Struggling to bring environmental issues to public attention in the hope of encouraging people to take action on everything even remotely connected to climate change issues and the sustainable future of our world is, truthfully, a complete and utter waste of time, as so few people out there actually give a damn and those who do, are already doing whatever possible to halt the currently inevitable obliteration of all that others take for granted.

The crass selfishness of the human race is appalling to the inth degree: As long as water comes out of the tap, even if the water got there via an inconvenient paid for tanker, people feel they have an inalienable right to waste it as they will, to, for example, lavish it on ‘lush green lawns’, while a staggering percentage, one which increases daily, of the global population are both hungry and thirsty on a permanent basis with their only relief being death. But no one thinks of such issues, as they water their grass and, in the unlikely event that even one of them does, their attitude is “well……I can’t do anything about it and won’t the lawn look good for that garden party I’m having at the weekend.”

The inarguable fact that 58 percent of the Pakistani nation is now, as a direct result of the atrocious government policies combined with a sickening level of corporate greed, not just malnourished but hungry does not prevent people from wasting inordinate amounts of food on glutinous wedding guests, many of them already obese, attending strings of nuptial events the cost of which, despite the existence of openly flaunted laws intended to exercise at least a measure of control, often runs into millions of rupees which, if anyone cared, could be used to alleviate the poverty and misery of their not so fortunate countrymen, women and hungry children, but no….….ostentation must take the first place as “What would the neighbours say?”

Those, not just here in Pakistan but all over this unsustainably overexploited planet, whose fate is thirst and hunger on a daily basis are, although the majority appear to have a different opinion, human beings too and have equal rights to whatever form of sustenance happens to be available. Yet the sad fact is that they, largely through no fault of their own, have been denied access to the education that would make them employable in ‘reasonable’ jobs and are thus relegated to poorly paid labour status if, that is, they can find work at all  and therefore, due to societal not just governmental neglect, exist as ‘pariahs’ in the closed eyes of those taking their own ‘elevated’ status for granted. Tossing the underpaid, overworked maid, the cook, the driver et al a bundle of discarded clothes once in a while, or allowing them to take leftover food home, may be helpful but paying them a liveable wage would go far further in assisting them to survive in a reasonable level of comfort as, let’s face it, how on earth would the bulk of the pretentious Pakistani middle and upper classes survive without their household slaves to depend on?

What, you may well ask is: Does any of the above have to do with climate change issues and global sustainability? Well…….everything, as it turns out.

Take water for starters: Water is an increasingly precious commodity, as without it there can be no life. Since natural water resources are no longer, as a direct result of altered weather patterns, available in the quantities they previously were and the lesser amount has to suffice for an expanding global population, many of whom depend on manufactured goods that use vast amounts of water in their production, plus, astronomical amounts of fresh water are needed for the essential cultivation of agricultural crops, then every single drop counts. If people continue to waste it in luxurious lifestyles, then everyone and everything is going to suffer sooner, rather than later. If water is wisely used now then, hopefully, new methods of producing and cultivating basic requirements will be discovered and made mandatory operative before the collective well runs dry. Think of Pakistan’s escalating power shortage which cripples life and business for the majority; apply the scenario to water and you might just get an idea of what will, unless changes are made on an emergency basis, happen on the water front too.

The entire world needs to collectively act on the fresh water front if the human race is to survive and, right here at home, we have so many water conservation options that are feasible to apply but which, as the issue will never be taken seriously until after the taps have run dry, we steadfastly chose to ignore: Harvesting of rainwater is something that should be made law for every single building, no matter how large or small, even in areas where rain falls, but intermittently as incredible amounts of water can be collected in this way. In regions, the hills for instance, where snow and rain are, although lesser now, part of the seasonal scene, reservoirs must be made and not necessarily out of concrete, the runoff water being stored for local use in dry periods, or for piped down to the plains to feed city supplies, and, as a last radical thought, why not impose a restriction of a certain number of gallons of water per person per day or per week so that people think twice before wasting something that the world cannot survive without.

Is anyone listening…….I doubt it!

The writer is author of The Gun Tree: One Woman’s War (Oxford University Press, 2001) and lives in Bhurban.

Email: zahrahnasir@hotmail.com