RSS

Tag Archives: United States

Climate Noble; a dummies guide to win the


TNT- A PEACE LOVING KILLING EQUIPMENT

Use of T. N. T., a war-salvaged explosive, for peace-time purposes

At the backdrop of heightened threat from the terrorist attack, we as a human race must pause to understand if the direction we have been taking is the right one.

Every step the human civilization has been taking as different subsets have always brought havoc to some while the others have profited.

Peace can not come from the barrel of a gun and this can’t be better underscored than by looking at how we as a collective perceive what is wrong and what is right.

The greatest irony in modern world era is the concept of the Nobel peace prize. Derived from a means which by default was destructive to begin with.

To the younger generation who are not well versed about it – a short brief on Noble is below.

Alfred Nobel’s will prescribed that the Peace Prize was to be awarded by a committee of five persons chosen by the Norwegian Parliament (Storting) and should go to the person who accomplished “the most or the best work for fraternity among nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the promotion of peace congresses.”(read).

While the World today reverberates to the boom of TNT or rather the newer versions and variants, lets try and find a solution form such an Irony !

And award the Noble for a much more nobler purpose like saving the Planet through sustainable practices ?

Are we going to continue with the never ending cycle of retribution, confusing that with punishment (which essentially differs from retribution) and make the world a much more dangerous place, with bombs flying around the restive Middle eastern & Mediterranean region while World Leaders congegrate to find solution to prevent global warming!

Will the United Nations CoP 21 in Paris also blow up into thin air ?

Will we find someone, a statesman perhaps who would come up with an idea which would be less bombastic and more real ? Who will win the race to win the Climate Noble ? And actually be able to link Global Warming – Food & Water Scarcity and Disease – War and Riots together and be able to unite all the Nations of United Nations to act on an everlasting sustainable solution, devoid of devious politics and personal profit.

1. Barack Obama ?

2. Xi Jinping ?

3. Vladimir Putin ?

Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi could also be the answer.

Why?

Because he lends his ear to those who have chosen him to govern. At least till now, it can be safely assumed so.

(Why else would his Google+ account add an Aam Admi like me? and many of my kind.)

Before being accused of bias, lets agree that many an Indian both in India and Abroad are “fan” of his forward thinking ideas on good governance and development agenda.

Failing which the fans would stop revolving around him.

I wish him the best for showcasing India at Wembley stadium yesterday and really hope to see the Winter Session of Indian Parliament working towards making strong and implementable laws to abate climate change.

But working towards winning a Noble would be a win for India’s contribution in abatement of Climate Change and Global Warming. And India must lead the way. Should it also choose to grow as it wants as an Economic Power. Ecology must be given priority, without losing focus on Sustainable development.

For the last 20 CoP’s we have heard what other Nations want. Now its time we Unite the Nations! As was the call given beside the rostrum containing the green marble desk. And who else but Shri Modi has the guts and the gumption to do so.

Below are some ideas which may or may not have International resonance, but it is definitely India centric.But as India is presently the “darling” nation to fêté with presently; its green solutions may perhaps save the world.

Let us begin with RE solutions, especially making roof-top Solar PV mandatory in Indian Cities. More so in the Megalopolis and the Tier-I Cities.

Irrespective of size of roof. Let all the roofs be installed with solar within each city, we can use any business model as long as the power is directly evacuated to the smart grid and consumed within the city. Extra power can go to the peri-urban areas or industry. This way we ensure gradual withdrawal from fossil fuel based power and at the same time do not cripple critical functions with use of still adolescent RE solutions. And at the same time climb down perhaps in a shorter time frame from being the 13 most worst polluted cities in the World. And while we are at it a few more suggestions for the Cites before we even attempt of calling the race for Smart Cities design and implementation –

आवाज़ कम करो – We in India are a population of 1.25 Billion people. Even our whisper can actually become a din. While it would be a little difficult to throttle throats to keep the voices down, we could actually do two much more simpler things. As sustainability in inclusive of many things, not just energy and water.

1. Ban Loud Speakers, in-fact we can surely limit at the manufacturers end, the PMPO (peak music power output) to what is as per regulations. Extremely loud speaker would require a special licence, as we do in India for guns. And user has to apply to Magistrate office to get one. And this licence would only be valid for a season or purpose specified,

2. Regulate the Auto-mobile horn, a simple governor which kills the horn post 1000 use and can only be activated on-line by paying a fee not less than Rupee 2000, would surely quiet down the cities of India.

Along with reducing the noise pollution let’s get Reva by Mahindra & Mahindra on the city roads. Make that and similar auto-mobiles the only vehicles which can ply on Indian city roads. And for once let the corporates get their act together. Our children need their lungs which can’t be compared to a profit bar graph. Or stop celebrating Childrens day on November the 14th every year. And turn it into a day when we count how many of our future generations lives will be short-lived and terribly challenged due to lung diseases.

This December all the world leaders and many more would converge on Paris for CoP21 of UNFCCC. Almost all would be flying. Then taking bullet proof cars, which guzzles fossil fuel like a battle tank, board up in 7 star fully air-conditioned hotels and converge within fully air-conditioned and well-lit auditoriums.

To talk about Climate Change & Global Warming !

What our PM and his entourage could perhaps do is tell the packed crowd as how on his next visit our PM could fly in an aircraft which would be powered partly by wind turbines.

Yes wind turbines !

We all know that a commercial airliner flies at a minimum speed of 875KM/hour which is around 543Miles/hour. A turbine which generates say 10KW requires a wind speed of 25 Mph. So one can hopefully do the mathematics of what a 543mph wind speed can generate.

Ram Air turbines

Air-plane wings typically have two jet engine and the jumbo have 4. If we can replace or modify the jet engine into a hybrid system which can generate power both when the turbine is fired to rotate via use of a combustion engine or simply utilizing the very high rotation,which would come with the spinning of the blades at such high-speed, to charge up the dynamos which could at-least provide with auxiliary power during cruise speed.

The idea which I always propagate is – never try to invent the wheel. The guy who did it was smart. And I am not smart. So I believe in adaptation.

The image shows a wind turbine named “Ram Air Turbines”. The most appropriate name given by the inventors, who I am sure would be welcomed with open arms and a very very warm welcome in India by the present Government.

After all Lord Ram was an Indian and the beloved of BJP !

Coming back to the point, it more or less works as an emergency power backup during landing and essentially used in small planes for opening their landing gear.

What I want to say is that the idea is not new and the technology is also understood. But no  commercial jet aircraft can have small turbines protruding out of its fuselage, the drag would be enormous.

But adapting it, what we Indians call “Jugaad” is another thing. And I must humbly request my government to consider it as an idea which our scientist must explore.

True the World is already thinking about solutions such as these, but it is not about thinking but doing it and putting it out in the market before others do, That is what business is all about. And we need to also follow the clarion call of “Make in India”.

And as a Nation we must find the right atmosphere to inculcate the idea of start-ups in all filed not just software, which we have already championed. And going gaga over E-commerce is also not something to be too excited about. With no intent to insult or hurt any sentiment, portals are nothing but modern day shops and its owners shopkeepers.

The Airbus E-Fan Prototype Electric Aircraft

We need inventors and innovators to tackle global warming and bring about sustainability in business. The Electric Aircraft shown above proves that we already have competition.Parallel to this aerodynamic designs are already being looked into to make aircraft have one single body.

So India must come forward and think of how it can really challenge the world and become the seller of sustainability rather than buyer, which is what the current drift of the matter is.

We must think from our position of strength.And build upon it.

A couple of MIT engineers research on electricity generation and land use, estimates that solar power to produce 100% of world electricity generation would require 5,500,000,000,000 square meters (5.5 x 10^12 m^2). (link to original page). While the authors of the article love Nuclear, I would humbly ask them to wait till they can give us Fusion instead of the present day Fission technology.

World wars have been fought and are still being fought to capture or retain a piece of land mass. Unless we start to think of innovations and utilize the Reuse & Recycle policy, we will be seriously challenged in the near future on finding enough surface to utilize the abundant Solar Power. And by the way Sun’s power is pure Fusion technology without using Fission as a “trigger”.

My second suggestion or idea would be for India to have the airborne wind turbines off-shore and near the Indian sea ports, tethered to old ships which otherwise are sent to the scrap yards.

Eco Marine Power Developing Solar Sails to Power Ships

Many of the oil tankers can be used to make floating power stations which can be equipped with a combination of wind turbines and Solar PV, (CSP?) which would provide enough power to be utilized by the docked ships as auxiliary power thus saving a lot of fossil fuel from burning and creating more GHG. While Eco Marine Power of Japan and many such companies are already adapting the idea into their operational ships. If we truly want to use the wind-solar hybrid and also make a sustainable business out of it, we must allow the long coast line of India to dock off-shore ships or barges which are at their end of life and use them as floating platforms to generate power.

This would not only help India but one or few more contentious issue can also to some extent be solved by utilizing the ships.

For example the empty hulls can be modified to become soft-drink factories, where they are privately owned and they create their huge requirement of water right from the sea utilizing the solar for desalination ! Before we can finally shift our industries to the Moon. [Green Business Ideas : How about taking the polluting industries to Moon ?] which may just be possible if we can stop and save enough money which we spend on creating war machines which mostly get mothballed because hardly any Nation has the will and energy to wage another world war for conquest ! Those days are thankfully over.

Its time we conquer the 2°Centigrade Warming of the World.

 

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

Smart City – Choosing between a Planned Development & a Development Plan.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, on his 3 Nations tour is bringing once more the Nation into the World focus, therefore sooner than later the World economies would come. Especially to build those 100 Smart Cities. For that is a lot of money and a lot of business. But before that happens, it is important that the Common Man, as we like to call ourselves in India get to know the pros and cons of building ourselves more concrete jungle, in our quest to be called “developed”.

A City is a complex mix of building and infrastructure. But the most important component of a City is the Citizens. Devoid of it, many a Great City has perished & the Civilisation the city harboured followed suit. It is therefore imperative that we strive towards more Climate Resilient Cities, because the Climate is changing. And with every Epoch of Climate Change, Extinction follows!

As per the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, The building sector contributes up to 30% of global annual green house gas emissions and consumes up to 40% of all energy. Given the massive growth in new construction in economies in transition, and the inefficiencies of existing building stock worldwide, if nothing is done, greenhouse gas emissions from buildings will more than double in the next 20 years. Therefore, if targets for GHG reduction are to be met, it is clear that decision-makers must tackle emissions from the building sector. Mitigation of Green House Gas emissions from buildings must be a cornerstone of every National Climate Change strategy. (UNEP DTIE; Sustainable Consumption & Production Branch.)

According to the 2011 India Census, there are about 30 crore houses in the country. The census defines a house as a building or part of a building having a separate entrance from a road, common courtyard, stairs and so on. About 71% were occupied while 7.5% were vacant. In the cities of India 136 lakh homes were vacant. While 111 lakh rural homes were found empty. The above data would be read as a statistical roll out for the untrained eye, but for those who choose to care it shows how “development” as we call it is becoming lopsided. The simple reason being that while of the 136,000,00 homes lying vacant in Urban centres most would be due to following reasons.

1. Occupants were living in an alternate abode within the city or in some other city around the world.

2. It was an “investment” in Real Estate.

3. It was unsold Real Estate inventory.

And if one would delve deep into the reason of empty homes in villages the compelling reason would be that the villager was trying to eke out a living in the concrete jungle we so lovingly call a City.

But very soon, it would perhaps be the city dwellers who would be gasping for the breath of life, if changes which are important and urgent are not addressed by all stake holders.

This article would try and connect unseeingly disparate dots together to create a debate in the minds of the readers to look at events that take place in a more holistic manner to arrive at better building solutions for a Smart City.

We shall look into the reasons as to why Energy Efficient Buildings (EEB) which have the best of Energy Efficiency Measures (EEM) requires to be built in accordance to a mandatory legislation. For today “Green” buildings as we like to call them are not mandatory. And most being built are nothing but a “Green-Wash”. Either due to ignorance or avarice. We shall through this article build up bit by bit why we must look at solutions to build wise. Development is a necessity and it can not be stopped. But it can definitely be made more responsive and in sync with Nature. To do that this article shall dwell on two parts – 1. what a green building actually is and 2. how it can build climate resilient cities.

Not everyone understand why the term “Green Building” is used as an epithet for Energy Efficient Buildings. Therefore lets understand it in layman terms. Experts are excused from reading further.

1. What is Green Building?

A building which during its construction and occupancy, if by utilizing the best of construction methods and practices follow the principle of Reduce – Reuse – Renew – Recycle – Refuse; can be termed as a Green Building.

Reduce –

The building industry is the single largest consumer of all the industrial sectors. A building consumes Steel, Iron, Aluminium, Copper, Nickel, Tin, Cobalt & Various rare earth materials. It uses wires, paints, varnishes which need to be mined. Forest extracts not only means logged wood but with destruction of forests, wild-life too dies. Thus from paper to petroleum, textile to leather; there is almost everything even the mountains themselves, cut into slabs to adorn the floors of the house. Destruction is the first and foremost process of building a modern Building.

