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Kerala – Gods own Country ?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Next, let’s look at Micro-Hydle-

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Will India in 2014 follow – NAMO or the NAMA’s ?


India would go for polls in 2014. In the past 10 years, the Euphoria of having an Economist at the helm of affairs slowly but surely dissipated,with the Economy coming nearly to a stand still.

Now a different bubble is being created and that is around a persona, whom many admire and lovingly call NAMO = Narendra Modi. Having seen and heard him up close in 2010, there are none, I’m sad to say in present Indian politics who can match his persona. And here lies the danger.

Because as our Prime Minister elect, it would not be him , who are his fans be fortunate enough to vote for, but a political party – the BJP the acronym for Bhartia Janta Party. And most of its members are not even a close fifth to NAMO in terms of vision and charisma. In fact in India it is very hard to differentiate one politician from the other across party lines, as they all follow a common minimum program of arrogant corruption.

Although there seems to be some disruption in the political scenario in India with the advent and spectacular win of Delhi by the AAP ( Aam Admi Party = party of the common man). It is a group led by a spectacular persona Mr. Arvind Kejrewal. He is the Honorable Chief Minister of New Delhi. And many would agree to bestow the honour of the Prime Minister to him and people of his ilk in India. Honest,upright and with a zeal to serve the Nation. But he too is making a grave mistake with his populist, although well-meaning measures,especially in the Energy & Water sector.

For one who follows the Science of Climate Change and Policy, I’ve not yet heard a single tweet, blog or FB spelling out what would be the approach of this future government on – Global Warming! as their poll manifesto. Both Energy & Water are in the vanguard of this issue.

Neither the Congress nor the BJP has shown any regard to the environment. With forest and the surrounds of Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand decimated under their successive governments causing the great havoc of Kedarnath. While the link given in this, points to the science of how this disaster happened, that such events can occur is the matter and prevention thereof should be taken is matter of policy. And this is just one example of failed policy on Climate change and the environment in general.

While one does remember that PM Manmohan Singh did launch the NAPCC in the 2008. ( India has along with all members of the UNFCCC  signed the Bali Action Plan which brought in the NAMA = Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions. And NAPCC or Nation Action Plan for Climate Change is the follow through of that agreement.) The Since and Policy of Climate change actually is the lowest of the low in the list of priority in any of the present political class pretending to govern India and serve the Nation if elected.

One usually does not squander away their life – because its given but just once !

                 But every day we squander water & electricity because it comes to us cheap – although at a great cost to the Environment.

For, AAP the dangerous game it is playing by providing the sops in water & power must be understood in its entire spectrum of benefits and fall-out.

The benefit which can be measured immediately are that it would uplift the poor. Which is a good measure and even advocated in the Millennium Development Goals. The flip side of it would be that the e-DISCOM’s which employ million of people would start to bleed even more than what they are doing now {and are already propped by by sops from the government } and start to fire its employees creating an even more bigger headache in this resource depleted, morally bankrupt and tension filled social fabric.

But the most dangerous situation it would create is that with politicians of all hues ready to ape the “success formula” of AAP would start to provide sops in every possible way.

To squander away something which is not theirs to give in the first place. The Natural resources of a Nation must be put at a premium. There are many other ways to provide relief to the poor and the needy which a Government with an ear to the ground can bring about. AAP seems to have got this aspect right and if the leading National political parties can better it the Country and indeed the World shall find a better way of living.

A few solutions long suggested – Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos; Green Business Ideas: Solar Panels can save water in the fields for farmers. Solar Power: the Messiah for the Indian Oil Companies and the Finance Ministry Green Business Ideas: Solar Net Metering can help provide solar power in the night. Renewable Energy – Empowering Women & Saving Forests.(Redux); Sustainable Cities – Why town planning is important.& last but not the least Sustainable Living – Corruption is the biggest impediment)

 
 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brand shown here is only for literary purpose only.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Imagine if we had 4 hours shifts.

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

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

And

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

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

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

 

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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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Recycle Rare Earth & Renew Energy


Through this article I would once more attempt to join the dots which would perhaps lead us to practice sustainability as naturally as breathing. To do this each of us must be able to co-relate as how seemingly diverse things dove-tail to one conclusion. The modern humans insatiable need, which without being tempered by understanding at the basic level would not lead us towards the very Millennium Development Goals we aspire Using just one product, my attempt is to put forth an idea, which used as a datum could hopefully be applied over a vast field of products by those who are more capable.

“Mobile communications offer major opportunities to advance human and economic development — from providing basic access to health information to making cash payments, spurring job creation, and stimulating citizen involvement in democratic processes,” World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte said in a press statement. “The challenge now is to enable people, businesses, and governments in developing countries to develop their own locally relevant mobile applications so they can take full advantage of these opportunities.”

