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Aarey: Environmentalism should be a practical concern, not a religion

The environment is a practical concern. We cannot survive as a species if we can no longer breathe the air or if we can no longer drink the water. To stave off disaster, we all need to cooperate with each other.

So this happened.

Bombay High Court dismissed pleas against BMC decision to cut trees to make way for metro car shed

Which is very good, because the original “crusaders” were a bunch of religious zealots anyway. The environmental activists who are “crusading” for Aarey Colony are just as brainwashed.

How foolish do you have to be to protest against the construction of a mass transit system, that too in a city like Mumbai? When you build the metro, you are allowing literally lakhs of people to switch from polluting autos, cars and two-wheelers to a clean, environment friendly form of transport. You are stopping a whole lot of CO2 from being pumped into the atmosphere.

In terms of the environment, mass transit is always better than private vehicles. On top of that, the Metro runs on electricity. As yet, we do not have a sustainable means of producing electricity from renewable sources, but electricity is a much better bet than others. Most renewable sources: solar, wind, tidal, etc all produce energy in terms of electricity.

And for what it’s worth, the Metro Authority is also planting forests elsewhere. It is not ideal to cut down trees. But the facts are completely clear: building a Metro is a net positive for the environment, even if you have to cut down a tiny part of the forest in order to do it.

But the “activists” who are protesting refuse to understand. Because they are no longer activists at all. Actually, News18 used the term correctly. They are crusaders, with a quasi-religious motive and a level of reasoning that is indistinguishable from religion.

You will notice that the “activists” are not talking numbers or facts. They only talk of  cutting down an “ecosystem.” The pitch is based on emotion, not calculation. They are humanizing the birds and animals and even the trees of the forest. They are demanding that we should preserve those exact trees in their exact spots out of some religious sense of duty.

The environment is a practical concern. We cannot survive as a species if we can no longer breathe the air or if we can no longer drink the water. Or if climate change sends most of our cities under water. To stave off disaster, we all need to cooperate with each other.

By turning this practical concern into a quasi-religious form of bigotry, the left (and glamor seeking celebrities) are only enhancing the danger to the environment. The theatrics is only turning people against real concerns over the environment. Who would miss the optics of BMW hopping elites telling common folks they can’t have a metro?

There we have it. An issue that should have united everyone becomes a wedge issue. It becomes all about X vs Y. And the thing we know about wedge issues is that they get stuck in the crossfire between egos on all sides. The problem is that the environment is an issue on which we cannot afford to get stuck.

So everybody loses. Well, except for some celebrities who are looking for fifteen minutes of fame.

This is what the left has done to the environmental movement across the board. What did Greta Thunberg’s speech at the UN actually achieve? It probably pissed off many more people than it won over. So what, the leftists ask? Didn’t Greta Thunberg mobilize millions of people to become conscious about the climate crisis?

It is a fallacy that a cause can succeed simply when there are more people supporting it. You have to account for how many people are arrayed against you and take the difference. This is simple to understand : suppose there are two people pushing a car. Would it be easier to move the car if there were 10 people pushing it in one direction and then 9 others pushing back in the other direction?

So that’s what Greta Thunberg did: she polarized the issue of climate change even further. Getting just as many people to push the car backwards as forwards. And that’s what Aarey “activists” are doing, getting people to hate them. How much longer before we all start fighting over our individual egos, political biases, rich vs poor and all that? Recipe for stalemate.

Meanwhile, the clock keeps ticking.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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