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Tag Archives: Sustainable Development

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


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

New Scientist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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SDG#13: Climate Action


India was the global host of 2018 World Environment Day which took place on June 5, 2018. There could be no other event more important for India than the World Environment Day. That the Nation should align as one and consider the Sustainable Development Goal #13 – Climate Action as its manifesto in the strongest possible manner than ever before. The reasons become obvious with the following articles and videos. In fact, the first news report from WION below was Published on 16 Nov 2017, It is almost as if Nostradamus not NASA who is predicting them. For the below-mentioned news just proves them 100% true and then some more.

That it has only 1691 views and 7 likes till date tells a story no environmentalist would want to know….The attempt therefore, once more is to ramp up support for Climate Action, through this article.

Climate Prediction:

Reuters: India is the most vulnerable country to climate change, followed by Pakistan, the Philippines and Bangladesh, a ranking by HSBC…… Of the four nations assessed by HSBC to be most vulnerable, India has said climate change could cut agricultural incomes, particularly unirrigated areas that would be hit hardest by rising temperatures and declines in rainfall. (read more)

Climate Re-Action:

 High-intensity dust storms uprooted trees and caused buildings to collapse across India’s northern states, resulting in multiple deaths across North Indian state of Rajasthan. .
Climate Prediction:
According to an HSBC report published in March 2018, India is amongst the most vulnerable nations to the effects of climate change. The highest risks related to climate change are concentrated among the low-income groups living in houses, which are especially vulnerable to wind and water hazards due to extreme weather events. Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai are especially prone to bear the brunt of climate change.
(courtesy:swarajyamag.com)

Climate Re-Action:

The above video is perhaps the best compilation of what India is facing. All at the same time. Extreme Heat Conditions in Kashmir, Floods in Karnataka and Drought in Madhya Pradesh.

But what is the actual story on the ground? According to the latest report filed by Nibu Pullamvilavil scribe with the Wire –

preliminary assessment by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, IIT Gandhinagar and IIM Ahmedabad found in 2015 that India will have to invest Rs 24.3 lakh crore every year by 2030 to implement adaptation actions. The study noted that total government spending on capacity development in India has grown consistently over the last decade; Rs 6.2 lakh crore was spent in 2013 alone.

The National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change (NAFCC), established by the Government of India in 2015, aims to support concrete adaptation activities. As of today, 26 projects have been approved at a total cost of Rs 648.9 crore, and of which Rs 315.3 crore has been released. This is woefully inadequate given the size of our country and the challenges it faces. 

Urban India has been largely ignored vis-à-vis adaptation efforts. Climate resilience and risks associated with climate change have failed to find mention in ‘smart city’ proposals approved by the Centre. (read more in the Wire)

To make a City ready for adaptation and mitigation, it is very important that the general public are made to understand the dangers of climate change. This is woefully inadequate.

Post three years after the Prime Minister of the Nation has signed the Paris Agreement. We still don’t have all the states adopting the SDG’s as their agenda. If one peeks into the Niti Ayog website:

Niti

If you click on the above and go into the menu from the states, click say Maharashtra, it says that it has gathered reports in detail for goals 3-4-5-15. While the rest are awaited.

Once on the page, you would notice, only one from the Environmental Action Plan, Goal 15 has been touched. Goal # 13 which is Climate Action, the state of Maharashtra is yet to compile its detailed information. Let alone take action! In fact, it states that the action program on SDG # 13 would be done by 2020. This is because of the promised funding by developed countries of $100 Billion. But what happens if that promised money doesn’t come. Do we have a plan B? This is the state post signing the agreement in 2015. And the program has an end date of 2030.

Not only Urban areas have been ignored, the City of Mumbai with its 2034 Development Plan shows no real thought has been put with the SDG’s in mind but the standard fare of ‘Business as Usual’.

We all know that the recent Talona Dialogues held in Bonn in May was not a great success to indicate that the Developed countries are anywhere ready to owe to their historic responsibility by giving grants to fix the problems related to Climate Change.

If India is serious about climate change it would have been mentioned in the NAINA in clear words about its adherence to the SDG’s. But it only offers a vague lip service to the same.

