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Smart City – Choosing between a Planned Development & a Development Plan.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, on his 3 Nations tour is bringing once more the Nation into the World focus, therefore sooner than later the World economies would come. Especially to build those 100 Smart Cities. For that is a lot of money and a lot of business. But before that happens, it is important that the Common Man, as we like to call ourselves in India get to know the pros and cons of building ourselves more concrete jungle, in our quest to be called “developed”.

A City is a complex mix of building and infrastructure. But the most important component of a City is the Citizens. Devoid of it, many a Great City has perished & the Civilisation the city harboured followed suit. It is therefore imperative that we strive towards more Climate Resilient Cities, because the Climate is changing. And with every Epoch of Climate Change, Extinction follows!

As per the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, The building sector contributes up to 30% of global annual green house gas emissions and consumes up to 40% of all energy. Given the massive growth in new construction in economies in transition, and the inefficiencies of existing building stock worldwide, if nothing is done, greenhouse gas emissions from buildings will more than double in the next 20 years. Therefore, if targets for GHG reduction are to be met, it is clear that decision-makers must tackle emissions from the building sector. Mitigation of Green House Gas emissions from buildings must be a cornerstone of every National Climate Change strategy. (UNEP DTIE; Sustainable Consumption & Production Branch.)

According to the 2011 India Census, there are about 30 crore houses in the country. The census defines a house as a building or part of a building having a separate entrance from a road, common courtyard, stairs and so on. About 71% were occupied while 7.5% were vacant. In the cities of India 136 lakh homes were vacant. While 111 lakh rural homes were found empty. The above data would be read as a statistical roll out for the untrained eye, but for those who choose to care it shows how “development” as we call it is becoming lopsided. The simple reason being that while of the 136,000,00 homes lying vacant in Urban centres most would be due to following reasons.

1. Occupants were living in an alternate abode within the city or in some other city around the world.

2. It was an “investment” in Real Estate.

3. It was unsold Real Estate inventory.

And if one would delve deep into the reason of empty homes in villages the compelling reason would be that the villager was trying to eke out a living in the concrete jungle we so lovingly call a City.

But very soon, it would perhaps be the city dwellers who would be gasping for the breath of life, if changes which are important and urgent are not addressed by all stake holders.

This article would try and connect unseeingly disparate dots together to create a debate in the minds of the readers to look at events that take place in a more holistic manner to arrive at better building solutions for a Smart City.

We shall look into the reasons as to why Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) which have the best of Energy Efficiency Measures (EEM) requires to be built in accordance to a mandatory legislation. For today “Green” buildings as we like to call them are not mandatory. And most being built are nothing but a “Green-Wash”. Either due to ignorance or avarice. We shall through this article build up bit by bit why we must look at solutions to build wise. Development is a necessity and it can not be stopped. But it can definitely be made more responsive and in sync with Nature. To do that this article shall dwell on two parts – 1. what a green building actually is and 2. how it can build climate resilient cities.

Not everyone understand why the term “Green Building” is used as an epithet for Energy Efficient Buildings. Therefore lets understand it in layman terms. Experts are excused from reading further.

1. What is Green Building?

A building which during its construction and occupancy, if by utilizing the best of construction methods and practices follow the principle of Reduce – Reuse – Renew – Recycle – Refuse; can be termed as a Green Building.

Reduce –

The building industry is the single largest consumer of all the industrial sectors. A building consumes Steel, Iron, Aluminium, Copper, Nickel, Tin, Cobalt & Various rare earth materials. It uses wires, paints, varnishes which need to be mined. Forest extracts not only means logged wood but with destruction of forests, wild-life too dies. Thus from paper to petroleum, textile to leather; there is almost everything even the mountains themselves, cut into slabs to adorn the floors of the house. Destruction is the first and foremost process of building a modern Building.

By reduction of use in construction materials through efficient design and construction practice; virgin materials need to be extracted less. This helps in retaining the “Green Cover” of the as yet unexplored mines for Ore or Coal. Or building and/or upgrading of existing Hydro-power plants or deep-sea Oil wells. The former inundates vast swats of lush green forest cover, and also most of the time the homes of the city pavement dwellers, who were perhaps proud farmers eking out an honest living and most importantly producing something which no city dweller can ever do – GROW FOOD !

