The world’s forests are disappearing at the rate of eighteen to twenty million hectares a year – an area half the size of California, and California is one of the biggest states in America. Within the next twenty to thirty years, all the tropical forests will be gone; and the implications are tremendous because these forests are supplying you with oxygen and life. If these forests disappear at the rate they are disappearing, mankind will be at a loss to find enough oxygen – from where?
And on the other hand, whatever carbon dioxide you exhale, these forests inhale. If these forests were not there…already there is a very thick layer of carbon dioxide continuously accumulating in the sky, just on the twenty-mile boundary where the atmosphere ends. And because of that carbon dioxide, the temperature of the atmosphere is rising. It is already four degrees higher than it has ever been.
If all the forests disappear, the temperature will become so high that it will do two things: firstly, it will become impossible for life to survive; secondly, all the ice at the north and the south poles, on the Himalayas and the Alps and other mountains, will start melting because of the heat. And this will raise all the oceans by forty feet. It will flood all our cities, all our countries; it will drown almost the whole earth – and this is not a flood that is going to recede.
But these politicians go on doing it. Just a few months ago I was in Nepal. Nepal is the poorest country in the world, but rather than dropping its arrangements for war, it has sold its forests – eternal forests of the Himalayas – to the Soviet Union. And the Soviet Union has cut whole mountainsides and left them dry. And for what? To create more newspapers.
What is the need of so many newspapers? It is almost the same news every day, and now that we have got far better media systems, the newspaper is out of date – there is radio, there is television. Why do you go on clinging to newspapers and destroying all the forests? Just because all the politicians, presidents and prime ministers need their pictures on the front page; their speeches, which are simply bullshit, to be published – without any consideration of what harm they are doing.
During the same period, the world population is expected to increase thirty to forty percent, from five billion to seven billion. This population growth alone will cause requirements for water to double in nearly half the world. Food is another thing…even water will become difficult, because the requirement will be double and we don’t have that much water for drinking.
In addition, the United Nations reports say that globally, twenty million hectares a year of farm and grazing land are being reduced to zero productivity. More than one thousand plant and animal species become extinct each year – a rate that is expected to increase. One and a half to two million people in developing countries suffer acute pesticide poisoning annually, and pesticide-related deaths are estimated at ten thousand per year.
Officers of India’s planning commission reported recently: “We in India are on the verge of an enormous ecological disaster, with our water reserves drying up. What is happening in Africa is going to happen in India within a few decades.”