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Green Business Idea – Collaborate not Compete to get off the Eco(nomic) crisis


As globalization and technology draw the world together, they create opportunities for innovation that are as great as any in the past three centuries. They create the potential for a second revolution in productivity — but one in which we no longer need to trade ecological assets for economic ones. –The Two Deficits, Part Four

This is one event which almost every super-market shopper has faced. You go out looking for your favoured item and you are always spoilt for choices. Every time there is a better tooth-paste or shampoo or cereal.  Look for an ice-cream and there are dozens vying for your attention. Same with Cars and motorbikes or clothes.

Thus one can divide the products into Food & Processed food, Clothes & Ready-made clothes, Transport & Personal Transport etcetera. Essentially all fall into certain basic categories which can be classified into FOOD-CLOTH-SHELTER, the pillars of modern Economics and foundation of civilization. (explained in my other article)

So if you buy a potato chip…you are buying processed food and just that. Potatoes which have gone through the same process of being selected from a farm, cleaned, cut, fried and added with the desired flavours and packed.

The machinery being used by one manufacturer would perhaps be of the same make of that of the competing brand and they both are purchasing potatoes from the same region, thus the soil and other climatic conditions of growing the product is almost the same or similar. And the packaging is also almost coming from the same source, petroleum or paper pulp.

Yet each similar product claiming that it is unique. Some obviously are. Most aren’t. The only product which can claim to be unique every-time even when being manufactured in the same region are the ones we get naturally. I rest my case with the humble chilly.

And it is this Biodiversity which we need to protect and preserve. Else no brand can claim that they have “spice” in their flavour for their would be nothing to spice up sooner than later.

There is a move called The Lorax. A movie I would request the more knowledgeable to acknowledge byI screening it in Davos 2014.A movie which has been able to capture how desire turn into greed and how we Humans have lost the focus of why we started to work in the first place. It was primarily for sustenance of self and dependants. Which in turn was to give us happiness – safety – security.

While the protagonist at the end is able to save the World by saving a species from extinction, I do not know if many amongst us would like to place our bets on saving the Human species when we meet for the World We Want 2015.

“Why this children film and not Al Gore‘s – An Inconvenient Truth?” some would ask. Simple !  If we had achieved the goal in our life-time then the Millennium Development Goals would not have been mooted. It would have been a subject in History for our children to study.

“Problems are inevitable in any development program; failure is not.” –  Fail- Safe Management; A World Bank Publication.

Continuing from my last , where it is more than evident that Business are suffering and going to suffer severely in the coming years, innovation is the only adaptation choice we are left with. The doubters can read on the unprecedented flood of Central Europe posted barely a few hours ago.

The Green Business Idea  I’m about to suggest will be full of problems and as with many of my ideas half-baked and not thoroughly researched. Only soul-searched.

Brand shown here is only for literary purpose only.

Let’s talk of Potato Chips as an example. I do not know how many brands are there in the World but the Top 20 Potato Chip Brands have similar or different info-graphics showcasing that their brand is the best. And has World dominion.  What I do know however is that there always would be a Numero uno (first) and a Numero último (last). And there would also be some which are Numero acabado or terminado ! Because they could not compete in the cut-throat competition of the fickle consumerist modern society we call the modern civilization. Failure has nothing to do with quality (at times) but perceptions and trend and many micro & macro factors. Ask any cell-phone manufacturer. Or concept car maker. Or even a steel company.

So does that mean that the people who are rendered jobless are not worthy or the potato which made the chip not natural ? It is neither. When you are given a finite resource – man & material; there is so much you can do.

Try eating a full 7 course lunch just after having a hearty break-fast.Or try eating the same hearty break-fast say of farm – fresh apples in a non apple growing season.You can’t! Apples you will get, but they won’t be farm-fresh but freshly frozen.

Same happens for labour, what was achieved on this date can’t be achieved on the same date next month or next year. And even if it is attempted; not by the same set of persons. Some may not be around any more.