It would be unfair to say that the officials and the top political masters are not interested or want to implement a sound policy which aligns to the urgent needs in a highly dangerous Climate Change situation.

But it is the lack of action at the grass root level, which doesn’t allow the common man on the street to grasp the meaning and the importance of Climate Action. This is what should be the plan B.

India can generate enough resources of its own to develop and plan truly smart cities and implement not only Climate Action but all the other goals from within its own means. But for that sound policy should not remain in paper. They should be openly debated in public and solutions found for logjams which plague it.

The biggest hindrance to Climate Action is that it in itself has no immediately perceivable Return on Investment for the Investor. This is the major reason for the lip service which most of its industry are doing, one such example is the Building & Construction Sector. It is a shame to see buildings being built and claimed to be Green Building Rated when all that is happening is a scam called pre-certification. Under Pre-Certification all the Builder-Developer needs is to sign an undertaking that his design & construction would be in accordance to the documents submitted. Once they receive the Certificate they become eligible by the green tribunal authorities to construct. If an independent verification is done by say the UN designated independent bodies. Almost all the top-rated buildings will fail barring a handful.

For a country which is grappling with corruption in every layer of the society, Climate Action is the least priority for the vast majority. Unless there is a peoples movement as it happened in Tuticorin – an industrial unit became a focal point to fight pollution. things will not change.

But such movements are neither good for the society nor for the country as it only creates havoc. Havoc not only because it has already damaged the Environment but also because it leaves a permanent scar in the society which has to deal with death and destruction.

Therefore the country should consider as Plan B;  a mandatory high-school to college level subject & examination on the effects of Climate Change. Thus when the next generation managers and industrialists take charge there is already a strong connect and understanding of the complex subject. And at the same time, it would enable those very people the to create a conducive architecture for a monetary benefit which is tangible for all.

 

 

 

 

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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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The Development Agenda – and the unreported fall-out.


In India we have a saying… ” Har ek pal ek ullu banta hai“- every minute someone is made to be a fool. And the best and the longest trick for which everyone falls for is – “Development”.

How often does one hear the phrase like – “the Next”.. “the sunrise country”…”the leading nation”… Our poor northern neighbour fell for it…now it could be India’s turn, if care is not taken.

Grown in China: ‘arsenic rice’

Didi Kirsten Tatlow, NYT NEWS SERVICE;Soil in China’s leading rice-producing region shows high levels of heavy metal contamination, in a study that suggests that the proximity of mining and industry to agricultural areas is posing serious threats. Researchers for Greenpeace sampled farmland and uncultivated soil, water and rice grown near a smelter of nonferrous metals in Hunan Province. In some locations of the study, they found soil containing cadmium levels more than 200 times the national health standard, adding to a growing body of evidence that parts of the country’s soil are heavily degraded after decades of fast industrialization and high economic growth. All but one of the rice samples exceeded the maximum level of cadmium in rice for human consumption in China. The study extended the concept by listing “arsenic rice,” “mercury rice” and “lead rice.” Of those four toxic substances, only mercury levels appeared relatively safe. With a fast pace of urbanization, China is struggling to save enough land for farming and keep a high rate of grain selfsufficiency. But apart from quantity, whether it can maintain soil health remains a question.

Dead pigs floating in Chinese river

Most recently, Chinese state media reported last Thursday that at least 170 dead pigs were found bobbing in a tributary of China’s second-longest waterway, the Yellow River, in northwestern Qinghai province. This is just the latest in a string of similar incidents that have raised fears over food safety, since the river is the major source of irrigation water for nearby regions…..It was a similar story last year, when 6,000 dead pigs were pulled from Shanghai’s waterways in three days. As Care2′s Kristina Chew reported, local authorities were quick to assert that the presence of thousands of dead pig carcasses in the river had no effect on the water supply, although the blogospere begged to differ…And in fact, the number of pig corpses found in the Huangpu River, which provides 22 percent of the water supply for Shanghai, grew to around 16,000. Officials questioned farmers in the neighboring province of Zhejiang about dumping the pigs but got nowhere.

The above report sums up my angst.

No sensible person would be against development.

But development can’t be a tool which is used by a few to rule the World as their own fiefdom.

