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About Oyeta936

Sandeep Goswami as an EEB {Energy Efficient Building} Consultant advises in creating credible solutions for clients within the framework of the National Missions for Climate Change Mitigation & Adaptation and International Treaties for Clean Development. His core approach is based on the idea that all the ecologically responsible aspects of any project are ‘made visible' and that is made as part of its role for an eco-habitat. He always looks to incorporate ecologically responsive urbanism at work in which the environments behind and between the project are as important as the project themselves, and in which energy, water and resources are conserved whilst maintaining human comfort and nurturing the spirit of Sustainable Development Goals. To aid in his vision; his firm Fountain Head-II Clean Tech India acts as a “consortium” with an active network of similar, synergistic and complementary organizations engaged mainly in the Building Industry & Renewable Energy sector , with channels that share specialized infrastructure and services.

A note to UN Climate Champion, PM Narendra Modi.


It is not that, there is no progress in the last 25 years, there is indeed more awareness that Climate Change is a problem which needs to be tackled. But that awareness has come more from civil society and NGO’s who have been able to bear a certain amount of pressure for the governments to act. However, when it comes for the governments to take the onus and do better, they have always hidden behind the glib text, to show more than what happens at the ground level.

This article shall attempt to point at the dangers & alternative opportunities that lie in the wake of the new political discourse that is taking place in India vis a vis; Climate Action. India is going through a great change in its political and social space. Any government which would come into power must fully align with the spirit of the 3 crucial agreements namely – The Paris Agreement, The Sendai Framework & The Sustainable Development Goals.

But before we begin let us remind ourselves that we the people have been given a seat at the CoP24. Now we need to add some more of them in CoP25 if a change is to come.


Together with the UN, Sir David Attenborough has launched a climate action campaign inviting people around the world to share their thoughts on climate change. Thousands of influencers from around the world are joining him by inviting their social media followers to use the hashtag #TakeYourSeat to gather people’s experiences and opinions.


To start with, let us look at some of the points mentioned in the 2018 IPCC Special Report on Impacts of Global Warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

B. Projected Climate Change, Potential Impacts and Associated Risks:

B.1 Climate models project robust differences in regional climate characteristics between present-day and global warming of 1.5°C, and between 1.5°C and 2°C. These differences include increases in: mean temperature in most land and ocean regions (high confidence), hot extremes in most inhabited regions (high confidence), heavy precipitation in several regions (medium confidence), and the probability of drought and precipitation deficits in some regions (medium confidence).

B.2 By 2100, global mean sea level rise is projected to be around 0.1 metre lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared to 2°C (medium confidence). Sea level will continue to rise well beyond 2100 (high confidence), and the magnitude and rate of this rise depend on future emission pathways. A slower rate of sea level rise enables greater opportunities for adaptation in the human and ecological systems of small islands, low-lying coastal areas and deltas (medium confidence).

In the cacophony of the largest democracy of the World, the above two paragraphs have not even figured in any major Newspaper, TV or social media which is consumed by the general public at least in a consistent enough manner.

Around the World, each political party are coming up with their own “development” agenda which looks more like electoral appeasement than a real long-term plan of action.

The Modi government which came into power on the development plank has also got trapped into the discourse that has been the bane of India’s development in the last 70 years! That PM Narendra Modi got selected for the UN Champion of the Earth Award makes it all the more important that his government which is most likely to continue for another term is able to understand all the aspects beyond the obvious. It is only then good governance is possible. And India can be the torch-bearer on Climate Change Abatement & Mitigation.

Let us discuss four Mumbai related projects to see how the development discourse which should have by now turned towards Sustainable Development Goals, is not up to mark.

1.The New International Airport at Navi Mumbai ( New Bombay); 2.The Metro Yard at Aaery Forest area, 3.The Coastal Road project & 4.The Shivaji Statue.

The thing that one finds in common with all the four projects at a glance is the huge environmental impact it will have on the ecosystem. And how the complete governance machinery has been able to bulldoze its will to prove otherwise. Stating it as a public requirement while giving lip service to the recommendations from expert environmentalists who know better.

It is not that we do not need to develop, but why is it that Economic considerations always surpass Ecological considerations? Why does it become too costly & unviable to take measures which are ecologically sound while designing a project? This is a question we must answer.

The New International Airport at Navi Mumbai:

NAVI MUMBAI AIRPORT IGNORES CLIMATE RESILIENCE
The development of the Navi Mumbai airport will lead to the destruction of the local wetland ecosystem (Photo by Hiren Kumar Bose)

https://indiaclimatedialogue.net/2018/11/21/navi-mumbai-airport-ignores-climate-resilience/

Although cities rely on the countryside for their survival, the rural areas are often ignored and neglected. Faced with expanding its infrastructure, urban planners set their sights on swathes of forest, mangroves and wetlands. There has been no attempt to understand the extent to which new investment in infrastructure is resilient to the changing climate requirements. Emerging economies like India is investing billions in durable infrastructure every year. However, it has often failed to take into account future climate change in their planning. This leads to high risks of loss and damage. The NMAI project, planned to ease the traffic of the burdened Mumbai international airport, is one such endeavour where climate-related issues have not been taken into account in the planning specifications.

There are two thoughts that get comes to the mind, could the government not have tried to decongest the existing airport by removing encroachments and illegal construction? And a bit controversial as it may sound, demolishing certain parts around the city-airport & redesigning the area by relocating the project affected people with proper compensation? While also making an attempt to extend the air-strip at the Juhu airport, again by not attempting to take the sea but along the coast. By realigning the airstrip and allowing smaller aircraft & private jets to operate from there. I confess I may be completely wrong in this assessment as I am not an aviation expert, however, when one looks at the image below of both the airports, the runways are not exactly identically aligned. That perhaps gives me the hope that things could still have been done.

