The phrase “Do not waste nature’s capital” refers to the iconic opinion of the revered British nature expert David Attenborough.

Any sensible and well-opinionated man or woman cannot agree more with the assertion that over-consumption of the world’s natural resources is already causing the planet’s ecology to bleed in catastrophic terms, left, right and centre. Particularly disturbing is his assessment that human beings and their domesticated animals now account for 96% of the total global headcount of mammals whereas all other species, mammals, beasts, birds, and primates have either been rendered extinct or rushing towards extinction. Countless bird, frog, fish and other exotic species have been wiped out due to continuous human expansion and settlement across all continents especially those incredibly rich in ‘natural capital’.

Attenborough makes the startling discovery that consumption or over-consumption of one species affects the populations of other species as well; this is akin to humanity’s financial system which is inextricably interlinked. If one major economy or region begins to feel the tide of recession, sooner or later, this recessionary trend begins to envelop the entire world financial order.

He has hypothesized a similar systemic linkage prevailing in the natural world. The question is how on earth are we going to protect the remaining natural capital of this world without submitting it to the whims of relentless capitalism and continued economic and human expansionism? Are we going to witness in the next 100 to 200 years, the decimation of all the remaining mammal, animal, fish, bird, and plant species on this perennial crises-ridden and terribly over-populated planet?

If the industrialized world takes steps towards the preservation of nature’s capital, can we honestly expect the developing world to follow suit? We know the vision of most developing countries is principally socio-economic in nature; these states strive to elevate living standards of its teeming & ever-growing millions of inhabitants and try to bring these at par with their brethren in the West, even if un-told colossal damage is caused to nature’s space in the midst of developing regions. As usual, all the global forums such as the UN, WWF, OECD, IMF, will turn a callous eye to the disasters befalling our nature; after all, unfortunately, it’s economic progress which basically matters!

Therefore, our basic human values need to be reconditioned and optimized so that each and every individual and society, living on this planet, begins to live, respect, and co-share our habitat with the natural world which includes forests, trees, and jungles, as well as all those species created by God to add beauty, grace and splendour to this temporary abode we call ‘home’. We will all have to face reckoning one day for having been willing participants in the wanton destruction or causing permanent scars to almost anything & everything which is inherently ‘nature’.

The present state of the natural world is marked by catastrophic wildfires, collapsing ice shelves, scattered micro-plastics, rusting belts, extinct species, widespread droughts, massive, relentless rainfall, and so forth. All citizens of this land must come together to contribute their fair share of effort to save, preserve and cherish this planet for the future inhabitants!

ABBAS R. SIDDIQI,

Lahore.