A July 2012 report – Approximately three-quarters of the world’s population now has access to a mobile phone, according to a new study from the World Bank. The number of mobile phone subscriptions has sky-rocketed over the past 12 years. Fewer than 1 billion mobile subscriptions were active in 2000, while there are six billion subscriptions active today. Last year alone, mobile users downloaded more than 30 billion apps. A study by the World Bank and infoDev titled “Information and Communications for Development 2012” found that worldwide mobile subscriptions grew from less than 1 billion in 2000 to over 6 billion. And mobile subscriptions in low and middle-income countries increased by more than 1,500 percent between 2000 and 2010, from 4 to 72 per 100 inhabitants.

Reading – Digging for rare earths: The mines where iPhones are born About 60 miles southwest of Las Vegas, in a mine some 500 feet deep, the beginnings of an iPhone come to life.But the sleek, shiny iPhone is far, far removed from the rocks pulled out of this giant hole, which looks like a deep crater on the moon. A very deep crater. The ground is covered with rust-colored boulders, rocks, and pebbles. The walls etched with striations in varying shades of black, are notched, every 75 feet or so, creating steps that only a giant could use to climb out of the pit….Inside the rocks from this mine are rare-earth minerals, crucial ingredients for iPhones, as well as wind turbines, hybrid cars, and night-vision goggles. Minerals such as neodymium are used in magnets that make speakers vibrate to create sound.….

As defined by IUPAC, rare earth elements (“REEs”) or rare earth metals are a set of seventeen chemical elements in the periodic table, specifically the fifteen lanthanides plus scandium and yttrium.Despite their name, rare earth elementsare relatively plentiful in the Earth’s crust, with cerium being the 25th most abundant element at 68 parts per million (similar to copper). However, because of their geochemical properties, rare earth elements are typically dispersed and not often found concentrated as rare earth minerals in economically exploitable ore deposits. It was the very scarcity of these minerals (previously called “earths”) that led to the term “rare earth”.

We pause at the word – typically dispersed and not often found concentrated in economically exploitable ore deposit.and the words of World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte.-..”to enable people, businesses, and governments in developing countries to develop their own locally-relevant mobile applications”..

Sustainable development as we know requires the principle of the three “P”s – Planet – People – Profit fitting perfectly with the four “R”s Reduce – Reuse – Recycle – Recover (energy).

  1. Wherever possible, waste reduction is the preferable option.
  2. If waste is produced, every effort should be made to reuse it if practicable.
  3. Recycling is the third option in the waste management hierarchy. Although recycling does help to conserve resources and reduce wastes, it is important to remember that there are economic and environmental costs associated with waste collection and recycling. For this reason, recycling should only be considered for waste which cannot be reduced or reused.
  4. Finally, it may be possible to recover materials or energy from waste which cannot be reduced, reused or recycled.

Empirical evidence suggests that by practising waste prevention, reusing products, recycling, and making environmentally conscious purchases, businesses can cut costs and increase profits. Cost savings take the form of:

  • Lower waste disposal costs;
  • Lower waste treatment costs;
  • Lower energy costs;
  • Savings on materials and supplies;
  • A reduction in regulatory compliance costs;
  • Lower storage costs;
  • Cost recovery through the sale of recyclable materials;
  • Cost recovery through sales of 4Rs technologies.

Now let us add two more” R”s – Refuse and Rethink.

While we all are attempting to practice sustainability, that it has still not percolated down to the grass roots is because we as a collective of Sustainable practitioners are yet to join the dots in a simplistic fashion. And unless we do so, the ground swell of awareness and true sustainable practice which is balanced with modern life-style will elude us. The concept of Sustainability can not be a placard which one can paste on the door of the office. It has to be from within us. The society as a whole must adopt sustainability in their consciousness. The Peoples must be identified as such; just as we associate Precision = German / Swiss; Adaptive = Indians;  Disciplined = Japanese; and other cultural stereotypes; the world as a whole must adopt it as a culture.

We as modern humans are so trapped in our system that while we say Sustainable Development, in the same breadth we also look to encourage Countries to develop Mobile Applications, without pausing to think that the very popularity and success of these applications would lead to another explosion of growth in manufacturing of Mobile phones and thus from 6 Billion in 2012 we would perhaps cross the 12 Billion mark in half the time it took us to reach the first 6 Billion.

From a World Bank perspective that is Sustained growth. From an Sustainable Development Goal, it is a prelude to doom, as the miners rub their hands with glee whilst ripping out the “rare earth” from the bosom of Earth and lay waste vast tracts of land. Which would take a Millennium to sustain itself again. No better anti- thesis can be found for the term Millennium Development than this.