By reduction of use in construction materials through efficient design and construction practice; virgin materials need to be extracted less. This helps in retaining the “Green Cover” of the as yet unexplored mines for Ore or Coal. Or building and/or upgrading of existing Hydro-power plants or deep-sea Oil wells. The former inundates vast swats of lush green forest cover, and also most of the time the homes of the city pavement dwellers, who were perhaps proud farmers eking out an honest living and most importantly producing something which no city dweller can ever do – GROW FOOD !

Before the rising backwaters of the dams flooded their homes and sank their hopes for ever.

If one has ever seen a picture of an oil spill on the sea and the associated dead sea-life nothing more needs to be added beyond reminding that with every Kilo-Watt of power produced in India via Thermal (oil or coal fired) power plants; one can in a simplistic calculation consider use of 1Kg or Coal and 1 litre of water to produce the same. The Coal is ripped form the bosom of Earth by a tear called open-cast mining; with rips out every tree & grassland. Destroying the homes of burrowed animals like rabbits and proud tigers alike. In its wake it leaves a slush which contaminates the rivers, which slowly die. Both from reduced rain-fall as well as silt.

While the burning coal creates Green House Gas emissions, the likes of which today plague Indian cities. With every bit of reduction a construction engineer brings into a building project. Sustainability of life continues.

Reuse

By utilizing existing construction materials, through a complete supply chain recycling process and most amazingly by utilizing existing best designs! Yes designs. If one but pauses by any modern township or towers being built around any of the Indian Cities, one would find either flats, row-houses, bungalows of almost the same dimension and shape being built within that very project.

Simply put, a residential tower is nothing but stacking of row-houses horizontally and vertically; with services areas thrown-in. Thus almost everyone is having an identical house, made into an unique home by the way its is lived in! If a developer-builder company, utilizing a little more imagination beyond being swayed by Occidental designs and obscene RoI; could cash in on registering a few best designs and keep building them. It would then be promoting its very own “Signature” Style.

With each new building being built, the design and construction team would be able to keep raising the bar of excellence! For even if a design is the same, each project would throw in its own unique challenges and tweaks would have to be incorporated. But on the flip side the Master Material Sheet would become leaner and better. Design print-outs would be minimized as many details would still be relevant, within the old set of drawings from an earlier project.

Thus by the simple act of Reuse; a building and construction Industry can save life on Earth even while generating financial wealth for itself.

Renew –

The money saved thus could be utilized to buy the E-Paper Printers. Electronic paper, e-paper and electronic ink are display technologies which are designed to mimic the appearance of ordinary ink on paper. Unlike conventional backlit flat panel displays which emit light, electronic paper displays reflect light like ordinary paper. Many of the technologies can hold static text and images indefinitely without using electricity, while allowing images to be changed later. Flexible electronic paper uses plastic substrates and plastic electronics for the display backplane. This in effect would spur growth and business of a different dimension, while help check the destruction of virgin forests. To start with, about a half of the forests that once covered the earth are gone. Every year, another 13 million hectares disappear (although afforestation adds another eight back), and the World Resources Institute (WRI) estimates that only about 22 percent of the world’s old growth forests remain intact. The activities of the pulp and paper sector threaten the habitats of several rare wildlife species such as Asian big cats (including tigers), Asian elephant, Asian rhinos, and Orangutans. The remaining natural forests in Sumatra, Borneo, New Guinea, Russian Far East, Southern Chile and the Atlantic forest region in Brazil are endangered because of growing demand for pulpwood, among other threats. Forests also maintain the world’s abundant biodiversity, essential for life on Earth.

Renewal of life by the simple act of saving forest.

Recycle –

While it sure looks fashionable when a debonair man and a pretty woman tango together to break and destroy all that was a fully functional home around a tap ! (an advertisement by a tap company)

Unfortunately in India, the one that is destroyed and the one that gets built around the famous tap, the décor are “inspired” western designs. Thus near zero in climate responsiveness. The only message its sends out is how to induce further pollution. This unfortunately is the reflection the psychology of the society today. The best of practice would be to become more Oriental than Occidental.

The former is application of mind over matter. The latter is always mindless destruction of everything intelligent and vernacular. Especially in the Oriental context. The deep rooted culture of India has traditionally been towards conservation and recycling. An heirloom gifted to the daughter, the priceless Silk Sari handed down with pride and care. The feeling of pride to sit on the rocking chair which once belonged to the grandfather, when one himself becomes the grandfather. To use left-over of a dinner to cook a tasty & healthy breakfast. To live for generations in a house built by the ancestor. T

he sense of belonging and pride which has slowly but surely crumbled. Leaving the average Indian city dweller confused by the constant pull and push of cross-culture and time. Having forgotten that it is this disconnect from one’s own culture which is the root cause of Global Warming. Mythology are replete with examples of Man-Animal, Man-Plant co-existence. The Kamdhenu, The Kalpa Vriksha both are giver of plenty. A simple yet profound example set by our ancestors that without the trees and animals, humans can’t have their wish fulfilled. Culminating with the supreme example of Rama -Hunmana relationship. A synergy between Man-Animal, both considered as God themselves.

While modern building can be built and are being built from recycled materials as it has started making more economic sense, much still needs to be done when Interiors are designed. A commercial space be a hotel or hospital have constant wear & tear. Renovation is a must. But by allowing intelligence to dictate the norm rather than trend could save lots of money. A corporate bosses Burma teak wood table could be modified to be a receptionists desk, while the old reception table could go into making the internals of storage shelve. The high VoC which most of the adhesives and glues and paints carry, reduce in emitting their noxious fumes as they get older. It is best therefore to retain old furniture, as it is healthier.

The simple act of Recycling not only insures immediate health benefits, the forest remaining intact insures fresh oxygen keeps getting produced to sustain life.

Refuse –

Not many know that in the deep Pacific Ocean there lies a plastic garbage patch. Estimates of size range from 700,000 square kilometers (270,000 sq mi) (about the size of Texas) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch formed gradually as a result of ocean or marine pollution gathered by oceanic currents. The garbage patch occupies a large and relatively stationary region of the North Pacific Ocean bound by the North Pacific Gyre (a remote area commonly referred to as the horse latitudes). The gyre’s rotational pattern draws in waste material from across the North Pacific Ocean, including coastal waters off North America and Japan.

As material is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move floating debris toward the centre, trapping it in the region. The primary source of marine debris is the improper waste disposal or management of trash and manufacturing products, including plastics (e.g., littering, illegal dumping) … Debris is generated on land at marinas, ports, rivers, harbour, docks, and storm drains. Debris is generated at sea from fishing vessels, stationary platforms and cargo ships. Pollutants range in size from abandoned fishing nets to micro-pellets used in abrasive cleaners. Unlike organic debris, which biodegrades, the photo-degraded plastic disintegrates into ever smaller pieces while remaining a polymer. This process continues down to the molecular level. As it disintegrates, the plastic ultimately becomes small enough to be ingested by aquatic organisms that reside near the ocean’s surface. In this way, plastic may become concentrated in neuston, thereby entering the food chain.

Some of these long-lasting plastics end up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals & fish, many of these fish are then consumed by humans, resulting in their ingestion of toxic chemicals. Besides the particles’ danger to wildlife, on the microscopic level the floating debris can absorb organic pollutants from seawater, including PCBs, DDT, and PAHs. Aside from toxic effects, when ingested, some of these are mistaken by the endocrine system as estradiol, causing hormone disruption in the affected animal. (Text edited from Wikipedia).

When residential or commercial society post occupancy, refuse using of plastic and utilize proper waste disposal. Refuse application of polymer paint to their furniture or are careful when the materials are being used during interiors, they are saving the environment from degrading further. It would be good to remember that the salt we eat needs to be made out of drying out sea water. Humans already have plastic flowing in their blood stream, by refusing and limiting the use of plastic and other toxic materials into their building pre and post occupancy. One would be perhaps saving their own life.

The above 5-R’s constitute a “Green Building”. And thus by building or buying into one, every person contributes in doing his/her bit in saving the Environment.

2. What is a Climate Resilient City?

The United States of America have the following Climatic Zones – Tundra, Sub Arctic, Highlands, Continental Humid, Mediterranean, Marine West Coast, Desert, Steppe. The Europe has the Following Climatic Zones – Tundra, Sub Arctic, Highlands, Continental Humid, Mediterranean, Marine West Coast, Desert, Steppe.

The Sub Continent of India has the following – Highland, Humid Sub-Tropical, Tropical Wet and Dry, Arid, Semi –Arid, Tropical West.

If one goes for a tour of the Europe and North America one would find buildings built in accordance to their climatic conditions. Thus their City skyline too looks more or less the same.

The skyline of Indian cities also match and feel like any European or American city.Even though we don’t come anywhere close to their climatic conditions. Nowhere in the west would one find a copy of the Indian vernacular architecture. We on the other hand also feel proud to not have a single building designed as per Indian Architecture.

The swanky glass encased building in the long cold winter months, in the American & European countries help trap whatever sunlight available, causing a green house effect within the building. It helps in enhancing the warmth the Air-Conditioners create. Saving precious energy and fuel. With hardly 80+ days of Sunshine it is a smart thing to do in Europe.

Most SME business, in the equally swanky glass encased commercial buildings & shopping malls of India close down within the 5 years of operation as the 200+ days of Sunshine requires the Air-Conditioners to constantly hum in its effort to cool the building, while people sweat under the collars with the induced green house effect a glass house brings as a default. It also drills a large hole in their pockets.

When we start building climate responsive buildings, we would be creating a Climate Resilient City. Indians are by default intelligent and literate. But as with most around the world less educated about the manner in which their life-style affect the health of the planet. An erudite person would consider it foolish to design a wash-room with toilet paper instead of a health faucet. According to a report by David Braun of the National Geographic wrote in the World Watch Magazine worldwide, the equivalent of almost 270,000 trees is either flushed or dumped in landfills every day and roughly 10 percent of that total is attributable to toilet paper. India which traditionally washed itself find wiping more fashionable and thus design there 5-star Hotels similarly. Somewhere we have not got over in wiping a white….

Black or Grey water can be recycled and reused. Making of proper toilets is the beginning of building a Smart City.

A Swwacch Bharat.

The destructions of forests and natural habitat worldwide are leading to catastrophic changes in the weather pattern. The modern life-style must factor in climate change and global warming. And cities are the principal drivers towards this unwarranted change. For all the industry thrive upon the insatiable demand of a city. The need of creature comfort has spurred the race to build automobiles, appliances, accessories which have become more important than the basic building blocks of civilization. Food – Cloth – Shelter.

We are living on the Edge.

The unseasonal rain-fall India experienced early March 2015, has wiped out the Rabi Crop. In Sangli, Maharashtra 26,000 hectares of crop was lost. Pan India the loss is already a cause of concern as we are yet to fully recover from the $7 Billion loss Cyclone Hud Hud caused last year. More disasters are to happen, that we can no more stop. But we can surely adapt.

To conclude, when India builds its 100 smart cities, it should not only look at development but also the development plan. This is what the United Nations Mitigation and Adaptation Plan requires us to do.

 

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

Digging the Arctic & India’s new CSR Law


Climate change is one of the most significant threats facing the world today. According to the American Meteorological Society, there is a 90 percent probability that global temperatures will rise by 3.5 to 7.4 degrees Celsius (6.3 to 13.3 degrees Fahrenheit) in less than one hundred years, with even greater increases over land and the poles. These seemingly minor shifts in temperature could trigger widespread disasters in the form of rising sea levels, violent and volatile weather patterns, desertification, famine, water shortages, and other secondary effects including conflict. (read more)

One day after the 66th Year of its formation, India gifted itself with one of the most profound laws in the World.

Friday, August 16, 2013:  With the aim of ensuring environmental sustainability, India becomes the first country to pass a Corporate Social Responsibility that proposes larger companies who have made a profit of at least $80 million over the past three years spend 2 per cent of each year’s profit on initiatives that will help in sustaining the environment.

With this law the Country could  have steped into the history of humankind as the Messiah. But a close look at the sentence …”who have made a profit of at least $80 million over the past three years spend 2 per cent of each year’s profit “…dashes all hope. A mere 2% of profit will not even save the Krills in the Arctic ocean,(click) without which the complete ecosystem would collapse as they are one of the principal factors of carbon capture.

With this single sentence, it joined the club of countries whose thoughts and actions don’t match.

It is a telling report on the moral bankruptcy of those whom we think would lead this modern civilization out of the mess we are already in. It also indicates how the ones who actually want to bring in change;  there are still many among our ever increasing corrupt politicians, who are clean & honest;  are sidelined by those who want to “keep the change” of silver coins in their coffers already spilling with blood money.

Yes! Blood money..because humans can’t even cook a decent meal or build a cottage without killing some life-form in the process. It is a sad commentary on those who consider “realpolitik” superior to statesmanship.

India joins Arctic Council May 16, 2013India’s bid for observer status in the Arctic Council was successful on Wednesday along with that of five other countries — China, Italy, Japan, South Korea and Singapore — at a meeting in Kiruna, Sweden.Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi, welcomed India’s admission. An MEA spokesperson said India would contribute its scientific expertise, particularly its polar research capabilities, to the work of the Arctic Council to support its objectives.However, at the level of Realpolitik, India will be looking at the opportunities for hydrocarbon exploration offered in the Arctic circle by joining hands with one of the five countries gearing up for the purpose — the U.S., Canada, Norway, Russia and Denmark.From the point of view of geographical distance, Russia will be the most attractive partner. With the Arctic ice melting fast and opening up business opportunities in the region, India’s ministry of earth sciences has devised a strategy to get a share of the action. India recently became a member of the Arctic Council, a high table of eight countries, including big players such as the US, Canada, Norway, Russia, and Sweden. In May, India and China got permanent observer status in the council.

“We will strengthen our Arctic labs. Right now, we don’t keep them running round the year, but only for eight months. Now, we are thinking of keeping it working for 12 months. We may subsequently add one more station,” MoES secretary Shailesh Nayak told dna while detailing how India would improve its Arctic programme in the next two-three years.

Scientific studies have estimated the Arctic region would have ice-free summers within the next 10-15 years, opening opportunities such as vast, untapped oil and gas reserves, unexploited marine living resources and shorter commercial shipping routes. According to estimates, the region holds 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves and 30% of undiscovered gas deposits.

But to exploit these opportunities, scientists say, countries first need to understand how the region would change when the ice melts.

When one commits a mistake, pardon is the best recourse. But when it is a deliberate and calculated act of omission with full knowledge of the consequences then the people of this Planet need to pause and question the direction of progress.  Through this article, the flip-flops of the government and the confusion prevailing in the world is highlighted. Progress can only be attained through progressive thought and moral conviction. Sadly we are progressing no more.

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of the consultation team, sharing the latest report by TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity).

Environmental Sustainability Post 2015 Consultation team.

Commissioned by the TEEB for Business Coalition, the report “Natural Capital at Risk: The Top 100 Externalities of Business” identifies the world’s largest natural capital risks and opportunities for business and their investors. Authored by Trucost, the report quantifies environmental externalities such as damages from climate change, pollution, land conversion and depletion of natural resources, across business sectors and at a regional level. It demonstrates that the profits of high impact business sectors would be wiped out if the costs of environmental damage and unsustainable natural resource use are accounted for. This report highlights the urgent need for businesses to manage natural capital assets and reduce liabilities. Businesses and investors can take account of natural capital impacts in decision making to manage risk and gain competitive advantage.

 Headline findings are:

  • The primary production (agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining, oil and gas exploration, utilities) and primary processing (cement, steel, pulp and paper, petrochemicals) sectors analyzed are estimated to have externality costs totaling US$7.3 trillion, which equates to 13% of global economic output in 2009. The value of the Top 100 externalities is estimated at US$4.7 trillion or 65% of the total primary sector impacts identified.
  • The majority of environmental externality costs are from greenhouse gas emissions (38%) followed by water use (25%); land use (24%); air pollution (7%), land and water pollution (5%) and waste (1%).

 Highest impact externalities are:

  • Coal-fired power in Eastern Asia and Northern America rank 1 and 3, respectively estimated at US$ 453 billion per annum and US$ 317 billion. These consist of the damage impacts of greenhouse gas emissions, and the health costs and other damage due to air pollution. In both instances, these social costs exceeded the production value of the sector.
  • The other highest impact sectors are agriculture, in areas of water scarcity, and where the level of production and therefore land use is also high. Cattle ranching in South America, at an estimated US$ 354 billion ranks second. Wheat and rice production in Southern Asia rank fourth and fifth respectively.

The report assessed more than 100 environmental impacts using the Trucost environmental model which condenses them into six Environmental Key Performance Indicators (eKPIs) to cover the categories: water use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, waste, air pollution, water and land pollution, and land use.! These eKPIs were then quantified by region across over 500 business sectors.

Hope this stimulates further discussion.

Best regards,

Environmental Sustainability Post 2015 Consultation team.

The melting ice in the Arctic Ocean means that more ships are plying the northern sea route in the summer months than ever before. In 2012, over 46 vessels sailed the route, compared to 34 in 2011 and only four in 2010. Reports said Chinese scientists aboard a Ukrainian-built icebreaker, the Xuelong or Snow Dragon, completed the country’s first trans-Arctic ship voyage from Shanghai to Iceland.

Ocean Pollution: Global Shipping and the Cruise Industry(click to read)

16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world: As ships get bigger, the pollution is getting worse. The most staggering statistic of all is that just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulphur pollution as all the world’s cars.Because of their colossal engines, each as heavy as a small ship, these super-vessels use as much fuel as small power stations. But, unlike power stations or cars, they can burn the cheapest, filthiest, high-sulphur fuel: the thick residues left behind in refineries after the lighter liquids have been taken. The stuff nobody on land is allowed to use….There are now an estimated 100,000 ships on the seas, and the fleet is growing fast as goods are ferried in vast quantities from Asian industrial powerhouses to consumers in Europe and North America. (read more).

India Steps Up Climate Change Efforts (August 24, 2013): As international climate negotiations progress this week in Bangkok, Thailand, India has shown signs of more proactive engagement on climate change issues both internationally and at home.While the Indian government continues to emphasize poverty alleviation and economic development as the country’s highest priorities, recent stances on domestic emission reductions indicate that India is taking considerable steps to encourage more constructive global climate talks. India joins a growing contingent of developing countries that “are making very significant efforts to show what they are doing to address climate change and indicate what more they are willing to do,” according to U.N. climate chief Yvo de Boer.Until recently, India had repeatedly rejected calls to quantify its targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions on the grounds that this would jeopardize national poverty alleviation goals.”India cannot and will not take emission reduction targets because poverty eradication and social and economic development are first and over-riding priorities,” Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said in June. But two weeks ago, in a surprising reversal, India agreed to quantify its efforts to mitigate climate change. Ramesh said India would reduce emissions by “a broadly indicative number,” although the reductions would still not be bound by international law. At the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate in Italy in July, India joined 16 other countries in declaring that the increase in global average temperature above pre-industrial levels should not exceed 2 degrees Celsius. This goal remains somewhat controversial, however, as there is still no clear agreement on how countries will share the burden for reducing global emissions. (read more)

The Copenhagen Accord – Calls for “an assessment of the implementation of this Accord to be completed by 2015… This would include consideration of strengthening the long-term goal”, for example to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees.

Statement by UNFCCC Executive Secretary on crossing of 400 ppm CO2 threshold(Bonn, 13 May 2013)
Reacting to the fact that the concentration of heat trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere last week passed the 400 parts per million mark at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, the Executive
Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres on Monday called for a greatly stepped up response to climate change by all parts of society: “With 400 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, we have crossed an historic threshold and entered a new danger zone. The world must wake up and take note of what this means for human security, human welfare and economic development. In the face of clear and present danger, we need a policy response which truly rises to the challenge. We still have a chance to stave off the worst effects of climate change, but this will require a greatly stepped up response across all three central pillars of action: action by the international community, by government at all levels, and by business and finance.”
While India’s CSR Law is a positive step in the right direction, unless the World wakes up to it and adds its share, the effort would be futile.
Excellence can not be achieved in isolation neither as a person nor as a Nation.
Just as an excellent dinning requires 56 dishes to accomplish with (chappan bhog) and 16 adornments are required to exemplify beauty (solah singar) of a woman – such will be the need for this planet attain its former pristine self. We need contribution from all sectors of business & industry of all Nations, in perfect synchronization to attain this feat.

 

 

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

Sustainable Idea – Going Down Under


The last time I went into a cement & glass in-cased tomb called a corporate head-quarter in Mumbai, I remember that no one was looking out of the window.

The reason for that were several

1. Nothing worth viewing 2. Glass was too dirty to be viewed through 3. Files covered half the window for clear sight 4. Curtains were drawn, which had a hint of cob-web indicating that they are never opened.

Although Cement is one of the most carbon-intensive industries and in 2020 will account for as much as 5 Gigatons of CO2 emissions. The manufacturing of glass is also not less energy intensive.

The fact of the matter is building industry the consumer of all that is produced across sectors is the most energy guzzling sector. And finding new ways may perhaps help us avert the calamities to some extent, although the time to avoid the Armageddon is long past.

Therefore coming back to the opening remarks of this article, I propose that the next batch of buildings we build should go vertically underground. There are many simple reasons for this.

We can begin with trying to be a little more resource efficient in this fast resource depleting Planet.

Almost all  the glass ensconced office towers in India are hermetically sealed tomb from which none peep out, or breath the fresh (polluted) air. In the process we draw upon huge amount of energy to cool a  glass building. A glass building in a sunny climate while looking very European or American also acts as a green house in the classical sense. It simply traps the heat and increases the heat surrounding the building by up-to 19%, in case of Mumbai. (NEERI report 2012)

inhabitat.com – Subterranean Hotel London-Green-Belt

By building underground,(going completely underground although possible; we have examples of defence organizations; would need new science to reduce cost of waste discharge which I am not sure we have  mastered.) the least we could do is cut the cooling needs for  the HVAC and thus also save on water. It would also saving a huge amount of sand, sodium carbonate, calcium oxide, lead oxide, sulphur and sodium sulphate / sodium chloride or antimony oxide  the basic ingredients to make glass.

These materials too need to be mined / extracted / processed which need a lot of energy.  One would be surprised at the mind boggling GHG the above materials produce in there own life-cycle analysis before they help make glass.  2300°C of energy is required to melt the silica to make glass.

Now to look for the second simple reason to go underground.

Selgas Cano Architecture’s Subterranean Work Space

It is a well known fact that Climate change will bring about food crisis, unparalleled in recent history. Therefore must turn to solutions which till now have only been considered as novel ideas. Ideas which have not been practical or possible to accomplish in large scale. Even though examples of such construction is around us within the very modern cities we live.

Imagine having a  HQ deep below while young and earnest farmhands toil away on the roof-top of the building which is situated right at the proposed city centre of the future.

Thus in a single master stroke we could eliminate the plight of the street children and their parents who mostly are landless farmers; at-least in case of India. Moreover cities around the world are facing food shortages as it pushes farmlands away from the city centre in its mad rush to grow bigger and bigger. Roof-top or vertical farming can not achieve the scale of a farmland produce.

Sustainable Homes – tumblr.com

Every-time we build a city, we destroy a village. Along with it the farmlands and natural landscapes. But if we still wish to partially mitigate the effects then we must find ways for both to co-exist. Bio-diversity may well be our last hope to reduce the impact of what is fast approaching.

Coexistence of a City-Village is a must.

We must build more  communities  as the one shown in the image.  Make it mandatory via the UNEP-SBCI for any further development in the still remaining untouched fringes of mega-cities which will get gobbled up by concrete in the next 10 years. This is the perhaps one way through which we can avert the disasters we keep inviting upon ourselves.

Humans always knew how to live in harmony with nature. Somewhere down the line we lost that art. Its time we find it again.

If my readers finds the last image endearing enough for them to think even for a fraction of a second, to wish living in something similar….it proves that Humans are yet to disconnect the umbilical cord from what is Natural.

 

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

Planet Earth’s invite – Danse Macabre


Bernt Notke: Surmatants(Totentanz) in St. Nich...

Bernt Notke: Surmatants(Totentanz) in St. Nicholas’ Church, Tallinn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dance of Death, also variously called Danse Macabre (French),is an artistic genre of late-medieval allegory on the universality of death: no matter one’s station in life, the Dance of Death unites all.

HFor the first time in human history, the concentration of climate-warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has passed the milestone level of 400 parts per million (ppm). The last time so much greenhouse gas was in the air was several million years ago, when the Arctic was ice-free, savannah spread across the Sahara desert and sea level was up to 40 metres higher than today. These conditions are expected to return in time, with devastating consequences for civilisation, unless emissions of CO2 from the burning of coal, gas and oil are rapidly curtailed. But despite increasingly severe warnings from scientists and a major economic recession, global emissions have continued to soar unchecked. (read more)

Geneva, Switzerland – The global disaster conference (UNISDR) brought together more than 3,500 delegates from 171 countries to discuss reducing the risk of natural disasters in the years ahead.

Natural disasters are increasing around the world as the climate changes, costing lives and billions of dollars in damage, and governments need to act to minimise the effects, a conference on natural calamity mitigation heard last month. Parliamentarians, mayors and community leaders met with scientists, NGOs, international agencies and businesses to give input and to question why recent attempts to manage disaster risks haven’t slowed the rising tide of destruction.

The UN has estimated the direct economic cost of disasters since 2000 is roughly $1.4tn, cautioning that the total price tag on people’s livelihoods and the wider economy are never fully counted.