The growth of the China model is a superlative example of what transpires when one wears lens tinted by the czars of crony capitalism. Never would they document the dead pigs which floated down river in thousands..nor would they document destruction of habitat or extinction of species. “This is the minimum price one has to pay” they argue ” else we would be living in caves”.

Yes! even those who are concious of the environment,today use the very tools which perhaps has led to unsustainable practice. But there is a difference between those who speak of Development and those who wish to spread awareness on Sustainable Development.

Whether one likes it or not, compliment must be given to the masters who with their glib talk supported with superb power-point presentations made the Chinese believe that they would be rulers of Earth, should they open up their doors to become the centre of manufacturing. From the humble pin to planes, everything the modern world needs gets manufactured in China.

Vehicles move slowly on a fog-shrouded road in Huai’an City, east China’s Jiangsu Procinve, Jan. 30.

Yes! They have grown rich & powerful. But at a terrible cost to their environment. Their cites are polluted, their  rivers are dying and even the air they breath has itself turned into a killer !

I’m sure the Chinese government did not factor these things when they set out to become a “economically powerful nation”.

It really feels sad when a Nation which has perhaps given humans a taste of civilization a few thousand years ago, can fall into a trap to think it is not a great and powerful nation which it used to be!

The first light of Chinese civilization revealed itself 7,000 to 8,000 years ago, as indicated by the ruins of the Daxi Culture in Sichuan and Hubei provinces (more).

The word crony capitalism was not coined back then..

India shares much of the similarities with its northern neighbour, she too is an ancient civilization. And here to there’s a clamour for “Development”. More foreign direct investment the better some say.

While it must have some merit, what is not being said is would those who come to make investment which directly translates to the word PROFIT; really be bothered about how it achieves its target? History, whether recent or ancient has proven that the indigenous tribe, culture and habitat has always faced destruction and at times extinction in the guise of development.

There has been development of too few at the cost of too many. Just count the list of Developed versus Underdeveloped Nations and you would get an idea.

While we like to call ourselves as a Developing Country in term of Economic power, we fail to highlight that India ranks much higher in the list of Inclusive Wealth Report.

Inclusive Wealth Report.

The indicators used in the past to measure human societies’ success have proven to be insufficient. Economic production indicators such as gross domestic product (GDP) and the Human Development Index (HDI) fail to reflect the state of natural resources or ecological conditions and both focus exclusively on the short term, without indicating whether national policies are sustainable over longer periods of time.

The Inclusive Wealth Report 2012 presents an index that measures the wealth of nations by carrying out a comprehensive analysis of a country’s capital assets, including manufactured, human and natural capital, and its corresponding values: the Inclusive Wealth Index (IWI)

The Country is in its final throes of electing once more its new set of “rulers”. While hoping that at least this instance the “democratically” elected political party would provide us with “good governance”. And within that good governance we hope to see the ideas of the Durban Declaration come to fore.

For it is important to know whether national policies are sustainable over longer periods of time. A short comparison of two manifesto of the political parties in fray are below –

The political party which many consider would emerge as the winner, has started well. At least its manifesto, speaks in simple and crisp language what it intends to do, should it be voted to power.

We will it says:

  •  Encourage Cleaner production.
  •  Cleaner fuels will be promoted so as to bring down the pollution levels particularly in the cities.
  •  The concept of pro-active ‘Carbon Credit’ will be promoted.
  •  Ecological Audit of projects and pollution indexing of cities and townships will be done on scientific basis.
  •  Pollution control mechanisms will be set up on priority basis.
  •  In addition to protecting the existing forests and wildlife reserves, the wastelands of the country  will be used for social forestry.
  •  Guidelines for Green buildings and energy efficient work places will be brought out.
  •  R&D and Human Resource Development in Environment Technology will be promoted.
  •  Set up fool proof mechanisms for protection and preservation of wild life.
  •  Encourage citizen’s participation in reforestation, agro-forestry and social forestry, through targeted programmes.
  •  Encourage and incentivize innovative garbage disposal and waste management practices, especially recycling techniques.