Thus with finite resources and finite work opportunities what we have led ourselves into is what in Hindu Mythological term is called – “Chakravuyu”. One in which to enter is easy but to come-out is difficult. When I say difficult I mean just that. Not impossible. As explained in the Mahabharata, when one is guided by the inner conscience of self and is of stead-fast mind devoid of greed and complete surrender to duty the chakravuyu can be broken as it was by Arjuna.

Equality and Equal opportunity can always prevent grief. And for that we need to collaborate. And it can be sustainable.

If we create only 4 hours of work per person with the same amount of pay or less ( as foretold – a difficult situation ) we almost eliminate joblessness.

Joblessness is a huge strain to the economy in form of payout of dole, social security etcetera.

Jobs of the people who are out of work, for example from a recently closed European TV company. Surely there would be experts in that pool who can fill in the shoes of those who need to put 14 -16 hours a day working for another TV studio, somewhere in another European or Asian or American Nation. And although having jobs; are equally miserable because of lack of time for self and family.

This misery manifests into anger and discontentment and is vented by protest and lock-outs demanding higher wages; knowing fully well that there aren’t any option of having a better time management and a better life. So the least they can do for their kith and kin is earn a few dollars more with an almost mirage like hope that money would make things better and give them a better life.

Imagine if we had 4 hours shifts.

For the same job we could have 6 people employed. That is an decrease by 6 times the unemployed ratio. A huge sociopolitical pressure can get released. It also allows for social engineering wherein population control as well as population management would be possible. Simply because when people are content, they readily accept radical ideas. (Sustainable Living and Climate Initiative: Socio-Political Decisions can have a profound effect on it.)

In the similar fashion instead of a Potato chip company on its way of becoming International giant – Giants by default trample everything that comes underneath it – becomes a benevolent benefactor and employs or buys the full produce from the near defunct smaller company at a fair price ( a price which that company would have naturally got had it been profitable) and or allows them to sell the lead produce with transfer of technology (with guaranteed non breach of secrecy contract). This way the giant does not have to grow its “very own” potato and thus destroy a paddy field and perhaps the livelihood of those with it. And compound the already fragile food scarcity issue.

And

Every season we allow for a certain amount of produce of a particular crop be produced internationally. Pooled at a common source and distributed as per demand amongst Nations above and beyond a standard quota which is equal for all. We thereby (hopefully) would not have Wheat rotting in the open storage pens, we would not have hunger and neither would there be a strain in giving the Minimum Support Price. (a very difficult problem but not impossible to solve).

It can be done for minerals and metals  too. Thus the service and manufacturing sectors of all hues can slowly and surely be able to reduce its destructive and unsustainable foot-print.

However, this would only be possible if Nations have able Governance and non-corrupt Government. India can’t presently take the lead. But by mooting this idea in the International fora can at-least be seen as a serious player in the goal to attain Sustainable Living and abating Climate Change as per the MDS vision.

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liveability Index 2012

Highlights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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


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

Water bubble

Water bubble (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus infrastructure suffers and sustainable practice become costly.

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

Thus traffic snarl occur, increasing the noxious fumes.

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

Thus toxic waste leach the very land we live.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When you stop living and loving Nature –

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

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

We indeed do have the Midas Touch.

 

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Business As Usual – a sure-fire guide to kill Sustainable Development Goals.


“Only Rupees Two ?. What about the rent of my roof ? With Mumbai realty prices starting at Rupees 6000/ feet square, I only get to save Rs.2 per KW on my electrical consumption and that too for a measly 20years ? A minimum of Rs 4 should be considered. After all it will be installed on my roof and it makes perfect business sense to bargain for more. After all the investor is doing this for profit and not for charity. It must be business as usual for him.”

