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Who is VVIP – the Planet or a President? Why Trump Must Go!


As an Indian citizen, who would never immigrate to any other Country come what may, it makes no difference who becomes the next President or Prime Minister of another country.

Global governance expert decries ‘snub’ of Patricia Espinosa as Trump administration considers whether to pull out of Paris climate deal

Global governance expert decries ‘snub’ of Patricia Espinosa as Trump administration considers whether to pull out of Paris climate deal. Patricia Espinosa has been unable to obtain a meeting with the US state department. Photograph: Pablo Porciuncula/AFP/Getty Images

But, when an Executive decision made by a man could endanger the lives of my family & friends due to that man’s personal belief that Climate Change is a Chinese Hoax! Then it becomes a cause for worry!

If the article in the Guardian – UN climate chief unable to secure meeting with US state department is true then the World is in grave danger and while there is nothing a foreign Nation can do to intervene in their Constitution I guess the member countries of UNFCCC should show some spine and do what Uncle SAM has been doing since long!

IMPOSE TRADE SANCTIONS!

I’m sure the Capitalists around the world would snort at this, and some may even think of the choicest abuse! For, the USA is the single largest market in the world which makes economies move….

They should pause for a while and ask not as some Banker or Financial Analyst, but as a simple Human …..

Is it the Planet they live in gives them their next meal Or It is the economic and foreign policy of Nations?

It took more than 20 years, to just arrive at some concessions that the Planet is first! And in less than 20 months we are going to see all that has been achieved unravel? Because, some man who has been given some imaginary powers by some group of citizens written is a piece of paper, which is called the Constitution?

That paper, ink and even the hands that wrote and signed on it are but the product of this Planet.

Just how far are we to sink before sanity returns? Are we willing to let the Small Island Nations drown under the sea while shedding crocodile tears at the UNGA podium?

Let War ravage Nations, as it did in Syria?  Climate Change Helped Spark Syrian War, Study Says – National Geographic

Would at least the British, the closest ally of the USA come forward and put some sense, will their King to be, who believes it to be so?  Is the Syrian conflict linked to climate change? -CNN interview, set sail to America and knock some sense into the erstwhile subject?

To those who fear that all will be lost, if we do not side with this President of the USA! I would within my humble limits point to a few things he has already said and done. He wants America First. That means what is indigenous to America, should be made and consumed in America first. This makes an excellent case for all other Nations around the World to follow suit. And if one looks closely it would actually HELP in saving the Planet.

Say for example Mangoes. This fruit is not indigenous to the USA. Therefore it should not be sold there at all. Likewise, all fruits and vegetables & allied goods and services should not reach the shores of the USA, as the first option. And before economists and government officials throw a fit, here is the argument.

For too long, Politicians and Economists have stood somberly at various forums including Davos and spoken about how to uplift the poor and the downtrodden. Here is the golden chance to be triumphantly victorious at that.When we start to sell our home grown produce first to our own citizens, the cost will go down. There will be less waste due to transportation and it would also reduce the GHG emissions. It would spur growth and prosperity and also create jobs. Is this not what all the pundit profess? Prosperity for all.

But then the argument would be looking at the SENSEX. But why should I? Why should something cost me a 100 when it can be produced at 10 and sold at 30? Do we really need to follow the laws of Economics as it has been taught to us? That we are following a failed model can be best explained by the expert in the video below. And I would request all readers to listen to it.

The Third Curve by Mansoor Khan.

Economics as we know it has helped destroy this planet. And as has been so eloquently explained in the talk that nature follows a bell curve, let’s there for rest assure us that the idiocy which we see unfolding in the USA foreign policy with regards to climate change will end when the correct measures are taken by the World at large.

 

 

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8th November 2016 & The Paris Agreement


India which signed the CoP 21 Paris Agreement in 2015 December ratified it with much fanfare on 2nd October 2016. The birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, who can, without a doubt, be called not only the father of the Nation. But also perhaps the visionary who saw that Sustainable Development is the only way towards the progress of the human civilisation.

As the Earth Patriot, I wanted to pause and see the difference, the long awaited Paris Agreement make. For with the Paris agreement in place,  I presumed that there were no more doubts left and the routine Earth Day, Earth Hour & so many other events, that have been created over the years, would not just be empty gestures, as they were turning out to be,  but real change on the ground would be felt.

I was not looking at the big changes that would shape the future but the smaller ones which make the building blocks upon which a future stands.

As always, I can not talk about other Cities and Nations, but briefly, touch on certain events that may happen there which would impact my Country too.

Filmed on December 5th, 2016..the below Video captures many thoughts which are best spoken by someone who is regarded as an authority in the field rather than some passionate novice, which I consider myself to be on many a subject I feel strongly about.

Just as Poor Nations, Small Island States & Developing Nations point towards the USA and the rich EU Nations in particular for the calamity that has manifested, similarly its the large Indian cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata & fast catching up with them are Hyderabad, Bangalore, Ahmadabad, Chandigarh, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar & others who pollute and pillage the National wealth more than what should be their fair share.

If one were to take a sample survey of the lifestyle of the well-to-do in these cities, they match with those living in New York or London.  It is but the citizens of these mega-cities who should have been in the forefront of change..for they are the direct contributors to climate change in this Anthropocene Era. And they must be held accountable and make the changes required towards fulfilling the goals envisaged in the INDC’s submitted as per the Paris Agreement by India at the UN.

Industrialists & Entrepreneurs of all sectors, with deep pockets, somehow can not believe that they need to pay back to the Planet from which it extracts and is trying their level best to circumvent the situation. Either through bribery or through lip service. And the biggest tragedy for the planet is that they have and even now would succeed.

And one of the major cause would be an event that happened on the 8th of November 2016.

November 8th, 2016 was not just any ordinary date. Two events unfolded. One in India and the other in the USA. But both the events impact India.

In the history of human civilisation, 8th Nov’16 would go down as the day when the USA elected someone who could destroy planet Earth, not by utilising any Nuclear Bomb but by utilising his intellect or rather choosing not to on a particular subject which affects the whole World!

While it is known that the Brain has the superpowers yet to be discovered by modern science, we might be at the threshold of experiencing the horrors of someone extremely powerful, refusing to apply them when it comes to Climate Change.

The most dangerous aspect of this event is a thought no one is seeming to ask is, would the United Nations (here representing the World leaders) sit back and allow a person’s personal belief on Climate Change bring the World to the brink of disaster?

Will the death of Island Nations and the drowning of its people consider as a genocide? Should the USA buoyed by Climate Change denial, increase it’s GHG emission manifold & other countries follow suit? Or a Natural Disaster?

When we have a superpower Nation and its supreme leader as a Naysayer to Climate Change, the damage it does to 22 years of hard work by the UNFCCC is enormous.

Let us then link it to the events that unfolded on that day in India and see how dangerous it can become for my country should the balance of powers between climate change believers and deniers change.

The anti-corruption drive of Shri Narendra Modi, by demonetizing the ₹500 & ₹1000 Notes have no parallel in the history of the World. A brilliant master stroke is what many including me believe it to be. For, whether or not the corrupt would be punished for failing to pay taxes, the humongous amount of cash having come back into the system would make many a Government INDC programs into a reality.

But if we have Mr Donald Trump convince the World that it does not agree to the Paris Agreement but it could be the death knell of Swacch Bharat Yojana!

Swacch means Clean. It not just means clean municipal drains. It also denotes Clean Air, Water & Food. It could also denote a transparent and clean way of conducting sustainable business to attain the goals envisaged in the Agenda 30. The UN Sustainable Development Goals, which is the bed-rock of the INDC’s the years of effort given to achieve the Paris Agreement stands threatened.

But when you have a Naysayer in Mr Donald Trump, whose background is also that of a builder. Yes, we have Trump Towers in India too. And certain high-end residential projects are being built in Joint venture with his company, Green Building and Sustainable Development goes for a toss!

Indians, especially city-bred have the propensity to drool over anything that is Western. Harrods and Hollywood have more credibility than Hindi Cinema & Himalayas.