Before the rising backwaters of the dams flooded their homes and sank their hopes for ever.

If one has ever seen a picture of an oil spill on the sea and the associated dead sea-life nothing more needs to be added beyond reminding that with every Kilo-Watt of power produced in India via Thermal (oil or coal fired) power plants; one can in a simplistic calculation consider use of 1Kg or Coal and 1 litre of water to produce the same. The Coal is ripped form the bosom of Earth by a tear called open-cast mining; with rips out every tree & grassland. Destroying the homes of burrowed animals like rabbits and proud tigers alike. In its wake it leaves a slush which contaminates the rivers, which slowly die. Both from reduced rain-fall as well as silt.

While the burning coal creates Green House Gas emissions, the likes of which today plague Indian cities. With every bit of reduction a construction engineer brings into a building project. Sustainability of life continues.

Reuse

By utilizing existing construction materials, through a complete supply chain recycling process and most amazingly by utilizing existing best designs! Yes designs. If one but pauses by any modern township or towers being built around any of the Indian Cities, one would find either flats, row-houses, bungalows of almost the same dimension and shape being built within that very project.

Simply put, a residential tower is nothing but stacking of row-houses horizontally and vertically; with services areas thrown-in. Thus almost everyone is having an identical house, made into an unique home by the way its is lived in! If a developer-builder company, utilizing a little more imagination beyond being swayed by Occidental designs and obscene RoI; could cash in on registering a few best designs and keep building them. It would then be promoting its very own “Signature” Style.

With each new building being built, the design and construction team would be able to keep raising the bar of excellence! For even if a design is the same, each project would throw in its own unique challenges and tweaks would have to be incorporated. But on the flip side the Master Material Sheet would become leaner and better. Design print-outs would be minimized as many details would still be relevant, within the old set of drawings from an earlier project.

Thus by the simple act of Reuse; a building and construction Industry can save life on Earth even while generating financial wealth for itself.

Renew –

The money saved thus could be utilized to buy the E-Paper Printers. 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. This in effect would spur growth and business of a different dimension, while help check the destruction of virgin forests. To start with, about a half of the forests that once covered the earth are gone. Every year, another 13 million hectares disappear (although afforestation adds another eight back), and the World Resources Institute (WRI) estimates that only about 22 percent of the world’s old growth forests remain intact. The activities of the pulp and paper sector threaten the habitats of several rare wildlife species such as Asian big cats (including tigers), Asian elephant, Asian rhinos, and Orangutans. The remaining natural forests in Sumatra, Borneo, New Guinea, Russian Far East, Southern Chile and the Atlantic forest region in Brazil are endangered because of growing demand for pulpwood, among other threats. Forests also maintain the world’s abundant biodiversity, essential for life on Earth.

Renewal of life by the simple act of saving forest.

Recycle –

While it sure looks fashionable when a debonair man and a pretty woman tango together to break and destroy all that was a fully functional home around a tap ! (an advertisement by a tap company)

Unfortunately in India, the one that is destroyed and the one that gets built around the famous tap, the décor are “inspired” western designs. Thus near zero in climate responsiveness. The only message its sends out is how to induce further pollution. This unfortunately is the reflection the psychology of the society today. The best of practice would be to become more Oriental than Occidental.

The former is application of mind over matter. The latter is always mindless destruction of everything intelligent and vernacular. Especially in the Oriental context. The deep rooted culture of India has traditionally been towards conservation and recycling. An heirloom gifted to the daughter, the priceless Silk Sari handed down with pride and care. The feeling of pride to sit on the rocking chair which once belonged to the grandfather, when one himself becomes the grandfather. To use left-over of a dinner to cook a tasty & healthy breakfast. To live for generations in a house built by the ancestor. T

he sense of belonging and pride which has slowly but surely crumbled. Leaving the average Indian city dweller confused by the constant pull and push of cross-culture and time. Having forgotten that it is this disconnect from one’s own culture which is the root cause of Global Warming. Mythology are replete with examples of Man-Animal, Man-Plant co-existence. The Kamdhenu, The Kalpa Vriksha both are giver of plenty. A simple yet profound example set by our ancestors that without the trees and animals, humans can’t have their wish fulfilled. Culminating with the supreme example of Rama -Hunmana relationship. A synergy between Man-Animal, both considered as God themselves.