As the thermometer rises, so does the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported last year that droughts and heat waves are growing harsher and longer in many regions, causing deaths, fires and crop failure. When rain does come, it is often more intense, causing flooding and landslides. Meanwhile, rising sea levels increase the height and damage potential of storm surges in coastal areas. (read more)

January 10: Storm caused Flooding, Mudslides across Mississippi and Louisiana
Live blog: Trees down county-wide, with several mudslides reported in Adams County, MS and LA.

February 8: Wildfire in Big Thompson Canyon area, Colorado
A 3-acre wildfire is burning in Big Thompson Canyon area near Alexander Mountain.

March 25: Strong earthquake in Guatemala city
M 6.2 strong earthquake shakes Guatemala city today, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

April 10: Tornadoes across Arkansas
Tornado in Botkinburg, Arkansas today has injured three people and damaged more than a dozen structures.

May 5: Hail storm in Franklin, Tennessee
Hail storm hit around Decherd and downtown Winchester and covered streets and lawns with hail stones.

June 6: Tropical storm Andrea
A tropical storm warning has been issued along the west coast of Florida from Boca Grande to Ochlocknee River.

While one can read on 80 more in Natural Disasters In United States 2013.  Crossing the Continents we look at some of the 37 Indian Natural Disasters 2013

January 31: Hailstorm in Andhra Pradesh, India
Hailstorm killed at least 9 people in Chevella, Moinabad and Shankarpally area of India.

February 6: Hailstorms in Madhya Pradesh, India
Hailstorms have killed one and damaged crops in 80 villages of Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur of Madhya Pradesh, India.

March 6: Forest fire in Mumbai, India
A huge forest fire has affected the area of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and a part of Film City (Bollywood) in Mumbai.

April 15: Dust storm in Chhattisgarh, India
Dust storm in Chhattisgarh region of India has claimed lives of at least six people.

May 1: Strong earthquake in Kashmir today
Get update report on this Kashmir earthquake.

June 5: Bihar lightning strikes
Lightning strikes in Bihar, India have claimed lives of at least 27 people including women and children, Disaster Management Department said.

I wonder where would I find such meticulous data for say Burkina Fasso and found this report

Even though previous reports have already highlighted evidence of a relationship between exposure to natural disasters and urban poverty, the complex processes underlying this association still remain poorly studied in West Africa, with little individual empirical data. The objective of this communication is to analyze factors associated with the status of “natural disaster victim” in Ouagadougou, the capital-city of Burkina Faso. On September 1st, 2009, this city experienced torrential rainfall leading to immense water runoffs and floods. Over 150,000 people were severely affected and 50,000 completely lost their homes. It is these people that this study undertakes to examine, defining here “natural disaster victim” as a household that completely lost their home. Modeling data from the Ouagadougou Health and Demographic Surveillance System with logistic regressions, the preliminary results suggest that the migrant status and gender play an interesting role in addition to the poverty index and level of education.

I’m sure of the 150 Nations who read my articles there would be many who would have to reach out to their Google Maps to find this African Nation. But that does not ease the pain of 150,000 people.

HThere are many Nations and Peoples whose carbon-foot print is negligible and have hardly contributed any GHG to suffer the Wrath of Mother Earth. And there are many such Nations in this planet, whom we can’t point out in the Map instantaneously  but  for their annihilation our life styles has  become directly responsible.

One needs to actually ponder at Natural Disasters List April 30, 2013 Which has more or less spanned the entire World and makes the SREX report 2012 almost feel like the  Nostradamus predictions for 2013 come true.

Japan’s earthquake and tsunami of 2011 was probably the most costly natural disaster in history, causing losses of hundreds of billions of dollars. Last October’s Superstorm Sandy cost the United States more than $50bn, while also devastating Cuba, Haiti, and other Caribbean nations. Record wildfires last year in Russia and the US burned through millions of acres, following another unprecedented Russian summer in 2010 when heat waves claimed 55,000 lives.

The world indeed is a global village and both the good and the bad events affects Nations which in another date and era would have thought as an event far away from home and not to be worried about.

That however is fiction- April 27 2013: Japan Tsunami debris hits California:Japanese fishing boat washed by 2011 tsunami has been confirmed as the first piece of debris to reach the coast of California.

In 2005, the Hyogo Framework for Action was adopted to encourage countries to become more resilient in the face of natural disasters. But the Global Assessment Report released at the conference reveals that efforts have had limited success so far.

Global warming

Global warming (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One-hundred twenty-one countries have passed legislation for reducing disaster risks since 2005, and more than half of the governments have made substantial progress in assessing and monitoring the risks their people face. But this has had no discernible affect on disaster losses, which continue to stack up around the world.

Each of the last three years has brought direct economic losses of more than $100bn because of earthquakes, storms, floods, droughts, and other catastrophes. These range from mega-disasters such as the Japan earthquake and tsunami and Superstorm Sandy, down to smaller floods and landslides that strike vulnerable communities, somewhere in the world, on a daily basis.

The Global Assessment Report highlighted that many people suffering the worst effects of climate disasters are not the ones contributing to them. Other than climate change, reckless urban development, the exploitation of groundwater, and deforestation are increasing the likelihood of disasters large and small, and weaken the resilience of communities to withstand them.

Listening  to this IPCC video should  change the minds of even the most callous of Businessmen. Simply because it is going to impact their Business directly much sooner than they think.

Source Courtesy: Al Jazeera; UNISDR; disaster-report.com;guardian.co.uk;reliefweb.int
 

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

It’s time for the USA to be the World Leader again.. or is it ?


At the recent GreenBIz Forum 2013 in New York, there was an informative and energetic panel discussion, “The Power of Wall Street in Promoting Sustainability,” with Erika Karp, head of UBS Global Research and Matt Arnold, head of environmental affairs at JP Morgan Chase.

He gave the example of Novelis, which is looking for ways to make aluminium cans without mining bauxite. CEO Phil Martens has pledged that by 2020 the cans Novelis sells will be manufactured with 80 percent of the aluminium coming from recycled cans. They call it the EverCan. “[T]hey are disrupting not just their company, but their entire industry,” Arnold said. “And their sustainability strategy … is their business strategy.”

The new mantra of sustainability is becoming “disrupt or be disrupted,” and there are many examples of disruptive sustainability emerging in today’s economy.

When a house can be heated and cooled to the same level of comfort using only 5 percent of the energy of a conventional home of comparable size — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When a high performance zero-emissions automobile can be driven from New York to Boston, with a half-hour pit stop for refueling — and the fuel is free — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When the relationship between a utility and its customers is fundamentally redefined by changing roles — customer as generator and seller of clean energy and utility as buyer and distributor — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When a company that uses garbage as the source for making 300 million pounds a year of high-grade plastics that satisfy the most exacting customer requirements — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When a small home-cleaning supplies start-up can capture ever-growing market share from industry giants because its products don’t leave a thin film of toxins on kitchen and bathroom surfaces and actually clean them better — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When new financing models take the capital and operating expenses out of the cost of clean energy and provide electricity at competitive rates that are fixed for 10 years — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When a 100 percent recyclable industrial carpet, designed using a rainforest floor as inspiration, becomes the best-selling product in the company’s history and redefines an industry — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When a major real estate developer announces the construction of the largest net-zero-energy commercial building in the United States, and finds it fully leased two years before it even opens — that’s disruptive sustainability.

When a five-year-old hospitality company helps property owners increase their asset utilization through sharing and renting among peers, and brings in hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenues without building, owning, leasing or managing a single property — that’s disruptive sustainability.

And when Michael Porter replaces his Five Forces framework with Creating Shared Value — maybe that, too, is disruptive sustainability.

“My plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet, because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke.” – Obama at the Democratic National Convention, Sept. 6, 2012.

“I urge this Congress to pursue a bipartisan, market-based solution to climate change. … But if Congress won’t act soon to protect future generations, I will. I will direct my Cabinet to come up with executive actions we can take, now and in the future, to reduce pollution, prepare our communities for the consequences of climate change, and speed the transition to more sustainable sources of energy.” – Obama in his State of the Union speech, Feb. 12, 2013.

While the USA may not want to sign the Kyoto Protocol, it was always understood that the Country would move towards sustainable practice at its own pace. Although the reason of it is complex; some of the reasons are not that difficult to discern.

For one, it needed its corporates to adjust to the new reality and find it profitable to do so. The GreenBiz Forum  talk of “Disruptive Sustainability”is just the beginning of the hype which will increase day by day until, the rest of the World especially the least developed and underdeveloped Nations are shamed for not following the American example of saving the planet from Climate change.

So what if they call sustainability – disruptive!

And the proof of it follows the Obama’s State of the Union speech, with the report below –

A report  in guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 1 May 2013 20.14 BST by , US environment correspondent –

General Motors called on Barack Obama and Congress to work together on climate change on Wednesday, saying the effort would be good for business. GM, which makes the plug-in Chevy Volt, was the first of the big three car makers to sign on to a new push from the business world for greater action on global warming from Washington, the Climate Declaration.

“We want to be a change agent in the auto industry,” Mike Robinson, GM vice-president of sustainability and global regulatory affairs, said in a statement.

The declaration, now endorsed by 40 companies, was launched in Washington last month with the aim of capitalising on public concern about climate change after Hurricane Sandy and Obama’s re-election in the hope of pushing a climate law through Congress. More than half of Americans now blame climate change for the extreme weather of recent years, according to a study released on Wednesday by the Yale Project on Climate Change.

The short statement, endorsed by GM, leads off: “Tacking climate change is America’s greatest economic opportunity of the 21st century (and it’s simply the right thing to do).”

In the above short statement lies the opportunity and danger for the USA and the World !

Let’s not forget the story of The Three Little Pigs – a wolf in sheep’s clothing must be dealt with care.

The classic example is of General motors. A company which is the past has overtly or covertly killed many a invention towards sustainable transport –

The General Motors streetcar conspiracy (also known as the Great American streetcar scandal) refers to allegations and convictions in relation to a program by General Motors (GM) and other companies who purchased and then dismantled streetcar and electric train systems in many American cities.

While it may be argued that times have changed, and the management ( made of humans – who have the right to err ! ) of today is more informed and wants to undo the wrongs of its predecessors.

But when one reads through the news article further, utopia evaporates !

…It does not prescribe specific solutions beyond a “coordinated effort”, but said that promoting clean energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions would help America remain a superpower.

…The effort was guided by Ceres, the sustainable business network, which argued that declarations of support from the business world could give members of Congress the cover they needed to engage on a topic widely seen as a third rail in politics. Obama began his second term pledging action on climate change. But Congress was unmoved by his appeal in his state of the union address to work on a law that would cut the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

A majority of Republicans oppose action on climate change, or discount the science behind climate change.

Aside from GM, the effort was endorsed by household names such as Starbucks, Intel, and eBay, as well as a number of outdoor clothing manufacturers.

Before signing on to the Climate Declaration, GM had been pressing the Obama administration to adopt a national energy policy, promoting natural gas and renewable.

…The announcement caps a steady transformation of GM’s market strategy.

A company which once produced gas-guzzling trucks and SUVs and fought higher fuel economy standards was now identifying with the green technology behind a car like the Volt.

One must remember that the Corporate giants have the most short-sighted vision in the world, next only to the Political giants. And as all know, giants are by default carnivores and man-eaters.

The earth trembles with every step they take, uprooting trees and trampling the flora and fauna as they chase the human they want for dinner ! Just read your child’s bed-time story. It just proves that our ancestors knew what giants do. The modern word for giants is Conglomerate ! Some of them are as hostile as the giants in our children story books. Trampling the Earth and gobbling up resources.

Sustainability for the Corporates, World-wide is nothing more than another business opportunity, which they were unwilling to look at till there was enough traction to make it worth their while. Now, that it is proving to be profitable they will plunge into it wholeheartedly. But for all the wrong reasons, I’ve pointed out in amber in the paragraphs above.

Sustainability would be the worst causality if we look at it as another tool for Political up-man-ship or hegemony. It is important that the mindset of those who are powerful become humble. For without humility, the same standards of capitalist market laws would be applied to make the World “greener & safer”. And that would be a disaster.

Why does the USA need to be a super-power or its politicians need sustainable practice as a weapon. Why can’t it be made as a way of life and projected so? Why could GM not say – “Tacking climate change is America’s greatest RESPONSIBILITY of the 21st century (and it’s simply the right thing to do).” What USA does the World fortunately or unfortunately does follow. To be a leader one must think as well as act as one.

If we continue using the old yard-stick to measure the new, we will come up short.

And we don’t have the luxury of time to know that we were wrong.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The false Messiah – the story of Earth Hour to Earth Day.


Come March-April, we celebrate a number of festivals. Some traditional some modern. Earth Hour  & Earth Day are two such.It is time to look at them up close and personal. And see how much have they really affected, when the word is out that we have already lost the battle of limiting the 2°C Global warming. And the rule of Carbon Black has begun.

Earth Hour is a worldwide event organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and held towards the end of March annually, encouraging households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour to raise awareness about the need to take action on climate change. The event, conceived by WWF and Leo Burnett, first took place in 2007, when 2.2 million residents of Sydney participated by turning off all non-essential lights.Following Sydney’s lead, many other cities around the world adopted the event in 2008.Earth Hour 2013 is being held on March 23, 2013 from 8:30 P.M. to 9:30 P.M. during participants’ local time.