So, it would not be surprising to see the much maligned [ and rightly so in most cases if not all ] builders working towards “Smart Cities” & AMRUT Towns & Adarshgrams which completely divorces the idea of sustainable development practice, barring the lip service it has been giving. And this lip service has nothing to do with the conscience to make a social commitment but to garner any and all government incentives. The Water stressed peri-urban and rural landscape could suffer more and this would have an enormous strain on the social order, which is shimmering at the best of times.The cities of India are as parochial as is the society. A sprawling ugly forever expanding juggernaut which keeps pushing the marginalised to oblivion while at the same time its unplanned and ugly buildings consume energy in every form from this resource deficit planet.

But when the attention is diverted by someone sitting across the Ocean with Presidential Decrees which have ramifications in the immediate socio-economic fabric of my country. Better building design and other INDC programs would take a back seat while the Nations looks for solutions as of how to safeguard its position as the biggest software solution provider & other goods and services which churn the economy.

As certain set drivers of Indian economy are set to change, it would be impossible for the Government to focus on the good work of the INDC’s but take a step backwards by the pressures that would be created by the unscrupulous to allow them to continue with Business As Usual.

But before I end this page, it would be important to state that even though the policies of the President of United States may be bringing to end the Status Quo, the World has been in for so long. There is a glimmer of hope within his inward-looking policies, should he but agree to the Climate Change Agreement and endorses it.

And those advantages I would present in the next article.

 

Greenwashing in Construction Industry


With India Poised to create “Smart Cities”, a lot of movement is seen at the grassroots level which must be understood and reformed. These are most prevalent in the Peri-Urban and “New Urban” Space where the focus should be the most.

The construction industry is plagued with greenwashing, this is evident all over the world. Let us understand this with a few examples.

Say, a person goes to visit residential or commercial premise which claims that it has designed the building as per green standards.The marketing person over there usually shows them a brochure which has some of the salient features based on the Green Building Certification program they have claimed to have adhered to. An average person, however,does not understand what are the defining features which would make a building ” Green”. Thus takes it all at face value.

Typical green building brochure has the data which talks about energy efficient water fixtures, energy efficient electrical systems and smart waste disposal systems. While the systems which are shown are actually a part and parcel of a green building, they are not necessarily an indicator of the building being actually “green” in the true sense of the term.

To understand greenwash one must have the basic understanding of the term ” Green”. It has nothing to do with the colour spectrum in general. It is a simplistic term that has been coined to indicate that project has adhered to the norms required under Environment – Health and Safety guidelines. Each Nation has their own guidelines for EHS.

If one follows F.E.W ( Food – Security; Energy – Efficiency; Water – Sufficiency; Waste – Management) best practices, the Environment ensures that the Nation is safe from many Health hazards, which plague modern society due to Climate change.

India for one has some of the most stringent norms for environment protection, energy efficiency and water & waste management. And it is not a cake walk for those who are not disciplined enough to follow them correct.

Real estate in India not exactly recognised as yet industrial sector on its own. This allows for many players, who do not have either the skill-set nor the discipline that is required in the construction and building industry. Transparency in real estate is yet to be above suspicion in India.

Now, this brings into play a situation; wherein the pretenders try to copy whatever is trending in the market. For most of these “hobby” Builders, who have come into the market to make a quick buck “greenwashing” is the best way forward to add a premium to their projects.

So they hire Green Building Consultants to provide them with the basic design compliances while on the construction compliances they cut corner. It begins with the material management. More often than not they procure products which do not really conform to the standards that need to have adhered. They would usually go about in a very sly manner. If you would scrutinise the product, the product itself would be green compliant. However and Designs simulations the specifications that the consultant would have given will not be followed. Further, these developers know that it is extremely hard to have some of the points to be proven false.

For example under the Sustainable site compliance, it is necessary to save the topsoil if it is fertile; have a sediment as well as an air-pollution management plan. And a reforestation and forest protection plan. Rare would be a case where trees would be saved, if at all. It is also not uncommon to do under-reporting so that a bare minimum are replanted. Because, as per Green Norms, every tree that needs to be cut, three trees must be planted.

Sometimes due to project design constraint it is not possible to replant all the trees as per rule on site. But there are options available where one can plant a tree somewhere else to compensate for the ones that were murdered ( I use this word because trees, as we all know, are living beings. They just don’t have a vocal cord and limb ) to make way for “human”(?) development.

As none of the Certification programs ask for mandatory third party Monitoring – Verification – Reporting but, in self-assessment and checks by the party which has applied for certification. It is not abnormal to find projects that don’t plant trees on site but also not bother to spend for NGO’s who do so. Further, they plant some Shrubs and pass it off as Tree. Mostly this happens because not many know the difference between a shrub & tree. But another point that most don’t see is that it is difficult to grow Trees on a concrete podium ! Tree have roots which go deep down on earth, unlike shrubs.

It also points to a very curious fact, that the podium and beneath it are a few thousand tonnes of concrete, spread from end to end of the plot. Leaving not even an inch of soil anywhere. So how then are they certified green ? They are complete anti-thesis to the act of sustainable site, a very mandatory point. For no amount of artificial water-harvesting process can ape the actual water retention and percolation process of mother nature. And while on the rain water or ground water harvesting; very few if at all, hire someone who is a professional Hydrologist. Therefore the attempt on any watershed program is more often than not, flawed right from the beginning of the project.

Further, the rating systems; in order to gain popularity & market reach came up with the idea of “Pre-Certifying” a project. Under this, the developer through his chosen Green Building Consultant would promise to comply with all the best practices. Based on design intent and simulation report thereof. Any building can achieve a good rating under the pre-certification program.

And the feather in the cap comes from some of the “Green consultants”, they are a group usually found in every Certification program Chapter member. These super intelligent beings can actually get a project get “Platinum” or “5-Star” certified, even if they have been hired post ground-breaking of the project and even to the extent when the project has reached podium level of construction. For, they have mastered the art of “product based” compliance certification giving design basis a near miss.
They are something like some of our famous “Vaastu” consultants who have a solution for everything.

Thus these people follow the classic Pre-Certification route. Get an “intent” letter in place and lo & behold, the developer now has a Green building, which perhaps is greener than the genuine developer who having understood the constraints and costs may in all his honestly achieve a “Silver” Certificate.

Now having established the methods of green-wash we need to answer the moot point? Is green wash as big a villain as it is being painted to be? The answer is both a Yes and a No.

Yes – because in the short term we are getting the sub-standard buildings which are getting passed off as Better Building Design / Energy Efficient Buildings. As the natural lifespan of buildings is over 50+ years, so with time we will have a huge inventory of non-performing buildings in a resource deficit world. Stringent laws which have to come into force sooner than later as we having passed 407 PPM this June and 2016 having been officially recognised by WMO as the hottest the planet has ever recorded; the pressure is building on all signatory nations of CoP-21 Paris Agreement to implement their NDC’s faster.

India already has their Nationally Determined Contributions for Abatement of Climate Change in place. Four more National Action Plans are being added to the earlier Eight National Action Plan on Climate Change, declared by the then PM in 2010.

Currently, eight ‘missions’ are operational, each of which is a sectoral response to the impacts of climate change. Three of them — on solar energy, afforestation and energy efficiency — seek to slow down the growth of India’s emissions. Another three — on agriculture, water and Himalayan ecosystems — are about initiating measures to adapt to the effects of climate change. The remaining two — on sustainable habitat and strategic knowledge — are service missions and seek to create more knowledge on useful climate responses.

National Action Plan on Solar, Energy Efficiency and Afforestation “Green India” are a sectoral response to the impacts of Climate change. To this Wind & Waste -to- Energy will be added.

The other National Action Plan where on Water, Agriculture & Himalayan Eco-system, to this the new Costal Regulation Zone and National Health Mission is being added. These will essentially be measures for adapting to effects of Climate change.

