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Category Archives: My Opinion

Green Business Idea – It’s time we sell oxygen to Nations!


COP19 or CMP9 was held in Warsaw, Poland from 11 to 23 November 2013. Typhoon Haiyan hit Philippines from November 2 to 11 2013. .

CoP20 or CMP10 is being held in Lima, Peru from the 1 to 12 December 2014. Typhoon Hagupit is currently ongoing….

The reason for this repeat disaster is simple…

the World simply can’t agree to pay a price for Carbon !

It is a fact.No person on Earth would willingly want to pay for something, if it could be had for free.

But every Nation loves to sell !!

We have been quite successful in selling “Carbon”. The use of the word “Success” here implies that the concept of selling “thin air” which CO2 is; is possible. Not the success or failure of the Kyoto Protocol.

This proves beyond doubt that anything sells…all that is need is proper persuasion and packaging !

But, it is also true that the end result must be profitable. And the business plan must be sustainable. Neither is true in the case of selling Carbon. Simply because, almost all of us are hard-wired to accept Oxygen as the breadth of life. And Carbon is associate with “waste” which we discharge when exhaling! Rest of  the gases are a little less understood by the common person.

And what can’t be appreciated can’t be sold ! Even with a UN mandate and regulation in place.

This is an angle the Climate Change Negotiators must factor into their thinking ! Therefore if we wish to truly bring in a paradigm shift in the thinking of the common person. Who is also a Voter. One must change track.

By selling Oxygen to a World plagued by Carbon we may just turn the tide to the less than 2°C goal.

Let’s argue this concept and lay the ground work for the idea to find acceptance by stating some facts as under.

World’s Worst Air Pollution By Cities 2010.

There is Global agreement to the fact that Pollution reduces the life-span of persons by about 5 years. Add to that the regular loss of business due to erratic attendance of the work-force which gets plagued by various ailments. Which finally adds up to loss of National per capita earning and wealth generation.

When we bring into the forefront the devastation which Global Warming brings, not many can understand. It is not because they do not understand the text or visual media. It is because human brain is conditioned to make one feel that s/he is immortal and also blessed.

Misfortune usually happens to others. It is to be appreciated for what it is, but rarely does one feel the actual pain of others. And those who do, are termed as Saints, by the lesser mortals.

Therefore a person living in Philippines, which is facing the treat of flood and rain once more in 13 months can not comprehend the hardships faced by the people in the severest drought California is facing in 1200 years. 

The resultant effect is scarcity of water, which the residents are facing and somewhere the society has started to respond to the crisis by relearning to live sustainably.The California State Govt has in its official web-page come up with various ideas and advisories for the California Drought.

And unprecedented demand to have it all within the shortest possible time has also scarred India.

The Flood Ravaged Kashmir Valley

Sustainable living which people in India still know by default, is sadly fast fading as we in our attitude to “arrive” become more Occidental than Oriental.

And the greatest tragedy is that the devastation of Kashmir would be felt at Kanyakumari. In manners yet to be flagged as urgent.

For when any modern City faces such devastation, the effect is not limited to the personal tragedy of that region. Neither is it limited to the Economic loss of the Nation. For lurking in the background is the long term effect it has on the ecosystem.

And as we all know the Ecosystem has the potential to nurture Life. And its poisoning due to the folly of human can only invite disaster. What guarantee do we have that the super poisonous water, as any flood water must turn into [ when mixed with the carcases of the dead and laced with the leaching of substances like plastic, chlorides, barium, cadmium, lead & arsenic; all that can be found in many a electrical, electronic appliances, building materials and furniture & furnishings.] will not be reaching the ground water and rivers which irrigate the fertile soil which grow a Nations food ?

And such is not the case with the poisonous waters of River Jhelum reaching Punjab through Kashmir ? Can any of the SAARC Nations therefore guarantee that the food products which it would be trading would not therefore be poisoned to some degree? And can the World therefore not wake up to the risk that produce from this region could be harmful to their National Health?

The potential turmoil such thoughts such as above can create must be nipped at the bud. Simply by pointing to the above as a plausible theory.

When death becomes personal, it becomes urgent.

Thus the idea of selling Oxygen the Life giver would find relevance in the lethargic Climate Negotiations.

What one must not confuse with this recommendation, is that it is not asking for any contextual change in the way Climate Change Negotiations have been drafted. It would be self-defeating to undo a single comma or phrase our World Leaders in their wisdom have accepted. So no one is seeking the removal of the term “Carbon Sequestration”  or “Carbon Abatement” or “Carbon Offset“. So which ever method of Carbon Capture and Storage is accepted by the World all that the UNFCCC requires to do is create an Supplementary page on which the Nations agree to sell the above concept as “Selling Oxygen”.

The idea of Life is so powerful that it inspires prose & poetry. There can be no form of advertisement more powerful to sell an idea than having them being told by people who can breathe life to words..literally !

Corporates therefore would have a wonderful tool to take up the tasks of cleaning up their Carbon Emission mess either due to mandatory laws crafted by the Nations or as CSR.

It would be much easy to explain to the common person, that with every bit of Carbon-di-Oxide rise into the atmosphere, the Oxygen gets diminished as the CO2 takes away the O2 from the Air.  And with diminished Oxygen, it is that much harder to breathe. The only salvation therefore is to clean up the air. The encouragement it would receive could revive a lot many industries engaged in this task.

While there may not at present be any scientific data to explain the theory, Nature is about balance of system. In school the classical experiment of burning  a candle under the bell jar produces no change in weight, even post the last wax melts away gives some credence to the idea some are talking about in the annals of Climate Change conferences.

 
 

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Why Climate Talks are mostly just that….


  • The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for October 2014 was the highest on record for October, at 0.74°C (1.33°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.1°F).
  • The global land surface temperature was 1.05°C (1.89°F) above the 20th century average of 9.3°C (48.7°F)—the fifth highest for October on record.
  • For the ocean, the October global sea surface temperature was 0.62°C (1.12°F) above the 20th century average of 15.9°C (60.6°F) and the highest for October on record.
  • The combined global land and ocean average surface temperature for the January–October period (year-to-date) was 0.68°C (1.22°F) above the 20th century average of 14.1°C (57.4°F). The first ten months of 2014 were the warmest such period on record.

International talks to deal with a particularly potent greenhouse gas took a cautious step forward on Wednesday, as India and a host of other countries agreed to “informal discussions.”…Under contention are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) — gases that, pound for pound, can trap up to a thousand times more heat than carbon dioxide when released into the atmosphere..

Indian Environment Minister

Prakash Javadekar, the environmental minister for India — the country that lead the previous opposition — laid out the issues that would have to be addressed to reach a final agreement. These include the way patents, intellectual property law, and other confidentiality agreements prevent India and other developed countries from making full use of new technology, as well as the fact that developed countries like the United States are historically responsible for the vast majority of HFC emissions. The talks, according to Javadekar, would need to be based “on the principle of grace period — that is differentiated responsibility, financial assistance, including that for research and development, technology transfer without the clause of confidentiality.(THINKPROGRESS Posted on November 21, 2014 at 11:08 am).

The above paragraph underscores the classical problem Modern Civilization, based on a flawed capitalistic idea faces. It is impossible for any Nation, to remove from the mindset of the populace  whence from, the elected representative are ultimately chosen to govern; not put profit before people. Our present day Economist along with Social Scientists have a lot of work to do. Undo the mind-set which is attuned to reward and recognize  “Crony Capitalism” as achievements.

No Nation is bereft from it…it’s the hangover from the British Empire. While every Empire be it Roman, Chinese, Mayan or Magadha Empire while expanding and consolidating must have wreaked havoc. The Modern European Empires had the Industrial revolution to help it wound the Earth very dangerously, in the process of acquiring riches. Thus the plunder of Earth resources reached its zenith.The resulting fallout is now known as Climate Change.

While the present Civilization no more address a modern day Business Conglomerate C.E.O as “Emperor”; that Presidents and Prime Ministers of Nations are made and unmade by them are no state secret. And unless the Emperors of today are made aware that they would lose all they have conquered..and also have the possibility of dying a horrible death caused by Ebola, little will change at the negotiating tables of the 21st Conference of the Parties on Climate Change 2015 in Paris.

In 2009 at Denmark the UNFCCC’s COP-15 rode on similar hopes. There was a new President of the USA. An African American and the World Environmentalist hoped spectacular achievements. But…..

On Friday 18 December, the final day of the conference, international media reported that the climate talks were “in disarray” Media also reported that in lieu of a summit collapse, only a “weak political statement” was anticipated at the conclusion of the conference. The Copenhagen Accord was drafted by the United States, China, India, Brazil and South Africa on 18 December, and judged a “meaningful agreement” by the United States government. It was “taken note of”, but not “adopted”, in a debate of all the participating countries the next day, and it was not passed unanimously. The document recognised that climate change is one of the greatest challenges of the present day and that actions should be taken to keep any temperature increases to below 2 °C. The document is not legally binding and does not contain any legally binding commitments for reducing CO2 emissions.

In January 2014, documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published by Dagbladet Information revealed that the US government negotiators were in receipt of information during the conference that was being obtained by spying against other conference delegations. The US National Security Agency provided US delegates with advance details other delegations’ positions, including the Danish plan to “rescue” the talks should they flounder. Members of the Danish negotiating team said that both the US and Chinese delegations were “peculiarly well-informed” about closed-door discussions: “They simply sat back, just as we had feared they would if they knew about our document.” (Wikipedia2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference )

The Paris UNFCCC’s COP-21 meeting will mark a decisive stage in negotiations on the future international agreement on a post-2020 regime, and will, as agreed in Durban, adopt the major outlines of that regime. By the end of the meeting, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, all the nations of the world, including the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, will be bound by a universal agreement on climate. In order for the agreement to come into effect in 2020, at the end of the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, subsequent COP meetings will work on finalizing its details.

On 26 May 2014, Narendra Modi was sworn in as 15th Prime Minister of India.In 2009 the World was enamored by the superb oration of President Barack Obama of the USA. The World today fetes PM Narendra Modi as the Messiah of the economic woe’s that faces India and in the process of transforming India perhaps he would be able to help the World in general.

As an Indian it would make one proud. But, as an ENVIRONMENTALIST one is not so sure. Because much like President Obama, the pressure to perform and uplift the economy quickly, makes Prime Minister Modi to walk the same beaten track. A track trail blazed by Crony Capitalism ! with scant regard other than lip service to Climate Change abatement. And hiding behind cleverly worded text that pass legal scrutiny. Not because of it being legally sound but more so because the legal itself was crafted to suit the escapists.

 A President and a Prime Minister understands Realpolitik !

The term Realpolitik is sometimes used pejoratively to imply politics that are coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian. Something that has become norm is the past century

BUT…

it is politics or diplomacy based primarily on power and on practical and material factors and considerations, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral or ethical premises. In this respect, it shares aspects of its philosophical approach with those of realism and pragmatism.

We already know the way, what is needed is the political will. And to give strength to the political will It is also the duty of the citizens of the Nations which are today poised to impact what text would be written at the end of CoP21 to help their Head of State –

One is to show the way,

Yes! Trillions.For insects and plankton however tiny have life.
Summer flower blooms in hot, sultry November
Nov 30 2014 : The Times of India (Mumbai) Richa Pinto Mumbai:
Greens Worried As Unusual Weather Seems To Have Confused Nature.A Nerul (Navi Mumbai) resident was recently surprised to see a flower that generally blooms in the month of March in his backyard a few days ago. With the October heat phenomenon stretching till the last few days of November this year, it looks like even nature seems to have got confused.

But, to make people notice the change we have to make it into a Financial Change issue. Lets see how it has impacted the finance or if we use the politically sensitive word “budget” of the common man.To understand this we must understand the average Indian mind.

While Mumbai has been witness to a peculiar warm October, which meteorologist consider as “normal”; November sees temperature with in the 20’s. A high of 29°C to a low of 24°C can be experienced. This is more or less the temperature which allows the budget concious middle class to shut down & cover up their Air-Conditioners as the ambient temperature required for a good-night sleep is naturally available. However this November the hum of AC’s can be heard around the city at night.

This has an immediate impact on their monthly budget, which leaves them confused and angry while trying to make ends meet. At the same time the power companies have to cope with prolonged power shortages due to peaking of demand, thus their is more planned “load-shedding” in the rural areas to compensate for the same. Which leaves the already short-changed rural folks more disenchanted from the system and government of the day.

Should such climate anomalies continue…elected governments may fall. And the opposition would also not want to put their head into the chopping block.

This last piece of information hopefully would help change the mindset and manner of those who choose to “dedicate their lives in the service of the people.”…be that India or the USA !

 

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Air – The Fourth ( Deadly) Element


“Another glorious day, the air as delicious to the lungs as nectar to the tongue.”
John Muir, My First Summer in the Sierra

Flag of the World Meteorological Organization

Flag of the World Meteorological Organization (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The International Meteorological Organization (1873–1951) was the first organization formed with the purpose of exchanging weather information among the countries of the world. It was born from the realization that weather systems move across country boundaries and knowledge of pressure, temperature, precipitations, etc. upstream and downstream is needed for weather forecasting.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It is the UN system’s authoritative voice on the state and behavior of the Earth’s atmosphere, its interaction with the oceans, the climate it produces and the resulting distribution of water resources.

The WMO and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) jointly created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is also directly responsible for the creation of the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW).

Now that we have established that talking about weather is not UN-fashionable but elitist ! We are still a long way of from being as élite as our ancestors who helped define and set up such an organization.

Could it be perhaps because they were a few generations closer to John Muir than the present batch ? After-all one seriously can’t feel the taste of nectar, with the polluted air being circulated through a treated fresh air or  TFA system.  And would perhaps relate 23rd March as Chaka Khans birthday. Rather than celebrate the weather. (World Meteorological Day). Although she too would find it hard to breath through the smoke of annual forest fire, to sign her famous song!

Air….the element of Nature can be equally deadly as the other four !

It is air without which a single breath of life can’t be possible.

For it is air, which moves the clouds and creates the weather patterns…. a suitable weather (atmosphere) sustains life.

Monsoon Forecast Remains Under a Cloud

Aug 21 2014 : The Economic Times (Mumbai) by Madhvi Sally.

Erratic monsoon triggers reassessment of new `normal’, which could have significant implications for water management, food production & prices.The monsoon has become so erratic over the years that the weather office is reassessing what the `normal’ would be for the vital weather system, an exercise that has sweeping implications for water management, food production and prices, apart from the historic nature of such an endeavor. Over the past decades, India’s agricultural practices have been tied to the June-September monsoon and the rainfall pattern during the four-month season. Any review of the `normal’ would thus have a direct impact on the food security of 1.25 billion people.

