We may brave human laws but cannot resist natural laws.

Natural laws have been in existence since the beginning of time when the universe was created. These laws are facts i.e. science like gravity, the force which will pull objects to Earth; or evolution, change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. Or in some cases, beliefs i.e. philosophy about the existence of God as the ultimate power.

It was in consonance to such laws that human has created its own laws throughout history. It might be through culture & religion in ancient times or through monarchy or democracy in modern times. This human- nature laws alignment creates a fine balance, making it possible for harmonious societies to exist. Also, eases our relation with God. However, despite various human laws in place, we continue to brave them for our own selfish reasons.

In Hinduism, there is a belief in Karmic philosophy. It says that each & every human act gets its fitting reaction. For bad karmas, the human is punished & for the good ones, he is rewarded. Thus, evolved the concepts of nark (hell) & swarg (heaven). Similar philosophy can be found in all the major religions & culture across the world. So, whenever a person commits a crime, society expects that he will be punished for it & justice will be served. This is what binds the society together i.e. a common value system & law code treating each citizen equally.

However, whenever there is a lapse in implementation of law, that creates a feeling of anger in all of us because the perpetrator did not get what he deserved. Like, if due to lack of evidence, the criminal walks free. So, it is believed that that person may have braved human laws but won’t be able resist natural laws. He will face the consequences of his bad karmas in his remaining life & after his death, he will go for eternal damnation.

The 21st century has seen tremendous progress in the field of science & technology- whether its space, energy or biotechnology. Man is working day & night to use this technology to improve quality of life for all. Thus, this raises multiple challenges. As new arenas develop, man is unable to comprehend them and their consequences. Thus, the laws formulated & their implementation is limited. But natural laws will come into play anyways.

Genome editing (also called gene editing) is a group of technologies that allow genetic material to be altered at particular locations in the genome. This can interestingly be used for the prevention and treatment of human diseases including single-gene disorders like haemophilia and complex diseases like HIV infection, cancer, heart diseases etc.

Recently a Chinese scientist claimed that he helped make the world’s first “genetically-edited” babies in whom a gene linked to HIV (which is CCR5) was remove using CRISPR (latest gene editing technology). But he might have inadvertently caused mutations in other parts of the genome, which could have unpredictable health consequences. Also, CCR5 is thought to help people fight off the effects of various other infections, such as West Nile virus. If the gene is disabled, the babies will be vulnerable.

Such “desired gene pool generation” is illegal in majority of the world since, many people fear the worst. We may have braved human laws but cannot resist natural laws. Human is trying to play God to perfect the human race. Debates around the issue raise ethical concerns about the heredity of such mutated babies and the health & safety of the public globally. How such engineered mutation of babies will affect the future generations is yet to be seen.

Similarly, gene editing is used to produce genetically modified (GM) crops like BT cotton. This helps the farmers to optimise agricultural performance as the BT cotton produces insecticides to combat bollworm. Such technology is usually restricted to non-edible crops. If an edible-GM crop is produced, the impact on the health of the public is unknown.

They are banned in developed countries like US. Despite attaining a ‘food security’ tag, India has been discussing it at length with the introduction of GM-Mustard. True, there are advantages like more productivity, less chemical use. But, what changes will be generated in the human body can only be guessed. We need decades of extensive studies and research to conclusively prove that such edible crops are safe for human and animals. Thus, we may brave human laws today but cannot resist natural laws tomorrow.

Researchers have rendered a population of mosquitoes in a lab sterile using the gene-editing tool CRISPR-Cas9 by homing in on a specific target in insect DNA. This technology is being to wipe out a population of mosquitoes that are able to transmit life-threatening diseases like malaria, dengue, zika in low- income countries like in Sub-Sahara Africa etc. We may be braving human law but cannot resist natural laws. When it comes to extinguishing a species of mosquito for our own benefit, are we opening Pandora’s Box and releasing something into the world we don’t fully understand? Or maybe more harmful species take their place in the ecosystem?

Global warming is largely a consequence of human activities, as per the latest IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report. The GHGs highest safe threshold of 350ppm (parts per million) has been breached to reach 400 ppm. Still, we continue to brave human laws, working our way around national laws & international agreements like UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Following our endless materialistic pursuit without a care for sustainable development. But we cannot resist natural laws. Everyone suffers, truely proving that “we are all in this together”.

This breached GHGs (Green House Gases) natural limit leads to even more intense heatwave generations & stronger low pressure areas in sea. Thus, the intensity, frequency & duration of disasters like cyclones, droughts & flood have increased multi-fold as we saw in cyclone Fani which hit the South Eastern India. Livelihoods of millions get uprooted & the region is pushed decades back in terms of development.

The Amazon of South America, Indonesian rainforests & the Western Ghats of South India are amongst many other forest ecosystem which are under immense threat of deforestation. This is the imperative of catering to economic growth, urbanisation & overpopulation. Despite there being strong national laws & international agreements like UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), we continue to brave them.

But we cannot resist natural laws. This extensive carbon sink (trees) removal accelerates global warming. Soil is being eroded at a rapid rate as there are no roots to hold them together. The local climate and precipitation is being affected. Also, the biodiversity is devoid of shelter and is being pushed to nearby urban areas where man-animal conflict is on the rise. Since, the natural balance has been profoundly altered, the ecosystem is in ruins.

Today, our life has become so overtly dependent that we can safely say that we live in the ‘plastic age’. The durability of plastics and their potential for diverse applications, including widespread use as disposable items, were anticipated, but the problems associated with waste management and plastic debris were not. Slogan like ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ on World Environment Day, 2018 is successfully spreading awareness globally. But still, we continue to brave national laws in favour of plastic use.

But the natural law is in play due to this ubiquitous pollution. The plastic is clogging our drains. It is creating difficulty in groundwater recharge. Without water reservoirs, threat of a future water crisis looms large. Micro-plastics found in oceans reach aquatic biodiversity, effecting the food chain. Ghost nets i.e. plastics pose threat to seabirds as their migration vision is compromised. Micro beads, used in cosmetics like creams, may negatively affect human health.

For the continuation of natural balance & sustaining life on Earth, we must look beyond our immediate needs & desires, rise above our selfishness. We cannot toy around with our future. We must remember that we are the only species on Earth which has the intellect to think about not just for ourselves but for all the other species co-existing with us. Our scientific progress will remain aimless without philosophy. It will teach us to ask the right questions always. Thus, we must always promote both scientific & philosophical/ ethical reasonings. This way, our conscience will always remind us that we may brave human laws but cannot resist natural laws.

2 comments

  1. At the first place, I must commend you on your bravery to attempt this complicated topic and addressing it comprehensively. It was waterloo for many.

    I had only one question, you have equated natural laws to philosophy in some aspects. Eg The criminal not getting convicted and karma. However, for me, natural laws were only limited to facts of life like Sun rising from the east. The relation of it is still not clear to me. There can be many interpretations of these philosophies for different communities, so there wouldn’t be a template for natural law. Don’t you think?

    For technology, a cool example I could recollect is of Concorde aircraft and its overheating issue. How braving natural law with human law Bernoulli’s principle didn’t work.

    Your coverage of genetics was really overwhelming for me and informative. Thanks.

    Like

    1. Hey Sarang
      You noticed a very important aspect of the essay. I have equated natural laws with philosophy. But i have clearly mentioned that these philosophical theories are believed to be natural laws in some communities/ religion. So, i have used a belief as a natural law to explain the topic of the essay.
      I would read about the Concorde aircraft. I don’t know much about it.
      Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
      Happy reading! 🙂

      Like

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