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Tag Archives: United Nation

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rise in sea temperature may attract jellyfish to city shore

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

Locals on a mission to clear mess near Muchalla college

Lack of space derails NMMC’s stray-sterilisation programme

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

Ten tonnes of floral waste collected during first visarjan

Thirsty cities, parched villages

BEST buses claim 37 lives every year: Cops

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

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

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

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

Maya!

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

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

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

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

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

ugly city

 

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liveability Index 2012

Highlights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

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Green Business Idea: Finding CDM opportunity in the Dumps.


Sustainable Development Goals. Sitting in front of my computer I was thinking about how would I be able to express my inner most feeling. As to why we must live sustainably.

Why is it that the UNEP – SBCI trying so hard to popularise the concept of sustainable growth and climate responsive cities. And why is it that we as the inhabitants of this Planet not able to tune into the cause and effect our “way of life” creates for this planet. What more can we do to create the mass hysteria required before the end of UNFCCCDoha to achieve all that every environment conscious person, whether standing alone or in group want. The 4°Centigrade warning by the World Bank has not really affected many.

Looking at the screen saver, my conscious mind wavering and disturbed slowly became tranquil. Just like the tranquillity of the waterfall, which although in continuous motion is unperturbed and in peace with itself and the surrounding it nourishes with life-giving water. And I thought of – Garbage !

Tons and tons of rubbish. So much garbage that the mind becomes numb, as opposed to tranquil. But why is it so ? After all it is we, who create the garbage not nature. Then why are we not at peace with it. Why is it that we cringe at the site of this man-made collection ?

The answer if we seek is simple. It is not natural. And what is not natural, Humans who after all are part of Nature can not co-relate to it. Garbage creation is unique to Human, no other animal species in its quest for daily existence creates garbage. There is a lesson to re-learn from this piece of information. A lesson Human, as it became more “advanced” forgot. We continue to destroy vast tracts of green scape. Whatever we touch ultimately turns into an ugly unholy mess. While we claim to be made as an image of the most holy, God himself.

Why do Humans generate waste ? And other animal species don’t? To understand this we must in simple terms understand the basics of Human nature. An intelligent social  ANIMAL. Somewhere deep in our genetic code, there could be an unconscious response mechanism which gravitates us towards the Lush Green Forests. The most primeval thought would be surely be that we co-relate forest with plentiful food and shelter ( as in our earlier avatar as Chimpanzee) within the tall shady trees.

And then our “intelligence” takes over and we build Concrete shelters and Plastic bowls to aid us in living and eating in comfort. And in the process we end up surrounding us with Garbage. Especially non Bio-degradable waste. If I be the judge of it, I would hand it over to the “Developed Nations” jointly in teaching all Nations around the World how to live a waste-full life .”Presentation” is everything. From decorating a food-plate to decorating oneself, the capacity to create waste is mind-boggling. And the “ambassadors” of wasteful living the “Fashionistas” & their followers need some lesson in frugality. And perhaps if they can be converted to consider frugality as a “trend”. The World would surely survive.

Go to any Fashion Event or Product Launch and see what I mean by waste. It is pure GHG. While the likes of us can never rub shoulders with the Who- is -Who (idiot) list; we are made part of the wasteful living too –

Garbage Island

Garbage Island

Just unpack your latest Mobile phone or Laptop. When was the last time we returned the packaging of our Super costly Pen or Watch back to the Company ? Did one really need the packet of the Pen which we would ultimately put in our shirt pocket or would stay in the pen stand on the writing desk. Rarely used in the era of Tablets ? And please see if you can find the package your tablet came in for that matter. There is a difference between “functional packing” for shipment and “decorative” packing. I point at the later. Our capacity to generate waste has become so huge that not only are we successfully able to deface pristine landscape we have even managed to pollute the mighty ocean. In fact I proudly add to it while unpacking my new Cell phone. First the cellophane, then the cardboard carton, which has highly toxic printed image of the phone within. And No ! I would not want the store to give me an unpacked one and neither would the store ask for the package to be shipped back; to be sent to the manufacturer for reuse. That dirty word. How can a rich upwardly mobile south Mumbai living personality like me do anything with “reuse”. It’s so offensive. In fact we laugh at people who refuse to send us enormous boutique of flowers, wrapped in cellophane and other decorative tit-bits, on any of our celebrations. That we promptly trash it post party and don’t have any clue what happens to it is another matter. After all I am a responsible Citizen minding my business!

