, technology, construction, Retail, and non-durable manufacturing industries [3]

Put all of the above together and you will discover that the world environment day might just be mere lip service to the environment.[4]

 [4] (What bothers me is the aspect of Hidden / embodied / embedded / virtual / latent water, but that’s a topic for another day).

Worldviews & your 'S'CoRe Card'
weltanschauung - or 'a comprehensive view of the world and life'

Communities of people develop languages, mostly over hundreds of years, which further create the community’s worldviews. Worldviews include something called ‘human environment interaction’. Together, these two concepts give us something called a ‘social construct of reality’. Yes! ‘Reality’, as we know it, has no element of ‘is’ness’ to it (i.e. an objective, unchanging, fixed, permanent-ness, e.g. ‘reality is…’) and varies from community to community. 


(We will abbreviate ‘Social Construct of Reality’ as ‘S’CoRe’ henceforth.) 


For example, if someone asks you “Are you successful?” what images does that trigger in your mind? In all probability, you will think of material acquisition and managerial positions, i.e., the car(s) that you drive, the location that you live in, the investments you have and the post that you hold in your place of work. But have you considered that that’s not necessarily a measure of success in several cultures across the world, including ours?


Success in Hindu culture involves attaining detachment from all material & sensory possessions (moksha), but interestingly, with full commitment & responsibility. In other words, to have wealth, and yet not be attached to it is a value that our language instilled into its people as a skill to aspire towards. Kings are known to have given up their empires at the mere request of a sage (tyaag). In this culture, we celebrate several occasions across the year, where we worship various aspects of the environment, from forests to farms, and animals to rivers. 


Alternatively, in Sikh culture in India, success means to be a constant learner (Sikh) on the path to discovering the almighty, and the learning never ends or fades once you have arrivedin life. The journey of discovering your Self has no stages to complete, no certification programs, and no degree courses on offer, and yet is among the most fulfilling journey possible.


Here again, we celebrate days during the year that pay obeisance to the environment – particularly harvesting and sowing seasons, if not several more days that our ignorance has had us not notice while writing this article. 

But what's the point?

Well, quite simply, each one of these S’CoRe’s have an impact on the environment and the current definition of success has an unprecedented & irreversible impact on the environment. That too, over a 100-year time horizon, 


The current, popular S’CoRe only focuses on material wealth acquisition and numbers as a relative measure of success. This approach weighs human endeavor on the scale of ‘Unicorn’ status – if it’s valued at $1 billion or more, it’s worth investing in. 


Before you think we are saying that this approach is explicitly wrong, we will stop you and say ‘no’; it has its place in the world, it has its impact in the world and the impact might extend to a billion or more people, but is that something that we need if we’re committed to a sustainable and eco-friendly future? 


We think not. 

An expanded take on D.E.I. (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion)

If we were to look towards a future where nature truly gets ‘included’ into our SCoRe card, then we, as the so-called educated elite, need also start looking at including other S’CoRe cards of other communities, and consider them as legitimate, and valid, respectable and equally ‘entitled’ to participating fully in life, shoulder to shoulder, right by our side.


Consider this analogy. Post COVID-19, even more so, we are well aware that exposure to diverse environments exposes our bodies to diverse bacterial environments and helps build our immunity. In fact, billions of bacteria from the water, air and soil microbiomes contribute to digest our food, add to our health and ensure that we don’t fall susceptible to all forms of dis-ease coming our way. (Yes! ALL bacteria and viruses in the air and water ARE not harmful for humans. A small percentage of them are.) 


In the same manner, the resilience of humanity and our planet literally depends on the diversity of SCoRe’s that we are exposed to and accept in our fold. So if one SCoRe is busy looting and plundering humanity and nature (as it has done successfully for the past 500 odd years), we allow other communities and cultures, with other SCoRe cards, that may not prescribe to the same looting, plundering, competition, comparison, cult-of-personality-based ‘winning at all costs’. 

A SCoRe that wants to dedicate one day of the year, having conferences, holding talks, organizing gala events, where billions of liters of water & energy get consumed and wasted to all them to profess their concerns about the environment.

What's your S'CoRe?

After all, the people who are succeeding in protecting the environment today, are the ones whose SCoRe is interwoven with nature, in a seamless, minute to minute manner, and come hell or high water, their entire lifetimes are full of years dedicated to worshipping the environment& earning a living from it, and not off it.


We stand at a unique juncture today, In a place where, if we choose, we can lead the world towards climate-change futures that are founded on the teachings of our ancestors. Or we can choose to lie through our teeth, make ‘global’ speeches on what we must, and should do for the environment, only to wake-up the next day, put on our suits and ties in the sweltering heat of India, blast the air conditioner, and watch a rerun of the Wolf of Wall street as inspiration for a better life.


What path are you promising to walk?