How are you currently working to help the planet?
I have worked on issues related to climate change for the last 20 years. I have focused my work in the forest sector, supporting the creation of mechanisms both at the national and local level to reduce deforestation. I am trying to save the rainforest in Bolivia, and forests worldwide.
What do you consider the most important planetary actions we, as global citizens, should be taking?
We need to stop consuming products that are creating deforestation worldwide and destroying the habitats for millions of sentient beings, like meat, soy, sugar cane and palm oil, which goes in so many products and has devastated the forest in the Amazon, in Indonesia and in many countries in Africa, and look for alternatives.
Deforestation is a particular concern in tropical rain forests because these forests are home to much of the world’s biodiversity. For example, in the Amazon around 17 percent of the forest has been lost in the last 50 years, mostly due to forest conversion for cattle ranching. Eighty percent of the world’s land-based species, such as elephants and rhinos, live in forests.
How are you taking these actions?
I am working on supporting countries to improve their strategies to reduce deforestation. At the city level, I am supporting cities to make the shift to renewable energy as soon as possible, and also change behavior in relation to consumption of meat and products that drive deforestation. Hopefully we will soon be more active at the national level in Bolivia to protect our forests from deforestation (for meat and biodiesel production) instead of exporting to countries that have lagging environmental regulations.
I am a vegetarian, produce my own vegetables and try to share a different lifestyle through example by living it.
What are the biggest challenges that you encounter in your work toward saving Mother Earth?
I feel the inaction is due to a lack of empathy and consciousness. Humans cannot understand that we are destroying our home, and therefore should make the changes we need to make. The lack of a sense of urgency is because the information on climate change was not spread widely, but movements such as Fridays for Future and Extinction Rebellion are correcting this, and I hope we can change faster.
Could you give us some tips to help our environment?
We need to ask for products certified as ‘Deforestation-Free,’ get in the habit of asking how a product is produced, and become more conscious buyers and global citizens.
We need to change our ways. Reduce our consumption as much as possible, become vegan, use alternative sources of electricity, produce our own vegetables, use water in an efficient way, and become as resilient as possible.
The climate emergency is real and won’t stop until we completely change our way of living. We have eight years before our climate system collapses, and we are already seeing it happening.
Do teachings from Sikh Dharma inspire your commitment to serving mother earth?
Yes, the Khalsa consciousness is experienced as connection with all forms of life and with Mother Earth. For a Sikh of the Guru it is intrinsic and only natural to feel the need to take care of the planet and all sentient beings in it as much as you do for your loved ones. At the end we are all one with everything and everyone.
If you had the chance to speak to every single person on the planet, what would you tell them?
We have such a beautiful planet full of amazing animals, both in the oceans and in the forest, in the arctic and in the desert, and we are the one species who is polluting every corner of this planet with our unconscious ways and greed.
But I know we humans are also capable of spreading love and peace, I know you can change because I have changed myself. Let’s evolve to be more conscious beings, and understand we are all One with everything around us from an ant to a tree, from a polar bear to another human.
Let’s act today!! Let’s change today!!
Sham Kaur Khalsa is a Sikh Dharma Minister, a KRI-certified Kundalini Yoga teacher and an environmental activist.
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