With EPC for solar hovering at 8.5 Crore  shaving Rs. 4 out of 10 left us with a number which no investor who is not a buccaneer would touch and no banker would believe in. Especially when the user, does not have to pay a single Paise for the Engineering – Procurement – Construction (EPC) or pay for its Operation & Maintenance (O&M)  of the Solar power plant, but just consume the power produced for the full period of 20 years. And the Return on Investment comes via the tariff the user pays monthly, adjusted over the length of the contract.

In my effort to save the planet from global warming, I was pleasantly surprised when a few RESCO ( renewable energy service company ) approached me with the idea of applying Solar Photovoltaic as an alternate day-time energy source for large commercial establishments. It was like manna from heaven. What more could a practising LEED / GRIHA consultant want ? It would make all my buildings much more “greener” than the other green buildings. It was like a dream come true. Thus I ventured out to increase the ambition of my clients to go for Green Building certification, comforted by the fact that I would accrue more points on the certification scale with use of all that is possible with Solar Power.

Little did I know, that no one would be interested in utilizing such opportunity unless they could bargain for more. It is a typical tendency of all Human today. We always seek more. Even in death we seek more. While our ashes would hardly fill a small Urn, we like to have a few hectare of land as memorial. Everybody wants to build the Taj Mahal; the largest tomb-stone of this planet.

Capitalism and Greed ruled then. It rules now. The only difference is that the Emperor did not have to worry about Global Warming and sinking of the landmass under the sea !

It is therefore imperative that the Business As Usual model changes. Nations must act in unison to delete the present Capitalist meaning of Business as Usual. Simply because we are living in unusual times. This trend is evident even at the UNFCCC meets, which have now become more of a tour operators delight and the host country which wins the next round of meeting, prepares like one does after winning the Olympics, to rake in the moolah that would come from packed hotels; a sure-fire way to end the lean seasons of a city. And the repeated failure to come into concrete agreements since the Copenhagen Summit only lays credence to the alleged fact.

People follow the path shown by their leaders. When industry captains and world leaders apply the fundamentals of capitalism and have through that applications benefited self and the Nation in the past, it is hard for the common man not to practice it in one form or the other. In India, since Independence we have followed and still follow the L1 format. Everything has to be sasta-sunder-majboot ( cheap & best ). That we have a major scam a day and still considered 3rd world proves that we are wrong and horribly so. A few shiny glass buildings in 4 metropolis does not change the facts. All an unbeliever needs to do, is come to Mumbai and while staying in any tall-building wish not to spot slum & squalor. His/her prayers would not be answered.

It is therefore necessary for the leaders to take the responsibility of preaching the SREX Report and also the (IWR) Inclusive Wealth Report in our collective bid to forward the Sustainable Development Goals. (SDG)

Millennium Development Goals Postcards

Millennium Development Goals Postcards (Photo credit: US Mission Geneva)

The Eight paths towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)

  1. Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger,
  2. Achieving universal primary education,
  3. Promoting gender equality and empowering women,
  4. Reducing child mortality rates,
  5. Improving maternal health,
  6. Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases,
  7. Ensuring environmental sustainability, and
  8. Developing a global partnership for development

Which one can achieve by applying the SDG’s charter

  • Action-oriented
  • Concise
  • Easy to communicate
  • Limited in number
  • Aspirational
  • Global in nature
  • Universally applicable to all countries while taking into account different national realities, capacities and levels of development and respecting national policies and priorities.

Till now MDG has hardly percolated to the leaves just below the bud, forget reaching the grass-root.

The way I understand it, the Goal – Ensuring Environmental Sustainability should be the first and foremost focus. It needs to be action oriented and not conference oriented. Because conference by default don’t help in communicating easily. It is meant for the class not mass. And the class already aware of the subject are achieving almost everything as envisioned as long as it serves their narrow interest . It is the pace which is hardly comforting even if one accounts for the narrow interest oriented improvements the agenda of the rich promote.

