“Conquest without conscience”. To what extent would you agree with this assessment of our relationship with the environment?

Humans are the “masters” of the Earth today. Clearly, it is not due to our physical prowess that gave us such a title. It is our intellect, innovation and creativity that have allowed the human race to rise in power against all the other animal species that are more physically advanced compared to us. It is through innovation that has allowed us to win the conquest against the animal species, bending them over to our will and subjecting these animals to whatever we please. Since cavemen conquered the animal species, humans have become bolder. Even in today’s modern world, conquests are made, in the form of the uncountable inventions appearing daily, to improve the quality of life. However, the negative effects of the numerous ‘battles’ we have held to become more technologically advanced over the centuries is showing in the home we reside in, Mother Earth. These ‘battles’, regrettably, are still fought daily, and we show almost no effort to stop. In my opinion, I feel that ‘Conquest without conscience’ is an accurate description of the humans’ relationship to the environment. Numerous acts by humans clearly justify my view.

First, there is the act of pollution. Many of the daily tasks that we do in our everyday life involve polluting the environment. These tasks take up a majority of our lives and are often done without a second thought to spare for the environment. China, a country that has up to 1.3 billion people is one of the largest contributors to pollution. It is not only due to the large number of people living in the country that causes the pollution to be high. One of the main reasons that I have singled China out is due to their burning of coal to generate electrical power for the masses. The usage of coal is highly polluting and the main reason on why China uses it is due to the cost effectiveness of coal. The more expensive but cleaner alternative of fossil fuels, however, is adopted in many countries around the world. The usage of coal to generate electrical power for so many people is significant to the global emission levels of carbon monoxide gas. This selfish act of rating cost effectiveness over the harm caused to the environment shows how the humans are involved with the notion of a conquest for advancement without conscience. Mother Earth is then made to inhale so much more of these toxic gases at the expense of coal being cheaper than fossil fuels. Pollution is the result our never-ending need for cheaper energy to power our never-ending consumption of resources.

Second, deforestation too, leads to air pollution. Deforestation is deemed as necessary for many countries as it is the only way for more land to be developed for industrial purposes and for housing. As a result, large areas of woodland are cleared on a regular basis to ensure that there is more space for development to occur. In many countries, there is a more eco- friendly approach in uprooting the trees such that another tree is planted in another region. However, in the case of Indonesia, the deforestation technique is to burn the forest by large areas such that large areas of land can be cleared at once. The usage of this slash-and-burn technique to clear the land, more notably by poor farmers, causes mass pollution for the country of Indonesia. The haze generated by the fire is then blown by the wind over to South East Asian countries, causing an inconvenience to the locals living there and affecting the air quality in these countries. Such acts by the Indonesians further support the claim on how conquests by the humans are made without conscience. The Indonesians, in the conquest to clear more land, not only contributes to the pollution, but also seriously inconveniencing the locals in the Southeast Asian countries. Hence, their selfish methods of clearing land for development illustrates the little conscience they have in the conquest for land for development purposes.

Even in the world of medicine, the statement is relevant. In medicine, new drugs are formulated daily in order to battle against the many sicknesses and illnesses that cause harm to humans. However, due to the reluctance of humans in trying out the drug for fear of adverse side effects, the scientists turn to animals. In laboratories that deal with medicine, rats are bred, for the sole purpose of testing the drug on them. These rats are first injected with the virus, then with the drug and kept under observation. It is only when the rat is close to death that is it put to sleep. These animals form part of our environment, and yet are subjected to pain and misery due to our conquest against diseases. Little thought is spared for how the animal may be feeling during the process of being injected with the virus. Hence, in the conquest against illness and diseases, the humans are too, without conscience and do not mind doing the species that share the planet with us, harm.

However, as our daily activities contribute increasingly to harming the environment, we too, have been trying to make up for our wrong doings and lessening the impact of our rash conquests. First, countries are working together on a global scale to scale down the effects of their global emissions on a regular basis. In 2009, a summit was held at Copenhagen and it was attended by almost every country in the world to discuss issues regarding global emissions and what can be done by each and every country to scale down their carbon emissions. At the summit, many countries, notably China, had each made an effort to reduce the impact of our conquests on the environment. Such acts by the leaders of the countries of the world then demonstrates that although pollution is not going to stop any time soon, the negative effects of pollution to the environment have been recognised and something is being done about it. Even in the upcoming world expo that is going to be held in Shanghai this year, exhibits of the countries are to have a ‘green’ theme to them, raising awareness on the need to cut down pollution. Hence, there is a conscience present for the environmental damage caused and things are being done about it.

Also, other than global efforts, even automobile companies are starting to play their part in showing their regret in harming the Earth. More environmentally friendly cars are emerging as automobile companies try to cut down global emissions due to their cars. These new cars, many of them hybrid cars, can run on the conventional fuel for convenience sake and too, can run on the bio-diesel that is quoted to be environmentally-friendly. Such acts by the giants in the automobile industry will demonstrate how the harm caused to the environment is noted and that the owners of the automobile industry recognise that part of the fault is theirs and something is being done about it.

There is then a conscience present in these car-makers such that they are willing to do something for the harm they have caused in their conquest. All in all, great amount of harm is being dealt to the environment in our conquest for a more advanced and easier life. However, this harm is being compensated for by a few environmentally-mind individuals that actively care for the environment. These are the people, sadly to say, the minority that possess a conscience for the various conquests made.