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Millennium Development Goals – towards Sustainable Living

15 Jul

The UNFCCC Rio+20; is over. We all must look towards the next one. And while we do, it is our duty to make the common person understand in as simple term as possible the agenda of the Millennium Development and how it is related to their every day life.

English: A 2005 photograph of James Lovelock, ...

English: A 2005 photograph of James Lovelock, scientist and author best known for the Gaia hypothesis. Photograph taken by Bruno Comby of Association of Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy. Original at http://www.ecolo.org/lovelock/. Released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license versions 2.5, 2.0, and 1.0. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The eminent British scientist James Lovelock, back in the 1970s, formulated his theory of Gaia, which held that the Earth was a kind of super organism. It had a self-regulating quality that would keep everything within that narrow band that made life possible. If things got too warm or too cold—if sunlight varied, or volcanoes caused a fall in temperatures, and so forth—Gaia would eventually compensate.This was a comforting notion to many. Later, he said he was wrong, “I have to tell you, as members of the Earth’s family and an intimate part of it, that you and especially civilization are in grave danger,” he wrote in the Independent in 2006. .

The world has warmed since those heady days of Gaia, and scientists have grown gloomier in their assessment of the state of the world’s climate. NASA climate scientist James Hanson has warned of a Venus effect,” in which runaway warming turns Earth into an uninhabitable desert, with a surface temperature high enough to melt lead, sometime in the next few centuries.

pleistocene extinction

pleistocene extinction (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a provocative, gripping book, Scientific American editor Fred Guterl says – The sixth “mass extinction event” in the history of planet Earth is currently under way, with over two hundred species dying off every day. The cause of this seismic event is also the source of the single biggest threat to human life: our own inventions. But for all our talk about sea levels and biotechnology, do we really know what our future will actually look like? Will our immune systems be attacked by so-called super bugs, always evolving, and more easily spread than ever? Will the disappearance of numerous species cripple the biosphere? And if it does, what happens then? We find ourselves in a trap: Technology got us into this mess, and it’s also the only thing that can help us survive it.

So, what must be done ? Elinor Ostrom winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics says –  The good news is that evolutionary policymaking is already happening organically. In the absence of effective national and international legislation to curb greenhouse gases, a growing number of city leaders are acting to protect their citizens and economies.

pleistocene extinction

This is hardly surprising – indeed, it should be encouraged. This grassroots diversity in ‘green policy making’ makes economic sense. ‘Sustainable cities’ attract the creative, educated people who want to live in a pollution-free, modern, urban environment that suits their lifestyles. This is where future growth lies. Like upgrading a mobile phone, when people see the benefits, they will discard old models in a flash. Most major cities sit on coasts, straddle rivers, or lie on vulnerable deltas, putting them on the front line of rising sea levels and flooding in the coming decades. Adaptation is a necessity. But, with cities responsible for 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation is better. Of course, true sustainability goes further than pollution control. City planners must look beyond municipal limits and analyse flows of resources – energy, food, water, and people – into and out of their cities. Setting goals can overcome inertia, but everyone must have a stake in establishing them: countries, states, cities, organisations, companies, and people everywhere. Success will hinge on developing many overlapping policies to achieve the goals.

If one reads into the Euro Zone crisis, all that is being debated is whether there should be austerity or business as usual. And in this whatever the European Union has gained and trying to gain in the area of Climate Change abatement, would be the first casualty. Because those who advocate austerity would find sustainable development “costly” to implement and those who oppose it would consider sustainable development as barrier to growth, the high carbon growth which did bring the Nations to their prime but at the cost of the environment; which would be glossed over by impassioned speech more or less with the justification that they are doing this for the benefit of the people. And Peoples and Sheep from time of Anthony when he buried Cesar, get easily swayed in not recognizing the actual ambition of the Orator. And Europe is not alone in this, there are already grumblings on the Bunker fuel tax, Euro Zone has levied from January 2012; with even India along with China and Russia of the BRICS  group opposing it.

Capitalism, the form which is practiced today, measures profit by monetary gain only. It has so dis-oriented  the “experts” and “leaders” that it is difficult for them to come out of it. The system has trained Law & Business Graduates to distrust, mistrust, lie and intimidate at every turn. And when this is topped with greed and avarice, the heady mix is a dangerous concoction of disastrous results, which at times just needs a small nudge from Nature to implode/explode into a catastrophe – the most recent example is Fukushima, Lehman Brother episode. The Indian list is endless, so I best leave it for now by just saying; it is being mentioned that, should we be able to repatriate the money parked in off-shore accounts, India can have the 5 year plan of  Sustainable Growth covered in one go.