While modern building can be built and are being built from recycled materials as it has started making more economic sense, much still needs to be done when Interiors are designed. A commercial space be a hotel or hospital have constant wear & tear. Renovation is a must. But by allowing intelligence to dictate the norm rather than trend could save lots of money. A corporate bosses Burma teak wood table could be modified to be a receptionists desk, while the old reception table could go into making the internals of storage shelve. The high VoC which most of the adhesives and glues and paints carry, reduce in emitting their noxious fumes as they get older. It is best therefore to retain old furniture, as it is healthier.

The simple act of Recycling not only insures immediate health benefits, the forest remaining intact insures fresh oxygen keeps getting produced to sustain life.

Refuse –

Not many know that in the deep Pacific Ocean there lies a plastic garbage patch. Estimates of size range from 700,000 square kilometers (270,000 sq mi) (about the size of Texas) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch formed gradually as a result of ocean or marine pollution gathered by oceanic currents. The garbage patch occupies a large and relatively stationary region of the North Pacific Ocean bound by the North Pacific Gyre (a remote area commonly referred to as the horse latitudes). The gyre’s rotational pattern draws in waste material from across the North Pacific Ocean, including coastal waters off North America and Japan.

As material is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move floating debris toward the centre, trapping it in the region. The primary source of marine debris is the improper waste disposal or management of trash and manufacturing products, including plastics (e.g., littering, illegal dumping) … Debris is generated on land at marinas, ports, rivers, harbour, docks, and storm drains. Debris is generated at sea from fishing vessels, stationary platforms and cargo ships. Pollutants range in size from abandoned fishing nets to micro-pellets used in abrasive cleaners. Unlike organic debris, which biodegrades, the photo-degraded plastic disintegrates into ever smaller pieces while remaining a polymer. This process continues down to the molecular level. As it disintegrates, the plastic ultimately becomes small enough to be ingested by aquatic organisms that reside near the ocean’s surface. In this way, plastic may become concentrated in neuston, thereby entering the food chain.

Some of these long-lasting plastics end up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals & fish, many of these fish are then consumed by humans, resulting in their ingestion of toxic chemicals. Besides the particles’ danger to wildlife, on the microscopic level the floating debris can absorb organic pollutants from seawater, including PCBs, DDT, and PAHs. Aside from toxic effects, when ingested, some of these are mistaken by the endocrine system as estradiol, causing hormone disruption in the affected animal. (Text edited from Wikipedia).

When residential or commercial society post occupancy, refuse using of plastic and utilize proper waste disposal. Refuse application of polymer paint to their furniture or are careful when the materials are being used during interiors, they are saving the environment from degrading further. It would be good to remember that the salt we eat needs to be made out of drying out sea water. Humans already have plastic flowing in their blood stream, by refusing and limiting the use of plastic and other toxic materials into their building pre and post occupancy. One would be perhaps saving their own life.

The above 5-R’s constitute a “Green Building”. And thus by building or buying into one, every person contributes in doing his/her bit in saving the Environment.

2. What is a Climate Resilient City?

The United States of America have the following Climatic Zones – Tundra, Sub Arctic, Highlands, Continental Humid, Mediterranean, Marine West Coast, Desert, Steppe. The Europe has the Following Climatic Zones – Tundra, Sub Arctic, Highlands, Continental Humid, Mediterranean, Marine West Coast, Desert, Steppe.

The Sub Continent of India has the following – Highland, Humid Sub-Tropical, Tropical Wet and Dry, Arid, Semi –Arid, Tropical West.

If one goes for a tour of the Europe and North America one would find buildings built in accordance to their climatic conditions. Thus their City skyline too looks more or less the same.

