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Tag Archives: Environment

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


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

New Scientist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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SDG#2 No Hunger?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4696 million hectares forest land to non-forestry purposes,

0.07 million hectares to illegal encroachment,

4.37 million hectares to cultivation,

0.518 million hectares to river valley projects,

0.141 million hectares to industries and townships, and

0.061 million hectares to transmission lines and roads.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Anil Madhav Dave had reasons to be worried.

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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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.

spc20sdgs-globalgoalsforsustainabledevelopment-05207220dpi

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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Who is VVIP – the Planet or a President? Why Trump Must Go!


As an Indian citizen, who would never immigrate to any other Country come what may, it makes no difference who becomes the next President or Prime Minister of another country.

Global governance expert decries ‘snub’ of Patricia Espinosa as Trump administration considers whether to pull out of Paris climate deal

Global governance expert decries ‘snub’ of Patricia Espinosa as Trump administration considers whether to pull out of Paris climate deal. Patricia Espinosa has been unable to obtain a meeting with the US state department. Photograph: Pablo Porciuncula/AFP/Getty Images

But, when an Executive decision made by a man could endanger the lives of my family & friends due to that man’s personal belief that Climate Change is a Chinese Hoax! Then it becomes a cause for worry!

If the article in the Guardian – UN climate chief unable to secure meeting with US state department is true then the World is in grave danger and while there is nothing a foreign Nation can do to intervene in their Constitution I guess the member countries of UNFCCC should show some spine and do what Uncle SAM has been doing since long!

IMPOSE TRADE SANCTIONS!

I’m sure the Capitalists around the world would snort at this, and some may even think of the choicest abuse! For, the USA is the single largest market in the world which makes economies move….

They should pause for a while and ask not as some Banker or Financial Analyst, but as a simple Human …..

Is it the Planet they live in gives them their next meal Or It is the economic and foreign policy of Nations?

It took more than 20 years, to just arrive at some concessions that the Planet is first! And in less than 20 months we are going to see all that has been achieved unravel? Because, some man who has been given some imaginary powers by some group of citizens written is a piece of paper, which is called the Constitution?

That paper, ink and even the hands that wrote and signed on it are but the product of this Planet.

Just how far are we to sink before sanity returns? Are we willing to let the Small Island Nations drown under the sea while shedding crocodile tears at the UNGA podium?

Let War ravage Nations, as it did in Syria?  Climate Change Helped Spark Syrian War, Study Says – National Geographic

Would at least the British, the closest ally of the USA come forward and put some sense, will their King to be, who believes it to be so?  Is the Syrian conflict linked to climate change? -CNN interview, set sail to America and knock some sense into the erstwhile subject?

To those who fear that all will be lost, if we do not side with this President of the USA! I would within my humble limits point to a few things he has already said and done. He wants America First. That means what is indigenous to America, should be made and consumed in America first. This makes an excellent case for all other Nations around the World to follow suit. And if one looks closely it would actually HELP in saving the Planet.

Say for example Mangoes. This fruit is not indigenous to the USA. Therefore it should not be sold there at all. Likewise, all fruits and vegetables & allied goods and services should not reach the shores of the USA, as the first option. And before economists and government officials throw a fit, here is the argument.

For too long, Politicians and Economists have stood somberly at various forums including Davos and spoken about how to uplift the poor and the downtrodden. Here is the golden chance to be triumphantly victorious at that.When we start to sell our home grown produce first to our own citizens, the cost will go down. There will be less waste due to transportation and it would also reduce the GHG emissions. It would spur growth and prosperity and also create jobs. Is this not what all the pundit profess? Prosperity for all.

But then the argument would be looking at the SENSEX. But why should I? Why should something cost me a 100 when it can be produced at 10 and sold at 30? Do we really need to follow the laws of Economics as it has been taught to us? That we are following a failed model can be best explained by the expert in the video below. And I would request all readers to listen to it.

The Third Curve by Mansoor Khan.

Economics as we know it has helped destroy this planet. And as has been so eloquently explained in the talk that nature follows a bell curve, let’s there for rest assure us that the idiocy which we see unfolding in the USA foreign policy with regards to climate change will end when the correct measures are taken by the World at large.

 

 

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World Environment Day, time to move beyond the Rhetoric !


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

South, central & airport areas are Mumbai‘s hottest

Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar –Mumbai Times News  Network

Temperatures Vary By Up To 13°C Within City

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

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

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

Land Use Norms Should Also List Materials For Construction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Stop manufacturing cars that use Fossil fuel.

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

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

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

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

English: Chicago City Hall Green Roof

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Green Business Ideas: Certified Green Building projects should automaticaly qualify for Financial Cerdit Rating.


Got ideas on how to make green buildings go mainstream ?the World Green Building Congress is asking on Twitter and is ready to offer a $10K prize. It is being run by the ClimateCoLab as a contest.

This definitely inspires to come up with another Green Business Idea.

A credit rating is an evaluation of the credit worthiness of a debtor, especially a business (company) or a government, but not individual consumers. The evaluation is made by a credit rating agency of the debtor’s ability to pay back the debt and the likelihood of default. Evaluations of individuals’ credit worthiness are known as credit reporting and done by credit bureaus, or consumer credit reporting agencies, which issue credit scores. Credit ratings are determined by credit ratings agencies. The credit rating represents the credit rating agency’s evaluation of qualitative and quantitative information for a company or government; including non-public information obtained by the credit rating agencies’ analysts. (Wikipedia)

An Energy Efficient Building or Green Building as it’s popularly known, can save upto 30% in electrical consumption and saves around the same percent, water with judicious and clever use. The two most critical commodity in the World today.

Now, if a company is able to save on its Operational Expenses, it would naturally reflect on the profit graph. And if the company is profitable its ability to meet financial commitments becomes strong. Lets analyse this further.

The Confederation of Indian Industry also known as CII and its other bodies such as the CII-CESD and IGBC have for the past many years doing a superb task to bring about a paradigm shift in the thinking of the populace to adopt sustainable methods to conduct business. There has been a varying degree of success. But it is not enough to make the desired dent to limit and reverse the trend of Climate Change.

One of the enormous barrier is resistance to change. And to consider every change which requires some degree of extra expenditure as very risky. Because the result of the change on making a building energy efficient,  is a process spread over a long time period.

This resistance to certain degree also occurs. because the traditional business class in India do not train themselves in any Business School.(60% of top CEOs in India do not have an MBA degree: INSEAD and HBR study😉 Another report says – The typical CEO in India is male, around 56 years old, and with a degree from a local university — mainly IIT or IIM. Only 24% have an MBA. The most popular university subjects studied by CEOs are business, mechanical engineering, and finance.(read more).

It is more of dynastic wisdom handed down over generations. And thus each business creates their own ideas for success and deviations from that set of wise counsel is at times socially as well as circumstantially difficult.

Thus the old adage – to cut iron we need iron, can be looked at to find the formula of success. Thus we must provide incentive which the average CEO can relate to and would also like to flaunt.

THE CREDIT RATING.

The more powerful the credit rating more would be the incentive for people to follow the diktats to go Green.

Recently the Government of India has initiated a movement

India to implement code for energy saving, green buildings construction by 2017

The Economic Times NEW DELHI: It will be mandatory for all state governments to  implement by 2017 the minimum requirements for energy efficient design and construction set by the central government to meet the challenges of depleting resources, increased urbanisation and rapid construction, according to a top official. Shifting its focus to building energy-saving structures, the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) of the power ministry has made mandatory the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) which acts like a “cross-check for building designs and specifications” to reduce the energy consumption through design and choice of material and equipment.Under its ambit are components like building envelopes (wall, roofs, windows), lighting, heat ventilation and air conditioning and electrical systems.Introduced in 2007, on a voluntary basis, the code sets the minimum energy standards for new commercial buildings with a connected load of 100 KW. Besides new buildings, it also covers old buildings which are getting renovated and/or extended.

