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India is set to fail the Sustainable Development Goals


A recently published study by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) – the European Commission’s science and knowledge service – analyses the interaction between  and heat. The novelty of this study is that it looks not only at temperature but also  to estimate the magnitude and impact of heat waves. Heatwaves amplified by high humidity can reach above 40°C and may occur as often as every two years, leading to serious risks for human health. If global temperatures rise with 4°C, a new superheat wave of 55°C can hit regularly many parts of the world, including Europe. 

The study analyses changes in yearly probability for a high humidity heat waves since 1979 under different global warming scenarios. If  increase up to 2 C above pre-industrial levels the combined effect of heat and humidity (known as apparent temperature or Heat Index) will likely exceed 40°C every year in many parts of Asia, Australia, Northern Africa, South and North America. Europe will be least affected by up to 30% chance of having such strong heat wave annually.

However, if temperatures rise to 4°C a severe scenario is on the horizon. Scientists predict that a new super- will appear with the apparent temperature peaking at above 55°C- a level critical for human survival. It will affect densely populated areas such as USA’s East coast, coastal China, large parts of India and South America. Under this  scenario, Europe is likely to suffer annual heat waves with an apparent temperature of above 40°C regularly while some regions of Eastern Europe may be hit by heatwaves of above 55°C. (Read more )

Lipponen, a researcher at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, used publicly available data from NASA to demonstrate the rising temperatures across the world.

In light of the numerous reports of negative impacts of climate change, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa urged participants of the annual Munich Security Conference to consider climate change as a “security story” with far-reaching implications for global peace and stability.

In preparation for the 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, the UN University Institute for Environment and Human Security released a series of reports on how SIDS could get adaptation support, including help to migrate, under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The above information is nothing new to the initiated and neither does it come as a surprise to the Political class of the World. Why else we would have been meeting up like clock work every year under the aegis of UNFCCC? And once more in less than 100 days, we meet at CoP23.

Yet when we look at the ground situation in India. The only narrative that we see is political. The noise is one of divisiveness, corruption & apathy of the governing class and neglect and ignorance of the people.

The only ray of hope lies with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who like many of his predecessors ( not all ) actually wants to lift India from the rut it has put itself in and considers that as status quo.

But how does one man alone change the narrative of a Nation?

While it is true that recent survey shows him as the most popular, with slightly diminishing returns. It is not because the NDA which he governs has done everything supremely. But more because many still believe in the person. Rather than the government. When people vote in State elections, Municipal elections they vote for PM Modi & not for the person who stands for the election. The wins of many MP, MLA, MLC is the direct aura of Narendra Modi, which kinds of blinds the vision of the voter, who otherwise would not even look at the ordinary achievements of these politicians who are no better than the ones defeated. And a couple of them even worse than them.

The PM began with taking up the broom & try clean up the filth in and around cities. But has failed to remove the filth of lethargy from the peoples. He is as the polls predict the best chance India has. Therefore it is all the more important that the Sustainable Development Goals don’t fail under his parties rhetoric of Good Governance.

We are a people who love the cacophony of posturing and politics instead of implementation of policy. We love to blame the politicians ( and rightly so to a very large extent) but don’t for a minute reflect that it is us who choose our representatives and they come from the very society which has forgotten its roots and have no pride in our traditions or culture. We are a Nation where a very high number have no civic sense, ethics or moral compass. While the remainder belongs to a class which has no influence to change the mindset.

Disconnected are the urban class and Disoriented the rural folks.

This allows the unscrupulous to bend every policy which would truly make India into a great Nation, to something they can use for their own narrow personal gains.

So much so that the narrative of a Shining India is slowly turning into a “Signing India”. Almost all the MoU’s which are being signed have headed nowhere. The states which copied the ideas of our PM to promote them have as of now not really made an impact. In a way, it should have.

Here is a test to prove it – If one still finds traffic violation, double parking, encroached footpaths and people throwing garbage all around, in-spite of CCTV installed all around. In the cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata. Not to mention the toxic froth spewing lake in Bangalore. 

Then India as a whole has failed! She voted for change. Which can’t be brought about by bringing in the same set of people into governance through the back door whom the people had rejected.

The country voted for change in 2014. And every State & Municipal elections thereafter!

A few good people at the Center can not govern India. We need the same mindset of people at the grass-root level. Sadly the NDA government equals the UPA government at this level. The apathy and inefficiency along with the latent corruption are slowly reducing the impact of all the good initiatives which India needs to take to fulfil its Paris Agreement Obligations.

The apathy & mindset of the lower rung in governance will not allow for any Sustainable Development. And Climate Change is a clear & present danger leaving us with very limited time.

Let us analyze The Global Goals vis a vis India. And see where we stand so that a course correction can be done by those who have the wherewithal and influence to do so.

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Goal 1: No Poverty; Goal 2: Zero Hunger; Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being

These are goals which can’t be achieved 100% anywhere in the world. It was not possible when God’s walked the planet and will not be when AI – Robots would.

Having said that, in the Indian context, it is not just the population but the methods used which push people towards poverty.

In ancient India, there was the Varna system. A class where based on IQ and financial capacity a person was either a Teacher, a Warrior, a Tradesman or a Peasant. This combined with lower population increased the well-being amongst most. And this idea must be explored in the modern context. Sans Politics. A difficult but not impossible task.

Inequality is created when a person of a certain skill set is made to work on areas in which the persons simply can’t excel because they lack either in Physiological, Psychological or Financial strength, which makes it extremely difficult for them to train and apply the methods required to succeed and reach the higher echelon.

We have landless farmers coming into the city and do menial jobs such as security guards or sweepers etc. A person who would excel in cultivating the best wheat which a bread manufacturer, who perhaps employs them as menial labour, would never be able to. This tends to keep the poor always at the bottom of the pyramid, with hopelessness staring at their future.

This is simply because we lack the idea of creating urban farmlands which would enable the farmer to live within a city and yet find a job which he is skilled for. That such urban agriculture would have umpteen benefits can be discussed later.

India is always found to provide knee-jerk solutions more out of political compulsions rather than a long thought policy. It provides sops via loan waiver etc but has still not thought that under the PM mission for “Skill India”, it should first identify the aptitude of the people and then train them to excel within that sphere. We are trying to skill most of the farmers into everything to do with Urban India.

Skills like – Housekeeping, Shuttering Carpenter Solar Installer, Apparel, Machining, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning, Welding, Electrician Construction, 2 Wheeler Repair, 4 Wheeler Repair, Appliances, Fitter, Security, Bar-Bending, Construction-Mason, Plumbing, Kitchen, Front Office Tourism & Hospitality, Beauty Wellness, Healthcare, Retail.

How many generations would it take for a family of a poor marginalized tribal coming from the remote areas of Naxal infested states to become a skilled welder or a retail salesman? When AI is fast catching up and snatching away the traditional jobs of the urban poor, towards whom the Skill India is more targeted? Can’t really be sure poverty can be eliminated by becoming a bar bending or construction Mason. As for Beauty wellness & Hospitality, we have to be real in acknowledging that not many “customers” have the sensitivity to speak with a village bumpkin who can hardly communicate in the “slick city/town language” and is not trendy enough. Which would only lead to depression and failure for these marginalized sections of the society!

Yes, some of the urban low-income groups may benefit from the Skill India program. But it would be more of statistical and optical success good for politics rather in terms of SDG achievements.

The disaster through neglect of rural India, especially Agriculture and its related programs such as watershed implementations can’t be corrected within a short term. It would need a change in approach and mindset of all stakeholders.  But in the short term if India needs to eliminate poverty it must look at Urban & peri-urban farming as a solution and laws made to make it a viable alternative. Food is a fundamental requirement and India has the chance with its young demographic dividend, most of whom live in the rural areas to be the exporter of food and reduce inequalities amongst Nations.

However, it is most unfortunate, that even after years of running from one business house to another, by those who understand the crisis of poverty & food,  almost none have been able to figure out the math of considering Urban Farming as a profitable venture. For it is the “Cost of Land” which is very steep making RoI not very attractive for those who can help. (For the idea of terminal market complex click this link)

The laws of Capitalism is most powerful!