While the present ruling dispensation, speaks in a language which reflects the state the of play as is presently facing India, confusion; although the will to do good is there  –

  • Rigorous Environmental Appraisals Bill to set up a National Environmental Appraisal and Monitoring Authority – a professional agency to conduct rigorous and time-bound environmental appraisals and recommend clearances.
  • Revealing the Cost of Environmental Degradation Will launch “Green National Accounts” to ensure that the costs of environmental degradation are clearly reflected in India’s national accounts.
  • Conserving Water Water conservation is at the heart of our programme for agriculture and rural and urban development.
  • Harnessing Wind Power Launch a new National Mission on Wind Energy to harness the wind power.
  • Making Water Sustainable and Affordable Pricing of water must ensure that users internalise ethics of conservation. It is also imperative that it be sustainable and affordable.
  • Clean Rivers and Clean Fuel Cleaning of rivers on a large scale and providing clean cooking fuel across the country will be a priority.
  • Increasing our Solar Power Production Timely completion of Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission which will provide 20,000 MW of grid connected solar power by 2022.

While in the watch of the present dispensation, India has had to hang its head in shame on farmer suicide due to lack of water. And in several villages and town, it is a cause of celebration if electricity is received for 24 hours uninterrupted. It can not be denied that this very government in its previous avatar, had given India its proud moment in the shape of NAPCC.

It’s architect, a finance wizard so respected and loved by this Country. It had made possible a chance to boost the economy by ₹64000 Crore. A dream which spawned many Renewable & sustainable building enterprise, which are in throes of pain due to paralysis of action today.

The very failure of sustainable capitalism gave rise to crony capitalism and the Coal scandal et al. Once more the environment suffered because of the myopic vision of those who were supposed to take hard decisions to save the Planet, India lost yet another leadership opportunity to change the tide of climate change.

Therefore it is very important for the Citizens of India and that of the World to remind which ever political party win this election, its promise made in the manifesto. The largest political party must not be allowed to confuse us with glibly coined words like “coalition dharma” and bury all that is sustainable through rapid stride in “Development” which benefits but only a few.

Its time India finds its Economic strength through saving its Ecology. That would lead towards Sustainable Development and sustained growth thus making India the Developed Nation.

 

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India Votes – at the cost to the environment ?


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A snapshot of Mumbai

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 
 

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Climate Change and Urban Resilience – The Role of Green Building Councils


NEW YORK, 24 June 2013UNISDR Chief Margareta Wahlström today welcomed a proposal that “resilient cities” should be one of ten top global priorities in the post-2015 development agenda.

Ms. Wahlström said: “UNISDR has been running the Making Cities Resilient Campaign for three years now and our experience of working closely with both capital cities and small municipalities tells us that urban resilience needs to be at the top of the global development agenda. Many Mayors and local governments around the world are leading the way in reducing risk.” The UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UNSDSN), led by the eminent economist and adviser to the UN Secretary-General, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, has set out ten goals in an Action Agenda for Sustainable Development in the form of recommendations for Sustainable Development Goals. One of the ten goals — Goal 7 — is to “empower inclusive, productive and resilient cities”. Under this goal, one suggested target (Target 7c) is to ensure the integration of “climate and disaster resilience into investments and standards”.

The world’s governments agreed last year at the historic Rio+20 Summit to adopt universally applicable Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015. To support this agreement, the SDSN has mobilized global technical expertise to identify ten “priority challenges” or potential goals, each accompanied by a set of targets, which can guide global efforts to achieve sustainable development during the period 2015-2030.

A stand-alone goal on cities will serve to “mobilize and bring together the efforts of multiple actors and stakeholders such as local authorities, national governments, businesses, knowledge institutions and civil society across a range of urban issues such as disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation”, according to the Report. “It is essential that the world rallies around a post-2015 global goal to advance urban resilience and minimize creating new disaster risks and adding to the economic losses caused by increased exposure to natural hazards.” From 2011 to 2020 alone, investments in urban development are projected to increase by 67 per cent globally. Much of this new urbanization will unfold in hazard-exposed regions threatening global resilience and sustainability unless governments and businesses start incorporating disaster risks into decision-making. The recently released report by the Secretary-General’s High Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 agenda also echoes the SDSN report’s emphasis on addressing urban challenges. In no uncertain terms, it proclaims: “Cities are where the battle for sustainable development will be won or lost. “The recommendations of the SDSN and the High Level Panel reports are expected to serve as critical inputs to the deliberations that governments are undertaking to decide on a development roadmap that will go into effect in 2015.