The skyline of Indian cities also match and feel like any European or American city.Even though we don’t come anywhere close to their climatic conditions. Nowhere in the west would one find a copy of the Indian vernacular architecture. We on the other hand also feel proud to not have a single building designed as per Indian Architecture.

The swanky glass encased building in the long cold winter months, in the American & European countries help trap whatever sunlight available, causing a green house effect within the building. It helps in enhancing the warmth the Air-Conditioners create. Saving precious energy and fuel. With hardly 80+ days of Sunshine it is a smart thing to do in Europe.

Most SME business, in the equally swanky glass encased commercial buildings & shopping malls of India close down within the 5 years of operation as the 200+ days of Sunshine requires the Air-Conditioners to constantly hum in its effort to cool the building, while people sweat under the collars with the induced green house effect a glass house brings as a default. It also drills a large hole in their pockets.

When we start building climate responsive buildings, we would be creating a Climate Resilient City. Indians are by default intelligent and literate. But as with most around the world less educated about the manner in which their life-style affect the health of the planet. An erudite person would consider it foolish to design a wash-room with toilet paper instead of a health faucet. According to a report by David Braun of the National Geographic wrote in the World Watch Magazine worldwide, the equivalent of almost 270,000 trees is either flushed or dumped in landfills every day and roughly 10 percent of that total is attributable to toilet paper. India which traditionally washed itself find wiping more fashionable and thus design there 5-star Hotels similarly. Somewhere we have not got over in wiping a white….

Black or Grey water can be recycled and reused. Making of proper toilets is the beginning of building a Smart City.

A Swwacch Bharat.

The destructions of forests and natural habitat worldwide are leading to catastrophic changes in the weather pattern. The modern life-style must factor in climate change and global warming. And cities are the principal drivers towards this unwarranted change. For all the industry thrive upon the insatiable demand of a city. The need of creature comfort has spurred the race to build automobiles, appliances, accessories which have become more important than the basic building blocks of civilization. Food – Cloth – Shelter.

We are living on the Edge.

The unseasonal rain-fall India experienced early March 2015, has wiped out the Rabi Crop. In Sangli, Maharashtra 26,000 hectares of crop was lost. Pan India the loss is already a cause of concern as we are yet to fully recover from the $7 Billion loss Cyclone Hud Hud caused last year. More disasters are to happen, that we can no more stop. But we can surely adapt.

To conclude, when India builds its 100 smart cities, it should not only look at development but also the development plan. This is what the United Nations Mitigation and Adaptation Plan requires us to do.

 

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


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

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

The reason for this repeat disaster is simple…

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

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

But every Nation loves to sell !!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World’s Worst Air Pollution By Cities 2010.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Flood Ravaged Kashmir Valley

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

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

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

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

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

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

When death becomes personal, it becomes urgent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 

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Why Climate Talks are mostly just that….


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

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

Indian Environment Minister

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 A President and a Prime Minister understands Realpolitik !

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

BUT…

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

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

One is to show the way,

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rise in sea temperature may attract jellyfish to city shore

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

Locals on a mission to clear mess near Muchalla college

Lack of space derails NMMC’s stray-sterilisation programme

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

Ten tonnes of floral waste collected during first visarjan

Thirsty cities, parched villages

BEST buses claim 37 lives every year: Cops

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

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

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

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

Maya!

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

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

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

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

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

ugly city

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liveability Index 2012

Highlights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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World Water Day – Do you know how much water a light bulb consumes?


By 2030, researchers estimate that the disparity between national water demand and reliable water supply will be nearly 50%. Currently, India has a total water demand of around 700 billion cubic metres, of which almost 85% is used for producing food. In another 17 years, India will have only half the water it needs, thanks to global warming and population explosion. On the World Water Day on March 22, the need to focus attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating sustainable management of freshwater resources will be of pivotal importance. If we consider even the most cost-effective solution to reduce water scarcity, it will require an annual spend of nearly Rs35,000 crore by 2030, according to ‘Charting our water future: Economic frameworks to inform decision-making’, a report by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.The report stated that India would require investments to the tune of Rs8 lakh crore over the next 20 years to provide basic infrastructure services like water, waste water and solid waste management. In India, just about 64% of urban population is covered by individual water connections compared to 91% in China, 86% in South Africa and 80% in Brazil. Allocation of Rs15,260 crore has been made in the Budget towards clean drinking water and sanitation as against revised estimates of Rs13,000 crore. A DNA News report by Dilnaz Boga.