Although a little disappointed that we have given ourselves beyond UNFCCC Paris COP. Where the wishful thinking of all climate change advocates would be to see the strict implementation of the Durban Declaration…

DURBAN Declaration. (pdf)

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, Durban 2011, delivered a breakthrough on the international community’s response to climate change. In the second largest meeting of its kind, the negotiations advanced, in a balanced fashion, the implementation of the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol, the Bali Action Plan, and the Cancun Agreements. The outcomes included a decision by Parties to adopt a universal legal agreement on climate change as soon as possible, and no later than 2015. The President of COP17/CMP7 Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said: “What we have achieved in Durban will play a central role in saving tomorrow, today.”

…. but the news coming close to the heels of President Obama’s Climate Change Action Plan, it was indeed a good news.

While on June 2, the EPA released a proposal that will set the first-ever national carbon pollution standards limits for America’s existing power plants. Danger already lurks in the shape of Tony Abbott !

Tony Abbott seeks alliance to thwart President Obama on climate change policy – Tony Abbott is seeking a conservative alliance among “like-minded” countries, aiming to dismantle global moves to introduce carbon pricing, and undermine a push by US President Barack Obama to push the case for action through forums such as the G20. ……The combined front would attempt to counter recent moves by the Obama administration to lift the pace of climate change abatement via policies such as a carbon tax or state-based emissions trading. It is a calculated attempt to push back against what both leaders see as a left-liberal agenda in favour of higher taxes, unwise interventions to address global warming, and an unhealthy attitude of state intervention.

It would be perhaps one of the most defining moment for India to take up the leadership position and support what President Obama seeks to do, and in our Prime Minister Shri Narandra Modi we have a person who has an equally strong vision and a majority mandate. Who can do this.

Opposition to Obamas’ Climate Change Action Plan

The biggest bogey which any opposition raises is loss in job and money. And history has proven time and again this theory wrong.

And when you compare this to the report the World Economic Forum –

A growing consensus is emerging among the scientific and business communities that weather and climate extremes are on the increase, and that climate change contributed to a number of recent natural disasters. These include the European heat wave of 2003, and drought in East Africa in 2011 and in 2012. Losses resulting from climate-related disasters remain unacceptably high – in economic, social and human terms – making it imperative to build resilience, particularly in vulnerable areas.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Climate Change’s report, Climate Adaptation: Seizing the Challenge, captures some of the latest thinking in the field of climate adaptation and financing, with the goal of assisting decision-makers in the public and private sectors gain a better understanding of the issue.

Its Key findings completely deflates any debate to go against the logic of not working towards abatement of Climate Change.

1.Reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases are not happening fast enough. Preparing societies for the impacts of climate change, i.e. adaptation, must therefore happen in tandem with mitigation efforts.

2.Indices can inform decision makers on where climate adaptation is most necessary, and how best to allocate adaptation investments, including for prioritizing pre-disaster efforts. African nations, particularly Sub-Saharan, consistently emerge as the most vulnerable to climate change and the least ready to adapt, while a clear difference appears between developed and developing nations. More and better national data, particularly in developing countries, is required, while obtaining local data for comparison, for example across cities, may be a challenge. Metrics that are used to assess adaptation need can have conflicting aims and conclusions but competing methodologies can shed new light on seemingly intractable problems.

3.Up to 65% of the increase in the projected losses due to climate change could be averted cost effectively through adaptation investment. Decision makers need to look at “total climate risk” when considering adaptation investment and finance – this takes into account existing risk, future risk due to development and additional risk due to climate change.

4.Private sector funding will be needed to finance investments – the cash-strapped public sector will not be able to provide it all. Public sector funding can be leveraged effectively however and the public sector can also provide a framework that makes this investment attractive.

5.Water, food and energy systems are inextricably linked and so the use and management and particularly shortages of one can affect another, e.g. water shortages can affect crop yields, power generation and industrial processes. It is therefore crucial to consider each part of the water-food-energy nexus when making an investment or policy decision so that another part of the nexus is not compromised. Meanwhile climate change is stressing the nexus. Addressing this is beyond the scope of individual governments, companies or NGOs acting alone. Since awareness of the nexus is low, the current behaviour of companies or governments may not take it into account and therefore stress it further. A new approach is therefore required that involves multiple stakeholders with the aim of addressing these issues in a co-ordinated and holistic manner.

One does not have to be a scientist and least of all a myopic politician – corporate combine, engaged in short-term gain to understand that without FOOD & WATER even a Midas touch has no value.

But we usually read Fables and Moral stories as children. As our PM said, it’s time we bring our Culture to fore and start teaching them in the MBA schools!

For disconnect from ones culture is the root cause of Climate Change! (click to read more)

 

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India Votes – at the cost to the environment ?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A snapshot of Mumbai

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 

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Poll tatic is dangerous Politics on Environment


India would be going for polls in 2014. As with any democracy, the preparation is on from all political parties to woo the electorate. That is a healthy sign in participatory democracy. What is not fine is the lurking danger to the environment. At the expense of which populist agenda would make hay. This article would point at some of those agendas.

In Mumbai an Urban disaster is being planned with framing of laws which are myopic at best. Permissions for even taller buildings are on the anvil and cluster development although a noble move does not find the word environment friendly mentioned in its agenda. The most shocking is the idea to regularize unauthorized construction while in others a blind eye is turned on the illegal encroachment knowing fully well that they too in time can claim plea of mercy to be let off on the crimes of omission and commission.

Constructions with no scientific town planning, continues unabated like in the hill station and surrounding of Lonawala. The pace at which this once scenic area is getting paved over, is something which one needs to see to understand the horrors it would create in the future. Narrow village paths remain the same width, while swanky second homes costing millions are being sold.The very beauty for which this hill station was known is changing in its character to resemble some small third grade town. Already we have traffic jams on the main road. Soon it would be honking cars and loud music adding to the cacophony to destroy a heavenly abode gifted by nature to man.

And if the authorities are callous and corrupt, the rich buyers are even more so, for not even one speak out against the dismal infrastructure and rape of the environment. Moral turpitude is a bane of the Indian society from whence the best (read – most callous) sometimes get elected to govern this Nation in some form or the other.

Even the Supreme Court of India directive which could help retain some sense in the Building & Construction industry in Mumbai & its surrounds has become unpopular. While it is true that leaving the prescribed 15% amount of set-back, while constructing is a difficult proposition in the city of Mumbai. It is a well thought out directive.

There is a lot of merit when one looks at the directive which would allow for ground water percolation and reduction of heat island effect in the city, should it be possible to leave some original soil around a tower instead of building on the whole plot and putting some green cover on the top of a podium. And what is even more important is to understand the fact that as Mumbai landmass is in large part a land-fill. By not allowing for ground water percolation we may be creating a situation which would be much more grave than what is understood by those who are opposing the directive.

Moreover the Urban sprawl has spread far beyond the island city and leaving 15% of virgin soil should not be a problem there. Therefore this opposition to the law is detrimental in creating a climate resilient city, which Mumbai must plan for.

The next in the agenda is to announce Navi Mumbai to become an international hub. Without announcing publicly a sound environmental friendly master-plan this would further lead to degradation of the surroundings.

If one would do a survey of the ghost city that is coming up at Ulwe; a few hundred homes are ready but there is hardly any occupancy because the infrastructure is not yet ready to support this new township. With zero environmental norms supervision; construction debris and related waste strew the whole area and its a woeful site to behold during monsoon when all these dangerous pollutant wash towards the already fragile mangrove system. The construction is leading to more unregulated pollution of the environment in the catchment area which will be a problem for ages to come. While there’s none to argue on growth and development, this place originally was and still is in many parts small hillocks, which the machines have torn town to create plots.