This monsoon season when Uttarakhand was devastated by the mighty land-slide that followed a cloud burst; our Political leaders were quick to lay the blame on the opposition and patting their own back as how they have only let a few thousand die,( about 5000+ & about the same numbers missing) while saving 110,000.

5600 dead. Montserrat island which is a British Overseas Territory has a population of 6000. That would leave a population of 400 – the population of Vatican is 500. (read least populated countries of the World )

The Falkland Islands  archipelago located in the South Atlantic Ocean has a population of 4000. An entire foreign Nation’s population + 1500 and yet our Political masters have the guts to argue and make the matters petty as was seen in several TV News channel. Disregarding the gravity, refusing to learn nothing from it. And none even mentioned Climate Change.

This monsoon season while our Political leaders, mull over grave impacts on Law and Order situations which they claim to have averted, by sacking an Honest and Upright officer who took on the mighty sand mafia…

Similar mud slinging, but the most sinister part observed by the common man was not a single Political stalwart made a comment…

For they know not that the officer was not only doing her immediate duty but was by her act saving the Nation from a calamity which is waiting to happen.

Whenever there would be unregulated exploitation of Mother Nature, her vengeance – terrible and devastating would befall on all of us!

While righteous anger and angst is understandable, before we the “common men & women” spite the politician-mafia nexus must look deep within ourselves.

Will the need of that much of extra sand diminish if we agree not to do the “interior decoration” of our homes every 5 years just to show that we have arrived ? Tearing down the fine polished Italian marble floor which just 5 years ago one was swooning and fawning over while giving that house-warming party?

Will the need for that much of extra sand diminish if we agree not to by that second home ( actually the 3rd or 5th ) which we will hardly ever occupy just because it is – oh! so far away from the madding crowd…in the lush green vale full of fresh air……which the bulldozer of the promoter would destroy and we too with our smoke belching SUV’s.

Just as we all are directly or indirectly involved in the devastation of forests. Our ever more demand for fine wooden furniture, carved wood main-door and that perfect wooden flooring makes us partner to the crime.

How difficult is it to understand a situation like the Jamuma river angry and uncontrollable thundering down from the Himalayas to wipe out a large swat of New Delhi, the so called city of the Rich and the Powerful ?

It is not for no reason our ancestors revered Nature as Mother Goddess. Just as a mother would, she nurtures..she admonishes again and again…her intensity of punishment increase in direct proportion to the level of unruliness. Uttarakhand was a warning, just as Hurricane Sandy was. If we keep on ripping her belly and banks, we will pay for it.

The UNISDR – Making Cities Resilient cannot happen without understanding who the stake-holders are. And the most important stakeholders do not live in the cities. But in the far-flung country side between rivers and mountains from where the bounty of Nature is pillaged to feed the Cities. 

The problem is that without development the modern human civilization would wallow in decadence and perish. Creating chaos far greater than what is now. This fact can’t be denied or ignored. But solutions which are there must be presented in a proper way.

This is where the role of the Green Building Councils comes to play. They are a consortium of Business organization who wishes to make a difference. Who can make a difference.

The approach, in my understanding has to be two pronged. The first is to abate the destruction and the second is to mitigate it.

To abate the situation of people wanting to build more just because they can afford to must be stopped. Now legally no one can do that, but socially it is possible. By engaging thought leaders and socially popular personalities the Green Building Council must show and rightly so..that the Taj Mahal, the Czars Palace, the Vatican and many more would not have retained the “wow!”  Factor had the owners of these amazing buildings changed the interior décore every 5th year.

The simple though of antique is good must be made popular and fashionable at the same time. It can and will save a lot of environmental damage. While the manufacturing industry may suffer a slowdown initially, the service industry especially operation & maintenance would get a boost. We must argue the fact that their can never be “sunshine” everywhere at the same time. Inflation in currency or depression both give equal opportunity to growth.

