Wangari Maathai- was a highly dedicated Environmentalist
Compiled by Adnan Tajvir
In February last year, NASA announced that the current Earth is greener than 20 to 21 years ago! NASA provided this information by comparing satellite images from last year to 20 years ago.
The greens are declining from our planet — this statement of environmentalists contradicts the information obtained from NASA. Many have not believed NASA’s statement. Western environmental magazines and blog sites also came up to verify the information.
They were trying to prove that a group of mischievous Chinese businessmen were behind the capture of green in the satellite image. Satellite photographs were coming up with misleading information that could not understand those tricks.
Since 2014, the Chinese government has made it mandatory to have adequate greenery around factories, and the factory owners have resorted to this as a ploy. Ranch owners and small-scale industrial authorities painted miles and miles of dark green on a large land area so that the images on satellite and drone cameras from above would look crisp green.
In many cases, the buildings were also painted green. The facts are not false.
However, since 2018, the Chinese government has not been indulging in these scams in any way; Rather, the clever ones are doing much bigger fines. China is determined to protect the environment.
What is the way?
At least seven major cities are shrouded in smoke and smog. There have to drive with the headlights on even during the day. In China, therefore, tree planting has been going on uninterruptedly for several years. So NASA’s satellite image has not been proven wrong.
But how is re-greening possible, as NASA reports? It has become possible because a group of environmentalists is planting trees in silence. Most of these highly dedicated environmentalists are from two countries with good reputations and bad reputations.
There are many reasons for the hatred of the two countries! But would it be right not to praise their admirable work? The two countries are India and China. The inspiration for both countries is Kenya and the first black Nobel laureate, Kenyan woman Wangari Maathai.
In 2017, in the long basin of the Narmada River in Madhya Pradesh, India, about 1.5 million people took part in the tree-planting festival. They planted 66 million trees in just twelve hours a day. India has also applied for the Guinness Book of World Records.
In the light of the Paris Agreement, India has a master plan to bring five million hectares of land under afforestation by 2030. China has also added billions of trees to its afforestation project. China is set to turn Liuzhou into a “forest city” in Guangxi province.
The city of thirty thousand inhabitants will adorn with forty thousand trees. The work of making Liuzhou a ‘city of the forest’ is nearing completion. Gradually many more cities will be transformed into forest cities. It can be said that millions of new trees are being added every day in India and China.
Wangari Maathai had a global visionary project. What is the interpretation of her project ‘Multidisciplinary Environmental Justice’? In a few speeches, he noted that planting trees is not the last word for the global environment, but only the beginning.
As a result of the UN Environment Agency’s ‘Billion Tree’ campaign in 2007, fourteen and a half billion trees have been planted in the world by 2016. In 2017, the movement took the name ‘Trillion Tree’ campaign! Professor Wangari Maathai, the Green Belt movement pioneer, is the sole contributor to these advances.
Her country is Kenya. The country is already green. Yet, the activists of The Green Belt movement planted thirty million trees. She also empowered one million women through the environmental movement.
Wangari Maathai also received the Nobel Prize in 2004 in recognition of his work. She passed away in 2011.
Wangari Maathai’s death anniversary was on 25th September. The day passed very quietly. During the week of ‘Climate Action’, the world media was so silent that Maathai’s name was nowhere to be heard!
The year 2020 was declared as ‘World Tree Health Year’ by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The year 2020 is coming to an end. But there is no such response anywhere. The NASA report comes just days before last year’s devastating floods in the Amazon and vast forests in the United States.
Looking at NASA’s current image, it will not be as hopeful as last year. About four and a half thousand acres of land have become treeless in Bangladesh itself due to the Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar. In the satellite image, the place looks like a green wasteland.
Horrific pandemic like COVID 19 has indeed diverted the world’s attention from all other necessities. But this excuse is not acceptable in the case of the forerunners of the active environmental movement.
Wangari Maathai had a global visionary project. What is the interpretation of his project ‘Multidisciplinary Environmental Justice’?
In a few speeches, she noted that planting trees is not the last word for the global environment, but only the beginning. Without ‘environmental justice’, tree planting alone will not be a sustainable system. For environmental justice, she spoke of the honesty and fairness of environmental politics.
An example of her ‘environmental justice’ commentary is that Bangladesh can stand at the UN and tell India that just as you have been responsible for planting trees, you have an equal responsibility, to be honest in the fair distribution of the Teesta water.
As if Bangladesh can say in a strong voice that your inevitable responsibility for equitable water sharing, ‘Transnational Environmental Justice’, is not mercy kindness. It is as if Bangladesh can easily say that the one-sided control of the Farakka Dam is a clear violation of the ‘Multilateral Environmental Justice’ that has made Bangladesh a disaster. It is also a clear violation of international law.
Wangari Maathai further said that planting trees is easy; there is nothing special about it. The most important thing is to preserve the trees and forests, keep them free from diseases and protect them from extinction. Celebrated as the ‘International Year of Tree Health’ in 2020, Maathai’s environmental philosophy is the only benefit.
Not only is the deepest understanding of the environment of Maathai, but it is also necessary to practice because she is not just stuck in the ‘green environment’-thinking. ‘Multidisciplinary Environment-justice’ is a mature political thinking and global philosophy on the environment.
Let the living Greta be in the current movement. We expect that she will become an environmentalist rich in basic environmental philosophy like Wangari Maathai.
Original: Dr. Helal Mohiuddin is Professor at the Centre for Peace Studies, Department of Political Science and Sociology, North South University.