Happy World Environment Day (5 June)

Happy World Environment Day.

Here’s remembering wise words from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh:

The Earth is not something outside of us. Breathing with mindfulness and contemplating your body, you realise that you are the Earth. You realise that your consciousness is also the consciousness of the Earth. Look around you – what you see is not your environment, it is you.”

This may well be a fitting starting point for us to appreciate Nature.

For too long, many traditional books on Nature typically devote 10 chapters on the beauty of the natural environment and end with only 1 or 2 chapters on environmental conservation.

Maybe it’s time for nature conservation to be on the forefront of our education, instead of taking a backseat.

After all, without nature conservation, we will have fewer and fewer opportunities for nature appreciation.

If we don’t disrupt the status quo, nature will always be an afterthought in the minds of developers and urban planners.

Mitigation measures for development plans are often euphemisms for controlling damage incurred as a result of human-centric planning.

As a result, the wildlife often find themselves shortchanged, as they deal with ever-dwindling habitats.

“Minimise roadkill? Good – let’s fence up the forest boundary, so they have nowhere else to escape while the bulldozers tear down their homes.”

“Human-wildlife conflicts? Oh, it’s the people’s fault for feeding the wildlife that were displaced from habitat fragmentation, causing them to become aggressive towards humans.”

“Wildlife corridor? Fine – let’s chuck it next to the noisy expressway where nobody cares to live near.”

“Forest town? Ok, let’s replace over 90% of the original forest with buildings, roads and parks, and then advertise it as a “forest town”.”

“Petition to save the forest? Sure – let’s publish in the news about a newly designated nature park and omit details about housing development in its vicinity.”

“Green Plan? No problem, we will add 1,000 more hectares of “green spaces” by 2030 – while we hope the public will soon forget about the 33-hectare Dover forest, 85-hectare Clementi forest, 700-hectare Tengah forest etc before we slowly turn them into housing estates.”

“A new Outward Bound School (OBS) not welcome in Coney Island? Well, actually, our urban planners have already marked the area for development many years ago (nevermind the fact that they weren’t trained in EIA nor were they educated much about climate change back in the days).”

And so on and so forth.

So yes, happy World Environment Day.

May we remember the wise words of Thich Nhat Hanh for our sake and that of our future generations.

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