However, if one looks closely at the slums in an around both the airports, well that is a lot of space for expansion! Maybe an alternative solution could have come out? And the ecology of Panvel at Navi Mumbai may have been left untouched.

The Metro Yard at Aaery Forest area :

This Garden of Eden has been earmarked by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) and the Mumbai Metro Rail Corporation (MMRC) for constructing a metro car shed over an area of 28 hectares. This will lead to the uprooting of 2,298 trees. According to MMRDA, 2,044 of these trees could be transplanted, but the rest of the 254 trees would have to be cut down. While inadequate knowledge is dangerous, so is the habit of a simplistic way of looking at things. For instance, trees are just a unit of complex ecosystems. Even if we manage to successfully transplant trees outside, what happens to the layers of complexity in the habitat matrix that renders Aarey its veritable uniqueness?  Aarey was once a part of the deciduous stretch of forests, now restricted to the adjacent Sanjay Gandhi National Park and hillocks. With the coming of the Aarey dairy co-operative, the thickness of the forests was broken up to create open ecosystems of grasslands, scrubs, marshes and water bodies, giving refuge to an interesting assemblage of species. The large open para grass fields are feeding grounds of Munias, Drongos and Egrets which have been cleared for the metro car shed. The drains that nurture these grass pastures are home to native fish species, crabs, shrimps and Checkered Keelback water snakes that are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, by virtue of being Schedule II creatures.

Yet again, Economic consideration won over ecological considerations. The question that comes into mind is if one looks up North of the place labelled Aarey is Nagri Niwara Cooperative Housing Society. Adjacent to it is a patch of barren land. Why could this area not have been selected? If Metro which is an engineering feat, crisscrossing the length of Mumbai, why the shed could not have been placed somewhere off-track, so to speak?

As an engineer, I understand design challenges, cost escalation and the horrible state of affairs to get anything done in Indian cities. But, once more the cries of the other living beings of this planet are simply ignored – uprooting of 2,298 trees! imagine if these were human lives!

The Coastal Road Project:

One look at the above image and the advantages versus the disaster is obvious. But what is more dangerous and not being put forth is the fact that the coastal road would change the Development Plan of the Mumbai City to a large extent.

The Coastal Regulation Zones rules have recently been amended. Let us have a look at that before I point to the crux of the problems by highlighting a few paragraphs below.

Cabinet approves Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 2018:

FSI allowed as per current norms in CRZ areas Greater opportunity for Development of densely populated rural areas Tourism Infrastructure for basic amenities to be promoted CRZ clearance streamlined No Development Zone of 20 meters for All Islands Special importance to All Ecologically Sensitive Areas Special focus on Pollution abatement

Salient Features:

(i)         Allowing FSI as per current norms in CRZ areas: As per CRZ, 2011 Notification, for CRZ-II (Urban) areas, Floor Space Index (FSI) or the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) had been frozen as per 1991 Development Control Regulation (DCR) levels. In the CRZ, 2018 Notification, it has been decided to de-freeze the same and permits FSI for construction projects, as prevailing on the date of the new Notification. This will enable the redevelopment of these areas to meet emerging needs.

One look at the size of the land which is being reclaimed, the gleam in the eyes of the builder-politician lobby is obvious. And they have patience. They will let about 10 years pass by, which is the amount of time needed to fill up the bonanza of extra FSI they would receive with the change of CRZ due to the coast being pushed further back.

Once that happens & with woeful lack of space for further expansion some “development” would be allowed on the reclaimed land, which at present are being promised to be left as “open space” as shown in the illustration above. And to justify it, we already have the CRZ’18 notification para (i) -“redevelopment of the areas as per emerging needs”.

(iii)       Tourism infrastructure for basic amenities to be promoted: Temporary tourism facilities such as shacks, toilet blocks, change rooms, drinking water facilities etc. have now been permitted in Beaches. Such temporary tourism facilities are also now permissible in the “No Development Zone” (NDZ) of the CRZ-III areas as per the Notification. However, a minimum distance of 10 m from HTL should be maintained for setting up of such facilities.

While Toilet Blocks & Drinking Water Facilities & Waste Management facilities should be allowed, it would be a disaster to allow Shacks etc to come up around the Marine drive coastline. The unscrupulous would point to clause (iii) in its whole form. One must be careful and DP laws of the city must over-rule such situations from occurring in the future.

(iv)      CRZ Clearances streamlined: The procedure for CRZ clearances has been streamlined. Only such projects/activities, which are located in the CRZ-I (Ecologically Sensitive Areas) and CRZ IV (area covered between Low Tide Line and 12 Nautical Miles seaward) shall be dealt with for CRZ clearance by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change. The powers for clearances with respect to CRZ-II and III have been delegated at the State level with necessary guidance.

This is classic. Now, the developer-mafia doesn’t really need to go all the way to New Delhi. Their work can easily be justified at the local level citing para (i)! One wouldn’t be the least surprised to know that those who would be giving clearance would be Neta’s whose qualifications would be basic with no or little understanding of the complexities of Ecology.

(v)       A No Development Zone (NDZ) of 20 meters has been stipulated for all Islands: For islands close to the mainland coast and for all Backwater Islands in the mainland, in wake of space limitations and unique geography of such regions, bringing uniformity in treatment of such regions, NDZ of 20 m has been stipulated.

This was surely done with Mumbai in mind. But when a Tsunami comes, or there is a storm surge, the maximum impact is within 500Mt. There needs to be a Hazzard line drawn up. The Hazard Line is an advanced warning system that helps to not only prevent deaths but also save crores in property loss.

What is most amazing is that India was supposed to get a Hazzard Line in 2015! A Hazzard Line is the line that demarcates the coastal area that is at high risk from flooding, coastal erosion and emerging threats like sea level rise. It would help the 13 coastal states and Union Territories be better prepared for disasters like cyclones and storm surges.