Goal 4: Quality Education; Goal 5: Gender Equality; Goal 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth; Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities

While we talk about education, all we focus upon is literacy. In the pretext of freedom of expression, we dish out out-dated and regressive soap-operas on Television in every regional language across India. For want of TRP, paid media creates false news and debates take place which completely polarizes society.

Cities look like hovels, as no civic sense is instilled within the citizens by the governing council members and the public at large give scant regard to basic cleanliness, driving sense or even bother about illegal construction. In-fact they willingly buy into those very properties knowing fully well that the political dispensation a decade from the present would regularize all that is illegal. This is the fallout of literacy without education. The reason for this can also be squarely attributed to politicians who have understood it to be a tax-free venture open institutions only to loot and also to launder their ill-gotten gains.

While there are no great incentives to be a teacher, in which women at large can excel & is one of the noblest profession. Decent pay and training can work wonders for the future of India.

With the city infrastructure creaking, commuting to work is one of the most stressful events for the common man, whose output shrinks day by day leading to a loss in economic growth.

Political parties are quick in mobilizing workers for disruptive agendas which serve their narrow political gains. But if the same mobilization is done of party workers, block by block, ward by ward of the elected council members to clean up the city and look into the ways by which urban farming can be done. Employ on a weekly rotation basis the unemployed persons who can monitor the basic civic rules amongst the citizens. And spread the awareness into the peri-urban areas of the megalopolises, there is hope yet that the above SDG’s could be met to some extent.

Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation; Goal 13: Climate Action; Goal 14: Life Below Water; Goal 15: Life on Land

As long as water would remain the cheapest commodity and education the last priority the availability of clean water is not possible. Couple that with corrupt industrial houses who still consider profit as the only motive in their lives.

While it was reported that the National Green Tribunal had taken strong action and closed down many industries in the start of this year, they are up and running with only cosmetic changes applied to the sewage treatment. These companies have the money and the legal minds to fight it out in courts to circumvent the strict laws so much so that in the state of Maharashtra at Navi Mumbai area stray dogs have turned blue in colour. (Click on the NDTV Report for video.) 

It is not just life below water that is affected by these kinds of pollution but also life on land gets affected. As ground water turns poisonous and unless stringent penalties are taken India would see Minamata Disease.

A simple solution would be to use drones with image sensing radars which can spot pollutants on both land and river. It could also collect water and soil samples through a robotic arm and help authorities to find the right solution.

We are already having CCTV cameras in our towns and city roads. Hovering drones over industrial areas would definitely help in limiting damages towards the planet and it would perhaps be the best climate action taken by the government.

Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy; Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production

India is blessed by the Sun & the Sea. It’s long coastline and abundant sunshine makes a perfect case to apply Wind/Solar power stations to meet its energy needs of the present and can tap into the wave energy as and when required in the future.

However, this opportunity for abundance hides the fact that large tracts of land are required to install solar power stations. Land at no point of time is devoid of biodiversity nor are there any place on earth where there is no Life on Land. There may not be human or mammalian occupation but micro-organism or invertebrates are sure to exist.

But then we have a proverb – “crushed like an ant”, “trampled the grass”  to prove our infinite strength and that is exactly what we do when we set up the wind or solar parks. Now we are also thinking of apeing some other countries and the thought of floating solar panels has gained currency. But when one covers vast track of water body, what happens to the marine life just under the shade? What would happen to the pond/river/sea bed which would not have the option of sunlight touching it? Would we then not disturb Life on Water?

There is no lesser evil. One must stop this choice between development and destruction. India stands in a unique position which can give it leadership position is showcasing a balance hereto unseen. And I daresay that it would be Prime Minister Narender Modi, should the right ideas reach the PMO.

India by default knows about sustainable living, it has been a way of life which we have forgotten only in the last 30 odd years, in our race to ape the “developed” west. The disconnect of a Nation from its culture is one of the root cause of global warming. A study of the link given above would make many agree that we know how to connect with Nature. What we need is how to do so in the modern concept.

We must declare mandatory Rooftop Renewable Energy, for both green field and retrofit. Yes, city skyscrapers are not of the same height. As of now let them be fed by the green power from already established RE Power Plants. But the Development Plan henceforth shall take into account the Sun Path and build heights across towns and cities would be determined by it. This would enable every roof to carry Solar PV. Roads cutting across cities would be as per the wind pattern determined through computation of fluid dynamics, so that tunnel effect is exploited to the maximum by vertical axis wind turbines which also doubles as street lamp-posts.

We must contain the spread of Powerplants to new areas. We must aim for Net Zero buildings not by deriving smart calculations but by use of vernacular architecture. By instilling pride in Indian Architecture so that we consume less energy and water, to begin with. Only through responsible consumption & production of already fragile and scarce resources, we can hope to survive. To adapt to a changing climate which we are already too late to stop.

The devastating cycle of floods and droughts have begun and no political calculations can stop the downfall of the ruling party when millions die or there is a scarcity of food. The vast majority of voters are the peasant and the blue collared workers. Who can simply connect to one attribute of the adult franchise; if s/he has voted for a particular party it is because they want their livelihood to be cheaper/better. The recent price rise of vegetables has already been squarely put as a failure of Modi Government by them. They will simply throw out the present incumbent irrespective of having the knowledge that the alternative would also not be better. It is their only way to vent frustration and they will use it.

But those who understand governance know that at present continuity is the best hope. We don’t need populist measures but hard risk-taking decisions which the Prime Minister has the gumption to take. Only such actions would help stave off the extreme danger which is already manifest.

Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure; Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

Goal 9/11 is perhaps the most important in the Indian context as they are drivers for growth. They are the change agents which can catapult the country from a developing to a developed nation.

And therein lies the extreme danger and challenge!

The danger is building cities which would destroy forest and biodiversity, uproot indigenous population and further marginalize the poor. This would surely happen if we use the calculation of Capitalism. Where the only motive is to profit and to a large extent profiteer.

And therefore the challenge, the effort it would take to make truly Sustainable Smart Cities using the best of industry and innovation. Of using products which by themselves have a small carbon footprint and by design would help reduce consumption. They would not come cheap and would, therefore, fail in showing returns on investment in the traditional way of calculation. Where the principal factor is greed, not sustenance.

Mansoor Khan in his book The Third Curve. has rightly looked at the factors; excerpts are given below –

Financial markets are under threat. Growth rates are dropping. 
The age-old remedies prescribed to boost economic growth are proving ineffective, if not outright dangerous. 
Eight years after the 2008 global financial crash, nothing seems to work as per projections. 
But what if the rules of the game have inverted? 
What if economic growth is eluding us for a reason that we have discounted all this while? 
What if there are indeed limits to growth? 
Yes, the Modern Industrial World stands at a crucial and unavoidable turning point. The sacrosanct paradigm of modern economics, namely perpetual growth, is in the process of ending. Our economic growth model makes 2 simple yet amazingly unreasonable assumptions: 
1. That money is the currency that runs the world. In fact it is energy. 
2. That we have limitless energy & other resources on a finite planet.

Each of us must read what he says or hear him speak, to understand what each of us must do to push the government in the right direction.

We, therefore, can not design the mundane cities and call them Smart. We can not afford to use glib mathematical calculations and call buildings “Net Zero” and hang a plaque from some crediting agency whose underlying raison d’être is to promote Business As Usual.

Here is a simple example to prove the charge. India recorded the maximum temperature of 51°Celsius in May this year in Rajasthan. It has already been scientifically established that temperatures are set to rise in India due to climate change, the excerpts of which are at the start of this article. We also know that the mean average temperature of the Indian subcontinent has risen by 0.6°Celsius . This was declared by no other than Union Minister Dr. Harshvardhan on the 5th of August’17.

We also know as per NEERI report, that glass facade increase surrounding temperature by 17-19°Celsius. Yet we have “experts” who with the use of clever and sophisticated software prove that the building is a Net Zero energy emission building. This is not only happening in India but all over the World.

The Global Goals indeed require Innovations. But we are innovating lies! The problem with that is while the pretenders would make some money and the architects of the Paris Agreement would pat themselves on their backs.

Earth would neither spare the smooth talkers nor the soothsayers. It would simply extinguish everything. 

Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions; Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals

August -15th: Climate change will have a negative effect on key crops such as wheat, rice, and maize, according to a major scientific report out Tuesday that reviewed 70 prior studies on global warming and agriculture. (phys.org)

August -18th: Extreme weather events are costing India $9-10 billion annually and climate change is projected to impact agricultural productivity with increasing severity from 2020 to the end of the century. In a recent submission to a parliamentary committee, the agriculture ministry said productivity decrease of major crops would be marginal in the next few years but could rise to as much as 10-40% by 2100 unless farming adapts to climate change-induced changes in weather. (Economic Times)

August -19th: Sending worrying signals to the farm sector, deficient rains in central and peninsular India have taken toll on the ongoing Kharif (summer crop) sowing operation, bringing down the total acreage as on Friday, as compared to the sown area during the corresponding period last year. Oilseeds and pulses are the worst hit. It will increase the country’s import bills if the sowing does not pick up in next two-three weeks. India, in any case, has to depend on imports to meet its domestic demand for these crops. (Times of India)

The Ph ys.org report on Climate change as reported on August 15th’17 juxtaposed with the two local news on India proves that nothing is a “Chinese Hoax” as claimed by a brilliant(?) analyst of world affairs.

In fact, both the Chinese and Indian governments must tone down their political rhetoric and get into actual cooperation to save their peoples from the Danse Macabre of Planet Earth. Unless peace prevails, there would be an atmosphere of mistrust and with the ever severe climate change impacts of drought/flood cycle neighbours would not come to rescue of each other when most needed. Hegemony will not help. We still have but one planet and finite resources. Greed has brought about Climate Change, further lust for an appropriation of wealth would lead to Armageddon. And there is no prize for knowing that Goddess Earth will win.

There has to be Partnership of Nations to ensure that the Global Goals are actually met. It is the need of the hour but real-politics is taking precedence of utopian ideals. While this article is India centric, it does not limit the issues to this Nation alone. For what happens to the Indian continent is true for the whole of Asia and in fact the world. We are failing due in our duty towards the planet. And no amount of platitude and self-praise would help us.
It is time to get real and do Justice to Earth.
 

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Kerala – Gods own Country ?


The 11th Kerala Environment Congress (KEC 2015) will be held at Kottayam, from 6th to 8th May, 2015.

The focal theme of this year’s Congress is “Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Climate change has now emerged as the biggest developmental challenge for the planet. The IPCC 5th Assessment Report, has clearly mentioned that the warming trends and increasing temperature extremes have been observed across most of the world over the past century. The report has provided compelling evidence that climate change is advancing rapidly as a global risk with impacts far beyond just the environment. Even though the climate change is affecting various development sectors, there is also scope for reducing emissions and deliver jobs and economic opportunity through wise use of resources. The KEC 2015 will be a thought provoking process in this direction, with the participation of people from all walks of life like scientists, researchers, policy makers, development managers, NGOs, media etc. The Congress will also identify the research and policy needs for developing viable programs to address climate change issues in the ongoing development process in India with particular reference to the State of Kerala.

  • Climate Smart Agriculture and Food Security
  • Climate Change and Water Security
  • Climate Change and Energy
  • Climate Change, Ecosystems and Biodiversity
  • Climate Change, Habitat and Urbanization
  • Climate Change and Health
  • Climate Change and Coastal and Marine Resources
  • Climate Change and Transport
  • Climate Change and Disaster Management
  • Climate Change and Buildings
  • Climate Change and Tourism
  • Climate Change and Plantations
  • Climate Change and Industries
  • Climate Change and Weather extremes
  • Climate Change Education and Communication
  • Climate Change, Legal and Policy Aspects

Among the various topics on which Scientist would be presenting their papers the following above topics would be covered.

It’s estimated that in Kerala, forest is cleared at a rate of 60 to 100 sq km per year.  Several hundred species of trees, herbs and climbers are either endangered or vulnerable to extinction. 

Deforestation inevitably leads to loss in rainfall and attempts at reforestation have largely been ineffective due to the introduction of inappropriate species such as eucalyptus and acacia, which hinder rather than restore ecological balance. The famous backwaters are not immune to environmental damage.  The degradation in the mountains has resulted in rivers polluted by silt and industrial effluent also takes its toll; killing fish and presenting significant health risks.  Many wells have become waste tips, causing serious ground water pollution and leading to an inadequate supply of clean drinking water. The assessment of river such as Chalakudy, Periyar, Muvattupuzha, Meenachil, Pamba and Achenkovil indicates that the major quality problem is due to bacteriological pollution. The ground water quality problems in the coastal areas are mainly because of the presence of excess chloride.The chloride concentration >250mb/l was detected in the well water samples of Azhicode, Kakkathuruthy, Edathinjil, Kadalundi, Chellanum, Nallalam, Mankombu and Haripad. in Alappuzha district, flouride concentration in the pumbing wells was observed to be high.Open well of Kerala are under threat of bacteriological contamination.In Kerala about 60% of the population relies on ground water for drinking.At the same time studies have shown that faecal contamination is present in 90% of drinking water wells.

Coastal erosion is altering the seashore landscape and putting populations at risk. Over fishing, with the introduction of trawler fishing in the 1950s, is affecting the economy and health of the local fishing community. Kerala is one among the most thickly populated region in the world and the population is increasing at a rate of 14% per decade.As a result of the measures to satisfy the needs of the huge population,the rivers of Kerala have been increasingly polluted from the industrial and domestic waste and from the pesticides and fertilizer in agriculture.Industries discharge hazardous pollutants like phosphates, sulphides, ammonia, fluorides, heavy metals and insecticides into the downstream reaches of the river.The river periyar and chaliyar are very good examples for the pollution due to industrial effluents. it is estimated that nearly 260 million litres of trade effluents reach the Periyar estuary daily from the Kochi industrial belt

[Courtesy: Centre for Environment & Development; ENVIS-Kerala;Viswadarsanam;]

As one can read on the start of the article. We are having the 11th Kerala Environment Congress. That means the problems and issues which have been raise in the above paragraphs have been flagged as many as 11 times over!

How many chances would a boss give to his employee. A Father to his Son, to correct an error? Yet we keep mum on the abuses we have been meting to our Mother Earth.

The many of the problems and issues which Kerala is facing today would perhaps be very soon taking away the title of – God’s Own Country and make it..

God’s Forsaken Country ! Unless we make the changes Now !

And the changes must reflect in the life-style of the people of Kerala. Unless the Civic changes happen in the physiological level of the populace mere reports and laws would just not be adequate to improve the disasters which are soon to manifest in a much larger scale than presently perceived.

Water, Energy, Ecosystems and Biodiversity are affected directly by the way we create our Habitat.

Haphazard Urbanization of sleepy villages, with copy-cat Buildings as designed in the West and Middle East which are not Climate Responsive in the vernacular context, compounded by setting up of Industries; in hereto Agricultural and Forest lands makes Disaster Management during Weather Extremes a severe challenge. Due to weak implementation of Education & Communication skills there lack of understanding of Legal and Policy Aspects. The continued failings of which would impact the Tourism Industry, Marine and Coastal Ecosystem and most importantly on Agriculture and Food Production!

Food is the primary source of Energy for Human. Without Energy life can’t exist. So let us probe into the ways we can tap into creating of Energy – Electrical & Mechanical; which is the primary driver of  civil development while maintaining the ecological balance to have the perennial source of food with is a life source !

Kerala is blessed with a few unique backwater system, which makes it a prime area to use the latent energy this has. That is micro-hydle systems. But we shall come to this later as there would be challenges to this. Moreover we need to stitch together a basket of solution to arrive at an optimum solution by inclusion of Wind and Solar!

Let us therefore explore through data that is available from various sources and start with the least used one –Geothermal

Estimation of geothermal gradients and heat flow from Bottom Simulating Reflector along the Kerala–Konkan basin of Western Continental Margin of India ( by Uma Shankar, N. K. Thakur* and S. I. Reddi of National Geophysical Research Institute, can be read here).

Geothermal power plants operated in at least 24 countries in 2010, and geothermal energy was used directly for heat in at least 78 countries. These countries currently have geothermal power plants with a total capacity of 10.7 GW, but 88% of it is generated in just seven countries: the United States, the Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, Italy, New Zealand, and Iceland. The most significant capacity increases since 2004 were seen in Iceland and Turkey. Both countries doubled their capacity. Iceland has the largest share of geothermal power contributing to electricity supply (25%), followed by the Philippines (18%).  ….