Meteorologists say such a reassessment may be warranted. In the last six decades, the number of rainy days in the season has been falling, deserts are getting shockingly heavy rain, extreme rainfall incidents such as the one that devastated Mumbai in 2005 are rising, and monsoon showers have continued a month after the normal withdrawal date for the past 7-8 years.

Experts say the trend can upset crop cycles, create water shortages in some regions and force farmers and policy makers to think of productivity in terms of output per unit of water, not per acre as the monsoon is getting weaker and more erratic. (read more)

Lapse in rainfall across highly productive north will have impact on farm output, prices There has been no rain at all in Haryana, Punjab and W Rajasthan for the past couple of days

The monsoon has almost vanished from the grain bowls of northern, western and central India, where some regions received no rainfall in recent days while many got barely 2-10% of normal, reviving risk to farm output and prices. Rainfall had revived significantly in the middle of last month, bouncing back from an alarming 43% seasonal deficit to barely 16% after a few weeks of heavy showers. But with rainfall dipping in the past two weeks, deficit has again widened again to 18% for the entire country. It is much higher in crucial cropping zones in northern and central India but the country’s average looks better because of heavy rain in parts of south and northeast, which are agriculturally less significant. In Punjab and Haryana, shortfall is more than 60%, having an impact on productivity even though these regions have irrigation facilities. Some states have received no rainfall in the past few days.(Read more)

That the topic was carried in the prestigious Economic Times in itself underscores the importance of the subject. But as the main article is carried on page # 17 instead of with the banner in the front page also underscores that the deadly impact of food crisis is not understood by those with a full belly !

And this very complacency gives credence to the those who discount evidence of Climate Change, and perhaps having  their coffers being filled by the producers of GM – Crops for the effort !

Advocates of  GM Crops ( Genetically Modified ) Companies, do not seem to understand why there is resistance to their seemingly Messianic  quest to be able to produce more food. Perhaps better crop than what we have through natural selection.

The point is not the GM Crops, but Nature has a law – survival of the fittest ! Thus when over time the GM crops would completely destroy every naturally grown crop.

Then Man, who essentially is a wolf in sheep’s clothing ! Would without lifting a single finger in act of war subjugate Countries! While citizens in a Democracy are also slaves, even without actually knowing it; this fact  has not really affected Nature.

But when the very Natural System would come under threat from the insatiable greed of Man, who would as evidence has always proved ( Palm Oil production ) denude the last of the natural ecosystem, for want of profit !

The Natural Disasters would exacerbate !

So having understood what can be the situation, should we not try and abate Climate Change, which has a direct bearing on the way the water  and air currents would behave in the future ? Any change in the way the air moves, as proven above has a direct bearing on rainfall.

Just as Water so is Air. ….. a principle life giver !

Thus a deadly element.

 

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PM Modi’s 100 New Cities – will they be cause for celebration or mourning?


Through the following paragraphs, I would make a humble attempt for the average person to understand and take forward the ideas which ultimately shapes their lives.

I am an admirer of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The first time I had the opportunity to be present at a meet at the Taj Mahal Hotel Mumbai, for the Vibrant Gujrat project, I was sure he would be the Prime Minister.

And every time I zip through the New Free way from South Mumbai towards Pune, I feel glad that we had the Mr. Manmohan Singh as our PM. Who brought us economic prosperity!

The bloom turned to gloom later!

And while the present Government has won a thumping victory based on the “development agenda”. The development seems to be no different than a mindless race towards accumulating riches. We hope for saving the wealth of the Country.

As a Nation and a Citizen we have the right to develop and prosper. Nature is bountiful and Human, God’s greatest creation from time immemorial has learnt to use the resources for its growth.

But when our mother breast feeds us, nourishes and cares for us. Makes us strong and able adults. Do we throttle her, maul and maim ? As a thanks for her good deed?

Then why do we do so with Mother to all of us. The sustainer of Life. Our Mother Earth?

Pune Landslide Disaster Causes. Graphic Courtesy: Times of India

What would have been the last thoughts of those who were buried alive at Rudra Prayag and recently close to home near Pune? As mud slowly forced down the lungs of the wretched innocent?

A child whose only wish perhaps was to grow up and mend the thatch of his leaking home – not of buying the 60th floor of a high-rise, built using materials ripped and pillaged from the very surrounding the disaster happened ?

When one does not use the river sand to re-lay another fine Italian marble in his posh home…he saves young engineering students from being washed away due to the acts of the unscrupulous sand-mafia!

When one is happy to reuse and retrofit his old wooden floor & furniture, instead of seeking a new look in the study…she helps save the old parents praying for the well being of their children at the feet of Shiva!

Whenever we stop paving over the farm-lands and refuse to buy a “Non-Agricultural” plot, we stop the vulnerable Sahyadri, the Vindhyachal, the Nilgiri from dying.

And in its death throes kill civilization!

To protect Humanity…we need to build Green. And when we say Green, it must not be a green wash. (Govt’s devpt’projects to blame for tragedy: Experts).

And by building Green..we shall abate Global Warming & Climate Change.

For no panegyric text, no law ever made…has denied prosperity!

But all seem to have but forgotten..it advocates prosperity for everyone.

Sabka Saath….Sabka Vikas!

Inclusive growth does not mean a Hindu-Muslim-Sikh-Isai-Bahai-Jew & Parsi! As we like to be identified as instead of Humans. ( perhaps due to the continued erosion of Humanity?)

But also those we foolishly call beasts! And with every animal we save, in the process a tree, a shrub…an ant and a moth survives!  For they all work together to make this Planet a better World to live in!

Something we knew before we “modernized ourselves”. For where else but in India we recognize the efforts of an ANT and build a temple to honour it.The ant hill Shiva- linga at Erumbeeswarar Temple. (this yet again underscores the important of remembering ones’ culture Disconnect from ones culture is the root cause of Global Warming )

Therefore if we need to build the 100 cities, which I strongly advocate that we do. We must build sustainably.

We must preserve the green that is the cover of mother Earth. Green is the colour of the plants which bear fruit, gives us air to breath and in the bosom of the forest which provides natures bounty, gave birth to Man!

Green Building is not a fashion statement. It’s our birthright!

It is a choice between life and death! And today and evermore we must choose to Live & Let Live.

Dangers of unsustainable development. Courtesy: Times of India

And to do that we have to change our mindset. Thus let us begin from understanding the basics, without which we will never be able to build sustainably. And create the Climate Resilient Cities, which we need so much.

To begin with, how many of us can actually recognise the trees or name the flowers other than the bunch of flowers we buy at exorbitant prices in high end boutique shops? Which are discarded as soon as the “air kiss” gets over !

Wrapped in cellophane that too …

How many of us remember when was the last time our children or we could recognise at first glance – a tree or shrub which produces the grains we eat or the fruits that are now more often put in beauty products than on a food plate ?

When we get disconnected from nature and what is natural, it is little wonder that we forget the age-old wisdom of putting importance to Roti – Kapada – Makaan !

The wise choice of sequencing  Food – Cloth – Shelter , in that order transcends both the Oriental & the Occidental World. It is of little consequence as to which civilization first mooted the idea…for if during the time of the Mahabaharata, we called ourselves “Aryans” and if they originated in Europe, then it proves beyond doubt that the world as a whole were far more intelligent and in sync with nature than we can aspire to be.

Thus when we build the 100 cities we must insure that the city grows its own food. It can be done by using the fertile soil of the building foot-print and placing every last bit of it on the roof-top or terraces, or better still make terminal market complexes which can be over the railway tracts or bus depots. Perhaps a combination of all would be the best formula.

And the best part is it would not make a farmer landless…

To grow food we require water. In fact all great Civilization and City Kingdoms grew near the banks of river or ocean. When we start to bottle water in plastic packs or it gushes out at the twirl of the tap..the disconnect from reality begins to manifest upon us. It is further compounded by the foolish yet well meaning laws that as water is the basis of life it must be either provided free or at a very nominal cost.

But, gone are the days when water used to quench a thirst, bathe a body or sow a seed. Now it is more required to fill a bottle of fizz and wash ones car. Or turn a turbine through a jet stream of steam…raised to its vapour form by ripping out Coal from the bowels of Earth. In an effort to satiate the insatiable thirst for POWER ( ? ), human have forgotten that water is a nourisher of life.

Flooded Mumbai after record-breaking rainfall. Courtesy: Times of India

And when you forget a life force & have a skewed development agenda…she comes back as a Tsunami or Flood wreaking havoc in her wake. Or simply moves away leaving parched land..fast turning into desert.To those who live in Mumbai, counting the days to rain is almost an annual ritual.

Because without rain the water bodies which provides the much needed succour simply can’t be replenished. And at the same time the rain brings with it untold misery for the citizens.

So how do we make the New Cities so as to not suffer the same misery which the current cities in India face ?

To begin with we must have stringent development control rules.

While it would take a collective will of the people to re-develop the existing Cities. The mistakes of not catering to the water needs in the new cities must be made into a crime punishable by law.

 

A fragile & beautiful ecosystem.

Lastly, where do we build our Cities and what material should be used to build them ? I find it amazing when developer after developer without giving a thought to the consequences to the ecosystem design projects in complete contravention to the lay of the land, the contours, the local populace. Every advertisement talks of connect with nature. And how one would live in harmony with it.

Each one of us would love to be in this place. But few amongst us would want to share it with the green glade, the birds & bugs ..the ant and the earthworm..the brush and the tree..the frog and the snake…animals and plants which have co-existed in perfect harmony to help nature sculpt this picture perfect place of tranquillity and peace.

Building around nature.

As I said earlier, human have the right to live a modern life-style, within an Ecologically sensitive area. Provided they follow the law which would make them build right. And most importantly learn to co-habitat with the surrounding.

Very few modern architect or developer would keep the place as it is and work along it to create space for man.They would develop it as it should be according to them. Because it is not easy to live with nature when everyday of our concious life, the commerce crazy community craving for riches vie for your attention on everything that is unsustainable in the long run..

An untrained and gullible mass considers the life-style preached by these false messiah as gospel.

Thus if we indeed need to build those 100 cities our Prime Minister has mooted let them be the dream cities which would stay behind as his legacy. Of having balanced growth of India with Sustainable Development of this planet.

Laws need to be mooted which prevent development of Urban spaces in present agricultural land. Prevent expansion of existing city sprawl into the life saving mangroves. And to achieve that the first thing which the Prime Minister must build, much in the lines of IIT’s in each state, are a University of Developers.

In this university of developers make mandatory attendance of all those who want to put a project. Be it Housing or a Coal mine. Airport or a Dam. And make them learn the laws of nature. The cause and effect of each decision which they would take for the project they would want to promote – 50 years from hence!

Allow them then to alter the situations towards the least harmful. For modern human can’t develop any further today without causing some harm. Such is sadly the truth. And the answer to which perhaps remains with those wiser. And may take this tread of an idea to the Utopian state it should belong.

And to those who having crossed the passage above consider this suggestion a waste…India & the World (25 Examples of Off the Grid Homes + Green Architecture) has already started working towards this idea.

We can build cities which are in sync with nature in a much larger extent than is currently practised.

What we need is a vision which many of us in this country hope this Prime Minister & his Cabinet has. We need not have to build upon fertile soil and forest but spread the Cities to those vast swathe of arid and semi-arid lands.

To areas where uncontrolled mining and logging has decimated the land and laid it bare and waste. To those areas connected by bullet trains and express ways; waterways and air ( at times a gas filled Zeppelin can undo the carbon foot print) and making mandatory for captains of Industry & Commerce to shift at least 6% of their operations to any 3 cities of their liking within the 100 spanning the country. We would attract a sizeable population of skilled citizens to spurt life into the new cities.

And as the roots of civilization begins to take shape, the local populace would benefit.

That is when perhaps we shall have an India shining!

 

 

 

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Green Business Ideas: Certified Green Building projects should automaticaly qualify for Financial Cerdit Rating.


Got ideas on how to make green buildings go mainstream ?the World Green Building Congress is asking on Twitter and is ready to offer a $10K prize. It is being run by the ClimateCoLab as a contest.

This definitely inspires to come up with another Green Business Idea.

A credit rating is an evaluation of the credit worthiness of a debtor, especially a business (company) or a government, but not individual consumers. The evaluation is made by a credit rating agency of the debtor’s ability to pay back the debt and the likelihood of default. Evaluations of individuals’ credit worthiness are known as credit reporting and done by credit bureaus, or consumer credit reporting agencies, which issue credit scores. Credit ratings are determined by credit ratings agencies. The credit rating represents the credit rating agency’s evaluation of qualitative and quantitative information for a company or government; including non-public information obtained by the credit rating agencies’ analysts. (Wikipedia)

An Energy Efficient Building or Green Building as it’s popularly known, can save upto 30% in electrical consumption and saves around the same percent, water with judicious and clever use. The two most critical commodity in the World today.

Now, if a company is able to save on its Operational Expenses, it would naturally reflect on the profit graph. And if the company is profitable its ability to meet financial commitments becomes strong. Lets analyse this further.

The Confederation of Indian Industry also known as CII and its other bodies such as the CII-CESD and IGBC have for the past many years doing a superb task to bring about a paradigm shift in the thinking of the populace to adopt sustainable methods to conduct business. There has been a varying degree of success. But it is not enough to make the desired dent to limit and reverse the trend of Climate Change.

One of the enormous barrier is resistance to change. And to consider every change which requires some degree of extra expenditure as very risky. Because the result of the change on making a building energy efficient,  is a process spread over a long time period.

This resistance to certain degree also occurs. because the traditional business class in India do not train themselves in any Business School.(60% of top CEOs in India do not have an MBA degree: INSEAD and HBR study😉 Another report says – The typical CEO in India is male, around 56 years old, and with a degree from a local university — mainly IIT or IIM. Only 24% have an MBA. The most popular university subjects studied by CEOs are business, mechanical engineering, and finance.(read more).

It is more of dynastic wisdom handed down over generations. And thus each business creates their own ideas for success and deviations from that set of wise counsel is at times socially as well as circumstantially difficult.

Thus the old adage – to cut iron we need iron, can be looked at to find the formula of success. Thus we must provide incentive which the average CEO can relate to and would also like to flaunt.

THE CREDIT RATING.

The more powerful the credit rating more would be the incentive for people to follow the diktats to go Green.

Recently the Government of India has initiated a movement

India to implement code for energy saving, green buildings construction by 2017

The Economic Times NEW DELHI: It will be mandatory for all state governments to  implement by 2017 the minimum requirements for energy efficient design and construction set by the central government to meet the challenges of depleting resources, increased urbanisation and rapid construction, according to a top official. Shifting its focus to building energy-saving structures, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) of the power ministry has made mandatory the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) which acts like a “cross-check for building designs and specifications” to reduce the energy consumption through design and choice of material and equipment.Under its ambit are components like building envelopes (wall, roofs, windows), lighting, heat ventilation and air conditioning and electrical systems.Introduced in 2007, on a voluntary basis, the code sets the minimum energy standards for new commercial buildings with a connected load of 100 KW. Besides new buildings, it also covers old buildings which are getting renovated and/or extended.

