THE rape of the environment through indiscriminate logging, dumping of toxic wastes, pollution of the rivers, burning of fossil fuels (carbon monoxide poisoning) as well as unbridled infrastructure and dwellings development has adversely impacted the environmental ecosystem, which poses a threat of extinction to creatures big and small on this planet.

Wanton logging and unrestricted infrastructure and residential developments cause the loss of forest cover and increase erosion resulting in the pollution of the river and, of course, flooding.

At the same time, it encroaches on the habitat of fauna which is dependent on the flora.

It is humans who have caused these disasters due to greed and avarice, and forgetting that they are not the only inhabitants of this planet.

They share it with other creatures ranging from mammals, reptiles, avian creatures, insects and, in the quantum world, a myriad of virus and microbes that all contribute to an existential equilibrium among God’s creatures.

This delicate ecosystem was designed to ensure a sustainable existence.

But man, the thinking animal endowed with critical faculties, is oblivious and ignorant of the complex and intricate design of our existence.

Not realising that by undermining and mutilating one part of this existence, it would cause physical and microbial reactions that could endanger the whole chain of existence.

But human greed and avarice prioritise immediate and short-term gains at the expense of a sustainable future.

Even the development of new technologies to assuage the impact of such destructive human activities may only postpone the cataclysmic demise of our planet, thus our existence.

Humans are the most selfish creatures on earth for they give scant regard not only for the needs of other inhabitants, but also their own.

The writings are already on the wall that humans are causing their impending demise; climate change, the loss of forest cover, reduction of the ozone layer as a result of an increase in the carbon footprint and air pollution caused by industrial emissions and the burning of fossil fuels, water pollution – the result of discharge of untreated waste – and the ever-increasing plastic waste on land and at sea.

The two basic elements that determine our survival are the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The availability of fresh water is directly linked to the state of the environment.

Depletion of the catchment areas would affect the supply of potable water.

Likewise, climate change would alter the rainfall pattern which could adversely affect the supply of water.

A changing rainfall pattern, the result of factors like the La Nina current which can cause excessive rainfalls or draught, affect the supply of water.

Water is a basic essential ingredient that is required by all creatures and vegetation on this planet.

Without water, the planet and its inhabitants die.

Thus, there must be a concerted effort to ensure the sustainability of water supply for all.

Likewise, without air, life as we know today will not exist. It is not just the air but the quality of the air we breathe that affects our health.

But industry and urbanisation coupled with the discharge of carbon monoxide has polluted the air causing numerous health issues.

The depletion of forest cover that cleans the air has aggravated the issue of air quality, and the deterioration of the ozone layer due to the release of manufactured chemicals like chlorofluorocarbons causes grave health issues.

The current attempt at utilising clean energy has not assuaged the issue of air pollution.

Humanity is coming to a crossroad of survival or extinction.

Continued rape of the environment will inexorably lead to its extinction.

To survive it, we must create a sustainable regenerative environment through conservation and preservation of depletable natural resources, with the development of new technologies that enable faster regeneration of natural resources, minimise wastage and enable the recycling of man-made wastes into functional non-toxic materials.

The benefits of these technologies and regenerative efforts should not be confined to the developed and rich nations but shared equitably with the rest of the world.

Unless we respect the environment and ensure its sustainability, we are doomed to extinction.

Mohamed Ghouse Nasuruddin is a professor at the Centre for Policy Research and International Studies, Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang. Comments: