The harm to nature is harm to themselves

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 D. Ulzytuev, a Buryat poet, has a remarkable poem "On the border of steppe and desert" which contains the lines: 

"A man 
Can save dead ground  
But kill the living one
And doesn’t he care
What happens." 

These words, especially in the second part of the stanza, reflect the fact that sometimes people can live without realising that the harm they do to nature is primarily harm to themselves. Therefore, summing up the part on environmental socialization of the population in general, let us try to formulate natural principles which arguments will be quite clear to everybody as they are closely linked with our daily life. 
1. “It is more trouble than it is worth". It is important to remember today that when we commit any environment violations we harm ourselves what will show itself in both physical and mental health deterioration as the proverb says: "Little strokes fell great oaks." There is another popular saying proving this idea: "As the call, so the echo." If we do not pay attention to the solution of environmental problems, we will have to face the following negative consequences: 
• gas-laden atmosphere;  
• no possibility to use drinking water from natural sources; 
• substandard foods with nitrates and chemicals; 
• intoxication of our bodies with harmful substances;  
• increasing background noise, which causes mental disorders; 
• impossibility to have a rest in the nature comfortably owing to trash and illegal dumps;  
• repulsive hygienic conditions in public places; 
• unhealthy conditions for children’s leisure.

These consequences (and they can be continued) affect the young generation most of all, and the violation of the principle "“It is more trouble than it is worth"" turns out to be a vile mine that human beings lay under their future. Nowadays it is very important to learn how the harm done to nature or any environmental folly of a man, society and state will affect the health and well-being of today's citizens and their offsprings.

2. "True contribution". People should not only know about the negative factors that affect their health and well-being but also try to contribute to the protection of the Baikal natural world, its flora and fauna by doing something practical. 
The poll we mentioned above shows that the local population are beginning to realize that they do not play an important role in the lake protection.  
To the question: “How does the local population contribute to the environment protection and improvements in the area where you live?” the people responded: 
1). Everybody is concerned about it and everybody wants to contribute - 6.5% 
2). Most people want to do something but sometimes they can not arrive at what they wanted to do – 23.6% 
3) Few residents are concerned about it, the majority are indifferent – 24.3%  
4) They only talk about taking care of nature, in fact, they continue polluting nature – 35.3% 
5) Nobody ever thinks about it– 7.3% 
6) It is difficult for me to answer - 2.9% 
Similar responses were received for the question: "To what extent do you think local authorities take care of Baikal?"  
However, "the ice was broken" recently. Such environmental organizations as Baikal Environmental Wave, the Baikal-Econet and Russian Greenpeace, along with the public and some interested business people are making a valuable contribution. Volunteers- enthusiasts, both Russian and foreign, come to Lake Baikal to clean its shores of trash. In June 2007 "Baikal Heineken Brewery”, which is one of the leading companies in the region, started the environmental project "Clean Baikal" on the Olkhon island.

The project is being implemented in collaboration with the Irkutsk region administration and the administration of Olkhon district. The business, the government and the public united to do this noble work. The aims of the project are claimed to be not only picking-up and removing garbage but also educating the visitors and the local population of the island in terms of ecology. Public patrol is on duty at the ferry where everyone who comes here is given a garbage bag and told how to behave on the island. They are planning to carry out the competition for the best tourist site and to give awards to “the best tent”, to organize the contest among the local residents for the improvement of the territory. We may say that this is how good traditions of ecological economy or economical ecology are arising in the region.

The rule of “true contribution” to environmental activities can and should be supported by financial rewards, which is advantageous in many ways. For example, in Chistopol region of Tatarstan pupils during the vacation time were earning money for gathering used beer cans, plastic bottles and other trash. The amount of work done is converted into special units - "trudiki" – specially-made stamps which are then "converted" into cash. Pupils get "trudiki" depending on how much trash they gather (aluminum beer cans, waste paper, cloth rags). Some workaholics earn up to one thousand of “trudiki” during the vacation.  Schools, especially successful in that, are payed extra money, which is twice more than "Vtorsyryo” (“Recyclable materials") rates. 200 thousand rubles were given for these purposes from the local budget. This kind of job, by the way, is not easy: 1kg of recyclable materials, for example, equals 60 beer cans or 25 plastic bottles, you need to bend your back not once... As a result, your pocket is full and the streets are clean. Adults have already given the volunteers a nickname of "walking vacuum cleaners" – they sweep everything clean! 

The children’s parents also got involved in this action like it used to be during socialist competitions - everyone wanted to see their children among the winners of the "cleaning" project. Describing the initiative, journalists recall that a girl was proudly showing her money and telling how she, together with her father, was gathering bottles and used cardboard in the ravine.  
Schools in the Chistopol region got very enthusiastic about collecting trash: everyone is trying to take the lead in cleaning streets, gardens, lawns, shores, yards and parks, suburban forests and springs (see “Trud” 07/12/2007). It is easy to understand that schoolchildren living in the Pribaikalie area can also join such actions due to patriotic and other reasons and to provide clean environment. It is possible to have many activities like this, financing them from the budgets of different levels. 