Although a little disappointed that we have given ourselves beyond UNFCCC Paris COP. Where the wishful thinking of all climate change advocates would be to see the strict implementation of the Durban Declaration…

DURBAN Declaration. (pdf)

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011, delivered a breakthrough on the international community’s response to climate change. In the second largest meeting of its kind, the negotiations advanced, in a balanced fashion, the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, the Bali Action Plan, and the Cancun Agreements. The outcomes included a decision by Parties to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change as soon as possible, and no later than 2015. The President of COP17/CMP7 Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said: “What we have achieved in Durban will play a central role in saving tomorrow, today.”

…. but the news coming close to the heels of President Obama’s Climate Change Action Plan, it was indeed a good news.

While on June 2, the EPA released a proposal that will set the first-ever national carbon pollution standards limits for America’s existing power plants. Danger already lurks in the shape of Tony Abbott !

Tony Abbott seeks alliance to thwart President Obama on climate change policy – Tony Abbott is seeking a conservative alliance among “like-minded” countries, aiming to dismantle global moves to introduce carbon pricing, and undermine a push by US President Barack Obama to push the case for action through forums such as the G20. ……The combined front would attempt to counter recent moves by the Obama administration to lift the pace of climate change abatement via policies such as a carbon tax or state-based emissions trading. It is a calculated attempt to push back against what both leaders see as a left-liberal agenda in favour of higher taxes, unwise interventions to address global warming, and an unhealthy attitude of state intervention.

It would be perhaps one of the most defining moment for India to take up the leadership position and support what President Obama seeks to do, and in our Prime Minister Shri Narandra Modi we have a person who has an equally strong vision and a majority mandate. Who can do this.

Opposition to Obamas’ Climate Change Action Plan

The biggest bogey which any opposition raises is loss in job and money. And history has proven time and again this theory wrong.

And when you compare this to the report the World Economic Forum –

A growing consensus is emerging among the scientific and business communities that weather and climate extremes are on the increase, and that climate change contributed to a number of recent natural disasters. These include the European heat wave of 2003, and drought in East Africa in 2011 and in 2012. Losses resulting from climate-related disasters remain unacceptably high – in economic, social and human terms – making it imperative to build resilience, particularly in vulnerable areas.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Climate Change’s report, Climate Adaptation: Seizing the Challenge, captures some of the latest thinking in the field of climate adaptation and financing, with the goal of assisting decision-makers in the public and private sectors gain a better understanding of the issue.

Its Key findings completely deflates any debate to go against the logic of not working towards abatement of Climate Change.

1.Reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases are not happening fast enough. Preparing societies for the impacts of climate change, i.e. adaptation, must therefore happen in tandem with mitigation efforts.

2.Indices can inform decision makers on where climate adaptation is most necessary, and how best to allocate adaptation investments, including for prioritizing pre-disaster efforts. African nations, particularly Sub-Saharan, consistently emerge as the most vulnerable to climate change and the least ready to adapt, while a clear difference appears between developed and developing nations. More and better national data, particularly in developing countries, is required, while obtaining local data for comparison, for example across cities, may be a challenge. Metrics that are used to assess adaptation need can have conflicting aims and conclusions but competing methodologies can shed new light on seemingly intractable problems.

3.Up to 65% of the increase in the projected losses due to climate change could be averted cost effectively through adaptation investment. Decision makers need to look at “total climate risk” when considering adaptation investment and finance – this takes into account existing risk, future risk due to development and additional risk due to climate change.

4.Private sector funding will be needed to finance investments – the cash-strapped public sector will not be able to provide it all. Public sector funding can be leveraged effectively however and the public sector can also provide a framework that makes this investment attractive.

5.Water, food and energy systems are inextricably linked and so the use and management and particularly shortages of one can affect another, e.g. water shortages can affect crop yields, power generation and industrial processes. It is therefore crucial to consider each part of the water-food-energy nexus when making an investment or policy decision so that another part of the nexus is not compromised. Meanwhile climate change is stressing the nexus. Addressing this is beyond the scope of individual governments, companies or NGOs acting alone. Since awareness of the nexus is low, the current behaviour of companies or governments may not take it into account and therefore stress it further. A new approach is therefore required that involves multiple stakeholders with the aim of addressing these issues in a co-ordinated and holistic manner.

One does not have to be a scientist and least of all a myopic politician – corporate combine, engaged in short-term gain to understand that without FOOD & WATER even a Midas touch has no value.

But we usually read Fables and Moral stories as children. As our PM said, it’s time we bring our Culture to fore and start teaching them in the MBA schools!

For disconnect from ones culture is the root cause of Climate Change! (click to read more)

 

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The Development Agenda – and the unreported fall-out.


In India we have a saying… ” Har ek pal ek ullu banta hai“- every minute someone is made to be a fool. And the best and the longest trick for which everyone falls for is – “Development”.

How often does one hear the phrase like – “the Next”.. “the sunrise country”…”the leading nation”… Our poor northern neighbour fell for it…now it could be India’s turn, if care is not taken.

Grown in China: ‘arsenic rice’

Didi Kirsten Tatlow, NYT NEWS SERVICE;Soil in China’s leading rice-producing region shows high levels of heavy metal contamination, in a study that suggests that the proximity of mining and industry to agricultural areas is posing serious threats. Researchers for Greenpeace sampled farmland and uncultivated soil, water and rice grown near a smelter of nonferrous metals in Hunan Province. In some locations of the study, they found soil containing cadmium levels more than 200 times the national health standard, adding to a growing body of evidence that parts of the country’s soil are heavily degraded after decades of fast industrialization and high economic growth. All but one of the rice samples exceeded the maximum level of cadmium in rice for human consumption in China. The study extended the concept by listing “arsenic rice,” “mercury rice” and “lead rice.” Of those four toxic substances, only mercury levels appeared relatively safe. With a fast pace of urbanization, China is struggling to save enough land for farming and keep a high rate of grain selfsufficiency. But apart from quantity, whether it can maintain soil health remains a question.

Dead pigs floating in Chinese river

Most recently, Chinese state media reported last Thursday that at least 170 dead pigs were found bobbing in a tributary of China’s second-longest waterway, the Yellow River, in northwestern Qinghai province. This is just the latest in a string of similar incidents that have raised fears over food safety, since the river is the major source of irrigation water for nearby regions…..It was a similar story last year, when 6,000 dead pigs were pulled from Shanghai’s waterways in three days. As Care2′s Kristina Chew reported, local authorities were quick to assert that the presence of thousands of dead pig carcasses in the river had no effect on the water supply, although the blogospere begged to differ…And in fact, the number of pig corpses found in the Huangpu River, which provides 22 percent of the water supply for Shanghai, grew to around 16,000. Officials questioned farmers in the neighboring province of Zhejiang about dumping the pigs but got nowhere.

The above report sums up my angst.

No sensible person would be against development.

But development can’t be a tool which is used by a few to rule the World as their own fiefdom.

The growth of the China model is a superlative example of what transpires when one wears lens tinted by the czars of crony capitalism. Never would they document the dead pigs which floated down river in thousands..nor would they document destruction of habitat or extinction of species. “This is the minimum price one has to pay” they argue ” else we would be living in caves”.

Yes! even those who are concious of the environment,today use the very tools which perhaps has led to unsustainable practice. But there is a difference between those who speak of Development and those who wish to spread awareness on Sustainable Development.

Whether one likes it or not, compliment must be given to the masters who with their glib talk supported with superb power-point presentations made the Chinese believe that they would be rulers of Earth, should they open up their doors to become the centre of manufacturing. From the humble pin to planes, everything the modern world needs gets manufactured in China.

Vehicles move slowly on a fog-shrouded road in Huai’an City, east China’s Jiangsu Procinve, Jan. 30.

Yes! They have grown rich & powerful. But at a terrible cost to their environment. Their cites are polluted, their  rivers are dying and even the air they breath has itself turned into a killer !

I’m sure the Chinese government did not factor these things when they set out to become a “economically powerful nation”.

It really feels sad when a Nation which has perhaps given humans a taste of civilization a few thousand years ago, can fall into a trap to think it is not a great and powerful nation which it used to be!

The first light of Chinese civilization revealed itself 7,000 to 8,000 years ago, as indicated by the ruins of the Daxi Culture in Sichuan and Hubei provinces (more).

The word crony capitalism was not coined back then..

India shares much of the similarities with its northern neighbour, she too is an ancient civilization. And here to there’s a clamour for “Development”. More foreign direct investment the better some say.

While it must have some merit, what is not being said is would those who come to make investment which directly translates to the word PROFIT; really be bothered about how it achieves its target? History, whether recent or ancient has proven that the indigenous tribe, culture and habitat has always faced destruction and at times extinction in the guise of development.

There has been development of too few at the cost of too many. Just count the list of Developed versus Underdeveloped Nations and you would get an idea.

While we like to call ourselves as a Developing Country in term of Economic power, we fail to highlight that India ranks much higher in the list of Inclusive Wealth Report.

Inclusive Wealth Report.

The indicators used in the past to measure human societies’ success have proven to be insufficient. Economic production indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI) fail to reflect the state of natural resources or ecological conditions and both focus exclusively on the short term, without indicating whether national policies are sustainable over longer periods of time.

The Inclusive Wealth Report 2012 presents an index that measures the wealth of nations by carrying out a comprehensive analysis of a country’s capital assets, including manufactured, human and natural capital, and its corresponding values: the Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI)

The Country is in its final throes of electing once more its new set of “rulers”. While hoping that at least this instance the “democratically” elected political party would provide us with “good governance”. And within that good governance we hope to see the ideas of the Durban Declaration come to fore.

For it is important to know whether national policies are sustainable over longer periods of time. A short comparison of two manifesto of the political parties in fray are below –

The political party which many consider would emerge as the winner, has started well. At least its manifesto, speaks in simple and crisp language what it intends to do, should it be voted to power.

We will it says:

  •  Encourage Cleaner production.
  •  Cleaner fuels will be promoted so as to bring down the pollution levels particularly in the cities.
  •  The concept of pro-active ‘Carbon Credit’ will be promoted.
  •  Ecological Audit of projects and pollution indexing of cities and townships will be done on scientific basis.
  •  Pollution control mechanisms will be set up on priority basis.
  •  In addition to protecting the existing forests and wildlife reserves, the wastelands of the country  will be used for social forestry.
  •  Guidelines for Green buildings and energy efficient work places will be brought out.
  •  R&D and Human Resource Development in Environment Technology will be promoted.
  •  Set up fool proof mechanisms for protection and preservation of wild life.
  •  Encourage citizen’s participation in reforestation, agro-forestry and social forestry, through targeted programmes.
  •  Encourage and incentivize innovative garbage disposal and waste management practices, especially recycling techniques.

While the present ruling dispensation, speaks in a language which reflects the state the of play as is presently facing India, confusion; although the will to do good is there  –

  • Rigorous Environmental Appraisals Bill to set up a National Environmental Appraisal and Monitoring Authority – a professional agency to conduct rigorous and time-bound environmental appraisals and recommend clearances.
  • Revealing the Cost of Environmental Degradation Will launch “Green National Accounts” to ensure that the costs of environmental degradation are clearly reflected in India’s national accounts.
  • Conserving Water Water conservation is at the heart of our programme for agriculture and rural and urban development.
  • Harnessing Wind Power Launch a new National Mission on Wind Energy to harness the wind power.
  • Making Water Sustainable and Affordable Pricing of water must ensure that users internalise ethics of conservation. It is also imperative that it be sustainable and affordable.
  • Clean Rivers and Clean Fuel Cleaning of rivers on a large scale and providing clean cooking fuel across the country will be a priority.
  • Increasing our Solar Power Production Timely completion of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission which will provide 20,000 MW of grid connected solar power by 2022.

While in the watch of the present dispensation, India has had to hang its head in shame on farmer suicide due to lack of water. And in several villages and town, it is a cause of celebration if electricity is received for 24 hours uninterrupted. It can not be denied that this very government in its previous avatar, had given India its proud moment in the shape of NAPCC.

It’s architect, a finance wizard so respected and loved by this Country. It had made possible a chance to boost the economy by ₹64000 Crore. A dream which spawned many Renewable & sustainable building enterprise, which are in throes of pain due to paralysis of action today.

The very failure of sustainable capitalism gave rise to crony capitalism and the Coal scandal et al. Once more the environment suffered because of the myopic vision of those who were supposed to take hard decisions to save the Planet, India lost yet another leadership opportunity to change the tide of climate change.

Therefore it is very important for the Citizens of India and that of the World to remind which ever political party win this election, its promise made in the manifesto. The largest political party must not be allowed to confuse us with glibly coined words like “coalition dharma” and bury all that is sustainable through rapid stride in “Development” which benefits but only a few.

Its time India finds its Economic strength through saving its Ecology. That would lead towards Sustainable Development and sustained growth thus making India the Developed Nation.

 

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Poll tatic is dangerous Politics on Environment


India would be going for polls in 2014. As with any democracy, the preparation is on from all political parties to woo the electorate. That is a healthy sign in participatory democracy. What is not fine is the lurking danger to the environment. At the expense of which populist agenda would make hay. This article would point at some of those agendas.

In Mumbai an Urban disaster is being planned with framing of laws which are myopic at best. Permissions for even taller buildings are on the anvil and cluster development although a noble move does not find the word environment friendly mentioned in its agenda. The most shocking is the idea to regularize unauthorized construction while in others a blind eye is turned on the illegal encroachment knowing fully well that they too in time can claim plea of mercy to be let off on the crimes of omission and commission.

Constructions with no scientific town planning, continues unabated like in the hill station and surrounding of Lonawala. The pace at which this once scenic area is getting paved over, is something which one needs to see to understand the horrors it would create in the future. Narrow village paths remain the same width, while swanky second homes costing millions are being sold.The very beauty for which this hill station was known is changing in its character to resemble some small third grade town. Already we have traffic jams on the main road. Soon it would be honking cars and loud music adding to the cacophony to destroy a heavenly abode gifted by nature to man.

And if the authorities are callous and corrupt, the rich buyers are even more so, for not even one speak out against the dismal infrastructure and rape of the environment. Moral turpitude is a bane of the Indian society from whence the best (read – most callous) sometimes get elected to govern this Nation in some form or the other.