https://i1.wp.com/envacapstone.wiki.usfca.edu/file/view/gpgpbackground.gif/66763595/gpgpbackground.gifWe have actually created an Island of waste The Great Pacific Ocean Garbage. And if things continue as usual probably the United Nation would have to declare a new Island state with the usual suspects laying sovereignty claims on it ! If one wants to enjoy the horror of it just tap the You Tube link in this blog’s video section – Grabage Island. And another link here. We also have added more Garbage into the ocean when the Tsunami struck Japan. And with the likes of Hurricane Sandy  & Nilam visiting America and Asia alike, we will only be adding to this garbage. That it is leading to toxicity of the sea to a dangerous level and affecting marine life is obvious. But what is not so evident is that what would be the long-term effect of this to the Climate Change ? Water currents and waves, wind and rain all form a complex chain of events initiated by the Sun. What is the change in reflective or absorption pattern of the Sun over the Ocean, polluted to such a vast area by filth? Will it be changing patterns in the weather ? Will the filth be sucked up in some giant Hurricane and carried within the vortex of the mega storm and dumped over some fine city ? The chances I would say are very likely. Just as likely is the breaking down of this enormous filth through chemical reaction into harmless and some very harmful toxics which would be and perhaps is causing some air & water-borne problem, which the powers that be are already aware of but not willing to discuss. Because, it’s the job of academicians to find the truth and hand it over to the politicians who by the default of who they are, add the spin & gloss to serve their narrow interest ( all politicians have ever wanted from the days of Pharaohs is to have a memorial in public land with public money when they die, civilization be dammed). It has always been true and will perhaps be till we as a civilization find the way to make Logic a religion and Politicians extinct.

But as my wishful thinking may not happen in my life-time, I would do what is available with me, suggest another simple Green Business Idea. My request to the academicians, climate scientists, NGO’s and the Peoples who love to live in this beautiful and Only Living Planet is to shake their respective governments and municipal agencies to adopt PYROLYSIS and this must happen in the UNFCCC Doha COP18. Although a very common process in the Chemical Industry and many large fully continuous pyrolysis plant are functioning, mostly recycling tyre, the potential which catches my eye are –

1. Biochar is also being considered for carbon sequestration, with the aim of mitigation of global warming.The solid, carbon-containing char produced can be sequestered in the ground, where it will remain for several hundred to a few thousand years.

2. Anhydrous pyrolysis can also be used to produce liquid fuel similar to diesel from plastic waste.

The ongoing Climate change negotiations at COP18 Doha, has the opportunity to change the tide towards sustainable living should the stake holders want. Of the many wonderful suggestions which get presented by many, my appeal to those who CAN make the difference on how we use our WORLD RESOURCES is to convince governments all over to encourage Pyrolysis plants as Micro,Small & Medium scale Industry. With especial emphasis on the Micro of the MSME basket.

The beauty of a Micro industry is that it would hire the rag-pickers, the scavengers. The most vulnerable and the economically weaker section of the Indian society. People with the most flexible back, as opposed to my stiff one which does not allow me to bend while walking the filthy streets of Mumbai and pick-up the rubbish strewn around my posh home and imported shiny car. Perhaps the recent comment – “While it may look inappropriate for me to be saying this, Mumbai should do something about the filth and squalour around,” said mayor of London Boris Johnson. Would shake up the Municipal corporations in doing something about the filth in earnest. While bio-degradable waste, is a menace too, barring the chance of causing Bubonic plague. Perhaps a good thing, as the city of Surat in Gujarat which suffered this last, is cleaner today. However, the root of the plague is recorded to have come form Wadwani tahsil, Beed district, Maharastra .

But the real change will come when we would add “value” to the filth especially plastic waste. There is evidence of this in Navsari near the city of Surat itself. A young girl had been able to create a small system spending hardly a few thousand rupee, which could convert 3kg of plastic waste to around 2 litre of liquid fuel. As per the girls claims, she had done this as a school project. If considered true, then it is one of the most fitting example of Women Empowerment and Climate Change abatement wrapped into one. And if supported by the GEF, a true CDM which actually benefits the Planet and the People as opposed to the what has happened in the 1st crediting period of the Kyoto Protocol.

PryolisisConsider, the vast possibilities, shop-keepers of Mumbai & rest of India, who think nothing of allowing their employees or clients from throwing the plastic wrapping and packaging right into the streets; Pan masala or “gutka” (tobacco) chewer ; would no more carelessly throw away the packets & sachet leading to clogged drain but hoard them to be sold to the pyrolysis industry. And the best part, with the tonnes of already stashed plastic the municipal corporations already own, they are almost sitting on an Oil Bank. And that is not the only thing that is produced via PYROLYSIS as is shown in the table above.

The Mumbai Municipal corporations can lead by example and clean-up the stench emanating local railway lines and city streets and in the process solve the humongous problem of fast depleting garbage dumping areas.

On 12th Nov DNA Newspaper an article by Eknath Makne readsEven as the city struggles to dispose 6,500 metric tonnes of waste generated daily, the civic body seems to be in no hurry to upgrade the dumping yards. Violation of municipal solid waste rules, 2000, has added to the stink. It’s high time the BMC pulled up its socks and citizens played an active role in ensuring a litter-free city….The MSW rules (management and handling), 2000, make it mandatory to segregate waste at source. The rules stress dumping of waste in stages like collection, transportation, processing and disposal. The rules were framed based on recommendations made by a panel appointed after a Supreme Court order in connection with 1994 plague epidemic in Surat…..In its 2012-13 budget tabled in March, the corporation had proposed to install 20,000 litter bins of 6.5 litre capacity each across 10,000 locations in city. But the plan will take a few more months to materialise…The municipal corporation’s apathy is seen in the piling garbage in parts of the city. The civic body is supposed to pick up waste from collection points thrice a day. The lack of adequate number of vehicles and compactors has posed hurdles, allowing garbage to accumulate. “Garbage is being picked up after every two days in our area only because we pursue it regularly,” said Nikhil Desai, a resident of King’s Circle. “If we don’t, it rots on the street for 15 days.”….The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has 650 vehicles to collect garbage and requires 300 more compactors. It has invited tenders for dumpers/vehicles to collect garbage from administrative wards. It expects to get the vehicles by June next year. Kanjurmarg yard is not the only example of mismanagement of solid waste in a city, which is growing by leaps and bounds. Lack of processing units waste has added to the poor management of the city’s solid waste. The promised bio-methanisation unit at Mulund dumping ground and composting plant at Deonar site was put it place. But without they being operational, it has added to the city’s garbage woes…..Activist Harischandra Pandey, a resident of Borivli, asserted that participation of the citizens was needed to attain the clean-city tag. “You can’t blame the BMC if you yourself are not adhering to norms,” he said.  Rajkumar Sharma, president of a Chembur-based Advanced Locality Management (ALM), too feels social audits are necessary for a proper execution of the clean-up plan.

While it is evident that Activists and the Municipal corporation are aware of the problem, the solution can not come unless it is converted into a tangible economic benefit for the Citizens. Once we add value to the garbage, it would be rare indeed, to see it going “waste”. In fact some enterprising Indian would find a way to collect all the rubbish out there in the The Great Pacific Ocean Garbage, by building a floating rig and starting producing “off-shore” PYROLYSIS oil ! And as for the bio-degradable waste ? Well we surely can be producing enough methane gas to pipe it for good use somewhere.

