Who is right — Edison or Seattle’s primitive tribal chief?

 *By Advocate Girish Raut

 The Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor, Nanar refinery in Konkan, Jaitapur nuclear power plant,  Wadhavan mega port, Metro-3 underground railway in Mumbai, coastal road and surge of other industries has a global backdrop.

Entire world’s mineral (fossil and nuclear) energy and other industries have their roots in the headquarters of the International Energy Agency (Paris). To safeguard its own interest its founders are trying to keep up with the use of these energies which will keep their financial empire intact. 

In 1756, the first automatic machine came on this earth in Europe. To provide the energy needed to operate this machine, wood was burned as fuel. The forests in Europe were cut down to provide uninterrupted supply of wood. Today we see vast grasslands of Europe in place of those dense forests which existed 250 years ago. There were mountains, rivers, waterfalls and abundant biodiversity which were ruthlessly destroyed by rampant industrialization. Since, then, carbon emissions, erosion of greenery, pollution and warming of the earth have all started. The modern Corona virus started breeding from there. 

European education was used as a tool to brainwash us and glorify this destruction as an ‘industrial revolution’. ‘Human race is making great progress (development)’ such an illusion was created. In fact, at that time, farmers and working people in that area protested against the machine. But they were brutally silenced by political power. The owners of machines and industries used the military whenever required. Human progress (development) has since been given as a justification. 

Modern science was born when Copernicus discovered that the earth revolves around the sun (1543 AD). This was indeed a real scientific discovery. Two hundred years later machines arrived. ‘Technology is applied science’. But technology is not science. Technology need not have a scientific approach. Today, science and technology are confused. Therefore, industries coming from technology are seen as science. They use the moral merit of science as a shield to hide behind and to bring harmful Industry. The industrial revolution continued to dominate the world. Most of the world believed that this was a scientific revolution. Such an understanding was deliberately spread by the industrial-financial elite. It is as if industrialization is a science. 

Science explores the laws behind the behavior of nature like laws of motion, law of gravitation, properties of liquids and substances, energy sources etc. This is science. But motor cars, electric lamps, atom bombs etc is technology. 

To determine whether to use it on earth, requires something more than intelligence which we call ‘wisdom’. Wisdom to choose technology, to go beyond the allurement of tech innovation, to grasp the ‘whole’ and interconnection of existence, extra ordinary sensibility is required which was lacking in western civilization where all studies are fragmented. Due to this fragmented vision, the human race is exposed to the dangers of global temperature rise, unnatural lifestyle, stressful living conditions and disconnected relations. 

Most progressive intellectuals consider technology as a science. They are in awe of computers so relying heavily on the present development model. The existing development model is skewed. They find it hard to accept the fact that technology and present economy are not going to fit in earth’s delicate fabric and will collapse soon. 

It is surprising that those who fight for cows do not understand that if the whole country is turned into a factory and villages are destroyed, these cows will not survive. They too are trapped in this illusion of a development model. Such an ideological confusion is making the situation worse. 

Science is the quest for truth. Copernicus, Bruno, and Galileo were persecuted by the church and monarch for expressing that truth. Bruno was burned alive. But today, the rulers stand in favor of industries that glorify technology in the name of science and those villagers who are in tune with nature, those who share Copernicus’s heritage of telling the truth are ignored. 

After the Paris Agreement, which was done to save the human race, it was decided not to permit any rise in carbon emissions. Nanar and other project affected villages of Ratnagiri passed resolution in  gram sabhas opposing the refinery on the issue of ‘global warming ‘ on the Independence day, August 15. These people and such wisdom should be the guiding force of the country. 

Today, technologists use science as a mask and the “truth” which is the very foundation of science is silenced to safeguard their selfish interests. The innocent people fall prey. They are not able to understand the difference between science and technology. 

All over the world, industrialization was carried out on the rich fertile terrain having ample food, water and biodiversity. Examples are industrial hubs located in Amsterdam, New York, Shanghai, Mumbai. Cities and industries have never been established on deserts or barren land as this was not possible. 

This cancer of Industrialization is now spreading in the last few ecologically rich and sensitive areas on the earth. Konkan or northeast part of India has survived so far because of its inaccessibility. This actually is a divine blessing and not a curse or backwardness. 