India has reasonably good potential for geothermal; the potential geothermal provinces can produce 10,600 MW of power (but experts are confident only to the extent of 100 MW). But yet geothermal power projects has not been exploited at all, owing to a variety of reasons, the chief being the availability of plentiful coal at cheap costs. However, with increasing environmental problems with coal based projects, India will need to start depending on clean and eco-friendly energy sources in future; one of which could be geothermal. – (See more at: http://www.eai.in/ref/ae/geo/geo.html#sthash.8nD3nsKp.dpuf )

The Costs of a geothermal plant are heavily weighted toward early expenses, rather than fuel to keep them running. Well drilling and pipeline construction occur first, followed by resource analysis of the drilling information. Next is design of the actual plant. Power plant construction is usually completed concurrent with final field development. The initial cost for the field and power plant is around $2500 per installed kW in the U.S., probably $3000 to $5000/kWe for a small (<1Mwe) power plant. Operating and maintenance costs range from $0.01 to $0.03 per kWh. Most geothermal power plants can run at greater than 90% availability (i.e., producing more than 90% of the time), but running at 97% or 98% can increase maintenance costs. Higher-priced electricity justifies running the plant 98% of the time because the resulting higher maintenance costs are recovered. – (See more at: http://www.eai.in/club/users/shankar/blogs/649#sthash.D6y8VkTr.dpuf)

Next, let’s look at Micro-Hydle-

A study sponsored by the Science, Technology and Environment Department (STED) and conducted by the Centre for Rural Management (CRM) has found that a whopping 870 households in the district are served by micro-hydel projects. The study also brings out some interesting features of this unique initiative as also underscores the need to develop a support base to improve the efficiency and efficacy of these units. A typical micro-hydel project consists of a source of water, often a stream, or a storage tank or a check-dam made of either jungle stone or concrete, a plastic or PVC flexible hosepipe and a rewound bike or cycle dynamo which acts as the generating system. The average installed capacity of the large majority of them remains below 150 Watts an hour. This is enough to meet the lighting needs and also for operating a radio, tape recorder or television set. Nearly half of these units provide power to the consumers for 12 hours a day and one-fourth of them ensure round-the-clock power supply. Moreover, 52 per cent of these units provide round-the-year power supply. (read more)

While Solar and Wind have already stabilized in the state, what is required is that the Building industry adopts Renewable Energy in toto. The method should governed by sound scientific advice which should be the guiding principle of framing the Development Control Rules of each zone in the Urban planning.

What is true for the Goose may not be for the Gander. Thus when market forces especially the copy cats with baser understanding solicit business within the RE basket; in their enthusiasm, they spoil the market for serious players either by under delivery or corruption in methods. The problem is further compounded when “hobby builders” {a one-time player, usually with lot of disposable money and zero discipline; usually plays a spoiler for developers} with zero scientific understanding opt for L1 (lowest one) all products. As the specifications of such products do not and can’t match the originals; they fail.

This not only leaves Kerala with badly designed buildings, with ugly façade completely in contrast to its serene backwater surrounding; but also energy intensive with falling products over-time. The common man, un-schooled in the methods and confused with the constant pull of identifying more to an imported Western Culture than the sound vernacular life-style are ending up as the final looser in the game.

And the biggest loss is to Sustainable Energy methods. Which could be very well possible if laws are legislated to utilize hybrid RE solutions with sound building materials and design.

 

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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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The false Messiah – the story of Earth Hour to Earth Day.


Come March-April, we celebrate a number of festivals. Some traditional some modern. Earth Hour  & Earth Day are two such.It is time to look at them up close and personal. And see how much have they really affected, when the word is out that we have already lost the battle of limiting the 2°C Global warming. And the rule of Carbon Black has begun.

Earth Hour is a worldwide event organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and held towards the end of March annually, encouraging households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour to raise awareness about the need to take action on climate change. The event, conceived by WWF and Leo Burnett, first took place in 2007, when 2.2 million residents of Sydney participated by turning off all non-essential lights.Following Sydney’s lead, many other cities around the world adopted the event in 2008.Earth Hour 2013 is being held on March 23, 2013 from 8:30 P.M. to 9:30 P.M. during participants’ local time.

The genesis of Earth Day is credited to Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. After witnessing the ravages of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, and inspired by the student anti-war movement, he called for an environmental teach-in, later called “Earth Day”, to be held on Wednesday, April 22, 1970. Over 20 million people participated that year, and now Earth Day is an annual day on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Earth Day is observed on April 22 each year. The April 22 date was designated as International Mother Earth Day by a consensus resolution adopted by the United Nations in 2009.Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and is celebrated in more than 192 countries every year

Started as  great concepts.These have not been able to achieve much in the Asian and third World Countries, and this is most evident in the horrific and naked truth of the Mumbra Building Collapse. in Mumbai, India. To the uninitiated, just as saving the Tiger can save a forest; adopting Better Building Design leads the way towards holistic sustainability – which is the underlying message of these events.

What happens in India and Indian cities must become important to the international community. Because as a fast growing Nation, instead of becoming a flowering creeper all would love to see, it is turning itself into a poisonous weed. The continued pollution created by Indian cities, would effect the World already reeling under super dangerous shifting of weather patterns and its accompanied intense impacts.

And before the ultra Nationalists start off, let me remind them that Mumbai & Delhi are signatory to the C40 Cities program and many of our towns and cities are getting support from World Bank, USA  & many EU  Nations for its infrastructure over-haul. It is time their investment should matter to them. For, here and now should they follow the link on the building collapse above, it would be obvious to them that their efforts and money are not reaching the intended.

Acting both locally and collaboratively, C40 Cities are having a meaningful global impact in reducing both greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks. Through a partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative, C40 brings together a unique set of assets and creates a shared sense of purpose. – this charter is no more applicable to Mumbai. It never was. If one walks on any part of Mumbai, one can sense the rot and the dangerous amount of pollution this city is contributing to the planet and its immediate Ecosystem.

One only needs to flip through the pages of a news paper to know that seemly unrelated events are all but different facets of the same. While low fish catch and the subsequent high cost is apparent, the not so apparent medical cost, resulting from eating fish which are treated with the 300 MLD of untreated sewage being dumped into the sea daily. (read more); or the rise in asthma and other chest disease because of a dust storm kicking up far away –

If you experienced low visibility in the city on Wednesday, blame it on a dust storm.11, Apr 2013 DNA
According to IIT Powai’s Centre for Environmental Science and engineering, a dust storm is rising from north-western dessert. Ratish Menon, a PHD student of the centre for environmental science and engineering department of IIT Powai, said: “We have been monitoring the satellite data and models which confirms that the city is witnessing a dust storm from north-western dessert.” He added that though a dust storm activity from Saudi Arabian desserts or India’s north-western region dessert hits the country every year, witnessing it in Mumbai is rare. “Normally such dust activity doesn’t hit Mumbai. This activity increases pollution level and stays for couple of days. We will closely monitor the progress,” said Menon.
However, the weather department denied that the haze was because of dust storm.
NY Apte, deputy director general of Indian Meteorological Department, Mumbai, said, “The visibility has reduced but we cannot call it a dust storm as the winds are not that strong. The condition can be called a haze. It has not been caused by any climatic change but is a result of local heating and moisture, apart from pollution in the air.”
Doctors said the prevailing weather conditions are particularly harmful for asthma patients. “Upper respiratory cases in the city are rising. Since morning, I am seeing many allergic bronchitis patients with symptoms like blocked nose, breathlessness and sneezing. We have also seen a couple of allergic rhinitis cases since morning,” said Dr Udit Thakker, general physician from Parel. Dr Jalil Parker, consulting chest physician, Lilavati Hospital said: “People with respiratory issues should be more careful and take utmost care.”
Doctors advise upper respiratory patients to avoid stepping out of the house. Dr Parker said the people who have sensitive respiratory passage need to take extra precaution as it can trigger an asthma attack. “It is important to cover your nose and mouth with a wet cloth,” said Dr Parker.

When the Country is going through a systemic failure, the edifice are the first to crumble and the poorest of the poor its first victim. Emboldened by the false immortality, as none gets punished befitting the crime; the brazen behaviour moves up-market and whether one likes it or not, South Mumbai will soon see disasters worse than Mumbra, perhaps the farthest and poorest suburb of the Megalopolis.