The genesis of Earth Day is credited to Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. After witnessing the ravages of the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, and inspired by the student anti-war movement, he called for an environmental teach-in, later called “Earth Day”, to be held on Wednesday, April 22, 1970. Over 20 million people participated that year, and now Earth Day is an annual day on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Earth Day is observed on April 22 each year. The April 22 date was designated as International Mother Earth Day by a consensus resolution adopted by the United Nations in 2009.Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and is celebrated in more than 192 countries every year

Started as  great concepts.These have not been able to achieve much in the Asian and third World Countries, and this is most evident in the horrific and naked truth of the Mumbra Building Collapse. in Mumbai, India. To the uninitiated, just as saving the Tiger can save a forest; adopting Better Building Design leads the way towards holistic sustainability – which is the underlying message of these events.

What happens in India and Indian cities must become important to the international community. Because as a fast growing Nation, instead of becoming a flowering creeper all would love to see, it is turning itself into a poisonous weed. The continued pollution created by Indian cities, would effect the World already reeling under super dangerous shifting of weather patterns and its accompanied intense impacts.

And before the ultra Nationalists start off, let me remind them that Mumbai & Delhi are signatory to the C40 Cities program and many of our towns and cities are getting support from World Bank, USA  & many EU  Nations for its infrastructure over-haul. It is time their investment should matter to them. For, here and now should they follow the link on the building collapse above, it would be obvious to them that their efforts and money are not reaching the intended.

Acting both locally and collaboratively, C40 Cities are having a meaningful global impact in reducing both greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks. Through a partnership with the Clinton Climate Initiative, C40 brings together a unique set of assets and creates a shared sense of purpose. – this charter is no more applicable to Mumbai. It never was. If one walks on any part of Mumbai, one can sense the rot and the dangerous amount of pollution this city is contributing to the planet and its immediate Ecosystem.

One only needs to flip through the pages of a news paper to know that seemly unrelated events are all but different facets of the same. While low fish catch and the subsequent high cost is apparent, the not so apparent medical cost, resulting from eating fish which are treated with the 300 MLD of untreated sewage being dumped into the sea daily. (read more); or the rise in asthma and other chest disease because of a dust storm kicking up far away –

If you experienced low visibility in the city on Wednesday, blame it on a dust storm.11, Apr 2013 DNA
According to IIT Powai’s Centre for Environmental Science and engineering, a dust storm is rising from north-western dessert. Ratish Menon, a PHD student of the centre for environmental science and engineering department of IIT Powai, said: “We have been monitoring the satellite data and models which confirms that the city is witnessing a dust storm from north-western dessert.” He added that though a dust storm activity from Saudi Arabian desserts or India’s north-western region dessert hits the country every year, witnessing it in Mumbai is rare. “Normally such dust activity doesn’t hit Mumbai. This activity increases pollution level and stays for couple of days. We will closely monitor the progress,” said Menon.
However, the weather department denied that the haze was because of dust storm.
NY Apte, deputy director general of Indian Meteorological Department, Mumbai, said, “The visibility has reduced but we cannot call it a dust storm as the winds are not that strong. The condition can be called a haze. It has not been caused by any climatic change but is a result of local heating and moisture, apart from pollution in the air.”
Doctors said the prevailing weather conditions are particularly harmful for asthma patients. “Upper respiratory cases in the city are rising. Since morning, I am seeing many allergic bronchitis patients with symptoms like blocked nose, breathlessness and sneezing. We have also seen a couple of allergic rhinitis cases since morning,” said Dr Udit Thakker, general physician from Parel. Dr Jalil Parker, consulting chest physician, Lilavati Hospital said: “People with respiratory issues should be more careful and take utmost care.”
Doctors advise upper respiratory patients to avoid stepping out of the house. Dr Parker said the people who have sensitive respiratory passage need to take extra precaution as it can trigger an asthma attack. “It is important to cover your nose and mouth with a wet cloth,” said Dr Parker.

When the Country is going through a systemic failure, the edifice are the first to crumble and the poorest of the poor its first victim. Emboldened by the false immortality, as none gets punished befitting the crime; the brazen behaviour moves up-market and whether one likes it or not, South Mumbai will soon see disasters worse than Mumbra, perhaps the farthest and poorest suburb of the Megalopolis.

This disaster would not be limited to being crushed to death by falling walls, but also bubonic plague and every type of wind-borne disease. And add to that the absolute scarcity of water, because some smart high-end homes in the suburb now offers “golf-fields” – a stretch of lovely green grass which increases the water evaporation by 5 times and thus require huge quantity of scarce water to look the lovely green.   But then it is the life-style of the rich Europeans and it should by birth right, be the life style of the “brown Babus”.

It needs intellect to understand that glades and grass are a natural to the European landscape as is the rain-forest to ours. But one can’t play golf in the rain forest. And it is absolutely insulting for the rich to be put in the same class as the poor draught hit Indian farmers. I’m sure no News paper of any repute can show a poor Indian farmer drunk and dead in a swimming pool. It is the prerogative of the rich.

But Nature has a strange way of levelling things. When the million tonnes of plastic garbage the size of a town-suburb, floating in the Pacific  starts to break down even faster than the present ( which is alarming and dangerous ) as is obvious with 7 meter deep of the sea already warmed up. The resulting acid rain would bring into our homes chemicals and diseases which we hardly know about. The Ten Plague of Egypt would revisit. History always repeats itself.

Abatement and Mitigation.

 Abatement refers generally to a lessening, diminution, reduction, or moderation; while

 Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters.

Since  1969 Santa Barbara oil spill, to 2010 BP oil spill   one can safely vouch the ‘Abatement’ has been  safely mummified and buried deep.

As for ‘Mitigation’  we just need to browse through the news clips and images below to know that the World indeed is a global village and that the word MITIGATION is a form of self-denial we humans like to live in and our Political Masters love to dish-out. Because, Capitalism breeds Corruption and it stands at cross-purpose to correct the wrongs.

Bombay (2005) –

The heavy rains that have been inundating the city of Mumbai and it surrounding regions time and again during the monsoons every year indicate that the city is still short of a sound flood mitigation framework. The existing efforts by the city’s governing and planning authorities towards formulating flood alleviation strategies have only been marginally successful in fulfilling their purpose. Moreover, the national disaster management framework released in the year 2004 takes a holistic approach at managing and reducing disasters by suggesting general policies applicable to all the states in the country and not just the Mumbai region in particular. The framework also considers floods only as one of the many natural disasters that it suggests strategies for. It does not provide any flood-specific mitigation strategies so to speak of. (more)

Bangkok (2012) –

Thailand Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department has issued a warning for heavy flooding and landslide from today to next Monday, Sept 17. People living in Amnatcharoen, Yasothon, Ubon Ratchathani, Si Sa Ket, Phang Nga, Krabi and Trang are said to prepare for worst floods.
Last year (2011), severe floods killed 2800+ people in Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Vietnam and Laos. Out of these, 815 people were from Thailand. The question is Will 2012 be a repeat of 2011?
Following Government officials in Thailand, No 2012 won’t be a repeat of 2011 as major dams in the northern and central plains of Thailand are 50 percent lower than last year and at the ready to hold back more runoff from the annual monsoon rains. It has become a hot topic as currently the ancient city of Sukhothai which lies 400 kilometers north of Bangkok is having major floods (more).

Buenos Aires.(2013)

No politician is immune from being badly splashed by last week’s deadly floodwaters but of Argentina’s three top politicians (President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Buenos Aires Governor Daniel Scioli and City Mayor Mauricio Macri) Scioli arguably stands most to lose. CFK is more or less exactly in the same place as this time last year in the wake of the Once rail tragedy (with even an identical toll of 51 dead for last year’s train crash and the flooding in the La Plata area, although half a dozen deaths in this metropolis need to be added in the latter case) — in other words, having to absorb overall responsibility for lethal infrastructural neglect and making a rather better job of it this year than last by actually going to the scene of the disaster in Tolosa (no doubt spurred by personal family links to the neighbourhood). Macri had a miserable Tuesday with City Hall failings in the national spotlight amid merciless criticism but was soon off the hook as the catastrophic tragedy in the Buenos Aires provincial capital totally eclipsed the disasters of some City neighbourhoods. (more)

While in a weird way one can understand the twisted logic of capitalism and the opportunity such disasters present to the industry both production and services. What is not understood by those who Govern and those who are Governed is that, unless and until we stop the lip services we give to Climate Change due to Global Warming, sustainable solutions leading to overall well-being would not be possible.

We therefore can not just give one day ( Earth Day ) or one hour ( Earth Hour ) for photo-opportunity but dig in our heels and work everyday in creating the right atmosphere in which real and meaning full developments happen. We can no more have battery operated “candle light” dinner designed during Earth Hour in 5-Star hotels; without understanding that the battery and the plastic candle together multiply GHG many times over the conventional candle light. Nor can we satisfy ourselves by conducting and listening to seminars hosted in every part of the planet to mostly inform those, who are already most informed on how to milk the industry of Climate Change business on Earth Day.

It would be better, should we be able to during each Earth Hour offer 1 hour of electricity to the villages surrounding the cities. Which has to be electrified and given sustainable infrastructure the previous year on Earth Day.

The 1 hour of electricity need not come by switching off lights of Iconic buildings around the World during the Earth Hour. That is nothing more than a fashion statement created and conceived with all the best intentions but useless. Some experts say that Earth Hour could result in an increase in carbon emissions and place great strain on electricity grids. Fossil-fuelled power stations could be required to fire up quickly when everyone turns their lights back on, “rendering all good intentions useless at a flick of a switch”.

But WWF maintains Earth Hour is not about saving energy but raising awareness. But perhaps those who switch-off their lights are not aware that, the saved electricity does not reach the 1.3 Billion lives around the Planet.

Simply because they don’t have the tools to receive it. That is a light bulb and the electrical connection to light that bulb !

Further on Earth Day, let those who know what the future holds take the step to go out and stand in the sunlight, out in the open public arena as opposed to an air-conditioned conference room and TEACH in simple language what they know to the “AAM ADMI” (Hindi =common man). In a manner s/he understands, Without the pie-charts and the graphs. Teach them the methods of survival when they and their loved ones, would for want of knowledge spend all their meagre but hard earned money on placebos, thinking it to be cure for their persistent breathlessness.  A breathlessness caused by the deadly smog and haze created by the Carbon Black now suspended in the atmosphere.

We must make aware what Dr.V. Ramanathan the UNESCO Chair Professor for Climate science and Policy at the TERI University spoke eloquently and with great sadness on the 5th April 2013 – We have already dumped enough green house gas to warm the planet by 2.5°C.

Global WarmingThis mask can not be removed by Abatement any-more and for a solution through Mitigation, we just don’t know what would be the consequence if such an experiment is tried. However, it is my firm belief that the Planet is a great healer. and it would heal itself if allowed to do so.

Climate change and global warming is a natural phenomena but the present Human civilization is only accelerating it and would thus meet with the same consequences the Pharaohs did. The supposedly immortals were thrust into oblivion by the mighty Earth.

As briefly mentioned above, the Ten Plague of Egypt were not myth but a result of Climate change. And some scientist claim to have the proof of it. – Archeologists believe that the mythical ten plagues occurred in the ancient city of Pi-Ramses, an Egyptian city on the Nile delta which served as the Egyptian capital during the reign of Ramses the second as Pharaoh (from 1279 BC- 1213 BC)…..Climatologists studying the ancient climate at the time have discovered a dramatic shift in the climate in the area occurred towards the end of Ramses the Second’s reign.By studying stalagmites in Egyptian caves they have been able to rebuild a record of the weather patterns using traces of radioactive elements contained within the rock.They found that Ramses reign coincided with a warm, wet climate, but then the climate switched to a dry period…The scientists believe this switch in the climate was the trigger for the first of the plagues,…(more)

It is time we understand our History and that of Earth too. Then only we shall truly  celebrate the Earth Day 2013.

 

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

Sustaining Mumbai – making possible, the impossible.


English: Sustainability chart

English: Sustainability chart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Following up on my thoughts expressed in earlier articles Green Business Ideas: Carbon Credits opportunities in Green Townships.and Sustainable Development Goals: The dangers of Urban Sprawl and its long term affects on the National Growth has become important once more because of the recent developments which are taking place in the Realty Sector of Mumbai Metropolitan Region and Maharashtra. And similar development must be happening around the country can not be discounted. Governance is a political art, which requires a person while practising politics to become a Statesman. Sadly the time of Statesmen of Indian politics have long gone. Today we are burdened with most who have no foresight. And those who do are not making much difference because of the overwhelming odds. While many by now are aware of Sustainable Development Goals,very few understand it. Therein lies the problem. Sustainable development is holistic and all encompassing and approaching it must take all stake-holders into account in every step of the way. National policies must get formulated based on a singular principle of development which is the same at Union and Federal level devoid of vote bank politics. And the most important thought which all must understand is the inter-connectivity of events. Nothing can happen is isolation. Seemingly diverse subjects happening in different parts of the Globe are inexplicably related, not obvious to casual observation. The sentiment of which I had tried to capture in Sustainable Living : How to read the seemingly unrelated dots which coalesce together to create disasters.