A sense of helplessness prevails when the simple green building norms for sustainable site which could have so easily been applied, was not even considered in this area. We could have perhaps got a replica of the famous Banjara Hills of Hyderabad where the architects could have taken delight in utilizing the natural topography. Instead we have drab buildings with fancy names making this place the last choice of the middle class buyer who can’t afford a home within the city and its tier 2 suburbs anymore.

Top that with what is being called the AAP party effect. Now we are going to have a “rationalized” electricity tariff for homes and even commercial establishments. On the face value it seems good. But one needs to just scratch the surface to see the hidden dangers lurking beneath them. And no they are not the 1st in fooling the people. We have the grand old party and their oppositions adopting to similar tactic many times. Let’s understand how.

With production of electricity via conventional (thermal) plants at approximate ₹ 5.17 add transmission and other losses it would perhaps be around 5.30 Indian Rupee.To provide electricity at 20% lower  is a huge burden on the DISCOM’s which are already bleeding.

This would lead to worse operation and maintenance leading to frequent power outages and load-shedding. So in the end, the poor would be buying more kerosene. mostly form the well oiled black market which feeds to politico-mafia and the hard-working middle class would end up using GHG belching Diesel Generators to light up their dream homes.

But that does not deter a politician because as seen in one of the most populous state, they create a VIP constituency and 24×7 power and water at the discounted rate which the “neta” had fought hard to achieve for the “aam admi” is supplied to them.

The aam admi however is supposed to be happy at the paper bill he holds in the hand to read under a kerosene lamp or a DG connected light bulb. And cast his/her ballot on the Messiah party symbol for this “gift”.

While the Social plight would and is apparent, what is not usually apparent is the cost to Environment. Every time a populist ruling is favored mother nature suffers the most. We keep polluting the environment with GHG belching organic fuel. Cutting down natural topography and vegetation which alters the way the land reacts to its surroundings.

And all this when there are saner alternatives present. And have been discussed at length in the past articles.

Renewable Energy and Energy Efficient Building design norms are already in place. What is required is the political will to have them implemented. It is incorrect to say that they are expensive.

They remain expensive due to the bad policies which throws good money on populist agendas. And all for a few ballot more!

What the Nation needs to understand is that populist poll promises do not bring lasting solutions. They only sweep the problem under the carpet. Where its festers to become an even more danger to the society which we leave for the future.

It is understood that even the most corrupt “neta” (politician) does what he does to leave some riches for posterity. But how will their child prosper when the wealth that is earth on which one enjoys becomes unsupportive to life itself?

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rise in sea temperature may attract jellyfish to city shore

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

Locals on a mission to clear mess near Muchalla college

Lack of space derails NMMC’s stray-sterilisation programme

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

Ten tonnes of floral waste collected during first visarjan

Thirsty cities, parched villages

BEST buses claim 37 lives every year: Cops

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

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

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

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

Maya!

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

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

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

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

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

ugly city

 

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World Bank – would you use second hand furniture ?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Sustainable Idea – Going Down Under


The last time I went into a cement & glass in-cased tomb called a corporate head-quarter in Mumbai, I remember that no one was looking out of the window.

The reason for that were several

1. Nothing worth viewing 2. Glass was too dirty to be viewed through 3. Files covered half the window for clear sight 4. Curtains were drawn, which had a hint of cob-web indicating that they are never opened.

Although Cement is one of the most carbon-intensive industries and in 2020 will account for as much as 5 Gigatons of CO2 emissions. The manufacturing of glass is also not less energy intensive.

The fact of the matter is building industry the consumer of all that is produced across sectors is the most energy guzzling sector. And finding new ways may perhaps help us avert the calamities to some extent, although the time to avoid the Armageddon is long past.

Therefore coming back to the opening remarks of this article, I propose that the next batch of buildings we build should go vertically underground. There are many simple reasons for this.

We can begin with trying to be a little more resource efficient in this fast resource depleting Planet.

Almost all  the glass ensconced office towers in India are hermetically sealed tomb from which none peep out, or breath the fresh (polluted) air. In the process we draw upon huge amount of energy to cool a  glass building. A glass building in a sunny climate while looking very European or American also acts as a green house in the classical sense. It simply traps the heat and increases the heat surrounding the building by up-to 19%, in case of Mumbai. (NEERI report 2012)

inhabitat.com – Subterranean Hotel London-Green-Belt

By building underground,(going completely underground although possible; we have examples of defence organizations; would need new science to reduce cost of waste discharge which I am not sure we have  mastered.) the least we could do is cut the cooling needs for  the HVAC and thus also save on water. It would also saving a huge amount of sand, sodium carbonate, calcium oxide, lead oxide, sulphur and sodium sulphate / sodium chloride or antimony oxide  the basic ingredients to make glass.

These materials too need to be mined / extracted / processed which need a lot of energy.  One would be surprised at the mind boggling GHG the above materials produce in there own life-cycle analysis before they help make glass.  2300°C of energy is required to melt the silica to make glass.

Now to look for the second simple reason to go underground.

Selgas Cano Architecture’s Subterranean Work Space

It is a well known fact that Climate change will bring about food crisis, unparalleled in recent history. Therefore must turn to solutions which till now have only been considered as novel ideas. Ideas which have not been practical or possible to accomplish in large scale. Even though examples of such construction is around us within the very modern cities we live.

Imagine having a  HQ deep below while young and earnest farmhands toil away on the roof-top of the building which is situated right at the proposed city centre of the future.

Thus in a single master stroke we could eliminate the plight of the street children and their parents who mostly are landless farmers; at-least in case of India. Moreover cities around the world are facing food shortages as it pushes farmlands away from the city centre in its mad rush to grow bigger and bigger. Roof-top or vertical farming can not achieve the scale of a farmland produce.

Sustainable Homes – tumblr.com

Every-time we build a city, we destroy a village. Along with it the farmlands and natural landscapes. But if we still wish to partially mitigate the effects then we must find ways for both to co-exist. Bio-diversity may well be our last hope to reduce the impact of what is fast approaching.

Coexistence of a City-Village is a must.

We must build more  communities  as the one shown in the image.  Make it mandatory via the UNEP-SBCI for any further development in the still remaining untouched fringes of mega-cities which will get gobbled up by concrete in the next 10 years. This is the perhaps one way through which we can avert the disasters we keep inviting upon ourselves.

Humans always knew how to live in harmony with nature. Somewhere down the line we lost that art. Its time we find it again.

If my readers finds the last image endearing enough for them to think even for a fraction of a second, to wish living in something similar….it proves that Humans are yet to disconnect the umbilical cord from what is Natural.

 

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Planet Earth’s invite – Danse Macabre


Bernt Notke: Surmatants(Totentanz) in St. Nich...

Bernt Notke: Surmatants(Totentanz) in St. Nicholas’ Church, Tallinn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dance of Death, also variously called Danse Macabre (French),is an artistic genre of late-medieval allegory on the universality of death: no matter one’s station in life, the Dance of Death unites all.

HFor the first time in human history, the concentration of climate-warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has passed the milestone level of 400 parts per million (ppm). The last time so much greenhouse gas was in the air was several million years ago, when the Arctic was ice-free, savannah spread across the Sahara desert and sea level was up to 40 metres higher than today. These conditions are expected to return in time, with devastating consequences for civilisation, unless emissions of CO2 from the burning of coal, gas and oil are rapidly curtailed. But despite increasingly severe warnings from scientists and a major economic recession, global emissions have continued to soar unchecked. (read more)

Geneva, Switzerland – The global disaster conference (UNISDR) brought together more than 3,500 delegates from 171 countries to discuss reducing the risk of natural disasters in the years ahead.