Further, with no serious action and awareness program created till date, the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction to which India is a signatory has been completely set aside on this matter.

(vi)       All Ecologically Sensitive Areas have been accorded special importance: Specific guidelines related to their conservation and management plans have been drawn up as a part of the CRZ Notification.

One would be amazed at how the law enforcement agencies as well as the government agencies who but are humans with a designation and duty would pass by the very roads which are encroached, the playgrounds which have been usurped by the greedy developer or slums & even by that famous “paan” from a pavement shop opposite an upmarket eatery, very well knowing that it is illegal. Then one fine day they would wake up and give a demolition order!

Therefore the question is, who would enforce the strict guideline? When the damage is already done?

(vii)      Pollution abatement has been accorded special focus: In order to address pollution in Coastal areas treatment facilities have been made permissible activities in CRZ-I B area subject to necessary safeguards.

Just recently there was a hue & cry about single-use plastic with the Government of Maharashtra coming down heavily on the manufacturers, who were lackadaisical for years on the ruling. Plus single-use plastic is freely available all across the city and state. Therefore para (vii) inspires no confidence.

The point that needs to be understood with the Coastal Road, which is facing huge legal & social challenges is to try and decongest Mumbai. To create a Development plan which matches the carrying capacity of the Island City & take the hard measure to shift out people towards Navi Mumbai townships. Places like Palava City, Ulwe etc can absorb the flab that is within Mumbai. It would be a win-win situation for all. While human tendency would be to resist. As there would be legitimate fears of loss of livelihood and lifestyle. Politics especially dirty politics would come into play. But, all these can be tackled with honest intention and scientific approach.

The 1st step would be to remove illegal encroachments, be it homes, shops or any other. The 2nd would be to create by enacting laws which compel business districts to come up in a uniform manner allowing people to shift to the newer locations.

Costs can be calculated, losses can be estimated and compensation can be built around it. It would cost far less than to undo the damages which are sure to happen should development without proper thought is taken up. No one is denying that the job of the government is easy. But it is easy to talk to experts and stakeholders without an eye towards the next election result. For good has a tendency to prove itself. And it would always bring in the desired price.

The only thing is to inform and explain it to the people in a proper manner.

The Shivaji Statue:

Courtesy: Rediff.com

Somehow development and politics have got confused in the midst of building statues around the Nation. While it is true that to boost economy job creation is must & in that process one creates projects which have the ability to cater to all sectors of industry and trade. The Shivaji Statue project could have avoided & can still avoid controversy & greater damage to the marine ecology, but by shifting the location of the Statue. It would be the best face saver if the location from the midst of the sea is shifted to the Elephanta Caves island, which is already a tourist destination & it would perhaps be easier to safeguard the ecosystem around the already human settlement areas.

To end, let us go back to CoP24 and re-read the words that were spoken –

Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said that “COP24 will be Paris 2.0.”  

However, the best summing up of the event was by Dr Joeri Rogelj, a lecturer in climate change at Imperial College London’s Grantham Institute, talking to Carbon Brief;

“Under the Paris Agreement, emissions and proposed emissions reductions will be regularly compared, added up, and assessed in light of their adequacy for limiting warming well below 2C and 1.5C. This requires common rules for emissions reporting. But instead of requiring countries to adhere to scientifically robust methods, the final Katowice text now allows countries to use ‘nationally appropriate methodologies’, which, in all likelihood, will only be used to do some creative reporting and portray emissions of specific countries in a better light than they are. This is particularly an issue in the land-use sector.”

With a year almost over and as we are moving closer to the next CoP the events that have taken place doesn’t inspire much. We can once more safely assume that Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation requirements have been pushed under the carpet.

Just as it has happened for the last 24 times and we can not have really much hope that the 25th CoP will be any different. Unless the people who would be making the policies are not those who are governing the Nation as political parties. The complete process has to be de-linked from the political agenda and directly controlled by a world level ombudsman. Maybe such a thought must find its place in the deliberations that would take place in Chile.

 
 

SDG#15: Life on Land (?)


With the grand event of UNFCCC CoP24 coming closer. It is that time of the year when Politicians would be high or rhetoric & poor on delivery.

As usual, evidence on the above inference would be from experience from events happening in India.

We begin with the City of New Delhi which at present is reeling under severe air pollution, both due to the annual crop burning as well as the bursting of fire-crackers. The severity of the situation is best shown by News18 images some of which I will be posting alongside.

rashtrapati-bhawan

This image shows the Rashtrapati Bhawan ie; the Presidential Palace. The wings of the building North Block & South Block houses the HQ of Defence, Finance, Prime Ministers Office etc. Which means we are looking at the Nerve Center of Indian Administrative Power.

But it was the Supreme Court, which came out as the custodian of Environment, by virtually banning fire-crackers & crop-residue burning. Yet the honourable SC has been made a laughing stock! Nothing was done by the great political leaders, of all the great & grand parties of India which swear on their Gods that they are the messiah of the citizens of India. When they can’t fix issues in New Delhi, it would be foolish to imagine that any administration really works in other state capitals. We need not even mention the villages and small towns. It would simply add insult to injury.

Why have our political leaders and administration not been able to tackle this annual issue? What is the reason for those who know the subject in depth not been given the platform by our over-the-top, TRP seeking media to spread the message, to educate and prevent this annual disastrous event from taking place, instead of talking about it as an annual ritual after it has happened? We would never know.

indian-authorities-brace-for-worst-air-pollution-season-3However, an attempt will be made through this article to explain in the easiest language possible about the dangers of pollution.  So that the common men can relate to it. What we see in the image here is hay being burnt in the fields of Punjab and a thick smoke envelope the entire area. Crop residue has always been burnt when New Delhi was called -Dilli, & perhaps if we can get the historical records at the time it was called Indraprastha. So what has changed which causes such a havoc? To understand it we have to look at many factors.