How difficult would it be for the United Nations, to communicate directly to millions of internet users on a sustained basis and engage them on an one-to-one conversation to partake in Sustainable practice? Which directly benefit them, and thus allow them to make informed choices. How difficult is it that the World leaders come together and de-link the process of sustainable living and its practical methods from the BAU model as practised in the present flawed market system ? Why should the IRR (internal rate of return) and RoI (return on investment) be calculated based on a flawed capitalist system where profit always means self aggrandisement?

Why cant the World Bank and Economists innovate the datum through which sustainable tools and its products get measured for its RoI against the IWR ?

The logic is as follows. Should say, the Government of India decide that following MDG goal # 7 – all Buildings, Factories and Commercial  establishments opt for Renewable energy, as viable depending on the location, these are perhaps a few things that is bound to happen.

A) As the power consumption through fossil fuel would reduce, the pressure on the exchequer too would reduce. This is because we can import less oil. Now with the saved petro-dollars the government can implement all the social up-liftment programmes namely MDG goal 1; 2; 4; 5 & 6.

B) Large Hydle-powered dams would not be needed to be built any more and the lush green ecosystem which along with a few hundred villages, and with it the future of villagers would not have to sink into oblivion. This would directly save many from abject poverty and migration to cities to increase the size of slums. In fact the villagers could benefit by having some electricity themselves and improve their lot as mentioned in my earlier article Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos. while the government benefits further.

C) While promoting gender equality requires the discipline and sobriety fast disappearing from our political class, as evident from the comments they have given on media in recent and not so recent incidents of crime against women. Empowering women can also be possible through use of RE, a few ideas on them can be found in my article Renewable Energy – Empowering Women & Saving Forests.And through this too, as explained in the article the government can save on cross-subsidy and full-fill its promises for uplifting its countrymen.

It is business as usual for one political party not to allow an individual politician form a competing party to implement a good idea, which has mass appeal. Simply because in the next round of election the statesman may win against the politician.

Perhaps at the end of 1000 days in 2015, we will know whether we really achieved what was envisaged in the MDG or we still have to look beyond for the Future We Want.

 

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Green Business Ideas for the future Cities


During my recent visit to Birla Institute of Technology & Science, (Goa campus) I was given an opportunity to talk to a class of students on the synergy between Renewable Energy & Future technology with its potential business applications. Not being an expert in any of the subject, I considered the path of least resistance. That is to put forth a few Green Business Ideas and with the talent pool BITS has, if there would be any viability in my ideas, they would perhaps be the best bet to make them happen.

By default, I have never attempted to invent the wheel. It needs a superior mind to be the inventor. But, I have some confidence in exploiting a tool to its maximum benefit by tweaking it just a little. Thus, a few thoughts came into my mind.

On my last invite to BITS – Goa, I was fortunate to meet some of the best minds of the country which inspired me to come up with a thought which I penned down as Solar Laptop & Mobile : In your store by next summer? While researching for my impending lecture this time around, I found that the idea has already been implemented.(article). Not in the exact way I had written about but we already have a piezoelectric laptop and jogging shoe. And  among many inventors some of the protagonists are Indians too. The only feather missing was the name of a primer Indian institute. Its time the Indian Engineering students change that. However I was  glad to find young achievers in a lesser known Nagpur institution the Nuva College of Engineering when it came to the piezoelectric shoe (article). Here I found people who are already doing parallel research and achieving the same concepts.

I am not sure how many young minds in India are even aware of The National Innovation Foundation.? As with every meaningful governance tool, it too languishes in a dusty corner with no real attempt by the Ministry of Science and Technology to promote it among the masses in a sustained and populist way. If one sees the site, some of the products although brilliant, have not found currency in the fast modern megalopolis simply because most innovation have not reached the market, barring an amazing few.