What is opportunity for some can be misfortune for another. Capitalism however smart, still in some way follows the laws of Nature. The Carrot – The Rabbit – The Snake – The Mongoose each have a different perspective on opportunity and misfortune.  But if the rabbit lets even a little of the carrot uneaten the plant can regenerate back to life.  It is called Sustainability.

That is the art Business must adopt.

This brings us to the next solution – to create a conducive environment where waste plastic and other discarded material or composites can be used (10 Cutting-edge, Energy-efficient Building Materials). The business industry has already come up with some ideas,  what is required is to make them popular and indigenize them where ever possible. Some ideas are very futuristic(10 Building Materials from the Future), but if the Green Building council along with the CIICESD or the WBSCD come together, even these products may get created from recycled products or waste.

The infrastructure industry must make mandatory use of Composite materials and the implementation of cutting-edge technologies, such as nanotechnology,(read more). This is perhaps the only way we can limit the dependency on traditional building materials.

Moreover, there must be a legislation that industry use composite materials made of waste plastic to build their factories and warehouses. And slowly but surely try to reduce the size of the garbage island using (How the oceans can clean themselves: Boyan Slat at TEDxDelft). Once the idea is understood by all and sundry that money can be made business will surely boost the concept the clean technology propogators have been trying to introduce. (Green Business Ideas : Tall Buildings made from waste plastic is possible & its LCA is cheap – a builders delight and boon to Environmentalist)

It is one thing to be ruffled by the inconsiderate manner some people try and exploit nature for short term gains. To reverse the trend the mind and heart must think sustainable.  It is only then the world’s governments which agreed last year at the historic Rio+20 Summit to adopt universally applicable Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015 would act.

It is only then – “Many Mayors and local governments around the world are leading the way in reducing risk.” may also become true in India and around Nodia, Uttar Pradesh. (read more)

 

 

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Green Business Ideas – Innovations that can make a difference


A new partnership launched on 19 February 2013 by four UN agencies aims to support 30 countries over the next seven years in building national green economy strategies that will generate new jobs and skills, promote clean technologies, and reduce environmental risks and poverty.The four UN agencies – the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) – will provide a comprehensive suite of green economy services that will enable countries to transform their national economic structures to meet the growing demands and challenges of the 21st century. – (read more).

The Indian Budget for year 2013-14 was presented to the Parliament. With Fiscal deficit seen at 4.8 point of GDP in 2013/14; Gross market borrowing seen at 6.29 trillion rupees in 2013/14 and major subsidies bill estimated at 2.48 trillion rupees from 1.82 trillion rupees of which Petroleum subsidy is seen at 650 billion rupees in 2013/14 – Innovation is the need of the day.

Quoting the finance Minister – Growth is a necessary condition and we must unhesitatingly embrace growth as the highest goal. It is growth that will lead to inclusive development, without growth there will be neither development nor inclusiveness. However, I may sound a note of caution. Owing to the plurality and diversity of India, and centuries of neglect, discrimination and deprivation, many sections of the people will be left behind if we do not pay special attention to them. As Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel prize-winning economist, said, “There is a compelling moral case for equity; but it is also necessary if there is to be sustained growth. A country’s most important resource is its people.” We have examples of States growing at a fast rate, but leaving behind women, the scheduled castes, the scheduled tribes, the minorities, and some backward classes. The UPA does not accept that model. The UPA Government believes in inclusive development, with emphasis on improving human development indicators. I hope this Budget will be yet another testimony to that commitment. (Read full text)

While TV news channels, were filled with experts talking about the pro and cons. Not once did I hear and it may be my failing; any one mention about the National Action Plan for Climate Change Control. The Finance Minister briefly touched upon. And neither did anyone consider, Stiglitz – “compelling case of moral equity” – to be connected to the aspect of environment. Every budget talks of Sustained growth, NOT Sustainable growth.

While it would earn us some votes, when we say – ” a Country’s most important resources is its people” the real truth is – Every Countries most important resources are its Natural resources! And the ability of its people to use it sustainably.

As long as a Country is able to sustain its reserve of minerals, water, flora and fauna it shall be wealthy.  And this is the most important resource which the people of any country need to be called developed & a super-power.

