RSS

Tag Archives: Kerala

Kerala – Gods own Country ?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next, let’s look at Micro-Hydle-

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Thypoon Haiyan – the teardrop of an Angry Earth.


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

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

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

The Planet is running out on time.

September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

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

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

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

MOSCOW, Oct 3

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

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

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

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

WASHINGTON,June 25, 2013

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

BANGKOK, 14 October 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Honesty and discipline can’t be selective.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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

Green Business Ideas: Algae can help fishermen earn during lean catch periods.


Over fishing is a sad story repeated along the sea-coast everywhere. Documentaries showing the haggard faces of fishermen staring at an uncertain future, as the catch dwindles each year have won acclaim and awards. But barring a few who genuinely want the fishing communities to survive; the World at large is still oblivious to the problems. According to a 2008 UN report, the world’s fishing fleets are losing $50 billion USD each year through depleted stocks and poor fisheries management.

Unlike Currency you can not print fish when you want. The Economy unfortunately has to bow down to Ecology. But while the world grapples at what would be the model for ” Sustainable Capitalism” as opposed to ” Crony Capitalism“, a man has to earn his bread and put the meal on the table.

So, what does a fishing community do when there is no fish to catch?  All they need to do is harvest some algae for producing Bio-fuel. Marine Algae  is  used as food, medicine & fertilizer. Bio-fuel already is a nascent  industry which is well recognized though not reached its full potential but in the coming years as the World moves away from fossil fuel, it would gain prominence as another alternate to various other clean tech energy source. Moreover algae is a proven “carbon sink” and this alone would attract Carbon funding and thus help in poverty alleviation.

In India we are blessed with a long coastline. Along this coast line live some very poor fishing communities live who can benefit from alga-culture . Also in India we have the brackish water lakes like – Kaliveli Lake, Tamil NaduKerala Backwaters, Series of lagoons and lakes in KeralaPulicat Lake, north of Chennai; The Rann of Kutch, Gujarat.

In the famous Aurovile, Pondicherry; India. How Spirulina farming can benefit the community can be seen. That such a beautiful “Sustainable Capitalism” will be found in Aurovile – a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity – was not a surprise. The Government of India along with the help of the States can set up training institutes where the marginalized fishermen  learn to “corral” the algae just like salmon farming. As there is a demand for marine algae in medicine; Spirulina is the most known. It has food and medicinal value which is well documented. The income generated by such activities, be it production of food or fuel; could help the people to cope with the pressures of living in the modern world.

But what is more important than helping the fishermen is Educating the consumers. Massive information campaign, especially by the famous restaurants around the World about why one should not order for “that fish” during certain season. And the menus should display – “this particular fish is from the cold storage & not a fresh catch. For fresh fish wait for the harvesting season.” Its time to live & let live.

In the Hindu Culture, during the season called “Shraavana” ( pronounced -shra -van ); no non-veterinarian eating community eats fish, meat, poultry or eggs. This season coincides with the monsoon season. It is a time for replenishment for all. A culture of sustainable living was part of the Ethos. Even plants and trees were venerated, each has a name and direct association with a Hindu God. One had to justify why a tree needed to be felled, and a collective decision was taken by the village council in fair and transparent manner, should even one person object.  However, in our race towards modernity we have lost the touch of reality. I am sure that there would have been similar laws in the ancient Europe and Americas. Laws bulldozed over by the mighty corporations and inventors of the bottom trawling net, which scrapes out every living thing right up-to the bottom of the sea floor.

We many presume that we have become more advanced and developed than our ancestors; however Nature is proving it wrong in every turn ! The result is for all to see.

 

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