From a layman perspective, it is hard to recognise the tremendous changes it will bring to the Building and Construction Industry. But if one reads the intent behind each it is not really hard to see what is coming like a juggernaut towards the Real Estate sector.

Those who are smart enough will adapt and adopt. And in this game, the pretenders of today who are greenwashing, having made a false “good” reputation of being responsible developers of Climate Resilient Building would design their next projects with truthful intent.

For, it is not the certification which is big,it is the actual performance of the building. Thus a falsely claimed 5-Star/Platinum rated building would perform poorly than a genuine Silver/3-Star rated building. The buyers would be able to discern this sooner than later and thus it is the market force which will wash away the “green washing” of buildings.

 

Climate Change Agreement & India’s role towards Planetary Health.


Now that the applause have died down on the historic event of the World finally agreeing on Climate Change in Paris CoP21. And would be ratifiying it on 22 April 2016.

I would be writing down my thoughts on how we perhaps be able to make true the Indian INDC and perhaps even better it.

I do believe that if there is any Government post the one lead by Hon.Smt. Indira Gandhi; it is the sarkar of Narandera Modi which has the guts and gumption to take on the World in its own terms and prove a point or two.

However, there are far two many ills, which needs to be solved before we can actually see the fruits of “Good Governance“.  By good governance alone India can hope to make its INDC a success.

Lets therefore begin with the below text and graphic from the Lancet:

By almost any measure, human health is better now than at any time in history. Life expectancy has soared from 47 years in 1950–1955, to 69 years in 2005–2010, and death rates in children younger than 5 years of age have decreased substantially, from 214 per thousand live births in 1950–1955, to 59 in 2005–2010. But these gains in human health have come at a high price: the degradation of nature’s ecological systems on a scale never seen in human history. A growing body of evidence shows that the health of humanity is intrinsically linked to the health of the environment, but by its actions humanity now threatens to destabilise the Earth’s key life-support systems.

As a Commission, we conclude that the continuing degradation of natural systems threatens to reverse the health gains seen over the last century. In short, we have mortgaged the health of future generations to realise economic and development gains in the present.

Lancet

In this article, we would try and see how the Solutions spelled out in the above can be incorporated into the thinking of India. One must hopefully agree that the INDC, which India has submitted although highlights India’s aspirations is more of a political document than a scientific one and that stands true for most of the Nations which think they will not drown into oblivion in the immediate future.

We all know that the Paris CoP21 is a compromise, with hopes that as the unprecedented calamities which keeps battering the World becomes more intense, better sense would prevail.

Although not a doomsayer or critique of the intent of many in the Super Developed Nations. A faint doubt does persist about the Rich Nations political intent in this regard …realpolitik as we all know would not consider devastations in Uganda in the same scale of that in the USA !

And if a poor country which is strategically placed gets battered, which in all probability will. It is better for the economy of the donor Nations. They can always sell their “technology”. Thus they are not really serious in tackling the Anthropocene Era with a deft hand.

With the report of the recent H-Bomb explosion coupled with the construction of artificial island within the nine dash lines are any indicators of whether Sustainable practices shall win, in the face of Geo-Politics. The prospect is grim.

We just don’t seem to learn and care for our planets health at all. And nothing can underscore it better than the oft repeated manner in which disasters are reported.

I still have not been able to figure out why News anchors give a smile when they say “…a big disaster but thankfully no loss of human life, reported…”! As if its only the Humans whose life matters.

And if looked closely, the death of someone who is rich and/or powerful would be covered for weeks and temples/memorials built which have “flame of honour” burning in perpetuity! No problem with sentiments but if one looks closely, the flames which burn are using fossil fuel ! How sustainable is that?

With this mindset which prevails, let us look at what problems and solutions India needs to provide as per the Lancet points mentioned above.

  1. Learn about Planetary Health.

For India, this one point would have been most easily achieved had we not clamoured for an European education system. But developed our own.

One must concede that it was easier said than done, post Independence when there were many issues to grapple with. Also we must not forget that the founding fathers of modern India post independence were mostly educated by the European system of learning.

But now under a new government, and a proud Indian population which not only has the international thinking but can and will not be averse to gaining knowledge of our own text written and practised in the high centres of learning in ancient Takshishila and Nalanda Universities.

The first lesson we must learn is lessons of sustainable living. The Vedas are the most definite source of learning about sustainable living,it needs to be decoded and made modern. This is one task the HRD ministry must take, without giving it a political colour which would be an easy spin-off should it be given a religious colour. That is the last thing sustainability needs.

No one can deny that the religion of the ancients all over the world began with worship of Nature. Thus the Vedas which talk about nature can not have any colour of religion but the singular and most important religion of all, Life.

The ancients all over the world knew much better the balance of life than we presently do. The knowledge of Vanaspati  which is found in the Vedas would be an interesting read for many modern botanist. Which would prove that knowledge is universal and must be given the chance to thrive.

What is the need to learn the Vedas,one would like to argue ? The first fundamental of Vedas is to respect life and also humility. It also teaches Yoga, which teaches oneself to control the senses or Self-control. Once we have self control our wants would automatically stop at the gate of needs.

That would be the start point of nursing the Planet (by nursing back the Nation) back to its health.

           2.Reduce Food Waste.

There is a very simple method to achieve this. Let there be a voluntary fasting day adopted  (in City based school where the Middle/Rich Class of the population send their Child)   for 1 day in a week every 52 weeks! While schools don’t open all year round the practice of fasting one day must be continued through out the year. Especially to build the child’s knowledge, that hunger is universal. And while holidaying in exotic locales a day without food would keep them grounded to the facts of life. And it is universal knowledge that parents too learn from their children, thus the cycle of empathy shall be complete.

Many of us have not experienced hunger when we were young. We also pamper our children by placing all types of food, within easy reach and almost ready to eat. How then can we as a generation not waste food, when we don’t even know the effort that goes into creating food in the first place? While no one is asking that we turn our children into farmers, but a little knowledge of kitchen gardening would surely help. And such activities can easily be programmed through school curriculum. Not as a one-off visit which many school organise but as a lesson conducted every year.

Innovation and lectures are fine, but when we set in a culture of decadence we are bound to face the problems associated with it.

Many a modern city child / young adult have not seen the trees which bear their most favourite fruit. Nor can they associate with the concept of the humongous requirement of water a paddy or wheat field require; while gobbling down their favourite bread or noodles! Children care, and surely if they were to tour the present day drought affected regions of Maharashtra and other parts of India, they will become stronger individuals.

Neither do they care or made painfully aware when they toss a plate-full of food and quarter full water glass into the dustbin the head count of the dead Indian farmers!

It would be a nice start to have the photographs of our parched fields and equally parched farmers be hung in popular fast food joints and school/college canteens.

Respect and empathy are the first step in reduction of food waste.

           3.Healthy Diets with a low environmental impact

This would perhaps pull down the present government of the day and the next ! What better nexus can their be for corporates who have invested billions in moneys, to have continue with the fast food culture? At one end it brings in easy money at the other end it creates life style diseases which also rake in more money! And if the multinational has interest both in food as well as medicine, the profit margin of the parent company would never go under!

But just as in our Nation, statesmen are born in other countries too. And they have already begun a movement.

Not many have heard of  Slow Food Foundation But that is one way of moving forward for India.In fact it would be perhaps the most easy and right thing to do.

The present P.M Narendra Modi’s Government, which is so beautifully tuned to information technology should and must take it forward. This must become one of the prime targets for the Government. And a political movement built around it would have as much potential to win votes as it would be to save the planet. Thus win accolades from both sides.

 

          4.Better Governance

Kautilya wrote The Arthashastra, the science of wealth and welfare, during the latter half of the 4th century B.C.E.. The Arthashastra contains 150 chapters, which are classified by topic in 15 books. It consists of three reasonably well developed parts: (i) national security issues including a foreign policy, (ii) administration of justice including crime and punishment issues, and (iii) policies related to economic development, taxation, labor management and financial management. ( read more).