The need of the hour is that we have a constant dedicated media, specially a visual media which keeps showcasing the excellent Green Ideas which is being thought the world over. If India can achieve this one single act, I’m sure that brilliant young minds would showcase more and more concepts of efficient living. It would and should become a platform for exchange between the academia : business doing a greater good to this resource depleted planet.

It is said that Ideas can save a life, believing in this I put forth a few more ideas to the students at BITS – Goa.

The first thing I said was that one could revisit the piezoelectric powered lap-top and see if they could harness  the ambient light emitting form the screen into small photo-voltaic panels fitted just above the key-board space. And can a battery also be developed which could convert the waste-heat into power? True the initial contraption may be an extension (accessory) rather than a part of the computer, but it would help extend the charge thus reducing drawing of power from the grid.

The concept could perhaps be extended to large computer Server Rooms. Server rooms by default have to be kept cool 24x7x365 thus a huge drain on electrical power to run air-conditioners. Therefore can it be possible that the heat being exhausted by the server fans be directed to a metal plate which has its other end super cool, thus inducing a current, which then forms part of the energy demand of the air-conditioners ?

While in 2009 Maxell did created a near recycled battery and also conceptualized the reverse supply chain, not much traction is seen on it. Simply because we always lack the money and might to do a good thing. The other day, while discarding a dozen coin cell / button batteries from my child’s toys I was deeply disappointed that none were rechargeable. And there was no shop or scrap-dealer ready to take them. Simply because they have no resale value, weighing between 1.9 gram to 2.6 gram the 10 pieces could have hardly moved the scale to excite a scrap metal vendor. However if the same calculation is applied as I did in the article Green Business Ideas – CDM methods for Steel Production.the result too would be in million tonnes of steel.

I wondered if the promoters of POSCO steel plant which is facing the ire of the Odisha villagers would consider, the idea of innovative recycle. But then we are always happy to rip and rape life-style and virgin land rather than think sensibly. After all most of us are intelligent human devoid of silly sentiments of saving Earth. We are smart enough, when the time comes to relocate to another living planet in the Universe! So what if we don’t have the address, we can always ask it from the doomsday cults who keep sighting aliens.

Bio-degradable batteries

So the next best Idea which young achievers could look at is bio-degradable cells. Already there is a lot of research on-going but I’ve yet to see a button battery which is bio-degradable. The thought itself is so exciting, because different branches of engineering students, within the campus can group together to devise the perfect tool.

Perhaps they could design a Mobile phone or adopt one of the path-breaking concept of a Grass -phone but add more piratical concepts and look to at it. Then engineer the battery area in a way so that button cells are no longer  required but the ones which are bio-degradable can be used. Even the new lithium-ion batteries which are paper-thin and bio-degradable need to be developed further to be made for mass consumption and cheaper. Which then can be applied to the host of  futuristic smart phone designs which are already being showcased. And to add on to the technology of Mobile phones there are two more areas of research. The first one is to develop an “App” which can control the cell-phone camera; when detached from the phone and stuck to a wall or placed on a table to shoot self-portraits. It is almost a necessity, which almost all cell-phone users must have faced one time or the other. The detached camera can be controlled for zoom and focus via blue-tooth while the applications helps set that perfect screen-shot with the desired back-ground. No more waiting for strangers to click ones photo, blurred or shaken and missing some vital elements the photographer would have wanted !

The second more closer to my thoughts is a simple layman friendly mobile phone application which could measure the ambient light in a room and rightly advice, post keying in the information as to how many lights and at what temperature the Air-conditioner should be set, vis-a-vis light transmission from the windows at day-time and the out-side temperature prevalent. This would make sense even in LEED certified building as because complete automation of lighting controls on an hour to hour basis is not yet prevalent and not all homes have the automation facility which one may find in offices, which are more given to better energy management.

While it can not be denied that institutions world over have some of the most brilliant innovations happening, the Indian scenario needs to improve further. As is the case of the piezoelectric driven laptop, where the Indian scientist are doing the research in Australia; we need more scientist doing research in India itself. It is only then we shall be able to have products which are cheaper and more affordable to the masses.

Ideas like piezoelectric should find currency and support from both business and government alike because the seer population of India would be a boon to such renewable energy development. It is time we have people looking at the applications of piezoelectric as the west is doing so actively.

And here the role of institutions become important in terms of indigenous design and development.

 

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Green Business Innovation : Offices can now print on a E-paper and save forest.


 

Architects typically work with large-format drawings on 24 by 36-inch or larger paper. Most architectural firms have their own large-format printers or plotters to print and copy computer-generated drawings. Architects and construction houses waste a lot of paper. Even when they design a LEED building. Because the way most of them work is not sustainable at all, this I covered in my earlier article, Green Buildings – How most of them are really made, the inside story.

The reason for this is simple. The corporates which run these architectural houses are mostly developers who have become so callused by the “system” which runs India, that they have lost the perspective of good and bad. For most of them Sustainability is another “task” and “Green norms” are an impediment which they need to give a lip service too. Thus one would see, even for a small correction or revision, entire design sheets are printed, minimum 3 prints of size A -Zero.

Since trees come in all different sizes, it is difficult to estimate how much paper comes from one tree, however according to one paper manufacturer, a cord of wood measuring 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet produces nearly 90,000 sheets paper. Taking the last census report, India’s total population was around 1,20,00,00,000. If every Indian save one sheet of paper a day approximately 15,000 Trees can be saved. If 15,000 Trees can be saved just by not wasting one sheet of paper a day, imagine of how many trees can be saved if we become more  prudent in our approach.

Let us consider some interesting facts which I have gathered from various sources –

1. Consider this: according to the state government of Australia, over 600,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard are sent to landfill in NSW every year. Australians as a whole use 210,000 tonnes of office paper each year – and much of this is not from recycled sources but from virgin forests.

2. In the USA The average student uses about 11 sheets of paper per day. The school year goes on average 180 days so this would equal to 23,760 sheets for 12 years.

3. A Seattle based study found that businesses typically throw away about half of all documents within 24 hours of printing. In fact, about 170 tons of paper is sent to Seattle’s landfills each day from Seattle businesses.

For every dollar spent on printing documents, companies typically incur $6 in handling and distribution costs, according to a Xerox study.

Over the course of a year Seattle paper waste contributes about 9,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, the same as the emissions from consuming 972,000 gallons of gasoline. 

This is a study by Xerox of one American city, in India and rest of the developing world we do not have such studies done or reports published. Simply because we do not think this as a problem which needs urgent and immediate attention.

But such problems can not be defined locally any more. The devastation in Japan  a year back has come to haunt the American West coast in form of  Billion ton of debris. Similarly the decimation of rain forests for pulp & paper industry would lead to unprecedented challenges more severe than what we have experienced till date and it would not be their locally. This is known to all, yet we fail to arrest easily achievable targets, such as reduction on dependence on Paper. We all know by now that it is somewhere between difficult and impossible to have a paperless office/school . But how much paper do we consume unnecessarily? It is no more possible to contain the problem by raising ones personal bar as to when one needs a paper copy of something from the computer. Strong legislation are required which would make it near mandatory that unless you′re printing something super important,(which can be defined and refined on a weekly/monthly basis by each corporation) one must  save ink and paper by tracking changes in electronic documents.

To make this legislation work, one must however understand the fundamental barrier. We still like to hold up a piece of paper in our hand and look at it from time to time, jot notes directly at the margins, rather than type for every little corrections. Moreover, for architects and other engineering professionals, physically scanning the page from top to bottom, is more sure-fire way to spot  an error than scrolling a large drawing and zooming in and out of it. It simply does not work ! I know that from personal experience. So how does one adhere to reduction of paper use and not face the cumbersome process of electronic tracking on a small computer screen ?

