By SK RAM
It is the responsibility of all Mauritians, from the youngest to the senior most ones, to bring their contribution, however modest, to nurture nature and not to destroy it.–
This short account about the formation of the universe, our planet and our origin is particularly addressed to young readers of Mauritius Times. It may help them to have a better understanding of the world we cherish so much and to participate in efforts to preserve it.
According to scientific documentation, the story of the universe began with an extraordinary explosion which cosmologists have called the “BIG BANG”. It took place billions of years ago and resulted in the creation of matter believed to be the origin of life. Many galaxies were born and among them was our “MILKY WAY” probably because the millions of shining stars evoked pearls of milk on a cosmic path to ancient civilizations. Genesis has attributed its formation to the Supreme Being who created the heaven and the earth in six days. Earth was created on the third day. The Vedic account of the creation of the universe is in line with the philosophy of Hinduism which favours the theory of the cycle; life-death and rebirth after a period of preservation, which is a reflection of nature’s eternal cycle.
A chaotic situation which lasted for several million years prevailed in the cosmos just after the Big Bang due to the unimaginably high temperature it generated. As cooling gradually took place, the majestic sun — the main star of our solar system — was born. It has been venerated by both extinct and present civilizations for its source of light and life. This planetary system consists of nine planets. Among them, the Earth, known as the blue planet, orbits round the sun. It is situated between Venus, the Goddess of love, and Mars, the God of War. It has been the perfect arbitrator between these two planets – so antagonistic by name.
There is also the moon which has always been an object of amazement for its illusionary appearance and disappearance – La magie de Dieu!
With the cooling of the earth’s crust and other natural favourable conditions, our planet’s climate became hospitable enough to receive the first source of life which may have originated from the seas. The perfect combination of molecules formed the air we breathe and the water that we drink — both vital elements for the support of life. The ozone layer of the upper atmosphere still acts as a shield against ultraviolet radiation which has contributed to maintain suitable temperatures for the symbiotic and harmonious relationship between animals and plants. We must emphasise here that Earth is the only planet in the solar system that harbours life.
As a result of the very long process of evolution, primitive plants transformed themselves into trees which grew into forests – which all produce vital oxygen by the metabolic process of photosynthesis.
The story of the appearance of the modern man dates back to the Neozoic era when the first man-like creature appeared on earth. “Homo sapiens”, our direct ancestor, came into existence later. Charles Darwin was the first man to give a scientific explanation for our origins.
Anthropological studies reveal that we are direct descendants of “Homo Sapiens”, the intelligent man, founders of our modern civilization. He invented different tools for agricultural purposes and developed rudimentary weapons from stone, wood or animal bones which served for hunting and fishing, and not for pleasure. He learned to build shelters and domesticate animals. He has invented new methods of farming to feed a growing population. He has been endowed with a highly developed brain which has still not yet revealed all its secrets. Man’s mind has been the determining factor in the exploration of the unknown. His quest for adventure has taken him to unknown destinations at the risk and peril of his life. His inquisitiveness has led him to discoveries and inventions that have been turning points in fighting disease and in the improvement of his way of life. He has innate abilities for learning and doing new things. Brilliant scientific feats have been achieved during the last centuries. Works of art, musical chef-d’oeuvres and literary masterpieces have all been produced by man’s mind.
Regrettably, all the inventions made by man have not been put to good use only. Some of them, which have been so useful to our society for so many years, are already producing harmful effects on our environment and health. There was a time when Man and nature were surviving in perfect harmony but this balance is slowly but surely being disturbed. Trees are being destroyed to erect forests of concrete. Our ozone layer, which has protected us for millennia, is slowly disappearing. Nuclear power, which is still being used to produce energy, has been detrimental to humanity and nature on many occasions. Our water sources are being polluted by chemical products. These are awe-inspiring consequences that are threats to the human kind for generations to come.
Quite fortunately, Man in all his wisdom has come to realize that the dramatic changes of our eco system would threaten our planet irreversibly and remedial actions are already being taken. In our country the ‘Maurice Ile Durable’ project has already been initiated and it should have the support of all MAURITIANS to make it a success which could serve as example to the world.
It is the responsibility of all Mauritians, from the youngest to the senior most ones, to bring their contribution, however modest, to nurture nature and not to destroy it.
* Published in print edition on 29 July 2011