According to the Arthashastra, Good Governance comes with peace and order which can be achieved through the collaboration of different factors in a community. While one could profess that equal weight-age should be given to all factors, one would be better placed in today’s context if Bio-diversity gets precedence over others.

Should the government policies be shaped with  the effort of retaining the bio-diversity of a given area, while allowing for industrial estates or gated townships or something in-between. The inherent conflict that would arise from trying to balance both would give rise to INNOVATION !

Yes Innovation, India would give rise to many in the process of challenging the peculiarity each acre of land has in terms of its topography, flora and fauna. When engineering meets with a economic paradigm which is less inclined to instant profiteering but a balanced approach towards long term prosperity heading towards wealth generation instead of riches for a few. It would be the beginning of better governance.

We all know that every village in India requires electricity, without which modern day development is not possible.To achieve this the normal course would be to either adopt the classical methods or balance it with some renewable energy process. Which ever way one looks at it some land would be required and certain amount of construction in a localized area has to happen. And more often than not, it would be found that some villages are still “out of bounds” due to its geographical positioning.

What if instead each family in the villages still seeking to get electricity be provided with a simple by-cycle connected to a dynamo which in turn is connected to a battery. A certain amount of pedalling would generate lets say 2KW of energy, which is more than sufficient for the villages to kick start in joining India of the 21st Century.

And at the same time, the very act can be tagged under MENREGA thus the Indian young and old in just one stroke of a pedal be forever employed !

Now connect them to the innovative minds of a start-up and one would soon see electricity produced in villages being used by the ever hungry cities and towns of India.

In one stroke prosperity can be globalized. That would surely be called good governance.

           5.Use of water more efficiently

With nearly five lakh illegal borewells sucking up Delhi’s ground water, the water table has fallen to alarming 214 feet below ground level in the southern ridge. To worsen the situation, authorities have only managed to register 169 cases against owners of illegal borewells. According to the data compiled by the Central Ground Water Board, fresh groundwater was available at just a little below 20 feet in 1977. But the water level has fallen down by more than 10 times since then in Delhi. Data compiled by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), the Ministry of Water Resources show that the water level is depleting rapidly in Delhi. The groundwater table spread over 1,484 square km has declined between 2 metre and 20 metre.The worst-hit areas include most of South Delhi and parts of South West Delhi, covering over 264 square km, where the water table has dropped by as much as 10 metre to 20 metre over the last 10 years. (India Today, July 2014).

The article above are similar to many that get written in India every year. This was chosen for two reason, its fairly recent and talks of the Capital of India. The very nerve centre of Governance {?}

Some of the thoughts and warnings were given in 2015 through this article, but to see that India actually does not care one but needs to but glance through the article and know why even 2017 we shall be in the same situation.

Water Kills ! – Drought & Food Crises are effect of Climate Change

The rampant sinking of bore-wells in every part of the country has in turn has affected the traditional step-well, which was an art bestowed by the culturally rich ancestors. They understood the concept of community living. For if one were to keep sinking bore wells in the highly de-fragmented land holdings with a huge population which India has, with water being a free natural resource to be extracted; ending up with a dried water table in most parts of the country was only but a matter of time. Today the drought we are facing is more to do with highly corrupt governance machinery and apathy of people at large who don’t care for community living.

The solution to this is not the bird-brained idea of linking rivers. Because bio-diversity is not something one should play with. There is no knowledge of what could happen if the Ganga basin is linked to say for example the Godavari basin. This has to be explained in detail. And if there is even 1% of doubt over data, the matter should be rejected.

It does not mean that we can’t provide water in a better manner. The idea of Desalination plant, with the likes functioning in the coast of Tamil Nadu must be replicated fast throughout the coastal length of India and water can be pumped to the Cities and towns alike. Leaving the mineral rich river waters for irrigation purpose.

Without elaborating much,there are already many people who are ready to invest into this. What is required is a government which is ready to listen and come into a Public-Private partnership to make it happen.

Another method of making use of water efficient is to price is correct. I had given some thoughts on this earlier in this article –

Green Business Ideas – Sell water at the price of petrol – and reap the ‘fringe’ benefits.

6.End Deforestation

Absolutely no idea how do we achieve this as long as we require palm oil , coffee, tea and many such consumables which are part and parcel of our modern life along with minerals and wood.

The idea therefore has to be more innovative.Reinvesting our combined intellect to reforest vast swats of open cast mines. Allowing for cash crops to be grown on both sides of railways and road ways. And perhaps on the median of roads too.

Instead of planting flowering trees in city boulevards and parks, trees which are fruit bearing or have medical use should be planted and harvested. It can happen through both the municipal level intervention or private level intervention where the concept of vertical farming can be utilized. It is really the right time to think about hydroponics and vertical farming & bonsai combined. This is perhaps the only way we can help the mission to end deforestation. The You Tube link below will help readers to explore many ideas within program aptly named the Good Stuff.

India’s PM Modi,who irrespective of his achievements on the ground, I have always considered as a visionary. Given a second term at Governance and should he be able to rein in the vested interests, that surround India in every sphere, open cast mining would come to an end.  While he has also agreed to the fact that we can do traditional mining, I found much to my surprise a resonance to my ideas on mining which can be seen in the following article written in September 2012 Sustainable Mining should be The BASICs agenda at UNFCCC-Doha. which I would request my PMO to read along with the following Green Business Ideas – Abandoned coalfields can boost RE and save forest in India. Geothermal is a reality and low enthalpy geothermal heat can be tapped form abandoned coalfields. And to know whether or not it would make a profit. Don’t ask the CFO. Ask those who die of the smoke.

7. Family Planning

As long as we have a fragmented policy in governance which works on vote bank politics there is very little scope for India to have a robust family planning. Law and religion must be disconnected. But it is easier said than done.

The only way this would sadly become possible is due to adverse affect of Climate Change. With food and water scarcity, there will be less and less job opportunities and more and more hunger. In this void the government through NGO support must bring about a balance.

  8. City Planning

Before any Indian city is built town planners must visit the Bio Sphere II.

Once you understand the complex behaviour of the planets ecosystem, it becomes easy to understand what one must not do to fashion the 100 smart cities we are looking to build.

And then we must also know that while everyone asks us to go vertical, the concept of going down has not been explored as much. This article called Underground Urbanism is perhaps something one must read. The author is amongst many who are thinking how to reduce the building foot print. With perhaps one children museum in Mexico being a great example of how things can be done.

As more and more cities in India fail because of bad design and infrastructure, they will but have to mend their was to become climate resilient city.

If the present government can build momentum around the Swachh Bharat, with cleaning not only the cities of filth but wrong design, bad traffic and illegal construction. If only the basic right to be able to walk on a foot path without the incessant blaring of horns. One would consider India has reached a mile stone.

By merely signing and ratifying the CoP21 Agenda, sustainable practice would not happen in India. For that we need to change the mindset. And I strongly believe that the present NDA Government, if it can root out its inefficiencies will be able to deliver on Acche din.

 

 
 

Climate Noble; a dummies guide to win the


TNT- A PEACE LOVING KILLING EQUIPMENT

Use of T. N. T., a war-salvaged explosive, for peace-time purposes

At the backdrop of heightened threat from the terrorist attack, we as a human race must pause to understand if the direction we have been taking is the right one.

Every step the human civilization has been taking as different subsets have always brought havoc to some while the others have profited.

Peace can not come from the barrel of a gun and this can’t be better underscored than by looking at how we as a collective perceive what is wrong and what is right.

The greatest irony in modern world era is the concept of the Nobel peace prize. Derived from a means which by default was destructive to begin with.

To the younger generation who are not well versed about it – a short brief on Noble is below.

Alfred Nobel’s will prescribed that the Peace Prize was to be awarded by a committee of five persons chosen by the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) and should go to the person who accomplished “the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the promotion of peace congresses.”(read).

While the World today reverberates to the boom of TNT or rather the newer versions and variants, lets try and find a solution form such an Irony !

And award the Noble for a much more nobler purpose like saving the Planet through sustainable practices ?