The growth of Urban areas, which never took into account geographic or historical data. Things like wind direction, rainfall pattern, forest cover, catchment areas nothing has ever been considered. What was forest land a few hundred years ago became land for cultivation, as trees were felled to satisfy the ever-growing populations as Dilli became the Capital of the Mughals and then the British. With Independence, came the need for Green Revolution, and the leaders brain-washed into considering everything western to be superior went into the use of pesticides and herbicides completely contrary to the Organic way of farming (which we are again adopting, form the West!). So today when we are burning the crop residue we are also releasing into the air the poison we put into our food!

So, when the Punjab Farmers Defy the Government Ban, ( click the link to know more) they must also be explained that they must not just look at it from the point of view they have, which is mentioned in the article but to safeguard their own lives too.

morning-haze-envelops-the-skylineThen we schooled ourselves into the architecture which is completely western in form and function. Tall glass buildings, with utter disregard to wind-flow patterns, to such an extent that the wind flow within the city slowed down allowing dangerous fumes from unregulated use of automobiles, factory etc. What was once industrial district became part of new urban living areas, while the old well designed urban areas got haphazard building permissions for mixed use.

Today we have a problem, which can not be easily solved. There are economic and social considerations to be factored in. Add to that the political compulsions and vote bank politics and we all know that there will not be a decent solution coming anytime soon.

Suggested Solution:

But by next winter, should the governments both state and centre want, pollution from both crop residue and fire-crackers can be stopped. The governments must map out the farms and make a law where the rich farmers would have to buy composting machines as well as air-purifying machines. These would be made available on low interest in easy EMI to them. While to the subsistence farmers, community composting machines, as well as rental air-purifiers, can be supplied, via NGO’s or CSR. Crop residue burning can be staggered in places where the supply of the machines can’t reach in the initial learning time.

As for fire-crackers, a sustained political campaign, maybe even using the Ramlila actors, messages must be spread pan India that Deepawali meant lighting of clay lamps. The alien concept of fire-crackers which crept into it as tradition must be removed by the sustained evidence-based scientific approach. 

The Science and technology ministry should gear up with support form innovative startups to find better solutions. 

The next point we must now tackle is sensitivity to effects of pollution and how it leads to climate change. We will begin with a very simple fact, which many may not even think or know about. It is only then the affirmative actions we all seek would happen, as without a groundswell of support nothing ever gets done.

buildings-are-partly-visible“High levels of pollution found in many of the world’s major cities are having negative effects on plants and insects, according to new research from the University of Sheffield.”[read more] Science Daily published the above report on 9th November 2018. “…plants exposed to high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) — similar to levels recorded in major urban centres — are able to better defend themselves against herbivorous insects…Results from the study show that insects feeding on these leaves grew poorly, which suggests high levels of air pollution may be having cascading negative effects on communities of herbivorous creatures.”

Anyone with basic school education has read about pollination knows that insects & herbivore animals play a super-major role in germination and growth of plants and fruits. With all the money at one’s disposal, the “Midas Touch” still stands true. We may all rave and rant about culture and traditions, political compulsions but we forget that the basis of life is to have clean air-water-food.

It was the 3 basic pillars which created the civilization and we live in the Holocene Epoch, of the Quaternary Period, in the Cenozoic Era. Yes, era and epoch & period aren’t words we need to remember in History books. We all are actually living in one!

The point is, will there be someone left, to read in their History book about our Era or we are the last of the Human Civilization? Before the Armageddon which has already hinted its arrivals with fire-storms [click to know more] and hurricane wipe us out?

 

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2018 in Global Warming & Climate Change

 

SDG#13: Climate Action …..the woeful lack of it


On the eve of Earth Overshoot Day, I begin my  article on the UN SDG #13 Climate Action; with a paragraph from the venerated Magazine:

New Scientist

Biodiversity in crisis: How close to the brink is life on Earth?

Attention-grabbing headlines about extinctions obscure our dearth of knowledge about just how many species are being wiped out and how big the implications are?

“SEE those little beetles with a black cross on a red background?” I lean in to take a look. “They’re Panagaeus cruxmajor – the crucifix ground beetle. They were collected by Charles Darwin back in the 1820s.”

Ed Turner is curator of insects at the University of Cambridge’s Zoology Museum, where many of Darwin’s beetle collections are held. He is proud to show me specimens collected by the man himself, and I am chuffed to see them. But the thrill doesn’t last. If we were to follow in Darwin’s footsteps and go out hunting crucifix ground beetles on the fens north of Cambridge, Turner says, we would have no chance. “They’re extinct. In this county, anyway.”

The last time anyone saw a crucifix ground beetle in Cambridgeshire was 1951. Changes in land use and overuse of pesticides haven’t been kind to this dweller of watery fenland.

You would have to be living under a rock not to have heard about the biodiversity crisis. Since about 1500, expanding human activity has condemned vast numbers of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles to an early grave. Now worries have spread to smaller creatures that actually do live under rocks, in leaf litter, in dung heaps and in puddles and ponds.

Turner is in no doubt. “Insects are in massive decline and have been for some time,” he says. “It’s quite a clear picture and a depressing one. By any measure that you choose, biodiversity of insects is declining.” I ask him what that means. “It means something is very, desperately wrong with our world.”

Readers may wonder how it is worrisome if insects are becoming extinct? After all, it is a great thing if these pests and ‘creepy’ creatures die-off. Well, one look at the food chain diagram would explain that ‘humans’ too would become extinct. Whether we like it or not, all life is linked to one another in a complex manner which is explained as the food chain/web. [To the uninitiated ‘nematodes, arthropods’ = worms,insects]. The insects are like the foundation of a building and even children understand what would happen should the foundation of a building is destroyed. To those who may have forgotten their kindergarten science; worms help in keeping the soil fertile for germination of plants, the primary source of energy. And the bees ensure pollination. So, it’s the worms and insects who hold the key to our wellbeing.

