Written by: Nityanand Jayaraman
Images by: Amirtharaj Stephen
In the fight between river and sea on who gets to keep the trash that Chennaiites generate, it may seem that the sea is winning. Actually, for every tonne of garbage that gets thrown back to land, there is probably 10 that gets lost in sea.
The white of the styrofoam is a visible reminder of how no amount of tinkering can help correct the course of our pathologically consumerist society. CSR-funded beach clean ups and car-free sundays have more to do with feeling good and protecting the health of corporations than they do with protecting the earth’s life-sustaining infrastructure.
People who promote such tokenist gestures — as being a step in the right direction — are deluded and defeated environmentalists. Such actions rob us of time and are counter-environmentalist. At no time in history has there been a crying need for a radical departure from business-as-usual.
But all we have is a chorus of voices — national governments, the left, the right and the centre, United Nations, the World Business Council of Sustainable Development, NGOs like WWF and Rainforest Alliance — telling us that” “Yes, we are on the brink of an ecological disaster, but all that will be okay if we use a dustbin, recycle, drink fair trade coffee, invest in green corporations like Unilever, power our malls with wind-mills, and invest faith in the new gods of western science and modern technology.”
As Avtar Singh Pash says: “Beech ka rasta nahin hota hain.” (There is no middle path.) There is no win-win. If humanity is to have a chance of surviving, the dominant economic model has to be dismantled, has to lose, has to be defeated.