Are we going to continue with the never ending cycle of retribution, confusing that with punishment (which essentially differs from retribution) and make the world a much more dangerous place, with bombs flying around the restive Middle eastern & Mediterranean region while World Leaders congegrate to find solution to prevent global warming!

Will the United Nations CoP 21 in Paris also blow up into thin air ?

Will we find someone, a statesman perhaps who would come up with an idea which would be less bombastic and more real ? Who will win the race to win the Climate Noble ? And actually be able to link Global Warming – Food & Water Scarcity and Disease – War and Riots together and be able to unite all the Nations of United Nations to act on an everlasting sustainable solution, devoid of devious politics and personal profit.

1. Barack Obama ?

2. Xi Jinping ?

3. Vladimir Putin ?

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi could also be the answer.

Why?

Because he lends his ear to those who have chosen him to govern. At least till now, it can be safely assumed so.

(Why else would his Google+ account add an Aam Admi like me? and many of my kind.)

Before being accused of bias, lets agree that many an Indian both in India and Abroad are “fan” of his forward thinking ideas on good governance and development agenda.

Failing which the fans would stop revolving around him.

I wish him the best for showcasing India at Wembley stadium yesterday and really hope to see the Winter Session of Indian Parliament working towards making strong and implementable laws to abate climate change.

But working towards winning a Noble would be a win for India’s contribution in abatement of Climate Change and Global Warming. And India must lead the way. Should it also choose to grow as it wants as an Economic Power. Ecology must be given priority, without losing focus on Sustainable development.

For the last 20 CoP’s we have heard what other Nations want. Now its time we Unite the Nations! As was the call given beside the rostrum containing the green marble desk. And who else but Shri Modi has the guts and the gumption to do so.

Below are some ideas which may or may not have International resonance, but it is definitely India centric.But as India is presently the “darling” nation to fêté with presently; its green solutions may perhaps save the world.

Let us begin with RE solutions, especially making roof-top Solar PV mandatory in Indian Cities. More so in the Megalopolis and the Tier-I Cities.

Irrespective of size of roof. Let all the roofs be installed with solar within each city, we can use any business model as long as the power is directly evacuated to the smart grid and consumed within the city. Extra power can go to the peri-urban areas or industry. This way we ensure gradual withdrawal from fossil fuel based power and at the same time do not cripple critical functions with use of still adolescent RE solutions. And at the same time climb down perhaps in a shorter time frame from being the 13 most worst polluted cities in the World. And while we are at it a few more suggestions for the Cites before we even attempt of calling the race for Smart Cities design and implementation –

आवाज़ कम करो – We in India are a population of 1.25 Billion people. Even our whisper can actually become a din. While it would be a little difficult to throttle throats to keep the voices down, we could actually do two much more simpler things. As sustainability in inclusive of many things, not just energy and water.

1. Ban Loud Speakers, in-fact we can surely limit at the manufacturers end, the PMPO (peak music power output) to what is as per regulations. Extremely loud speaker would require a special licence, as we do in India for guns. And user has to apply to Magistrate office to get one. And this licence would only be valid for a season or purpose specified,

2. Regulate the Auto-mobile horn, a simple governor which kills the horn post 1000 use and can only be activated on-line by paying a fee not less than Rupee 2000, would surely quiet down the cities of India.

Along with reducing the noise pollution let’s get Reva by Mahindra & Mahindra on the city roads. Make that and similar auto-mobiles the only vehicles which can ply on Indian city roads. And for once let the corporates get their act together. Our children need their lungs which can’t be compared to a profit bar graph. Or stop celebrating Childrens day on November the 14th every year. And turn it into a day when we count how many of our future generations lives will be short-lived and terribly challenged due to lung diseases.

This December all the world leaders and many more would converge on Paris for CoP21 of UNFCCC. Almost all would be flying. Then taking bullet proof cars, which guzzles fossil fuel like a battle tank, board up in 7 star fully air-conditioned hotels and converge within fully air-conditioned and well-lit auditoriums.

To talk about Climate Change & Global Warming !

What our PM and his entourage could perhaps do is tell the packed crowd as how on his next visit our PM could fly in an aircraft which would be powered partly by wind turbines.

Yes wind turbines !

We all know that a commercial airliner flies at a minimum speed of 875KM/hour which is around 543Miles/hour. A turbine which generates say 10KW requires a wind speed of 25 Mph. So one can hopefully do the mathematics of what a 543mph wind speed can generate.

Ram Air turbines

Air-plane wings typically have two jet engine and the jumbo have 4. If we can replace or modify the jet engine into a hybrid system which can generate power both when the turbine is fired to rotate via use of a combustion engine or simply utilizing the very high rotation,which would come with the spinning of the blades at such high-speed, to charge up the dynamos which could at-least provide with auxiliary power during cruise speed.

The idea which I always propagate is – never try to invent the wheel. The guy who did it was smart. And I am not smart. So I believe in adaptation.

The image shows a wind turbine named “Ram Air Turbines”. The most appropriate name given by the inventors, who I am sure would be welcomed with open arms and a very very warm welcome in India by the present Government.

After all Lord Ram was an Indian and the beloved of BJP !

Coming back to the point, it more or less works as an emergency power backup during landing and essentially used in small planes for opening their landing gear.

What I want to say is that the idea is not new and the technology is also understood. But no  commercial jet aircraft can have small turbines protruding out of its fuselage, the drag would be enormous.

But adapting it, what we Indians call “Jugaad” is another thing. And I must humbly request my government to consider it as an idea which our scientist must explore.

True the World is already thinking about solutions such as these, but it is not about thinking but doing it and putting it out in the market before others do, That is what business is all about. And we need to also follow the clarion call of “Make in India”.

And as a Nation we must find the right atmosphere to inculcate the idea of start-ups in all filed not just software, which we have already championed. And going gaga over E-commerce is also not something to be too excited about. With no intent to insult or hurt any sentiment, portals are nothing but modern day shops and its owners shopkeepers.

The Airbus E-Fan Prototype Electric Aircraft

We need inventors and innovators to tackle global warming and bring about sustainability in business. The Electric Aircraft shown above proves that we already have competition.Parallel to this aerodynamic designs are already being looked into to make aircraft have one single body.

So India must come forward and think of how it can really challenge the world and become the seller of sustainability rather than buyer, which is what the current drift of the matter is.

We must think from our position of strength.And build upon it.

A couple of MIT engineers research on electricity generation and land use, estimates that solar power to produce 100% of world electricity generation would require 5,500,000,000,000 square meters (5.5 x 10^12 m^2). (link to original page). While the authors of the article love Nuclear, I would humbly ask them to wait till they can give us Fusion instead of the present day Fission technology.

World wars have been fought and are still being fought to capture or retain a piece of land mass. Unless we start to think of innovations and utilize the Reuse & Recycle policy, we will be seriously challenged in the near future on finding enough surface to utilize the abundant Solar Power. And by the way Sun’s power is pure Fusion technology without using Fission as a “trigger”.

My second suggestion or idea would be for India to have the airborne wind turbines off-shore and near the Indian sea ports, tethered to old ships which otherwise are sent to the scrap yards.

Eco Marine Power Developing Solar Sails to Power Ships

Many of the oil tankers can be used to make floating power stations which can be equipped with a combination of wind turbines and Solar PV, (CSP?) which would provide enough power to be utilized by the docked ships as auxiliary power thus saving a lot of fossil fuel from burning and creating more GHG. While Eco Marine Power of Japan and many such companies are already adapting the idea into their operational ships. If we truly want to use the wind-solar hybrid and also make a sustainable business out of it, we must allow the long coast line of India to dock off-shore ships or barges which are at their end of life and use them as floating platforms to generate power.

This would not only help India but one or few more contentious issue can also to some extent be solved by utilizing the ships.

For example the empty hulls can be modified to become soft-drink factories, where they are privately owned and they create their huge requirement of water right from the sea utilizing the solar for desalination ! Before we can finally shift our industries to the Moon. [Green Business Ideas : How about taking the polluting industries to Moon ?] which may just be possible if we can stop and save enough money which we spend on creating war machines which mostly get mothballed because hardly any Nation has the will and energy to wage another world war for conquest ! Those days are thankfully over.

