Indonesia is one of developing countries in Asia which has been struggling in improving the life quality of its people and is trying hard to be able to competitively face challenges of global and international interaction. In their development, both government and public sectors have been attempting a huge number of efforts to explore natural resources, to import national demands, and to create new products. Besides being beneficial for the nation, all of those activities however bring negative impacts for humans themselves and nature. Experts have recently introduced the new term that can describe this situation called “Anthropocene” which according to Rose (2013, pp. 3) is “the Age of Man”. Since now this new term has been introduced, I am interested in looking deeply at potential problems in the nature that humans have caused. It would seem to me that there are several multifaceted factors that drive the damages in the Anthropocene era in Indonesia as Anthropocene itself “is something of a mirror, and the image it is giving of human agency is grotesque…” (Rose, 2013, pp. 3). Thus, here I am going to elaborate more about those as well as consider several solutions that can hopefully be used in order to get to the bottom of the problems.
Many believe that human’s life has improved in all sectors since the last decade. People nowadays are healthier than before as job opportunities are more available. The advent of new technologies helps people complete their daily jobs, travel around the world, and communicate across the continents. However, those overwhelming developments and inventions have also led to such catastrophic impacts. In my point of view, the most significant impact is caused by the use and consumption of environmentally-harmful products. This is especially the case since the beginning of ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA) Programme involving other outside countries such as China and Japan that Indonesia has bridged where in all seriousness the huge number of cheap electronic and machinery products such as mobile phones, laptops, televisions, household tools and many others are imported into Indonesia, and those products reach mid-and low- market segment where this is dominantly presented in Indonesia. Consequently, unlike in many developed countries, those cheap products are poorly manufactured and have clearly contributed to the increase of waste as shown in many statistics and become more hazardous than others threatening environment and humans themselves in terms of health, and along with this, Asian Scientist (2017) finds that “e-waste in Asia jumps 63 percent in five years”. The World Health Organisation (WHO) in the Straits Times (2016) argues that harmful chemicals contained in electronic waste can lead to fatal neurological injuries for the development of mental and physical of children. In addition, the introduction of cheap cars encourage people to compete one another affording to have one almost in all middle-economic families which not only leads to the increase of pollution affected by gas emission, carbon dioxide, but also increases the traffic congestion as well as accidents. Another related reason is the mindset long spread in the community through both media and educational institutions that in order to be existing in the global world, people should be able to survive by following trends introduced internationally and this is also generally the issue in many developing countries. As the result, they tend to be more and more consumptive instead of being aware how to preserve the environment and nature by producing eco-friendly products.
Furthermore, in the context of humans’ interaction with the nature, Indonesia suffers from helplessness where deforestation appearing in many parts of the country. This has previously been done by the government deliberately for many purposes including plantation and transmigration program. However, since the reformation of Indonesia in 1998, the decentralisation, which has previously been hoped to be the solution of global economic crisis, has become a new place to commit collusion, bribe and corruption allowing private sectors control the land and open new industries by firing forests destroying animals’ habitat and threatening various kinds of endangered animals such as elephants and tigers in Sumatera, Orang Utan in Kalimantan, birds of paradise in Papua, and many others. Additionally, this serious natural problem has also contributed to the loss of the existence of indigenous tribal groups and their traditional cultures in the jungle. In alike manner, Rose (2013, pp. 2) agrees that “[a]boriginal people have become an industry focussed on the biopolitics of discipline, punishment, and salvation”. Meanwhile, in the global context, Indonesia has exponentially shown the natural issues related to the global warming, the increase of sea level, and drought as well as flood in some regions.
There are several ideas that can be offered in order to help cope with the challenges of Anthropocene and those generally might be based on a soft reform although taking quite long time. Perhaps, the first main solution is through education, where we can teach our generation to be aware of the surroundings by learning how to analyse what local and global problems they are facing today, and identify which products of their daily lives are eco-friendly. Moreover, there should also be an encouragement for vocational training and practice to be more creative, innovative and productive producing goods based on what issues in their environment are. Governmentally speaking, it is also advisable if the policy makers can improve the regulation of car use and sell by increasing tax; therefore, this gradually discourages people from owning more cars, and this is also supported by the development of public infrastructures. Last but not least, social campaign about e-waste management through all kinds of media can be an effective way to increase people’s awareness to be more actively engaging in helping maintain the nature.
To conclude, despite helping humans, most of their invention has caused negative impacts to the nature, animals and people themselves as the reaction of the earth. Nevertheless, there are at least two possible ways in order to overcome the problems, through education and government policies.
Disposing our mounting e-waste (2016). Retrieved from http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/disposing-our-mounting-e-waste-the-jakarta-post
E-waste In Asia Jumps 63 Percent In Five Years (2017). Retrieved from https://www.asianscientist.com/2017/01/tech/electronic-waste-east-southeast-asia/
Rose, D. B. (2013). Anthropocene Noir. Retrieved from http://global-cities.info/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Anthropocene-Noir.pdf
Note: This essay was written for the discussion of “Contemporary Issues in Education and Training (EED6001)” unit, Master of Education, Victoria University, Melbourne – Victoria, Australia.