Sometime ago, I received a letter from a gentleman in the United States who expressed his fears concerning the environment.
He said in his letter: "We are severely damaging the whole bio-system of the planet on an unprecedented scale". The oceans of petroleum we have depended on for fertilizers, clothing, transportation and energy will be gone within a few generations. Four to six million tons of top-soil a year are being lost and millions of trees are being cut down. Within a few decades we will be unable to feed ourselves. Added to this is the problem of disposing of radioactive waste which is now being accumulated. Future generations will have to live with this dangerous problem."
The writer of the letter believes that this generation has also seriously damaged the earth by massive industrialization and its negative aspects.
I read this letter several times and it did give me pause. Pollution and environmental damage caused these days is not only going to cause future generations harm but it is already affecting us. Diseases are spreading; stress in our lives is increasing; and, society itself is becoming nervous. How can we overcome all this?
I believe that environmental education should be a compulsory subject in schools and colleges. Universities, big businesses and industry should join hands in research to see that the earth's natural resources will not be irreparably damaged and depleted.
I also believe that environmental issues should be dealt with seriously. Industrialization brings with it pollution. We should not allow our lands and waterways to be permanently damaged by misuse or abuse - be it by ourselves or outsiders. Our schools, homes, governmental and non-governmental institutions should inculcate the responsibility toward the planet. The resolutions of the conference held in Rio De Janeiro must be implemented. In this regard, all of us should be prepared to shoulder our share of the burden.
Last year, the UAE's top environmental authority criticized the media in the Arab world for their poor coverage of environmental issues and for not playing their role in raising public awareness about the need for preserving the environment. It is indeed unfortunate that despite the importance of the environment in our life, it has not been given its due share of coverage in the Arab media.
This is even more surprising when we consider that Islam lays stress on the importance of protecting and preserving nature. The media, however, seems oblivious to all this.
Industrialization and technological progress have brought with them new dangers that affect our lives. If these threats are not emphasized and awareness of how to deal with them is not created in the minds of people, irreversible damage will be caused. For example, I see at times old refrigerators thrown out. Do people know that these contain pollutants that are harmful to health? It is not only the role of the media but also of those who sell such products to bring environmental issues to our attention.
In this part of the world, it is all right if the media hail, praise and spend pages on covering football. Reporters may even write half a page about themselves! In no other papers, except in the Arab world, do readers get such a big diet of news about editors and journalists!! Believe me, what I am telling is the truth.
However, let us not be found wanting. Let our media create awareness of the environment. In order to do so, journalists and reporters learn more and train themselves to write about ecological matters. Let the Arab media take a leaf from the media notebook of others.
Remember: Saving the earth for our children is not just the task of governments; it is everybody's job and obligation.