Scientists estimate that in about 50 years’ time, there will be a generation of people who might not have the opportunity to visit the Amazon forest.
I am yet to visit the great lungs of the world that is worryingly on fire, but my chances are dimming with every passing day.
Once upon a time, when the Amazon was greener and the people of the world did not worry about climate change,my bedroom window back home overlooked the ‘forest area’ — a name given by the residents owing to the thicket of lush green under the expansive canopy of a Gulmohar tree decked resplendent in an exuberant cluster of flame-red flowers. Every morning we woke up to the dawn chorus of our feathered neighbours residing on the branches of the old tree, that turned into boisterous cacophony on weekend mornings when we wished to indulge in the comforting arms of sweet slumber.
One evening, a house sparrow accidentally entered our home. The little bird flitted about frantically, ignoring our comforting pleas until it gave up the search for an exit and cosied up to a high corner on the wall far from the reach of bothersome little hands. The following morning, much to our dismay and parents’ relief, it found its way out. After that night, the sparrow was back and cosied up on the wall night after night until our excitement simmered, and we coexisted in our independent worlds.
As the days began getting warmer and the needles of the light that pierced through the thicket of green felt hotter, our guest pined for feathery company and brought along a companion.
And then one day they flew in carrying twigs, flitted about and placed their nest building material in a corner in the attic. My brother and I were excited, but the prospect of the feathered couple starting a family on the attic did not excite my parents. Father decided to outwit the birds by placing one of my dolls, the adorable ‘sweetie’ that under my care had turned into a ferocious-looking creature with dark beady eyes staring consistent with a steely glare with an untidy mop of blond hair, beside the twigs to scare the birds away.
That night I pined for my doll and the bird family.
Visit back home
My anguish was short-lived as father’s plan backfired and to our horror, the eager birds beat him at his game and built a cosy nest atop the mop of sweetie’s blond hair. New life was exciting for us, but the consistent chirping gave my parents sleepless nights. The birds staked claim of the attic, forcing mother to abandon her visits to pick or drop things on their side of our home, until the fledglings and their parents took off leaving a barren nest and upset well-wishers.
Today, the house stands but in place of the Gulmohar tree and its feathered residents stands an apartment that boasts of luxury that includes a patch of manicured lawn but not having to lose sleep over breeding birds — the likes of the house sparrow that have disappeared or stretches of green dominated by ageing majestic trees that housed them.
During my visit back home, it was worrying to see the once slow-paced Garden City with its cool climes robbed of its trees — a crucial factor for maintaining the air we breathe and fresh water table alongside aiding the production of everything from paper to chewing gum — transformed into a progressing city that houses a rising population waging daily wars stuck in a vicious cycle of traffic woes, home loans and stress between facing the wrath of drought and flood waters.
Among the many solutions proposed to end the dilemma of deforestation is to ship human race into another planet or simply stop cutting trees and plant some. The choice is ours.
— Pranitha Menon is a freelance writer based in Dubai. Twitter: @MenonPranitha