Even the Supreme Court of India directive which could help retain some sense in the Building & Construction industry in Mumbai & its surrounds has become unpopular. While it is true that leaving the prescribed 15% amount of set-back, while constructing is a difficult proposition in the city of Mumbai. It is a well thought out directive.

There is a lot of merit when one looks at the directive which would allow for ground water percolation and reduction of heat island effect in the city, should it be possible to leave some original soil around a tower instead of building on the whole plot and putting some green cover on the top of a podium. And what is even more important is to understand the fact that as Mumbai landmass is in large part a land-fill. By not allowing for ground water percolation we may be creating a situation which would be much more grave than what is understood by those who are opposing the directive.

Moreover the Urban sprawl has spread far beyond the island city and leaving 15% of virgin soil should not be a problem there. Therefore this opposition to the law is detrimental in creating a climate resilient city, which Mumbai must plan for.

The next in the agenda is to announce Navi Mumbai to become an international hub. Without announcing publicly a sound environmental friendly master-plan this would further lead to degradation of the surroundings.

If one would do a survey of the ghost city that is coming up at Ulwe; a few hundred homes are ready but there is hardly any occupancy because the infrastructure is not yet ready to support this new township. With zero environmental norms supervision; construction debris and related waste strew the whole area and its a woeful site to behold during monsoon when all these dangerous pollutant wash towards the already fragile mangrove system. The construction is leading to more unregulated pollution of the environment in the catchment area which will be a problem for ages to come. While there’s none to argue on growth and development, this place originally was and still is in many parts small hillocks, which the machines have torn town to create plots.

A sense of helplessness prevails when the simple green building norms for sustainable site which could have so easily been applied, was not even considered in this area. We could have perhaps got a replica of the famous Banjara Hills of Hyderabad where the architects could have taken delight in utilizing the natural topography. Instead we have drab buildings with fancy names making this place the last choice of the middle class buyer who can’t afford a home within the city and its tier 2 suburbs anymore.

Top that with what is being called the AAP party effect. Now we are going to have a “rationalized” electricity tariff for homes and even commercial establishments. On the face value it seems good. But one needs to just scratch the surface to see the hidden dangers lurking beneath them. And no they are not the 1st in fooling the people. We have the grand old party and their oppositions adopting to similar tactic many times. Let’s understand how.

With production of electricity via conventional (thermal) plants at approximate ₹ 5.17 add transmission and other losses it would perhaps be around 5.30 Indian Rupee.To provide electricity at 20% lower  is a huge burden on the DISCOM’s which are already bleeding.

This would lead to worse operation and maintenance leading to frequent power outages and load-shedding. So in the end, the poor would be buying more kerosene. mostly form the well oiled black market which feeds to politico-mafia and the hard-working middle class would end up using GHG belching Diesel Generators to light up their dream homes.

But that does not deter a politician because as seen in one of the most populous state, they create a VIP constituency and 24×7 power and water at the discounted rate which the “neta” had fought hard to achieve for the “aam admi” is supplied to them.

The aam admi however is supposed to be happy at the paper bill he holds in the hand to read under a kerosene lamp or a DG connected light bulb. And cast his/her ballot on the Messiah party symbol for this “gift”.

While the Social plight would and is apparent, what is not usually apparent is the cost to Environment. Every time a populist ruling is favored mother nature suffers the most. We keep polluting the environment with GHG belching organic fuel. Cutting down natural topography and vegetation which alters the way the land reacts to its surroundings.

And all this when there are saner alternatives present. And have been discussed at length in the past articles.

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficient Building design norms are already in place. What is required is the political will to have them implemented. It is incorrect to say that they are expensive.

They remain expensive due to the bad policies which throws good money on populist agendas. And all for a few ballot more!

What the Nation needs to understand is that populist poll promises do not bring lasting solutions. They only sweep the problem under the carpet. Where its festers to become an even more danger to the society which we leave for the future.

It is understood that even the most corrupt “neta” (politician) does what he does to leave some riches for posterity. But how will their child prosper when the wealth that is earth on which one enjoys becomes unsupportive to life itself?

 

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Will India in 2014 follow – NAMO or the NAMA’s ?


India would go for polls in 2014. In the past 10 years, the Euphoria of having an Economist at the helm of affairs slowly but surely dissipated,with the Economy coming nearly to a stand still.

Now a different bubble is being created and that is around a persona, whom many admire and lovingly call NAMO = Narendra Modi. Having seen and heard him up close in 2010, there are none, I’m sad to say in present Indian politics who can match his persona. And here lies the danger.

Because as our Prime Minister elect, it would not be him , who are his fans be fortunate enough to vote for, but a political party – the BJP the acronym for Bhartia Janta Party. And most of its members are not even a close fifth to NAMO in terms of vision and charisma. In fact in India it is very hard to differentiate one politician from the other across party lines, as they all follow a common minimum program of arrogant corruption.

Although there seems to be some disruption in the political scenario in India with the advent and spectacular win of Delhi by the AAP ( Aam Admi Party = party of the common man). It is a group led by a spectacular persona Mr. Arvind Kejrewal. He is the Honorable Chief Minister of New Delhi. And many would agree to bestow the honour of the Prime Minister to him and people of his ilk in India. Honest,upright and with a zeal to serve the Nation. But he too is making a grave mistake with his populist, although well-meaning measures,especially in the Energy & Water sector.

For one who follows the Science of Climate Change and Policy, I’ve not yet heard a single tweet, blog or FB spelling out what would be the approach of this future government on – Global Warming! as their poll manifesto. Both Energy & Water are in the vanguard of this issue.

Neither the Congress nor the BJP has shown any regard to the environment. With forest and the surrounds of Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand decimated under their successive governments causing the great havoc of Kedarnath. While the link given in this, points to the science of how this disaster happened, that such events can occur is the matter and prevention thereof should be taken is matter of policy. And this is just one example of failed policy on Climate change and the environment in general.

While one does remember that PM Manmohan Singh did launch the NAPCC in the 2008. ( India has along with all members of the UNFCCC  signed the Bali Action Plan which brought in the NAMA = Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions. And NAPCC or Nation Action Plan for Climate Change is the follow through of that agreement.) The Since and Policy of Climate change actually is the lowest of the low in the list of priority in any of the present political class pretending to govern India and serve the Nation if elected.

One usually does not squander away their life – because its given but just once !

                 But every day we squander water & electricity because it comes to us cheap – although at a great cost to the Environment.

For, AAP the dangerous game it is playing by providing the sops in water & power must be understood in its entire spectrum of benefits and fall-out.

The benefit which can be measured immediately are that it would uplift the poor. Which is a good measure and even advocated in the Millennium Development Goals. The flip side of it would be that the e-DISCOM’s which employ million of people would start to bleed even more than what they are doing now {and are already propped by by sops from the government } and start to fire its employees creating an even more bigger headache in this resource depleted, morally bankrupt and tension filled social fabric.

But the most dangerous situation it would create is that with politicians of all hues ready to ape the “success formula” of AAP would start to provide sops in every possible way.

To squander away something which is not theirs to give in the first place. The Natural resources of a Nation must be put at a premium. There are many other ways to provide relief to the poor and the needy which a Government with an ear to the ground can bring about. AAP seems to have got this aspect right and if the leading National political parties can better it the Country and indeed the World shall find a better way of living.

A few solutions long suggested – Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos; Green Business Ideas: Solar Panels can save water in the fields for farmers. Solar Power: the Messiah for the Indian Oil Companies and the Finance Ministry Green Business Ideas: Solar Net Metering can help provide solar power in the night. Renewable Energy – Empowering Women & Saving Forests.(Redux); Sustainable Cities – Why town planning is important.& last but not the least Sustainable Living – Corruption is the biggest impediment)

 
 

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Sustainable idea: Habitat -III; can it deliver what Habitat -I & II could not?


Habitat is an ecological or environmental area that is inhabited by a particular species of animal, plant, or other type of organism.It is the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the physical environment that surrounds (influences and is utilized by) a species population.

Habitat III is the Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development, to take place in 2016.

Habitat III will bring together cities, governments, civil society, the private sector, education institutions and interest groups to review urban and housing policies affecting the future of cities within an international governance architecture and to generate a ‘New Urban Agenda’ for the 21st century which recognizes the ever-changing dynamics of human civilization.  Habitat III will benefit from recent experiences of cities and their partnerships with different stakeholders, including city-to-city partnerships, private sector participation and engagement of different types of grass-roots federations that demonstrate the potential to create greener, more resilient and more liveable cities. – (more).
And that is where the problem lies. Modern Humans can not build shelters to house themselves without displacing each and every other living stake holder of this Planet. Whenever Human civilization has thrived, there has been habitat loss.This systematic loss is now manifesting itself with so much force that many more need to understand the true meaning of sustainable living.
It is therefore imperative that we interpret the meaning and form of Habitat, from the perspective of a common man. And that includes and most importantly so the Politicians, who sitting in the governments are the chief ratifiers of policy. Politicians at best are social scientists. Those who are qualified usually draw their strengths from finance and law. Thus the concept of Habitat which should be based on the ecological and the environmental gets confused with shelter for Humans in the eyes of the uninitiated.This has gone unnoticed all but by a few environmentalists until now. Therefore  there is a lot to be done.
While it’s good to follow the golden rule of – ” once you don’t succeed, try try try again !”
One must notice that we are given only three chance. There is never time for the fourth, as Armageddon is upon us by then.
Habitat -III  in its true sense must being to mean -” the only habitable planet in this Universe”. EARTH.

While the intent of United Cities and Local Governments (ULGC) in noble, as with every United Nation linked program; support for propagation of its ideas must be intensified. It must begin with advocating the ills of present form of unsustainable Urban living to what must be the ideal. And for that it must showcase the ills of the present, while bring out the solutions to fore which can be easily understood and adopted by even the most disinterested citizen of that city.

When we achieve that. The original Habitat (  Gaia read Earth ) may just give us the one last chance, we so desperately need; to continue leaving our footprints in the sand of time for a little while more.

That we are destroying the habitat, is understood by some. Heard by many and being acted upon by a very dedicated few. However to make this into a mass movement we need to conclusively and continuously prove how our present habitat  & life-style is destroying us. Each link tells us a story. What is needed is that the story be read not only by those who already know. But forced upon those who don’t care to.

Blaring sound during Ganpati forces seniors, kids to take precaution to avoid health hazards

Rise in sea temperature may attract jellyfish to city shore

Second dengue death in two weeks in city, blame game on

Locals on a mission to clear mess near Muchalla college

Lack of space derails NMMC’s stray-sterilisation programme

Now, top floor residents’ nod must to install mobile tower

Ten tonnes of floral waste collected during first visarjan

Thirsty cities, parched villages

BEST buses claim 37 lives every year: Cops

Unable to conceive? Blame it on stress, say Mumbai doctors

Mumbaikars are stressed out.– these are news headlines which hit the Newspapers of the city of Mumbai with a monotonous regularity.

Mumbai or the city of Bombay as it was called by the British is indeed a “maya nagari”.  Maya in the Hindi language means illusion.

Just as the birth of this city, which seems solid but is just a land-fill between seven shallow islands surrounded by the Arabian sea. So is the lives of those who live here. For the outside world it is all pomp and show of Bollywood (Bollywood is the informal term popularly used for the Hindi language film industry based in Mumbai (Bombay), Maharashtra, India.) but those living mostly sweat it out like a Slumdog; while dreaming of becoming a millionaire.

Maya!

CityNotice any residential project advertisement in any media in Mumbai. And one would never fail to find  picturesque images surrounding the proposed project in all sides. Even if the project is situated in the heart of the city of Mumbai !

 In the quest of living around scenic countryside we keep building on top of the same ground which attracted us with its pristine untouched beauty.

There is a saying – “you can’t eat a cake and keep it too.”To live alongside nature one must respect what is natural. Be one with Nature.

NA plotsBecause a healthy Habitat can not be built of carcass of the dead. By destroying an ecosystem, the indigenous flora & fauna, to expect Gaia to cheer for our well-being is a misplaced thought.

The end result is and always will be Maya – the illusion !

ugly city

 

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World Environment Day – the don’t practice but preach day!


AHow many times does it happen to almost all of us that we listen to a captivating lecture or a documentary or even a film and connect to it completely ? While walking out of the hall, you almost bond with complete strangers and some have animated discussions on the subject while reaching the exit gate, exchange contact details and as the vehicle you sit in moves, start the process of completely forgetting about the episode and focus on the day ahead ?

This is what happens to all of us especially those who have taken upon themselves to do public good….that is become a Politician. Everyday most of them think how they can do some good for the public, especially in India. And the World Environment Day is no different.

One can not fault any person and especially those who have taken upon themselves to do public good be focused in doing good in one sector alone. They need to focus in all areas lest they be seen as partial. Therefore in a prelude to the Environment Day our thoughtful leaders did think of doing some more good. And as an observer of the good our leaders bestow upon ourselves,this article would try and record them with a perspective.

CMumbai, is a city which is situated in the western coast of India, and very close to the famed Western Ghats, which the UN incidentally has declared as a very fragile and varied ecosystem which needs to be protected. And our thought full leaders both at the Centre & State who’s heart beats for the äam aadmi,(common man)  always eager to eliminate poverty, can not but come up with gem of ideas to improve the lot of the people, even at the cost of throwing away all the recommendations which the Ministry of Environment and Forest ( MoEF ) may have put.

It was mooted sometime ago that the city of Mumbai must become World class and some even wanted it to be better in comparison to Shanghai in China. As to why a city from China was chosen as an example instead of EIU’s 1st ranked Melbourne Australia, which is still considered to be the top most when we rank it in the liveability index simply beats me.

DThe Economist Intelligence Unit Liveability Survey liveability index rates each city on a scale of 0-100 based on 30 indicators, grouped in five categories.  Weights ranging from 10 to 25 percent are assigned to each category to determine the overall rating.  The EIU’s categories, weights and indicators are as follows:

  • Category 1: Stability (25%) (prevalence of petty and violent crime; threat of terror, military conflict and civil unrest/conflict)
  • Category 2: Healthcare (20%) (availability and quality of private and public healthcare; OTC drug availability; general health indicators adapted from the World Bank)
  • Category 3: Culture & Environment (25%) (climate; corruption; social/religious restrictions; censorship; sports/culture availability; food and drink; consumer goods and services)
  • Category 4: Education (10%) (availability and quality of private education; public education indicators adapted from the World Bank)
  • Category 5: Infrastructure (20%) (quality of road network, public transport and international links; availability of good quality housing; quality of energy and water provision; quality of telecommunications)

The overall Liveability Index 2012 is an integration of categories such as demographic, education, health and medical standards, safety, housing option, socio-cultural-natural environment, economic environment, and planned environment. It identifies those areas where progress is being made or maintained and areas where we need to be vigilant and allocate resources in order enhance its prosperity levels. In addition, it has taken a holistic approach in order to gauge the status of liveable cities in India by taking into consideration both, urban and rural factors. A city is termed as liveable if it provides a favourable living environment to its residents and indirectly benefits the people who visit it. The favourable environment comprises of various measurable factors such as, presence of quality education and health institutions, planned environment, appropriate infrastructure, safety of the people, strong administration etc. It has to do with answering questions like ‘can I live here happily with my family’? This goes beyond quality of life which is merely a single construct and a part of liveability. Similarly, for corporates who require well-connected roads, regular supply of power, skilled employees etc. for their business processes.

