My sympathies to those who lost their homes and their loved ones in the Bukit Antarabangsa tragedy. How many times have we heard the government banning construction of homes near hillsides? The nation await to hear read about those responsible for approving the projects.
At the height of the flood in Johor a few years back, I wrote these below, which still have some relevance to the issue of environmental degradation that lead to man-made disasters:
EXCERPTS FROM A PREVIOUS ARTICLE:
Why has Nature become angry with Johoreans? Have they abandoned the ethics of living closely together in the true spirit of human nature? Has corruption in all aspects of Johorean life become more unbearable than in Putrajaya and that this is a warning of worse things to come?
Are we environmentally doomed? Are we at the eleventh hour of total environmental destruction? How devastating has the impact of carbon dioxide emissions been? How serious is the depletion of the ozone layer? How much of the rainforests of the world have been destroyed? How fast are the polar ice caps melting, speeding up the looming disaster of Armageddon/ Qiamat of humankind? How many more frequent, major flash floods must we endure?
The Chinese philosopher and mystic Lao Tzu once said, ‘Man should not have carved the stone’ meaning man should not have invented things for, ‘... as Man began carving the stone, the process of destruction begins’. Light bulbs, automobiles, powerplants, factories, telephone lines, bombs and computers are inventions that have historically transformed nature. Human beings ‘carve the stone’ and build structures of power and wealth which transform or even rape Nature in the process.
Ancient philosophies and the teachings of 'revealed religion' (of the Judeo-Christian tradition) warned against the exploitation of the physical environment so that humanity would continue to be close to Nature and closer to the realisation of the Natural Self. Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and probably the most extreme of all Hindu sects, Jainism, teaches human beings to respect living things as part of the great chain of beings.
But Western scientific ideology has taught Man to be free from not only thinking about spirits and spirituality, nature and the natural self, religion and deep reflection, but has also ‘enlightened’ human beings into mastering Nature and using its resources for the ‘progress’ of mankind. Progress, measured linearly and scientifically, is then equated with ‘civilisation’.
Civilisation carries with it the necessity for technological progress and more inventions. But if Nature is destroyed in the process of creating 'civilisations', what does being 'civilised' mean? Would 'going back to Nature' and 'destroying civilisations' be a better way to conceive the meaning of human progress? Must human beings de-evolve, de-urbanise, de-technologise and de-construct themselves in order to save Humanity from its environmental doom?
Industrialisation is a process of transforming nature to culture by the state's appropriation of natural resources. The resources are transformed into technology and techniques and applications derived from the use of science help fuel inventions. Inventions are products/artifacts of the activities of the human mind; activities that are fuelled by the need to master man's destiny and the environment. But these inventions contain ‘inert capital" in them, transforming human labour into technologies.
Technologies are then used to further transform nature into culture. Culture in this sense means the culture that comes into being as a result of human beings’ economic activities.
Modern governments, such as that of Johor, are the necessary evil – they use the state apparatuses and transform the environment by collaborating with powerful multinational corporations in speeding up the use of natural resources, leaving the land barren and human beings in famine and poverty-stricken. Enlightened citizens must collectively revolt against governments that systematically destroy the environment in the name of ‘civilisation’ and ‘progress’.
Citizens must raise the consciousness on the power of these post-modern multinational corporation in that the power these primarily Western-industrialised corporations have are used to bring destruction to the peoples of this Earth as evident in the refusal of powerful nations to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and other global treaties that are enforced to save planet Earth.
Let us reflect upon what different nations are experiencing through the process of environmental destruction and what might be the possible ways to reverse or slow down this Armageddon.
A plea to all: Help the tens of thousands of displaced Johoreans in whichever way we can. Help them through this major disaster brought about by Man's activities orchestrated under the name of state development projects. Above all, help Johoreans elect more a responsible government – one that will respect Nature and not rape it. May God help us all recover from this disaster and prevent future ones.