While reading this under my study light, I looked up and started thinking – how much water does my light drink? I found some interesting answer under Saving Electricity, on water consumption to produce electricity (more information can be found in EIA page ). While I would not be able to verify the facts noted as under, even believing them to be accurate to some extent, presents a very sombre scenario.

Water Consumption by different types of Power Stations to produce electricity

  • Solar plant with dry cooling:  80 gallons per  megawatt-hour
  • Nuclear plants (with closed-loop cooling):  700-1100 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Nuclear plants (with open-loop cooling):  25,000-60,000 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Coal-fired plants (closed-loop):  500-600 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Coal-fired plants (open-loop):  20,000-50,000 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Biomass (crops grown for the purpose of fuel):  40,000 to 100,000 gallons per megawatt-hour
  • Natural gas fracking:  2-10 million gallons per well

This information required some chilled soft-drink and potato chips and lowering the temperature of the A/c. After all I have attended so many conferences on climate change, I have by now got used to the habit of consuming good food & drinks in luxury. How else can one solve the pressing issues of water scarcity and its related fall-outs like war and riots? Hunger and malnutrition caused due to drought and famine too requires a chilled pineapple juice in a PET bottle to be addressed properly.

Now let’s do some simple maths – 1 gallon = 3.78 litres (US- liter). As on July 31, 2010, and as per the Central Electricity Authority the total installed capacity of Coal or Lignite based power plants in India are 87093.38 MW.

So the water required to produce this electricity  87093.38 x 2268 liters = 19,75,27,786 litres.(assuming all are closed loop consuming  600 gallons/MW) Presently we have around 111 Thermal power plants which are coal/lignite based.

While it can be argued that water is recycled most of the time. That the coal, nuclear, Bio-mass, Natural gas fracking power plants  require water can not be denied. And it is impossible to stop the leakages. Some of it will have to escape, thus requiring continuous replenishment. Even Solar thermal requires water, though it can be called a saint in comparison to the others.

Thus a huge amount of water is not reaching the fields of a drought hit farm, or recharging the wells to quench the thirst. So with every drop of electricity produced we are removing vast amounts of water from the natural water cycle. This must be clearly understood.

India has an installed power generation capacity of 2,10,950 megawatts of electricity, according to government figures. And as per various estimates, India’s power generation meets only 90% of total demand.

TableAs the demand for electricity for a resurgent India is bound to increase, the thermal power plants have to increase their capacity or new plants would be needed to be set up. Same would be the case for Nuclear, Natural Gas, Bio-mass and Natural Gas Fracking.

With the table given, it is easy to the calculate how much water is required to produce electricity, which most of us waste. The common person needs to understand that Energy & Water are interlinked. Just as it is inside the body of a human. Without water, one has to die. Similarly without water we shall have no electricity. Until Renewable Energy, especially Solar PV and Wind mature to cover the demand supply gap. But this is not happening any time soon.

It is a choice in front of the intelligent animal named “human” to decide which is more important. To quench its thirst or thirst for more power to light up the ugly, unsustainable city which it habitats. The situation soon would be a choice of one or the other, unless we change the way we live. Sustainable design and living is no more an option but a necessity.

In my opinion, to celebrate World Water Day, municipalities all over the World  should announce 1 day of no water supply. This would make each and every citizen sit up and take notice of the school children walking down the streets holding placards on how to conserve water. The Police should arrest water thieves, a common thing in India & many other Asian countries and parade them in front of the media before putting them in jail. It is only then the seriousness of the problem be understood by the people. If at all.