While none of our cities figure in the World top ten, by comparing our cites internally….

Liveability Index 2012

Highlights

  • New Delhi losses out by scoring high on the crime parameter.
  • Chennai grabs the numero uno position by beating Delhi, which was stable with its 1st rank for the last two years
  • Hyderabad is spotted at 2nd position and gained two positions
  • Other two top metros, Mumbai and Kolkata slide down from their previous ranks and are placed at 3rd and 7th position respectively
  • Kolkata arises as the city with the best supporting infrastructure in terms of residence, drinking water, source of lighting etc.
  • Major positive as well negative shifts are noted in the ranks of few cities such as Vijayawada, Gurgaon, Kozhikode, Varanasi, Ludhiana, and Puducherry etc.
  • The index provides insight into the quality of life available to people and provides evidence on the future state of the city in terms of its liveability.

South Indian cities dominate the top ten cities slot as Nagpur, Pune, Nashik, Madurai and Bengaluru exhibited a lot of improvement and have significantly risen from their previous low ranks. (more).

EWhile New Delhi could be considered as the King of Indian cities,where I schooled from and Mumbai the Queen where I found my livelihood, seeing the lopsided development which has no direction makes one wonder as had it not been for the people of this city and some very concerned and able people especially those who are connected to the Advanced Locality Management created by Mr. Verien Merchant in 1996 and supported by many around the city. This beautiful city would have sunk.The ALM Warriors (read more) as they are called are the need of the hour and not only in saving this city from filth but also in the process save the environment from degrading further.

The onslaught on Mumbai by vested interest is ceaseless. Plans to usurp an open space (The Royal turf club)  in guise of developing it into an world class park for the public is nothing but a sham. Because, it is but obvious that there would be some commercial activities planned around it which would be controlled and captured by those who are in power. One needs to look into the history of encroachment and the Builder-Mafia-Politician nexus to believe otherwise.

FNo urban planning is Eco-friendly because we have the unflinching ability to pour concrete in every square-foot of open space we get in our hands in the name of development. Preservation of eco-system which has been undisturbed for the last hundred year since the development of the city as important as preserving the lively hood of more than many poor labourers who maintain the said open space presently. While none can be against a proper approach to development; evidence show that the administration can not be trusted to safe-guard what belongs to the Planet first, its people later and to the rulers never!   An open green patch of land!

Read The Green Roots of Turkey’s Urban Unrest.- The street protests that spread from Istanbul to some 60 cities around Turkey in recent days have focused on a broad range of grievances, particularly what some see as the unresponsive nature of the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But the initial spark was a government plan to uproot hundreds of trees and turn a park abutting Istanbul’s Taksim Square (interactive panoramic view) into a shopping mall.

The most important factor is that open spaces allow percolation of water & growth of trees which provides us with the much needed oxygen and controls the much dreaded carbon. And without ground water & air their can not be life.

The tragedy is we have set goals such as Environment Day, Earth Hour which starts and stops within the 24 hours of its arrival for most. And for our administrators it is but just a notation in their day planner, wherein a short half-hour or half-day function suffices with a meaningless gesture amongst equally hollow sound of applause.G

But that applause would soon be met with a deafening silence. As the elixir of life – Water ! becomes more dearer by the day due to the short sighted polices of those who are meant to govern.

One must pause to understand that civilization rose to its pinnacle on the fundamentals of  FOOD – CLOTHING – SHELTER. That is the basis of modern economics. In  Hindi we say – Roti (food); Kapada (cloth) aur (and) Maakan (shelter)

{Roti denotes sustenance without which life is impossible; Kapada denotes clothing but also captures the essence of the service and manufacturing industry while Maakan takes care of the infrastructure sector}

But human greed wants to mirror this datum into SHELTER – CLOTHING – FOOD.

Somewhere in the development of modern humans the mental make-up took a turn for the worse where developmental agenda started focusing less on sustenance and sustainable practices and more on self aggrandizement. The hoarding of riches outstripped the need to preserve wealth.

Environment is about sustainability and the planet we call Earth became sustainable to support life in a long-drawn continuous process. The next time we should declare the beginning of the Earth & Environment Year ! And follow it through till each city-town-village of our Country and the World can safely vouch that the day of a better Environment has begun.


 

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The Midas Touch – Vanishing the air & water; a supreme feat by mankind.


Montreux, Switzerland, April 15, 2013 – A changing climate with more frequent extreme weather events requires today’s businesses to plan for an unpredictable and inconsistent water supply via more sophisticated water management practices, according to a new report released today by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

Water bubble

Water bubble (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

The report, Sharing Water: Engaging Business, emphasizes the crucial role of business in ensuring responsible management of water resources and encourages greater collaboration across sectors. The report finds that leading companies have begun shifting their perspective beyond merely managing operational water use to becoming more conscious of how corporate actions impact local and regional water resources and, conversely, how water resources and watersheds impact business.

“Increasing global demand and the impacts of climate change are placing unprecedented strain on freshwater resources,” said WBCSD President Peter Bakker. “In order to ensure a viable business future, companies are calling for collective management and collaboration at the watershed level to ensure continued access to water supplies among competing demands.”

The report cites alarming findings from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that, under business as usual, water demand will increase by 55 percent globally by 2050, leaving little scope to meet increasing water demands while respecting the needs of ecosystems. With no improvement in the management and use of freshwater resources, the world could face a 40 percent supply gap by 2030.

With a figure of at least 14,027 in 2011, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the total number of farm suicides since 1995 has touched 2,70, 940. The State of Maharashtra shows a rise in numbers yet again, logging 3,337 against 3,141 farmers’ suicides the previous year (and 2,872 in 2009)… more.

Now such reports are rarely read by those who stoop low to deliver a macabre joke at the expense of dying farmers. And it is not a singular person who is responsible. The people we choose are the reflection of our own failing. In India, it is the ruling and thriving mindset of almost all.

The reason for this lies in three simple words – Business As Usual.

How does it affect the CEO of a Company ( Nation )  who is also a Citizen of a Country, if the drought and famine which the WBCSD, UNFCCC and the rest keep talking about.  If at the ground level, his/her daughter can still go out to a Water-Kingdom and have a swim, and that too under huge arc-lights in a warm summer night, while the  CEO attends a conference on Resource depletion due to Climate Change in air conditioned comfort ?

How does it affect the CEO that there are villages which are not getting enough water to wash their clothes daily and even have to ration water for drinking;  if his car is getting a wash early in the morning, to keep that shine ?

When one can choose between the dual buttons to flush the toilet, can the embarrassment of not able to maintain personal hygiene for days cross ones mind ?

 Why is not there a single event held on Climate Change right at GROUND ZERO. If Solidarity must be shown then it must be lead from the front. And lets not talk about the NGO’s here.

King  Ashoka the Great lead  the Kalinga war from the front. He witnessed the result of his decision with his own eyes. A destruction so great, a havoc so large that the changes he brought about in his style of rule still flutters with pride  as the emblem of modern India’s National flag.

A man who was born in 232 BCE and a sage who still lives on.

Can the modern CEO, compare ? For is it not his/her wish to see their Empire rule ? What changes can they make if the empathy that is the need of the hour is missing ?

Flickering images of pain and hunger on the silver screen are just that. They fade from the memory of most as quick-silver. What remains in the lopsided, badly mauled and in need of a serious overhaul – the Business As Usual . The By the profit – For the profit – Of the profit policy we have been so diligently following.

It is time for us to sit back like the child we once were and be brave enough to cry -“the King is naked” instead of passing platitudes to peaking of stock market indexes of a Country/ Countries which are going (natural) resource and morally bankrupt. While following catch up with the demons of the past.

While it can be argued that the failings can not be attributed to the élite alone; the premise of such argument is flawed. For there were always two kinds of men.

Those who lead & those who follow. The learned & the literate.

When the leader considers it as BAU to loot the exchequer of tax-payers money; the tax-payer considers non-payment of tax as a sublime and smart way to do business.

Thus infrastructure suffers and sustainable practice become costly.

When a leader stops the traffic while his cavalcade passes by, whilst causing delay even death to citizens, the motorist disregards the traffic signal.

Thus traffic snarl occur, increasing the noxious fumes.

When a leader builds a memorial for those who are long dead by capturing land meant for public good, the follower leaves the poor only with memories of loved ones buried under ill-legal construction.

Thus toxic waste leach the very land we live.

While watching the annual migration at the Serengeti, the regeneration of the ecosystem as it has been doing from time immemorial makes one feel almost like moving in a time capsule back in time. For each generation of the wildebeest have behaved in the same manner as its ancestors before them, and each stake-holder in the game has remained true to the whole picture. Ever-changing yet constant and sustainable. Completing and complementing the Earth natural Ecosystem.

It is all Business -As – Usual. But it is beautiful.

Why can not human, who pride themselves to be in the apex of the animal kingdom not create a system which can be sustainable ?

The answer is simple. We don’t go out there any more.

When you don’t look at the reflection of the Sun over the flowing water of a river every-time you go out to take a bath;

When you don’t look at the tranquil image of the Moon with every sip of water you drink to quench your thirst on a hot day;

When the whispering trees in the breeze does not cool the body of your baby when it goes to sleep; …….

When you stop living and loving Nature –

You end up brushing your teeth with the tap water flowing down the drain. Cook your fresh food till every drop of water it contained ( and thus looked fresh ) has evaporated, adding a little more GHG into the air. Both water-vapour and petroleum vapour.

Wherever we go, we lay waste the Land. The water and even the Air.

We indeed do have the Midas Touch.

 

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The BASIC need to build Resource Efficient & Climate Responsive Cities to avail GCF


When I wrote the article Bangkok floods – Next, New Delhi ? and followed it many moons later with Hurricane Sandy & Cyclone Nilam – “Our cousins would be visiting soon” we had skirted from UNFCCC – Cancun and were preparing to wipe out Doha with the same intensity as Typhoon Bopha,which tore through Philippines leaving 902 dead and 80,000 homeless.

Should the BASIC, LDC & Small Island Nations believe that things would be built on the outcomes of the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Action Plan; post Doha they need to do some serious review and approach the issue with innovation.  The idea of enhancing the collective ability to discuss climate change under the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities in facing the adverse effects of climate change should be re-written.

If one understands the internal compulsions of EU & USA, it would be clear that “Enhancing the ability of developing countries to undertake nationally appropriate mitigation actions that are supported and enabled by financial resources and technology transfer from developed countries pursuant to the Convention”; – would remain a very clever draft on paper till another clever draft takes its place. After all which superpower wants to create another superpower, that too at its own expense ?

The only way for removal of barriers to technology support and transfer to be provided to developing countries pursuant to the Convention would come when at least in the BASIC countries, which have the most wherewithal and therefore the least chance of being clubbed with the LDC’s and Island Nations; swiftly put in place a loss and damage measurement mechanism along with enhancing operational action on capacity building  with smarter trade treaties with the Developed World. The concept of which I will expand in the later paragraphs.

While China along with India too is unhappy with the lack of commitment and silence from developed nations especially on the question of finances, intellectually property rights and technology transfer and equity. Together they are the next rising stars of the world economy. And everyone including the BASIC members themselves know that. This very reason would limit any serious commitment from the financially troubled EU and the USA.

Add to that the recent comment by President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday – “For Russia to be sovereign and strong, there should be more of us,..I am sure that a family with three children should be the norm for Russia. But much needs to be done to make this happen.” Putin said in his annual speech to the Federal Assembly of both houses of parliament.

By the time the UNFCCC meets for CoP 19 in Eastern Europe, the USA and others would have calculated how much GHG the expected population rise would produce and factor that with the India + China population and throw up their hands in despair. But, if one must be fair, there is truth in this. One of the biggest challenges to Climate change mitigation would be the huge population we India + China possess.

And while we await an innovative idea about how we make a few million Russians out of Indians & Chinese and thus solve the Russian population problem and ours too; we need to seriously prove that our burgeoning population does not harm or come in harms way due to the vagaries of Climate Change.

Almost all Asian and South East Asian Countries have high density population in very small land-mass. So much so that Historical cities, which were built near the confluence of rivers and sea and the deltas have encroached the flood-planes. In the Island city of Mumbai, one would find shanties perched precariously just above the high-tide. Therefore in an unfortunate event of Tsunami or Cyclone loss of life and property is colossal.

How then it be possible to make a difference to the Climate Abatement and solve the crisis of the Cities ?

For that let us look as an example the city of Mumbai. To de-congest it we need to create business centres away form the main city. And to make the business centre successful we need to create residential townships. This is already been set into motion at Ulwe village area of Navi Mumbai, where the  Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge City complex in Navi Mumbai spread across 135 acre is also earmarked. In an unusual diversification, the Anil Dhirubai Ambani Group will build integrated townships, residences, hotels and commercial spaces through a joint venture with Chinese giant Dalian Wanda Group.

This is a classic example of Sino-India business relationship which would have great bargaining power across the oceans to have technology transfer happen. Should it be developed in the lines of a climate resilient city, which it must, the EU and the USA would be looking to do business with it and would thereby transfer the technology they posses to make it a 100% Green township.

With more such projects encouraged, albeit in less Eco-sensitive zones and with proper diligence to Bio-diversity, none of the issues of technology transfer and related matter especially – …nationally appropriate mitigation actions that are supported and enabled by financial resources and technology transfer from developed countries pursuant to the Convention would matter. Because with each import of the technology transfer done to the developing world, the technology provider would need to discount the price of the plant & machinery or consultancy sought,  to avert climate change. This could be one of the smart trade treaty. Let the BASIC block allow entry of those goods which factor the “rebate” of climate related loss the developing nations have faced and is in line with the – loss and damage measurement doing the rounds at Climate meets.

There is a difference between begging for alms and negotiating the price of a technology which the west anyway need to sell to boost its sagging economy. The position across the table completely changes. There is a lesson which the LDC’s and Island Nations can learn. If they come as a group and provide business opportunities to the BASIC block; by virtue of it’s negotiating power the BASIC would make the west pay their way out of the mess they have created, even in those countries who are to weak too do anything today.

 

 

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Kyoto to Doha: Why Climate abatement talks always fail !