3. “True people’s contribution” to environmental activities will not be sufficiently ensured if the local population are just witnesses of the decisions on Baikal resources use made by authorities and commercial organizations. To make people feel responsible, we need a public examination of any project affecting the sacred sea environment so as to follow it at every stage of decision making.  For example, judging by the Japanese experience, their municipal authorities learned to listen to people. The content, the procedure and the duration of a public opinion poll are determined by the local authorities and are dependent on the region, the project type and its impact on environment. The basic procedure and the steps within it are as follows: 
1) The author of the project submits to the local administration the first draft with its ecological assessment and a booklet for population. 
2) For about 20 days the prefecture or municipality distributes the booklet among the population, providing everybody with the opportunity to familiarize with the project and its environmental assessment in detail. They also hold the meetings of the developer of the project with local residents (perhaps a few meetings in different districts) where the developer explains the basic points of the project and its possible consequences. 
3) After that, 3-5 weeks are given for residents to give their comments on the draft, send letters, make statements and critisize. 
4) The developer meets local residents again and answers the people’s comments.
5) The local administration analyzes the people’s opinions. Taking them into consideration, as well as the administration plan (program) of the region development, they make a decision whether to approve the project or return it for revision. 
6) In the case of the negative decision the project is revised and sent to the prefecture or municipality again, and the same cycle is repeated. In this case, a public reading of the draft is held (up to 15 days).  
7) If the residents require a new meeting with the developer, it is organized and called “a hearing”. 
8) These steps are repeated until the positive decision is made and the project is approved. 
9) Then the developer starts to fulfill the project along with the administrative and residential control (see 144, p.123-124)  
Certainly, sometimes the local authorities also organize public opinion polls while making decisions on environmental issues. However, it is done occasionaly, without any system, that is why people feel futile and they feel like "the fifth wheel in a cart." It is becoming more convenient to rely on "those who have power" and at the same time to curse them. But we cannot move anywhere with this kind of attitude. 
4. The principle of "a hot stove" grounded by Baisley, a Canadian psychologist. Here are his main arguments looked at from the environmental point of view: 
a) A hot stove radiates heat, i.e., warns everyone that touching it causes a burn. An environmental violations control system should also be warning, i.e., accompanied by information about specific consequences of the established order infringement, and this information ought to be known in advance.  
b) A hot stove burns us immediately when we touch it. No one doubts the connection between our touching the stove and painful feeling. Punishment for discovered crimes in the environmental domain must follow immediately after the crime is committed or after a person’s guilt is proved in court. 
c) A hot stove burns everyone regardless their attitudes, positions, patronages.  The problem of ecological legislation is that sometimes a person, violating the norms due to his ties with corrupted “”powerful people", avoids fair punishment. Violators, who have ties with corrupted authorities, are often confident of their impunity. Such psychology ought to be resisted in every possible way. 
d) A hot stove always burns, for any contact, and there is no such provision that the stove would be “on vacation”. The bodies authorizing environmental violations must not allow the cases when responsible parties can ignore the established rules: one punishes, another - in his absence - forgives. Consistency in the system of penalties ought to become a common feature for all the people who are responsible for it; 
e) When people burn themselves, they resent a stove “not much and not for a long time” but they get more offended with themselves. The practice of adequate repressive attitude to those who is trying to find the loops in the law teaches them not to refer to the objective reasons for the law violation and not to rely on the general situation in the environmental field. 

Some may see the proposed measure of "a hot stove" too strict: it does not correspond to democratic and humane principles. But let us look at environmental measures in some countries. In the Czech Republic, rigid procedures were introduced to break the people’s habit of leaving car parts, which served their time, in the forest. For instance, to buy new tires you must bring old tires to the shop and pay 48 korunas for their utilization. It is not too expensive if you know that old tires’ "loss” costs a fine of 48,000, baring in mind that an average salary is about 12,000. Therefore, to lose car tyres in the Czech Republic is a luxury that few can afford. In France the price of driving into the Boulogne forest or making a fire there is about how much a car costs. In Norway you will be fined even if you pick a mushroom in the forest (because mushrooms are for squirrels). That is why no tires are scattered all over Europe, no fires are made in parks, and nice boletuses can be seen in forests.

