Sunday, May 17, 2015

Lake of fire

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A few weeks ago we were bombarded from all sides- newspapers, TV news and social media- with these bizarre images. The lakes of Bangalore, Varthur and Bellandur lakes in particular, were overflowing with thick froth. We've since heard several conjectures ranging from detergents in the sewage to urine being the culplrits. I'm still not sure which hypothesis actually explains the frothing but the one thing we can agree on is that we owe this phenomenon to not having the slightest idea how to manage our last remaining natural resources. 

While the lakes hogged the news I happened to be reading about an island in the Pacific ocean that also had its own intriguing story featuring phosphates and a total lack of stewardship in how its environment was managed. Nauru, an island country only double the size of Chandni Chowk, was found to be a rich source of phosphates in the beginning of the 20th century. The resource was so abundant and so easily extractable that at one point Nauru had the highest per-capita income in the world. Nauruans, like humans everywhere else, took their environment for granted, over-exploited their blessings, made the ecology too toxic for their fauna and the habitat too sparse for their fauna. Predictably their short-term focus has led them now to an unemployment rate of 90%. 

I can't help thinking that Nauru is the petri dish in which we can see this planet's future. We continue to screw up the treasures we have, with no thought spared for the generations unborn. Meanwhile, in my own town - and I'm not making this up - the froth caught fire yesterday. Stay tuned for more absurdities.

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