Through this article, we would try to find why we are failing again and again at Climate Change Negotiation for the past 20 years, my comment on the EU and the USA, no way includes the stellar work done by peers and compatriots; of those who are the true crusaders of Climate change abatement. But perhaps this could be used as an introspection on what we as a Human Civilization have become World over. We shall also try to explore how we can find a way forward form a fresh perspective.

Last November news on the Telegraph readAmerica will produce more oil than Saudi Arabia by 2020 and become a net exporter a decade later, according to the International Energy Agency.

As a child, I used to hear my father say. “USA would one day be the largest producer of Oil”. He foretold. His argument was that the USA is conserving its oil while depleting the stock of the Middle East. By becoming the largest consumer of almost everything it would by the laws of market forces rule over the World. ‘There is no need for conquest by force, when one can have agents of greed agree to rape and plunder there National wealth to fill their coffers with Dollars and in a way be an extension of the US way of life‘;he had added.

So while the World filled their Banks with “Bonds” and “Dollars” made of Paper, the US kept the Gold and Silver at Fort Knox and the rich petroleum below.

Thus the USA became a consumerist society and was taught to waste. A well designed social system was put in place, where the people from Cinema and other entertainment were made into “diva” and “Greek god”. Their life-style became fashion statement. With limited intellect and skills beyond looking bodily beautiful, earning huge sums of money for contributing nothing of substance to the well-being of the planet, a whole industry thriving on Narcissism started to become norm for the western World and slowly percolated to the Orient too.

The World society as a whole moved from seeking essential goods and commodities to “must have”. It became an obsession to have a Second – Home, Car, Watch or Pen. So much so that today we have a jingle to a software launch which says – I want to be everything at once. Consistency and common-sense be dammed !

So much so that there are more fruits in a rich man’s shampoo than in the plate of the malnourished. Something the UN on their regular sojourn around the World to eradicate hunger and depletion of forest must ponder upon.

Today the life-style of the West is so pervasive that young impressionable minds believed around the World, with great help from a frenzied media that

  • eating just one bite from a plate-full of food and throwing away the rest was fashionable. It showed that you are not greedy ( anybody who thought that it was a sensible thing to finish the plate was ridiculed to death ).
  • wearing a haute couture dress twice became morally wrong and punishable. Now a woman of substance can’t even wear shoe, hat or a simple glove twice. And if two girls wear the same it is considered a disaster.
  • from food, clothes,bag, boxes, jewellery it percolated down to use and throw pens, watches, camera and what not.
  • Skin and hair must stay as young and supple as that of a new-born. Although I can show the world people with better hair, skin and physical shape working in the paddy fields across India. And yes, 10 times more beautiful than the faces on fashion magazine, without using a single product the big business houses launch.

Waste is bliss. For the corporate whose business Empire grow make sure that someone who can represent their ideas rule the roost in popular media and politics. It is amazing to see how almost every Nation believes that to be hip and happening, one needs to eject ingenious habits and ape that of popular west.

How then can the West suddenly convince their populace to adapt and adopt life-style which requires a low GHG consumption ?

Are the very negotiators not conditioned in life-style diagrammatically opposing to what they need to ratify ? Civilization has always been built on the Ego of Man. Empire and Emperors shaped the destiny of people based on what they perceived as true.

Therefore the interlocutors we need on behalf of the West should be chosen from the likes of CAN International. World Resources, Climate Co Lab of MIT, OXFAM  IUCN, Greenpeace and similar. Else the World as the LDC’s, ALBA’s and Small Island Nations know would not be there soon for them to live upon.

I would like all to pause as the above statement and reflect – Who are the greatest losers of Climate Change? Those which are either too poor to abate or adapt to the severe changes Global warming may bring about. As for the larger Nations, they are comforted by the fact that they can take the proverbial  hit on the chin and still stand its ground.

The psychology is attuned since the Cold War era to believe that, their disaster response system in case of an all out Nuclear War is already there. Surely Climate change would not be that sudden and thus with ample response time they would always be able to save the important plants and animals.

The Super powers by default of who they are; are conditioned to rationalize the words like – Collateral damages; Expendables; Minimizing the percentage of loss; etcetera. Thus, not much ice has been cut in the last 20 years of talks.

And so much so that, on the flip side the Super Storm Sandy has actually help reinforce the “invincibility” factor in the minds of some. ‘Look, our advanced technology and warning system could predict the storm much before it hit us’. Some would argue. ‘And with the superlative discipline and wherewithal in place damage to life and limb was minimum’. Will be the following consolation.

And somewhere, the fat corporate giant would send in their lobbyist to block plans to rationalize the climate talks. After-all there is so much to build back after a disaster. What an opportunity.

And hell no. Not one such business house would want a loss of life (Human only). Each human is always a potential buyer of goods after all. It’s bad for business. But, such things happen. Too bad, life must go on. And that is what the departed would have wanted, they would argue and with much empathy slip the latest house design in the hands of the living, while the insurance guy stands in the queue with the most friendly smile.

One’s emotional response to a situation is conditioned according to the life s/he has lived. Nations are built by people.

It is really funny, if one pauses to think that a religious argument is being forwarded to straighten a business wrong. So to change the mindset of those Nations or groups who do not consider that it is their moral responsibility to shoulder the burden of Climate change. The LDC, BASIC and the ALBA along with the Small Island Nations, speak in the language the EU and the USA government understand. The language of Business.

So while it is difficult to get commitment into the GEF, surely it would not be difficult for the Parliaments of the Nations most vulnerable to Climate change, pass laws of taxing those who would want to conduct business with them. A Cess perhaps ? For that, corruption has to end. But faced with the potential of having their feet wet  or throat parched by and for water; Peoples behaviour can change.

And change in the thinking and mindset of people must happen soon. We can not afford to keep on extending the deadline until the grand-child of Suzuki repeats the speech spoken 21 years ago in yet another UNFCCC meet.

 

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Sustainable Development Goals – the grassroot barriers


With all the talk we do about environment protection, safe deposing of toxic substance and circular economy, this recent advertisement actually shows us how shallow the words on environment protection are and how the Corporate world would still love teach the “developing” countries and the “third world” countries what it knows best – Destruction.

This Kohler-Co-Boom-Crash-Bang advertisement makes me cry out in despair. And another by the scooter manufacturer Hero, in their latest product Hero Maestro, proudly displays the IQ of the advertisement company, whose creative could think of the story board  where a parody is made out of a rare bird watching (connecting to nature) and bringing it down to the frivolous. While the former advert is a complete anti-thesis to all  talk about austerity and balanced consumption. It is a slap on the face of the  authors and followers of the Sustainable Development, Millennium Development and the Inclusive Wealth Report. While a free world has a right to express itself and  individuals should live a life-style of their own choosing; the time for vulgar extravagance which directly impacts nature must be curbed.

That such large companies who should know better the impact of visual medium on the minds of the audience is a telling report on the rot of the human race and the failure of us collectively to educate our children and ourselves on the dangers of Climate Change and the impact of Global Warming. Before the Rio+20 summit of the UNFCCC, I had made an appeal in form on an article that the United Nations, CAN International, Green Peace International and other Climate change forums like the CIICESD, WBCSD should create advertisements to create awareness. –UNFCCC – A Little Advertisement can help save Earth.

In three days time I would be using my printer for the last time. The reason is that Lexmark the company could not create a mark of its own in India. An absolutely perfect, 5-in-one printer is junk for want of ink cartridges!  The manufacturers do not have a mechanism in place to take back goods for recycle. And with all the hype on  the mechanism for Reuse – Recycle – Renew  is just as nascent as it was when the concept dawned. No company likes to standardize products such as ink of a printer, because they want only to sell their own goods. And the government too is a mute spectator to this tamasha!

Being the LEED / GRIHA  consultant, I believe in walking the talk. Using energy-efficient products, using public transport as far as possible. In effect the Reuse – Renew – Recycle is our core practice. So I went to the store from where I had purchased it and asked if there is any exchange offer, or would they at-least take it for proper recycling. The answer was a resounding No!

Next, I went to Lamington Road, the famous electronic bazaar of Mumbai. It is from here all electronic trade for India happen. ” My friend, if you wish you can leave the printer with me”, said my friend; an electronic goods trader and repair shop owner. ” Every month I sell junk I will sell this too.” he said. However he warned me that he was doing this as a favour and I should not expect any money on it. I know he was telling the truth, I tried selling a few cellular phones I own. Having bought them at an average price of Rupees 18,000 each, the total price offered by a second sale shop was Rupees 500 ! And I bought them in the year 2010 AD!!

As you can see from my personal experience stated above, and I’m sure there would be similar resonance from like minded individuals; there is absolutely no incentive in recycling. And the rich ( who consume most) would rather destroy a perfect home to build another, rather than even pause for a minute to think about the homeless, the needy or the poor. And that is exactly why the larger corporations and the advertisement companies should all the more take the responsibility and initiative to educate the masses on the merits of recycling. And initiate actions through business forums to standardize products which is needlessly complicated.

For, example I can insert my SIM card into a tablet, a 4-G cell phone or even the 1st generation cell phone and it would work. But when it comes to brand I still choose one over the other. That perception will always stay. All said and done there is a Brand loyalty. Ask Apple or Google or Microsoft.

If Kohler is listening then here is what I would have done the advertisement –  a perfect home being dismantled and being given away to the homeless or an orphanage, while building a new one around a tap.

Yes! it’s just a tap, when one turns it provides water, and for those living in the suburbs of some of the famous megalopolis in India; foul and dirty municipal water – Not Milk and Honey. So please grow up.

And  as a LEED/ GRIHA consultant, after watching this advertisement it would be difficult to recommend the product for any Green Building project.

 

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A clarion Call to Sustainable Living


A couple of days ago, I was giving a presentation as how through my firm I can provide Solar Photo Voltaic system to all Commercial and Infrastructure projects which require large amount of energy to operate.  And that too in an OPEX format, by that I mean I have investor backing who would want to become RESCO. Presently it is  on roof-top model. So Hospitals, Hotels, Malls, Commercial Complexes and Airports, Rail-stations etc, which have large roof-top can have power. It would obviously lower Diesel consumption, which is generally used for back-up.

The idea as I have mentioned in my earlier article Green Business Ideas – Applying Solar OPEX model on Green Buildings will make Grid parity easy. is becoming popular but when we want to scale, its facing the biggest road block of subsidised tariff on fossil fuel. Even when my concept of Solar OPEX is ready to handover ownership on the 10th -15th year, and only charging discounted tariff on generation, due to heavy subsidy in the industrial sector the idea just can not germinate under the intense competition from the subsidy. We can provide power to all at about INR 8.50/- but all arguments fall flat when the industry and in some states even commercial power is at INR 4.50 – 6.00/-.

Recently there has been an article which says that a lobby consisting of industry captains, NGO‘s and common persons are petitioning the UNFCCC meet at Rio, to come out with strong laws which would abolish subsidy on fossil fuel. And to be honest, this would give birth to the best Green Business Idea of this century.

Long there has been talk of how one must charge the true value of water, only then the waste of it can be limited. Longer has been the demand to remove subsidy from fossil fuel. Granted it is a political hot-potato, but if one shows a slight more maturity and instead of short-sighted goal explain to the people the farsightedness of this measure, I am sure people would understand. Unfortunately, mostly vote bank politics and corporate greed drive policy.That we have finite resources must be advertised with all the collective forces we can gather and impart that knowledge to all.

We must now begin to evolve an universal law. Not laws which govern different countries. Constitution of each country is different. What is crime for one can be heroism for another. How then we are the United Nations?Let there be diversity in approach to a solution but let laws that govern the sustainability of Earth be one. To be adopted by every member nation. It is only then we can have prosperity. It is not a tall task to achieve because, when 134 Nations can come together to force a recalcitrant Nation to subjugate, it can as well be applied to save the Earth from disaster.

Today our civilisation is in a cusp. It is time we move away from the era of Capitalist consumerism. Human history had many epoch – the stone age, the bronze age, the iron age. And Human Civilisation did thrive. Excellence was achieved. So much so that they still stand testimony in the name of Arayabhatta, Chanakiya,Confucius, Aristotle. In great monuments like the Pyramids in the Americas and West Asia, the monuments in Macedonia and Greece, the Great Wall and many more. They stand testimony to time. Sustainable thoughts & deeds and also sustainable buildings. Sadly today we can not be as advanced in thoughts as our ancestors, the reason is complete disconnect from Nature.

Though I do not advocate any religion, yet in paganism which was followed around the globe once, there was a direct connect to Nature. We must evolve ourselves into a collective which can rise above religion and creed, greed and short-sightedness to evolve a solution which is the NEXT CIVILISATION. An era where B-Crop are norm then exception and Sustainable is not a catch phrase but a human and corporate agenda.

 

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Rio+20 – the Green Initiative.


The statement from Paul Simpson, CDP’s Chief Executive Officer reads;

….. as we approach the Rio+20 Earth Summit, which will focus heavily on how to account for the way businesses use the planet’s natural capital. Investors and corporations are becoming increasingly aware of the extent to which their value chains are influenced by natural resource constraints which lead to increasing price volatility and risk of business interruption. CDP has pioneered a global disclosure system that helps businesses understand and value the current and future impacts from a changing climate and natural resource scarcity, as the world seeks to move towards a sustainable economy.

Forests provide essential ecosystem services that underpin our well being and economic prosperity and their destruction contributes around 15% of global carbon emissions. The issues of energy, climate change, water and forests should not be considered in isolation as all are inextricably linked. Having this information in one place will encourage and facilitate joined up thinking on the subject.

Making climate finance an effective driver of sustainable development, is now the most important subject that needs a through discussion, it was observed at the side events in the run up to Rio+20 Summit – on the 13th June that, Climate finance could become a powerful driver of sustainable development. By supporting mitigation, adaptation and capacity building, it can help build the governmental, social, economic and physical infrastructures needed to achieve poverty reduction and green economy growth. However, without concerted efforts to strengthen the governance of climate financing, these goals will remain elusive.

Presently climate money is channelled through a complex network of public and private institutions, where decision-making can be opaque and unaccountable, and independent oversight absent or under-funded. This heightens the risk of policy capture, mismanagement or corruption; all serious impediments to the Rio+20 agenda. Fiduciary standards such as those espoused by the GEF represent an important attempt to safeguard climate financing against abuse. Transparency, accountability and ethics are fundamental. But what are the challenges to implementing and enforcing these safeguards? And what are the best practice scenarios we can learn from?

The Rio+20 conference comes at a critical time in the development of climate finance governance. This year the global Green Climate Fund will enter into operation, once key decisions are taken over its governance structures. In 2012, OECD countries will also have to deliver on outstanding fast-track climate finance commitments, meaning billions of US dollars should enter circulation before December. Given the potential volumes involved and the relatively untested nature of its institutional framework, climate finance must be treated as a new and emerging challenge’, distinct from development aid. The Rio+20 outcome document currently under negotiation is missing this link.