It is not enough for us to think in terms of Business as Usual and scale things up. What is important is to find proven technology and scale them down so that the 6 Billion become direct users. Now to me that is large-scale.

 

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Sustainable Living and Climate Initiative: Socio-Political Decisions can have a profound effect on it.


When God made Earth – He made night & day. When Man made the machine he created the Day-shift and the Night shift.

The 2009 Sustainable Living Expo in Stonnington.

The 2009 Sustainable Living Expo in Stonnington. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Both created – one was brilliant, the other apparently not so bright. For the human , it has taken centuries to understand that several methods it has adopted for Living is simply not Sustainable. And that is the bottom line – Sustainable Living ! Whether we remind ourselves or not, the primeval instinct to live – eat – be healthy – survive – procreate & protect;  is the only thing we humans have pursued, the methods however, have refined since our cave dwelling days but not necessarily in the right direction.

image courtesy :farm4.staticflickr.com

One good solution that is now being  advocated is  called “Biomimicry” meaning – do what nature does ! It is gaining some traction but sometime with a fundamental flaw – it is unnatural to mimic what is natural in the first place.(  some people are using the pretext of this beautiful concept to legitimise what is fundamentally flawed to begin with) So when we say we are attempting to fly;  humans are not born with the ability to fly; so the air-plane we create for that attempt, and name it biomimicry would itself be unnatural. What the original exponents of “Biomimicry” must have wanted; before it became commercial  & thus bastardized; was simple – all our attempt to live this blessed modern life should be minimalistic when it impacts Nature. To design ways and means to harness natures ingenuity and create through inspired design where possible, machines or habitats with low environmental impact.

But to begin scaling this concept, human must get back to sync with nature once again. Coming back to my opening lines – when we created the 24 x 7 x 365  work culture, we received bountiful results, because Nature had the stock in reserve. Being puny in scale, we thought the supply to be infinite, just like an ant would when entering a jar full of cookies. And in the process created trends and culture which now is becoming difficult to sustain. A glaring example is Europe where austerity measures are being met with hostility.

During the bountiful era, the socio-political environment was that of smug comfort. Standing atop lofty balconies, leaders of the past had the far-sight to see the populace applaud each populist decree made. Sometime as indulgence of a rich parent or out of genuine concern but never without a trace of self aggrandisement were the policies made. And self aggrandisement makes one chose far-sight over foresight. And in India, unfortunately we see this most of the time, the recent reference link to it would be found in my Earth Day article.

Survival of the fittest. It can be argued that, the Human species chose to differ from the rest by having the ability to take care of the weak. That is what separates us from the rest of the species. And here again I would like to point to Biomimicry and show that following the laws of Nature is the best way to do so and not the process we have adopted, for it is a short time solution.

If you just take just one example from many, say the squirrel, you would see that it is social, lives in a community and also takes care of its young and weak. But, all need to forage for their food!  That is something our leaders of the present can model their future policies into. Animals don’t have the concept of dole, free health policy, or even vacation for that matter ! Let us for the sake of argument model a concept thus –

Say, a Nation decides that everybody needs to earn their keep. Every employable person shall have to mandatory  stock up reserve, just like ants do. For, heath benefits by law one must buy health insurance. For food security by law one must make a savings policy.

For the unemployable, the word itself is a misnomer. Say we have a few 1000 doctors who have not got jobs, they line up for dole. Yet there are 1500 post vacant in the constabulary. There can only be two reasons for a doctor for not getting a job. Either s/he is not up to the mark or the post are full. So, let the employment exchange direct them to join the police while a suitable post for their qualification gets vacant. And who knows a good thing may come out of that, imagine a highway car accident where the police have reached before the paramedics, having knowledge in medicine could save a life . One must take up a job. No choice by law to remain idle.