So is the euphoria at the World Bank on the reach of the cell phone right to the grass-roots misplaced ? The answer is a resounding NO! Right from Disease Response; Education Through Games; Monitoring Government Accountability;  and Disaster Response; cell phones have a very positive impact and this achievement is set to grow over time.

But it becomes a little too much when Preserving the Rainforest as mentioned in the link is added to support it. The crony capitalism becomes evident. Although the very same mobile telephony can be used to create greater awareness on climate change. This boon itself is a curse, should we not also not make Mandatory for all mobile phone manufacturers to create a reverse supply chain management to recall each and every cell phone; when its stipulated usage life is over. 

And to believe that the people would do this out of altruism would be the biggest folly. One would rather have someone at e-bay buy it, than s/he walk down and put it into the recycle bin for free. That is how we all are. We are a market society conditioned by a market economy and we all are buyers and sellers. We can do nothing positive (or negative) unless we can see tangible benefits (profit) for ourselves.

While we teach our children the advantage of the R’s ( Learning the 4 R’s :Recycling and Rubbish Exhibit (R.A.R.E.) program teaches kids to reduce, reuse, recycle and rot ) why is it that the Corporates not adopting it. Or rather why is it that the UN unable to make it mandatory for all corporates to follow the rules, by declaring a resolution at the United Nations Security Council ? As in my last article, I firmly believe post the devastating Hurricane Sandy that Climate change become an agenda for the Security council rather than the UNFCCC.

That the 4 R’s has distinct advantages has already been highlighted earlier in this article. If we just take the advantages – Savings on materials and supplies; Cost recovery through the sale of recyclable materials; and apply it to just the cell phones let us see what we get.

English: Global rare earth element production ...

English: Global rare earth element production from 1950 through 2000, colored to indicate source. (1 kt=106 kg) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Mobile phone is made Gold, Silver, Tantalum, Platinum, Palladium, Lead, Tin, Copper, Plastic, Glass, Steel, Aluminium, Silicon etc. Coltan is used to make the SIM card. Now if we assume that in a year at least 50% of the 6 Billion Mobile phone users world wide change their handsets, the savings on material supplies and cost recovery through the sale of recyclable materials would be handsome.

What if this recall of Mobile phones is driven by one of the many arms of the UN, with active support from the NGO’s who have the depth of reach into the hinterlands of the developing world? NGO’s which are truly altruistic and would surely give value for money deals to the rural poor. And at the same time convince the city dwellers to also partake through school programs in this novel recovering of the Natural resources.

There is already a stellar example of this form Nokia, The need of the hour is that more people know about it and start doing something similar. And this is where the failure of the popular media to take up a cause which is really worth-while is completely underscored. And it also shows how less traction the UN gives to promote ingenious concepts, leaving it at the mercy of market forces which are hostile to change. A market based society can only look at every thing from its skewed logic of economics, which is responsible for the mess we are in today.

Nokia’s ‘Remade’ Cell Phone Made Of Recycled Materials – In February 13, 2008 Nokia’s CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo unveiled Remade at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona. The idea was to create mobile phones that cause less of a strain on natural resources, while reducing landfill and increasing energy-efficient production. A concept phone called “Remade,” which would be built almost entirely out of recycled materials. Phones based on the Remade concept were to be made out of metals from aluminium cans and plastics from drink bottles. Materials from old car tires would make up the phones’ rubber key mats. The phones were also to use environment-friendly technologies, including printed electronics and display graphics that save energy.

Map showing the estimated thickness of the Wor...

Map showing the estimated thickness of the World’s crust (km) (Photo credit: BlatantWorld.com)

The above example shows how Corporate responsibility if truly applied can create a sea-change in how we look at our resources and develop sustainable ways to live our lives without sacrificing the comforts of modernity. I wish we would be able to see more companies follow. We must understand that our ability to sustain and survive depends on how we care for the planet. If we continue to create great wound ( mines ) on the skin of the Planet, somewhere and somehow there is bound to be effects which we can not fathom at present. And if we don’t think on those lines soon, it might just be too risky a situation later.

“Remade” is simply a concept for now and not a commercial product, but it demonstrates what can be done using nearly no new materials to build a mobile phone, said Nokia’s spokeswoman.

The above speech needs to change thus – “Remade is now being provided funds from the UN sponsored Global Climate Fund and we would encourage more companies to submit their ideas to avail the funding & market support (through mandatory resolutions passed) required to make their sustainable products economically viable” – a hypothetical spokesperson of the UN.

Courtesy: http://www.iisd.org; http://news.cnet.com; http://wiki.answers.com;

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2012 in Global Warming & Climate Change, My Thoughts

 

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