This disaster would not be limited to being crushed to death by falling walls, but also bubonic plague and every type of wind-borne disease. And add to that the absolute scarcity of water, because some smart high-end homes in the suburb now offers “golf-fields” – a stretch of lovely green grass which increases the water evaporation by 5 times and thus require huge quantity of scarce water to look the lovely green.   But then it is the life-style of the rich Europeans and it should by birth right, be the life style of the “brown Babus”.

It needs intellect to understand that glades and grass are a natural to the European landscape as is the rain-forest to ours. But one can’t play golf in the rain forest. And it is absolutely insulting for the rich to be put in the same class as the poor draught hit Indian farmers. I’m sure no News paper of any repute can show a poor Indian farmer drunk and dead in a swimming pool. It is the prerogative of the rich.

But Nature has a strange way of levelling things. When the million tonnes of plastic garbage the size of a town-suburb, floating in the Pacific  starts to break down even faster than the present ( which is alarming and dangerous ) as is obvious with 7 meter deep of the sea already warmed up. The resulting acid rain would bring into our homes chemicals and diseases which we hardly know about. The Ten Plague of Egypt would revisit. History always repeats itself.

Abatement and Mitigation.

 Abatement refers generally to a lessening, diminution, reduction, or moderation; while

 Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters.

Since  1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, to 2010 BP oil spill   one can safely vouch the ‘Abatement’ has been  safely mummified and buried deep.

As for ‘Mitigation’  we just need to browse through the news clips and images below to know that the World indeed is a global village and that the word MITIGATION is a form of self-denial we humans like to live in and our Political Masters love to dish-out. Because, Capitalism breeds Corruption and it stands at cross-purpose to correct the wrongs.

Bombay (2005) –

The heavy rains that have been inundating the city of Mumbai and it surrounding regions time and again during the monsoons every year indicate that the city is still short of a sound flood mitigation framework. The existing efforts by the city’s governing and planning authorities towards formulating flood alleviation strategies have only been marginally successful in fulfilling their purpose. Moreover, the national disaster management framework released in the year 2004 takes a holistic approach at managing and reducing disasters by suggesting general policies applicable to all the states in the country and not just the Mumbai region in particular. The framework also considers floods only as one of the many natural disasters that it suggests strategies for. It does not provide any flood-specific mitigation strategies so to speak of. (more)

Bangkok (2012) –

Thailand Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department has issued a warning for heavy flooding and landslide from today to next Monday, Sept 17. People living in Amnatcharoen, Yasothon, Ubon Ratchathani, Si Sa Ket, Phang Nga, Krabi and Trang are said to prepare for worst floods.
Last year (2011), severe floods killed 2800+ people in Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos. Out of these, 815 people were from Thailand. The question is Will 2012 be a repeat of 2011?
Following Government officials in Thailand, No 2012 won’t be a repeat of 2011 as major dams in the northern and central plains of Thailand are 50 percent lower than last year and at the ready to hold back more runoff from the annual monsoon rains. It has become a hot topic as currently the ancient city of Sukhothai which lies 400 kilometers north of Bangkok is having major floods (more).

Buenos Aires.(2013)

No politician is immune from being badly splashed by last week’s deadly floodwaters but of Argentina’s three top politicians (President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli and City Mayor Mauricio Macri) Scioli arguably stands most to lose. CFK is more or less exactly in the same place as this time last year in the wake of the Once rail tragedy (with even an identical toll of 51 dead for last year’s train crash and the flooding in the La Plata area, although half a dozen deaths in this metropolis need to be added in the latter case) — in other words, having to absorb overall responsibility for lethal infrastructural neglect and making a rather better job of it this year than last by actually going to the scene of the disaster in Tolosa (no doubt spurred by personal family links to the neighbourhood). Macri had a miserable Tuesday with City Hall failings in the national spotlight amid merciless criticism but was soon off the hook as the catastrophic tragedy in the Buenos Aires provincial capital totally eclipsed the disasters of some City neighbourhoods. (more)

While in a weird way one can understand the twisted logic of capitalism and the opportunity such disasters present to the industry both production and services. What is not understood by those who Govern and those who are Governed is that, unless and until we stop the lip services we give to Climate Change due to Global Warming, sustainable solutions leading to overall well-being would not be possible.

We therefore can not just give one day ( Earth Day ) or one hour ( Earth Hour ) for photo-opportunity but dig in our heels and work everyday in creating the right atmosphere in which real and meaning full developments happen. We can no more have battery operated “candle light” dinner designed during Earth Hour in 5-Star hotels; without understanding that the battery and the plastic candle together multiply GHG many times over the conventional candle light. Nor can we satisfy ourselves by conducting and listening to seminars hosted in every part of the planet to mostly inform those, who are already most informed on how to milk the industry of Climate Change business on Earth Day.

It would be better, should we be able to during each Earth Hour offer 1 hour of electricity to the villages surrounding the cities. Which has to be electrified and given sustainable infrastructure the previous year on Earth Day.

The 1 hour of electricity need not come by switching off lights of Iconic buildings around the World during the Earth Hour. That is nothing more than a fashion statement created and conceived with all the best intentions but useless. Some experts say that Earth Hour could result in an increase in carbon emissions and place great strain on electricity grids. Fossil-fuelled power stations could be required to fire up quickly when everyone turns their lights back on, “rendering all good intentions useless at a flick of a switch”.

But WWF maintains Earth Hour is not about saving energy but raising awareness. But perhaps those who switch-off their lights are not aware that, the saved electricity does not reach the 1.3 Billion lives around the Planet.

Simply because they don’t have the tools to receive it. That is a light bulb and the electrical connection to light that bulb !

Further on Earth Day, let those who know what the future holds take the step to go out and stand in the sunlight, out in the open public arena as opposed to an air-conditioned conference room and TEACH in simple language what they know to the “AAM ADMI” (Hindi =common man). In a manner s/he understands, Without the pie-charts and the graphs. Teach them the methods of survival when they and their loved ones, would for want of knowledge spend all their meagre but hard earned money on placebos, thinking it to be cure for their persistent breathlessness.  A breathlessness caused by the deadly smog and haze created by the Carbon Black now suspended in the atmosphere.

We must make aware what Dr.V. Ramanathan the UNESCO Chair Professor for Climate science and Policy at the TERI University spoke eloquently and with great sadness on the 5th April 2013 – We have already dumped enough green house gas to warm the planet by 2.5°C.

Global WarmingThis mask can not be removed by Abatement any-more and for a solution through Mitigation, we just don’t know what would be the consequence if such an experiment is tried. However, it is my firm belief that the Planet is a great healer. and it would heal itself if allowed to do so.

Climate change and global warming is a natural phenomena but the present Human civilization is only accelerating it and would thus meet with the same consequences the Pharaohs did. The supposedly immortals were thrust into oblivion by the mighty Earth.

As briefly mentioned above, the Ten Plague of Egypt were not myth but a result of Climate change. And some scientist claim to have the proof of it. – Archeologists believe that the mythical ten plagues occurred in the ancient city of Pi-Ramses, an Egyptian city on the Nile delta which served as the Egyptian capital during the reign of Ramses the second as Pharaoh (from 1279 BC- 1213 BC)…..Climatologists studying the ancient climate at the time have discovered a dramatic shift in the climate in the area occurred towards the end of Ramses the Second’s reign.By studying stalagmites in Egyptian caves they have been able to rebuild a record of the weather patterns using traces of radioactive elements contained within the rock.They found that Ramses reign coincided with a warm, wet climate, but then the climate switched to a dry period…The scientists believe this switch in the climate was the trigger for the first of the plagues,…(more)

It is time we understand our History and that of Earth too. Then only we shall truly  celebrate the Earth Day 2013.

 

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Green Business Ideas – Sell water at the price of petrol – and reap the ‘fringe’ benefits.


While the United Nations and the top environmental organization around the world are working non-stop to spread the knowledge on the importance of Food and Water, their success in limited. The reason is simple. They haven’t yet shown the money making aspect of it.

Selling water is the Next big business which can make a pauper a King in the coming years. In this article, I shall attempt to give a few ideas of how to amass the wealth. But before that let me set the perspective.