Its time we conquer the 2°Centigrade Warming of the World.

 

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World Environment Day, time to move beyond the Rhetoric !


While the World once more goes through the motion of conferences and sage advises. As it does every year on World Environment day,the mitigation actions which this day needs to usher in are not moving at the desired speed.

By this I don’t mean to insult the hard work being put by many a sincere person and organization. But the fantastic delusion the believers have about the method in which to approach saving the environment. Frankly speaking I don’t have a clue on what real change in the ground I’ve been able to make, since my becoming a “believer”.

Take for example emails. I believe in EMAILs. They are environmentally friendly so to speak. For every time I blog or write an email, I save a tree in the virgin forest from being cut down…..

A thought I always held until yesterday, while going through the routine motion of reading the newspaper it occurred to me that, every email I send almost all are printed on the other end by the receiver.

Can you ever imagine a top CEO, not walking into his office with his secretary scurrying behind with a ream of printed emails, in order of importance! On which the CEO has to physically sign as stamp of approval or comment upon. Prima facie there is nothing wrong about it. In fact the legal department could quote you chapter and verse as to why a physical signature is so important.

My question therefore, is a simple one. Why do we say that emails are environmentally safer? For with my limited knowledge and logical thinking, the World is deluding itself through these large conferences, packed with VVIP’s; all talking about saving the World. Talking without changing the simple ground realities.

While we rip open the heart of the Planet to extract coal, the wound of an opencast mine and the pollution accompanying it would dirty the shiny shoes and bring sweat in the brows; surely annoy the important CEO who needs the power generated by coal to run his laptop so that he can send out that all important missive, in the environmentally friendly way of E-mails which would then be printed on paper by the secretary of the receiver…..

So what do we learn when we see this video of UNEP?

 

That to create this very video we have simply contributed in destroying the planet a little bit more. For we need to use the very resources and tools which the large corporates have been manufacturing to achieve this message of saving this planet. And this cardinal truth is very well understood by the corporates and their backers. Unless that changes, unless we learn to live our lives in a completely different way it would not be possible to halt the advance of Global Warming!

So do we have hope ? Of course we do. Humans till date have always shown a pragmatic approach to problems. And solutions have been found. And to find the solutions we need to step up the awareness campaign. We have to keep promoting the cause. We have to make the general public aware of the reasons and patterns of the problem at hand. This is when we shall see real changes.

This is already happening in India. Take for example the recent articles given below

South, central & airport areas are Mumbai‘s hottest

Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar –Mumbai Times News  Network

Temperatures Vary By Up To 13°C Within City

Mumbai’s warmest neighbourhoods lie in densely built-up south and central Mumbai and the industrial east, according to new research from IIT-Bombay on the urban heat island effect in the city.Areas around the airport, including Andheri East and Kurla, are also among the city’s hottest zones.

Mumbai Heat Island Effect Surface temperatures in these “heat islands“ may be as much as 8-9 degrees Celsius higher than other parts of the city during the summer, and more than 10°C higher than green areas like the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, says a study by Aparna Dwivedi, MV Khire and B K Mohan at IIT-Bombay’s Centre for Studies in Resources Engineering.In winter, this temperature difference comes down to 4°C. (read more)

The most important paragraphs were in the followup article, mentioning the use of materials for construction…

Land Use Norms Should Also List Materials For Construction

The `urban heat island effect’ is more widespread in the island city as it is more densely built and does not have a national park or adequate wetlands to bring down temperatures, says a recent study .

The “urban heat island (UHI) effect“ refers to the way in which cities become warmer than surrounding rural areas as temperatures are raised by heat-absorbing concrete and asphalt, high population densities, and pollution. The same factors make some urban neighborhoods warmer than others. The study , by Aparna Dwivedi, M V Khire and B K Mohan from IIT-Bombay’s Centre for Studies in Resources Engineering, says Mumbai’s proximity to the sea and exploding urbanization make it highly vulnerable to disasters of climate change.

“Land use guidelines need to be put in place and may also specify the use of materials which bring sustainable development and less UHI effect to Mumbai,“ the authors write in their study . In recent years, studies have found that pollution and the heat island effect may be contributing to a link between urbanization and thunderstorms in cities, including in Mumbai.

This research, part of an ongoing project, has implications for the current debate over the city’s new development plan. Allowing large increases in built-up areas in already dense areas could aggravate the heat island effect, unless planned properly , says Khire. “Some areas would become like an oven,“ he says.

English: Urban heat island Polski: Miejska wys...

English: Urban heat island Polski: Miejska wyspa ciepła (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dwivedi, an architect and doctoral student working under the guidance of Khire, is studying the growth in heat islands in the city in the past 15 years. “The idea is to look at what factors, from building materials and green cover to pollution and energy use most affect temperatures, and come up with mitigation measures,“ she says. Some kinds of glass, for example, emit more heat than others. Also, glass buildings require air-conditioning, which emits its own heat, reinforcing the heat island effect, notes Khire.(read more).

The same page also carried articles of how pollution affects the heart and the dangerously low supply of water to the city.For an average person a newspaper article has more importance and they view it more seriously than when they hear the same thing from an expert in an conference. It is perhaps because the message reaches to a larger section of the audience, whom the reader knows and can discuss with. While in a conference of Environment and related field only the deeply committed and from the industry would visit; therefore highlighting once more the role of media.

All the stake holders in the UNFCCC conference keep seeking to agree upon actions which will limit the average global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius. This could need reductions in greenhouse gases to between 40 to 70 percent below 2010 levels by 2050, and we’re not even close. We know the UNFCCC is meeting in Paris this year December and UNEP in this month is conducting a seminar in Paris. The usual suspects would be there. But what about the public? Somewhere the UN has failed to raise the awareness level of the public. And it is this failure to create a mass movement of some of the actions the public around the world do take, will surely and steadily lead us to doom.

If one would have followed the news papers in India, Mumbai. In the past few months there has been some very vocal actions taken against destruction of forest and forest land. An area called Aaerey Colony which borders the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, was earmarked for creating the Car shed of Mumbai Metro.

While an estimated 9.2 crore commuters ( 10 Crore = 100 million) have already used the Metro since its inauguration last June, the expansion plans have been thwarted due to the opposition of creating the car-shed.

This is a classic example which the Politicians and  Administrators must look at and understand where the program of abate Global warming is failing. On one hand the public wants to have better commuting system. And metro is the way towards the “Smart Cities”, but not at the cost of the Environment.

The Public at large while wanting to live within the modern trappings of City, also want to live in the lap of Nature; as have the ancestors of humans been doing for Centuries. This is the dilemma one has to address. And this can’t be addressed by taking baby steps but strong measures. True there could be a massive socio-political churning, at some parts of the world more acute than in other. But mistakes can’t be cured without pain.

To begin with lets look at some of the agenda the World We Want 2015 should be addressing.

1. Stop manufacturing cars that use Fossil fuel.

2. Insist to member Nations to not allow more than 1 car per family, even if they run on alternative fuel.

3. Promote public transport like Trams and Trains. Electric Bus are a limited option, to be used as shuttle to bring in people to the train and tram terminals.

4. Insist on making all buildings with roof-top Solar. Land is a major issue, beyond a point one will not get land to install utility scale Solar. And its not exactly great idea when the power anyway will be wheeled to the cities. All rural areas too should have solar roof-tops. Design Solar Trees along high-ways. While this will not exactly provide enough power to run the Nation, it would surely limit the use and extraction of Coal & Oil.

We need coal & oil, till the Nuclear fusion takes over or some other better form yet to be discovered. We may perhaps find a way to tap into the limitless Geothermal Energy even in areas where we don’t have the hot-spot. That would perhaps help.

English: Chicago City Hall Green Roof

English: Chicago City Hall Green Roof (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

5. To make it mandatory for every residential building to grow food. If every block is made to grow food, say each building grows something different, the community market would be able to augment more fresh food while at the same time reduce the pressure on farm lands to ever keep growing into the last remaining virgin forests or using pesticides.