Some strict measures exist on paper in the Baikal region too. For example, a penalty for lawns and flowerbeds destruction in the Irkutsk region is about 3-5 minimum wages (MW); damaging or carrying somewhere else benches, horizontal bars, sandboxes - 1-3 MW; washing cars in the yard - 1-10 MW; damaging and cuttingtrees and shrubs - 5-10 MW; littering the local area - 3-10 MW. But these conventional sanctions have not brought any tangible effect owing to two main reasons. Firstly, Siberian mentality (Russian, if we take it wider) differs from the foreign one: ecology and order in their native areas are not very important for Siberian people. Secondly, we have no respect to "a hot stove" principle: both the authorities and the public do not always observe it, they are only beginning to realise it.  
However, I am quite optimistic that people are becoming more aware of the “hot stove” principle. During our survey we asked the question: “Do you agree that today’s punishment for nature pollution and damage must be much tougher?” (N = more than 1,000 people.): 
1. Absolutely agree – 65.2% 
2. Support in general but some punishment conditions should be worked out, etc. – 31%  
3. Disagree to strict measures – 1.8% 
4. Difficult to answer, cannot answer- 2% 
Looking at these figures, I am filled with confidence that people can turn seemingly routine care of Lake Baikal into their livetime goal and value. We need only to think over and show those who stand for its uniqueness and purity what mechanisms should be involved in this process, certainly, based on local initiative. It is worth mentioning that the Russian Nature Management Ministry got interested in this issue. The Ministry particularly intends to pay the citizens who will complain to supervisors about environmental crimes. Payments will be payed from the fines. To some extent, this innovation is supported by environmentalists. 
We surely may consider other environmental socialization principles but the ones I mentioned are the cornerstones which will help restore and develop people’s environmental psychology in a proper way. Here I mean the people who not only love and appreciate nature, in general, and Lake Baikal, in particular, but also feels the deepest responsibility for them. N. Damdinov, a Buryat poet, tells about it in his poem like this:

Impulsive, invisible waves.

Perhaps, the *Barguzin’s pressure

Began to stir this roll,

I'm looking at you, my Baikal. From the summit

I'm trying with my loving gaze

Sparkling and epic wide of smooth surface

The whole it, to kiss and embrace.

I'm standing as famous explores,

On the edge of a high precipice,

And watching how Baikal bearsdge of a high amous explores,

And waves, like swans, are dashing

The song doesn't seem to me long ,

Darkening with anger, holy,

*Barguzin – wind on Lake Baikal. 

In a flock, to the bases of rocks.

No end to them, countless.

In the absolute mountain peace

The song of the wave, careless,

Is sounding so many years.

To heark it for ages – only this one.

... To you, who's been praised in the songs,

To you, being guilty, today I have come.

A son for the parent's forgiveness 

Appeared before you today,

Do you bear in mind my refreshments? –

A glass filled with the poison I gave!

I said, the old and experienced man can survive,

I said, I knew what I’d done ...

Taken by stupid ambitions and pride,

I by conceit was overcome.

I forgot about tomorrow, suddenly,

I said, for grandsons didn’t sigh!

Me – a silly boy 

In 1881 a Siberian told V.A. Obruchev quite a prophetic for our time legend. "Satan, the ruler of all the devils, the enemy of God and man, is lying bound hand and foot in his underworld kingdom. A fiery sea surrounds him, glowing coals gather are on his head, blazing flame is torturing his body without killing him, he feels agonizing heat in his heart, brain, internals. Hell absorbs him, it’s everywhere, inside and outside of him. Above, on the earth once seduced by him, refreshing water is babbling, the life-giving sun is shining, meadows and valleys are flowering, liberated people are rejoicing. These are new hellish torments for the mankind’s enemy. Being furious, he would like to cast his disastrous look at this beautiful, blessed, beloved by God Earth. But he cannot.  An angel is standing in front of him with a drawn sword and makes sure that these diabolical evil eyes of his are closed. And he keeps them closed day and night. Once a year, on New Year's day, he is allowed to glance at the earth. And woe to him who catches his eye! If it is a forest, a fire starts there; soil is dried up, cattle are threatened with plague, a building is destroyed by fire, and a man must die!"  ... And it sometimes seems that the devils’ master opens his eyes more often, again and again, owing to both angelic and our own negligence...  Goethe said that our Mother nature is indifferent, the sun equally shines on evil and good, the moon and the stars shine both for the villain and for the best one. Nowadays, perhaps, it is more accurate to say that nature is not indifferent to human deeds and tricks but just endlessly compassionate and tolerant. However, any patience can come to an end, especially if it is abused. It is very important for us to remember it.

See also

Literature

  1. A.D. Karnyshev "The Many Faces of Multilingual and Mysterious Baikal"© BSU Publishing House, 2011

Выходные данные материала:

Жанр материала: English | Автор(ы): Karnyshev A.D. | Источник(и): The Many Faces of Multilingual and Mysterious Baikal. Ulan-Ude. 2012 | Дата публикации оригинала (хрестоматии): 2011 | Дата последней редакции в Иркипедии: 30 марта 2015

Материал размещен в рубриках:

Тематический указатель: Irkipedia English