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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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Save Petroleum from Extinction – Save your Business with a Green Idea


The New Year began with three Headlines grabbing my attention. And all of them were good news depending on which side one was looking at. In my favoured news paper DNA Money section were these lines –

The USA postpones Armageddon; The US Senate, controlled by Democrats, finally agreed on a deal to neutralise a double whammy of tax hikes across the board and spending cuts, which kicked in as the New Year rang in, hours past a self-imposed deadline for action. Negotiations to avoid going off the cliff have been on for months, the tension building as D-day drew closer. The final details came together hours after President Barack Obama said Congress was making progress on a short-term deal to avert the fiscal cliff..

Boost for oil cos as diesel off-take growth dips; Oil marketing companies, burdened with under-recoveries on the fuel sold by them, have got a much-needed breather as growth in diesel consumption moderated for the third month on the trot in November. Consumption for the month came in at 5.8 million metric tonne (mmt) as against 5.7 mmt in November 2011, a growth of a mere 1.7%, according to data from the Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell, a statistical body under the petroleum ministry.That’s the slowest pace of growth this fiscal and brings down the cumulative growth rate in consumption to below 10%. Diesel accounts for the bulk of the sales of oil companies. The fuel finds widespread usage, ranging from transportation, mobile towers and power generators. Hence, any change in its consumption pattern has a direct bearing on the financials of these companies…
“This is good for the country as this will not only help in bringing down the under-recovery of companies, but also reduce the subsidy bill of the government and also have a positive impact on inflation,” said a senior oil & gas expert from an international consultancy firm, requesting anonymity.

Car sales fall despite sopsDecember stayed slow for the auto manufacturers as most of the companies reported decline in sales despite heavy discounts on offer. Sales are traditionally lean in December as customers prefer to postpone purchases to the new year. After a subdued 2012, the industry is hoping for some corrective measures by the government for boosting sales in 2013.Hyundai Motor India, the second-largest car manufacturer, reported a 9.6% year-on-year decline in sales in the domestic market as it sold 26,697 units in December. Sales of Toyota Kirloskar Motor dropped 24% in December. The company sold 12,071 units in December 2012 as compared to 15,948 units a year ago. Sales of General Motors (GM) dropped 21% to 7,067 vehicles in December as against 9,039 units sold last year.

While to many these are unrelated events happening in the USA and India, to me they seem connected. The reason is whatever happens in the United States of America, it has a direct bearing in the markets of the World. And slow growth in the other markets finally reaches the shores of the USA to compound the gloom further. And this is precisely where I would advocate that the USA, which lost yet again the chance at the UNFCCC Doha, to regain leadership position with a re-think on their global approach towards Climate Change. And in the process drive the Economy in an all new Avatar. An Economy driven by the KP-2 agenda and the other declarations which if infused with practical approach can cause a sea-change in the economic scenario with minimal disruptions to Climate. And more importantly the practical approach would be more welcome by the vulnerable Nations than the last 20 years of legal text which perhaps killed more trees for the paper than saving them.

As one notices that while the Car-makers mourn, the Oil Co’s party in India. Thus a complex chain of advantage and disadvantage from seemingly unrelated events start to unravel. But what we need are solutions which all benefit from.

A Green Business Idea can take off from these seemingly unrelated information posted above and adding a few more to this as we progress.

In my earlier post Save Petroleum form Extinction – Save Earth ! the ways to take advantage of petroleum while containing the GHG has been explained in greater detail. We could perhaps call the suggestions therein as a “Carbon Capture” program and look for an CDM advantage in KP2. Most importantly, as long as we are not burning up the fossil-fuel but converting its properties into products, we still have a chance to contain the 3°C rise in Global temperature. This suggestion must merit some attention to the Indian Oil Co’s who can thus finally see some profits form what it does. Because in India, this would directly translate in the Union Government saving some vital petro-dollars its gives away in form of fuel subsidy. Having saved on that, it could go into a public – private partnership and fund the auto-makers to create Hybrid or perhaps more efficient Electric & Bio-fuel Cars.

One of the primary reason for low Auto sales are the runaway cost of fuel. With the Urban centres nearly saturated, it was the rural markets which was feeding them. But, an average Indian is extremely cost conscious and is not driven by glib advertisements. The high operation & maintenance costs with every rise in fossil fuel cost would only drive down the sale of Auto-mobiles in India. An alternative fuel car could change that. And when we speak of leading technology, the USA holds sway over many. Thus the full circle across Nations gets completed.

 

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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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