Pied cuckoo was once the harbinger of rains; but in our cities, it is now replaced by the green crusaders that go around with tree-saplings. Both are parasites that enjoy our respect due to our ignorance of science connected to them.
Kalidasa may not have romanticised pied cuckoo if he knew that it is a crooked nest-parasite that fools babblers in accepting its eggs. Today we are making the same mistake about tree-lovers, as we have failed to understand the science behind ecological interventions like growing trees.
The simplest way to understand behaviour of nature is to imagine it as water. If there is a downward slope, i.e. biological niche, you will need a lot of energy to counter a life-from from flowing in, and if there is no niche, you will need a lot of energy to force-keep it there.
So, if there is a tree or a mouse or a mosquito somewhere, either it is supplied energy to be there by natural support of ecology or by artificial support of human obsession.
If we look at a city habitat, it is abundantly clear it is not a place for a self-respecting tree that lives a colourful life in sync with a complex web of life and seasons. A tree living in a city is just like the grassland-dwelling ape that has made these cities; a misfit alien that needs enormous support-infrastructure to go on with its schizophrenic life.
Most trees that we are have are neither nature nor natural; so, there is no saving of nature taking place when mushy-eyed kids run a social media campaign to save a peltophorum getting chopped for road-widening. It is just misplaced obsession stemming from a emotional understanding about life on Earth.
But, does that mean that we should stop planting trees in our cities?
Answer is a resounding No. We need trees. But not because we will save nature by planting them randomly, as we do today. We need them because they make our cities psychologically more suitable for us apes and they give precious shade during our hot summers.
They have a great utility value, making them assets worth having; but, only after doing a scientific cost-benefit analysis.
So, what is wrong with tree-lovers?
The problem with most planet-saving green crusaders infesting social media is that, what they think to be love is blind obsession, because if they are really in love with nature, a gutter rat or plague bacterium is equally worthy of the same love as the gulmohar on the street.
The fact that we need to differentiate between various life-forms is because we are not here to love or save nature. Our job is to save ourselves from forces of nature that get unleashed when we disintegrate the web of life.
Today, humanity is in dire need of finding a handle to manage the planet before its ecology falls apart due to our mindless abuse, and science is possibly the best horse to back if we hope to survive.
Unfortunately, we are still scratching the surface in terms of knowing the inner workings of nature, so we need to engage in hundreds, may be thousands of years of intense scientific pursuit to know nature well enough to find a way of coexisting with it.
There is no choice for us but do this as our survival depends on aligning with forces of nature instead of fighting them. And, love has a great role to play in this.
So, if you are really driven by love, use it to motivate your brain to learn more about nature. Instead of following your emotions blindly, open your eyes to study the wonderful world of nature.
Humanity desperately needs passionate botanists instead of fanatic tree-lovers.