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ANKUR BARUA, M.A. BASILIO
The Centre of Buddhist Studies, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Address of Corresponding Author: Dr. ANKUR BARUA BLOCK – EE, No. – 80, Flat No. – 2A, SALT LAKE CITY, SECTOR -2, KOLKATA – 700 091 WEST BENGAL, INDIA Tel: +91-33-23215586 Mobile: +919434485543 Email: email@example.com
the Buddhist forest monasteries have manifested a harmonious living with nature. 2 . For thousand years. Men used oxygen partly discharged by trees. However. Melting of small glaciers and ice caps and rise of sea level.BUDDHIST APPROACH TO PROTECT THE ENVIRONMENT IN PERSPECTIVE OF GREEN BUDDHISM Introduction Environmental pollution poses a threat to our health in the form of climate change and global warming phenomenon at present. Arctic sea ice melting. wild animals in the forest in harmony and for mutual survival. in Buddhism. men looked after the trees. this is one of the main basic laws which were set out by the Buddha some 25 centuries ago for his disciples to follow. the Buddhists live with natural vegetation. Faster Arctic warming (11°F). The harmonious living of Buddhism is completely different from the competitive. With loving and tolerant heart. and at the same time. Tranquil life in the forest helped Buddhist practitioners to improve their inner mind. they also worked for the protection of animals living in the area. and in return. being established in the mountains. Antarctic Peninsula warming. live by their shadows. which tend to destruction for selfish gains. Wild animals may come to eat crops planted by the temple without running the risk to be killed. The awareness of protecting life and living environment has been more focused in recent years. in the forests. scientists have predicted increased greenhouse gasses will cause unnatural changes By 2000: Antarctic sea ice break-ups. opposing living and fighting against the nature as seen in the West and also in an increasing number of countries in the East. Statement of the problem For over 30 years.
however fearsome as tigers and wolves may be. All those damages and destructions to the ecology up to an alarming level are originated from the unwholesome and greedy mind of mankind. Though climate change also affects our health. those forests and mountains. and in this phenomenal world. They have misused and abused their power and selfishly destroyed these species of animals. He taught that for those who wish to follow his Path should practice loving-kindness. natural resources and finally reaping the results of destroyed living environment of their own. they never destroy the nature as badly as done by human. While the animals are seen as low-level beings. However.Relationship of Buddhist Philosophy and Environmental Health Buddhism represents the way of compassion. 3 . especially the youth who hold in their hands. the power to change the future. With his perfect wisdom. men have seen themselves as the smartest species of all beings. He saw all beings in the universe were equal in nature. not to harm the life of all beings . mutually developing and inseparable. lives of all human and animals were inter-related.not only to protect mankind. Only human can cause the most devastating destruction in this Earth. The fact that human-made changes in climate affect human health needs to be disseminated among our communities. but also to protect animals and vegetation. but unfortunately. the impact of climate change on human health is often not recognized by an individual in his day to day life. The Buddha manifested a complete compassion and is respectfully seen as the compassionate protector of all beings.
Trapped heat makes atmosphere warmer. however. Warming of the climate system is unequivocal. water vapor. The Greenhouse Effect Sun‟s energy gets trapped in the troposphere Some radiation that reaches Earth‟s surface is absorbed. or other gases. No greenhouse effect would mean colder than average temps. 4 .Concept of Climate Change Most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations. Let sunlight in short wavelengths Earth heats up and radiates heat in longer wavelengths Greenhouse gases (GHGs) do not let Earth‟s heat out The significant increase in energy consumption and hence CO2 emissions by the household sector from the late „80s to the early „90s was due to the rapid spread of domestic appliances such as air conditioners that consume daily large amounts of electricity. the continuing spread of recreation vehicles (RVs). Significant increase in CO2 emissions within transportation sector during the same period was due to transition to large-size cars. & the rapid development of large scale domestic electrical appliances during this period. widespread melting of snow and ice. by which the decrease of the average fuel-efficiency of vehicles was caused. can cause a rise in average temps. Too much. Warm atmosphere reflects heat to Earth‟s surface again. the propagation of domestic electrical goods with a standby function. as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures. and rising global mean sea level. There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activity. Reflected heat might get trapped by carbon dioxide. Some energy is reflected.
