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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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