For as long as city dwellers get their share of fresh-food and water supply, they care a damn from whose mouth it has been snatched. Thus, we will find people continue to throng so-called Holy men doing the unholy act of wasting water in cities of states which are in grip of severe drought.It is the mindset of the people which needs to be changed with sustained practical approach towards sustainable practice.

And one such idea could be by educating the people in a more grass-roots approach. We all need a home to live. And most in India aspire to own a home.

This could start with the building industry. The building industry consumes 40% of the world’s energy needs and 60% of all waste stems from it.

The Indian Builders Association has been seeking the Infrastructure status from the Government for a very long time. The Government could moot a law that in exchange of giving into that demand, the top management of all big and small builder and related stake-holder companies must go for certified & comprehensive Green Building training.

India practices two wonderful Energy Efficient Building design certification program through IGBC & GRIHA. Since its inception in 2001 IGBC, which practices the Indian version of LEED has 1,972 registered buildings and 149 projects are with GRIHA which opened in 2007. (source: Click here).

It is too small a number to effect a reverse change in the Global Warming and Water & Energy conservation. But if developers are made to attend Orientation Workshops as is organised by Centre for Science and Environment along with those by TERI -GRIHA and CII-IGBC. And without whose valid certificate one would not be given the licence to build, we may still be able to make the desired change we want in our effort to conserve Water and Energy.

This would automatically percolate to the public, the home/office buyers who would be bombarded by the green information in every brochure the developers distribute. And when the public starts to use the facilities and notice the difference it makes to their lives, the mission would have achieved its target.

And for once I believe this not to be a wishful thinking but a doable project. All that is needed is support from those who can influence the decisions of Governments.

 

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Green Business Ideas – Innovations that can make a difference


A new partnership launched on 19 February 2013 by four UN agencies aims to support 30 countries over the next seven years in building national green economy strategies that will generate new jobs and skills, promote clean technologies, and reduce environmental risks and poverty.The four UN agencies – the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) – will provide a comprehensive suite of green economy services that will enable countries to transform their national economic structures to meet the growing demands and challenges of the 21st century. – (read more).

The Indian Budget for year 2013-14 was presented to the Parliament. With Fiscal deficit seen at 4.8 point of GDP in 2013/14; Gross market borrowing seen at 6.29 trillion rupees in 2013/14 and major subsidies bill estimated at 2.48 trillion rupees from 1.82 trillion rupees of which Petroleum subsidy is seen at 650 billion rupees in 2013/14 – Innovation is the need of the day.

Quoting the finance Minister – Growth is a necessary condition and we must unhesitatingly embrace growth as the highest goal. It is growth that will lead to inclusive development, without growth there will be neither development nor inclusiveness. However, I may sound a note of caution. Owing to the plurality and diversity of India, and centuries of neglect, discrimination and deprivation, many sections of the people will be left behind if we do not pay special attention to them. As Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize-winning economist, said, “There is a compelling moral case for equity; but it is also necessary if there is to be sustained growth. A country’s most important resource is its people.” We have examples of States growing at a fast rate, but leaving behind women, the scheduled castes, the scheduled tribes, the minorities, and some backward classes. The UPA does not accept that model. The UPA Government believes in inclusive development, with emphasis on improving human development indicators. I hope this Budget will be yet another testimony to that commitment. (Read full text)

While TV news channels, were filled with experts talking about the pro and cons. Not once did I hear and it may be my failing; any one mention about the National Action Plan for Climate Change Control. The Finance Minister briefly touched upon. And neither did anyone consider, Stiglitz – “compelling case of moral equity” – to be connected to the aspect of environment. Every budget talks of Sustained growth, NOT Sustainable growth.

While it would earn us some votes, when we say – ” a Country’s most important resources is its people” the real truth is – Every Countries most important resources are its Natural resources! And the ability of its people to use it sustainably.

As long as a Country is able to sustain its reserve of minerals, water, flora and fauna it shall be wealthy.  And this is the most important resource which the people of any country need to be called developed & a super-power.