We accepted the western version of the economy in which increasing GDP is a primary objective. Education around the world is based on this concept. This model of economy is linear and not cyclical. Economy is a wildfire which will eventually destroy all the natural resources of the earth. It simply doesn’t know where to stop. It has no brakes. It cannot be stable. Because it’s inbuilt mechanism is linked with the never ending desires and greed of the human mind, which always aims to get satisfied by the senses. 

Industrialization destroyed nature in a very short period of time e.g. Mumbai lost rivers, mountains, jungles creeks and sea estuaries. Ironically, from all these catastrophic destruction those who made money have all the power to pull the best, like for example with power of money, rich buyers from Mumbai can have Alphonso mangoes, nuts and fish from places like Konkan where nature is still intact. People using artificial systems based on machines and money are destroying natural systems, at the same time they are exploiting the best of these natural resources. But now they themselves are in danger of being eradicated along with other human beings due to global warming and climate change. 

The thing that went wrong on earth is the importance given to ‘material development’ which has deteriorated earth’s ability to sustain life. This was started with the invention of the very first automated machine. 

We have been made to believe that whatever was taught in schools and colleges is always correct but the fact is exactly opposite. Those we think to be illiterate, who grew up in and around forests and learnt from nature have gained the correct knowledge. They are the true and rightful heirs of this earth just like Seattle’s primitive tribal chief. 

Europe, USA and now China, Brazil have all despised the soil and gave importance to machines and money. They destroyed forests. The result is that in Europe and Australia which had the temperature near zero for thousands of years, last year in summer their maximum temperature went up to 45° C and at times even went up to 55° C. Europe and the United States are constantly facing dire consequences. In the United States, 300-350 km/h speed storms are hitting one after the other.  The United States and Europe, which never experienced torrential downpour, are getting heavy rainfall up to 10-20 inches a day. Most of the areas are ravaged by storms and floods. 

The excessive evaporation caused by the extreme heat of ocean water and melting of ice sheets are falling anywhere on the earth. In Rajasthan, on 23rd, 24th, 26th and 27th July 2018, 84 inches of rainfall was recorded, which is the entire monsoon of Konkan belt. Reproduction and survival depend on the established seasonal patterns and the temperature. This pattern has broken. 

By supplying cotton to Manchester, Indian villages of Vidarbha, which grew cash crops a long time before, have to bear the extreme temperature above 50° C. 

Many animal lovers feel bad that birds do not get water in summer. They keep water for the birds. But such cultured humans who are expressing love do not realize how many such birds and animals are suffering due to Industrialization promoted by our own unnatural lifestyle. 

Currently, about 15 lakh tonnes of coal is burned every day in India for electricity generation. It generates about one lakh twenty thousand megawatts of electricity. Due to this, about 22 lakh tonnes of carbon dioxide is sent into the atmosphere daily and 6 lakh tonnes of ash is dumped in the valleys and creeks. It also requires billions of liters of water. Millions of tonnes of poisonous gases are released into the atmosphere with fine ash. To keep our  thermal power plants cool, about sixty thousand crores liters of water is pumped daily from rivers and seas. The hot water is released back into the river and the sea. 

These events result in a huge loss of life and cause local and earth’s temperatures to rise. Thousands of such thermal, nuclear power plants and other industries are working to make the earth dead and continue to do so even today. India’s thermal (coal) energy emission of carbon dioxide is 64% of the total man made emissions in the country, whereas in the world’s emission it is 43%. In the year 2018, out of total emission of 3800 crore ton Just about 400 crore tonnes of carbon dioxide is absorbed by green matter, while 3400 crore tonnes of carbon dioxide   (more than 11 ppm) is added to the atmosphere. Since May, 2015,  carbon dioxide gas has exceeded the danger level of 400 ppm, everywhere in the Earth’s atmosphere, even Antarctica. 

The strange thing is that the people in this industrial-urban setting for whom this is happening are either unaware or do not take it seriously. 

Thomas Edison

Edison’s famous phrase about electricity, “I will make electricity so cheap that only rich people will use candles.” It is always used in support of modernity. Edison made a commercially viable electric lamp. The power supply to New York City began in 1879 by his company. It is said that this discovery has lighted the whole world. Otherwise, maybe even today, with every sunset, we would have plunged into darkness. 

With due respect to Edison’s other virtues, Edison himself did not understand that the power generation to ignite his lamp and industrialisation would take the world towards extinction, and also those who admired it, did not understand the side effect of this discovery, is nothing but destruction. 

