RSS

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 !

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sustainable Business – The Genesis lies in understanding the basics of livelihood.


Modern society is disconnecting from Nature. Where the processed has become more important than the produce, chances of building a Smart society, which is essential step towards building a Smart City, is difficult.

And by not building towards a Smart City the Modern Business Houses are heading more and more towards extinction, due to acute resource depletion which is already manifest in certain sectors.While the top of the ladder corporate, either by omission or commission are realizing the benefits of Sustainable Business practice. The mindset of the modern manager is too stuffed in old style economics to understand the changes in the ground rules for making a perfect profit making business.

We need Business to evolve or it would perish as is the Darwinian law.

The reason for this is our mindset; we love to remain within familiar comfort zones. Essentially we are still an Agrarian Society, although we have wrapped ourselves in the modern avatar of an industrialized state.

FOOD – CLOTH – SHELTER are the three main things around which all the modern societies revolve. Everything modern human does is essentially to satisfy the three fundamental needs highlighted. The birth of Industrial revolution or modern business as we know today was essentially to speed up and increase in production of the three basic needs of human. And the final goal of Business even now is to attain just these three things. Therefore the word “business-man can be replaced by “human”.

We invented the modern mills which could churn more flour from the wheat, to provide for the ever growing population of human. To produce more wheat which is primarily the ingredient for flour, one needed to have better harvesting and tilling method; thus grew an industry which starting producing the basic tools. To have more tools in the hands of farmers, one needed more Metal Ore to be mined and to mine more efficiently an industry spawned to cater to that need.

As the demand and supply graph multiplied so did the specialization in the fields, which slowly drifted so far apart that the basic….the farmlands became far and distant from the precincts of modern Industry.

For Representation Purpose only.

The fruits now grow on a super-market shelf. That is the notion many a modern child, never having seen a mango tree, carry. Haute couture usually showcases the most non-wearable clothing. But is a billion dollar industry!

Building no more reflects the spirit of human triumph over nature’s vagaries, to provide comfort & safety and most importantly a home to live in. But as a reflection of the human ego. So, we built tall buildings, shrouded in Glass & Steel, with no thought to the vernacular design & climatic conditions.

When there is so much disconnect from the original needs of a vibrant and organic society. How could we have not ruptured the skin of sustainability? Global Warming and Climate Change are nothing but by-products of unsustainable living. But, the World today can see the dangers, which manifests itself with increasing intensity & periodicity of storms and unpredictable drought & flood cycle.

And how does it affect Business?

“What we’re finding all over the world is that when people are having trouble with the weather, it affects food and income,” said Koko Warner, an expert on environmental migration based at the United Nations University. Climate change doesn’t just mean stronger typhoons. It also means sea-level rise, desertification, unpredictability of rain for crops, drought and other problems that tend to result in fewer news reports than a crushing storm like Haiyan. Many of the resulting losses are difficult to categorize and count in terms of money. It’s the emotional burden of leaving a family grave behind, of moving from ancestral lands, of kids giving up the ability to go to school. But global financial losses, even just those tabulated from major disasters, have also been rising through the last few decades. Annual estimates are now at just under $200 billion (€146 billion), according to a report released by the World Bank . That’s up from about $50 billion each year through the 1980s. (Excerpts from – Warsaw Mechanism: A Move Forward in Climate Change Debate; Der Spiegel. November 27, 2013) The above paragraphs sum up beautifully the moot reason as to why Business must adopt the sustainable approach. The Building & Construction Sector is perhaps the single largest sector which is the consumer of almost all the Industrial sector known to modern business. Be it Agri-product, Minerals, Forest or Animal Husbandry, Iron & Steel, Cement or Textile, Chemical & Fertilizers some or other form of the product is utilized in the building industry. And many buildings built within the same geographical area is called – A City.

Which also houses the Business Barons.

Thus, if we take care of a city and make them Climate Resilient. We would be able to change the mind-set of the people, which in turn would make the world believe in Sustainable Business a bit more.

So how does one approach this? As per The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, below are some interesting thoughts –

THE BUILDING SECTOR

The building sector can be viewed as being comprised of two broad elements: Residential buildings — housing the population; and Commercial buildings — housing a range of activities including retail trade, accommodation, business services, government and government agencies, recreation and cultural services and industry, which represents around two thirds of national employment. The estimate of greenhouse gas emissions due to energy consumption in the building sector takes account of:

1. The amount of energy consumed; [inclusive of embodied energy in materials] 2. The mix of fuels used; 3. The average greenhouse gas emissions from the different fuels (electricity is treated as a fuel); and 4. Upstream emissions from transmission and other activities.

The electricity consumed within a building is only a part of the energy used to support that demand. A large amount of electricity and greenhouse gas emissions is also involved in distribution, transmission and generation. When reducing demand for electricity it is practical to eliminate the need for this upstream energy use and GHG emissions. The building sector could reduce its GHG emissions by 30–35 per cent by 2050 on an economic basis. Economic in this context means that the initial costs would be offset — and in many cases be more than offset — by subsequent energy savings over time.

In the residential sector changes can be achieved through: 1. Substitution for more energy efficient light fittings; 2. Greater use of natural light; 3. Substitution for more efficient refrigeration; 4. Adoption of more efficient hot water appliances with solar where possible; 5. Adoption of appliances with a low standby energy use; 6. The introduction of more efficient heating and cooling mechanical systems; and better insulation. 7. Where possible use of Renewable Energy solutions as feasible.

In commercial buildings substantial savings to both costs and greenhouse gas emissions could be generated by: 1. Improving air conditioning systems efficiency and including ‘economy’ cycles; 2. Use of natural ventilation where possible; 3. The use of more efficient office appliances; 4. Better insulation; 5. Improved heating and ventilation; 6. The use of efficient light fixtures; 7. Upgrading to more efficient water heating systems;

There are already many consultancy firms which are advising on energy efficiency. The one which are on the top of the ladder are doing the following three elements: 1. Use less energy – cut buildings’ energy demand by improved design, using insulation and equipment that is more energy efficient.

2. Make more energy locally – produce energy locally from renewable and otherwise wasted energy resources.

3. Share energy – create buildings that can generate surplus energy and feed it into an intelligent grid infrastructure to balance the energy needs of other buildings.

And those which excel in the above are also taking up the challenge of creating a low water use facility. As without water there is no food and thus no life.

The IPCC – the United Nations Body which is headed by Dr. Pachauri and is under the UNFCCC has warned that unless we are able to completely abolish use of fossil fuel for generation of electricity the world would be facing much more severe storms, the likes of Hurricane Katrina and Cyclone Hudhud, devastating Nations economy and putting enormous strain in its recovery.

Innovations for smart cities are already happening all around the World. From creating Solar Roads, as indicated in the image to having tiles which produce their own power when one steps on it are already ready for commercial applications. It is opening up new job opportunities and at the same time instilling the practice of clean living.

Real Project

The world is waking up to the fact that we have to create Sustainable Business.

And in order to achieve that India too must join with its resource pool of young and brilliant minds. Lest the opportunity, to become an advanced and progressive Business Nation is lost. While innovative products are good and it would be some time for them to become main-stream. India has the unique distinction of already possessing the vernacular knowledge of building with an extremely low carbon-foot print. A visit to any turn of the century residence would prove that.

Add to that the restless energy of the young entrepreneurs, who are willing to take the risk of bucking the conventional business model, while at the same time ushering in the high-technology Renewable Energy at the door steps of common persons.

The idea is to provide Roof-top solar at zero capital cost to the end-user while the recovery of the investments comes via the novel way of collecting the electrical tariff, over a period of time. As all are used to pay their electricity bills every month, the idea to have solar power which in time would become free of cost to the user is finding traction. Especially in areas where the traditional grid power is inconsistent leading to the use of diesel generators, which spikes the electrical tariff to an astronomical ₹ -15 to 20 /KW unit.

As in every solution there are challenges. Captive Renewable Energy, especially Solar & Wind require certain amount of conducive space and geography to perform optimally. Many commercial business such as Hospitals, Hotels & Resorts, Malls & Multiplex, while willing to utilize the RE in BOOT model; find that the generation compared to demand is wanting. Because of lack of roof-top space.

Here too the pioneers have met the challenge head-on, by providing Energy Efficient Measures to the existing or upcoming building within the matrix of a Green Building ie; by working with Architects and Interior designers who not only concentrate on the aesthetic appeal of a building but have the knowledge of how to utilize daylight controls and energy modeling measures to synchronize with the colour of the paint, or the colour of the light or even the reflective and absorption capacity of materials. Which ultimately adds up in a complex dance of synergy to either heat up or cool a room. By understanding this along with having deep knowledge of HVAC, building electrical & heat loads are optimized.

This in turn reduces the overall draw of electricity required, without any compromise to the functions of a modern living/working space. Today, coming up in a suburb of Bangalore; there are more than 500 residence comprising of 300o ft2 to 5000 ft2 bungalows which could aim to be completely off-grid both in terms of water and electricity. A perfect 4.5KW connected load with innovative roof-top and “Solar Tree” which also act as street lights would be powering the township. While 5 layer water harvesting system would eliminate any need for municipal water to the colony. A good spell of normal monsoon season would suffice. Smart Cities are the final frontiers for new business. We must all strive to achieve this. A perfect blend of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations –

Profit – People – Planet.

 

Tags: , , , ,

Green Business Idea – River Transport within Mumbai & Smart City ideas !


The UN Secretary General, call for a meeting on the 23rd September, to understand what each Country would be doing, in his attempt to lift sagging morale of the environmentalists and continued disinterest of the World leaders for providing time bound doable agenda which would actually translate to abatement of Climate Change, needs all the support one can give.
To blame World Leaders would be wrong, simply because there are very few in the World arena today who have leadership quality. Had it not been so, Syria would not have had a blood bath from which spawned the ISIS. But, selling weapons of Mass Destruction is also good for the Economy. At least in the short-term. For some.

Almost all the industrial sectors are in some way related to and prosper from War! From Gold to Games all profit. Yes, games..almost everyone can take part on the near real episode of glory and gore, without actually dying!

Perhaps it would make a lot of sense if Countries could have a CGI war ! The losing side could have all its real money, converted to bit-con transferred to the winners. As the say, a failed economy is as good as a dead economy! At least the planet & people would remain untouched in the bargain.

But this sadly is not the case across the Middle East or South Europe! Add to that the deadly mix of Ebola and flood and drought!

As many climate change report have more or less predicted what anthropogenic Global Warming would bring about. Armageddon  is perhaps imminent in the near distant future !

So what if the UN Secretary General, provides the World Leaders with another option to boost economy other than oiling the war machine?

What about asking each world leader to adopt a developing or underdeveloped Nation’s city and help transform it into a Climate Resilient City. For the Building Industry too uses almost all the industrial goods and services as does the war machines. So here is another opportunity to boost the Economy and lift the sagging morale of the Environment brigade.

At least in India, they can immediately start on 100 of them !

Then look at the impacts of joining rivers! And cleaning the Ganga ! For in some parts the Ganga still lives. Are we sure we will not uproot an ecosystem, which may be a possibility if it needs to be navigable all the way?

Rivers of Mumbai

And while we are at it perhaps practice cleaning up the smaller rivers first which go from within the megalopolis, to gain first hand experience of which company will do the best?

Mumbai, therefore offers one of the best opportunity to showcase a Eco-friendly transport solution thus making it a  smart city from a sublime mess it is today!

At one stroke of a genius a politician can not only win the hearts and minds of the people for a longer time, but also ensure that the commercial city thanks it with continually filling it’s party coffers! (No politician worth his/her salt would touch anything which does not give for self-aggrandizement. Thus for the greater good so be it).

Let us look at the advantages and possibilities of cleaning up the rivers of Mumbai.

For starters lets count some of the rivers in Mumbai 1. Dahisar River a river in the northern suburbs of Mumbai near the suburb of Dahisar. It originates in the Tulsi Lake in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in the northern reaches of the city.