Natural disasters are increasing around the world as the climate changes, costing lives and billions of dollars in damage, and governments need to act to minimise the effects, a conference on natural calamity mitigation heard last month. Parliamentarians, mayors and community leaders met with scientists, NGOs, international agencies and businesses to give input and to question why recent attempts to manage disaster risks haven’t slowed the rising tide of destruction.

The UN has estimated the direct economic cost of disasters since 2000 is roughly $1.4tn, cautioning that the total price tag on people’s livelihoods and the wider economy are never fully counted.

As the thermometer rises, so does the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported last year that droughts and heat waves are growing harsher and longer in many regions, causing deaths, fires and crop failure. When rain does come, it is often more intense, causing flooding and landslides. Meanwhile, rising sea levels increase the height and damage potential of storm surges in coastal areas. (read more)

January 10: Storm caused Flooding, Mudslides across Mississippi and Louisiana
Live blog: Trees down county-wide, with several mudslides reported in Adams County, MS and LA.

February 8: Wildfire in Big Thompson Canyon area, Colorado
A 3-acre wildfire is burning in Big Thompson Canyon area near Alexander Mountain.

March 25: Strong earthquake in Guatemala city
M 6.2 strong earthquake shakes Guatemala city today, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

April 10: Tornadoes across Arkansas
Tornado in Botkinburg, Arkansas today has injured three people and damaged more than a dozen structures.

May 5: Hail storm in Franklin, Tennessee
Hail storm hit around Decherd and downtown Winchester and covered streets and lawns with hail stones.

June 6: Tropical storm Andrea
A tropical storm warning has been issued along the west coast of Florida from Boca Grande to Ochlocknee River.

While one can read on 80 more in Natural Disasters In United States 2013.  Crossing the Continents we look at some of the 37 Indian Natural Disasters 2013

January 31: Hailstorm in Andhra Pradesh, India
Hailstorm killed at least 9 people in Chevella, Moinabad and Shankarpally area of India.

February 6: Hailstorms in Madhya Pradesh, India
Hailstorms have killed one and damaged crops in 80 villages of Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur of Madhya Pradesh, India.

March 6: Forest fire in Mumbai, India
A huge forest fire has affected the area of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and a part of Film City (Bollywood) in Mumbai.

April 15: Dust storm in Chhattisgarh, India
Dust storm in Chhattisgarh region of India has claimed lives of at least six people.

May 1: Strong earthquake in Kashmir today
Get update report on this Kashmir earthquake.

June 5: Bihar lightning strikes
Lightning strikes in Bihar, India have claimed lives of at least 27 people including women and children, Disaster Management Department said.

I wonder where would I find such meticulous data for say Burkina Fasso and found this report

Even though previous reports have already highlighted evidence of a relationship between exposure to natural disasters and urban poverty, the complex processes underlying this association still remain poorly studied in West Africa, with little individual empirical data. The objective of this communication is to analyze factors associated with the status of “natural disaster victim” in Ouagadougou, the capital-city of Burkina Faso. On September 1st, 2009, this city experienced torrential rainfall leading to immense water runoffs and floods. Over 150,000 people were severely affected and 50,000 completely lost their homes. It is these people that this study undertakes to examine, defining here “natural disaster victim” as a household that completely lost their home. Modeling data from the Ouagadougou Health and Demographic Surveillance System with logistic regressions, the preliminary results suggest that the migrant status and gender play an interesting role in addition to the poverty index and level of education.

I’m sure of the 150 Nations who read my articles there would be many who would have to reach out to their Google Maps to find this African Nation. But that does not ease the pain of 150,000 people.

HThere are many Nations and Peoples whose carbon-foot print is negligible and have hardly contributed any GHG to suffer the Wrath of Mother Earth. And there are many such Nations in this planet, whom we can’t point out in the Map instantaneously  but  for their annihilation our life styles has  become directly responsible.

One needs to actually ponder at Natural Disasters List April 30, 2013 Which has more or less spanned the entire World and makes the SREX report 2012 almost feel like the  Nostradamus predictions for 2013 come true.

Japan’s earthquake and tsunami of 2011 was probably the most costly natural disaster in history, causing losses of hundreds of billions of dollars. Last October’s Superstorm Sandy cost the United States more than $50bn, while also devastating Cuba, Haiti, and other Caribbean nations. Record wildfires last year in Russia and the US burned through millions of acres, following another unprecedented Russian summer in 2010 when heat waves claimed 55,000 lives.

The world indeed is a global village and both the good and the bad events affects Nations which in another date and era would have thought as an event far away from home and not to be worried about.

That however is fiction- April 27 2013: Japan Tsunami debris hits California:Japanese fishing boat washed by 2011 tsunami has been confirmed as the first piece of debris to reach the coast of California.

In 2005, the Hyogo Framework for Action was adopted to encourage countries to become more resilient in the face of natural disasters. But the Global Assessment Report released at the conference reveals that efforts have had limited success so far.

Global warming

Global warming (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One-hundred twenty-one countries have passed legislation for reducing disaster risks since 2005, and more than half of the governments have made substantial progress in assessing and monitoring the risks their people face. But this has had no discernible affect on disaster losses, which continue to stack up around the world.

Each of the last three years has brought direct economic losses of more than $100bn because of earthquakes, storms, floods, droughts, and other catastrophes. These range from mega-disasters such as the Japan earthquake and tsunami and Superstorm Sandy, down to smaller floods and landslides that strike vulnerable communities, somewhere in the world, on a daily basis.

The Global Assessment Report highlighted that many people suffering the worst effects of climate disasters are not the ones contributing to them. Other than climate change, reckless urban development, the exploitation of groundwater, and deforestation are increasing the likelihood of disasters large and small, and weaken the resilience of communities to withstand them.

Listening  to this IPCC video should  change the minds of even the most callous of Businessmen. Simply because it is going to impact their Business directly much sooner than they think.

Source Courtesy: Al Jazeera; UNISDR; disaster-report.com;guardian.co.uk;reliefweb.int
 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liveability Index 2012

Highlights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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Green Bussiness Idea: Sustainable Trade Practice is possible.


Driving the circular economyIn the recently concluded Accenture Sustainability 24 Webinar, closed loop recycling was given its due weight-age. The beautiful explanation  in info-graphics must be shared for one and all in this planet to understand the importance of sustainability. As one reads through this article while the graphics scrolls side by side (click to enlarge graphics) one would be amazed as to how easy it is to understand that we are at the very edge of entering a resource depleted world.

A BBC Special report on Thursday, 25 October 2007 gave State of the planet, in graphics with these comments – Globally human populations are growing, trade is increasing, and living standards are rising for many. But, according to the UN’s latest Global Environment Outlook report, long-term problems including climate change, pollution, access to clean water, and the threat of mass extinctions are being met with “a remarkable lack of urgency”. Global Environment Outlook [21.9MB]

The implications of this is evident from the various events which are unfolding is bits and pieces between then and 2013 AD. If seen from a perspective, one can easily see that as resources become scarce and traditional monopolies erode, regional and international tensions are bound to grow. And the tragedy is that sustainable practices would become the first casualty. Simply because it is perhaps the only sunshine industry in this despondent atmosphere.

China solar panel imports investigated by European Union &  China files EU solar subsidy complaint with WTO are just a few headlines on anti-dumping and protection news in the BBC webpage.

As long as the paradigm of Business and Trade remains entrapped in the archaic mode, our lifestyle will not let us stop from consuming 5 times of what is available to live sustainably. Even while we clearly understand that we are living in a shrinking world Graphicof resources.

While in Germany the primer company Solar World is anxious at the way the state of China is helping its domestic industry to produce cheaper Solar panels thus foreboding doom for stellar Solar PV company; somewhere in Britain nascent industries which make the balance of systems for the SPV’s are happy at the rise of the Dragon and would in no way want anti-dumping laws to be initiated against China.

