India’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution to The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change begins with this quote from the Yajur Veda 36.17: “Unto Heaven be Peace, Unto the Sky and the Earth be Peace, Peace be unto the Water, Unto the Herbs and Trees be Peace”, indicating that for centuries humankind has been aware of their place in nature and the symbiotic relationship that they share with it.
But human arrogance, which tried to bend nature to its will in the name of ‘progress’, has resulted in the wanton destruction of nature such that today we are threatened with a changed climate. Violent storms and rising temperatures affect crops, animal habitats are destroyed, glaciers are melting and seas are rising. The profligate use of resources by developed countries impacts the development of other countries. Nature does not respect human boundaries. It punishes all equally, but the ability of the developing countries to withstand the ‘punishment’ is far less than that of the developed countries.
While the wrangling between the two groups on who is to do how much has been going on for some time and indications are that it will continue, the COP21 conference at Paris has recognized some hard facts. The limiting of global average temperature to 1.5 °C should be achieved without affecting food production and through financial aid to foster climate-resilient development. This is to be achieved by strengthening scientific knowledge on climate, including research, systematic observation of the climate system and early warning systems, in a manner that informs climate services and supports decision-making which should help in a non-market approaches to sustainable development through synergy between, mitigation, adaptation, finance, technology transfer and capacity-building.
In this context a book by Ian McHarg, a landscape architect, entitled Design with Nature makes sense. The idea was that humankind should not be at war with nature and try to force it to their own desire and design, but rather follow nature and design in harmony with nature. This seminal work on using map overlays for design led to the evolution of geographical information systems. Indeed geospatial technologies have been applied for long in sustainable development. It is now imperative that the geospatial community focuses its efforts in achieving the goals set by COP21.
In patois, if we cop out in the matter of Climate Change we will cop out from nature.