Image result for food chain diagram for humansCourtesy: https://www.blm.gov/

Climate Action is a topic on which much can be written. But, today I would like to take my readers to a scenario which could make most understand why we must safeguard Earth’s ecosystem. The below mentioned 9.31-minute video could perhaps change the mindset of many, who do not understand that our planet is a complex living organism by itself. Every action has its reaction and the sooner we understand and come into harmony with it the better it would be.

The explanation given for the demise of Mars is theoretically possible and perhaps accurate. The stripping of the Atmosphere leading to the escape of all surface water and with it, life itself.

What if something similar should happen on Earth? Before we scoff that idea, we must remember that it was somewhere in the 1980’s we found that our Atmosphere was thinning out. It was called the Ozone Hole!

While the World came together and we think we have plugged it, there are other events which are taking place around the world which is fast accelerating us towards Aggremendon! This summer of 2018 has some of the record high temperatures as given below –

UAE: 51.4°C Africa + Algeria: 51.3°C Tunisia: 49.2°C LA: 48.9°C Baku: 42.7°C Japan: 41.1°C Kabul: 40.5°C Montreal: 36.6°C Swedish polar circle: 32.5°C Baltic Sea: 25°C.

IMAGE: COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY/ THE EARTH INSTITUTE CLIMATE SCIENCE, AWARENESS AND SOLUTIONS

War, unprecedented destruction of the Rainforest and a stoic refusal by some of the most powerful Nations in the world to turn away from fossil fuel has been making the Earth warmer than ever before.

Some would question, as to why seemingly rational people. National leaders of Nations which are the most prosperous and powerful have steadfastly refused and refuted the Science, to debunk the theory of Global Warming? Some did come up with evidence that the Earth was, in fact, cooling in the period between the mid-1990’s to 2000 AD!

There was indeed a “Pause” in the Global warming for 15 long years.

However, recent research has found that the Earth was actually warming all the while but the effects felt was exactly the opposite. This can be explained by the fact as mentioned in Live Science Article:

The Earth really does have a massive, hidden air-conditioning system that messes with the climate in paradoxical, unexpected ways and is, in turn, affected by climate change. And a new paper turns to that AC unit to, possibly, answer one of the abiding mysteries of climate change.

This has been furthermore accurately supported by EarthSky with detailed analysis. And also putting out a clear argument to the ‘Nay’ sayers, who rely mostly on Satellite observations, to refute Climate Change.

On the 1st of August, the Earth will Overshoot. which I explained in my previous article. We are still trying to extract more and more resources, from the planet without really thinking that short-term political gains would leave the successors to the throne with unprecedented problems.

We can still have a course correction, as devised and explained by many environmentalists, we need to roll back the Earth Overshoot day as planned. Just 4 days every year, as that is the least painful solution available. Any further delay it shall no more be an option.

Before I end, let us think of a Hollywood Sci-Fi Script.

Let’s imagine that in the year 2025,  Mars probes which are trying to probe in detail the underground water found in Mars happen to find not just life forms, but traces of ancient civilization of Humans. Could it be that we destroyed that planets magnetic field by detonating underground atomic bombs? Stripped the vegetation in search of coal? And created an Ozone Hole so big that it couldn’t be plugged?

Would the Meghalayan Era of the Holocene Epoch, which we know as the Computer Age be the last for the Human Civilization on a planet we Martians named Earth?

 

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SDG#13: Climate Action


India was the global host of 2018 World Environment Day which took place on June 5, 2018. There could be no other event more important for India than the World Environment Day. That the Nation should align as one and consider the Sustainable Development Goal #13 – Climate Action as its manifesto in the strongest possible manner than ever before. The reasons become obvious with the following articles and videos. In fact, the first news report from WION below was Published on 16 Nov 2017, It is almost as if Nostradamus not NASA who is predicting them. For the below-mentioned news just proves them 100% true and then some more.

That it has only 1691 views and 7 likes till date tells a story no environmentalist would want to know….The attempt therefore, once more is to ramp up support for Climate Action, through this article.

Climate Prediction:

Reuters: India is the most vulnerable country to climate change, followed by Pakistan, the Philippines and Bangladesh, a ranking by HSBC…… Of the four nations assessed by HSBC to be most vulnerable, India has said climate change could cut agricultural incomes, particularly unirrigated areas that would be hit hardest by rising temperatures and declines in rainfall. (read more)

Climate Re-Action:

 High-intensity dust storms uprooted trees and caused buildings to collapse across India’s northern states, resulting in multiple deaths across North Indian state of Rajasthan. .
Climate Prediction:
According to an HSBC report published in March 2018, India is amongst the most vulnerable nations to the effects of climate change. The highest risks related to climate change are concentrated among the low-income groups living in houses, which are especially vulnerable to wind and water hazards due to extreme weather events. Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai are especially prone to bear the brunt of climate change.
(courtesy:swarajyamag.com)

Climate Re-Action:

The above video is perhaps the best compilation of what India is facing. All at the same time. Extreme Heat Conditions in Kashmir, Floods in Karnataka and Drought in Madhya Pradesh.

But what is the actual story on the ground? According to the latest report filed by Nibu Pullamvilavil scribe with the Wire –

preliminary assessment by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, IIT Gandhinagar and IIM Ahmedabad found in 2015 that India will have to invest Rs 24.3 lakh crore every year by 2030 to implement adaptation actions. The study noted that total government spending on capacity development in India has grown consistently over the last decade; Rs 6.2 lakh crore was spent in 2013 alone.

