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Category Archives: Susutainable Buildings & Climate Initiatives

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


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

New Scientist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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SDG#13: Climate Action


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

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

Climate Prediction:

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

Climate Re-Action:

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

Climate Re-Action:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Niti

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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SDG#2 No Hunger?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4696 million hectares forest land to non-forestry purposes,

0.07 million hectares to illegal encroachment,

4.37 million hectares to cultivation,

0.518 million hectares to river valley projects,

0.141 million hectares to industries and townships, and

0.061 million hectares to transmission lines and roads.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Anil Madhav Dave had reasons to be worried.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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SDG #1: The mindset of the Rich cause Poverty


The World Bank Organization describes poverty in this way:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

earth_overshoot_day

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

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

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

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

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SDG#16: Sustained Destruction or Development Goals?


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

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

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

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

Warming climate will displace millions in coming decades: World Bank

AFP|Mar 19, 2018, 08.02 PM IST

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Climate Noble; a dummies guide to win the


TNT- A PEACE LOVING KILLING EQUIPMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Barack Obama ?

2. Xi Jinping ?

3. Vladimir Putin ?

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi could also be the answer.

Why?

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

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

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

Failing which the fans would stop revolving around him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To talk about Climate Change & Global Warming !

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

Yes wind turbines !

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

Ram Air turbines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Airbus E-Fan Prototype Electric Aircraft

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eco Marine Power Developing Solar Sails to Power Ships

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

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

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

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

 

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World Environment Day, time to move beyond the Rhetoric !


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

South, central & airport areas are Mumbai‘s hottest

Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar –Mumbai Times News  Network

Temperatures Vary By Up To 13°C Within City

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

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

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

Land Use Norms Should Also List Materials For Construction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Stop manufacturing cars that use Fossil fuel.

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

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

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

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

English: Chicago City Hall Green Roof

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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