Ever Changing Moods: Evolution and Cop15

By Rajmohan Sudhakar

In a nondescript town faraway, on late afternoons, at a specific spot, oftentimes I have been observing swallows perched on overhead cables, at a relatively lower height than these birds usually prefer. Maybe due to an abundance of insects or nests nearby.

I stop briefly to watch the swallow. The sighting of this bird is a joy in any setting. In Bengaluru, one can see the occasional pair at dusk zigzagging leisurely high in the sky basking in the radiance of the sunset.

How regal this creature is — designed as though wind-sculpted over time to achieve the agile entity it is today, like curious rock formations shaped by erosion of millennia.

Wings as if razor sharp cut through gusts as the bird swiftly changes direction and cruises through air currents to zero in and swallow tiny insects in its flight path. So, the name swallow stuck, perhaps.

Why go on about the swallow? The graceful bird is just one instance of the evolutionary miracle. Are humans as gracious as the swallow? Or an evolutionary deviation so to speak? The magnificent swallow, however, is not aware of things as they stand today as far as nature, biodiversity, future of the planet and so forth are concerned.

When humanity proclaims how it has reached a historic deal at Cop15 to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, how earnest the intent of the proclamation is you cannot help but wonder. Natural curiosity for natural history does not suffice at this stage even from a purely philosophical point of view.

The gamut of issues such as poverty, refugees fleeing conflict zones, unemployment, inflation and so on plaguing the world’s population in the throes of a flailing global economy surely cannot be the result of great intent, as aforementioned, if there was any of it left in the human realm. In simpler words, can we help the whole spectrum of living entities if we cannot help ourselves?

Still in the grim-hold of a coronavirus that the establishment is hesitant to acknowledge the origins of or to initiate an earnest probe to understand where it came from, what credentials do humans have to direct the destiny of gazillions of living beings at will, without their consent — provided consent is something of note now.

However much humans trumpet their commitment, grandstand alongside eager greenwashing corporates at global summits and draw ambitious roadmaps detailing how they are going to salvage a world they themselves have wrecked and are going on wrecking with their neoliberal wrecking ball as we speak — the evident malignancy of intent casts a gargantuan shadow on the future of all species.

In its minuscule history on the planet, humanity has depleted almost 70% of biodiversity evolved over millennia and now is promising to protect a meagre 30% of the planet by 2030 — in a 30X30 deal or what have you. What an absurd proposition!

The agreement reached to salvage lost biodiversity in Montreal, Canada, is not legally binding — it is still up to specific countries concerned whether to consider nature as a stakeholder in the collective’s future. So there you go — it is anybody’s guess what would transpire post this ‘historic’ and ‘once-in-a-decade’ agreement in geographies where the tendency is to engage even the coronavirus scare to target political foes. Fact is the environment does not even appear to be a concern.

Meanwhile, topical reports and comments suggested the peril looming over the oceans and fisheries were hardly mentioned and were brushed aside by a broad stroke rather than deliberated upon in the finest of details at Montreal — especially high seas where no country exercises jurisdiction. China which played a major role in clinching the so-called key call to action agreement, in the meantime, is scooping up vast areas of the sea floor with its trawler fleets widespread across international waters.

Absence of the term ‘nature positive’, in the parlance of the summit, widely held as a biodiversity equivalent of ‘net zero’, has been flagged by many observers. The United States missing in action sans a go ahead from the senate in that country, makes saving the last of living entities more or less the priority of the global south. Shoddy stance on the use of pesticides that play a damning role in biodiversity loss, African nations pointing out they aren’t being heard judiciously make large emerging economies like India, China, Brazil and so on power players replacing usual western bullies.

Similar targets set at a biodiversity convention back in 2010 were missed in their entirety. In fact, if humanity wanted to be for all living entities, it could have been so long ago. Instances of missed opportunity date back to as early as back in 1799 when naturalist Alexander von Humboldt wondered about the fallout of human excesses on earth.

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