Thus there are no easy solution out of this.That is if we still continue to follow the same patterns of Trade & Politics since Marco Polo.

However, we don’t need to and can’t afford to do any more.

While I can’t even think of suggesting Economics or Socio-Politics to the masters of the game, I do believe that at times simple ideas become the stepping stone of success. What is needed is to pick up the best created by the masters themselves and apply some innovation.

If we look at the idea of the Public Distribution System (PDS); better understood in India as ration shops and the concept of MNREGA we perhaps could create an idea which can at least be a fair attempt to slow down the depletion of resources until better model of adaptation and mitigation is developed in this rapidly warming Globe to give us the chance to live Sustainably.

The Circular economy advocates in the graph alongside show how from Minerals,Metals to Fossil fuel we are looking at an increase of consumption of 118% in just a span of 20 years (AD 2010-2030 ).

GraphHow this exponential increase would effect the planet is well documented in the 3 graphs above. The human ecological footprint is way above the straight line of the Biocapacity of this planet.And that straight line was created by Nature in a complex chain of event which we are still “researching” on.

With this piece of evidence I would reinforce my humble thought that, its time we think of a global rationing system. From Minerals to Metals to Fossil Fuel. It is time to put a stop to this mindless Business As Usual model.

Let us explore and expand the idea further.

The word Execution has very ominous meaning.

And some gentlemen have played their part in the destruction of this Planet very well in their Avatars as CEO’s. It is time when, we yank those CEO’s who should actually be the “Chief Environment Officer” as was mentioned during the Sustainability 24 – 2013 Webinar; than Chief Executive Officers. And make them responsible for the preservation and judicious use of  resources which are finite.

And let the Academicians and Scientist, instead of Trade & Political pundits of all Nations sit and decide the quantum of Quota which should be applied to de-pressurise the planets resource utilization.

Once they have achieved this, let the Corporates and MSME’s come in a common platform to innovate and scale up the process of  R’s. Reuse -Recycle-Refuse-Regenerate and thus like a Phoenix rise from a linear economic model to that of a Circular economy.

Additionally we must through the help of UN make this a true ONE WORLD than just a lyric in a song. To do that we can start by stopping to  count human population and poverty Country wise.

It is time we talk of Human population and poverty in global perspective rather than roll out the demography of a Country. Why should there be a rule of one child per couple in one country while there are no such limitations in another? Do we count insects, birds, fishes and other animal species in such a fashion?

Does it not occur to the most intelligent of animal species that the impact of Human is no more localized? If we have 9 Billion people with only, say as few as 500,000 in some Arctic country and a Billion in another, does it really mean that the one with higher demography is consuming it’s own resources more and the country with less population has limited impact on the consumption of produce within its own geographical limits and beyond? It is the Human species which has created a Political boundary into a Geographical one.

The planet and its forces do not conform to it. Read up on any Earthquake or Tsunami.

It encompasses all and everything from Minerals, Metals to Fossil Fuel and Life itself. No one Nations owns one over the other. No one Nations has aplenty while it is scarce for the other.

And  the Geographical boundary begins and finishes with the Sphere itself.

And to retain that life which till date is understood to be found only in this Sphere called Earth, we must ration its resources.

Production of each and every goods must be based on a quantum per year. Recycling and consumption of recycled products by each country in equal measure should be mandatory. No hand -outs to so called Third World Country, while the rich retain the right to plunder.

The issue of trade and economy can be addressed by the WTO quite well. Never was there a time when one country has not felt aggrieved and the other supposedly advantaged, in the polarized World we live in. And never will it be possible to think rationally until we actually become United as a Nation. Understand the power as well as the limitation of being ONE.

Sustainability can be practised and the concept of Circular Economy can truly succeed only if each Nation agrees to follow a rotary format of what it can produce and consume every five to ten years cycle. Shorter or longer cycle can be put in place depending on the type of industry and its gestation period.

And the most important aspect perhaps for success of such ideas is that of Human resources. Why should there be competition say for example, amongst IT professionals of one Nation with that of the other? Why can’t the Countries on whose share development of IT and its related products fall, pool all the best Human Resources across Nations? And here too individual professionals can be rotated based on the numbers, thus giving each a guaranteed employment such as in MNREGA, which I mentioned above at the start.

This model would insure equity in participation from all Nationals in making this World a better place to live in while in the process Wealth instead of Riches can be created.

If there would be even an iota of rational thinking in this process, I would request all those who can think and act better to reach out and make it happen.

 

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


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

Water bubble

Water bubble (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus infrastructure suffers and sustainable practice become costly.

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

Thus traffic snarl occur, increasing the noxious fumes.

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

Thus toxic waste leach the very land we live.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When you stop living and loving Nature –

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

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

We indeed do have the Midas Touch.

 

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


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

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

Water Consumption by different types of Power Stations to produce electricity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Millennium Development Goals Postcards

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

The Eight paths towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG)

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

Which one can achieve by applying the SDG’s charter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Green Business Ideas for the future Cities


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bio-degradable batteries

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Sustaining Mumbai – making possible, the impossible.


English: Sustainability chart

English: Sustainability chart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following up on my thoughts expressed in earlier articles Green Business Ideas: Carbon Credits opportunities in Green Townships.and Sustainable Development Goals: The dangers of Urban Sprawl and its long term affects on the National Growth has become important once more because of the recent developments which are taking place in the Realty Sector of Mumbai Metropolitan Region and Maharashtra. And similar development must be happening around the country can not be discounted. Governance is a political art, which requires a person while practising politics to become a Statesman. Sadly the time of Statesmen of Indian politics have long gone. Today we are burdened with most who have no foresight. And those who do are not making much difference because of the overwhelming odds. While many by now are aware of Sustainable Development Goals,very few understand it. Therein lies the problem. Sustainable development is holistic and all encompassing and approaching it must take all stake-holders into account in every step of the way. National policies must get formulated based on a singular principle of development which is the same at Union and Federal level devoid of vote bank politics. And the most important thought which all must understand is the inter-connectivity of events. Nothing can happen is isolation. Seemingly diverse subjects happening in different parts of the Globe are inexplicably related, not obvious to casual observation. The sentiment of which I had tried to capture in Sustainable Living : How to read the seemingly unrelated dots which coalesce together to create disasters.

With the general elections around the corner in 2014 and the debilitating fiscal deficit due to populist measures carried on too long, India Inc. is poised dangerously to make mistakes detrimental to Climate Change abatement. Mistakes not because it would want to do so as a deliberate act; but because short-term economic gains which make for “good development” would take precedence over common sense. While there is no escape that Economic development brings in prosperity, it also brings in the Acid Rain and Ozone Hole in its wake. Facts no Economist or Corporate Czar or Government can deny as fiction. And which is further vindicated by the article recently published by World Resource Institute: New National Climate Assessment Shows America on Course for Unprecedented Warming: A new federal report reveals alarming statistics on climate change. According to the 3rd National Climate Assessment, released in draft form today from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the world could warm by more than 12°F by the end of the century if action isn’t taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “The evidence is clear and mounting,” said WRI’s president, Andrew Steer, in response to the report. “The United States sits at the center of the climate crisis. Record heat is devastating crops, rivers are drying up, and storms are bearing down on our cities. Climate change is taking its toll on people and their economies, and will only become more intense without a strong and rapid response here in the United States and around the globe. It’s not too late to take action, but given lags in policy and geophysical processes, the window is closing.” This assessment comes on the heels of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) announcement earlier this week that 2012 was the hottest year on record for the contiguous United States. According to NOAA’s National Climate Data Center, the country saw 356 all-time temperature highs (and only four all-time lows) tied or broken and experienced 11 extreme weather events each causing more than $1 billion in damages.