2. River Mithi (also Mahim River) is a river in Salsette Island, on which the city of Mumbai is located. It is a confluence of tail water discharges of Powai and Vihar lakes.

3. Oshiwara River begins in the Aarey Milk Colony, cuts through the Goregaon hills, across the Aarey Milk Colony before emptying into the Malad Creek. On the way it is joined by another creek near S.V. Road.

4.Poisar River begins in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and empties into the Marve Creek and finally into the Arabian Sea.

The Polluted & Choked Rivers of Mumbai

The Dahisar River was once so picturesque that Hindi films were shot here. During 1956-57, crocodiles were witnessed to be residing the river, thus proving that it could harbor life and had a perfectly balanced ecosystem.

The rivers are nothing more than a mere stream when it begins and is contaminated with industrial effluents and sewage.

What we see in Mumbai is more or less happening all over the country and even the world. Rivers are dying. And we all know that great cities around the world are mostly near river banks.

But when I look at the Mega Urbanized Mumbai, which perhaps has all the failures of modern human habitation; I can also find rivers & lakes and a  forest reserve, which overlooks the sea! An extremely rare and perhaps unique combination of diverse ecosystem within a small geographical area.

This is indeed a city worth saving and transforming into a model from were others can learn and follow. How to coexist !

And to transform this city we need a Green Business Idea. After all it is the business hub of India with a sizable Gurjati population, who too can lay claim that business is in their blood just as our P.M Mr. Narendra Modi !

The blue print for it is already there. What we must is implementation in the shortest possible time. And add to it the concept of river navigation. From a quarter away from the point of origin, to keep it safe and more pristine, let water transport begin. With boats which are designed with roof-top Solar to power it.

There would be an immediate appreciation of real estate around the banks of the river, and as stringent laws would apply for better discharge of residential waste water (with complete ban on industrial discharge; or with super efficient affluent treatment); redevelopment, of projects would take place.

The economy would naturally take a boost. By utilizing its rivers for transport. Just as the suburban railways or the Metro which is its new addition. One look at the origin and exit of Mumbai Rivers in the map given, completely proves the feasibility of such a venture.

While the river cleaning action and the operating of ferry would also boost many business, at the same time stringent actions can be taken for CRZ ( Costal Regulation Zone ) violations. One of the moot reasons for CRZ violations is rooted in the concept of having a home facing the water-front! Be it anywhere in the World, a sea or river facing property always fetches a premium. So would all the future properties along the banks of the rivers of Mumbai.

I say future, because the current batch of buildings which are being designed need a serious overhaul and we must build Energy Efficient Buildings which would be Climate Responsive and at the same-time vernacular in design, thus blend form and functionality.

Malabar Hill, Mumbai in 1900’s

Imagine a stretch of real estate, about half a mile deep on both the banks of all the Mumbai rivers, which gives the citizens a feel of living in Goa. Yes! the climate and the feel of Mumbai of the Koli’s must have been pretty much like the holiday paradise.

The average productivity of each Mumbaikar would increase many-fold. Life-style related disease would reduce and pollution would be brought down. With efficient river transport coupled with the already existing suburban rail and metro network, the need for passenger cars would reduce thus leading to de-congested roads.

The areas around the length of the river would have several parks and open spaces which would once again become the natural catchment areas and soak up the rain to create higher underground water table, thus keeping the sea away. And also reduce the potable water crunch Mumbai faces every summer. And if the dredging improves the flow of water current; electricity too can be generated through micro-hydle mechanism. Thus a river alive today would have multiple use to business. While remaining sustainable.

And this idea would resonates so well with the World Bank thinking. As in World Water Week (August 31-September 5), the World Bank has warned that the world’s present ways of producing energy and providing clean water are currently on a collision course.

World Water Week 2014

The Bank says that 15% of water withdrawn from the environment presently goes to energy production, and that  amount will rise to 20% unless there is a rapid shift to sustainable forms of energy. This comes at a time when clean water is becoming an increasingly scarce commodity.

It also warns that climate change will put further pressure on water and energy manage­ment by causing more outages to the water supply and intensifying severe weather events, such as floods and droughts. (read more)

It would also make a lot of business sense to have the City of Mumbai transformed into a Smart City, as it could act as a model for the new cities which we are thinking of building. What would work and what could fail can be easily mapped in this city is a microcosm of the country at large. The fight between nature and man,between conservation and commercialization is so well seen in everyday life of this once beautiful city.

The new capital near the city of Vijaywada which the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Chandrababu Naidu is considering to develop. And considering that he is part of the NDA which is headed by our forwarded thinking Prime Minister, who would want to balance Economy and Ecology (although he is suspect of leaning more towards the Economy, presently) the idea that the researchers at Imperial College London have calculated must be brought to fore. The findings suggest many companies investing in projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as tree-planting programmes or funding green energy in developing countries, may be having a bigger impact than they realise. Each tonne of CO2 offset by businesses brings $664 in additional benefits to host communities….But the paper outlines that purchasing carbon credits from well-managed offset projects not only reduces emissions, but also “creates economic development opportunities, aids environmental conservation and helps improve people’s lives by delivering household savings, health benefits and improving water resources, among other social benefits”.(read more)

So if business is in our Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s blood, I hope he would be able to transfuse some into the cabinet, albeit changing its colour to Green ! And it would not be a moment too soon, as Andhra is a stricken Naxalite state. And farmers too are a distressed lot.

A recent study of the World Bank says that there has been a dramatic decline in honeybee populations. It has received wide media coverage, and not just because it imperils honey production. Agricultural production is also at risk, due to the important role bees play as pollinators. In fact, the value of the services they and other insects provide for the main global food crops has been estimated to amount to $209 billion a year, or 9.5 percent of the value of total global agricultural food production.

In light of the challenges posed by the decline of honeybees – and while the jury is still out on what exactly is causing the decline – the resources farmers have at their disposal to maintain or boost their productivity levels bear thinking about. In fact, even absent this decline, an economic analysis of farming techniques seems appropriate given the profit-maximizing nature of most farm operations. However, very little work has actually been done to look at natural ecosystems and the boosts they can provide to agriculture. (read more)

And there is this last thing which our Prime Minister whom we believe has a sense of National pride would want to showcase at least one of the 100 cities in the C-40 cities campaign. Yes, both New Delhi and Mumbai were signatories which was was mentioned in –Urban Development Rules: How C40 -City rules can make a difference for India.

However, in the City Climate Leadership Awards to be held on 22nd September in New York, India sadly does not figure.While each of the efforts are business opportunities. Or rather Green Business Ideas –

C-40 Cities Award Finalist

C40 Cities Finalists.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Water ! The Fifth (deadly) Element.


The World and all its creatures, it is said are made by 5 Elements.

Aether…Air…Earth…Fire …. &

Water….

And when man forget to respect them …..then Nether manifests !

Aether which is Quintessence…which is about life and light ( enlightenment, knowledge) is engulfed by darkness and death …Nether.

How simple was this wisdom of our ancestors. Till the turn of the industrial revolution, we human remained Civilized. Then we became Developed !

We had natures bounty which was considered as Wealth. Now as modern societies we are grasping at solutions as the riches we accumulated by pillaging nature is slowly slipping away from our grasp.

The incidents of Crop failure poses a grave danger. And they are not one of events. In the recent past we have lost mangoes and grapes to the vagaries of nature.  It also underscores an UN report of 2012 – Worldwide food supply precarious. While to accumulate riches we were using food as fuel. The misplaced idea that clean fuel (ethanol) in auto-mobiles, without manufacturing the auto-mobile cleanly would help in reducing pollution, which leads to Climate Change.

All events and places ultimately add up…nothing in this Global village is unrelated.

Rs.1.6K Cr Worth Crop May Be Destroyed Due To Unpredictable Monsoon

Aug 13 2014 : The Times of India (Mumbai)

Vidarbha orange growers face losses;Snehlata Shrivastav @timesgroup.com. Courtesy Times Of India Publication

The fickle monsoon this year has pushed orange farmers to the brink. Not only has the Mrig Bahar crop (bears fruits from February to April) been affected by upto 98%, the Ambia Bahar crop (October-January) too has taken a hit, with losses of upto 34%. The Mrig variety has been a failure for the past four years; this year’s losses have been the worst in 25 years. Before 2014, the major failure was in 2009 with around 60-70%.Orange growers of the region are pegging losses in the Mrig bahar variety at Rs1600 crore (Rs 1000 crore for Amravati division and Rs 600 crore for Nagpur division).
The crop failure has been caused by the prolonged break of one month in monsoon that prevented flowering. Subsequently , the heavy spell of rains in the second fortnight of July has caused fruit drop in the Ambia bahar crop.
From flowering to fruit, both crops take nine months.
Apart from the losses to farmers, it also means there will be a huge shortage of the unique Nagpur Orange at least from October 2014 to April 2015.
With 78,000 hectares (half the size of Delhi, 80% the size of Mumbai and thrice the size of Nagpur) in the Amravati division and 35,000 hectares in Nagpur division under orange cultivation, the two divisions covering 11 districts produce 13,56,000 tonnes of the fruit annually .
Area-wise as well as production-wise this is about 4550% of the country’s total orange production…..M S Ladaniya, the director of National Research Centre for Citrus -the city based institute which also caters to lemon and sweet lime and grape fruits and Pamello varieties of citrus, said good rainfall in June is a must for the Mrig crop to succeed. If rains are adequate in June not only is the water requirement ideal, the temperature is also maintained for proper flowering. (read more)

Water Kills ! – Drought & Food Crises are effect of Climate Change, underscores the dangers of unsustainable living.This once more has been highlighted.

Although not every person would be reading the IPCC AR 5, or the World Economic Forum report. People do read newspapers in the morning. And some do that with a glass of fresh Orange Juice, Bread Toast & Jam.

But this story is not about the unfortunate turn of events at the breakfast table. Rather, with a predicted loss of 1.6 thousand Crore. We are talking of a sum which Nations allocate as their annual budget. Thus, with this kind of loss. The money or fund would dry up. And in its wake would leave more hungry and destitute at the bottom of the pyramid.

And it would effect the rich too. The much awaited middle class resurgence in the FMGC market would get muted. And the business barons would have to hire more willy MBA’s who would redesign the bar graph to show “profit”. While the legal luminaries and the fixers would try and find that clause in the Environment & Forest law, which can be twisted by the laws framed under the Ministry of Commerce & Trade.To rape and pillage the earth some more. For want of business in this “difficult and trying times”. Created by “force majure“. Should hard working corporates & captains of industry and their supporting political friend suffer due to an “act of God”. Never!

So what, if by their act of misplaced judgement, we as a civilization hurtle towards extinction ! Well the Harrappan Civilization too became extinct. But we still have done fine for ourselves, haven’t we ?

Can’t argue with that line of thought. But the guy who would like to think as above, I’m sure doesn’t believe that calamity would befall upon him. That is the crux of the problem.

For no matter how many report and incidents happen. Climate Change & Global Warming is simply too big for a simple human mind to comprehend fully.

And what one can’t comprehend and fully appreciate. Bringing laws or action plan to mitigate it becomes a huge challenge.

So how do we overcome it?

We must adopt and with stringent force the methods of Green Business Ideas. Sustainability is the idea. We have to change our leaderships mind set form calculating indices of growth from how many Cars were sold in the financial quarter.

CARS sold  = Prosperity ?

I am always amazed at the trade pundits sermons, when they talk in these terms. I’m sure the first 10 richest persons in this world would be able to buy all the cars that are being manufactured in this country at one single stroke of their pen on the cheque book.

But how would that translate into Sustainable Development ?

For even if they were to be bought a piece by the masses, the accumulated fumes from the exhaust, that extra burden on the exchequer on fuel subsidy and the life made a little more miserable in trying to negotiate between haphazard driving and parking will just take us one more step towards destruction!