The answer lies in using something with is instantly portable, transferable, editable and yet not a traditional paper. E-Paper ! Yes, something which was born in the 1970’s has matured enough to be taken seriously. The first flexible EPD for consumers could be available in Europe in 2012 itself.

This is one of the spectacular proof that, it is the Business and Industry which will finally be the torch bearers of abatement to Climate Change and Global Warming. And innovation should get support from all quarters to survive the vagaries of market forces. And ones which are as important as Saving forest and whole eco-system the Governments should support it. But before we put some thought as to how we can support and grow such ideas let us understand what it is –

Electronic paper, e-paper and electronic ink are display technologies which are designed to mimic the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Unlike conventional backlit flat panel displays which emit light, electronic paper displays reflect light like ordinary paper. Many of the technologies can hold static text and images indefinitely without using electricity, while allowing images to be changed later. Flexible electronic paper uses plastic substrates and plastic electronics for the display backplane.

Electronic paper display (EPD) is often considered to be more comfortable to read than conventional displays.This is due to the stable image, which has no need to be refreshed constantly and has a wider viewing angle. An ideal e-paper display can be read in direct sunlight without the image appearing to fade. The contrast ratio in available displays as of 2008 might be described as similar to that of newspaper, though newly-developed displays are slightly better.There is ongoing competition among manufacturers to provide full-color ability.
Applications of electronic visual displays include electronic pricing labels in retail shops, and digital signage,time tables at bus stations,electronic billboards, mobile phone displays, and e-readers able to display digital versions of books and e-paper magazines. Electronic paper should not be confused with digital paper, which is a pad to create handwritten digital documents with a digital pen.

What an innovation. A genius of the human brain which can bring about sea change in the way we work. Tied to a e-book reader, a tablet, a computer and a smart phone, this was perhaps the penultimate tool, which can eliminate maximum use of paper; before we can adopt interactive projections in thin air in front of us, as shown in Sci-fi cinemas and is  some more time in becoming a reality for common persons to have.

So what could be the immediate uses, other than being another TV or a display kiosk? To my mind it can be used for printing architectural drawings, and each of these sheet can be reused till the final design to be produced is readied. And only those need be printed. Sure there would be trials and errors but human always find methods if there is a will. It could also act as submission sheets during class tests which are held with regularity in schools to prepare children for their annual and mid-term exams. The data can always be transferred into flash -drives for storage, thus refreshing the sheets for reuse, while still retaining record of previous data. Perhaps News corporations could devise ways where one could download the “News Paper view” form e-papers which already exist in the web and in fact they can rent out the flex-sheets, and charge as they would for the subscription. It is common knowledge that  amount of pulp that required daily to publish news papers are humongous.

But, as with Renewable Energy, such high technology would come at a price which would not be within reach of the common person. And here the Governments, guided by the UNEP and other responsible organisations like the World Bank, World Resources Institute, Climate Action International, Green Peace, Carbon Disclosure Project etc should come together to focus in finding the right financial instruments which would help scale it and make it affordable. In fact small amounts from those that are pledged under various programs to arrest deforestation and abate climate change could be pooled to make such innovations; I’m sure many more equally important are around the corner; a success.

In fact if the news paper readers from world over could just contribute $1 the amount would be huge, and in the bargain the Earth would gain.

Courtesy: howstuffworks.com, articlecity.com, bloglines.com, ask.com, click4carbon.com, wikipedia

 

 

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Save Petroleum form Extinction – Save Earth !


Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 ...