Architects must be mandated to design by law areas within the building, for growing food and at the same time Renewable Energy. Rain-water harvesting goes naturally with this.

6. The most important part is to have mandatory laws which make “walk to work” a reality. Unless this part is achieved, the above 5 will not make sense. And this can be achieved easily by creating some pure business districts within the precinct and some mixed used buildings.

India is poised to build 100 Smart cities and retrofit 500 more. The idea of having a Wi-Fi city or some transport system tied to surveillance cameras don’t make the city smart. Neither building Climate unresponsive glass buildings, by blindly aping the west.

Do we ever question about why we keep providing licence for manufacture & sale of Loudspeakers, while at the same time we all get so annoyed with the blaring of horn and loud music ?

War & Peace can’t be in the same space, except in the famous fictitious book….

Our cities and the country can only be in sync with the environment when we start with being human. Rest will fall in place.

Come this year lets start making the Environment more conducive to usher in the Environment Day to come.

 

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Smart City – Choosing between a Planned Development & a Development Plan.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, on his 3 Nations tour is bringing once more the Nation into the World focus, therefore sooner than later the World economies would come. Especially to build those 100 Smart Cities. For that is a lot of money and a lot of business. But before that happens, it is important that the Common Man, as we like to call ourselves in India get to know the pros and cons of building ourselves more concrete jungle, in our quest to be called “developed”.

A City is a complex mix of building and infrastructure. But the most important component of a City is the Citizens. Devoid of it, many a Great City has perished & the Civilisation the city harboured followed suit. It is therefore imperative that we strive towards more Climate Resilient Cities, because the Climate is changing. And with every Epoch of Climate Change, Extinction follows!

As per the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, The building sector contributes up to 30% of global annual green house gas emissions and consumes up to 40% of all energy. Given the massive growth in new construction in economies in transition, and the inefficiencies of existing building stock worldwide, if nothing is done, greenhouse gas emissions from buildings will more than double in the next 20 years. Therefore, if targets for GHG reduction are to be met, it is clear that decision-makers must tackle emissions from the building sector. Mitigation of Green House Gas emissions from buildings must be a cornerstone of every National Climate Change strategy. (UNEP DTIE; Sustainable Consumption & Production Branch.)

According to the 2011 India Census, there are about 30 crore houses in the country. The census defines a house as a building or part of a building having a separate entrance from a road, common courtyard, stairs and so on. About 71% were occupied while 7.5% were vacant. In the cities of India 136 lakh homes were vacant. While 111 lakh rural homes were found empty. The above data would be read as a statistical roll out for the untrained eye, but for those who choose to care it shows how “development” as we call it is becoming lopsided. The simple reason being that while of the 136,000,00 homes lying vacant in Urban centres most would be due to following reasons.

1. Occupants were living in an alternate abode within the city or in some other city around the world.

2. It was an “investment” in Real Estate.

3. It was unsold Real Estate inventory.

And if one would delve deep into the reason of empty homes in villages the compelling reason would be that the villager was trying to eke out a living in the concrete jungle we so lovingly call a City.

But very soon, it would perhaps be the city dwellers who would be gasping for the breath of life, if changes which are important and urgent are not addressed by all stake holders.

This article would try and connect unseeingly disparate dots together to create a debate in the minds of the readers to look at events that take place in a more holistic manner to arrive at better building solutions for a Smart City.

We shall look into the reasons as to why Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) which have the best of Energy Efficiency Measures (EEM) requires to be built in accordance to a mandatory legislation. For today “Green” buildings as we like to call them are not mandatory. And most being built are nothing but a “Green-Wash”. Either due to ignorance or avarice. We shall through this article build up bit by bit why we must look at solutions to build wise. Development is a necessity and it can not be stopped. But it can definitely be made more responsive and in sync with Nature. To do that this article shall dwell on two parts – 1. what a green building actually is and 2. how it can build climate resilient cities.

Not everyone understand why the term “Green Building” is used as an epithet for Energy Efficient Buildings. Therefore lets understand it in layman terms. Experts are excused from reading further.

1. What is Green Building?

A building which during its construction and occupancy, if by utilizing the best of construction methods and practices follow the principle of Reduce – Reuse – Renew – Recycle – Refuse; can be termed as a Green Building.

Reduce –

The building industry is the single largest consumer of all the industrial sectors. A building consumes Steel, Iron, Aluminium, Copper, Nickel, Tin, Cobalt & Various rare earth materials. It uses wires, paints, varnishes which need to be mined. Forest extracts not only means logged wood but with destruction of forests, wild-life too dies. Thus from paper to petroleum, textile to leather; there is almost everything even the mountains themselves, cut into slabs to adorn the floors of the house. Destruction is the first and foremost process of building a modern Building.

By reduction of use in construction materials through efficient design and construction practice; virgin materials need to be extracted less. This helps in retaining the “Green Cover” of the as yet unexplored mines for Ore or Coal. Or building and/or upgrading of existing Hydro-power plants or deep-sea Oil wells. The former inundates vast swats of lush green forest cover, and also most of the time the homes of the city pavement dwellers, who were perhaps proud farmers eking out an honest living and most importantly producing something which no city dweller can ever do – GROW FOOD !

Before the rising backwaters of the dams flooded their homes and sank their hopes for ever.

If one has ever seen a picture of an oil spill on the sea and the associated dead sea-life nothing more needs to be added beyond reminding that with every Kilo-Watt of power produced in India via Thermal (oil or coal fired) power plants; one can in a simplistic calculation consider use of 1Kg or Coal and 1 litre of water to produce the same. The Coal is ripped form the bosom of Earth by a tear called open-cast mining; with rips out every tree & grassland. Destroying the homes of burrowed animals like rabbits and proud tigers alike. In its wake it leaves a slush which contaminates the rivers, which slowly die. Both from reduced rain-fall as well as silt.

While the burning coal creates Green House Gas emissions, the likes of which today plague Indian cities. With every bit of reduction a construction engineer brings into a building project. Sustainability of life continues.

Reuse

By utilizing existing construction materials, through a complete supply chain recycling process and most amazingly by utilizing existing best designs! Yes designs. If one but pauses by any modern township or towers being built around any of the Indian Cities, one would find either flats, row-houses, bungalows of almost the same dimension and shape being built within that very project.

Simply put, a residential tower is nothing but stacking of row-houses horizontally and vertically; with services areas thrown-in. Thus almost everyone is having an identical house, made into an unique home by the way its is lived in! If a developer-builder company, utilizing a little more imagination beyond being swayed by Occidental designs and obscene RoI; could cash in on registering a few best designs and keep building them. It would then be promoting its very own “Signature” Style.

With each new building being built, the design and construction team would be able to keep raising the bar of excellence! For even if a design is the same, each project would throw in its own unique challenges and tweaks would have to be incorporated. But on the flip side the Master Material Sheet would become leaner and better. Design print-outs would be minimized as many details would still be relevant, within the old set of drawings from an earlier project.

Thus by the simple act of Reuse; a building and construction Industry can save life on Earth even while generating financial wealth for itself.

Renew –

The money saved thus could be utilized to buy the E-Paper Printers. Electronic paper, e-paper and electronic ink are display technologies which are designed to mimic the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Unlike conventional backlit flat panel displays which emit light, electronic paper displays reflect light like ordinary paper. Many of the technologies can hold static text and images indefinitely without using electricity, while allowing images to be changed later. Flexible electronic paper uses plastic substrates and plastic electronics for the display backplane. This in effect would spur growth and business of a different dimension, while help check the destruction of virgin forests. To start with, about a half of the forests that once covered the earth are gone. Every year, another 13 million hectares disappear (although afforestation adds another eight back), and the World Resources Institute (WRI) estimates that only about 22 percent of the world’s old growth forests remain intact. The activities of the pulp and paper sector threaten the habitats of several rare wildlife species such as Asian big cats (including tigers), Asian elephant, Asian rhinos, and Orangutans. The remaining natural forests in Sumatra, Borneo, New Guinea, Russian Far East, Southern Chile and the Atlantic forest region in Brazil are endangered because of growing demand for pulpwood, among other threats. Forests also maintain the world’s abundant biodiversity, essential for life on Earth.