What India must do, is to fall back on its infinite wisdom and believe in its people to bring about Economic prosperity balanced with Ecological sensitivity which is inherent in the Indian culture. And its Corporate Czars schooled in the western model of “prosperity” & “development” take the care to adopt the best practices inherent in the western model while indigenising  the path to progress. Only then India can become the torch-bearer in  ways mentioned in the recently published  Inclusive Wealth Report 2012.

And to begin, we can adopt sensible design approach in developing the satellite cities around the megalopolis of Mumbai. And also at the same time improve the living conditions of Mumbai. We must at all cost not try make a Shanghai out of Mumbai, but a climate resilient Mumbai. It is no secret that while China can be called the next economic giant; in the markets of India flooded with cheap Chinese goods, one would never find a vendor giving a guarantee on any Chinese product. Thus India, must learn to be wary of the fast and shiny “growth” of China and try not to emulate it. And that applies to developing future cities too.

Pollution at dangerous levels in Beijing
Beijing: Dense smog shrouded Beijing on Saturday, with pollution at hazardous levels for a second day and residents advised to stay indoors, state media said. The municipal environment warning centre issued an alert advising the elderly, children, and those suffering respiratory or cardiovascular illness to avoid going out or doing strenuous exercise. Those who did venture out wore face-masks for protection, with visibility low and the sun hidden in the smog.

This could easily be happening in Mumbai or New Delhi ( which too is very highly polluted) in the immediate future if development measures are not taken in accordance to the ecological consideration. While the unfortunate news of Beijing is no cause for glee and may not completely be due to bad urban planning. The fact that Urban Planning plays a major role can not be discounted. What India needs to do, is already known to many experts. And there lies the problem. The people are not aware of it. And as long as there is no participation form the people, the governments would not make it main-stream. Thus the need to advertise and spread awareness on Sustainable Living becomes more urgent as we climb closer to the 2°Centigrade Global rise in temperature. While some basic collections of ideas from WBCSD are mentioned in Building A Low Carbon Economy with Energy Efficient Buildings We begin with a few suggestions which we can easily implement and in the shortest possible time to make the City of  Mumbai a Climate resilient city.

The Underpass Hawking zone:

FS

Example : Fashion Street Underpass Hawking Zone at Church gate Mumbai

Let us begin with de-congesting our city foot-paths from ill-legal hawkers. The very word “ill-legal” causes confusion. How can poor and needy people earn an honest lively-hood, if not sell their wares in the busy city streets ? It is hard and at-times frustrating work to just earn enough to eat. And good governance must cater to providing equal earning opportunity to all. But before the corrupt governance authorities start patting each others back, while collecting “hafta” ( protection money a la Mafia style ) they must ensure that the city which is choking in its own filth and squalor gets a new lease of life. Existing  & new municipal laws must be applied to get rid of the menace of squatters on public space while providing them with alternate means within the same area which Mumbai planners are mulling now and should be supported only if planned properly, within the existing City and rules framed to cater to such eventuality at the design stage itself for upcoming Urban centers . The concept can be repeated in many places in the suburbs too. Thus keeping the popularity and thereby the business potential of the place intact while correcting the wrongs in Urban planning. One must bear in mind that the flea market is symbiotic to all the eateries and entertainment centre within its geographical proximity as youth often take these outings to as a package deal – shopping -cum- cinema – cum – fast-food. Which has a direct bearing on the economy. Thus sustainability is a complex system which needs to be understood from all aspects.

Example: De-congesting Andheri Suburban Station and Terrace Farming

Example:De-congesting Andheri Suburban Station and Terrace Farming

The same concept can also be applied around the rail stations and if possible the rail ministry itself should promote above the tracks or above the platforms the vegetable markets & shopping areas, run by the illegal and “legal” hawkers encroaching the city foot-path and spilling over the foot over-bridges and streets. Railways would mint profit from the vertical space it owns. Not only by selling of vegetables but also growing some of it, It would provide direct employment opportunities to the land-less farmers who come to the city losing their land due to various reasons. The hands that feed the Nations must never be lifted to beg for alms; if we really want it that way, then we must act towards doing so. And in the process we shall also be de-congesting the streets, especially near the Dadar suburban station where nearly a third of the street is packed with fruit, vegetable and flower sellers; which the administration turns a blind eye to, while vehicular movement suffer and belch more noxious GHG fumes in the process. Imagine creating such facilities every 5th station along the Western, Central and Harbour suburban rail lines. The greenery itself would reduce the heat-island effect. And in the process also remove from the city roads quite a few smoke belching tempos, carrying stale vegetables, improve direct contact between consumer and farmer, thus earnings of the lot improves and sustainability wins.

Bus Depot

Example: Vertical Farming over Dindoshi Bus Depot

But we all know that just the rail stations and the space above the platforms would not suffice feeding a hungry city. We would require more space. And that space is available right at the centre of the city, waiting to be exploited by the municipal authorities.The Bus Depots. Mumbai has bus depots both large and small dotting the city. All one needs to understand is that the vertical space can be utilized for the betterment of the society while bringing in some hard currency to the B.E.S.T undertaking. Taking one of the big bus depots in the suburb, the Dindoshi bus depot at Goregoan as a pilot project, we can create vertical farms similar to the ones Singapore is building with great success. Why do we need to wait to import the technology ? When IIT- Bombay is just a few miles away?  That the Government of most Asian Nations are goofy, is understood; but we have some of the top notch Corporate Czars residing in this city and a few do dabble in the fresh food market. They must take the opportunity before Wal-Mart comes up with a proposal.

Parking

Example: Elevated foot-path with hawkers gallery and parking space underneath in Bandra suburb.

While the above will take care to some degree the pressure on fresh-food and vegetables, Mumbai being a dynamic city which keeps growing, the pressure on infrastructure is enormous. And the most telling is transport. We have to find ways to de-congest the city streets. While to some extent people do use VoIP to do their business, for Mumbai the government of the day must utilize the idea of virtual office. VoIP – “Skype” the new medium to reduce Global Warming ?While it would certainly reduce traffic on the roads, it would still not solve the problem of parking. The idea mooted earlier, of providing extra FSI ( floor space index ) to developers who allow for municipal car parks, as usual got mired in corruption and controversy. With hardly any relief to the problem it was supposed to address. The principal reason being two-folds. First, it is dependent on the location of the building vis a vis a congested road and second availability of re-development along those congested area to the developer. Thus we have buildings far and few which can cater to the requirement. So, the next best thing we can do is create elevated foot-paths and then allow for parking under it.

Bandra

Example: Underground hawking space, for displaced hawkers in new city areas.

While we must find solutions to the existing city of Mumbai, we must not let the city fringe become hostage to the same mess, Mumbai is facing. All the warning signs are already available, if one looks at the up-coming development around a SEZ and proposed International Airport of Mumbai. Why we have this mess has been mentioned in the article Sustainable Development Goals: The dangers of Urban Sprawl and its long term affects on the National Growth.and I quote : The common person does not think twice before littering the street or not buying from illegal vendors who occupy most of Mumbai foot-paths and foot-over-bridges. In fact it is a welcome sign, to have the first illegal grocery, tea/cigarette kiosk next to the new building  which comes up in far-off locality. Any architect, who has worked in far-off sites, would empathise with me at the relief one gets when a small tea & cigarette shop opens up opposite the construction site across the road; where one can relax the tired limbs and have a “cutting-chai”. ( chai = tea). This happens because when a developer goes to the Urban fringe and builds a township, the State does not cater to the welcoming opportunity the private developer creates for up-liftment of local business and does not match it in pace with infrastructure and innovative schemes which can create proper commercial zones especially de-marked for the urban poor who find an opportunity to do an honest business. These local semi-urban populace do not have the money to buy into the commercial areas, if built by the developer. Their shops usually come up as shanties while the township is under construction to cater to the labourers and even the engineers. But this relief turns into grief for the citizens in time as no infrastructure, such as roads, drainage systems, waste-disposal or safety measures are built around them.