Mean surface temperature change for 1999–2008 relative to the average temperatures from 1940 to 1980 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Petroleum products Nylon zippers, ballet tights,plastic hangers, pantyhose, permanent press clothing, flip flops/thongs, fake fur, polyester clothing, ball point pens ink, computer diskettes, computers copiers, magic markers, telephones, microfilm, cameras, earphones, footballs, knitting needles, tennis racquets, golf balls,  stuffed animals, band aids, Vaseline, rubbing alcohol, Pepto-Bismol hair colouring, soap, cough syrup, hair spray, lipstick, denture, adhesives, egg cartons, candles, wax paper, nylon spatulas, Teflon pans, Formica linoleum, garden hoses, plungers,  floor wax, Plexiglas, balloons, CDROMs, check book covers, video cassettes, credit cards, dice, watch bands, Plastic furniture… If I recycle these and don’t use…Petrol, Diesel, Kerosene, LPGAnti-freeze, trash bags, shopping bags, spray paint, freezer bags, plastic bottles (Each year, 1.5 million barrels of oil go to making plastic water bottles used in the United States. Less than 25% are recycled)….I get to save Petroleum. I reduce Global Warming and save the petroleum for more productive use than burning it all up or thrashing it to fill up land-fills.

Climate_Change_Attribution_fr

Climate_Change_Attribution_fr (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So will Rio+20 UNFCCC meet think about these? Create awareness? If it needs to convince the World to turn around and reverse the 3.5°C rise in temperature, it needs to think and think from the view point of how to save our most precious resource, petroleum.

The one and only Petroleum, which helped us move away from wearing the Shakespearian tights to the colourful nylon stockings. Thus heralding the modern era, where we no more die of charcoal fumes but coal, petrol, nuclear etc a whole mix of deadly fumes as it helped in quantum jump of the Industrial revolution. If that is not progress, what is ?

On a more sombre note; More than six billion men, women and children will inhabit urban areas around the world in 2050 when the global population would have surged to nine billion, putting stress on the natural resources that supply energy and food. The Earth resources are finite, be it Land, Potable water or Forest cover and the minerals which are trapped under the forest cover. And it does not take a genius to understand that per capita profit is directly related to the amount of product and produce you have for trade.

Therefore, in the Rio+20 summit, let us not talk about Global Warming and Climate change and how important it is to abate it to ensure survival of civilization. But how profits world over would dip, if resource management is not taken up on an urgent basis.

It would be wise for the OPEC countries to stop selling crude to the Gasoline manufacturers but demand a long-term business relation with Plastic furniture manufacturer, Nylon makers and other petroleum by-product manufacturers and demand a premium. (and a hefty sum from all the air-borne paratroopers who need a plastic cloth to bail them out during emergencies or when they drop down on foreign soil to create an emergency for the ruling dispensation).

OPEC kind of controls the fate of Dell, Apple, Nokia, Victoria Secrets,Vaseline et all; if OPEC does not offer them the plastic they so need how can they profit? Therefore if OPEC ask for guarantees that their crude would not be burnt up into thin smoke but used to create the various by products they would profit more. Once the datum of the raw material changes, its value proposition at source would increase. So it can obviously make more profit and at the same time the OPEC Nations can bask in the glory of creating the Messiah solution for saving Earth from GHG induced Climate change. At least a major part.

And this would automatically give a fillip to renewable energy and bio-fuel industry too; which can finally take up its rightful place as the real energy providers in terms of electrical generation and transportation fuel.

Therefore it is not necessary for climate supporters to fight the coal and petroleum lobby but make popular through sustained information the by-products of petroleum and coal which very few people give a thought to and ask them what they prefer most. To burn up this precious substance or make maximum use of the by-products; many of which have a fair chance of recycle and reuse.

It would be prudent for all to understand that the modern life-style we are so comfortable with would vanish with the depletion of Coal & Petroleum. Products we take for granted would not come by cheap and plenty. It is therefore the need of the hour for the Citizens of every Nation to understand the challenges. Lastly this article only covers just two products which with their finite limit, can cause so much discomfort. We are yet to find out how to feed 9 Billion with food and water and then find them shelter!

All religion says 9 times God came to earth…. will we make it to 10 Billion? Or Extinction stares at the face.

Save Petroleum from Extinction – Save your Business with a Green Idea (oyeta936.wordpress.com)

 

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