However, any MBA with a background in Economics and Law would find this hard to understand, simply because they have been trained in a way where the datum to measure success is different. While this catastrophic error in the modus of learning and business conduct has been recognised and thus the Inclusive Wealth Report and the Stern Review; the percolation of the thought from mind to matter is yet to make the desired impact. As is clear from the 2013 Budget India presented.

If we combine the UN agenda as revealed in the opening paragraph to the brief mention the FM took, it is evident that –National Innovation Council; can and should stand up and be noticed. Both the agendas of UNIDO & UNITAR  can be addressed through it. While UNEP and ILO shall get a great boost.

It has the potential to be a game changer if participation to it becomes fashionable. Yes, it is an important marketing tool. Just as it is fashionable to be in the Social media, and thus its popularity, one must create the desire for the youth to be a member of the NIC. It must be made into a must have. The media should run a program which says ” have you given your idea for sustainability to NIC ? ” Are you one of the cool guys & gals who do?  ”  – Revolution can be created. The media has done it, it’s time it does so for the Country and the Planet.

And one does not have to be from the Science stream, to innovate. The Gujrat Chief Minister. Mr. Narendra Modi, was not explaining an invention, when he spoke at the India Today Enclave 2013 .But the ideas he gave of improving railways, or achieving sustainable urban /rural  development are innovations in itself. The magic of Mr. Modi is not his politics ( most Indian’s are indifferent to politics and politicians ) but his grass-root approach to problems affecting the people. His ideas can be implemented both by individuals and the governments. This is the most endearing mantra. The mantra many politicians may be having but due to their love of politics have not brought them to fore, to the public; and thus be recognised as a statesman.

Gujrat is perhaps the only one which understand the potential of innovation quicker, and it is something the Government at the Centre and other States must understand. The people of India are not in love with petty politics and are almost everyday innovating and giving ideas which matter; as is evident from the article by R.N. Bhaskar posted in the DNA News paper on 13th March 2013 –

India has plenty of sunshine. It has many people. Consequently, it has very little land per inhabitant (see table).
Any policy regarding solar power must, therefore, take into account the twin advantages of people and sunlight. And this is where India appears to have forgotten something important – rooftop solar. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was right to harness solar power targeting a capacity of 20 GW by 2022. There have been significant successes as well: During the past five years solar tariffs have fallen from `19/kWh to `6.52/Kwh in the last round of reverse bidding in Andhra Pradesh. At this rate, solar power tariffs should reach grid parity before 2017.
But the Mission does little to harness the power of households. To understand this, consider India’s population of 1.2 billion. Assume five people to a household. That gives us 250 million households. To be conservative, let’s take just one-fifth this number, 50 million, as households with rooftops.
As Avinash Patkar, advisor, technology, Tata Power, explains, even a conservative figure of 200 square feet per rooftop (village rooftops can be significantly larger), with 100 watts of installed capacity per square metres, gives us a 2 kW system per rooftop. The 50 million households will thus have a combined capacity of 100,000 MW. That should give us an annual output of 1,600 kW/hour of installed capacity.
Critically important, this can be done without using up large tracts of land. Today, there is a growing suspicion that many solar farms have been put up because of the land factor.
Each household thus becomes both producer and consumer. The household consumes freely his own rooftop’s power but also earns when he sells surplus power to the grid. Since the distance between the solar panels and the households isn’t great, there will be huge savings in transmission (capital and recurring) costs. Once installed, maintenance costs are minimal. The savings would be massive for rural household electrification.
Some grumble about the capex involved. At around Rs 100/W, each rooftop would require investments of Rs 2 lakh. Collectively, the country would have to invest around $200 billion, or `10.84 lakh crore, (100/W x 2,000 W per household x 50 million households).
But large land tract solar producing are already spending that much. Moreover, considering the increased gas tariffs that the Rangarajan Committee is willing to pay to private gas producers this is a better way to create energy capacity. Finally, `2 lakh per household isn’t much, especially if it can be done on a public-private-partnership basis. Thus, India could save on energy import bills and have an environmentally friendly solution.
Some policymakers have begun to respect this concept. In November 2012, the Punjab government decided to make rooftop solar compulsory for all buildings, public or private, especially for houses constructed over an area of one kanal and above plots in the urban estate. It began to partly introduce what Germany did ten years ago, and revolutionised the solar power industry. But more on that next week.