Let them earn their keep. Stock up reserve, not become lax and lackadaisical or become a social out-cast because of not having a job. ‘An idle mind is the devils work-shop’ – a quote from time immemorial.

Emblem of the United Nations. Color is #d69d36...

Emblem of the United Nations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There may arise a situation where there are more IT-graduates than companies to hire them in a Country. Short-term exchange programs can be created among member countries to lend professional of one field and take mechanics in exchange if so they need. The World today is a village and United Nations we are! ( at least in theory and in the figment of my imagination.)

Yet there would be some, the old & the infirm, who try as they might will not get a job. That is when their beloved Mother land, governed by able leaders with foresight must engulf them in loving Care! And in the long run even during times of austerity manage to hold on to these social programs, simply because it would be smaller in number and thus sustainable.

Surely  it would take time and hard choices need to be made today, to revise and adjust and calibrate the concept into a near perfect one. One which truly merges the best of  Democracy with Socialism without the pitfalls of communism and crony capitalism. Like the populist and sometime ill conceived development programs be it infrastructure or social. Which some time create haves and have nots.

So where does Climate initiative figure in this? one might ask. Again one needs to look into Biomimicry. Everything in Nature grows in its own pace. Nothing happens overnight. Yet Humans try to achieve just that – Success, Wealth, Power et al. So they work 18hrs a day instead of 8. A tired body effects the mind in many ways. Artificial simulation to beat the fatigue and the competing companion takes the human to the very edges of danger, which every religion preaches not to practice – Ego, Greed and Anger.

These vices make human take decisions which have long term impact on the climate. They build hydro-dams in the guise of harvesting power, whereas in reality its the water they want to control and deny prosperity to its neighbouring Country. In the process, they damage their own local eco-system which other-wise would have sustained their Peoples and perhaps help in food security in the future. Or they venture into the fragile Ocean beds (which most understand very little, and those who do, would eventually get sidelined by the political and MBA masters they work for ) in search of power source, when the Waves , Wind & their maker the Sun provides it in abundance. They are the trinity of eternal energy source, which man-kind would never be able to exhaust.

Image Courtesy: http://www.examiner.com

The modern society World over must think of biomimiking a tree. Growing slowly yet surely while standing still in its own place, the tree finds sustenance for hundreds of years without encroaching on others . A jungle is nothing but a crowd, yet they thrive. Mostly by symbiosis. It is almost permanently renewable.

Perhaps it is time for the social scientist to take centre stage and steer the politics in a manner the science of sustainable living dictates.

 
 

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Green Business Ideas: Solar Panels can save water in the fields for farmers.


In India, Dehydrated Fruits & Vegetables is nothing new, as I found in the link attached and one can even do this at home in the Western nations too.  But the first thing you will hear a fruit and vegetable vendor shout at the top of his voice in the dusty Indian Bazaars is how fresh his produce are. And in the cities too, wives go early to the mall called “Big Bazzar” every Wednesday because fresh fruit and vegetables are stocked up that day. In fact, it is sold a little cheaper. A smart move, because more would be sold  thus reducing the storage space and rotting, both of which otherwise is a loss to the company.

So, we buy fresh fruits & vegetables and what is the first thing we do? We chop the vegetables with great love and affection and prepare that special dish the “famous chef” prepared on TV for us. Following the instructions to the letter, we stir-fry or boil the vegetable and let it – “simmer in low-heat, so as to cook in its own juice, and once all the water is dried up, stir it some more and then add salt to taste, and the add some water, let it come to boil and voila, the super dish is ready!

In one sentence, most Indian cooking involves dehydrating the vegetables in the process of cooking and then adding water to make the curry.

Dehydrating means, as you all know; removing water from the produce. So why do we need to buy fresh produce ? Which contain a lot of water, when almost always we will in the process of cooking evaporate it away?

Imagine, we are more than a Billion in population, who empirically speaking cook our vegetables to make a variety of dishes but with more or less the similar process of evaporating the water away!