The National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC), established by the Government of India in 2015, aims to support concrete adaptation activities. As of today, 26 projects have been approved at a total cost of Rs 648.9 crore, and of which Rs 315.3 crore has been released. This is woefully inadequate given the size of our country and the challenges it faces. 

Urban India has been largely ignored vis-à-vis adaptation efforts. Climate resilience and risks associated with climate change have failed to find mention in ‘smart city’ proposals approved by the Centre. (read more in the Wire)

To make a City ready for adaptation and mitigation, it is very important that the general public are made to understand the dangers of climate change. This is woefully inadequate.

Post three years after the Prime Minister of the Nation has signed the Paris Agreement. We still don’t have all the states adopting the SDG’s as their agenda. If one peeks into the Niti Ayog website:

Niti

If you click on the above and go into the menu from the states, click say Maharashtra, it says that it has gathered reports in detail for goals 3-4-5-15. While the rest are awaited.

Once on the page, you would notice, only one from the Environmental Action Plan, Goal 15 has been touched. Goal # 13 which is Climate Action, the state of Maharashtra is yet to compile its detailed information. Let alone take action! In fact, it states that the action program on SDG # 13 would be done by 2020. This is because of the promised funding by developed countries of $100 Billion. But what happens if that promised money doesn’t come. Do we have a plan B? This is the state post signing the agreement in 2015. And the program has an end date of 2030.

Not only Urban areas have been ignored, the City of Mumbai with its 2034 Development Plan shows no real thought has been put with the SDG’s in mind but the standard fare of ‘Business as Usual’.

We all know that the recent Talona Dialogues held in Bonn in May was not a great success to indicate that the Developed countries are anywhere ready to owe to their historic responsibility by giving grants to fix the problems related to Climate Change.

If India is serious about climate change it would have been mentioned in the NAINA in clear words about its adherence to the SDG’s. But it only offers a vague lip service to the same.

It would be unfair to say that the officials and the top political masters are not interested or want to implement a sound policy which aligns to the urgent needs in a highly dangerous Climate Change situation.

But it is the lack of action at the grass root level, which doesn’t allow the common man on the street to grasp the meaning and the importance of Climate Action. This is what should be the plan B.

India can generate enough resources of its own to develop and plan truly smart cities and implement not only Climate Action but all the other goals from within its own means. But for that sound policy should not remain in paper. They should be openly debated in public and solutions found for logjams which plague it.

The biggest hindrance to Climate Action is that it in itself has no immediately perceivable Return on Investment for the Investor. This is the major reason for the lip service which most of its industry are doing, one such example is the Building & Construction Sector. It is a shame to see buildings being built and claimed to be Green Building Rated when all that is happening is a scam called pre-certification. Under Pre-Certification all the Builder-Developer needs is to sign an undertaking that his design & construction would be in accordance to the documents submitted. Once they receive the Certificate they become eligible by the green tribunal authorities to construct. If an independent verification is done by say the UN designated independent bodies. Almost all the top-rated buildings will fail barring a handful.

For a country which is grappling with corruption in every layer of the society, Climate Action is the least priority for the vast majority. Unless there is a peoples movement as it happened in Tuticorin – an industrial unit became a focal point to fight pollution. things will not change.

But such movements are neither good for the society nor for the country as it only creates havoc. Havoc not only because it has already damaged the Environment but also because it leaves a permanent scar in the society which has to deal with death and destruction.

Therefore the country should consider as Plan B;  a mandatory high-school to college level subject & examination on the effects of Climate Change. Thus when the next generation managers and industrialists take charge there is already a strong connect and understanding of the complex subject. And at the same time, it would enable those very people the to create a conducive architecture for a monetary benefit which is tangible for all.

 

 

 

 

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SDG#2 No Hunger?


Climate change is one of the major causes which will cause food insecurity. This is known to almost all the governing agencies in India & abroad.

But the common person can not understand this. For them it is policy failure and ineptitude of the governments who are supposed to provide with succor. Although that being partly true, if the present government still fails to address the problem of climate change and educate its citizens to address the challenges of hunger not only from the perspective of responsible consumption (SDG#12, will deal with separately) but also trying to balance it with the environmentally friendly activities to develop a variety of forests like, Agroforestry, Social forestry, Farm forestry, Community forestry, Extension forestry etc. The Goal of Zero Hunger is set to fail.

This article shall look at what hasn’t really changed in the behavioral pattern, especially in India to be able to achieve this stupendous goal by 2030. Before we begin exploring let us understand the correlation between hunger and climate change.

The United Nations Reports on Indian Nutrition & Food Security: With nearly 195 million undernourished people, India shares a quarter of the global hunger burden…….The government has large food security and anti-poverty programmes but there are critical gaps in terms of inclusion and exclusion errors. Women and girls are particularly disadvantaged. Despite the achievement of national food self-sufficiency, new challenges have emerged: Slowing agriculture growth, climate change, land degradation and shrinking biodiversity. Large tracts of farmlands in India have become barren due to imbalanced fertilizer use and excessive use of a single fertilizer, urea. ……..With a five-fold increase in food grain production from 50 million tonnes in 1950-51 to about 250 million tonnes in 2014-15, India has moved away from dependence on food aid to become a net food exporter. In 2016, the government launched a number of programmes to double farmers’ incomes by 2022……..They include the National Food Security MissionRashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), the Integrated Schemes on Oilseeds, Pulses, Palm oil and Maize (ISOPOM)Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana,…..The government has also taken significant steps to combat under- and malnutrition over the past two decades, such as through the introduction of mid-day meals at schools, ……The National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, aims to ensure food and nutrition security for the most vulnerable through its associated schemes and programmes, making access to food a legal right. [Read More]

My arguments begin by reading between the lines of the above report. The lines I have marked in red shows how fragile is the system presently. And it will take years of sustained efforts before we can turn the clock back. Barren lands do not become fertile in one season. It takes at least a decade before the natural balance is restored.