However, any MBA with a background in Economics and Law would find this hard to understand, simply because they have been trained in a way where the datum to measure success is different. While this catastrophic error in the modus of learning and business conduct has been recognised and thus the Inclusive Wealth Report and the Stern Review; the percolation of the thought from mind to matter is yet to make the desired impact. As is clear from the 2013 Budget India presented.

If we combine the UN agenda as revealed in the opening paragraph to the brief mention the FM took, it is evident that –National Innovation Council; can and should stand up and be noticed. Both the agendas of UNIDO & UNITAR  can be addressed through it. While UNEP and ILO shall get a great boost.

It has the potential to be a game changer if participation to it becomes fashionable. Yes, it is an important marketing tool. Just as it is fashionable to be in the Social media, and thus its popularity, one must create the desire for the youth to be a member of the NIC. It must be made into a must have. The media should run a program which says ” have you given your idea for sustainability to NIC ? ” Are you one of the cool guys & gals who do?  ”  – Revolution can be created. The media has done it, it’s time it does so for the Country and the Planet.

And one does not have to be from the Science stream, to innovate. The Gujrat Chief Minister. Mr. Narendra Modi, was not explaining an invention, when he spoke at the India Today Enclave 2013 .But the ideas he gave of improving railways, or achieving sustainable urban /rural  development are innovations in itself. The magic of Mr. Modi is not his politics ( most Indian’s are indifferent to politics and politicians ) but his grass-root approach to problems affecting the people. His ideas can be implemented both by individuals and the governments. This is the most endearing mantra. The mantra many politicians may be having but due to their love of politics have not brought them to fore, to the public; and thus be recognised as a statesman.

Gujrat is perhaps the only one which understand the potential of innovation quicker, and it is something the Government at the Centre and other States must understand. The people of India are not in love with petty politics and are almost everyday innovating and giving ideas which matter; as is evident from the article by R.N. Bhaskar posted in the DNA News paper on 13th March 2013 –

India has plenty of sunshine. It has many people. Consequently, it has very little land per inhabitant (see table).
Any policy regarding solar power must, therefore, take into account the twin advantages of people and sunlight. And this is where India appears to have forgotten something important – rooftop solar. The Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was right to harness solar power targeting a capacity of 20 GW by 2022. There have been significant successes as well: During the past five years solar tariffs have fallen from `19/kWh to `6.52/Kwh in the last round of reverse bidding in Andhra Pradesh. At this rate, solar power tariffs should reach grid parity before 2017.
But the Mission does little to harness the power of households. To understand this, consider India’s population of 1.2 billion. Assume five people to a household. That gives us 250 million households. To be conservative, let’s take just one-fifth this number, 50 million, as households with rooftops.
As Avinash Patkar, advisor, technology, Tata Power, explains, even a conservative figure of 200 square feet per rooftop (village rooftops can be significantly larger), with 100 watts of installed capacity per square metres, gives us a 2 kW system per rooftop. The 50 million households will thus have a combined capacity of 100,000 MW. That should give us an annual output of 1,600 kW/hour of installed capacity.
Critically important, this can be done without using up large tracts of land. Today, there is a growing suspicion that many solar farms have been put up because of the land factor.
Each household thus becomes both producer and consumer. The household consumes freely his own rooftop’s power but also earns when he sells surplus power to the grid. Since the distance between the solar panels and the households isn’t great, there will be huge savings in transmission (capital and recurring) costs. Once installed, maintenance costs are minimal. The savings would be massive for rural household electrification.
Some grumble about the capex involved. At around Rs 100/W, each rooftop would require investments of Rs 2 lakh. Collectively, the country would have to invest around $200 billion, or `10.84 lakh crore, (100/W x 2,000 W per household x 50 million households).
But large land tract solar producing are already spending that much. Moreover, considering the increased gas tariffs that the Rangarajan Committee is willing to pay to private gas producers this is a better way to create energy capacity. Finally, `2 lakh per household isn’t much, especially if it can be done on a public-private-partnership basis. Thus, India could save on energy import bills and have an environmentally friendly solution.
Some policymakers have begun to respect this concept. In November 2012, the Punjab government decided to make rooftop solar compulsory for all buildings, public or private, especially for houses constructed over an area of one kanal and above plots in the urban estate. It began to partly introduce what Germany did ten years ago, and revolutionised the solar power industry. But more on that next week.