WATER – the United Nation has a whole department of intelligent people, striving along with World Leaders in high – powered conferences in air-conditioned halls, as to how its scarcity can be tackled !

WATER – Droughts and its aftermath, recorded by those award winning media anchors, in its full gory detail – we watch in horror and pain, clutching our Mineral water bottle a little tighter and rationing our sip !

WATER – On which books have been written, which we rush to buy during a Champagne & Cheese cocktail, reading event by the authors, who warns in their books that water scarcity may cause World War -III  !

WATER – The lack of which kills a farmer with regular monotony in the Country I live while I follow all the other three above  mentioned water related actions!

It is time WE leave the water in the fields when we buy our Vegetables & Fruits.

What I fail to understand is when the Country and the World is already having a very mature understanding of Dehydrated food, why then this is not percolating down to the grass-roots! While I do understand that Sociology is not an easy science and removing barriers are time-consuming,I have yet to see CNN, BBC, NDTV, Times Now TV and host of other regional News channel cover this topic on their very popular talk shows – every month. Documentaries of course once in a while do come. But the responsibility lies more with the regional News channels.

I can only propose a Green Business Idea which may perhaps benefit all.

What is essential is to connect the dots between seemingly diverse fields and giving them a common approach.

1. The UN must during the Rio+20 propose to the member nations to devise a format wherein tax rebates would be given to all who could show that they have used at least 30% of their vegetable prepared with dehydrated  form of the same. This will be both an incentive to lower mental barriers and a process of mild cajoling and not draconian law, before such laws become necessary for some Countries in the future.

2. Popular Hollywood & Indian main-stream cinema must show use and consumption, to make it fashionable. It’s the rich, who throw food away. Stand in the alley of any big Hotel and you will be amazed at the amount wasted. While, I’m not here to advocate good eating habits to adults, who should know better; at-least lets not throw out the Water ! And by the way the freshest and juiciest of fruits & vegetables can be found in these Hotel kitchens.

The people at grass-root level are the biggest market for any idea. And just like the grass  they always like to move upwards. Seeing their “heroes” endorsing dehydrated food could lead a multitude to follow. ( the income tax rebate is the real reason, but I have a middle class mentality – I need an excuse which is stylish ! )

3. Traditional SUN dried fruits and vegetables are super, but let that be for the – oh ! so rich. Us common people would be happy if it is offered to us packed and SOLAR dried.

Yep, all those solar panel manufactures and business persons, its time your creative team bombards the TV boxes with advertisement on how Solar dried fruits and vegetables can save the World form a climate crisis. You could always share your expenses with the dehydrated food industry, which would surely benefit from such advertisement too. Add this and promote this to the many other ideas on solar I have written in this blog. But this idea makes me the most happy.

In fact the SUN would be providing -Water! No farmer, no child in India or Africa or anywhere else would need to die, due to thirst. No, forest would turn dry and the birds and bees would sing as the always did, before man-made actions parched their paradise.

Its time the Rain Forest nation gives out the call; a green business idea on the road to Rio+20 !

 

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An agenda for Agenda 21


United Nations Decade of Education for Sustain...

2005 -2014 is  the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development  and Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment. The Green Economy Report,  published in late 2010, uses economic analysis and modelling  approaches to demonstrate that greening the economy across a range of sectors can drive economic recovery and growth and lead to future prosperity and job creation,

while at the same time addressing social inequalities and environmental challenges.” 
Wow! we were given 10 years to make money while “Greening” the planet. As the Americans would say lets earn some “green bucks”! But look what happened. We have entered mid 2011 and hardly anyone knows about it. 
This situation is both good and bad depending from which angel you are looking at it. The Bad is that with 13,00000 hectares of forest being decimated every year which compounds to the already strained situation of water which can only feed only 60% of the total population by say 2020, the risk to anyone’s long-term business goal looks grim.
But hey! as hardly anyone knows about the helping hand UNEP is providing to help stave off the disaster the goods in the shelf are full. And that I think many would agree; to be the Good news. 
What needs to be done, speaking strictly from my professional point is get into the groove of a “Green Building Consultant”. All of you young Architects/ Interior designer who have just passed out of college and still have the fire in your belly to prove a point to the world – here’s your chance.