It is a common knowledge that the World’s fresh water is only 3% of the total available water. 97% of the water on Earth is salt water. Of the 3%, water found at the Earth’s surface in lakes, rivers, streams, ponds, and swamps makes up only 0.3% of the world’s fresh water! 68.7% of the fresh water on Earth is trapped in glaciers. 30% of fresh water is under the ground.

It is also a fact that the World is heading towards a Food crisis, with the World population heading 9 Billion strong and slated to grow, despite the Climate change due to Global Warming. And it must be fed. And to grow food one needs fertile land and water. And therefore one does not need anyone to have an IQ above 300 to deduce the situation as DIRE. As with ever increasing unplanned Urban sprawl, land use change  is happening at break-neck speed, which paves over fertile agricultural land into “housing plots”  and in the process pushing the agricultural land either into virgin forests or less cultivable areas where only meagre existence is possible, possibly because of a lake or pond near by, which fills up during monsoon. But as soon as these areas becomes habitable, being at the Urban fringe the sale value of land far outstrips the reason to maintain it for agriculture. Thus lakes and ponds along with small rivulets get filled up and paved over to create another concrete jungle.

In the sate of Maharashtra, India; 5000  Villages do not have a drop of Water. Similar are the tales in other states of India. They have to rely everyday for water-bearing tankers for even the very basic need of cooking and hygiene.Almost all the big metropolis bring water to the city by denying the rightful owners of the lakes in far-off villages; Delhi 300 Km , Mumbai 100km. Almost 80% of the people living in the City of Mumbai have no idea about the source of the potable water reaching their homes daily – river Bathsa , Vaitarna, are names  not known to many.

A south  Mumbai ( posh) locality girl when asked on TV about the source of the water, considers that water comes from the tap ! Sure it does so that one can have a pool party while the people of the villages near the rivers and lakes, which feed the cities walk around 1000 KM per year, just to collect drinking water. Some need to walk as much as 5KM per day. As it is not possible for a mother to carry all the water required, they press into service girl-child as small as 8-10 yrs old to help collect water!

Before the British ruled India, in the Kingdom of Mysore (a district near Bangalore, Karnataka, India ) had around 40,000 lakes. The Maharaja of Mysore used to spend from his treasury 50% of the expense required and the other 50% came from the villagers either in form of money or labour for the up-keep of these water bodies.As there was involvement of all, there was a sense of belonging among the people and the lakes thrived. With the fall of Tipu Sultan, the British started to rule the state. Among many atrocities, the greatest folly they committed was that while they taxed the people of the state for use of water, they did not contribute in either up-keep or creation of new water bodies. This led to people slowly lose the bond they had with the lakes and ponds and in time they were lost. The story was the same all over India under British rule. At one time New Delhi boasted of nearly 800 ponds. In time Indians valued land more than water, and price of land with modern times rose to such an extreme that today we see ponds and lakes as prime real estate, waiting to be filled up and built upon !

As surface water bodies were destroyed, we in our need of water, dug deeper and deeper bore-wells reaching to the very bed-rock. We have sucked out water to such an extent without keeping any provision for replenishment that almost all our Megalopolis have scarcity of water. Mumbai has a short-fall of 1.8 Million litre of water per day!

We have even managed to empty the underground water table. It takes 100,000 years  for rainfall to percolate and fill a water table!

Our  lackadaisical attitude, combined with greed and ignorance is such a heady cocktail that today we have been able to completely kill 600KM of the sacred river Yamuna ( all other Indian rivers have more or less the same fate) so much so that the water flowing in it is nothing but discharge from the sewers of New Delhi which reaches the holiest city of Vrindawan. Not content with that, the Industrial Estate which were set up at the fringe of the Megalopolises; with complete disregard to rules and in connivance with State the Pollution Board & Environment officials dig deep-bore wells and discharge highly toxic waste into the water table. Substance like Arsenic, Fluorides, Lead, Mercury and Cadmium either go into the Rivers directly or into the ground-water table. It has been found that around certain regions of Delhi, the Spinach which is grown and considered a very healthy food, has a few 100 times more than the “permissible” ( a corrupt corporate practice followed all around the world ) limit as envisaged under the food & drug act and the pollution control board.

And we all know that, lead -arsenic-mercury-cadmium poisoning can not be good for the health.  Yet, successive governing agencies have not only allowed industrial discharge into the rivers and aquifers, but have been lax in checking or finding a solution more conducive. Furthermore treated industrial water, foolishly thought to have been completely decontaminated is used for irrigation, thus permanently poisoning not only the area around the industrial waste but everywhere and everyone who come in contact with the food or food product around the Country.

This knowledge is slowly percolating down the thoughts of the common person through sustained campaign by NGO’s. And they are starting to ask questions to the administration which in India has a default setting of being reactionary rather than pro-active. The link in above image  tells us how much percentage of water is safe drinking water.

But the problem is that we have exploited the water system to such an extent, we are left with nothing to fall back on. Today, it is shameful to call our Nation a progressive one because more than 80% of India still depends on the yearly rain-fall to grow crops. We have made a hash of our irrigation scheme and decontaminating our rivers. And the recent irrigation scam unearthed has perhaps taken us back by decades in this effort.

Simply put, without fresh water life is not possible. Because whatever age of civilization we might happen to be, the 3 basics – Food, Clothing & Shelter would stay in same order of importance. And for growing food we need WATER.

Therefore the best Green Business Idea today for millions of Rural Indians would be to create their own village comity and practice the age-old wisdom of capturing rain-water. The famous stepped-well of the western India to the lakes and ponds which belonged to the village community should be revamped.

So what is the revolutionary idea in it? Every water expert worth his salt has written tomes of books on it. Well, as per my knowledge goes no one has written about what I am suggesting.

Declare water as a “cash crop” and “essential commodity”. Price each liter of water to the same price of Petrol! Allow it to be traded in the stock market and let market forces govern it. While protecting the poor and the economically weaker section through grants and subsidy, as it has been doing for petroleum products.

Lets look at a few hypothesis –

The moment the government announces a scheme that it shall pay for conservation  of water and allow for trade of lets say 500 million liters of water per day say  at Rupees 10/ litre of water from every rural district of India to feed the city and industries, within one year each and every dried and neglected pond and lake would be spruced up in every village across India with each villager eagerly awaiting the advent of monsoon.

The village panchayats ( elected administrative body) would not allow any pilferage of  funds, which happens in the grandest scale in India and actually build the water reservoirs. It would also ensure that plantation of trees do take place and stop the denudation of the rain-forest, which is principal in retaining the ground water and reduces evaporation.

Let us now take the water requirement of Mumbai. The city’s water requirementis  4250mld. (million liters per day ).  However, it receives only 3,350mld. Six lakes in and around Mumbai supply water to the city. Upper Vaitarna supplies 630mld, Modaksagar 455mld, Tansa 407mld, Vihar 110mld, Tulsi 18mld and Bhatsa 1,900mld. However, 20% of the supply (or 600mld) is lost due to leakages and theft. Moreover, the supply from Vihar and Tulsi lakes is mainly used for industrial purposes.

And what would happen should the government increase the tariff to Rupees 30 /per litre ? The land-sharks who grab prime land meant for parks would be booted out of cities along with their political protectors and citizens would comply with zeal and gusto all municipal directives for rain water harvesting and ground water recharge within their residential societies. Recycle of grey and  black water would become norm. For no water guzzling Indian citizen would like to pay that kind of price for water. They would be better off having their own supply and earn a few million form the government scheme by petitioning it to make it applicable to them too. After all why should the villagers have all the fun?

And if the tariff be raised to Rupees 50/per litre ? Corporates would kick into action and innovation in building design and town planning would be in the lines of building sustainable cities. The unplanned Urban sprawl would be arrested and pristine open ground, parks and lakes within the city limits would become norm. Rivers would get cleaned up and offending industries and municipalities penalized.

Further not only the city dwellers would save the precious water but actually find the ways to trade in water. Just as the large oil tankers berth into our ports, so would Indian water tankers berth into theirs, pumping out the precious water for  the dry and parched countries, which have also been growing in size and population. And desalinated water may be less a requirement, when the exchange rate between the Indian Rupee vs their money is factored. Indian water could turn out to be a cheaper option.