bacteria and viruses 5 . and islands and saline water will pollute water supplies of coastal cities.. wetlands. Increased range of diseases associated with tropical climates with higher incidence of malaria. threaten coastal resources. Concept of Global Warming and its Evidence Since 1860. CO2 concentration in atmosphere has increased by 24%. CH4 concentration in atmosphere has doubled. particularly a concern in elderly.Distribution of solar radiation entering the atmosphere 20% reflected by the atmosphere 20% absorbed by the atmosphere 51% is absorbed by the earth 9% is reflected by the earth and dust Distribution of emitted infrared radiation 17% escapes atmosphere 83% is held and re-emitted Maintains atmospheric temperature But Increased concentrations of CO2. an increase in extreme weather events. CH4 and other gases increase amounts of infrared radiation that is trapped and re-emitted and thus increases atmospheric temperature. mean global temperature has increased by 2oF. floods etc. rapidly reproducing species of weeds. dengue fever. insects. and yellow fever occurring at higher latitudes. concern for insurance industry. increases air conditioning needs. sea levels will increase 0.5 to 3 feet. rodents. heat stress and death of humans and animals. ten hottest days on record have occurred since 1980. droughts. average temperature will increase by 2 to 6oF in next century.
60 inches in diameter and 128 inches long. Burning of fossil fuels yields CO2 as combustion product. CO2 is Product of Biological Metabolism which is increase in Traffic load in Metropolitan Cities.may occur at higher latitudes. i. 1945. 1945 and over Nagasaki on August 10.. oil. They were due to a nuclear weapon of the "Fat Man" type. "Little Boy" weighed about 9.e. the plutonium implosion type detonated over Nagasaki.000 pounds and had a yield approximating 15.000 pounds and had a yield approximating 21. the uranium gun-type detonated over Hiroshima. the weapon weighed about 10.000 feet over Hiroshima on the morning of August 6. Industrial Pollutions Atomic bomb explosion: The mushroom cloud that was seen billowing up 20. Consumption of energy does not fall at all in response to a price hike.000 tons of high explosives. crop may be susceptible to new insect and disease problems and reduced forest health and changes in tree species. Indiscriminate Use of Plastics Deforestation Increase in demand for Oil & Natural Gas Effects of Global Warming: Signs that global warming is underway Sea level rise by thermal expansion and ice melt Sea ice melting (Arctic and Antarctic) Glaciers melting worldwide Arctic and Antarctic Peninsula heating up fastest Melting on ice sheets is accelerating 6 . Causes of Global Warming Probable cause CO2: carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere from Burning of fossil fuels (coal. the price elasticity is nearly zero. natural gas). It is 28 inches in diameter and 120 inches long.000 tons of high explosives and another nuclear weapon of the "Little Boy" type.
Since the 1970s. Melting of small glaciers and ice caps and rise of sea level. when the tilt increases to 24.5° to 24. winters are colder and summers are warmer than at 22. Axial Title of Earth’s Axis – Obliquity: Earth's tilt relative to the Sun changes between 21.S. leading to lower Arctic pressure and higher temperatures in Northern America and Eurasia. eastern U.000 year cycle. Antarctic sea ice.1 degrees.S. when winters are milder and summers are cooler and precession of equinoxes is change in direction of Earth's axis of rotation relative to the Sun at time of perihelion (closest to sun) and aphelion (furthest to sun). Its Positive phase is marked by mid-latitude high pressure moves storms farther north.) Bottom line: These changes do not fit the natural patterns unless we add the effects of increased GHGs Some aspects of climate have not changed: Tornadoes. and Mediterranean and colder weather for Greenland and Newfoundland. Antarctic Peninsula warming. More severe weather (droughts. Protecting Health from Climate Change: What can we do to prevent global warming? 7 . Lightning. The Arctic Oscillation (a winter phenomenon): This is the pattern of opposing atmospheric pressure in Northern middle & high latitudes. Predicted changes of human climate change For over 30 years. earth's axis today is tilted 23. storms. Dust-storms.5°. low pressure in mid-latitudes.5° relative to the normal to the plane of the ecliptic. Faster Arctic warming (11°F). scientists have predicted increased greenhouse gasses will cause unnatural changes By 2000: Antarctic sea ice break-ups. drier for Western U. heat waves. the AO has leaned towards the positive phase more frequently. floods. Its Negative phase is marked by high pressure in polar region. Arctic sea ice melting. This results in wetter weather for Alaska and Scandinavia.5° and back again on 41. hard freezes. Hail. etc. warmer.