Renewal of life by the simple act of saving forest.

Recycle –

While it sure looks fashionable when a debonair man and a pretty woman tango together to break and destroy all that was a fully functional home around a tap ! (an advertisement by a tap company)

Unfortunately in India, the one that is destroyed and the one that gets built around the famous tap, the décor are “inspired” western designs. Thus near zero in climate responsiveness. The only message its sends out is how to induce further pollution. This unfortunately is the reflection the psychology of the society today. The best of practice would be to become more Oriental than Occidental.

The former is application of mind over matter. The latter is always mindless destruction of everything intelligent and vernacular. Especially in the Oriental context. The deep rooted culture of India has traditionally been towards conservation and recycling. An heirloom gifted to the daughter, the priceless Silk Sari handed down with pride and care. The feeling of pride to sit on the rocking chair which once belonged to the grandfather, when one himself becomes the grandfather. To use left-over of a dinner to cook a tasty & healthy breakfast. To live for generations in a house built by the ancestor. T

he sense of belonging and pride which has slowly but surely crumbled. Leaving the average Indian city dweller confused by the constant pull and push of cross-culture and time. Having forgotten that it is this disconnect from one’s own culture which is the root cause of Global Warming. Mythology are replete with examples of Man-Animal, Man-Plant co-existence. The Kamdhenu, The Kalpa Vriksha both are giver of plenty. A simple yet profound example set by our ancestors that without the trees and animals, humans can’t have their wish fulfilled. Culminating with the supreme example of Rama -Hunmana relationship. A synergy between Man-Animal, both considered as God themselves.

While modern building can be built and are being built from recycled materials as it has started making more economic sense, much still needs to be done when Interiors are designed. A commercial space be a hotel or hospital have constant wear & tear. Renovation is a must. But by allowing intelligence to dictate the norm rather than trend could save lots of money. A corporate bosses Burma teak wood table could be modified to be a receptionists desk, while the old reception table could go into making the internals of storage shelve. The high VoC which most of the adhesives and glues and paints carry, reduce in emitting their noxious fumes as they get older. It is best therefore to retain old furniture, as it is healthier.

The simple act of Recycling not only insures immediate health benefits, the forest remaining intact insures fresh oxygen keeps getting produced to sustain life.

Refuse –

Not many know that in the deep Pacific Ocean there lies a plastic garbage patch. Estimates of size range from 700,000 square kilometers (270,000 sq mi) (about the size of Texas) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch formed gradually as a result of ocean or marine pollution gathered by oceanic currents. The garbage patch occupies a large and relatively stationary region of the North Pacific Ocean bound by the North Pacific Gyre (a remote area commonly referred to as the horse latitudes). The gyre’s rotational pattern draws in waste material from across the North Pacific Ocean, including coastal waters off North America and Japan.

As material is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move floating debris toward the centre, trapping it in the region. The primary source of marine debris is the improper waste disposal or management of trash and manufacturing products, including plastics (e.g., littering, illegal dumping) … Debris is generated on land at marinas, ports, rivers, harbour, docks, and storm drains. Debris is generated at sea from fishing vessels, stationary platforms and cargo ships. Pollutants range in size from abandoned fishing nets to micro-pellets used in abrasive cleaners. Unlike organic debris, which biodegrades, the photo-degraded plastic disintegrates into ever smaller pieces while remaining a polymer. This process continues down to the molecular level. As it disintegrates, the plastic ultimately becomes small enough to be ingested by aquatic organisms that reside near the ocean’s surface. In this way, plastic may become concentrated in neuston, thereby entering the food chain.

Some of these long-lasting plastics end up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals & fish, many of these fish are then consumed by humans, resulting in their ingestion of toxic chemicals. Besides the particles’ danger to wildlife, on the microscopic level the floating debris can absorb organic pollutants from seawater, including PCBs, DDT, and PAHs. Aside from toxic effects, when ingested, some of these are mistaken by the endocrine system as estradiol, causing hormone disruption in the affected animal. (Text edited from Wikipedia).

When residential or commercial society post occupancy, refuse using of plastic and utilize proper waste disposal. Refuse application of polymer paint to their furniture or are careful when the materials are being used during interiors, they are saving the environment from degrading further. It would be good to remember that the salt we eat needs to be made out of drying out sea water. Humans already have plastic flowing in their blood stream, by refusing and limiting the use of plastic and other toxic materials into their building pre and post occupancy. One would be perhaps saving their own life.

The above 5-R’s constitute a “Green Building”. And thus by building or buying into one, every person contributes in doing his/her bit in saving the Environment.

2. What is a Climate Resilient City?

The United States of America have the following Climatic Zones – Tundra, Sub Arctic, Highlands, Continental Humid, Mediterranean, Marine West Coast, Desert, Steppe. The Europe has the Following Climatic Zones – Tundra, Sub Arctic, Highlands, Continental Humid, Mediterranean, Marine West Coast, Desert, Steppe.

The Sub Continent of India has the following – Highland, Humid Sub-Tropical, Tropical Wet and Dry, Arid, Semi –Arid, Tropical West.

If one goes for a tour of the Europe and North America one would find buildings built in accordance to their climatic conditions. Thus their City skyline too looks more or less the same.

The skyline of Indian cities also match and feel like any European or American city.Even though we don’t come anywhere close to their climatic conditions. Nowhere in the west would one find a copy of the Indian vernacular architecture. We on the other hand also feel proud to not have a single building designed as per Indian Architecture.

The swanky glass encased building in the long cold winter months, in the American & European countries help trap whatever sunlight available, causing a green house effect within the building. It helps in enhancing the warmth the Air-Conditioners create. Saving precious energy and fuel. With hardly 80+ days of Sunshine it is a smart thing to do in Europe.

Most SME business, in the equally swanky glass encased commercial buildings & shopping malls of India close down within the 5 years of operation as the 200+ days of Sunshine requires the Air-Conditioners to constantly hum in its effort to cool the building, while people sweat under the collars with the induced green house effect a glass house brings as a default. It also drills a large hole in their pockets.

When we start building climate responsive buildings, we would be creating a Climate Resilient City. Indians are by default intelligent and literate. But as with most around the world less educated about the manner in which their life-style affect the health of the planet. An erudite person would consider it foolish to design a wash-room with toilet paper instead of a health faucet. According to a report by David Braun of the National Geographic wrote in the World Watch Magazine worldwide, the equivalent of almost 270,000 trees is either flushed or dumped in landfills every day and roughly 10 percent of that total is attributable to toilet paper. India which traditionally washed itself find wiping more fashionable and thus design there 5-star Hotels similarly. Somewhere we have not got over in wiping a white….

Black or Grey water can be recycled and reused. Making of proper toilets is the beginning of building a Smart City.

A Swwacch Bharat.

The destructions of forests and natural habitat worldwide are leading to catastrophic changes in the weather pattern. The modern life-style must factor in climate change and global warming. And cities are the principal drivers towards this unwarranted change. For all the industry thrive upon the insatiable demand of a city. The need of creature comfort has spurred the race to build automobiles, appliances, accessories which have become more important than the basic building blocks of civilization. Food – Cloth – Shelter.

We are living on the Edge.

The unseasonal rain-fall India experienced early March 2015, has wiped out the Rabi Crop. In Sangli, Maharashtra 26,000 hectares of crop was lost. Pan India the loss is already a cause of concern as we are yet to fully recover from the $7 Billion loss Cyclone Hud Hud caused last year. More disasters are to happen, that we can no more stop. But we can surely adapt.

To conclude, when India builds its 100 smart cities, it should not only look at development but also the development plan. This is what the United Nations Mitigation and Adaptation Plan requires us to do.

 

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