Sunita Williams, an American astronaut of Indian descent, observes the Earth from space and says, “The earth doesn’t look as beautiful as before. It is darkening with man-made pollution.” The natural light of the sun provided the gift of life. Edison’s artificial lighting is the reason for the elimination of this gift of life, carbon emissions caused by electricity generation and industrialization – urbanization. In fact, this is the path towards darkness. Following the law of nature for thousands of years, living without electricity, sleeping at sunset and rising at dawn would have never caused such problems. 

Mankind has not been told how horribly irreversible forms of destruction are occurring around the world every day. Edison also discovered cement concrete columns. When making one ton of cement concrete, half a ton of carbon dioxide gas is emitted into the atmosphere and two thousand tons of water is used. The similar thing is about steel. Industrialization has always been blind and it is taking us towards our end very fast. In front of technological development, our inherent wisdom and strength is becoming weak. 

This is the fifth consecutive year that the average temperature has risen with an unprecedented pace of 1/5th of a degree Celsius. Literally, thousands of species and countless life forms of each one are getting extinct every day. Educated people who are in love of progress and development are indifferent to this reality. These men give high regard to the prevailing economic model of Westerners. Supporters of an economy which every moment takes us to devastation. Like Trump, they too think that global warming is a hoax. 

Industries, electricity generation, construction, transportation, chemical farming are emitting carbon and destroying ecological balance.  To realize that such activities cannot be sustainable, our education system should have helped, but our educational system has not even let us understand basic fundamentals of earth and its ecosystem. Those who are hypnotized by cars(C), coal(C), concrete(C), air conditioning(C), computers(C), chemicals(C), cooking (C) can only be saved by chlorophyll(C) and for this they have to leave rest of the Cs. 

Tribal Chief Seattle

Sensitized teachers want both ‘material development’ and ‘tiger in the forest’ at the same time. They are all praise for Edison who developed many technological innovations. At the same time they deeply appreciate heartfelt letters from Seattle’s primitive tribal chief asking the US government to protect nature.  

This head of the Red Indian tribe wrote to the US government who took away their land, some 160 years before. He says, “This we know: The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” 

We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother’s heartbeat. 

The tribal chief Seattle warns, “What befalls the earth befalls all the sons of the earth.” His stark prophecy is coming true — “the end of living and beginning of survival”. 

Such remarkable sensitivity to life and humans is lacking in people who are believers of machines, technologies and western economics. 

With the advent of automation and a hundred years later, with Edison’s invention, the government was forced by the American industry to open up untouched forests throughout the United States for development. The result is that only 5% of original dense forests are left in the United States. Note that the land area of the US is almost five times larger than India’s. 

The relation between ‘development’ and ‘destruction’ could not be grasped by our thinkers. Education which was oriented towards progress of industries took care not to expose this fact. In a very precise and systematic manner we are brainwashed by it. Education is a tool for providing employment to industries. 

Earth is for life and not for providing jobs. Water is for living beings and not for machines and chemical outputs. This opportunity to understand and act on it, is only available in 2020.  Compared to the year 1750 an increase of more than 2° C in the average temperature of the earth this year, will fail the ‘Paris Agreement’ miserably which was done to save mankind. 

Not at the end of this century, as is being said in the media but, Before the year 2050, the human race would be wiped out from Earth. 

The Upanishads gave mankind the mantra of “rise, wake up”. Swami Vivekananda proclaimed the same in his speech in the United States – “It’s time for the world to live it. The Upanishads also said, “Satyamev Jayate, Nanrutam,” meaning truth will prevail or the truth is eternal and not the falsehood.This is the guiding principle of our nation.  

The question of existence today is a philosophical question. Should we believe in eternal truth or the illusion of technology and economics? Life or lifestyle? Earth or machine? Monsoon or motor? Water or money? Existence or economy? Primitive tribal chief or Edison? 

Air, water and food are basic needs for all of us and also for animals. ‘Lock Down’ is precisely telling us this truth. Our needs like Clothing, shelter and transportation were fulfilled for thousands of years without causing any harm to ecology before the advent of automatic machines. 

This year is the last chance to stop industrialisation, to adopt an energy-free way of living and thereby save mankind and life. 

Now if we do not reverse our journey back to nature, we are going to face total annihilation. We have entered into a phase which the tribal chief of Seattle has already warned us about. 

In a nutshell, Diwali’s earthen lamp (diya) is sustainable and not Edison’s electric lamp! 

*Author is Convener of Save Life and Save Earth Movement

Translation: Geeta Sahu