All Flesh Is Grass
April 2012: When the Book of Isaiah suggested that ‘all flesh is grass’, the ancients were implying that human existence was at best ephemeral. Even taken literally, the postulation rings true. Take the three distinctly different life forms so aesthetically depicted on this page by Shreeram M.V. who captured termites, blackbuck and grass locked in a survival embrace in Andhra Pradesh’s exquisite Rollapadu grasslands.
Pollen grain fossil evidence suggests that when the ancient wood-eating cockroaches (that metamorphosed into the 2,000 or so, cellulose-chomping termite species alive today) were making their evolutionary debut in the early Cretaceous period, grasses were absent on earth. Paleobotanists further add that the silica-laced, structural carbohydrates, destined to become grasses never did sustain the mighty dinosaurs that died out 65 million years ago. The surge in grasses actually originated around 40 million years ago, triggering the rise of the mammals including the herbivore progenitors of this highly endangered, extremely handsome, blackbuck!
Today, forests occupy the mind space of the public, but ecologists warn that it is really the demise of grassland biomes at the hands of climate change, coupled with abysmal land use policies, that should worry us. This will spark unprecedented famines given our food-dependence on such grasses as wheat, rice, maize and sugarcane. And, of course, the livestock on which human life is dependent would perish without grass.
The task before us is to, somehow convince an embattled, harassed public and ill-informed but powerful decision makers that the ‘all flesh is grass’ adage embraces humans too.
Bittu Sahgal, Editor, Sanctuary Asia, Vol XXXII No. 2, April 2012