For long experts have been asking governments to charge the actual tariff for water. Now, one can not only think of doing so, but actually be applauded for the effort. And in the process save the total ecosystem.

While with my limited knowledge I may not have got the concept right, but I am sure that experts in the World who understand money and geo-politics would find some currency in this idea because –

A few years ago, the BMC (municipal corporation of Mumbai city) had ambitiously proposed to the state government to draw water from phase II of the Koyna dam in Chiplun (Ratnagiri district), about 300km from Mumbai. The proposal to draw water from the Koyna dam may give 1,69,800 million litres of water on an annual basis to the city as well surrounding regions like Thane and Raigad. According to the state government’s plan, the project would cost about Rs40,000 crore.  According to officials of the water supply and sanitation department, the government discharges about 1,69,800 million litres of water from the Koyna dam to the Vashishthi river at Chiplun after generating power. The state government’s water supply and sanitation department had  decided to undertake the project on a build-and-operate basis. It had invited interest bids to which 12 companies have responded.

As one can see from above, the business of water is a superb business. But it is only understood by a few and exploited for good measure. There would be absolutely no doubt in the minds of ordinary Indians that of the Rs 400,000,000,000 a huge amount would line the pockets of many. While the rightful owner for right of first use to the water – people residing in Chiplun – would be denied even drinking water.

So would it not be possible that similar humongous amount of money be used for some of the concepts I have proposed above ? If the government could find and make popular the Renewable Energy Scheme under the National Action Plan for Climate Change; of the 8 action plan one is for Water !

In this planet the only thing that we human understand is money. Gold &    Black Gold    (petroleum) is hoarded because it has a stupendous price tag. Make water equally costly, give it the respect it deserves. Because, neither Gold nor petroleum can quench thirst! And it is important that all of us recognize this problem. For the very existence of civilization is dependent on it.

 
 

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Millennium Development Goals – towards Sustainable Living


The UNFCCC Rio+20; is over. We all must look towards the next one. And while we do, it is our duty to make the common person understand in as simple term as possible the agenda of the Millennium Development and how it is related to their every day life.

English: A 2005 photograph of James Lovelock, ...

English: A 2005 photograph of James Lovelock, scientist and author best known for the Gaia hypothesis. Photograph taken by Bruno Comby of Association of Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy. Original at http://www.ecolo.org/lovelock/. Released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license versions 2.5, 2.0, and 1.0. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The eminent British scientist James Lovelock, back in the 1970s, formulated his theory of Gaia, which held that the Earth was a kind of super organism. It had a self-regulating quality that would keep everything within that narrow band that made life possible. If things got too warm or too cold—if sunlight varied, or volcanoes caused a fall in temperatures, and so forth—Gaia would eventually compensate.This was a comforting notion to many. Later, he said he was wrong, “I have to tell you, as members of the Earth’s family and an intimate part of it, that you and especially civilization are in grave danger,” he wrote in the Independent in 2006. .

The world has warmed since those heady days of Gaia, and scientists have grown gloomier in their assessment of the state of the world’s climate. NASA climate scientist James Hanson has warned of a Venus effect,” in which runaway warming turns Earth into an uninhabitable desert, with a surface temperature high enough to melt lead, sometime in the next few centuries.

pleistocene extinction

pleistocene extinction (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a provocative, gripping book, Scientific American editor Fred Guterl says – The sixth “mass extinction event” in the history of planet Earth is currently under way, with over two hundred species dying off every day. The cause of this seismic event is also the source of the single biggest threat to human life: our own inventions. But for all our talk about sea levels and biotechnology, do we really know what our future will actually look like? Will our immune systems be attacked by so-called super bugs, always evolving, and more easily spread than ever? Will the disappearance of numerous species cripple the biosphere? And if it does, what happens then? We find ourselves in a trap: Technology got us into this mess, and it’s also the only thing that can help us survive it.

So, what must be done ? Elinor Ostrom winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics says –  The good news is that evolutionary policymaking is already happening organically. In the absence of effective national and international legislation to curb greenhouse gases, a growing number of city leaders are acting to protect their citizens and economies.

pleistocene extinction

This is hardly surprising – indeed, it should be encouraged. This grassroots diversity in ‘green policy making’ makes economic sense. ‘Sustainable cities’ attract the creative, educated people who want to live in a pollution-free, modern, urban environment that suits their lifestyles. This is where future growth lies. Like upgrading a mobile phone, when people see the benefits, they will discard old models in a flash. Most major cities sit on coasts, straddle rivers, or lie on vulnerable deltas, putting them on the front line of rising sea levels and flooding in the coming decades. Adaptation is a necessity. But, with cities responsible for 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation is better. Of course, true sustainability goes further than pollution control. City planners must look beyond municipal limits and analyse flows of resources – energy, food, water, and people – into and out of their cities. Setting goals can overcome inertia, but everyone must have a stake in establishing them: countries, states, cities, organisations, companies, and people everywhere. Success will hinge on developing many overlapping policies to achieve the goals.

If one reads into the Euro Zone crisis, all that is being debated is whether there should be austerity or business as usual. And in this whatever the European Union has gained and trying to gain in the area of Climate Change abatement, would be the first casualty. Because those who advocate austerity would find sustainable development “costly” to implement and those who oppose it would consider sustainable development as barrier to growth, the high carbon growth which did bring the Nations to their prime but at the cost of the environment; which would be glossed over by impassioned speech more or less with the justification that they are doing this for the benefit of the people. And Peoples and Sheep from time of Anthony when he buried Cesar, get easily swayed in not recognizing the actual ambition of the Orator. And Europe is not alone in this, there are already grumblings on the Bunker fuel tax, Euro Zone has levied from January 2012; with even India along with China and Russia of the BRICS  group opposing it.

Capitalism, the form which is practiced today, measures profit by monetary gain only. It has so dis-oriented  the “experts” and “leaders” that it is difficult for them to come out of it. The system has trained Law & Business Graduates to distrust, mistrust, lie and intimidate at every turn. And when this is topped with greed and avarice, the heady mix is a dangerous concoction of disastrous results, which at times just needs a small nudge from Nature to implode/explode into a catastrophe – the most recent example is Fukushima, Lehman Brother episode. The Indian list is endless, so I best leave it for now by just saying; it is being mentioned that, should we be able to repatriate the money parked in off-shore accounts, India can have the 5 year plan of  Sustainable Growth covered in one go.

Although among climate experts, there’s an extraordinary level of agreement with 97 out of 100 climate scientists agreeing that humans are causing global warming. Action taken on the ground are far from satisfactory.

English: Inaugural Ministerial Meeting of the ...

English: Inaugural Ministerial Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate in Sydney, Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why is this happening? It is because the mandarins in power are straight jacketed in their thoughts vis-a-vis international commerce & trade as well as Geo-politics. Habits die hard and the more seasoned the diplomat, the more suspicious s/he would be of every proposal; even if it were for Climate change abatement and Sustainable Development. It came to as no surprise, when just post the failure of Copenhagen UNFCCC COP15 summit, a very high up in the Indian delegation said that, the failure is not because no one understood the grim reality of climate change; but inherently all consider it just another gathering of World Economic Forum in disguise. So each Nation / Group look at maximizing their economic benefit.

It is therefore imperative for the common person to understand the reasons and patterns behind the hardships they are facing and what their children would face; they need to understand that many are out of work because the corporates did not factor in the climate risks when polluting the earth endlessly, and being part of the employee pool we to have our fair share in it. This has to led to food crises in many Nations, drought & famine in other. This  desperate atmosphere at times creates situation for war & piracy at high-seas. It also encourages impressionable minds to dream of “paradise” when they willingly explode having nothing to lose.

When all the chips are down the only thing a human needs is -FOOD & SHELTER just like all other animals in this eco-system and Climate change is leading the world towards that disaster. The evidence of impending Armageddon is all around us to see, the trick is to abate it in time. Adaptation is a stop-gap option not the solution. Sustainable practice is all encompassing. It can not be seen in isolation. This I could learn over time through experience. From looking at sustainability through the narrow prism of Energy Efficient Building Design, it slowly dawned unto me that the buildings I think of designing and the Renewable Energy I love to promote can not exist in vacuum. They are but an infrastructure service for betterment of Humanity, and if modern Civilization gets devoid of mankind due to Climate change  what purpose would the buildings serve?

