In conversation with environment activist Bittu Sahgal

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Geetanjali Minhas | June 30, 2015 | Mumbai


#bittu sahgal   #bittu sahgal interview   #environmentalist bittu sahgal  


Bittu Sahgal, environment activist and writer, is known for speaking about impacts of climate change. He was a member of the National Board for Wildlife of the ministry of environment and forests. Sahgal is also the founding editor of Sanctuary Asia, a wildlife and ecology magazine. He believes that though natural wealth has many claimants, in reality it belongs to the future and today’s children must carry this truth forward.


The book I am reading: The Social Conquest of the Earth by Edward O Wilson

The book I enjoyed writing most: The Bandhavgarh Inheritance

If not an environmentalist, I would have been: Hopefully a cricket test opening batsman-wicket-keeper...

Wildlife and forests are important because: Human life depends on them, not the other way round.

One thing I wish I could change: Ingratitude. I would want homo sapiens to be less ungrateful for the gift of life.

My greatest challenge so far: Retaining my inner happiness surrounded by circumstances that conspire to inject despair into the world.

My favourite pastime: Observing species, plant or animal, any species that is not homo sapiens.

My favourite vacation spot: Ouch! Just one?  Dachigam. Ranthambhore. Tadoba. Kanha. Umred Karhandla. Kruger National Park. The A&N Islands and Lakshadweep. Bastar river. Melghat. Pench. Periyar. Great Himalayan National Park... but you only asked for one, so I better stop.

My comfort food: Jeera alu, namkeen parantha and tadka yellow dal.

Development or ecological preservation? Ecological harmony is development; it’s not an either or choice.

Worst effects of environment degradation are: The early demise of homo sapiens and the fact that we would take several innocent species currently at the apex of their evolution.

Tigers are important because: They are a metaphor for all of nature and their ecosystems are critical to our fight against climate change.

My advice to the young generation: Trust in nature. It can repair all the damage my generation has inflicted. And, mercifully, you will outlive us. Celebrate each day. Rest assured in the knowledge that the world will repair itself. But don’t be complacent and don’t underestimate my absolutely ignorant, irresponsible, arrogant and avaricious generation. Be heard. Speak out and say to my generation: “Run your race for development until we take charge, but please, not in our name.”

What nobody knows about me: I hate to fight, absolutely hate it. Yet I am forced to fight against those destroying what I love – this planet and its miraculous life forms.

Climate change is serious concern because: People should try holding their breath for a minute to truly understand why climate stability and forest conservation are serious concerns.

My favourite quote: “In nature nothing exists alone”: Rachel Carson in Silent Spring.

 

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