So why can’t we do the things a little differently. Why can’t we make a program that for every car that is sold two old cars must go for recycling. There parts must be cannibalized. And refitted in the new models. All that would take to make the model work is to have a sale program where the parts of one manufacturer, if dismantled by another is sold back to each other or exchanged. I’m sure the market would find that innovation. And the parts which can’t be reused be melted. Some more thoughts were penned under Green Business Idea : How to build a Mercedes at the price of a Nano!.

Jugaad

Thus in each industry we can find the system of Reuse – Renew – Recycle. It has to be implemented. While the process of rationalization too is brought in.

If we stop ourselves from being conned into buying and more buying of everything, the manufacturing would come to a saner level. For resource depletion is no more a sermon. It is a clear and present danger.

We must ration the resources which are still left with us. Conserve and change the way we live and work.

And that does not mean we can’t have a better life-style.

And the idea of “jugaad” which is synonymous with Indians would truly make the call given by our Prime Minister Shri Narandra Modi, today in his 1st independence day speech – Make in India.

The only thing I would like to add is Make is India but don’t pollute India. Use its talent of Jugaad to refine and salvage the unspent and the unused. The discarded and the unfashionable.

We have to guard against making a China out of India in our race towards prosperity. And help other Nations to learn to innovate within the sphere of Renew- Reuse-Recycle.

The wealth of the nation is in its natural resources.

And Food is one of them! And for food we need water. Which in a skewed climatic conditions can turn into a deadly foe. As said earlier –

Water Kills ! Drought & Food Crises are effect of Climate Change
 
 
 
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on August 15, 2014 in Global Warming & Climate Change

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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!

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Future Cities -Its time to build the 1st of 100 promised.


The above example to start my argument has been put to ally the fears of those who still think that to live and work in a sustainable environment we have to go back to the stone age.

The need of the hour is to build projects which produce their own water and energy and this is very much possible. It also would give a positive fillip to the traditional business as the building industry is perhaps the only sector which uses all products and thus all sectors have a chance in participating in the development and growth of India.

There would perhaps also be a meeting of minds between those who think development is an anathema to environment as opposed to those who think “NGO’s are the sleeper cells of foreign power out to destroy India’s growth.” (foreign funding of NGO’s)

Let me first introduce you to what the world is thinking and then we shall proceed to what can be done with the knowledge resource and funds presently available. As most often lofty futuristic ideas fail to take-off and the “artist impression” remain as a poster or a screen-saver in some personal lap-top/office desk.

So let’s begin with what the World is thinking.

Vincent Callebaut’s Lilypad -Proposed as a “Floating Ecopolis for Climate Refugees”, which can house around 50,000 inhabitants.

Vincent Callebaut will find a place for himself in the year 2100 when half the coastline in the world have disappeared due to increasing sea surface. (more).

If one looks closely the image has a striking similarity to the coastline of Mumbai. Perhaps the town-planners who are thinking of building the ambitious “Shivaji Statue” off the coast could  increase their ambition to adopt such projects within the original concept. Which at once would catapult them to the pages of history for thinking beyond tokenism.

The Harvard Gazette article by staff writer Corydon Ireland, in March 2013 stated –

By the end of this century, sea levels could rise worldwide by 3 feet or more, inundating coastal cities and spurring catastrophic storms roughly every three years.

In Africa, at least 20 cities — including Cairo, Egypt; Cape Town, South Africa; and Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo — are especially vulnerable to rising seas. At the top of the list is Lagos, Nigeria, a fast-growing, low-lying coastal city of 13 million. By the year 2100, sea levels there are expected to have risen nearly 4 feet.

Houses and roads in Lagos are built on spongelike terrain that was once sandbars, lagoons, and mangrove swamps. Lagos is also riven with a confluence of inland rivers, adding to its vulnerability to flooding. In 2011, intense rainfall flooded homes, overwhelmed sewers, and turned streets into rivers. Hardest hit in such events are the poor. Slums already hold 70 percent of people in Lagos, a city that draws 3,000 more residents every day.

Many in Mumbai would find resonance to the above stated.

A floating oil platform is tugged from the harbor in the northern Russian port of Murmansk.

Now before we start baulking at the idea of designing ambitious projects such as the one shown above and discard them off-hand we must look around ourselves. Have we not already achieved the skills required for building such projects? If we just look towards Bombay High the off-shore oil rig a few miles off the coast of Mumbai, it is more or less a floating city. People work and live on it. And the engineering marvel has reached such a peak that there are many superb rigs off the coast of Scandinavia in the rough and cold Arctic sea. Like this Russian platform in the image.

How wonderful it would be when we would be able to use this technology not to further destroy the World we live in but to limit loss and damage brought about by Climate Change due to our insatiable thirst of fossil fuel.

For should we choose not to do that Nature, would surely make us pay for our follies. And there must have been a reason for the wise of yore to call nature, “Mother”. For she too at first gently admonishes before punishing for repeated mistakes we make.

IMG-20140613-WA0013

Unusually High tide was seen in Mumbai due to the Cyclone Nanauk

This month Nature visited us with a warning sent via Cyclone Nanauk. The unusually high tide, a result of the cyclonic effect; inundated many low-lying parts of Mumbai coast-line.

While there were tourist enjoying the spray of sea-water, the slum dwellers staying in the low-lying shanty towns were left with brakish water in this sweltering summer heat. Bereft of basic drinking water they suffered silently.

Once more highlighting the fact that Climate Change would hurt the poor and the vulnerable the hardest.

It is therefore time we the citizens wake up to the fact that Climate change is a clear and present danger. True natural disasters have been happening without any anthropogenic interventions for millennia and would continue to do so.

All that the scientific evidence has pointed out is that we have with our high fossil fuel dependence accelerated the process.

For those who are still not convinced, need not unnecessary fret. Just get into the bandwagon of “Sustainable growth” as being envisaged by our Prime Minister. It would be a good enough start as any.

For surely everyone wants to live in an integrated city of the future and to build it we need the expertise of all practitioners from all sectors. And if the rules which we think would govern building those cities don’t get diluted and corrupted in the process,we shall truly have a sustainable economy which India could ride upon.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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)

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

 

Tags: , ,

UNEP -SBCI Quebec 2014 – things it needs to do.


UNEP-SBCI 2014 Annual Meeting & Symposium on Sustainable Buildings.will be held on May 12th & 13th. The symposium will focus on the role of the buildings sector on the road to Paris 2015.  The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP-21) will be held in Paris in late 2015, at which member states are expected to sign the next global climate agreement.  

The building sector must be mobilized to help deliver action and achieve climate mitigation.  The symposium will include Technical sessions highlighting Carbon/energy/resource efficiency metrics, and Policy sessions focusing on necessary mitigation actions, including panels of industry representatives and city officials.

 While we all understand that the building sector is one of the primary focus area. And by now the sermon – “the building industry uses 40% of the energy and produces nearly 60% waste” has become a clique; so much so that we find builders/developers who having broken, mauled and pillaged every rule in the book to degrade the environment give speech in “green conferences” which are extremely “prestigious” & have support form “venerated” media house, after sponsoring generously for it.

It happens all around the World. An accepted part of “business promotion and networking”. At times promoting sustainability reaches level so bizarre that they are a complete anti-thesis to sustainable practice!

Habitat can’t be sustainable unless all factors surrounding it change.

And if we speak India centric, do we have the wherewithal to achieve such feat it terms of mindset and political will?  For example; how does one pacify the ever growing automotive industry, especially when the luxury segment of imported cars are also making a bee-line into India to say that “Hey! let’s take a walk. It’s sustainable you know ?”

To sum it up, there needs to be a balance between aspirations and reality. We have to understand that unless there is a holistic approach, piecemeal solutions would not even make a dent in our effort to remain within the 2 degree target.

So let’s look at Solutions one by one which needs to be made into a practice within a time-frame. And if that can happen before the UNFCCC – COP in Paris 2015 all the better.

Building Design:

While design is an artistic expression. If one walks around any city of India, the buildings neighbouring each other are most often than not similar to each other in form and function. A few outward frills don’t actually make a building unique.

To rest the doubts of those who differ, there is only one Taj Mahal, Leaning Tower of Pisa…the Guggenheim..rest are copies of the masterpiece. Every time.

Now having established this fact, lets take the pledge to ask for a master competition of architects and designers to show case the best sustainable buildings that can be built, across all climatic zones. Let this competition be held by the UNEP- SBCI / UNDP.

As all the projects would by default would more or less be sustainably designed, there need not be a winner but a grade which makes the projects viable based on cost inputs.

Now put them up for auction. Countries would then send in their representative companies which have a shown an inclination to build green to bid for the designs.

Thus a Green Building Developer would have say 3 design typologies which it would have bid and won, and would have the right to build the same for the next 5 years or more exclusively. He would also have the right to modify the design; thus giving employment to the local artisans, based on site conditions. As long as it remains within the original intent of being a sustainable building.

For example the builder group in Mumbai can buy a high-end, a mid-end and a cost-effective design and apply them in each project as his trade mark.

So each year, there is a design competition, making industry thrive and along with it the allied products to improve. Market forces would soon find innovative ways to percolate it down-wards.

Just as the OSCARS and Miss Universe, the Best Singer…etc etc.

Burying the mundane and celebrating excellence. And this would be the ultimate praise to the Planet. As it would win every time.

The Auto-mobile Industry:

While it has been sometime for the electric car making its début in India.It is already searching its place amongst the dinosaurs !

If we were to see any residential/commercial building advertisement on TV. One would find a fossil fuel guzzling super -luxury Car stopping right at the porch and out comes the doting husband/father from work. The advertisement would further state that the super-luxury villas have 2+ car parking space, the + indicating a Super bike?

Can a developer risk making homes which truly follow the concept of New Urbanism? It is easy for one to say that integrated township must be developed. But would it be possible to have townships which uses the concept of “new urbanism” without seriously jeopardizing the aviation/auto-mobile industry and other directly related industries like Iron & Steel, Cement Etc? ( more -Principles of New Urbanism ).

REVA Electric Car

We can’t have a beautiful township across the bay if the marina is polluted with yacht waxed to a shine..while laying a oil slick which the dark waters of the wharf hide. We can’t have a quite neighbourhood if helicopters of the rich keep landing on roof-tops.

We can’t use our bicycles if cars jostle for space amongst auto-rickshaws, motor-bikes, hand pushed trolley and Ox-pulled carts…a speciality we still see in “amchi” Mumbai (English: Our Mumbai).

Thus the first thing for the government to do would be to change the symbols of progress in advertisements. If one makes walking or bicycling fashionable, the electric car chic! Society would gravitate towards it.

The Cement, Iron & Steel Industry:

Capitalism is such that even if there’s space to grow in one sector, one would want more from the world. Both Steel and Cement can thrive while GFRG – Glass Fibre Reinforced Gypsum takes over the traditional methods of building walls. This must be reinforced, else we can’t reduce the GHG in the Building Sector.

Rapid Wall

It’s time for the Rapid-wall concept to thrive.  Giving a fair chance for the middle class to live in better homes than they normally get. And at an affordable price too.

For GFRG does not require your traditional water-proofing, cement plaster, block-work or even internal finishing with Plaster of Paris, because PoP is essentially Gypsum powder. And the walls can come up in 40% less time. With no cracks, warping or faulty plumb-line.

And as it is extremely lightweight and durable, use of steel and shuttering can also be reduced to some extent. In fact more than what the regular PMC consultant would advise on.

The Media:

Pick any advertisement on a residential complex/ office tower. What is the first thing one notices that it would be in a extra-glossy page/paper.
Excerpts from EARTH TALK From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine– It’s no secret that glossy coatings on magazine covers make pictures really “pop” and attract the eye, thus helping publications compete for attention on ever more crowded newsstands.The basic glossy finish of a magazine cover or inside page is usually built into the paper itself at the time of manufacture, and is typically made of either clay or calcium carbonate.“The calcium is lighter,…“But it drives the destruction of mountain tops in Vermont and elsewhere in order to get at the mineral.”….(read more) To know further how harmful the glossy paper can be read –Better Paper.