The article & Mr. Modi vindicates what many were writing  and some of those thoughts are reflected in Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos; Green Business Ideas – Applying Solar OPEX model on Green Buildings will make Grid parity easy;Green Business Ideas: Solar Net Metering can help provide solar power in the night. And many such thoughts are posted everyday. Yet we do not find any real movement from the government of India to implement the thoughts in the scale and urgency it warrants.

But, when inaction can happen, even on ideas given by the Chief Minister of a State; especially in the matter of sustainable development and renewable energy; the situation is dire indeed. Development can’t be hostage to partisan politics especially if it has a direct bearing on the well-being of the planet. Lets’ for once stop thinking for the well-being of Humanity – the singular cause of all the devastation – and focus on the development of the Eco-system. A guide for Dummies is already found – The Story of Stuff – on You Tube; by TIDES Foundation. But it is the second part which is more interesting, The Story of Change – which actually shows us how we can turn the tide in favour of sustainable development goals.

It is indeed sad, as said by Bittu Sahgal in the gripping speech he gave at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2013 ( the video of which one can find in my blog under – Must watch) – we do not have enough anger to drive the change we require to save ourselves from Extinction.

Clay Cooker

If anger can’t save us and it won’t. Innovation and especially green innovation will. The only way forward today is to innovate a Green Business Idea every day and encourage the ideas which are already there, by bringing them into the main stream. If one visits the website of National Innovation Foundation, other than finding a pressure cooker made of Clay, featured here, one would also find some amazing products, which have yet to become main stream.

Natural Water Cooler

Perhaps with help of CIICESD and the likes we may see products like the Natural Water cooler, The Natural Water Cooler is a low cost, energy efficient, environment friendly water cooler that is based on the principle of heat exchange. It cools water naturally according to the external temperature and humidity.The technology has tremendous potential in dry and hot climatic conditions (i.e. tropical) and where electricity is not available. The use of copper tubes for flow of water has health benefits too.

If there is one thing I would like to see large corporations to use, and perhaps it can begin with the next UNFCCC meet, is the refrigerator which keeps vegetables cool and does not require any electricity to do so.

Clay Refrigerator

Why do the inventor of these products never get a Noble Prize? They should be probably the frontrunners for the Peace Prize, if not technical innovation, as these inventions could save and limit the use of many natural resources which are depleting towards oblivion. And there scarcity could lead to strife.

These ideas captures ones imagination as to how Sustainable practice can be implemented in the modern life-style, while living with the technology and materials which were developed by the early human civilization. Who knew how to be one with Mother Nature.

One can argue and it would most probably be true, that these products may not achieve the economies of scale. And would also have technical imperfection when matched against the perfection the GHG producing/consuming modern  appliances. However, if one begins to change the datum of acceptance, to what is comfort and what is luxury, things may begin to look up. Further, the perfect machines of today were not the same when the were first conceived. Ford does not make the Model -T any more.

Already in the practice of LEED / GRIHA buildings we talk about thermal comfort and have understood what is optimum use. Yet the practice of it is limited. This can only change when the pundits of advertisement partner with the inventors to give the spin it requires to become popular & high-fashion and thus in time norm. And it should not be very difficult. because barely 60 years ago almost every house hold in India, cold water came from an earthen pitcher and cool air was mostly through passive cooling design, which still stand the test of time in the Palaces of India.

The innovators in India are simple people. Ordinary yet extra-ordinary is their approach. Especially the innovator of this simple product. A flower pot created out of cow -dung. In one simple stroke the inventor has captured methane, prevented GHG and given a 100% recyclable product. A lesson the west can learn to clear their cesspool.

A genius who would perhaps not even see the steps of the mighty UN. But someone whom India should hail as an hero. Because it is people like them who can solve the Global warming issue in a sustainable way.

Gopalbhai Surtia hails from Gujrat. So did Mahatma Gandhi.

 

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