The article & Mr. Modi vindicates what many were writing  and some of those thoughts are reflected in Green Building Ideas:Using Solar panels as roofing sheet instead of asbestos; Green Business Ideas – Applying Solar OPEX model on Green Buildings will make Grid parity easy;Green Business Ideas: Solar Net Metering can help provide solar power in the night. And many such thoughts are posted everyday. Yet we do not find any real movement from the government of India to implement the thoughts in the scale and urgency it warrants.

But, when inaction can happen, even on ideas given by the Chief Minister of a State; especially in the matter of sustainable development and renewable energy; the situation is dire indeed. Development can’t be hostage to partisan politics especially if it has a direct bearing on the well-being of the planet. Lets’ for once stop thinking for the well-being of Humanity – the singular cause of all the devastation – and focus on the development of the Eco-system. A guide for Dummies is already found – The Story of Stuff – on You Tube; by TIDES Foundation. But it is the second part which is more interesting, The Story of Change – which actually shows us how we can turn the tide in favour of sustainable development goals.

It is indeed sad, as said by Bittu Sahgal in the gripping speech he gave at the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit 2013 ( the video of which one can find in my blog under – Must watch) – we do not have enough anger to drive the change we require to save ourselves from Extinction.

Clay Cooker

If anger can’t save us and it won’t. Innovation and especially green innovation will. The only way forward today is to innovate a Green Business Idea every day and encourage the ideas which are already there, by bringing them into the main stream. If one visits the website of National Innovation Foundation, other than finding a pressure cooker made of Clay, featured here, one would also find some amazing products, which have yet to become main stream.

Natural Water Cooler

Perhaps with help of CIICESD and the likes we may see products like the Natural Water cooler, The Natural Water Cooler is a low cost, energy efficient, environment friendly water cooler that is based on the principle of heat exchange. It cools water naturally according to the external temperature and humidity.The technology has tremendous potential in dry and hot climatic conditions (i.e. tropical) and where electricity is not available. The use of copper tubes for flow of water has health benefits too.

If there is one thing I would like to see large corporations to use, and perhaps it can begin with the next UNFCCC meet, is the refrigerator which keeps vegetables cool and does not require any electricity to do so.

Clay Refrigerator

Why do the inventor of these products never get a Noble Prize? They should be probably the frontrunners for the Peace Prize, if not technical innovation, as these inventions could save and limit the use of many natural resources which are depleting towards oblivion. And there scarcity could lead to strife.

These ideas captures ones imagination as to how Sustainable practice can be implemented in the modern life-style, while living with the technology and materials which were developed by the early human civilization. Who knew how to be one with Mother Nature.

One can argue and it would most probably be true, that these products may not achieve the economies of scale. And would also have technical imperfection when matched against the perfection the GHG producing/consuming modern  appliances. However, if one begins to change the datum of acceptance, to what is comfort and what is luxury, things may begin to look up. Further, the perfect machines of today were not the same when the were first conceived. Ford does not make the Model -T any more.

Already in the practice of LEED / GRIHA buildings we talk about thermal comfort and have understood what is optimum use. Yet the practice of it is limited. This can only change when the pundits of advertisement partner with the inventors to give the spin it requires to become popular & high-fashion and thus in time norm. And it should not be very difficult. because barely 60 years ago almost every house hold in India, cold water came from an earthen pitcher and cool air was mostly through passive cooling design, which still stand the test of time in the Palaces of India.

The innovators in India are simple people. Ordinary yet extra-ordinary is their approach. Especially the innovator of this simple product. A flower pot created out of cow -dung. In one simple stroke the inventor has captured methane, prevented GHG and given a 100% recyclable product. A lesson the west can learn to clear their cesspool.

A genius who would perhaps not even see the steps of the mighty UN. But someone whom India should hail as an hero. Because it is people like them who can solve the Global warming issue in a sustainable way.

Gopalbhai Surtia hails from Gujrat. So did Mahatma Gandhi.

 

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