In the age of the cell phone, the archaic way of advertisement still exist, thanks to the petroleum lobby, which would love to keep producing the paints & varnishes required to print, making the virgin wood extract, already moulded into paper to reek out more toxic into the ground as the glossy brochure gets tossed to the ground, post having roasted peanuts by the road-side. Yes! in India, the “raddi -paper” as we call old news print and other printed materials mostly sold to the local scrap dealer ends up becoming the cheap satchel in which pea-nuts and other tit-bits are sold. These paper can’t be easily recycled to make hand-made paper etc. Thus pose some damage to the environment when discarded.

While there are many more factors which can be added to this, I would pause this conversation with a note to

Public Empathy:

Mumbai University hacks trees off its own ‘bat’, BMC threatens action -The varsity has hacked 15 trees on its Kalina campus as the noise made by the colony of bats residing on their branches allegedly disturbed a faculty member.

If the seat of education which is supposed to teach living in harmony with Nature, can harbour such intolerance, Mumbai as a Sustainable City has a long way to go.

And the task of UNEP Quebec 2014 is cut out for them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Green Business Ideas – Solar Power to make Construction Cheaper.


As the World in this March was introduced to the SREX report on Climate Change by the IPCC. The importance of civilization switching itself from fossil fuel to cleaner source of energy cannot be underscored, should it want to survive.

However to really see a boost in this sector there needs to be innovation and active participation from all stake-holders.

While there has been some traction in the effort to harness Renewable Energy in India for some time under the National Action Plan for Climate Change. With the various Missions like

  • National Solar Mission: The NAPCC aims to promote the development and use of solar energy for power generation and other uses with the ultimate objective of making solar competitive with fossil-based energy options. The plan includes:
  • Specific goals for increasing use of solar thermal technologies in urban areas, industry, and commercial establishments;
  • A goal of increasing production of photovoltaics to 1000 MW/year; and
  • A goal of deploying at least 1000 MW of solar thermal power generation.
    Other objectives include the establishment of a solar research center, increased international collaboration on technology development, strengthening of domestic manufacturing capacity, and increased government funding and international support.
  • National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency: Current initiatives are expected to yield savings of 10,000 MW by 2012. Building on the Energy Conservation Act 2001, the plan recommends:
  • Mandating specific energy consumption decreases in large energy-consuming industries, with a system for companies to trade energy-savings certificates;
  • Energy incentives, including reduced taxes on energy-efficient appliances; and
  • Financing for public-private partnerships to reduce energy consumption through demand-side management programs in the municipal, buildings and agricultural sectors.
  • National Mission on Sustainable Habitat: To promote energy efficiency as a core component of urban planning, the plan calls for:
  • Extending the existing Energy Conservation Building Code;
  • A greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling, including power production from waste;
  • Strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards and using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles; and
  • Incentives for the use of public transportation.
  • National Water Mission: With water scarcity projected to worsen as a result of climate change, the plan sets a goal of a 20% improvement in water use efficiency through pricing and other measures.
  • Mandating specific energy consumption decreases in large energy-consuming industries, with a system for companies to trade energy-savings certificates;
  • Energy incentives, including reduced taxes on energy-efficient appliances; and
  • Financing for public-private partnerships to reduce energy consumption through demand-side management programs in the municipal, buildings and agricultural sectors.
  • Extending the existing Energy Conservation Building Code;
  • A greater emphasis on urban waste management and recycling, including power production from waste;
  • Strengthening the enforcement of automotive fuel economy standards and using pricing measures to encourage the purchase of efficient vehicles; and
  • Incentives for the use of public transportation.
  • National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem: The plan aims to conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and other ecological values in the Himalayan region, where glaciers that are a major source of India’s water supply are projected to recede as a result of global warming.
  • National Mission for a “Green India”: Goals include the afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 23% to 33% of India’s territory.
  • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture: The plan aims to support climate adaptation in agriculture through the development of climate-resilient crops, expansion of weather insurance mechanisms, and agricultural practices.
  • National Mission on Strategic Knowledge for Climate Change: To gain a better understanding of climate science, impacts and challenges, the plan envisions a new Climate Science Research Fund, improved climate modelling and increased international collaboration.  It also encourage private sector initiatives to develop adaptation and mitigation technologies through venture capital funds.

While for a follower of Energy articles, the immediate focus would be with the Missions that are directly related to the industry, it is important for all to understand the reason behind all the missions. For they are inter-related in some ways or the other.

For example, with an understanding on the Strategic Knowledge for Climate; the RE sector entrepreneurs would have an understanding of the exact solutions which would not only benefit the planet but also give the right boost to the industry.

Likewise if we wish to retain the Himalayan Ecosystem, which is a source for perennial Water, the latter mission also gets addressed. So would be able to retain a forest cover while building a Sustainable Habitat if we look towards innovations which could capture the essence of the Missions as a whole.

The NAPCC further states, the following and this is where the present Green Business Idea takes off –

Other Programs

The NAPCC also describes other ongoing initiatives, including: 

  • Power Generation: The government is mandating the retirement of inefficient coal-fired power plants and supporting the research and development of IGCC and supercritical technologies.
  • Renewable Energy: Under the Electricity Act 2003 and the National Tariff Policy 2006, the central and the state electricity regulatory commissions must purchase a certain percentage of grid-based power from renewable sources.
  • Energy Efficiency: Under the Energy Conservation Act 2001, large energy-consuming industries are required to undertake energy audits and an energy labeling program for appliances has been introduced.

Implementation

Ministries with lead responsibility for each of the missions are directed to develop objectives, implementation strategies, timelines, and monitoring and evaluation criteria, to be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change. The Council will also be responsible for periodically reviewing and reporting on each mission’s progress. To be able to quantify progress, appropriate indicators and methodologies will be developed to assess both avoided emissions and adaptation benefits.

One such innovation is Solar for the Construction Industry.

Let’s understand how the Building & Construction Sector works. While they have not been given the sectorial stamp of the Infrastructure Industry, by the Government in all it’s wisdom. (And perhaps thereby allowing vested interests to continue wanton destruction of the Eco-system; which to an extent would have perhaps be negated with being associated as infrastructure industry which bear more scrutiny.) That the workings are more or less the same can’t be denied.

So while one builds residential & commercial complexes, there is a need for continuous and reliable source of power. If one is building within the city limits of some Indian megalopolis, “temporary power” as construction power is often termed, is availed by the builder/developer at a price higher than what the DISCOMS would provide to its consumers.

In some cities it is ₹14/- per KW. And in places where they need to depend on DG-set, the operating cost with diesel and its maintenance may shoot the cost anywhere between ₹16 – ₹22. The more remote the location the more use of DG. And this shoots up the cost of construction.

The additional burden is naturally passed on to the consumer. In most cases the average middle-class home/shop buyer. And if the market is not promising enough, some developers to keep the retail price within acceptable limits compromise on the quality of built space.

And it is precisely here that the Solar Industry can play a crucial role.

To those who are familiar with construction, they would understand that one of the main draw of energy comes from the Tower Crane and the Batching Plant. As much as 250KVA can be attributed to them which in large construction sites work day and night.

Should this be replaced by Solar Power during day-time use, either in-situ if there is space for it or via wheeling. A quantum jump in the requirement of Solar PV would give the right boost to the industry.

SOLAR PARK

The Solar power can be provided in two ways. First and the easiest would be to through Wheeling. Wheeling is the term used for getting an open access to the already established Grid power line and by evacuating the generated power, through a 33/11 KVA transformer as would be the case, from the plot of land where the Solar Park can be established.

Some states have a free-wheeling policy and it is here that one must focus in growing this form of business.

A solar EPC can approach investors or even a builder/developer group and ask them to invest to put up a park which would help them achieve perennial source of Solar power, at a discounted rate. This would help reduce the CAPEX on the project. While how much of the benefit would be passed on to the end-user would be a subject of consultation, unless that becomes a clause by the Government, committed to its social obligation.

WAREHOUSE

The in-situ option is more for larger construction companies such as L&T –Constructions, Punj Lloyd Group, GVK group, GMR group etcetera. Who take up infrastructure projects in remote locations. Where even the Grid Power lines at times not found going over-head. Here the project can be operationalized in smaller time-frame should the portable-cabins, ware-houses and worker quarters have in-built Solar panels, which can then feed a minimum power to start work faster, without depending on the large diesel generators.

And to make it a success innovation and collaboration both is required. The innovation is already explained. The collaboration which is required is that with a design firm which understands both Renewable Energy and Architecture, to create the space where normally there would be none found. Also in the case of infrastructure projects, the SPV have to be designed in a CKD format for easier transport and installation. Further, in this the orientation and latitude also plays a great part which needs to be adjustable every-time.

That this idea has already been tested and found approval is from the fact that the article is being written about it, if I may say so.

For any Sustainable Design Architects; they would find this as one of the primary drivers to attain the goal as envisaged in the National Action Plan on Sustainable Habitat. While at the same time carry the nascent industry of Solar, which needs all the care and support in this Sun blessed country.

 

Tags: , , ,

India Votes – at the cost to the environment ?


A view from Davos: climate change action snowballs at the World Economic Forum, Paul Simpson, CEO

Davos! Big debates, big brains, big names,” announced the United Nation Environment Programme’s Executive Director Achim Steiner during the World Economic Forum (WEF). The annual event united 2,500 delegates from over 100 countries for four days in the picturesque Swiss mountain resort of Davos to discuss and debate a range of global issues. Climate change was high on the agenda with no fewer than 23 dedicated sessions, reflecting the latest WEF report findings that four of the 10 biggest risks to the global economy are linked to climate change. Of these four risks, water crises was ranked the highest in the group, placing it third overall behind the risk of financial crises to key economies and high structural unemployment. (Read more)

The opening remarks in the report by Klaus Schwab,Founder and Executive Chairman,World Economic Forum quite clearly indicates that those who are in the know are afraid. Terribly so, on the impacts of climate change. The havoc it would be creating, each disaster more intense in scale and periodicity.

Our lives are changing at an unprecedented pace. Transformational shifts in our economic, environmental, geopolitical, societal and technological systems offer unparalleled opportunities, but the interconnections among them also imply enhanced systemic risks. Stakeholders from across business, government and civil society face an evolving imperative in understanding and managing emerging global risks which, by definition, respect no national boundaries.
Conceptual models are needed to define, characterize and measure the potential negative impacts of interconnected global risks. It is in this spirit that I present the Global Risks 2014 report, now in its ninth edition….

The Global Risks 2014 report highlights how global risks are not only interconnected but also have systemic impacts. To manage global risks effectively and build resilience to their impacts, better efforts are needed to understand, measure and foresee the evolution of interdependencies between risks, supplementing traditional risk-management tools with new concepts designed for uncertain environments. If global risks are not effectively addressed, their social, economic and political fallouts could be far-reaching, as exemplified by the continuing impacts of the financial crisis of 2007-2008. (WEF_GlobalRisks_Report_2014).

The latest Howard Hughes Medical Institute report, researchers show that rising temperatures can cause spread of malaria to areas where the disease had not been endemic historically. Their analysis showed that the distribution of malaria cases shifted to higher elevations in warmer years. When temperatures cooled, the distribution of cases retreated to lower elevations.Furthermore, individuals living in regions where they have not previously been exposed to malaria are more vulnerable than those in endemic regions, who have often acquired immunity from prior infections to help fight off severe disease. (Read more).

On the face value, the above report would not hold much currency for the casual reader, especially in the warm tropical region such as India. But it actually holds a very grave message which should not be ignored especially by the political establishment who have in the run up to the elections making mistakes which would have great repercussions.

The days are not far, when in the guise to save the planet. A country would wage war over another. And the war need not be military. An economic embargo during this fragile socio-economic time would be enough to pull a country to its knees.

By showing Mumbai, the intention is to draw attention to the country as a whole. As a megalopolis Mumbai, New Delhi and other large cities are fast becoming city-states while towns in India are growing in a rapid rate to become mega-cities. While one should always vote for development the catch word should be sustainable development which at the very least remembers that Humans are not the only stake-holders in this planet but are cohabitants. A subset of an ecosystem which needs to flourish as equally as the human desire for prosperity and comfort.