stress agency. the goal set out in the Kyoto Protocol might be attainable. (b) Bring global warming down to earth. the common name of which is the Kyoto Mechanism. Explain causes as man-made. As long as the appropriate measures are implemented without delay. Relate causes and consequences in systems thinking. An appropriate combination of domestic policies and the CDM 8 . Put humans in the center of the system – ecosystems include humans. but also through promotion of the clean development mechanism (CDM). Highlight technological solutions and the policies that advance them.(a) Respect the Kyoto Protocol: The Kyoto Protocol introduced an international system of emissions trading. 7% for the USA. The Kyoto Protocol requires Annex I countries to reduce the average GHG emissions for the period from 2008 to 2012 on the whole at least by 5% compared to the total emissions in 1990. Reduce the timeline – 20 years not 2000. and 0% for Russia and other East European countries. make it manageable Shift scientists from proving global warming to explaining global warming. The assigned reduction rates were differentiated among countries: 8%for the EU countries. 6% for Japan. Explain causes before consequences. joint implementation and clean development mechanism. Avoid consumer sacrifice or behavior change. It is by no means impossible to reduce the annual GHG emissions during the period from 2008 to 2012 by 6% compared to those in 1990. only through domestic policies such as carbon taxation. (c) Give Solutions a High Priority “Understanding the solution” and “understanding the problem” go together. Demonstrate the existence and efficacy of short-term solutions.
these countries are keeping what we call revenue neutral: reducing income taxation or the burden of social security to compensate the burden additionally imposed by carbon taxation. Fierce competition in research and development of fuel-efficient cars has already begun. ceramics. Britain a climate change levy in April 2001. (f) Use Fuel-Efficient Cars The Kyoto Protocol offers an opportunity for the world-wide reorganization of the car industry. (d) Stop Indiscriminate Use of Plastics (e) The Energy Conservation Law needs to be enforced: The law enforces companies that manufacture electrical appliances and cars to improve energy efficiency to the level assigned by the government appliance by appliance. and metal goods in recent years. for instance. The merger of Daimler-Benz with Chrysler in 1998 can be seen as a forerunner to the reorganization of the car industry triggered by the Kyoto Protocol. 9 . making purchase and possession taxation on vehicles proportional to their fuel efficiency. Holland. nonferrous metals. Germany introduced somewhat irregular carbon taxation in 1999. including steel. Differences in macro-economic effects between developed and developing countries (Carbon Taxation): Scandinavian three countries. There is a trend of reduction in the share of energy consumption in intensive heavy and chemical manufacturing sectors. In principle. The recent trend of market liberalization and internationalization should be taken into consideration when we consider about preference among the three. and so on so force. Such changes in the industrial structure could well cause a gradual decrease in CO2 emissions per unit of the GDP. If one supposes that IT innovations will decrease energy consumption. and Denmark introduced carbon taxation in the early 1990`s. carbon taxation.will enable us to achieve the greatest effect at the lowest cost. Economic measures should be given priority. the expected CO2 emissions reduction must be adequately predicted and counted in the BAU (Business-As-Usual) forecast.