The erstwhile Planning Commission had created the ‘development agendas’. Mostly they were copies of the western thoughts. They did not have any ill intentions. But the result is for all to see. The “Green Revolution”, which yielded bumper crops. DDT is now considered a confirmed poison. Yet with years of schooling to use pesticides have now made the simple farmers reticent to let go these dangerous health hazards. When farmlands were declared as Non-Agricultural patches for the Urban Sprawl & Industries came upon forest lands, in the name of Development. We took one more step in the wrong direction.

As per government data, independent India lost forest area in the following manner:

4696 million hectares forest land to non-forestry purposes,

0.07 million hectares to illegal encroachment,

4.37 million hectares to cultivation,

0.518 million hectares to river valley projects,

0.141 million hectares to industries and townships, and

0.061 million hectares to transmission lines and roads.

If we read the analysis by Wakeman Neutron, published in Legal Bites: Farm Crisis and Unrest in India – Case Study Farmer’s Agitation, it says;

The major causes of the agrarian crisis are unfinished agenda in land reform, quantity and quality of water, technology fatigue, access, adequacy and timeliness of institutional credit, and opportunities for assured and remunerative marketing. ….The per unit area productivity of Indian agriculture is much lower than other major crop-producing countries. This is a major impediment in enhancing the farm income. Out of the gross sown area of 192 million ha, rainfed agriculture contributes to 60 percent of the gross cropped area and 45 percent of the total agricultural output….Adverse meteorological factors add to these problems. [Read in detail]

In spite of Prime Minister Modi declaring Agriculture as one of the prime focus agenda for development & despite bumper monsoon and a good harvest in the year 2016-17 the country has and is continually witnessing farmer’s agitation.

With a sea of agitating farmers swamping Mumbai and pressure mounting, the BJP-led Maharashtra government Monday accepted almost all demands of the farmers, including their right to till forest land and extension of farm loan waiver to those who had borrowed between 2001 and 2008. [The Indian Express

This unprecedented pressure made the policymakers take a very dangerous and wrong decision once again. And its fallout will be an unmitigated disaster in the years to come.

The previous Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) wrote in his will before his sad demise on May18th 2017 – “Do not erect a memorial when I die, but plant a tree if you loved and respected me,”

Mr. Anil Madhav Dave had reasons to be worried.

Between 1880 and 2013 India lost about 40% of its forest cover. Today, 24% of its area is under forests or 7 lakh sq km, according to government data. The area under forest and tree cover has grown by 5,081 sq km between 2013 and 2015. A rise in forest and tree cover may seem like a reason to celebrate but a careful look at the state of forests shows the government has many promises to keep before the woods are lovely, dark and deep. To revive forests will take more than a public campaign to plant trees.

With an ever-increasing population, people are compelled to cultivate on the same plot of land more frequently as there is very little forest area available. Forests are also being converted to permanent settlements.

The quest for Sustainable Development Goal #2 to be true within the timeframe of 2030 AD seems impossible in the face of such unprecedented challenges.

In our quest to eradicate hunger in the short term, we are destroying the very diversity which allows for food to grow. Food is both plant and animal life. Nature is so beautifully balanced that each is dependent on the other for survival. When we start to destroy the basic bio-diversity by cutting down the forest to grow a particular type of crop. The crop yield would go up for a short while but then we will face the same challenges as mentioned above. And by now even a 5th-grade student knows that without forest there is no rain.

Therefore, if we wish to actually strive for Zero Huger we need to educate the people and make them participate in mitigation and adaption to Climate Change.

 

 

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SDG #1: The mindset of the Rich cause Poverty


The World Bank Organization describes poverty in this way:

“Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time.

Poverty has many faces, changing from place to place and across time, and has been described in many ways.  Most often, poverty is a situation people want to escape. So poverty is a call to action — for the poor and the wealthy alike — a call to change the world so that many more may have enough to eat, adequate shelter, access to education and health, protection from violence, and a voice in what happens in their communities.”

The Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation puts it more simply: –

Poverty is about not having enough money to meet basic needs including food, clothing and shelter.  However, poverty is more, much more than just not having enough money. [Courtesy: New Brunswick Canada]

Most of us have never been hungry for days, unbathed, unwashed, with tatters on our backs and the open sky as a roof to sleep. We have never been so hopeless to have carried the carcass of hope to its funeral and come to terms with the fact that hope is indeed dead!

So let us find and try to correct some of the fundamental flaws humans have created into their complex civilization. That has given rise to such deep divides of the Rich & Poor.

The richest people in the world have a staggering amount of wealth — comparable to the GDP of small countries for some.

But before we end poverty we need to understand that between the rich and the poor there are other income groups which fill the gap!

And that huge population are all looking towards the rich lifestyle and aspiring to reach there. Everything is geared towards consumption and more consumption, which puts an enormous amount of stress on the planets finite resources.

And as the unmitigated consumption continues, it is but a matter of time before this finite resource will get over. But by then it would be too late to reverse the clock, pushing more and more people towards poverty.

Now, once we understand that the poorest are not in such huge numbers, and change the fundamental way in which we think, we may just be able to reduce this gap. Else it is the people in between the richest and the poorest who would keep sliding backward. With the last in the line vanishing into oblivion!

To make us understand how deep is this problem. We must look at what is happening to our resources. Let us understand what is Earth Overshoot Day.

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Earth Overshoot Day is hosted and calculated by Global Footprint Network, an international think tank that coordinates research, develops methodological standards and provides decision-makers with a menu of tools to help the human economy operate within Earth’s ecological limits.