Integrated City is the buzzword and a “Climate Resilient City” more so. Almost all business are looking at risk aversion and even the once boring EHS [environment health & safety] department would yield great career opportunities. 


Related articles
 

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What is Agenda 21


The environmental movement might be said to have begun centuries ago as a response to industrialization. As universal concern about the healthy and sustainable use of the planet and its resources continued to grow, the UN, in 1972, convened the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, in Stockholm.

Picking up on the energy generated by the Conference, the General Assembly, in December 1972, established the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which leads the efforts of the United Nations family on behalf of the global environment.  Its current priorities are environmental aspects of disasters and conflicts, ecosystem management, environmental governance, harmful substances, resource efficiency, and climate change.
In 1988, UNEP and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) came together to create the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has become the pre-eminent global source for scientific information relating to climate change.  The main international instrument on this subject, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was adopted in 1992.  And its Kyoto Protocol, which sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, was adopted in 1997.
In 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development was held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 26 August to 4 September 2002, to take stock of achievements, challenges and new issues arising since the 1992 Earth Summit. It was an “implementation” Summit, designed to turn the goals, promises and commitments of Agenda 21 into concrete, tangible actions.
2005 -2014 is  the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development  and Agenda 21 is a comprehensive plan of action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organizations of the United Nations System, Governments, and Major Groups in every area in which human impacts on the environment.
The Green Economy Report, to be published in late 2010, uses economic analysis and modeling  approaches to demonstrate that greening the economy across a range of sectors can drive economic recovery and growth and lead to future prosperity and job creation, while at the same time addressing social inequalities and environmental challenges. Supported by UNEP’s expert guidance, countries can make sound policy, technology, and investment choices that reduce emissions and drive sustainable social and economic development. From assisting in the deployment and scaling up of cutting-edge clean technologies to helping remove financial and other barriers to transforming energy generation, UNEP helps developing countries to capitalize on the transition to the Green Economy.
Over the last quarter of a century, the world economy has quadrupled, benefiting hundreds of millions of people. In contrast, however, 60% of the world’s major ecosystem goods and services that underpin livelihoods have been degraded or used unsustainably. Indeed, this is because the economic growth of recent decades has been accomplished mainly through drawing down natural resources, without allowing stocks to regenerate, and through allowing widespread ecosystem degradation and loss.
For instance, today only 20% of commercial fish stocks, mostly of low priced species, are underexploited, 52% are fully exploited with no further room for expansion, about 20% are overexploited and 8% are depleted. Water is becoming scarce and water stress is projected to increase with water supply satisfying only 60% of world demand in 20 years; agriculture saw increasing yields primarily due to the use of chemical fertilizers, which have reduced soil quality and failed to curb the growing trend of deforestation – remaining at 13 million hectares  of forest per year in 1990-2005. Ecological scarcities are therefore seriously affecting the entire gamut of economic sectors, which are the bedrock of human food supply (fisheries, agriculture, freshwater, forestry) and a critical source of livelihoods for the poor. And ecological scarcity and social inequity are definitional signatures of an economy which is very far from being “green”.
Meanwhile, for the first time in history, more than half of the world population lives in urban areas. Cities now account for 75% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions. Rising and related problems of congestion, pollution, and poorly provisioned services affect the productivity and health of all, but fall particularly hard on the urban poor. With approximately 50% of the global population now living in emerging economies that are rapidly urbanizing and will experience rising income and purchasing power over the next years – and a tremendous expansion in urban infrastructure – the need for smart city planning is paramount.
Note: This article has been created from various UN publications.
 

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