not only should recognize interdependence. Eco-Buddhism or Green Buddhism.e.Concept of Green Buddhism to Prevent Climate Change Religion can have the most powerful influence on views. after abandoning the throne. This movement applies to concepts and principles from Buddhism for dealing with particular environmental issues in order to relieve the suffering of all living beings. trees and plants. values. motivations and decision-making capacities of human beings that can change the behavior of individuals. It also signifies the aesthetic beauty of nature and environment. David Kinley identified that the appropriate relationship between humans and nature should be reciprocal. Since 1970‟s there has been a growing movement in many parts of the world what is popularly known as Buddhist ecology. Harmony or balance between humans and the rest of the nature must be maintained and promoted and in case it is upset. “Green” also denotes youthful. Concept of “Green” is the way to reach the Buddha‟s goal to enjoy everything indifferently. groups & society. attitudes. It defines the place of humans in nature including how they should act toward non-human beings and other phenomenon. Buddhist Environmentalism. then it should be immediately restored. His enlightenment experience took place at the foot of Bodhi 10 . vigor and activity. human beings. especially trees. there are many references to nature. Buddhism is often referred to as the “most green or environment-friendly religion”. Prince Siddhartha was born in a park at the foot of a tree in Kapilavastu. the chief events in the life of the Buddha too took place in the open air and amidst the nature. “Green” – Signifies the middle of visible seven color spectrum which relates to nature. i. but also promote mutually beneficial interactions with nature. he had spent many years wandering in the forests and mountains of India in pursuit of spiritual understanding. Nature belongs to the best perfection to approach the Four Noble Truths and Noble Eight Fold Path.. In the canonical story of the Buddha. In fact.
to live in harmony with nature. “Nature” was more descriptive in “Thera Gatha” than in “Theri Gatha”. but to live in harmony with all beings and with nature. Contrasting to the unwholesome and greedy mind is the spirit of simple living and contentment by those who practice the Buddha's teaching. causing deaths. Excessive greed to possess everything for themselves. make war. leading to self-destruction and environmental damage. starvation. had responded to admire the natural beauty with a detached sense of appreciation. destruction of life of all species. As documented in “Thera Gatha” and “Theri Gatha”. The bottomless greed has pushed mankind to satisfy excessive and unnecessary demands. Living in contentment does not mean the elimination of desire of knowledge and truth. On that basis. They are prepared to fight. those who understand the Buddha's teaching will limit their selfishness. disease. gradually worsening the living environment. He inaugurated his missionary activity in the open air in the sala grove of the Malas in Pava. where they could zealously engage themselves in meditation undisturbed by human activity.Tree at Bodhgaya. The Buddha's constant advice to his disciples was to resort to natural habitats such as forest groves and glades. the Buddha and his disciples regarded natural beauty as a source of great joy and aesthetic satisfaction. and for many years he had preached his doctrines to his disciples in shaded groves. or for their own group. They will see what should be explored and to what level. Buddhist Concept of Compassion to Prevent Climate Change The external environment is seriously polluted because the internal environment in the mind is seriously damaged. However. The monks. without harming the environment. “Theri Gatha” highlighted the wrong way to view nature by human beings and provided the right way to appreciate natural beauty without causing any harm to anything living or non-living. who purged themselves of sensuous worldly pleasures. has make men becoming blind. what should be protected for future use by the next generations and other beings. It was perceived that attachment to nature might provoke greed in human mind and pose threat to natural flora and fauna in an attempt to acquire them for self possession and consumption. and take them into endless competitions. 11 .
earth. water. exercise self-control in the enjoyment of the senses. without being concerned of the negative impact of unplanned exploitation leading to depletion of natural resources. 12 . All measures should be targeted towards dealing with basic causes. and conduct himself with wisdom and self-awareness in all activities. reduction of wants to the minimum. need to be adopted. discharge toxics into the air. Satisfaction of basic human necessities. permanent strategies. destroying the ecological balance.By all means. Buddhism teaches that mind is the forerunner of all things and mind is supreme and offers man a simple moderate lifestyle eschewing both extremes of self-deprivation and self-indulgence. leading to environmental pollution. determined largely by our values. Each man has to order his life on normal principles. they try to maximize their profits. discharge his duties in his various social roles. Long term. priorities. frugality. and contentment are its important characteristics. and choices. Conclusion We need to realize that environmental pollution cannot be dealt with any the short term strategy based on any magic potion or cosmetic basis or by tackling symptoms.
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