With the general elections around the corner in 2014 and the debilitating fiscal deficit due to populist measures carried on too long, India Inc. is poised dangerously to make mistakes detrimental to Climate Change abatement. Mistakes not because it would want to do so as a deliberate act; but because short-term economic gains which make for “good development” would take precedence over common sense. While there is no escape that Economic development brings in prosperity, it also brings in the Acid Rain and Ozone Hole in its wake. Facts no Economist or Corporate Czar or Government can deny as fiction. And which is further vindicated by the article recently published by World Resource Institute: New National Climate Assessment Shows America on Course for Unprecedented Warming: A new federal report reveals alarming statistics on climate change. According to the 3rd National Climate Assessment, released in draft form today from the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the world could warm by more than 12°F by the end of the century if action isn’t taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “The evidence is clear and mounting,” said WRI’s president, Andrew Steer, in response to the report. “The United States sits at the center of the climate crisis. Record heat is devastating crops, rivers are drying up, and storms are bearing down on our cities. Climate change is taking its toll on people and their economies, and will only become more intense without a strong and rapid response here in the United States and around the globe. It’s not too late to take action, but given lags in policy and geophysical processes, the window is closing.” This assessment comes on the heels of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) announcement earlier this week that 2012 was the hottest year on record for the contiguous United States. According to NOAA’s National Climate Data Center, the country saw 356 all-time temperature highs (and only four all-time lows) tied or broken and experienced 11 extreme weather events each causing more than $1 billion in damages.

What India must do, is to fall back on its infinite wisdom and believe in its people to bring about Economic prosperity balanced with Ecological sensitivity which is inherent in the Indian culture. And its Corporate Czars schooled in the western model of “prosperity” & “development” take the care to adopt the best practices inherent in the western model while indigenising  the path to progress. Only then India can become the torch-bearer in  ways mentioned in the recently published  Inclusive Wealth Report 2012.

And to begin, we can adopt sensible design approach in developing the satellite cities around the megalopolis of Mumbai. And also at the same time improve the living conditions of Mumbai. We must at all cost not try make a Shanghai out of Mumbai, but a climate resilient Mumbai. It is no secret that while China can be called the next economic giant; in the markets of India flooded with cheap Chinese goods, one would never find a vendor giving a guarantee on any Chinese product. Thus India, must learn to be wary of the fast and shiny “growth” of China and try not to emulate it. And that applies to developing future cities too.

Pollution at dangerous levels in Beijing
Beijing: Dense smog shrouded Beijing on Saturday, with pollution at hazardous levels for a second day and residents advised to stay indoors, state media said. The municipal environment warning centre issued an alert advising the elderly, children, and those suffering respiratory or cardiovascular illness to avoid going out or doing strenuous exercise. Those who did venture out wore face-masks for protection, with visibility low and the sun hidden in the smog.

This could easily be happening in Mumbai or New Delhi ( which too is very highly polluted) in the immediate future if development measures are not taken in accordance to the ecological consideration. While the unfortunate news of Beijing is no cause for glee and may not completely be due to bad urban planning. The fact that Urban Planning plays a major role can not be discounted. What India needs to do, is already known to many experts. And there lies the problem. The people are not aware of it. And as long as there is no participation form the people, the governments would not make it main-stream. Thus the need to advertise and spread awareness on Sustainable Living becomes more urgent as we climb closer to the 2°Centigrade Global rise in temperature. While some basic collections of ideas from WBCSD are mentioned in Building A Low Carbon Economy with Energy Efficient Buildings We begin with a few suggestions which we can easily implement and in the shortest possible time to make the City of  Mumbai a Climate resilient city.

The Underpass Hawking zone:

FS

Example : Fashion Street Underpass Hawking Zone at Church gate Mumbai

Let us begin with de-congesting our city foot-paths from ill-legal hawkers. The very word “ill-legal” causes confusion. How can poor and needy people earn an honest lively-hood, if not sell their wares in the busy city streets ? It is hard and at-times frustrating work to just earn enough to eat. And good governance must cater to providing equal earning opportunity to all. But before the corrupt governance authorities start patting each others back, while collecting “hafta” ( protection money a la Mafia style ) they must ensure that the city which is choking in its own filth and squalor gets a new lease of life. Existing  & new municipal laws must be applied to get rid of the menace of squatters on public space while providing them with alternate means within the same area which Mumbai planners are mulling now and should be supported only if planned properly, within the existing City and rules framed to cater to such eventuality at the design stage itself for upcoming Urban centers . The concept can be repeated in many places in the suburbs too. Thus keeping the popularity and thereby the business potential of the place intact while correcting the wrongs in Urban planning. One must bear in mind that the flea market is symbiotic to all the eateries and entertainment centre within its geographical proximity as youth often take these outings to as a package deal – shopping -cum- cinema – cum – fast-food. Which has a direct bearing on the economy. Thus sustainability is a complex system which needs to be understood from all aspects.

Example: De-congesting Andheri Suburban Station and Terrace Farming

Example:De-congesting Andheri Suburban Station and Terrace Farming

The same concept can also be applied around the rail stations and if possible the rail ministry itself should promote above the tracks or above the platforms the vegetable markets & shopping areas, run by the illegal and “legal” hawkers encroaching the city foot-path and spilling over the foot over-bridges and streets. Railways would mint profit from the vertical space it owns. Not only by selling of vegetables but also growing some of it, It would provide direct employment opportunities to the land-less farmers who come to the city losing their land due to various reasons. The hands that feed the Nations must never be lifted to beg for alms; if we really want it that way, then we must act towards doing so. And in the process we shall also be de-congesting the streets, especially near the Dadar suburban station where nearly a third of the street is packed with fruit, vegetable and flower sellers; which the administration turns a blind eye to, while vehicular movement suffer and belch more noxious GHG fumes in the process. Imagine creating such facilities every 5th station along the Western, Central and Harbour suburban rail lines. The greenery itself would reduce the heat-island effect. And in the process also remove from the city roads quite a few smoke belching tempos, carrying stale vegetables, improve direct contact between consumer and farmer, thus earnings of the lot improves and sustainability wins.

Bus Depot

Example: Vertical Farming over Dindoshi Bus Depot

But we all know that just the rail stations and the space above the platforms would not suffice feeding a hungry city. We would require more space. And that space is available right at the centre of the city, waiting to be exploited by the municipal authorities.The Bus Depots. Mumbai has bus depots both large and small dotting the city. All one needs to understand is that the vertical space can be utilized for the betterment of the society while bringing in some hard currency to the B.E.S.T undertaking. Taking one of the big bus depots in the suburb, the Dindoshi bus depot at Goregoan as a pilot project, we can create vertical farms similar to the ones Singapore is building with great success. Why do we need to wait to import the technology ? When IIT- Bombay is just a few miles away?  That the Government of most Asian Nations are goofy, is understood; but we have some of the top notch Corporate Czars residing in this city and a few do dabble in the fresh food market. They must take the opportunity before Wal-Mart comes up with a proposal.

Parking

Example: Elevated foot-path with hawkers gallery and parking space underneath in Bandra suburb.

While the above will take care to some degree the pressure on fresh-food and vegetables, Mumbai being a dynamic city which keeps growing, the pressure on infrastructure is enormous. And the most telling is transport. We have to find ways to de-congest the city streets. While to some extent people do use VoIP to do their business, for Mumbai the government of the day must utilize the idea of virtual office. VoIP – “Skype” the new medium to reduce Global Warming ?While it would certainly reduce traffic on the roads, it would still not solve the problem of parking. The idea mooted earlier, of providing extra FSI ( floor space index ) to developers who allow for municipal car parks, as usual got mired in corruption and controversy. With hardly any relief to the problem it was supposed to address. The principal reason being two-folds. First, it is dependent on the location of the building vis a vis a congested road and second availability of re-development along those congested area to the developer. Thus we have buildings far and few which can cater to the requirement. So, the next best thing we can do is create elevated foot-paths and then allow for parking under it.

Bandra

Example: Underground hawking space, for displaced hawkers in new city areas.

While we must find solutions to the existing city of Mumbai, we must not let the city fringe become hostage to the same mess, Mumbai is facing. All the warning signs are already available, if one looks at the up-coming development around a SEZ and proposed International Airport of Mumbai. Why we have this mess has been mentioned in the article Sustainable Development Goals: The dangers of Urban Sprawl and its long term affects on the National Growth.and I quote : The common person does not think twice before littering the street or not buying from illegal vendors who occupy most of Mumbai foot-paths and foot-over-bridges. In fact it is a welcome sign, to have the first illegal grocery, tea/cigarette kiosk next to the new building  which comes up in far-off locality. Any architect, who has worked in far-off sites, would empathise with me at the relief one gets when a small tea & cigarette shop opens up opposite the construction site across the road; where one can relax the tired limbs and have a “cutting-chai”. ( chai = tea). This happens because when a developer goes to the Urban fringe and builds a township, the State does not cater to the welcoming opportunity the private developer creates for up-liftment of local business and does not match it in pace with infrastructure and innovative schemes which can create proper commercial zones especially de-marked for the urban poor who find an opportunity to do an honest business. These local semi-urban populace do not have the money to buy into the commercial areas, if built by the developer. Their shops usually come up as shanties while the township is under construction to cater to the labourers and even the engineers. But this relief turns into grief for the citizens in time as no infrastructure, such as roads, drainage systems, waste-disposal or safety measures are built around them.

Residential construction is at break-neck speed, at Ulwe, whereas infrastructure development will put a snail to shame. Ditto goes to far-sightedness. While one enters the road towards Ulwe, one notices locals sitting along the road-side selling food and other wares. Presently these shanties are few, Soon all free land would be encroached upon, the well-oiled system of hafta will begin, while another portion of the city and its citizen suffer. It is here that the administration take into account all the possible urban design options and cater to the needs of all section of society. The faster we understand that sustainable practice can not be sacrificed or evaded, the better it would be for the City and the country. Else it would not be very far in the future that living in Mumbai would be next to impossible and that would affect the economy of this country directly.

 

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

Green Business Idea : Using Manpower & Ox-power to generate rural electricity


Green Business Ideas needn’t be about multimillion dollars of earnings. Although that kind of money does impact lives and can bring in sea-change in thoughts and actions much faster; simple things which look towards the rural landscape should also matter where the earning may be more if the latent advantages are explored. It is also important to indigenise them to the local needs. We would discuss  ideas which belong to different countries but each can work in various Nations. Perhaps it would be the best BASIC country collaboration ever towards sustainable living.

Beginning by mentioning the superlative program hosted by CNN on sustainable living especially the Eco-Solutions  program where it was shown that, water hyacinth a bane for Africa ( & Asia) could be exploited to created products one would usually associate with bamboo or jute. Although weaving with water hyacinth would be natural in the South American countries, attempting to find its commercial use in Africa is indeed wonderful. While the botanists and environmentalist may not agree, citing the commercialization as a bane to their effort to eliminate the evasive weed; one while agreeing to their line of thought could differ in the approach.

English: Water hyacinth

Water hyacinth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The reason water hyacinth does not grow uncontrolled in the South American continent is because it has natural enemies which keeps it in check. Without such natural control available in the Asian & African continent the water hyacinth has wrecked havoc to the water-bodies. But now the biggest “natural” enemy to everything natural in this planet the honourable homo sapien; once they taste the commercial possibilities of any living or non-living material on Earth, one can bet their last dime that ‘extinction’ is not far away. Therefore one should not worry too much in supporting the poor African women in their attempt to commercialize the water hyacinth. Given the right incentive within a span of 10 years it would become less of a menace; not requiring grants from the UN to keep it under control and more of an opportunity to uplift the poor. If we attempt to think out of the box, sustainable solutions would be easier to come by. And the much needed grants could then go into attempt to rectify wrongs for which easier answer are yet to be found. It is therefore encouraging to see the USA come up with a process to produce Ethanol form water hyacinth at Lake Victoria in East Africa ( vindicating my article –The USA has given some of the top inventions to abate Climate Change.)

It is known to very few that Water Hyacinth can be used to produce Bio-fuel, which can then run a generator to produce electricity. Research on this has been happening across Nations including India, yet not enough media focus and awareness is created to bring it to the grass root level, where it would start to make a difference.

Recently, Oxfam has claimed that the lifestyle of the Maasai tribe in Africa should be embraced as a response to climate change because of their ability to farm in deserts and scrublands.Many Maasai tribes throughout Tanzania and Kenya welcome visits to their village to experience their culture, traditions, and lifestyle. In these tribe cattle plays a very important role too.