World leaders have a chance at Rio+20 to stop subsidizing fossil fuels to the tune of nearly $1 trillion and make an important dent in reducing global warming.

English: CSR approaches CSR framework

English: CSR approaches CSR framework (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The above statements which I have gathered together, shows that there is a lot of movement towards actually having a GEF which can make the desired positive change towards climate change. But what is most important is to have CSR mandatory, in India we are having a lot of buzz around the Government proposal of making CSR mandatory with both FICCI and CII opposing it. Before we understand in depth the reason for this opposition, let us put on record that nearly 16% of the top 100 listed companies in India are already having an  CSR policy in place.

Now how many from the 16% are actually into People -Planet -Profit the 3 bottom line, which should make the baseline of any CSR is not known.

Authenticity in Corporate Social Responsibility

Authenticity in Corporate Social Responsibility (Photo credit: Geoff Livingston)

Corporate will do anything in which they see value. So when we speak of  CSR, and CDP would be seen as such; we must be able to actually gauge which corporate is actually  utilizing Community resources, and giving back to the People and Planet over and above what it must. Because more often than not, the mandatory obligation such as rehabilitating the project affected people, say from a mining site or a hydro-power project is passed on as CSR.  So the danger lies in the CDP being used for market study of a corporate to understand its future business plans and passed on as CSR.

Another, danger is that we are already seeing a lot of commitment  based  on absent funds, especially in relation to solutions which have a direct bearing to climate change. There are Governments which in one hand declaring a financial crisis and on the other hand committing Millions for Climate change mitigation. How are both possible ? At Rio+20 we must keep our hearing sharp to understand fact from fiction.

Having said that, we all know that Peoples are interested in mitigation and adaptation to climate change. And this may be somewhat possible even without “money” as we understand the term. My suggestion would be that policy makers around the World can sit down and list product and process which they have in excess and find a system to barter that advantage with other Nations who have a deficit of the same. Thus some of the commitments which otherwise would have required money and man-power can be overcome. The idea is to look at “profit” from all-together different perspective and thus give a new meaning to the “triple bottom line”.

 

 

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The road to Rio+20 – Thoughts to ponder on the way


As the road to Rio+20 nears, there is hope that after 20 long years, may be it is time that the World would listen up and do something about Climate change in a more positive manner than what has been seen in the last UNFCCC meet. By that what we mean is concrete change in the ground, not just resolutions and policies, which doe not get as much ground swell it should get to make an impact.

During the recent World discussion held by Unilever and later the Sustainability 24 on-line conference by Accenture; there are two thing which were the most striking. The first, there are many in this World who have some really meaningful solutions which can be built from ground up to help society make the positive change required and the next; one does not need to travel 1000 miles by Air, rail & road accumulating a massive  Carbon-footprint to talk about Climate Change.

English: Graphic illustrating the percentages ...

English: Graphic illustrating the percentages of public opinions on the likelihood of some scientists falsifying global warming research. Based on Rasmussen polling of 1,000 American adults conducted July 29-30, 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If one pauses and looks from the perspective of those who deny climate change, and answer their fundamental question about why they should adapt to a reduced carbon life-style; one would be in loss of words to justify the carbon foot print each UNFCCC and its related meet creates when it is the very thing we want to reduce.

English: The carbon footprint as it is underst...

English: The carbon footprint as it is understood by people. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seriously does the UNFCCC even think of mapping its carbon-footprint every-time the UN conducts these meets? The amount of  energy and water that is required by the host Nation to sustain the hundreds to congregate at those summits ? Add the support staff and the other logistics and it is one huge foot-print. And for the last 20 years we are creating this huge Carbon foot-print, to meet up and talk on how to abate Global Warming, and going by what the lead institutions like CAN International, Green Peace International and many more, there is much to be desired.

Let no one for a minute mistake my intention. I would never deride the stupendous work that has been achieved till date by the effort of hundreds of dedicated people, more knowledgeable and sincere;  I’m sure I have not even learnt, heard or thought of, what they may have already chosen to implement. But having said that, 20 years is a long time for the world to take a quantum leap in the way we communicate. What may not have been possible 10 years ago, such as VoIP, has become easy and inexpensive tool to be used even by children.

But, VoIP ( Voice over Internet Protocol), such as Skype, CISCO systems; is not a child’s play but a serious business which has the potential of reducing many ills in the present form of Urban living and reducing the Carbon foot-print. I had covered this in an earlier article in detail, VoIP – “Skype” the new medium to reduce Global Warming ?  Therefore I would like to move to the next existing business, which we can think of “greening” in our present Urban life-style.

And that is – eliminating THRASH.

New and upcoming Urban spaces can if it wants stop generating thrash, for landfills. What is required are zones where all the garbage disposed, especially bio-degradable waste be turned into gas via installing small gasifier. They may be small units but when one evacuates the energy thus developed directly into the grid, the amount of power received is huge.

For the non bio-degradable waste, what one can do is incentivize  the materials.

Say for example a 1lt  plastic water bottle, when one sells to the local “kabaddi wala” ( rag-picker / thrash collector ) in Mumbai, he gives you a mere 0.50 Paisa. For the international readers, let me translate the sum US$ 1 = INR 55 approximate today. We are talking of half of INR 1.  Don’t try and convert in dollars as it would be a decimal amount so small that it is not worth the mental effort. And that is exactly where I want to arrive. Value of the product. The intrinsic value not the face value.

Why would not a common person, without a second thought throw away a plastic wrapper  on the street, unless s/he is sure of two basic things –

a) He will not be punished, as it is culturally accepted. ( with revulsion of many and with resigned fate, as the governance, both self and administrative is lacking in India )

b) He will not get any money worth the mention, to have it sold for re-cycling.

But, Governments and environmentalist know the true value of a plastic bottle. If one just does a life cycle analysis and map the foot-print of a bottle from its manufacture, to its journey to a bottling plant to the retail unit, the value spent on it is huge. And also equally huge are the sum which are allocated, every year to decongest clogged drains, clean up ocean floors which are turning into desert because of the trash. Add to that the perceived economic loss to the fishing industry.

So what are the things one can do?  Let us explore  some Ideas –

1. Collection van to pick up all things made of metal; let’s assume municipal authorities all over the World and hopefully in India wake up to legislate a simple rule.                                                                                                                                               a) Pay the actual value for the metal.This can be easily derived from the cost it takes to do maintenance and upkeep of the Urban space, in absence of a collection program. Help set up recycle plants wherever the need is and issue diktat to existing plants which are the original manufacturers of the product to show use of recycled materials. For example, The Construction Business in India generates a lot of waste metal and has a more or less a well established method of collection of the same. This is because steel/iron rods have been given a value which is  worth the effort to recycle as re-rolled steel has its own market.

b) Sensitize the masses, through sustained advertisement, this too I have touched in more detail in UNFCCC – A Little Advertisement can help save Earth. Very few among us correlate Plastic bottle to petroleum, but that is a fact. Therefore when we do not add value to a plastic bottle, in its scrap form, we are hurtling towards extinction. There are many products which are derived from petroleum some of which I covered in the article Save Petroleum form Extinction – Save Earth !  which we discard without a second thought. It is important that laws be legislated to offer a minimum value to these when they are  discarded so that a scientific method of collection can be applied.

Once this is done, a new Business avenue can open up for those who are enterprising, by collecting and segregating products and perhaps reselling them to the original product manufacturers who thus get to “green” their supply chain.

I have seen and heard many examples of how difficult it is for asking a common person to segregate Wet and Dry waste / bio-degradable and non bio-degradable waste; but limited success is found. I speak especially of India. To all the “Pundits”( wise men) of the trade I put one simple thought –

Give a common person a bag full of Gold, Silver, Copper and Tin coins. Observe the speed and dexterity s/he uses in segregating it.

The day, the UNFCCC declares that the term waste can not be applied on products and the World Bank issues a diktat that a proper value is attached to the scrap, we shall see a sea change in thoughts. And for those who would be thinking, where would we find the fund to apply this thought. I request them to look into the fundamentals of this idea and the problem “waste” creates. They will have their answers. And the best part is, being the leaders in economics they would find the most economical way to address the situation.

 

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Renewable Energy is viable..period.


The preamble

The power of raw sunshine at midday on a cloudless day is 1000 W per  square meter. We can turn this raw power into useful power in four ways:

1. Solar thermal: using the sunshine for direct heating of buildings or water.

2. Solar photovoltaic: generating electricity.

3. Solar biomass: using trees, bacteria, algae, corn, soy beans, or oilseed to make energy fuels, chemicals, or building materials.

4. Food: the same as solar biomass, except we shovel the plants into humans or other animals.

David JC MacKay

With the run-up to Rio+20 Summit and the UNEP driven Future Cities program the use of RE especially Solar becomes more and more important.

With the tremendous pressure all Nations are facing over Environmental Impacts from their citizens, who are getting more and more aware about the disasters non-sustainable living; Bangkok would be a very recent example; RE in all form would have to be accepted and assimilated main-stream. Let there be no confusion that the Economy of the world are driven by three basic needs from time immemorial – Food, Clothing & Shelter. I will deal separately the issues of Energy -Water in detail later.

Food – Requires energy, from plantation to processing to cooking.

Clothing – Textile industry are considered one of the high energy usage sector.

Shelter – About 40% of GHG (green house gas) comes from building related activities.

In many countries Sustainable Building design have been adopted in form of BREEAM, LEED, IGBC etc. Nations have committed to the UNFCCC agenda of keeping the world temperature from rising another 2°c. All that requires tremendous dedicated effort from all sectors.

And most importantly, busting the myth of negative Return on Investment (RoI) put forward by the fossil fuel industry.

The Argument

In my opinion, if the home I live in sinks under the sea because I refused to pay a little more now to avail RE sources for my energy needs over coal/oil, I don’t think myself much of an economist.

An economist is a person who plans for the welfare of generations to come, albeit his own. Given the fuel lobbyist are pandering to this very self agenda, however there is a small flaw – their path would just sink the landmass; not much of an economic playing field will be then left, for the future generation !

Having said that, let’s see if we can still make a case of RoI with using RE in its present economic form. Today the cost of generation of power is “compared to” the cost of generation of power via fossil fuel. This in itself is a flawed argument. As I’m not an economist, my examples would be simple. Also I would perhaps not be 100% accurate in my assessment.

Now to begin with my theory – Fossil fuel has been used as a primary source of energy since man learned to control fire; however it was during the industrial revolution with the advent of steam engine did the consumption of fossil fuel jump exponentially. But if documents are researched, energy from fossil fuel driven carts would not have been cheaper than horse driven carriages in the then predominantly agrarian era. Neither was flying over ship when its time came!

It was only by economy of scale that these things became “cheaper”. Also because they became popular, flying though costlier than travel by ship saved time, thus the merchant could do more business within the allotted time, than waste more of it via land/sea travel. So even if flying (even today) is costlier than sea/land travel, the business person calculates his RoI in the form of time saved! Now if for some reason the venture fails, then the RoI becomes bad. So for a successful business person air-travel is good RoI and for the other bad! So in lay-man terms RoI is a subjective matter. It depends on what is the datum of your argument. I have as yet to see any person who buys a fuel guzzling car ever calculate RoI. Therefore RoI is a concept which needs to be researched better.

Further warming up to this argument, how does one say that the cost of generation from Thermal power is cheaper than Renewable Energy? Does it factor in the destruction – ecological, social & physical (pollution leads to host of diseases)? Moreover, it can but consumed only once. You burn the coal or oil, it would not come back to you, and you can’t replenish it via any natural process. It can be argued that the paradigm of Business is different from literally logic which perhaps is what I’m professing. However with “Eurocracy” in serious danger perhaps all business models need to be restructured.

The Solution

Now, having vented my exasperation on the fossil fuel lobby’s clever wining technique, let us dwell on the subject of improving the reach of Sustainable energy production. Just as any new technology in its infancy faces teething trouble, so is the RE industry.

Amongst all, Solar is the most promising and perhaps therefore faces most challenges. Its plant efficiency factor is very low, it uses large surface area and the present technique of trapping the solar rays are perhaps cumbersome. But given dedicated research and analysis, it is perhaps the best bet. Because there are two things one can bet his last dollar on, the Sunshine and the Breeze. As long as the Earth is there these two would be available for sure.( so would geothermal & wave, but that’s another story) Having understood that, what can we do to make this industry stand on its own? For that we would need changes in mass thinking. Once that is achieved the political class would seal the deal.

To change the mass thinking we need to bring RE into their everyday lives. In India we have the Prime Minister driven Nation Action Plan on Climate Change. Through these the Government is trying to make at first the 9 Industry sectors energy efficient. However the Building Industry is untouched at the moment. Even then if amongst the 9 sectors (Aluminum; Cement; Chlor-alkali; Fertilizer; Iron & Steel; Pulp& Paper; Power; Textile & Railways) have role of the Building industry; as each need their HQ and other Administrative blocks for operations.

 If 10% of energy use for these industries on their above mentioned assets is made mandatory along with offsetting another 5% of energy use by their respective employees residence, we will begin with a massive program, which will truly bring in the scale required to make RE viable. Most importantly, it would act as a compromise. A compromise between the Government who would want NMEEE and PAT to be viable as soon as possible and the said Industrial sectors which is putting forth their argument of the trails & tribulations.

India should lead the SAARC nations in providing  Solar -RE for its rural and most importantly Tier-II, III & IV towns and cities. This is because, availability of roof-top to pattern of consumption; is complementary to each-other. That is, most of the residential buildings are single owner 1-3 storied buildings with ample roof and land area. Along with it the residents are yet to be “spoilt” by the crass consumerist life-style which the mega-cities of India have taken to, in its quest to become more “western”. They by default consume less energy and this itself becomes an advantage to put small systems on their roof-tops to amply fulfill their energy needs.

Already most countries are familiar with “Green Building” concepts through LEED / GRIHA / BREEAM etc. Energy efficiency is becoming important to sustainable living and the concept of “Green Power” is getting introduced by these rating systems. Here too through local legislation or voluntary CSR 25% of a residential complex (min 100 flats) power needs could be through Solar PV. This would translate to the power consumed by the lift, gate/boundary lights and other common space lighting. Though the need for space to power the demand may not get fulfilled by the roof-tops alone, innovative and practical ideas are available! In sustainable terms if say each & every society of say, a city like Mumbai, more importantly the affluent districts in the city adopt the Solar roof-top solution the State of Maharashtra can better manage its Energy problems.

Translate this concept to New Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore or Hyderabad and we can already see RoI of solar extremely practical.