Although among climate experts, there’s an extraordinary level of agreement with 97 out of 100 climate scientists agreeing that humans are causing global warming. Action taken on the ground are far from satisfactory.

English: Inaugural Ministerial Meeting of the ...

English: Inaugural Ministerial Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate in Sydney, Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why is this happening? It is because the mandarins in power are straight jacketed in their thoughts vis-a-vis international commerce & trade as well as Geo-politics. Habits die hard and the more seasoned the diplomat, the more suspicious s/he would be of every proposal; even if it were for Climate change abatement and Sustainable Development. It came to as no surprise, when just post the failure of Copenhagen UNFCCC COP15 summit, a very high up in the Indian delegation said that, the failure is not because no one understood the grim reality of climate change; but inherently all consider it just another gathering of World Economic Forum in disguise. So each Nation / Group look at maximizing their economic benefit.

It is therefore imperative for the common person to understand the reasons and patterns behind the hardships they are facing and what their children would face; they need to understand that many are out of work because the corporates did not factor in the climate risks when polluting the earth endlessly, and being part of the employee pool we to have our fair share in it. This has to led to food crises in many Nations, drought & famine in other. This  desperate atmosphere at times creates situation for war & piracy at high-seas. It also encourages impressionable minds to dream of “paradise” when they willingly explode having nothing to lose.

When all the chips are down the only thing a human needs is -FOOD & SHELTER just like all other animals in this eco-system and Climate change is leading the world towards that disaster. The evidence of impending Armageddon is all around us to see, the trick is to abate it in time. Adaptation is a stop-gap option not the solution. Sustainable practice is all encompassing. It can not be seen in isolation. This I could learn over time through experience. From looking at sustainability through the narrow prism of Energy Efficient Building Design, it slowly dawned unto me that the buildings I think of designing and the Renewable Energy I love to promote can not exist in vacuum. They are but an infrastructure service for betterment of Humanity, and if modern Civilization gets devoid of mankind due to Climate change  what purpose would the buildings serve?

As the 8 Millennium Development Goals suggests – 1. Eradication of Extreme Poverty & Hunger. – talk to a hungry person of not cutting down a tree for sale as fire-wood so that s/he can feed the family, it just won’t work.

2. Achieve Universal Primary Education.-how else would the citizens understand and adapt to the various programs for betterment of the under privileged, who are fooled at every turn by the unscrupulous and thus face the brunt of any natural or man-made calamity.

3. Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. – it is a fact that women have better intuition, more caring, perceive more colors  , can identify more through  smell, have a better memory power than men and have Emotional intelligence  far better then men. The list is endless. In India as in the rest of the world “Mother Goddess” was supreme. Today in India the worship of the female power as Goddess Shakti is only but a lip service, without understanding why our ancient ancestors put so much currency on the empowerment of women. For without having the Mother teaching a child to nurture how can Nature sustain itself ?

4. Reduce Child Mortality. Although India has the highest “youth capital”; it also has a dismal record of child mortality. A Country prospers on the back of the people – the farmer, the solider, the mason, the weaver; without able body to shoulder the burden, there would neither be food, shelter or clothing and none to protect the Nations wealth. 

5.Improve Maternal Health.- If the wealth of a Nation is its able citizens, then the continuity can only be maintained through sustained efforts to keep the mother of the child, who is the future of the Nation, healthy.

6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other disease. –Without education, gender equality and eradication of poverty; the complete physical, physiological and ecological balance suffers leading to disease and destruction.

Only by achieving the desired result in the above six can we complete the other two

7. Ensure Environment Sustainability- Reduction of Green House Gases and other forms of pollution is the only way to stop the Extinction of the modern Civilization.

8. Develop a Global Partnership for Development. – Sustained efforts in global partnership on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) which
“serve as a crucial enabler for territorial development, accelerating progress in poverty reduction, while promoting inclusive growth.” By sharing knowledge of sustainable development practice Nations can learn from each other and create better job opportunities while veering away form the disastrous High Carbon Economy of today.

Courtesy:amazon.com/The-Fate-Species; scientific american.com/The Fate of the Species.;  abc.net.au/environment.

 

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