A snapshot of Mumbai

The ills that behests this city is microcosm of this Nation. For Mumbai has all the ingredients which is not easily found in many city-states around the World. Nowhere to my knowledge one can find a large reserve forest; the Sanjay Gandhi National park, where big cats roam. Bang in the middle of a megalopolis we have the ancient monuments, the lakes and rivers, the sea and the mountains. A diverse ecosystem that is packaged into a very small area. And thus the effects of destruction to each habitat can be studied all at once.

Below are some of the most recent ill- developments in Mumbai.

NAVI MUMBAI: Mangroves are being burnt, destroyed and encroached upon in various parts of the city. But Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) Task Force for Navi Mumbai, comprising top civic, police and government officials, is sitting idle on the notification issued by the state environment department to safeguard mangroves from being further butchered. This inaction is pushing the satellite city into eco-sensitive zone. It is learnt that the task force has never met since its formation on November 22, 2011, to decide the fate of the mangroves. B B Nayak, TNN | Jan 17, 2014, 12.16AM IST

MUMBAI: Congress ministers are not enthused about the proposal to ‘legalize’ illegal structures across the state. A proposal has been made to legalise illegal structures in Thane through the cluster redevelopment model, with a floor space index of 4. There is a similar demand to legalise illegal structures in Kalyan-Dombivli and Pimpri-Chinchwad as well. Thane district is estimated to have at least five lakh illegal constructions.Congress ministers are not in favour of legalising the blatantly illegal structures. “Where is the rule of law? If the government starts legalising structures that have come up without any permission then the message we send across is that ‘it is alright to do so’. What happens to those who follow the law?” said a minister opposed to the proposal. Another minister said if the government approves the proposal, it would give a handy stick to the Aam Aadmi Party. “Those responsible, whether officials, architects or builders are never penalised and there is no deterrent not to break the law,” he said. TNN | Feb 25, 2014, 06.24 AM IST

MUMBAI: The civic body has issued notices to 1,200 societies in the eastern suburbs for not segregating garbage recently. Now, the civic body has left citizens with no excuse to not segregate waste generated in their housing societies. In an attempt to ensure 100% segregation of waste, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation(BMC) issued notices to 1200 housing societies in eastern suburbs on Monday, refusing to accept mixed waste. Linah Baliga,TNN | Mar 5, 2014, 05.47 AM IST

MUMBAI: In a city struggling to keep its coastal greenery alive, around 10 acres of mangroves and wetlands on a plot near Eastern Express Highway have been allegedly systematically destroyed over 10 years, and converted into a regular grassy land feeding on sewage water. The last trace of 25 mangroves on the land, which is right on the highway near Vikhroli-Kanjurmarg junction, was reportedly erased a fortnight ago when “unidentified” people chopped and dried them using chemicals. The land belongs to a private entity, but due to the presence of mangroves and salt pans, it falls under the Coastal Regulation Zone and qualifies as a “protected area”. Two years ago, Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) recommended reclassification of the land citing an “error” in the coastal zone maps. Chinmayi Shalya,TNN | Nov 30, 2013, 01.23 AM IST.

MUMBAI: The ministry of environment and forest (MoEF), Delhi has refused a state government proposal to regularize 500 buildings, already built without the permission of the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA) in Mumbai and Navi Mumbai.The proposal, forwarded by the state, had recommended collection of penalties from the developers involved before regularizing their constructions. The buildings are situated in the coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) areas and the builders, in the absence of knowledge of CRZ reservations, had gone ahead with the construction without prior permission from the MCZMA. Chittaranjan Tembhekar,TNN | Dec 12, 2013, 12.21 AM IST

In India’s run up to elections opportunism is ruling the roost. And in-spite of a court order, petty politics is being played yet again. In Indian politics, rule of law is perhaps the last thing that matters. In fact it has been proven again and yet again that the illegal can always be legalized for a few votes more. A shocking report –

Wrong appeasement can never bring “El Dorado” to any party. It only opens the floodgate for more wrongdoing which in time spirals out of control and thus anarchy takes over.

“The Global Risks 2014 report highlights how global risks are not only interconnected but also have systemic impacts….If global risks are not effectively addressed, their social, economic and political fallouts could be far-reaching, as exemplified by the continuing impacts of the financial crisis of 2007-2008….”

One should not forget real politic. And in the World political  arena,  India stands at a lame “developing Nation” slot. With a weak and now perhaps corruption infested defence preparedness. Therefore our politicians should very carefully weigh their options before continuing with their political brinkmanship.

The developed Nations sooner than later would understand that with their continued flirting with Nature, which continues unabated even today; their only hope for salvation would be to limit environmental damage in the developing and under-developed Nations.

It is perhaps one of the most fantastic tool for World dominion, whilst being called a Messiah !

And our politicians are falling right into that trap. By providing the very fodder which super-powers seek to exploit.

It is not too late for Indian politics to mature. We are a vast country with large land-mass. If politicians become visionary and statesmen they can provide better housing, water, sanitation and food security to all.

Instead of legalizing the illegal, they should legislate to develop the city fringes and provide world class connectivity, citizens can live in places further than the present centre of Mumbai and yet be able to enjoy a sustainable life-style within that cluster. And travel comfortably & fast to different parts within the city to enrich their social lives. And by doing this the Indian political class can take India to its rightful place in the World hierarchy as a prosperous and wealthy Nation.

But if the Nations wealth (the environment), is destroyed for petty short-term riches & political gains, the resultant Climate change would make India comparable to many impoverished African countries.

A weak Nation would not stand a chance in front of those who wish to wage either an economic or military war with the country….

And it is the duty of the political parties to understand this simple yet profound truth. For we are once again entrusting the Nations future in their hands.

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Renewable Power versus Powerful….


If the Nation and the rest of the World wants to come out of the slump of slow economy. It really needs to heed the thoughts of WBSCD and CIICESD at home.

Assessing the Investment Climate for Climate Investments in South Asia

  • As demand for energy grows in South Asia, so do greenhouse gas emissions, which have been rising at about 3.3% per year in the region since 1990.
  • A new World Bank study evaluates the environment for private sector investment in climate mitigation or low-carbon technologies.
  • The study finds that the impact of government frameworks on clean energy investments has been mixed, and there is considerable variation in the approach to low-carbon and clean energy investments.

Recently the Indian  Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy, was in Mumbai to launch the Solar Mini-Grids for Rural Electrification, a road map to 100% Energy access for India by its 75th Independence anniversary.  The research work is a stellar task by Ms. Shruti Mahajan Deorah & Ms. Leena Chandran – Wadia both fellow at the Observer Research Foundation.

While it is true that the amount of energy we need can not come from the roof-tops, another research paper launched at the same meet was the Mumbai Solar Mission, which talks out using every usable roof-top in Mumbai to power the city. A paper compiled by Rishi Aggarwal & Aditya Khandekar of the ORF. As a conceptual proposal it holds the promise of changing the energy map of India.

While what is said in it, is not something new to those who have perused this field for sometime but, as a paper it needs to be made public. Distributed if need be on the news-paper stands for the public to read and debate on it.

With a resounding and passionate speech Dr. Faroukh Abdullah, minister MNRE almost made the dream of achieving perennial solar energy achievable and hope was rekindled. To be quickly lost when the opposition from the officials running the conventional power sector made it amply clear that they would in no way support this fledging industry to prosper and take wings. At least not with its infrastructure support at present.

An aware world supports Renewable Energy, the governments seem to making the right moves. Yet the future of renewable energy looks to be far away from the golden era it should have basked in by now.

So where is it that we are getting this wrong ? Let’s analyse some thoughts..

It is the approach… it has nothing to do with economics. It is the way the Mathematics of it is presented and believed. Pit it against cross-subsidy and subsidised kerosene distributed over a flawed PDS system, it would be a winner!  More on these thoughts can be found under –

1.Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos.

2.Solar Power: the Messiah for the Indian Oil Companies and the Finance Ministry

We still have not come out of the conventional thinking to make this great promise of Solar Power accessible in a way it should.

For starters, to whom does one go in order to understand the dynamics of power distribution and generation ? Obviously to those who have experience in this matter. And they usually are fellows who have devoted their lives in understanding the ways of fossil fuel based energy source. It would be highly unlikely that these experts can give a consistent and coherent advice on Solar.

Further, those who are in active service in the power sector have also the added responsibility to book profits from their area of responsibility. Thus a Coal secretary, or a Managing Director of thermal power plant would not want to waste his/her time in promoting something which is hostile to its business.

Neither would the Power Grid Boss want to give up the transmission lines to host of small players who would want to wheel power from one point to another. It is a tedious task to keep check on what is happening at any given time with the conventional supply, to add the task of evacuating electricity from mini-grids. It requires a certain kind of mindset to do so, and changing mind-set is an all-time barrier challenge.

Thus we keep hearing about Net Metering is about to start and the wait till now has been long drawn. That it would happen is for sure, but we have to wait for that to become a practice Pan India.

For Solar Power to be more powerful than the powerful fossil fuel lobby, it needs the support of the 49% of the India’s electorate – Women! If they want it, no economist can deny them…for in most Indian homes she is the finance minister…and she knows her math! And she is the most powerful.

The tought is beautifully highlighted in this advertisement by Tata Tea. While I endorse the idea of women empowerment, what I want to highlight is the stove on which the protagonist brews the tea..what if the fuel in it came from solar power…an induction stove / hot-plate directly connected to a small solar panel just outside the kitchen window, acting as its window shade, while powering a small UPS to give enough power for day/night operation ! (more on this idea)

 

Tags: , , , ,

Climate 2014 – and Hell Froze over !


There is a point in life where almost all of us have tried our hand on painting a picture. Be it in school or a fair ground. And still life is one of the most enduring subject which every aspiring artist wants to capture and every great master has perfected.

But all pale by comparison when the Grand Master, mother Nature herself creates a still life…. it surpasses everything man can ever hope to achieve.

The Telegraph picture has been able to capture the beauty of this rare phenomenon. But what it has not been able to capture is the powerful message it sends across…Nature if she choose to, can make any life come to a stand still…forever.

And that is the take away from this for the Climate Change skeptics and the politicians and businessmen who are doing Real Politick in Davos once again ! Be it by omission or presence, the world business suddenly is not finding climate change a hot enough subject to discuss anymore.

Global warming !! When Hell itself is freezing over ?

 Hell frozen over as US big freeze shatters temperature records –In one small town in Michigan the snow was so deep a snow plough got stuck. What makes it noteworthy is that the place is named Hell. The 600 residents had to endure temperatures of minus 20 degrees. Forecasters predict an improvement but at the moment it’s so bad that Hell has literally frozen over.

Surely this has nothing to do with Global Warming, one could argue. And to be fair one can not attribute such conditions as affects of Global Warming with complete certainty….yet!

But if one reads the AR-5 report of the IPCC  it would seem that the computation that have been done on Climate Models have been fairly accurate. And evidence is slowly pointing towards the rampant destruction of the environment with our high carbon life-style as one of the primary reason for the discomfort we are facing with much more regularity than ever before.

And to prove that the phenomena is not restricted one must look at what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic….

First floods, then the snow: Warning as big freeze set to add to rain woe

As heavy rain continued to batter parts of Britain, forecasters said temperatures could plummet as low as -2C (28.4F). The midlands and the north are set to be the worst hit on Sunday and the cold snap could carry on into next week.‘There may be ice, with a chance of snow, particularly in the north of England and Scotland,’ the Met Office told Metro. There are fears that excess rainwater, which is still draining into rivers, will combine with further wet weather to ‘top up’ flood waters. Dozens of homes have been evacuated in Oxford amid further downpours. In nearby South Hinksey, water 1.2m (4ft) deep gushed into at least six homes. Resident Chris Jankiewicz has been trying to protect his property with sandbags. ‘The water is up to my thighs in places. The best way to get around is in a big pair of waders – or a canoe,’ the 45-year-old said. ‘I’ve lived here about 20 years and this is the worst I’ve seen it.’