Perhaps it can also inspire other countries to love Ra – the Sun God, as Civilization did when it began its journey!

 

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Urban Development Rules: How C40 -City rules can make a difference for India.


The C40 Cities( http://live.c40cities.org/about-us/ )Climate Leadership Group (C40) is a network of large and engaged cities from around the world committed to implementing meaningful and sustainable climate-related actions locally that will help address climate change globally. The C40 was created in 2005 by former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, and forged a partnership in 2006 with the Cities program of President Clinton’s Climate Initiative (CCI) to reduce carbon emissions and increase energy efficiency in large cities across the world.

While in most Indian cities and perhaps the surrounding South Asian countries, due to various socio-economic situation City centers have become congested and un-livable, the problem in the City of Mumbai, lies more with a lackadaisical approach of the authorities for this mess. Let us see through the example of Mumbai City, what are the basic problems which most of the Cities in India face and as Tier-II & Tier-III Cities start making their presence felt, how the same very mistakes the big Metros like Mumbai & Delhi have made keeps getting replicated. Far flung villages as far as 80KM become part of the growing new “suburbs” of the City. In Architectural terms we call it the Urban Sprawl. The historic Mumbai city limits was earlier about 25 -30 KM, then in the 1980’s-2000 A.D  we were measuring the distance around 60KM ( via local suburban train – Churchgate to Virar). Now we are looking at places like Panvel in the main land ( for those who are unfamiliar with the Geography of Mumbai; it’s an Island city) as part of Navi (New) Mumbai (Bombay). Now, if one cares to travel to the far-flung suburbs of Mumbai, one would see how these new townships are mushrooming up.  Getting down on most of these suburban station, you would be surrounded by filth; Polythene bags, empty satchel of tobacco, extremely narrow road leading to a bus-stop. The foot-over bridge are already captured by illegal hawkers. Moving into the town one would notice how fertile agricultural land are getting filled with construction waste, leveled and ugly, poorly constructed buildings are mushrooming. The word town-planning is alien, as in almost all suburbs you can see violations of every town-planning law ever legislated.

 I have dealt in detail on the importance of Urban Planning and Sustainable Cities, in my article “Sustainable Cities- Why town planning is important.” I would not dwell in detail on that subject here. I would rather like to point out that as India starts making its presence felt as an Emerging economy, the traditional business center, Mumbai,  attracts more business and thereby provides more work opportunity. This in turn would (rather is ) begin the growth of a city beyond its traditional municipal boundaries. And extend the problems of urban disease, pollution and destruction of natural habitat. With the World in tether hooks, in terms of Global Warming and its resultant Climate Change, can the people of India and its administration continue to build cities in the same foolish way ? Or should we at least adopt the C-40 Cities program? Which our city leaders have avoided till date? While Mumbai & New Delhi, under Mayor Shraddha Jhadav and Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit are shown as participating Cities, I am ready to wager that not one man in the street would be aware of this program.

 Further, almost all the member cities have begun one program or another we do not find any mention of India. It is time that the people of the Cities are made aware and enough pressure created to the administration, to implement laws for a sustainable city and stringent action taken against violators. Following the C40 Program would provide untold benefits to the Citizens of this cities and the program must get carried and replicated on other up-coming and growing towns & cities before the disaster of Climate Change strikes; the world has only till 2017 AD to move away and roll back the trend of Global Warming ! The details of it have been mentioned in my article – IPCC’s special report on Climate risks -IMPLICATIONS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

Following a sustainable approach is the only way to avert not only personal & physical loss but also avoiding the impending Business risks which climate change entails, such as Tsunami & Hurricanes. With the government of Maharashtra predicting that by A.D 2026, the present suburbs would grow and become town and cities we have very less time to act. Lets not read in the future a headline in the news papers –Indian Urban Planning and Development Rules led to  loss of CDM opportunities and is  the recipe for future Misery.

 

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Renewable Energy – Empowering Women & Saving Forests.(Redux)


During the recently concluded UNFCCC , COP 17 at Durban, that Climate change is a clear and present danger with Humankind pushing the limits of the Earth’s ability to cope with man-made pollution, was well documented by each Nation which spoke at the Plenary. And it was underscored with a grim report by the IPCC -4th assessment draft.

English: Adapted from a portion of Figure 1 in...

The year 2017 from where Human Economic progress will be trapped into a high carbon growth, which would compound and complicate the situation into a series of worst case situations year on year, each year causing great socio-economic suffering. The Stern Review details it for those who want to know more.

It is also mentioned, the worst of Climate change, caused due to unprecedented pollution the Human race produced in its quest to find a “safe – healthy – prosperous” life style; would affect those who neither had/has the means nor the thought process to live such life-styles; the indigenous people in the Brazilian rain-forest, the ethnic groups in wild and still  beautiful  and untouched Africa and the “poor” Nations and  economically weaker class of the societies.

While it is true that when one measures “development”  through the all-pervasive Capitalist Economic theory the World follows in its trade; the definition of poor would be a Man or Nation with no “money”, “cash” or whatever the experts like to call it. However today, one must pause and think on the terms “Rich” & “Poor” in the Climate change context.

Fresh Air, Clean & Sparkling Rivers, Beautiful Blue Sky, Lush Green Meadows, rich and varied Flora & Fauna are (strangely! – they don’t have the money to pay for such nice things, one might say ) with the POOR and UNDEVELOPED or UNDERDEVELOPED Nations, States, Provinces.

And what is most striking is that the RICH just don’t have it around them anymore. They need “treated & bottled”  Water, “filtered and air-conditioned” Air;  Zoos, which one needs to drive down ( provided one is in town/ else a planed tour itinerary during holiday season ) and an “all expenses paid” incentive ticket  to fly to these very underdeveloped/undeveloped  provinces & Countries to have a glimpse of the Blue Sky. Even virgin snow is hard to come by as by morning layer of sooth from Car exhaust ruins its colour.

It’s perhaps time that the UN & IMF, World Bank and those snooty Credit rating Companies, redefine which are the Bankable and Rich Nations.

Having said that, let the present so-called “Rich & Developed Nations“, be pressured by the right thinking citizens of those countries to save the very things they all want – Safe, Healthy & Prosperous life-style. And we just have SIX years  left to move the clock back-wards to meet that.

So what is it, in my opinion that needed to be done ? Simple, help the poor with their livelihood . Each day thousands of Women & Girl Child walk miles to fetch potable water & fire-wood. This happens in almost all South Asian & African Countries. It perhaps true for parts of South America too.

Many sea /river societies in Africa find sustenance through trade in Fish. The big and fresh catch is usually traded with the agents of Multi Nationals for pittance. The smaller catch is then sold in the local market, where it’s “smoked”  over burning wood. This practice over the years has decimated the forest around these societies. And many such examples have been documented across nations. Soon even these Least Developed Nations and societies would have no tree cover, being poor and economically weak finding the right solution would not be  easy. It would be next to impossible and the first of Climate Change Refugees would be getting ready for exodus, creating further aggravation.

But among all these gloom, there is hope. A ray of hope and a whiff of opportunity – Renewable Energy; namely Solar & Wind.

With the Green Climate Fund, a nascent reality; the LDC’s must create Program of Activities which is similar to what is now on going in India. TERI the think- tank institute headed by Dr. Rajendra Pachauri himself, has a program called “lighting a billion lives”. Here Solar powered lanterns are given to villages across India.

Gaushala, Goshala run in Nabha and its attache...

Earlier on India has/had a program under which Bio-gas which is produced from cattle manure ( Gobar -gas ) and piped  into homes for cooking. Now this is a finite resource because it is quantity dependent. It is therefore successfully implemented in villages which have cattle rearing as their primary business. In the State of Gujrat, India; its a great success, as AMUL created a business revolution around dairy and animal husbandry is a roaring business there.  However not every village can have cattle which would be producing to fulfill the requirements of energy for the entire village. Therefore the use of RE mostly Solar, or a Wind + Solar Hybrid could be the solution for each and every village. Not only in India but in Africa &  other countries too. By devising a Solar Tree ( roof top if applicable or possible  ) and drawing cables to each and every house hold in the village, electricity could be provided. Add cheap yet sturdy induction stoves and you are giving these societies a chance.

Why induction stove one may ask. Simple, as per the report from the Department of Energy United States, an induction stove is nearly 90% efficient in sending the heat where it is required the most – to cook the food. Whereas in a butane / propane , the gas we find in LPG cylinders, only 40% is efficiently used for the purpose of cooking. The rest heats up the stove, pan and the air around the flame.

Now considering that 1 kiloliter of LPG = 7.4 KWHr ( kilo watt hour) of energy and 1 kilogram of LPG = 12.68KWHr. And BTU ( British Thermal Unit ) a measure to calculate heat. Lets look at an example given below to support my idea of a “Solar Stove”.

Domestic gas in India contains – 14.2 kilogram = 180.05 KWh of energy

BTU/Hr = 180.05 x 3412= 614330.60 BTU/Hr

Gas heating efficiency is 40% only. Therefore 40% of 614330.60  =  245732 BTU/hr is actual usage from one LPG cylinder.

Induction heating efficiency is 90%.

Say  a SPV of 2kWp x 5 solar hour  = 10kWh, of energy. ( In India we have an average of  5 hour of good Sun-shine ) which can be stored.

Now if we use an induction stove of 2.2Kw rating and draw the solar energy

Induction of 2.2 kW= to a gas burner rated at almost 16,000 BTU/hour; ( Refer:Induction Cooking:Selecting a Unit )

Therefore total energy received per hour = 10 /2.2 = 4.5455 x 16000 = 72,728 BTU / Hour is actual usage.

Now any expert would tell you 72,7288 BTU is a lot of cooking heat with a very nominal drawing of energy.

a 30-inch four-element induction unitThe rule of thumb from gas-energy values: induction-element kW times 7185 equals gas in BTU/hour.

This is just with a 2.2 Kw induction stove, naturally a higher rated induction hob would provide far more energy.

The least-expensive 30-inch (four-element) induction cooktop has:

  • a 1.3-kW small element (between 9,000 and 9,500 BTU/hour),
  • two elements of 1.85 kW each (well over 13,000 BTU/hour), and
  • one element of 2.4 kW (over 17,000 BTU/hour).

The least-expensive 36-inch (five-element) induction cooktop has:

  • a 1.2-kW small element (8,500 BTU/hour),
  • a medium element of 1.8 kW (13,000 BTU/hour),
  • a larger element of 2.2 kW (16,000 BTU/hour),
  • and two elements of 2.4 kW (over 17,000 BTU/hour).

The very highest-power gas burner to be found in the residential market is 22,000 BTU/hour, and that’s a sort of freak monster, whereas a 3.6-kW and 3.7-kW element–which is around 26,000 BTU/hour of gas!–is found in many induction cooktops.

From the above calculation one can see that at village level where food is only cooked for sustenance, the energy used by each house hold would be at a minimum. If the Solar panel & stove is sized properly as per the societal needs in each society  across Nations, two most important changes would perhaps take place.

1. The Girl child & Woman would no more need to chop down trees for fire-wood, thus help heal the immediate environment.

2. No smoke from fossil fuel would be emitted into the atmosphere.

So this concept if implemented rightly, might just begin to turn the tide as Worldwide some 2.7 billion people rely on traditional biomass for cooking and heating, and 1.4 billion have no access to electricity.

So what’s with the electricity? Well if the 1.4 Billion were never introduced to the  oil and coal based electricity we would to Earth that much good. And now that we know the effective use of a new kind of Solar Stove; with cooking time reduced and need a minimum, may be some of that Solar power from the solar tree could light up a LED lamp in the village home.

And if we bring it to the cities, with the price of commercial LPG at Rupees 1600 / cylinder of 19kg. We may find some economics in this too, while reducing the subsidy burden for the Government.

Are the signatory of Kyoto  Protocol listening?

 

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Green Climate Fund – Why it would not come for free.


Kyoto Protocol

As the Climate talks progress in Durban, South Africa under the COP17/ CMP7 of the UNFCCC, the most resonant sound emitting is the setting up of the Green Climate Fund ( GCF ) and along with it, is the impetus by most signatories to give a new life to KP2 or the Kyoto Protocol.

Although all the Countries including the USA & European Union are trying to make the right noises, there seems to be a feeling that the LDC and the other most vulnerable  Countries would be handed a plate more empty than full.

When one hears the developed countries speak, they seem rational in their thinking, when they endorse that Climate change is a clear & present danger. They all agree that abatement and adaptation are the only way forward for a low-carbon economy. Yet there dose not seem to be an agreement for the KP2 or the GEF. Why is this so ?

Form a layman perspective, what comes to mind is that it has more to do with business compulsions & economic compulsions, rather than political compulsion. Although all the positioning the political masters of various nations take, claiming the will of the people; rare would be one who actually does.

This is being proved again and again in each CAN conference. But one then has to accept the reality.Although generalization would be incorrect, I would still hazard that many other Citizens of different Nations would find resonance with the  perspective , I’m about to present.

In many countries, some politicians are either themselves successful businessmen who have then entered politics or politicians who put their relatives as proxies to their further their business aspirations. In both cases, being the law-makers they understand what policy would suit them best. This may be the case in other developing or developed countries. In fact, it is understood  that the Kennedy family were rich businessmen before JFK ran for Presidency.

Now, let us take the initiative of UNEP for energy efficient lighting. By dateline 2016 the world should be able to leave behind the in-efficient lighting methods which are in use today to go into LED and similar lighting solutions. It is important both to the developed countries which need to reduce their energy consumption and also for those who would be able to provide more lighting even with less energy generation, as in the least developed countries.

How do you get to do achieve this goal ? As per the UN officials in Durban – by legislation. So assuming each country gets a legislation in place, it would still require a marketing instrument to sell these LED. We all know that the initial cost is high. Why? Because of the high-end technology involved. We also understand that hi-tech requires a lot of expensive R&D too.

Now we have a mix of Businessmen-Politicians in one end and on the other an expensive hi-tech solution which can reduce Global warming. Add to this nearly 180 of 194 countries which are not the Developed countries. Now, to expect businessmen – politicians to give away hi-tech solutions which only they possess for free is asking too much from them!

So when you see well meaning Green technologies business houses conducting seminars in the sidelines of the Durban Conference,one feels tempted to know what would be the cost of the product & consultancy charges.

What will happen between 2012 to 2020 is that the USA, Canada, Japan, EU & Russia will sell the technology they possess. And they are eying the BASIC countries for that. As emerging and responsible countries who have initiated unilateral Climate abatement actions at home and will want to get the hi-tech technologies to be at par with the developed nations. This the once rich & developed nations are banking on.

Therefore a new treaty post 2020 which is inclusive, else not much GHG will be abated blah! blah! is doing the rounds. Historical responsibility be damned!

 

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