There is a great debate in the west about GHG emission form cattle, which is mostly reared for production of beef. With many becoming vegetarians and vegans the debate on consumption and rearing of cattle is still on with respect to their contribution to Global Warming. Those who may not know, in India  practising Hindus consider cattle as sacred. The word “Panjerpol” means an old home for cattle. While the word “Gaushala” denotes a dairy farm. Panjerpol is where devout Hindu’s like to see the cows to go, when their useful life as a milch cow or an Oxen ends, so that they can spend the remainder years in comfort. The charitable trust which I visited is run by some of the most successful businessmen in Pune, Maharashtra,India whose vision is exemplary. Considering every cow as Kamdhenu and all bulls as Nandi the teachings of sustainable living is practised even now.

In the day and age of increased awareness of the benefits of natural fertilizers,using  Cow Manure Fertilizer For
Growing Vegetables, – supply the best bulk form of organic matter to the garden. The fantastic soil conditioning ability of cow manure due to the amount of quality organic matter, that no processed fertilizer can match, is reason enough to use cow manure fertilizer whenever possible to the garden. The soil amending properties of this really great natural fertilizer has to be used to be properly appreciated. In another article Cow Urine Can Cure Many Diseases, the author an Ayurvedic Physician, from Gujrat goes on to say – …The analysis of cow urine has shown that it contains nitrogen, sulphur, phosphate, sodium, manganese, carbolic acid, iron, silicon, chlorine, magnesium, melci, citric, titric, succenic, calcium salts, vitamin a, b, c, d, e, minerals, lactose, enzymes, creatinine, hormones and gold acids.Cow urine treatment and research centre, in Indore (Madhyapradesh, India) has conducted a lot of research in the past few years and reached at the conclusion that it is capable of curing diabetes, blood pressure, asthma, psoriasis, eczema, heart attack, blockage in arteries, fits, cancer, aids, piles, prostrate, arthritis, migraine, thyroid, ulcer, acidity, constipation, gynecological problems, ear and nose problems, abortion and several other diseases. Cow is a mobile dispensary. It is the treasure of medicines. The cow urine therapy is capable of curing several curable and incurable diseases. The holy texts, like atharva veda, charak samhita, rajni ghuntu, vridhabhagabhatt, amritasagar, bhavprakash, sushrut samhita contain beautiful description about these things. It must be noted the late Prime Minister of India Shri Morarji Desai advocated Ayurvedic treatment similar to the one mentioned.

The above sets the stage across two continents on the importance of cattle and hyacinth as two factors which can play an important role in sustainable living in rural areas and thus advocates one of the agendas of the UNFCCC charter.

OX-Driven Electric Generator

The same amount of difference it would make, should the poor and marginalised farmer in India use his oxen to produce electricity. This is yet another aspect I understood on my visit to the Panjerpol near Pune. The article Ox-driven generators set to solve power crisis- BIT Mesra’s non-conventional energy gadget promises to steal show at Udyog Mela reads – An oxen-driven generator set, developed by BIT Mesra’s mechanical engineering department, is set to draw crowds to the forthcoming Jharkhand Udyog Mela 2008 at Morabadi grounds.BIT Mesra has booked a stall in the 11-day fair slated to start from November 15. The fair promises to be a good platform to inform the rural masses, NGOs and, most importantly, agencies working in the field of non-conventional energy about the importance of pollution-free power generating machines. A single unit of such a machine would be able to provide power to at least eight households.

This actually complements an article in another blog Engineering for Change which has devised the same idea by using bicycles –This innovation is one of our Promising Prototypes of IEEE’s Global Humanitarian Technology Conference in Seattle. Bike-powered electricity generators are a practical solution for Indian households. Surveying the country’s energy landscape, with its tight living spaces, expensive land, and far too many people for the power the country produces, bike generators make sense. Venkat Natarajan and his team at Intel Technology India in Bangalore came to that conclusion and they are testing their own low-cost designs.

ISCKON ideas

Developing Green Business Ideas which actually impact the lives of the Undeveloped or the Least Developed Nations must be given priority and WRI, CAN-International, Greenpeace and the likes  should try to make this as an agenda to be showcased at the next UNFCCC meet in Europe. As I have advocated always, it is not important whether we are aware of the possibilities, it is important that the poor and the needy are given the opportunity to exploit so. Water hyacinth covers the serene Vembanad Lake,is as recent a news as October 2012 whereas Biotech Students to Produce Alternate Source of Energy in Surat, published in June 1, 2011 pre-dates the problem taken up by the Times of India news. While BIT Mesra’s Ox-power electricity was showcased in 2008. Actually if one researches further this concept was already in place way back in 1985 and finds mention in Prabhupada News. Had it been encouraged and popularised by the Union and State governments in India, THE GREAT INDIAN BLACKOUT OF 2012 might have been averted. But sensible thinking and foresight is not an Indian thing. We are conditioned for lethargic and knee-jerk administrative reactions.

It is important for the UN to seriously consider taking up a dedicated media space to beam down relevant news and information, as mentioned above on a  24x7x365 basis around the world much like the popular Discovery or National Geographic TV programs. This would at least enable a ground-swell which may see some change for the better in the Developing and Under-developed countries where administrative apathy is rife.

How difficult is it for the media moguls to partner with the UN to launch such ground breaking idea? Something that would benefit the world and encourage people to people contact, thus bringing unto fore new ideas which could perhaps have commercial value? In many of the You Tube links attached to this article one can see so many home-grown ideas which can not get much traction due to want of audience. Some die out simply because the immediate society has no need of it, while it could have been a game changer a continent across; it may perhaps save lives. It can happen even now, in fact it must.

Most of India’s 20 nuclear reactors are on the list of the most unreliable 50 in the world, and villagers near the Tarapur plant have been bearing the brunt of after-effects of radiation. In spite of their complaints, all they’ve got from the govt is assurance of reduced exposure, which is no less risky, finds Dilnaz Boga. Poonam Hambire, a resident of Ghivali village, 12km from Boisar in Thane district, is at the forefront of the anti-nuclear agitation against the Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS). “Women have to come forward as false cases are slapped against the male protesters in Tarapur,” she alleges. Her village lies within the 1.6km radius around one the country’s oldest nuclear reactors built by General Electric in the 1960s. It’s the same model as Japan’s Fukushima reactor. The effects of radiation are obvious in every home not only in Ghivali but also in the neighbouring villages.At Hambire’s home, her eight-year-old nephew’s garlanded photo adorns the wall. “He died of lung cancer, but we couldn’t get his medical reports from the government heath centre. It’s hard to talk about it as his father who is employed at the plant will lose his job. None of the sick villagers get their medical papers,” she claims.

The very argument that India needs to develop and maintain costly Nuclear plants, pales in comparison to the fact that using simple tools, the country under its NEREGA mission can utilize only a fraction of the allocated Nuclear development money and yet bring about enormous social benefit. The most telling; India has unemployed youth in villages who could if given a chance, pedal for 24 hours a day in shifts to continuously produce electricity. Which not only could then be stored and then evacuated into the grid for transmission and distribution but the labour could be paid for by the power companies.

As per the survey conducted by Labour Bureau of the Government of India, 40 Million are unemployed with an Unemployment Rate of 9.4%. The survey was conducted in 28 States/UTs spread across the country in which about 99 per cent of the country’s population reside. It estimates that the population of the country is 1182 million with 63.5% in the working age of 15 – 59 years, however, not everyone who is in the working age is interested in joining the work force, so the worker population ratio is much lower. There are an estimated 238 million households, of which 172 million are rural and 66 million are urban. Out of the total population of the States/UTs covered, 872 million persons (73.8 per cent) live in rural areas and 310 million persons (26.2 per cent) live in urban areas.As per The-Pedal-A-Watt-Bicycle-Generator an average rider will produce between 125 and 300 watts. So even if we consider one-third of 872 million people, the mathematics works out to be a decent amount of power generation + employment scheme wrapped into one. Will the Governments listen ?

 

 

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

The BASIC need to build Resource Efficient & Climate Responsive Cities to avail GCF


When I wrote the article Bangkok floods – Next, New Delhi ? and followed it many moons later with Hurricane Sandy & Cyclone Nilam – “Our cousins would be visiting soon” we had skirted from UNFCCC – Cancun and were preparing to wipe out Doha with the same intensity as Typhoon Bopha,which tore through Philippines leaving 902 dead and 80,000 homeless.

Should the BASIC, LDC & Small Island Nations believe that things would be built on the outcomes of the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali Action Plan; post Doha they need to do some serious review and approach the issue with innovation.  The idea of enhancing the collective ability to discuss climate change under the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities in facing the adverse effects of climate change should be re-written.

If one understands the internal compulsions of EU & USA, it would be clear that “Enhancing the ability of developing countries to undertake nationally appropriate mitigation actions that are supported and enabled by financial resources and technology transfer from developed countries pursuant to the Convention”; – would remain a very clever draft on paper till another clever draft takes its place. After all which superpower wants to create another superpower, that too at its own expense ?

The only way for removal of barriers to technology support and transfer to be provided to developing countries pursuant to the Convention would come when at least in the BASIC countries, which have the most wherewithal and therefore the least chance of being clubbed with the LDC’s and Island Nations; swiftly put in place a loss and damage measurement mechanism along with enhancing operational action on capacity building  with smarter trade treaties with the Developed World. The concept of which I will expand in the later paragraphs.

While China along with India too is unhappy with the lack of commitment and silence from developed nations especially on the question of finances, intellectually property rights and technology transfer and equity. Together they are the next rising stars of the world economy. And everyone including the BASIC members themselves know that. This very reason would limit any serious commitment from the financially troubled EU and the USA.

Add to that the recent comment by President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday – “For Russia to be sovereign and strong, there should be more of us,..I am sure that a family with three children should be the norm for Russia. But much needs to be done to make this happen.” Putin said in his annual speech to the Federal Assembly of both houses of parliament.

By the time the UNFCCC meets for CoP 19 in Eastern Europe, the USA and others would have calculated how much GHG the expected population rise would produce and factor that with the India + China population and throw up their hands in despair. But, if one must be fair, there is truth in this. One of the biggest challenges to Climate change mitigation would be the huge population we India + China possess.

And while we await an innovative idea about how we make a few million Russians out of Indians & Chinese and thus solve the Russian population problem and ours too; we need to seriously prove that our burgeoning population does not harm or come in harms way due to the vagaries of Climate Change.

Almost all Asian and South East Asian Countries have high density population in very small land-mass. So much so that Historical cities, which were built near the confluence of rivers and sea and the deltas have encroached the flood-planes. In the Island city of Mumbai, one would find shanties perched precariously just above the high-tide. Therefore in an unfortunate event of Tsunami or Cyclone loss of life and property is colossal.

How then it be possible to make a difference to the Climate Abatement and solve the crisis of the Cities ?

For that let us look as an example the city of Mumbai. To de-congest it we need to create business centres away form the main city. And to make the business centre successful we need to create residential townships. This is already been set into motion at Ulwe village area of Navi Mumbai, where the  Dhirubhai Ambani Knowledge City complex in Navi Mumbai spread across 135 acre is also earmarked. In an unusual diversification, the Anil Dhirubai Ambani Group will build integrated townships, residences, hotels and commercial spaces through a joint venture with Chinese giant Dalian Wanda Group.

This is a classic example of Sino-India business relationship which would have great bargaining power across the oceans to have technology transfer happen. Should it be developed in the lines of a climate resilient city, which it must, the EU and the USA would be looking to do business with it and would thereby transfer the technology they posses to make it a 100% Green township.

With more such projects encouraged, albeit in less Eco-sensitive zones and with proper diligence to Bio-diversity, none of the issues of technology transfer and related matter especially – …nationally appropriate mitigation actions that are supported and enabled by financial resources and technology transfer from developed countries pursuant to the Convention would matter. Because with each import of the technology transfer done to the developing world, the technology provider would need to discount the price of the plant & machinery or consultancy sought,  to avert climate change. This could be one of the smart trade treaty. Let the BASIC block allow entry of those goods which factor the “rebate” of climate related loss the developing nations have faced and is in line with the – loss and damage measurement doing the rounds at Climate meets.

There is a difference between begging for alms and negotiating the price of a technology which the west anyway need to sell to boost its sagging economy. The position across the table completely changes. There is a lesson which the LDC’s and Island Nations can learn. If they come as a group and provide business opportunities to the BASIC block; by virtue of it’s negotiating power the BASIC would make the west pay their way out of the mess they have created, even in those countries who are to weak too do anything today.

 

 

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

Kyoto to Doha: Why Climate abatement talks always fail !


Through this article, we would try to find why we are failing again and again at Climate Change Negotiation for the past 20 years, my comment on the EU and the USA, no way includes the stellar work done by peers and compatriots; of those who are the true crusaders of Climate change abatement. But perhaps this could be used as an introspection on what we as a Human Civilization have become World over. We shall also try to explore how we can find a way forward form a fresh perspective.

Last November news on the Telegraph readAmerica will produce more oil than Saudi Arabia by 2020 and become a net exporter a decade later, according to the International Energy Agency.