….and beyond !

City saw Three Seasons in last Six days – Friday 25 Jan Times of India.

Mumbai: Within a span of six days, weather in the city has spanned three seasons. On January 18, Mumbai witnessed the coldest day of the season as temperature dipped to 13.2 degrees C followed by a round of showers on January 21, but simultaneously, temperature rose by 3-4 degrees over the normal average prompting people to shrug off their woolens. “By January 19-20, a trough developed over Arabian Sea causing clouding and rain on January 21.Mumbai,Dahanu and parts of Maharashtra received light showers, while Gujarat saw widespread rain. By then minimum and maximum temperatures had increased by 3-4 degrees,” said K S Hosalikar, deputy director general,IMD,Mumbai. He said the rise in temperatures has halted and a small reversal had occurred. “The temperature has reduced to 2 degrees above normal, and will remain within the normal value over the next few days. There is no likelihood of rain in the immediate future.” On Friday, minimum temperature in Santa Cruz and Colaba was around 19.8 and 21 degrees C respectively, even as the maximum touched30degreesCin Colaba.

AR1Climate Change is a natural process. Anthropogenic Global Warming is not. By accelerating the process which is a complex mix of Air, Water, Land, and the various features inherent in these is extremely dangerous. And the most worrying part is even if we do come to know how the system functions, which has achieved a perfect balance so as to sustain life-form over many millennia. Do we really have the understanding to fix it before it is too late?

To understand the gravity of the situation readers must understand the complexity of Earth and how it functions. This can be understood by Climate modeling which started in the mid 1970’s and had a very basic understanding and computational facilities to predict the anthropogenic effects on Climate Change.

AR2But as technology developed, so did the understanding and capacity of the scientists to add more aspects into the model.

This gave us some understanding of how the earth reacts with the elements. Climate modelling also led us to understand and appreciate that just as in life, in nature too there is no clear black and white. Thing are always a subset of another while retaining a distinct character at the same time. For example if we have a hot day, there would be higher water evaporation, which leads to more cloud formation. Clouds in turn blocks the sun and thus brings down the temperature which in turns reduces evaporation which in turn reduces formation of clouds.

AR3From understanding how clouds and rainfall reacts to warming in time we started to understand the role of the ocean in a little more depth, but much is still unknown.

By the Fourth Assessment Report or AR4 it was understood that the chemical reactions that are taking place due to emissions of human induced (anthropogenic)  warming caused by pollutants which are reacting with the natural process to throw up an altogether different variable. While much more needs to be understood and studied, the recent AR5  is out and is giving us much more answers with greater certainty than before.

Still much more work needs to be done until we can accurately predict the changes which are taking place, well in advance so AR4as to steer the World into proper mitigation and adaptation actions.

But to compute the total earth using all the variables require more than the few Peta-flops of computing we presently are able to achieve. And the most complex factor is of human actions in terms of mitigation and adaptations which have been taking place since the warnings have been put in place and running parallel to the pollution which we are creating.

What would be the sum total between the rate of pollution which no doubt is higher than the mitigation actions ? Can we accurately predict our daily weather conditions? Or we shall have to be ever on our toes to face the challenges of freak weather, as is evident from Thypoon Hyan to the great Freeze that has gripped the USA ?

While that is a debate we all need to get involved. Why it should be so must be pondered from the facts which is presenting itself. Which on a closer look would show that it is an economic disaster slowly unfolding and compounding the already fragile health of the World Economy !

Jan 26 (Reuters) – A shortage of propane heating fuel during a brutal U.S. cold snap this month threatens to sharpen the year’s most urgent energy policy debate – how much of its newfound shale oil and gas bounty should America export? …..U.S. propane production has grown in recent years thanks to the shale oil and gas boom, but the resulting higher supplies have caused domestic prices to sink below global levels. That in turn, has encouraged exports of the fuel from the U.S. Gulf Coast to Japan and Latin America, where prices are higher.The shortage in the Midwest comes at a confluence of events: namely, record-breaking cold at the start of January, when stocks were already low after large amounts of propane were used to dry out a bumper corn harvest.A pipeline outage during most of December exacerbated the situation, and this week’s freezing weather, expected to last to the end of the month, has heightened the situation. All the while prices have soared.

Unrelenting Winter Weather Sends U.S. Into Deep Freeze – ….Sheets of ice on bridges and overpasses made for a treacherous commute Friday morning in San Antonio and Houston, Tex. and as far east as Lake Charles, La., The Weather Channel reports. Ice and some snow are expected to build up in some areas, though authorities don’t anticipate extensive power outages.

Bad weather events almost always brings to stand-still the high-carbon modern life-style we all live. It not only impacts ones daily life but also has an inherent sociopolitical threat at a Global scale. If one reads the two news items above, it is apparent that energy security which is always a flashpoint in World affairs is directly affected. Should the spell of extreme weather events continue with more and more severity which is what the IPCC AR5 predicts as very much likely, world peace would be under tremendous strain.

For the common man it is not easy to understand that his/her difficulty to commute or warm his home or feed himself and family, if prolonged can lead to War ! But that is the reality of Climate Change. And that is why it of utmost importance that each and every individual and organization wise up to the facts of impacts of Global Warming!

If we don’t we may have to pay Hell….as the Americans say!

 

Tags: , , , ,

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?

 

Tags: , , , , ,

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thypoon Haiyan – the teardrop of an Angry Earth.


With Haiyan….the pain of understanding what is to further unfold has gripped me as it would have those who have spent countless hours in convincing and making aware the world on the dangers of Climate Change and have seen too little happening on the ground.

When I wrote the article Hurricane Sandy & Cyclone Nilam – “Our cousins would be visiting soon”., a year has passed on the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, and the World has experienced Planet Earth’s invite – Danse Macabre,

Worldwide Natural Disasters List – has grown manifold. To create the desired impact, I have listed each and every disaster which hit India. From January to September 2013. The list contains countries listed from A to Z and all have a similar story. Readers are free to horrify themselves and I hope at the end of it start doing something about it.

The Planet is running out on time.

September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

The chairman of the United Nations’ climate panel has warned the world to act on global warming to avoid passing “on a lousy, spoilt and defiled planet” to future generations.Rajendra K Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), spoke out as typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines causing hundreds of deaths and widespread destruction. While Pachauri said it was not possible to blame any single disaster on the steep rise in carbon emissions, the increased frequency of extreme weather events was consistent with scientific predictions.

And yet we have a World which considers itself smart with “leaders” expert in “Realpolitik”.

Ah! the shame and the futility of intellect can never be more stark….

MOSCOW, Oct 3

Arctic Oil Production Could Begin Later This Year As Russia’s Gazprom Prepares To Tap Reserves: Gazprom has announced that it is on track to begin oil production this year at the Prirazlomnoye Arctic oil project that has ignited protests from environmental groups over the dangers of possible oil spills.

“As was envisaged, production is expected to start by the year-end,” Gazprom Neft Shelf, a unit of Gazprom, said in an email to Reuters – the first public remarks by the company since Greenpeace activists tried to scale the production platform at Russia’s first Arctic offshore oil project last month.

On Wednesday Russia charged Greenpeace activists with piracy for their demonstration against Arctic oil drilling, which the Kremlin sees as a key to Russia’s future prosperity.

Arctic offshore oil and gas development is crucial for Russia, which relies on hydrocarbon sales for more than half its budget revenue. The Ministry of Natural Resources puts the offshore oil resources at 100 billion tonnes, which would be enough to satisfy global demand for 25 years at current consumption levels……..

WASHINGTON,June 25, 2013

President Obama’s recent Climate Action Plan, which calls for an end to public financing for new coal plants overseas, has raised our hopes for a cleaner and safer future … We believe the best way to ensure development is through low carbon growth — not new lignite fired power plants … We therefore ask the U.S. state department to lead a new U.S. Government effort to identify clean alternatives to a proposed coal fired power plant in the country that can be supported by the World Bank Group…..(more)

BANGKOK, 14 October 2013

A National Resilience Award to inspire local leadership to build safer communities launched last week in the Philippines……..UN Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation, Senator Loren Legarda unveiled the initiative on the same weekend in which Typhoon Nari left at least 13 people dead in the northern provinces of the Philippines; a reminder of the urgent need to strengthen resilience in the Philippines….At least 750,000 people were affected before the typhoon made its way out into the South China Sea towards China and Viet Nam.(more)

Firefox_Screenshot_2013-11-10T10-02-34.172ZWarming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased….

Ocean warming dominates the increase in energy stored in the climate system, accounting for more than 90% of the energy accumulated between 1971 and 2010 (high confidence). It is virtually certain that the upper ocean (0−700 m) warmed from 1971 to 2010, and it likely warmed between the 1870s and 1971……..

Human influence on the climate system is clear. This is evident from the increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere, positive radiative forcing, observed warming, and understanding of the climate system. – Excerpts from SREX report by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC);the leading international body for the assessment of climate change endorsed by the UN General Assembly.

Typhoon Haiyan: More than 10,000 feared dead in Philippines; 600,000 evacuated in Vietnam

TACLOBAN/HANOI: A super typhoon that destroyed entire towns across the Philippines is believed to have killed more than 10,000 people, authorities said on Sunday, which would make it the country’s deadliest recorded natural disaster…..The scenes in Tacloban, a city of 220,000 people, and other coastal towns were reminiscent of a tsunami aftermath, with concrete slabs the only part of many homes remaining, vehicles flipped over and power lines destroyed……The Philippines endures a seemingly never-ending pattern of deadly typhoons, earthquakes, volcano eruptions and other natural disasters….

It is located along a typhoon belt and the so-called Ring of Fire, a vast Pacific Ocean region where many of Earth’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur.

Dear Friends and Colleagues, in this session we shall try to find areas of synergy for society in its quest for living in a sustainable environment. I will not preach about Global Warming. Experts on Climate change have already spoken on them and Mother Nature has been politely ( Yes! Hurricane Sandy & Katrina, Cyclone Phailin and Typhoon Haiyan are but a polite nudge; if one understands the tremendous force Earth holds in its bosom)  reminding the Human Civilization on how fragile and pompous is its claim to be the most intelligent and mighty animal on Earth.Civilization is battered, but is yet to come to its senses.Society was always in synergy with Nature it has always been sustainable and one with the Environment. Until the time when we thought it more prudent to follow a culture and life-style alien to our very ethos. When we started considering, without proper thought to design and build, to trade and commerce, to act and think what someone else considered fashionable. While the intelligence lies in following what is good; irrespective of region or nation from where it might have originated. in the past 100 odd years we have behaved like college kids, who would wear any dress which would be trending at the time, irrespective of it suiting or not.We in our pursuit of narrow self-interest forget that with every new technology we adopt, without indigenization it could be detrimental to Sustainable practice, when looked at from the perspective of the Millennium & Sustainable  Development Goals, (as it does not factor at times, of creating jobs or preserve the ecosystem but, deny that opportunity altogether.)

The rate at which we are destroying greener pastures without stopping to think how we can improve the very cities we live in will eventually lead us to situations which almost all of us are very familiar with.

And it is not just the greed of the people directly involved in that event but perhaps all of us sitting in far away plush offices and homes. If we look into ourselves we all have the self-righteous belief that it is only the elected representatives and the administration which is responsible for all things that is required to run a civilization.

Honesty and discipline can’t be selective.

From following simple traffic rules and building by-laws to complex environmental issues; the so called innocent common man is rarely honest when it comes upon himself to follow those rules.

There could be many of us who must know a neighbour who has an endangered turtle in his/her fish tank but don’t even bother?

Tigers are killed because some humans believe that eating parts of them would be beneficial. Trees in tropical and rain-forest are chopped because some in south Asian cities  believe that having a golf course could help turn their brown skin a bit more white and western  (albeit a little brown).

Tree logs are smuggled because without a polished Burma Teak floor, a style statement can’t be made about how rich the man is.