As the 8 Millennium Development Goals suggests – 1. Eradication of Extreme Poverty & Hunger. – talk to a hungry person of not cutting down a tree for sale as fire-wood so that s/he can feed the family, it just won’t work.

2. Achieve Universal Primary Education.-how else would the citizens understand and adapt to the various programs for betterment of the under privileged, who are fooled at every turn by the unscrupulous and thus face the brunt of any natural or man-made calamity.

3. Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. – it is a fact that women have better intuition, more caring, perceive more colors  , can identify more through  smell, have a better memory power than men and have Emotional intelligence  far better then men. The list is endless. In India as in the rest of the world “Mother Goddess” was supreme. Today in India the worship of the female power as Goddess Shakti is only but a lip service, without understanding why our ancient ancestors put so much currency on the empowerment of women. For without having the Mother teaching a child to nurture how can Nature sustain itself ?

4. Reduce Child Mortality. Although India has the highest “youth capital”; it also has a dismal record of child mortality. A Country prospers on the back of the people – the farmer, the solider, the mason, the weaver; without able body to shoulder the burden, there would neither be food, shelter or clothing and none to protect the Nations wealth. 

5.Improve Maternal Health.- If the wealth of a Nation is its able citizens, then the continuity can only be maintained through sustained efforts to keep the mother of the child, who is the future of the Nation, healthy.

6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other disease. –Without education, gender equality and eradication of poverty; the complete physical, physiological and ecological balance suffers leading to disease and destruction.

Only by achieving the desired result in the above six can we complete the other two

7. Ensure Environment Sustainability- Reduction of Green House Gases and other forms of pollution is the only way to stop the Extinction of the modern Civilization.

8. Develop a Global Partnership for Development. – Sustained efforts in global partnership on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) which
“serve as a crucial enabler for territorial development, accelerating progress in poverty reduction, while promoting inclusive growth.” By sharing knowledge of sustainable development practice Nations can learn from each other and create better job opportunities while veering away form the disastrous High Carbon Economy of today.

Courtesy:amazon.com/The-Fate-Species; scientific american.com/The Fate of the Species.;  abc.net.au/environment.

 

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Sustainable Living and Climate Initiative: Socio-Political Decisions can have a profound effect on it.


When God made Earth – He made night & day. When Man made the machine he created the Day-shift and the Night shift.

The 2009 Sustainable Living Expo in Stonnington.

The 2009 Sustainable Living Expo in Stonnington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Both created – one was brilliant, the other apparently not so bright. For the human , it has taken centuries to understand that several methods it has adopted for Living is simply not Sustainable. And that is the bottom line – Sustainable Living ! Whether we remind ourselves or not, the primeval instinct to live – eat – be healthy – survive – procreate & protect;  is the only thing we humans have pursued, the methods however, have refined since our cave dwelling days but not necessarily in the right direction.

image courtesy :farm4.staticflickr.com

One good solution that is now being  advocated is  called “Biomimicry” meaning – do what nature does ! It is gaining some traction but sometime with a fundamental flaw – it is unnatural to mimic what is natural in the first place.(  some people are using the pretext of this beautiful concept to legitimise what is fundamentally flawed to begin with) So when we say we are attempting to fly;  humans are not born with the ability to fly; so the air-plane we create for that attempt, and name it biomimicry would itself be unnatural. What the original exponents of “Biomimicry” must have wanted; before it became commercial  & thus bastardized; was simple – all our attempt to live this blessed modern life should be minimalistic when it impacts Nature. To design ways and means to harness natures ingenuity and create through inspired design where possible, machines or habitats with low environmental impact.

But to begin scaling this concept, human must get back to sync with nature once again. Coming back to my opening lines – when we created the 24 x 7 x 365  work culture, we received bountiful results, because Nature had the stock in reserve. Being puny in scale, we thought the supply to be infinite, just like an ant would when entering a jar full of cookies. And in the process created trends and culture which now is becoming difficult to sustain. A glaring example is Europe where austerity measures are being met with hostility.

During the bountiful era, the socio-political environment was that of smug comfort. Standing atop lofty balconies, leaders of the past had the far-sight to see the populace applaud each populist decree made. Sometime as indulgence of a rich parent or out of genuine concern but never without a trace of self aggrandisement were the policies made. And self aggrandisement makes one chose far-sight over foresight. And in India, unfortunately we see this most of the time, the recent reference link to it would be found in my Earth Day article.

Survival of the fittest. It can be argued that, the Human species chose to differ from the rest by having the ability to take care of the weak. That is what separates us from the rest of the species. And here again I would like to point to Biomimicry and show that following the laws of Nature is the best way to do so and not the process we have adopted, for it is a short time solution.

If you just take just one example from many, say the squirrel, you would see that it is social, lives in a community and also takes care of its young and weak. But, all need to forage for their food!  That is something our leaders of the present can model their future policies into. Animals don’t have the concept of dole, free health policy, or even vacation for that matter ! Let us for the sake of argument model a concept thus –

Say, a Nation decides that everybody needs to earn their keep. Every employable person shall have to mandatory  stock up reserve, just like ants do. For, heath benefits by law one must buy health insurance. For food security by law one must make a savings policy.

For the unemployable, the word itself is a misnomer. Say we have a few 1000 doctors who have not got jobs, they line up for dole. Yet there are 1500 post vacant in the constabulary. There can only be two reasons for a doctor for not getting a job. Either s/he is not up to the mark or the post are full. So, let the employment exchange direct them to join the police while a suitable post for their qualification gets vacant. And who knows a good thing may come out of that, imagine a highway car accident where the police have reached before the paramedics, having knowledge in medicine could save a life . One must take up a job. No choice by law to remain idle.

Let them earn their keep. Stock up reserve, not become lax and lackadaisical or become a social out-cast because of not having a job. ‘An idle mind is the devils work-shop’ – a quote from time immemorial.

Emblem of the United Nations. Color is #d69d36...

Emblem of the United Nations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There may arise a situation where there are more IT-graduates than companies to hire them in a Country. Short-term exchange programs can be created among member countries to lend professional of one field and take mechanics in exchange if so they need. The World today is a village and United Nations we are! ( at least in theory and in the figment of my imagination.)

Yet there would be some, the old & the infirm, who try as they might will not get a job. That is when their beloved Mother land, governed by able leaders with foresight must engulf them in loving Care! And in the long run even during times of austerity manage to hold on to these social programs, simply because it would be smaller in number and thus sustainable.

Surely  it would take time and hard choices need to be made today, to revise and adjust and calibrate the concept into a near perfect one. One which truly merges the best of  Democracy with Socialism without the pitfalls of communism and crony capitalism. Like the populist and sometime ill conceived development programs be it infrastructure or social. Which some time create haves and have nots.

So where does Climate initiative figure in this? one might ask. Again one needs to look into Biomimicry. Everything in Nature grows in its own pace. Nothing happens overnight. Yet Humans try to achieve just that – Success, Wealth, Power et al. So they work 18hrs a day instead of 8. A tired body effects the mind in many ways. Artificial simulation to beat the fatigue and the competing companion takes the human to the very edges of danger, which every religion preaches not to practice – Ego, Greed and Anger.

These vices make human take decisions which have long term impact on the climate. They build hydro-dams in the guise of harvesting power, whereas in reality its the water they want to control and deny prosperity to its neighbouring Country. In the process, they damage their own local eco-system which other-wise would have sustained their Peoples and perhaps help in food security in the future. Or they venture into the fragile Ocean beds (which most understand very little, and those who do, would eventually get sidelined by the political and MBA masters they work for ) in search of power source, when the Waves , Wind & their maker the Sun provides it in abundance. They are the trinity of eternal energy source, which man-kind would never be able to exhaust.

Image Courtesy: http://www.examiner.com

The modern society World over must think of biomimiking a tree. Growing slowly yet surely while standing still in its own place, the tree finds sustenance for hundreds of years without encroaching on others . A jungle is nothing but a crowd, yet they thrive. Mostly by symbiosis. It is almost permanently renewable.

Perhaps it is time for the social scientist to take centre stage and steer the politics in a manner the science of sustainable living dictates.

 
 

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