To determine the date of Earth Overshoot Day for each year, Global Footprint Network calculates the number of days of that year that Earth’s biocapacity suffices to provide for humanity’s Ecological Footprint. The remainder of the year corresponds to global overshoot. Earth Overshoot Day is computed by dividing the planet’s biocapacity (the amount of ecological resources Earth is able to generate that year), by humanity’s Ecological Footprint (humanity’s demand for that year), and multiplying by 365. [Read More]

So, as evident from the illustrated video above, that we are slowly but surely contributing amongst a host of problems; extinction of species. And Homo Sapiens ( humans) are also just another species among many which habitat Earth. And like it or not the laws of Earth applies to us too!

So, as long as we keep consuming the way we are doing at present, the last man in the line of poverty is just…Disappearing!

So, what difference does it make to the human society should the poor die?

Well, they are the blue collared workers in the factories, the invisible conservancy worker who cleans our clogged city drains of filth. The poor constitute the bulk of Maids, Newspaper vendors, Sweepers, Watchmen and Drivers in a City. They are also the invisible masons and coolie who build our infrastructure. And they are the farmers without whom we would not be able to grow a single blade of grass to feed ourselves. And finally, they are the vote bank of the political parties in India.

So, when more and more people who constitute the lower middle-class start sliding back into poverty, due to resource depletion it would create huge social upheaval which no political or social scientist would be able to contain. The promises of development would fail. And chaos will prevail.

So, what needs to be done is to frame policies which will reduce this consumption pattern?

As per the Global Footprint Network – If we reduce driving by 50% around the world and opt for walking, biking or taking public transit instead, Earth Overshoot Day would move back 10 days. 

And many more such solutions lies in the hands of the cities. The global efforts for a Sustainable living will be won or lost on how Cities and its citizens behave. Below is a brief look at the % contribution of the global footprint from each Nation.

earth_overshoot_day

India thankfully has the least contribution to the disaster in the making. But let’s not celebrate yet. We are poised to make a quantum jump in becoming a “Developed Nation”.

The definition of a Developed Nation is one that appropriates the total world resources for its own consumption. Is wasteful and decadent in every manner possible, when looked through the prism of Sustainability.

Before I close, let us look at the infographic from WWF India & remember that in 2018 too August the 2nd would be the day the Humans would exhaust the Natural Resources which belongs to all life in this Planet.

So the question is, do we need to become Rich or we should aspire to become Wealthy?

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SDG#16: Sustained Destruction or Development Goals?


After a long hiatus, I begin a series which will focus on the Utopian aspirations of achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals & the ground reality as it stands as of now. Mostly, my comments would be more India centric with a generic view of the world as I can but only capture what others have written, being no expert myself on World Affairs.
I would begin my series with the lofty goal #16. PEACE & JUSTICE.

An Extra Half Degree of Global Warming Could Displace 5 Million People

Business | March 18, 2018, Sunday // 14:35

A half-degree increase in the planet’s average temperature may not seem significant, but new research suggests the increment could be the difference between 5 million people having a home or not, according to News Agency UPI.  Read more

Warming climate will displace millions in coming decades: World Bank

AFP|Mar 19, 2018, 08.02 PM IST

WASHINGTON: The number of people fleeing crop failures, droughts and rising sea levels will grow drastically over the next three decades if world governments do not intervene, according to a World Bank report released Monday. Read more

Well, the above news is almost dime a dozen nowadays. But are the players in the video below actually reading them?

 The question that arises is, therefore are we really looking at saving this planet? Or it is still a handful who really are trying hard to tell the world that Aggremendon is near but to some that have always been good business.
Destruction ( read armed conflict ) is the most sustainable development ever in the History of Humans. Let us look at the conflicts that are ongoing currently.

Therefore the question arises, how does one end conflict? And there would be several experts around the globe who would come up with stupendous theories on it.

But none have ever said – “Well, just stop supplying arms and ammunition in the conflict zone!”

It does not take a rocket scientist to tell us, that in absence of Ammunition, existing armaments would simply be useless. And while we humans are born bloodthirsty and greedy, and would not actually stop ourselves from killing each other, the mayhem by sword, spears, rocks and hot oil doesn’t really affect the health of the planet.
Therefore SDG-16 which stands for Peace and Justice. Must be seen from the perspective of the other members of Gaia  Not just the Homo Sapiens!
To most Peace, Justice, Compassion are words and/or feelings which one has for Humans & perhaps to domesticated animals. Rare would be a person who considers chopping down of trees as murder. Yes, we all know plants are living things, it has a life which we snuff out without much ado. Trim it branches ( consider cutting off the fingers) so that it looks pretty.
As for Earthworms and Bee, well they make a good subject for Hollywood movies but the UN Security Council will never discuss the mass destruction of all types of life in the conflict zones. It would be such a frivolous and silly thing to do! After all, they are wise men, on whose decisions lives depend.
The funniest thing about the United Nations is that it is not United at all. It may have been created as the ultimate Utopia but right at the beginning of its birth, a defect was inserted. A defect so subtle that not many have been able to see it. Although it is in plain sight.
The right to VETO!
Strange as it may seem. The Champions of Democracy. France, USA & UK who have had a democracy somehow aligned to the autocratic idea of USSR and China.
And while the UN itself would find it appalling if called anything but a democratic institution, that it allows just one Permanent Member from the total 193 Nations to wield the power over all 195 Nations is amazing in itself.
Unless and until this very fundamental flaw is corrected, there is no way Peace and Justice will prevail. And with the never-ending wars of the modern era, which has enough arms and ammunition to blow the Earth into bits, warnings given out by climate scientist and peace activists would fall on deaf ears!
So, when we talk form lofty podiums tomorrow about Peace and Justice, let us remember that Extinction is the only option if we don’t find a way for SDG#16 to win.