The Panda is near extinct because without fine paper to write upon the CEO can’t work. Without having a printed email, she/he can’t decide coherently.

The fashion conscious can’t be seen wearing the same dress & accessories twice.

But to arrest that we must delve deep into ourselves to find a solution. Unless we understand that each individual reading  this and those outside, whizzing past their window, without any knowledge or interest of what is transpiring within; come together,  we would be facing a calamity so terrible that World War-II would pale by comparison.

The onus is on us to change our life-style. While not one climate scientist or environmentalist suggest that we go back and live in caves; if there would be no irrational demand, exploitation beyond rationale can’t happen.

Even the choice of a petrol/diesel guzzling Car, the fetish of using every cosmetic which boast of all the fruits and vegetables which a hungry third world Nations never gets to eat creates the vicious circle where armed guards swoop down from helicopters to arrest those who were in their own way trying to arrest the slide to climate chaos!

History has always proven that Civilization takes a turn when there is mass movement. But that mass movement finds legitimacy when the elite partake to make the change; therefore it is for those who understand the dangers of unsustainable living create opportunity and solutions which the mass can relate to.

We must nudge the common man in relating every-day events to the Climate Change and how we can adapt if not mitigate the consequence of global warming, the threats of which is already manifest – the drama of Danse Macabre which Mother earth has started playing with regular shows, each more intense or frequent than the last.

A bigger disastrous calamity may befall if steps are not taken; every day, every moment, by all at the micro-level which is catalysed by sound policy at the macro level by the Nation, thus help in making those micro level changes easier for people to adopt and benefit from.

We must understand that Food-Clothing-Shelter will always come in the same order of precedence as it has from time immemorial.

The first necessity after any disaster is Food & Water; Clothing and Shelter….it must be remembered.. always!


 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rise in sea temperature may attract jellyfish to city shore

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

Locals on a mission to clear mess near Muchalla college

Lack of space derails NMMC’s stray-sterilisation programme

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

Ten tonnes of floral waste collected during first visarjan

Thirsty cities, parched villages

BEST buses claim 37 lives every year: Cops

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

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

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

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

Maya!

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

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

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

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

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

ugly city

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Digging the Arctic & India’s new CSR Law


Climate change is one of the most significant threats facing the world today. According to the American Meteorological Society, there is a 90 percent probability that global temperatures will rise by 3.5 to 7.4 degrees Celsius (6.3 to 13.3 degrees Fahrenheit) in less than one hundred years, with even greater increases over land and the poles. These seemingly minor shifts in temperature could trigger widespread disasters in the form of rising sea levels, violent and volatile weather patterns, desertification, famine, water shortages, and other secondary effects including conflict. (read more)

One day after the 66th Year of its formation, India gifted itself with one of the most profound laws in the World.

Friday, August 16, 2013:  With the aim of ensuring environmental sustainability, India becomes the first country to pass a Corporate Social Responsibility that proposes larger companies who have made a profit of at least $80 million over the past three years spend 2 per cent of each year’s profit on initiatives that will help in sustaining the environment.

With this law the Country could  have steped into the history of humankind as the Messiah. But a close look at the sentence …”who have made a profit of at least $80 million over the past three years spend 2 per cent of each year’s profit “…dashes all hope. A mere 2% of profit will not even save the Krills in the Arctic ocean,(click) without which the complete ecosystem would collapse as they are one of the principal factors of carbon capture.

With this single sentence, it joined the club of countries whose thoughts and actions don’t match.

It is a telling report on the moral bankruptcy of those whom we think would lead this modern civilization out of the mess we are already in. It also indicates how the ones who actually want to bring in change;  there are still many among our ever increasing corrupt politicians, who are clean & honest;  are sidelined by those who want to “keep the change” of silver coins in their coffers already spilling with blood money.

Yes! Blood money..because humans can’t even cook a decent meal or build a cottage without killing some life-form in the process. It is a sad commentary on those who consider “realpolitik” superior to statesmanship.

India joins Arctic Council May 16, 2013India’s bid for observer status in the Arctic Council was successful on Wednesday along with that of five other countries — China, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Singapore — at a meeting in Kiruna, Sweden.Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, welcomed India’s admission. An MEA spokesperson said India would contribute its scientific expertise, particularly its polar research capabilities, to the work of the Arctic Council to support its objectives.However, at the level of Realpolitik, India will be looking at the opportunities for hydrocarbon exploration offered in the Arctic circle by joining hands with one of the five countries gearing up for the purpose — the U.S., Canada, Norway, Russia and Denmark.From the point of view of geographical distance, Russia will be the most attractive partner. With the Arctic ice melting fast and opening up business opportunities in the region, India’s ministry of earth sciences has devised a strategy to get a share of the action. India recently became a member of the Arctic Council, a high table of eight countries, including big players such as the US, Canada, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. In May, India and China got permanent observer status in the council.

“We will strengthen our Arctic labs. Right now, we don’t keep them running round the year, but only for eight months. Now, we are thinking of keeping it working for 12 months. We may subsequently add one more station,” MoES secretary Shailesh Nayak told dna while detailing how India would improve its Arctic programme in the next two-three years.

Scientific studies have estimated the Arctic region would have ice-free summers within the next 10-15 years, opening opportunities such as vast, untapped oil and gas reserves, unexploited marine living resources and shorter commercial shipping routes. According to estimates, the region holds 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves and 30% of undiscovered gas deposits.

But to exploit these opportunities, scientists say, countries first need to understand how the region would change when the ice melts.

When one commits a mistake, pardon is the best recourse. But when it is a deliberate and calculated act of omission with full knowledge of the consequences then the people of this Planet need to pause and question the direction of progress.  Through this article, the flip-flops of the government and the confusion prevailing in the world is highlighted. Progress can only be attained through progressive thought and moral conviction. Sadly we are progressing no more.

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of the consultation team, sharing the latest report by TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity).

Environmental Sustainability Post 2015 Consultation team.

Commissioned by the TEEB for Business Coalition, the report “Natural Capital at Risk: The Top 100 Externalities of Business” identifies the world’s largest natural capital risks and opportunities for business and their investors. Authored by Trucost, the report quantifies environmental externalities such as damages from climate change, pollution, land conversion and depletion of natural resources, across business sectors and at a regional level. It demonstrates that the profits of high impact business sectors would be wiped out if the costs of environmental damage and unsustainable natural resource use are accounted for. This report highlights the urgent need for businesses to manage natural capital assets and reduce liabilities. Businesses and investors can take account of natural capital impacts in decision making to manage risk and gain competitive advantage.

 Headline findings are:

  • The primary production (agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining, oil and gas exploration, utilities) and primary processing (cement, steel, pulp and paper, petrochemicals) sectors analyzed are estimated to have externality costs totaling US$7.3 trillion, which equates to 13% of global economic output in 2009. The value of the Top 100 externalities is estimated at US$4.7 trillion or 65% of the total primary sector impacts identified.
  • The majority of environmental externality costs are from greenhouse gas emissions (38%) followed by water use (25%); land use (24%); air pollution (7%), land and water pollution (5%) and waste (1%).

 Highest impact externalities are:

  • Coal-fired power in Eastern Asia and Northern America rank 1 and 3, respectively estimated at US$ 453 billion per annum and US$ 317 billion. These consist of the damage impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, and the health costs and other damage due to air pollution. In both instances, these social costs exceeded the production value of the sector.
  • The other highest impact sectors are agriculture, in areas of water scarcity, and where the level of production and therefore land use is also high. Cattle ranching in South America, at an estimated US$ 354 billion ranks second. Wheat and rice production in Southern Asia rank fourth and fifth respectively.

The report assessed more than 100 environmental impacts using the Trucost environmental model which condenses them into six Environmental Key Performance Indicators (eKPIs) to cover the categories: water use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste, air pollution, water and land pollution, and land use.! These eKPIs were then quantified by region across over 500 business sectors.

Hope this stimulates further discussion.

Best regards,

Environmental Sustainability Post 2015 Consultation team.

The melting ice in the Arctic Ocean means that more ships are plying the northern sea route in the summer months than ever before. In 2012, over 46 vessels sailed the route, compared to 34 in 2011 and only four in 2010. Reports said Chinese scientists aboard a Ukrainian-built icebreaker, the Xuelong or Snow Dragon, completed the country’s first trans-Arctic ship voyage from Shanghai to Iceland.

Ocean Pollution: Global Shipping and the Cruise Industry(click to read)

16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world: As ships get bigger, the pollution is getting worse. The most staggering statistic of all is that just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulphur pollution as all the world’s cars.Because of their colossal engines, each as heavy as a small ship, these super-vessels use as much fuel as small power stations. But, unlike power stations or cars, they can burn the cheapest, filthiest, high-sulphur fuel: the thick residues left behind in refineries after the lighter liquids have been taken. The stuff nobody on land is allowed to use….There are now an estimated 100,000 ships on the seas, and the fleet is growing fast as goods are ferried in vast quantities from Asian industrial powerhouses to consumers in Europe and North America. (read more).

India Steps Up Climate Change Efforts (August 24, 2013): As international climate negotiations progress this week in Bangkok, Thailand, India has shown signs of more proactive engagement on climate change issues both internationally and at home.While the Indian government continues to emphasize poverty alleviation and economic development as the country’s highest priorities, recent stances on domestic emission reductions indicate that India is taking considerable steps to encourage more constructive global climate talks. India joins a growing contingent of developing countries that “are making very significant efforts to show what they are doing to address climate change and indicate what more they are willing to do,” according to U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer.Until recently, India had repeatedly rejected calls to quantify its targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the grounds that this would jeopardize national poverty alleviation goals.”India cannot and will not take emission reduction targets because poverty eradication and social and economic development are first and over-riding priorities,” Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said in June. But two weeks ago, in a surprising reversal, India agreed to quantify its efforts to mitigate climate change. Ramesh said India would reduce emissions by “a broadly indicative number,” although the reductions would still not be bound by international law. At the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in Italy in July, India joined 16 other countries in declaring that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels should not exceed 2 degrees Celsius. This goal remains somewhat controversial, however, as there is still no clear agreement on how countries will share the burden for reducing global emissions. (read more)

The Copenhagen Accord – Calls for “an assessment of the implementation of this Accord to be completed by 2015… This would include consideration of strengthening the long-term goal”, for example to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.

Statement by UNFCCC Executive Secretary on crossing of 400 ppm CO2 threshold(Bonn, 13 May 2013)
Reacting to the fact that the concentration of heat trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere last week passed the 400 parts per million mark at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, the Executive
Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres on Monday called for a greatly stepped up response to climate change by all parts of society: “With 400 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, we have crossed an historic threshold and entered a new danger zone. The world must wake up and take note of what this means for human security, human welfare and economic development. In the face of clear and present danger, we need a policy response which truly rises to the challenge. We still have a chance to stave off the worst effects of climate change, but this will require a greatly stepped up response across all three central pillars of action: action by the international community, by government at all levels, and by business and finance.”
While India’s CSR Law is a positive step in the right direction, unless the World wakes up to it and adds its share, the effort would be futile.
Excellence can not be achieved in isolation neither as a person nor as a Nation.
Just as an excellent dinning requires 56 dishes to accomplish with (chappan bhog) and 16 adornments are required to exemplify beauty (solah singar) of a woman – such will be the need for this planet attain its former pristine self. We need contribution from all sectors of business & industry of all Nations, in perfect synchronization to attain this feat.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Climate Change and Urban Resilience – The Role of Green Building Councils


NEW YORK, 24 June 2013UNISDR Chief Margareta Wahlström today welcomed a proposal that “resilient cities” should be one of ten top global priorities in the post-2015 development agenda.