Residential construction is at break-neck speed, at Ulwe, whereas infrastructure development will put a snail to shame. Ditto goes to far-sightedness. While one enters the road towards Ulwe, one notices locals sitting along the road-side selling food and other wares. Presently these shanties are few, Soon all free land would be encroached upon, the well-oiled system of hafta will begin, while another portion of the city and its citizen suffer. It is here that the administration take into account all the possible urban design options and cater to the needs of all section of society. The faster we understand that sustainable practice can not be sacrificed or evaded, the better it would be for the City and the country. Else it would not be very far in the future that living in Mumbai would be next to impossible and that would affect the economy of this country directly.

 

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Green Business Idea : Using Manpower & Ox-power to generate rural electricity


Green Business Ideas needn’t be about multimillion dollars of earnings. Although that kind of money does impact lives and can bring in sea-change in thoughts and actions much faster; simple things which look towards the rural landscape should also matter where the earning may be more if the latent advantages are explored. It is also important to indigenise them to the local needs. We would discuss  ideas which belong to different countries but each can work in various Nations. Perhaps it would be the best BASIC country collaboration ever towards sustainable living.

Beginning by mentioning the superlative program hosted by CNN on sustainable living especially the Eco-Solutions  program where it was shown that, water hyacinth a bane for Africa ( & Asia) could be exploited to created products one would usually associate with bamboo or jute. Although weaving with water hyacinth would be natural in the South American countries, attempting to find its commercial use in Africa is indeed wonderful. While the botanists and environmentalist may not agree, citing the commercialization as a bane to their effort to eliminate the evasive weed; one while agreeing to their line of thought could differ in the approach.

English: Water hyacinth

Water hyacinth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The reason water hyacinth does not grow uncontrolled in the South American continent is because it has natural enemies which keeps it in check. Without such natural control available in the Asian & African continent the water hyacinth has wrecked havoc to the water-bodies. But now the biggest “natural” enemy to everything natural in this planet the honourable homo sapien; once they taste the commercial possibilities of any living or non-living material on Earth, one can bet their last dime that ‘extinction’ is not far away. Therefore one should not worry too much in supporting the poor African women in their attempt to commercialize the water hyacinth. Given the right incentive within a span of 10 years it would become less of a menace; not requiring grants from the UN to keep it under control and more of an opportunity to uplift the poor. If we attempt to think out of the box, sustainable solutions would be easier to come by. And the much needed grants could then go into attempt to rectify wrongs for which easier answer are yet to be found. It is therefore encouraging to see the USA come up with a process to produce Ethanol form water hyacinth at Lake Victoria in East Africa ( vindicating my article –The USA has given some of the top inventions to abate Climate Change.)

It is known to very few that Water Hyacinth can be used to produce Bio-fuel, which can then run a generator to produce electricity. Research on this has been happening across Nations including India, yet not enough media focus and awareness is created to bring it to the grass root level, where it would start to make a difference.

Recently, Oxfam has claimed that the lifestyle of the Maasai tribe in Africa should be embraced as a response to climate change because of their ability to farm in deserts and scrublands.Many Maasai tribes throughout Tanzania and Kenya welcome visits to their village to experience their culture, traditions, and lifestyle. In these tribe cattle plays a very important role too.

There is a great debate in the west about GHG emission form cattle, which is mostly reared for production of beef. With many becoming vegetarians and vegans the debate on consumption and rearing of cattle is still on with respect to their contribution to Global Warming. Those who may not know, in India  practising Hindus consider cattle as sacred. The word “Panjerpol” means an old home for cattle. While the word “Gaushala” denotes a dairy farm. Panjerpol is where devout Hindu’s like to see the cows to go, when their useful life as a milch cow or an Oxen ends, so that they can spend the remainder years in comfort. The charitable trust which I visited is run by some of the most successful businessmen in Pune, Maharashtra,India whose vision is exemplary. Considering every cow as Kamdhenu and all bulls as Nandi the teachings of sustainable living is practised even now.

In the day and age of increased awareness of the benefits of natural fertilizers,using  Cow Manure Fertilizer For
Growing Vegetables, – supply the best bulk form of organic matter to the garden. The fantastic soil conditioning ability of cow manure due to the amount of quality organic matter, that no processed fertilizer can match, is reason enough to use cow manure fertilizer whenever possible to the garden. The soil amending properties of this really great natural fertilizer has to be used to be properly appreciated. In another article Cow Urine Can Cure Many Diseases, the author an Ayurvedic Physician, from Gujrat goes on to say – …The analysis of cow urine has shown that it contains nitrogen, sulphur, phosphate, sodium, manganese, carbolic acid, iron, silicon, chlorine, magnesium, melci, citric, titric, succenic, calcium salts, vitamin a, b, c, d, e, minerals, lactose, enzymes, creatinine, hormones and gold acids.Cow urine treatment and research centre, in Indore (Madhyapradesh, India) has conducted a lot of research in the past few years and reached at the conclusion that it is capable of curing diabetes, blood pressure, asthma, psoriasis, eczema, heart attack, blockage in arteries, fits, cancer, aids, piles, prostrate, arthritis, migraine, thyroid, ulcer, acidity, constipation, gynecological problems, ear and nose problems, abortion and several other diseases. Cow is a mobile dispensary. It is the treasure of medicines. The cow urine therapy is capable of curing several curable and incurable diseases. The holy texts, like atharva veda, charak samhita, rajni ghuntu, vridhabhagabhatt, amritasagar, bhavprakash, sushrut samhita contain beautiful description about these things. It must be noted the late Prime Minister of India Shri Morarji Desai advocated Ayurvedic treatment similar to the one mentioned.

The above sets the stage across two continents on the importance of cattle and hyacinth as two factors which can play an important role in sustainable living in rural areas and thus advocates one of the agendas of the UNFCCC charter.

OX-Driven Electric Generator

The same amount of difference it would make, should the poor and marginalised farmer in India use his oxen to produce electricity. This is yet another aspect I understood on my visit to the Panjerpol near Pune. The article Ox-driven generators set to solve power crisis- BIT Mesra’s non-conventional energy gadget promises to steal show at Udyog Mela reads – An oxen-driven generator set, developed by BIT Mesra’s mechanical engineering department, is set to draw crowds to the forthcoming Jharkhand Udyog Mela 2008 at Morabadi grounds.BIT Mesra has booked a stall in the 11-day fair slated to start from November 15. The fair promises to be a good platform to inform the rural masses, NGOs and, most importantly, agencies working in the field of non-conventional energy about the importance of pollution-free power generating machines. A single unit of such a machine would be able to provide power to at least eight households.

This actually complements an article in another blog Engineering for Change which has devised the same idea by using bicycles –This innovation is one of our Promising Prototypes of IEEE’s Global Humanitarian Technology Conference in Seattle. Bike-powered electricity generators are a practical solution for Indian households. Surveying the country’s energy landscape, with its tight living spaces, expensive land, and far too many people for the power the country produces, bike generators make sense. Venkat Natarajan and his team at Intel Technology India in Bangalore came to that conclusion and they are testing their own low-cost designs.

