Written by Isidora Bugarski, EBC Balkans

“The environment is a reflection of ourselves.” In pondering the often-debated dichotomy between science and spirituality, one finds that at their core, there may be more common ground than initially perceived. Professor Duško Brković, a Ph.D. biologist, suggests that the essence of these two seemingly divergent paths may, in fact, converge.

The words of the revered sage, Osho, shed light on the intersection of humanity, nature, environment, and ecology: “Religion’s crimes are many, innumerable, but the worst crime is that it has placed man at the center of existence. It has given the idea to the whole of humanity that the whole existence is for your use: you are God’s greatest creation. And a man-oriented vision of existence is bound to create catastrophes in nature. It is bound to destroy the ecological balance; it is bound to give man the strange idea of an ego.”

From the perspective of science, Professor Duško Brković, working at the Faculty of Agriculture in Čačak with a specialization in Applied Biology and a Ph.D. from the Faculty of Biology in Belgrade in Plant Ecology and Geography, provides diverse insights into this subject. His perspective emphasizes the interconnectedness of all things, emphasizing that drawing closer to nature brings us closer not only to the environment but also to our fellow human beings and ourselves.

The pressing question emerges: Can humans be the architects of their own civilization’s demise? When we scrutinize the global landscape, we may find cause for concern within our own species. Often, it seems that we underestimate the profound implications of our Latin name, Homo Sapiens, where Sapiens signifies “sensible.” Recent events, such as the pandemic and resulting lockdowns, have unveiled humanity’s impact on the natural world. While evolution spans eons, our own presence on this planet is but a brief moment. The speed at which nature can rejuvenate itself when left undisturbed is striking, yet human intervention continues to escalate, amplifying the destructive forces we wield.

Many of us may feel insignificant in the face of such monumental global issues, yet is it possible for individuals to effect change? The adage “Think globally, act locally” has been echoed time and again. Every ecological action, no matter how small, holds significance. An act as seemingly inconsequential as discarding a small piece of paper, when multiplied by eight billion people, paints a sobering picture. So, what of more substantial actions? Every positive ecological endeavor, every act of activism, resonates not only with the environment but also with the individual.

Thus, we embark on a journey that explores the evolution of human consciousness, as Osho contemplates, “Every development and every evolutionary step in mankind’s life has been opposed in the beginning as against nature.” Is a return to nature the answer, or is it more complex? Professor Brković parallels this to the gradual evolution of ecological awareness, which lags behind the rapid pace of technological advancement.

Economics and ecology share a prefix, but their true natures diverge. “Eco” signifies home, habitat, and house, yet in practice, economics and ecology often clash. Ecology demands investments that do not yield immediate returns, whereas economics prioritizes rapid profit, sometimes at the expense of the environment. At the heart of this issue lies personal gain and profit, with a mere 1% of the global population often dictating the fate of the rest.

In today’s world, concealed beneath convenient labels, many substances detrimental to living beings lurk. Natural resources, such as wood, provide benefits when harvested sustainably. Yet, the urge for quick profit drives the wholesale destruction of forests, an illogical act from a global perspective. Our capacity to decimate vital ecosystems, like the Amazon rainforest, reflects a dire civilizational challenge—our collective lack of awareness.

The solution, Professor Brković argues, begins at the grassroots level, ideally in kindergarten, but more crucially within the family unit. Children emulate their parents, and it is the responsibility of adults to set eco-conscious examples. Encounters with nature, facilitated by regular trips, kindle a love for the environment and an inherent need for its preservation. This holds particular significance for urban-dwelling children who may lack personal exposure to the natural world.

The 21st century has witnessed a burgeoning awakening among many individuals, as they adapt their lifestyles to align with their natural surroundings. Sustainability is the key, as urban life, while challenging to maintain without environmental impact, can strike a balance by utilizing resources without depletion, ensuring a viable future for generations to come.

As the debate between quality and quantity rages on, Professor Brković suggests a compromise. While conventional agricultural practices may be necessary to feed the masses, a conscious effort to prioritize organic foods whenever possible promotes both personal health and ecological well-being. Moreover, the preservation of heirloom plant species, naturally resistant to pests, safeguards quality and sustains agricultural diversity.

In conclusion, nature thrives without human intervention, while humans cannot survive without nature. Critical considerations encompass where we reside, how we coexist with our surroundings, and how we steward our environment. The momentary halt we experienced a few years ago should serve as a call to reconnect consciously with nature—to express gratitude for its provisions, take only what is necessary, and return what we can, all while respecting the sanctity of other forms of life. A balanced, nature-aligned mindset, in harmony with ancient principles, is our most promising path forward. The challenges of ecology and environmental protection know no borders, and as such, a unified global effort is needed to preserve our shared home.

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