Ms. Wahlström said: “UNISDR has been running the Making Cities Resilient Campaign for three years now and our experience of working closely with both capital cities and small municipalities tells us that urban resilience needs to be at the top of the global development agenda. Many Mayors and local governments around the world are leading the way in reducing risk.” The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN), led by the eminent economist and adviser to the UN Secretary-General, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, has set out ten goals in an Action Agenda for Sustainable Development in the form of recommendations for Sustainable Development Goals. One of the ten goals — Goal 7 — is to “empower inclusive, productive and resilient cities”. Under this goal, one suggested target (Target 7c) is to ensure the integration of “climate and disaster resilience into investments and standards”.

The world’s governments agreed last year at the historic Rio+20 Summit to adopt universally applicable Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015. To support this agreement, the SDSN has mobilized global technical expertise to identify ten “priority challenges” or potential goals, each accompanied by a set of targets, which can guide global efforts to achieve sustainable development during the period 2015-2030.

A stand-alone goal on cities will serve to “mobilize and bring together the efforts of multiple actors and stakeholders such as local authorities, national governments, businesses, knowledge institutions and civil society across a range of urban issues such as disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation”, according to the Report. “It is essential that the world rallies around a post-2015 global goal to advance urban resilience and minimize creating new disaster risks and adding to the economic losses caused by increased exposure to natural hazards.” From 2011 to 2020 alone, investments in urban development are projected to increase by 67 per cent globally. Much of this new urbanization will unfold in hazard-exposed regions threatening global resilience and sustainability unless governments and businesses start incorporating disaster risks into decision-making. The recently released report by the Secretary-General’s High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 agenda also echoes the SDSN report’s emphasis on addressing urban challenges. In no uncertain terms, it proclaims: “Cities are where the battle for sustainable development will be won or lost. “The recommendations of the SDSN and the High Level Panel reports are expected to serve as critical inputs to the deliberations that governments are undertaking to decide on a development roadmap that will go into effect in 2015.

This monsoon season when Uttarakhand was devastated by the mighty land-slide that followed a cloud burst; our Political leaders were quick to lay the blame on the opposition and patting their own back as how they have only let a few thousand die,( about 5000+ & about the same numbers missing) while saving 110,000.

5600 dead. Montserrat island which is a British Overseas Territory has a population of 6000. That would leave a population of 400 – the population of Vatican is 500. (read least populated countries of the World )

The Falkland Islands  archipelago located in the South Atlantic Ocean has a population of 4000. An entire foreign Nation’s population + 1500 and yet our Political masters have the guts to argue and make the matters petty as was seen in several TV News channel. Disregarding the gravity, refusing to learn nothing from it. And none even mentioned Climate Change.

This monsoon season while our Political leaders, mull over grave impacts on Law and Order situations which they claim to have averted, by sacking an Honest and Upright officer who took on the mighty sand mafia…

Similar mud slinging, but the most sinister part observed by the common man was not a single Political stalwart made a comment…

For they know not that the officer was not only doing her immediate duty but was by her act saving the Nation from a calamity which is waiting to happen.

Whenever there would be unregulated exploitation of Mother Nature, her vengeance – terrible and devastating would befall on all of us!

While righteous anger and angst is understandable, before we the “common men & women” spite the politician-mafia nexus must look deep within ourselves.

Will the need of that much of extra sand diminish if we agree not to do the “interior decoration” of our homes every 5 years just to show that we have arrived ? Tearing down the fine polished Italian marble floor which just 5 years ago one was swooning and fawning over while giving that house-warming party?

Will the need for that much of extra sand diminish if we agree not to by that second home ( actually the 3rd or 5th ) which we will hardly ever occupy just because it is – oh! so far away from the madding crowd…in the lush green vale full of fresh air……which the bulldozer of the promoter would destroy and we too with our smoke belching SUV’s.

Just as we all are directly or indirectly involved in the devastation of forests. Our ever more demand for fine wooden furniture, carved wood main-door and that perfect wooden flooring makes us partner to the crime.

How difficult is it to understand a situation like the Jamuma river angry and uncontrollable thundering down from the Himalayas to wipe out a large swat of New Delhi, the so called city of the Rich and the Powerful ?

It is not for no reason our ancestors revered Nature as Mother Goddess. Just as a mother would, she nurtures..she admonishes again and again…her intensity of punishment increase in direct proportion to the level of unruliness. Uttarakhand was a warning, just as Hurricane Sandy was. If we keep on ripping her belly and banks, we will pay for it.

The UNISDR – Making Cities Resilient cannot happen without understanding who the stake-holders are. And the most important stakeholders do not live in the cities. But in the far-flung country side between rivers and mountains from where the bounty of Nature is pillaged to feed the Cities. 

The problem is that without development the modern human civilization would wallow in decadence and perish. Creating chaos far greater than what is now. This fact can’t be denied or ignored. But solutions which are there must be presented in a proper way.

This is where the role of the Green Building Councils comes to play. They are a consortium of Business organization who wishes to make a difference. Who can make a difference.

The approach, in my understanding has to be two pronged. The first is to abate the destruction and the second is to mitigate it.

To abate the situation of people wanting to build more just because they can afford to must be stopped. Now legally no one can do that, but socially it is possible. By engaging thought leaders and socially popular personalities the Green Building Council must show and rightly so..that the Taj Mahal, the Czars Palace, the Vatican and many more would not have retained the “wow!”  Factor had the owners of these amazing buildings changed the interior décore every 5th year.

The simple though of antique is good must be made popular and fashionable at the same time. It can and will save a lot of environmental damage. While the manufacturing industry may suffer a slowdown initially, the service industry especially operation & maintenance would get a boost. We must argue the fact that their can never be “sunshine” everywhere at the same time. Inflation in currency or depression both give equal opportunity to growth.

What is opportunity for some can be misfortune for another. Capitalism however smart, still in some way follows the laws of Nature. The Carrot – The Rabbit – The Snake – The Mongoose each have a different perspective on opportunity and misfortune.  But if the rabbit lets even a little of the carrot uneaten the plant can regenerate back to life.  It is called Sustainability.

That is the art Business must adopt.

This brings us to the next solution – to create a conducive environment where waste plastic and other discarded material or composites can be used (10 Cutting-edge, Energy-efficient Building Materials). The business industry has already come up with some ideas,  what is required is to make them popular and indigenize them where ever possible. Some ideas are very futuristic(10 Building Materials from the Future), but if the Green Building council along with the CIICESD or the WBSCD come together, even these products may get created from recycled products or waste.

The infrastructure industry must make mandatory use of Composite materials and the implementation of cutting-edge technologies, such as nanotechnology,(read more). This is perhaps the only way we can limit the dependency on traditional building materials.

Moreover, there must be a legislation that industry use composite materials made of waste plastic to build their factories and warehouses. And slowly but surely try to reduce the size of the garbage island using (How the oceans can clean themselves: Boyan Slat at TEDxDelft). Once the idea is understood by all and sundry that money can be made business will surely boost the concept the clean technology propogators have been trying to introduce. (Green Business Ideas : Tall Buildings made from waste plastic is possible & its LCA is cheap – a builders delight and boon to Environmentalist)

It is one thing to be ruffled by the inconsiderate manner some people try and exploit nature for short term gains. To reverse the trend the mind and heart must think sustainable.  It is only then the world’s governments which agreed last year at the historic Rio+20 Summit to adopt universally applicable Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015 would act.

It is only then – “Many Mayors and local governments around the world are leading the way in reducing risk.” may also become true in India and around Nodia, Uttar Pradesh. (read more)

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

World Bank – would you use second hand furniture ?


Two News articles of relevance needs to be understood from a context other than what is reported.

New Delhi/London: Global warming could lead to more droughts, water scarcity, extremely hot summer, severe flooding, and poor food production in South-Asia, including India, a World Bank report said on Wednesday.
Mumbai and Kolkata will see a “rise in the sea level, tropical cyclones and riverine flooding”. Water scarcity will plague the Western Ghats. There will be “increased droughts over north-western India, Pakistan and Afghanistan”. If there would be “unprecedented” hot summers, there would also be “extremely wet monsoons”.
“An extremely wet monsoon that at present has a chance of occurring only once in 100 years is projected to occur every 10 years by the end of this century,” the report said. It also projected a rise in severe floods and “severe tropical cyclone impact” within the next 25 years. Muthukumar S Mani, World Bank’s senior environmental economist, released the report in the national capital here. “What has happened in Uttarakhand is tragic but there is no science right now through which one can link that to climate change. But due to climate change such unusual events would become normal.” Onno Ruhl, World Bank’s country director, said what is more worrying is “climate change would hit the poor hardest”. He said what is needed for India is “sustainable development”, renewable energies, improved water management among others. The report estimates that by 2050s, with a temperature increase of 2-2.5°C, water for agriculture in the river basins of the Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra will reduce. A rise of 2°C in global temperature would mean India’s crop yield would go down significantly by the 2040s. (With agency inputs)
Food, water supplies to be hit.

United Nations: Global warming of 2 degrees Celsius threatens African food production and Asian water supplies “in our lifetime,” hurting the poorest first, the World Bank said.
That increase may be reached in 20 to 30 years, while a 50-centimetre gain in sea levels may be “unavoidable” by 2050, the bank said in the report on how the poorest nations will be affected. The UN is seeking to keep warming to 2 degrees since the 1800s. “In sub-Saharan Africa, food shortages will become more common,” Rachel Kyte, a bank vice president for sustainable development, told reporters. “In South Asia, shifting rain patterns will leave some areas underwater and others without enough water for power generation, irrigation or drinking.” The study builds on an investigation released by the bank in November that said the planet is set to warm by 4 degrees by 2100. It increases pressure on policy makers to cut greenhouse- gas emissions blamed for global warming as envoys from more than 190 nations work to craft a new climate treaty by 2015. “In Southeast Asia, the loss of coral reefs would reduce fishstocks, leave coastal communities and cities more vulnerable to increasingly violent storms and landslides, and impact tourism,” Kyte said. The bank’s spending to help nations adapt to effects of climate change doubled in 2012 to $4.6 billion.
The report is the latest attempt by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim to make the institution a bigger participant in the fight against global warming.—Bloomberg

Now that the dust has settled down on the devastating landslide in North Indian state of Uttarakhand. The do’s and don’t the responsible and the reprehensible has been laid thread bare….

Sitting on a teak wood handle chair across a pine wood desk in my study which is tastefully done with rose wood panelling, I wondered and was equally annoyed as the TV anchor who thundered that it is only the politicians and bureaucrats who were responsible for the massacre. And those responsible must be held accountable. I fully agree to that but…

While that may be true, it was not the complete truth and the experts who were trying to explain that fine point incurred the wrath of the Anchor, because he alone knew the absolute truth and that was the gospel the Nation wanted to know, such is his self-righteous belief. But was he alone in this reaction? If we look into ourselves we all have the self-righteous belief that it is only the elected representatives and the administration which is responsible for all things that is required to run a civilization.

Buildings with spurious materials and with utter disregard to rules are built; from simple traffic rules to complex environmental issues are swept away by the Indian populace every time and every where. The so called honest Indian is not honest at all. Honesty and discipline can’t be selective. Disregarding traffic rules and building by-laws when it comes to self while blaming the Politicians for the bad governance must be condemned strongly.

Tigers are killed because some humans believe that eating them would be beneficial. Trees are chopped because some humans believe that without them fine homes can’t be built. Tree logs are smuggled because without a polished Burma Teak floor, a style statement can’t be made about how rich the human is. The Panda is near extinct because without fine paper to write upon the CEO can’t work. The fashion concious can’t be seen wearing the same dress & accessories twice.

Be it Gold, Marble or Coal if there would be no irrational demand, exploitation beyond rationale can’t happen. If there can’t  be rationing of product and produce each human can consume a I have proposed in Green Business Idea: Sustainable Trade Practice is possible; (without some “rights” group controlled by “wrong” conglomerates  disrupting such saner thoughts),  The Danse Macabre, which I wrote before just weeks before the Uttrakhand  disaster will remain forever true.

I choose the word civilization over a nation because, it is the mind-set of human race that needs to change if we need to survive.

And that has to start with the office of the World Bank and the United Nation and their ilk follow the Reduce – Reuse – Recycle principle in earnest.

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,