ISCKON ideas

Developing Green Business Ideas which actually impact the lives of the Undeveloped or the Least Developed Nations must be given priority and WRI, CAN-International, Greenpeace and the likes  should try to make this as an agenda to be showcased at the next UNFCCC meet in Europe. As I have advocated always, it is not important whether we are aware of the possibilities, it is important that the poor and the needy are given the opportunity to exploit so. Water hyacinth covers the serene Vembanad Lake,is as recent a news as October 2012 whereas Biotech Students to Produce Alternate Source of Energy in Surat, published in June 1, 2011 pre-dates the problem taken up by the Times of India news. While BIT Mesra’s Ox-power electricity was showcased in 2008. Actually if one researches further this concept was already in place way back in 1985 and finds mention in Prabhupada News. Had it been encouraged and popularised by the Union and State governments in India, THE GREAT INDIAN BLACKOUT OF 2012 might have been averted. But sensible thinking and foresight is not an Indian thing. We are conditioned for lethargic and knee-jerk administrative reactions.

It is important for the UN to seriously consider taking up a dedicated media space to beam down relevant news and information, as mentioned above on a  24x7x365 basis around the world much like the popular Discovery or National Geographic TV programs. This would at least enable a ground-swell which may see some change for the better in the Developing and Under-developed countries where administrative apathy is rife.

How difficult is it for the media moguls to partner with the UN to launch such ground breaking idea? Something that would benefit the world and encourage people to people contact, thus bringing unto fore new ideas which could perhaps have commercial value? In many of the You Tube links attached to this article one can see so many home-grown ideas which can not get much traction due to want of audience. Some die out simply because the immediate society has no need of it, while it could have been a game changer a continent across; it may perhaps save lives. It can happen even now, in fact it must.

Most of India’s 20 nuclear reactors are on the list of the most unreliable 50 in the world, and villagers near the Tarapur plant have been bearing the brunt of after-effects of radiation. In spite of their complaints, all they’ve got from the govt is assurance of reduced exposure, which is no less risky, finds Dilnaz Boga. Poonam Hambire, a resident of Ghivali village, 12km from Boisar in Thane district, is at the forefront of the anti-nuclear agitation against the Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS). “Women have to come forward as false cases are slapped against the male protesters in Tarapur,” she alleges. Her village lies within the 1.6km radius around one the country’s oldest nuclear reactors built by General Electric in the 1960s. It’s the same model as Japan’s Fukushima reactor. The effects of radiation are obvious in every home not only in Ghivali but also in the neighbouring villages.At Hambire’s home, her eight-year-old nephew’s garlanded photo adorns the wall. “He died of lung cancer, but we couldn’t get his medical reports from the government heath centre. It’s hard to talk about it as his father who is employed at the plant will lose his job. None of the sick villagers get their medical papers,” she claims.

The very argument that India needs to develop and maintain costly Nuclear plants, pales in comparison to the fact that using simple tools, the country under its NEREGA mission can utilize only a fraction of the allocated Nuclear development money and yet bring about enormous social benefit. The most telling; India has unemployed youth in villages who could if given a chance, pedal for 24 hours a day in shifts to continuously produce electricity. Which not only could then be stored and then evacuated into the grid for transmission and distribution but the labour could be paid for by the power companies.

As per the survey conducted by Labour Bureau of the Government of India, 40 Million are unemployed with an Unemployment Rate of 9.4%. The survey was conducted in 28 States/UTs spread across the country in which about 99 per cent of the country’s population reside. It estimates that the population of the country is 1182 million with 63.5% in the working age of 15 – 59 years, however, not everyone who is in the working age is interested in joining the work force, so the worker population ratio is much lower. There are an estimated 238 million households, of which 172 million are rural and 66 million are urban. Out of the total population of the States/UTs covered, 872 million persons (73.8 per cent) live in rural areas and 310 million persons (26.2 per cent) live in urban areas.As per The-Pedal-A-Watt-Bicycle-Generator an average rider will produce between 125 and 300 watts. So even if we consider one-third of 872 million people, the mathematics works out to be a decent amount of power generation + employment scheme wrapped into one. Will the Governments listen ?

 

 

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Green Business Ideas – Less known inventions may have answers to CDM


Once in a lifetime, the World sees a sea-change and the Civilization as we know it takes a quantum leap. Historians mark it later as an ‘age’. We are familiar of the Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, the Industrial Age, the Atomic Age and presently

The Climate Change & Economic Meltdown Age.

Both can be averted, should the Pundits of KP2 understand what should be considered as a true clean development project and allow for financial support.There has been amazing inventions which cut across all sectors – Housing, Transport, Food, Clothing, Energy Efficiency.

We must herald in the Renewable Energy Age.

While most of them can be found under the search term “future”; what is most important is that there were some which once could have been termed as future but now been relegated to the failed past. Now that they have failed during their launch does not necessarily make the invention a failure. It was more of an marketing and economic failure than the failure of the invention itself.

Segway

It 2009 Segway the inventor of the battery operated 2 wheel transport system came up with the P.U.M.A. along with GM and it was supposed to be launched in 2012. With hardly a fortnight left in the year, it is obvious that success did not kiss the feet of this invention. Just as the Segway is more of a tourist attraction than a serious alternate Urban transport even in India and other Asian countries where if popularised (By adding a bicycle seat and more ergonomics. Once past the novelty factor, one seriously looks for a little comfort)  and given a  rebate in price many would definitely opt for, albeit with a little nudge from the Government as mandatory, at least in the seriously congested Burroughs of our Mega Cities. We could begin especially in the High-street market areas, where parking becomes a serious problem and can be avoided to a great extent, yet help commuters negotiate the distances which they otherwise would want a transport too.

Piezo Electric tiles

The next which allures me is the Piezoelectric tiles. Till date we have only six locations where it has been effectively used. Where as the potential of this is so huge. Especially again in India and Asia as a whole where density of population is immense. In my article Green Business Ideas :Bombay can produce 2MW / day of Electricity by just adding Piezoelectric tiles on railway stations.would indeed be a great CDM idea, and I’m sure Indian scientist could definitely indigenize what the UK, US, Hong Kong and Japan are using at their walk ways and metro rail stations.

Combining this with the piezoelectric parking lot, which the west is seriously looking into we in India could solve a great extent of our electricity problems. As in the megalopolis of India, the density of population which is a bane for most Urban development project would become a boon. In my limited understanding, the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) would greatly benefit should we allow the piezoelectricity to be harnessed in the same manner as in JNNSM. A public-private partnership where the energy generated by the populace is given back to them for common good. It would also help reduce the enormous load the existing power plant have in its effort to supply to the City at the cost of a village. As an egalitarian society we must not just strive for  equality but also seen to be doing so,

Moreover, it makes perfect business sense and CIICESD, which is in the front-line for sustainability in business must make it their case and make aware the opportunities in piezoelectricity to the enterprises under its membership.

Moving onwards we have extremely superb potential in Felix-Solar panels. While it is true that a wide application is happening with it, what I don’t see as an Energy Efficient Building designer the application of it in India’s swank and energy guzzling glass buildings.

The most innovative Green Business idea for it was to build a curtain with it. Which MIT did. But if we want efficiency we need to design it as we would do with a standard SPV installation, giving it the same inclination while facing south. To be exact louvred blinds and place it inside the glass wall. It would not only act as a shading device but also capture the sunlight and convert it into energy much more efficiently than the concepts presently available. In fact almost all the prime business districts of Nehru place in New Delhi, Nariman Point in Mumbai and the new centres of Gurgoan and Bandra-Kurla complex in these cities can avail the advantage. And it is most suited for south facing windows. And in-fact in some cases it is the only solution because the roof area is usually taken up by host of plant and machinery required for a modern building. Those with large East-West facing glass buildings need not despair as solution for them too are available, which by far would be the most innovative if implemented.

This concept would also be most useful for Hospital and Hospitality which have many windows which can be put on good use. Imagine the south wall of major hospital having solar louvres ? It is already being done in the west. The power generated can directly of-set the cost of cooking food for the in-patients. Which also consumes CNG. While one can always argue the RoI of piped gas to that of Solar, but we are talking of Climate change mitigation not a business proposition. And for business proposition we already have the RESCO’s offering Solar PV solution in OPEX format.

 

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