As a child, I used to hear my father say. “USA would one day be the largest producer of Oil”. He foretold. His argument was that the USA is conserving its oil while depleting the stock of the Middle East. By becoming the largest consumer of almost everything it would by the laws of market forces rule over the World. ‘There is no need for conquest by force, when one can have agents of greed agree to rape and plunder there National wealth to fill their coffers with Dollars and in a way be an extension of the US way of life‘;he had added.

So while the World filled their Banks with “Bonds” and “Dollars” made of Paper, the US kept the Gold and Silver at Fort Knox and the rich petroleum below.

Thus the USA became a consumerist society and was taught to waste. A well designed social system was put in place, where the people from Cinema and other entertainment were made into “diva” and “Greek god”. Their life-style became fashion statement. With limited intellect and skills beyond looking bodily beautiful, earning huge sums of money for contributing nothing of substance to the well-being of the planet, a whole industry thriving on Narcissism started to become norm for the western World and slowly percolated to the Orient too.

The World society as a whole moved from seeking essential goods and commodities to “must have”. It became an obsession to have a Second – Home, Car, Watch or Pen. So much so that today we have a jingle to a software launch which says – I want to be everything at once. Consistency and common-sense be dammed !

So much so that there are more fruits in a rich man’s shampoo than in the plate of the malnourished. Something the UN on their regular sojourn around the World to eradicate hunger and depletion of forest must ponder upon.

Today the life-style of the West is so pervasive that young impressionable minds believed around the World, with great help from a frenzied media that

  • eating just one bite from a plate-full of food and throwing away the rest was fashionable. It showed that you are not greedy ( anybody who thought that it was a sensible thing to finish the plate was ridiculed to death ).
  • wearing a haute couture dress twice became morally wrong and punishable. Now a woman of substance can’t even wear shoe, hat or a simple glove twice. And if two girls wear the same it is considered a disaster.
  • from food, clothes,bag, boxes, jewellery it percolated down to use and throw pens, watches, camera and what not.
  • Skin and hair must stay as young and supple as that of a new-born. Although I can show the world people with better hair, skin and physical shape working in the paddy fields across India. And yes, 10 times more beautiful than the faces on fashion magazine, without using a single product the big business houses launch.

Waste is bliss. For the corporate whose business Empire grow make sure that someone who can represent their ideas rule the roost in popular media and politics. It is amazing to see how almost every Nation believes that to be hip and happening, one needs to eject ingenious habits and ape that of popular west.

How then can the West suddenly convince their populace to adapt and adopt life-style which requires a low GHG consumption ?

Are the very negotiators not conditioned in life-style diagrammatically opposing to what they need to ratify ? Civilization has always been built on the Ego of Man. Empire and Emperors shaped the destiny of people based on what they perceived as true.

Therefore the interlocutors we need on behalf of the West should be chosen from the likes of CAN International. World Resources, Climate Co Lab of MIT, OXFAM  IUCN, Greenpeace and similar. Else the World as the LDC’s, ALBA’s and Small Island Nations know would not be there soon for them to live upon.

I would like all to pause as the above statement and reflect – Who are the greatest losers of Climate Change? Those which are either too poor to abate or adapt to the severe changes Global warming may bring about. As for the larger Nations, they are comforted by the fact that they can take the proverbial  hit on the chin and still stand its ground.

The psychology is attuned since the Cold War era to believe that, their disaster response system in case of an all out Nuclear War is already there. Surely Climate change would not be that sudden and thus with ample response time they would always be able to save the important plants and animals.

The Super powers by default of who they are; are conditioned to rationalize the words like – Collateral damages; Expendables; Minimizing the percentage of loss; etcetera. Thus, not much ice has been cut in the last 20 years of talks.

And so much so that, on the flip side the Super Storm Sandy has actually help reinforce the “invincibility” factor in the minds of some. ‘Look, our advanced technology and warning system could predict the storm much before it hit us’. Some would argue. ‘And with the superlative discipline and wherewithal in place damage to life and limb was minimum’. Will be the following consolation.

And somewhere, the fat corporate giant would send in their lobbyist to block plans to rationalize the climate talks. After-all there is so much to build back after a disaster. What an opportunity.

And hell no. Not one such business house would want a loss of life (Human only). Each human is always a potential buyer of goods after all. It’s bad for business. But, such things happen. Too bad, life must go on. And that is what the departed would have wanted, they would argue and with much empathy slip the latest house design in the hands of the living, while the insurance guy stands in the queue with the most friendly smile.

One’s emotional response to a situation is conditioned according to the life s/he has lived. Nations are built by people.

It is really funny, if one pauses to think that a religious argument is being forwarded to straighten a business wrong. So to change the mindset of those Nations or groups who do not consider that it is their moral responsibility to shoulder the burden of Climate change. The LDC, BASIC and the ALBA along with the Small Island Nations, speak in the language the EU and the USA government understand. The language of Business.

So while it is difficult to get commitment into the GEF, surely it would not be difficult for the Parliaments of the Nations most vulnerable to Climate change, pass laws of taxing those who would want to conduct business with them. A Cess perhaps ? For that, corruption has to end. But faced with the potential of having their feet wet  or throat parched by and for water; Peoples behaviour can change.

And change in the thinking and mindset of people must happen soon. We can not afford to keep on extending the deadline until the grand-child of Suzuki repeats the speech spoken 21 years ago in yet another UNFCCC meet.

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

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://i2.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.

 

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

Green Business Ideas – Banking on World Banks dire warnings!


As always, my limited knowledge in all things makes me strive for simple solutions to vexing problems. In this article too, I would try to wake the powers that be to start a movement of the masses, and not publishing reports which only the educated ( markedly different from the literate ) read.

World Bank fears devastating 4.0 degree warming – By Shaun Tandon (AFP)

WASHINGTON — The World Bank warned last Sunday that global temperatures could rise by four degrees this century without immediate action, with potentially devastating consequences for coastal cities and the poor.

Issuing a call for action, the World Bank tied the future wealth of the planet — and especially developing regions — to immediate efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions from sources such as energy production.

“The time is very, very short. The world has to tackle the problem of climate change more aggressively,” World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said on a conference call as he launched a report conducted for the global lender.

Even if nations fulfil current pledges, the study gave a 20 percent likelihood of a four-degree rise by 2100 and said that a three-degree rise appeared likely. UN-led climate negotiations have vowed to limit the rise of temperatures to no more than two degrees.

The dire warnings were designed to encourage bolder action, but the report did not focus on potential steps.

Identifying one area, Kim called for less reliance on coal, which is the dirtiest major form of energy but is politically sensitive in the United States and China due to industry jobs.

The report was carried out by German-based Climate Analytics and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. The World Bank said it did not consider the study a substitute for next UN-backed scientific assessment on climate change expected in 2014.

In another related article – Forest Conservation is Key to Food Security Terry Sunderland, senior researcher with the Center for International Forestry Research, CIFOR, based in Bogor, Indonesia said biodiversity contributes to food security on many levels.

“We are now dependent on only 20 crops for our food security.  At any one time, it is estimated that over 2,000 crop species contribute towards human food security, and 95 percent of food consumed is based on only 20 of those.  A few of those–rice, wheat, and maize–contribute to more than 50 percent of global food consumption. By narrowing our genetic base in terms of food, we are exposing ourselves to enormous risks, particularly with climate change.  He said widening our bio-resources not only provides nutritional benefits to humans but also provides more resilience to the dramatic effects of climate change.”

The U.N. estimates the world population will reach 9 billion by 2050, bringing with it a greater demand for food. Growing appetites could lead to greater deforestation as more trees are felled to make room for agriculture. The report recommended smarter agricultural practices to bring greater productivity on existing agricultural land.

There is a proposed U.N. mechanism to protect forests and ease climate change. It’s called REDD, which stands for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in developing countries. The U.N. says REDD relies on the technical expertise of the Food and Agriculture Organization, the U.N. Development Program and the U.N. Environment Program. One of the goals is to include indigenous peoples and forest-dependent communities in policy making.

I waited these 6 days since Sunday last, to see the effect of the dire warnings! It did not even find a mention in the so called best News Channels ( which is watched by the “aam admi” = common man; also called the mango people by the rich & corrupt). Climate change report is too boring. Unless it changes into a deadly storm killing and damaging millions !

Digressing a little from the subject of my article, but perhaps equally pertinent, I could not help but notice that most News channels carried the recent escalation between Hamas & Israeli army. Each bombing the other, and having the potential of creating another War in the region, already strife – torn.

I wrote an article long back, asking the UN a simple question Will UNEP lose to UNSC to avert Global Warming? The way things are, I don’t think we have any statesmen left in the UNSC to join the dots which would lead them to the concerns of UNEP. My request to the readers is that when s/he reads the contents of the crackers which is the subject of this article, to pause and take the effort to browse the internet on what would be the contents of a real bomb, which are being dropped by all the Peace loving Nations, some at the behest of Noble Peace Prize winners in the bid to keep peace in this World.

While the Environment effects of War are well known by the UN and in a bid to curb this it has printed on quality paper many a resolutions, distributing multiple copies; I present two of them in a little more greener format. The first link from the UNHCHR and the  second link from an article named Environmental effects of Warfare by Lenntech, which is a must read shows how almost all of us know the misery War brings to the environment. The effect, War has over Water – Air – Soil are mind boggling. Yet, Nations after Nation amass Weapons of mass destruction and in the event of a conflict, destroy standing crop which could feed millions.

What is the cost of War to Sustainable Living ? The Avaaz Foundation, has raised some of the most pertinent questions  through “Six shocking facts of everyday life” on one particular place/region; however it is true in some form or other all around us. Although we don’t have the luxury of time and must tackle all problems pertaining to environmental degradation at once, we still need to educate the common person. The final architect of change. Because, sustainable living is a little more complicated than walking on a Green Carpet instead of a Red one to collect the best motion picture award for an environment documentary.

I would use the warning from the World Bank, to focus on the trade and business of Fire Crackers,( the demo version of the trade and business of armaments) . As it is the concern of loss of trade & business (on a more permanent basis, should the world sink underwater)  which has made the World Bank say what it has.

This image is as published in a DNA article  which the Avaaz Foundation released during “Diwali” or Deepawali (festival of lamps) a Hindu festival which once meant celebrating the conquest of good over evil and symbolically lighting a lamp to dispel darkness. And so it was celebrated till China invented the Firecrackers !

Now, each year thousands of Indians burn huge amount of money with determined purpose and glee to pollute the environment in every imaginable way possible. And although sporadic, but consistently beat up any Non – Avaaz  ( Avaaz in Hindi means Noise ) lovers who dare to protest. After all according to firecracker industry sources the high-street value of the industry should be over Rs 8,000 crore.

So every year India in the matter of just 2 days burns up Rs 8,000 crore to create pollution which directly and indirectly affect the life and limb of People and Planet. The article Risks in organised fireworks sector,  although sombre is just a tip of the ice-berg of problems associated with manufacture and use of firecrackers. Quoting a paragraph from the article –

Sadly, while in the past firecrackers were used mainly during Diwali it has now become de rigueur for almost every festival that is celebrated across the country. Even weddings, birthdays and other social events see the bursting of noisy firecrackers.
Successful candidates in elections — to parliament, state assemblies, local bodies, or even university and college posts — also believe in ‘celebrating’ their victories by bursting firecrackers. They are also burst by fans to celebrate the Indian cricket team’s victories both at home and abroad.

Courts in India have directed the authorities to impose a ban on the lighting of firecrackers after 10 pm, but these are observed more in the breach. Since the bursting of firecrackers has now become a national pastime, the police simply ignore the violations.

It becomes clear, that when money comes into play law is the first causality. Next, comes ignorance. With literacy being the main focus and not education, we have many literate buffoons sadly elected to legislate laws which they hardly themselves understand.

So how do we address this challenge? As usual, we convert it into a Green Business Idea. While I am not surprised that India does not have any calculation on the GHG emission caused by Firecrackers, and as bursting of fire-crackers is a World phenomenon ( Chinese are indeed the best businessmen); I found in an article posted in TreeHugger the annual U.S. emissions from fireworks: 60,340 tons!

If we assume this as India’s emission and bring into perspective Rs 8000 crore. We have an idea to propagate. Say we divide 60,340 / 8000 = 7.5 crore per tonne.We have the potential to earn Rupees 7.5 crore per tonne in abatement of bursting fire-crackers. I have deliberately not used the CDM method of calculating GHG emission  because it is so complex that the common man would simply give up and never would agree to “pay” the DOE. And why should they? In fact we can activate the miners club for mineral management and insist that better money be paid to those mine owners who do not allow the precious minerals dug up at the cost to the ecosystem be blown up thus. ( enlarge image to read the contents of a fire-cracker, its amazing what we do to our planets resources)

What if the concerned World Bank devices an instrument based on the assumed business worth of the fire-cracker industry; to measure the impact of GHG city wise in India and grants the Municipal organisation money each year for every GHG producing fire-cracker not burst? And also create a cess of say 20% to rehabilitate the workers and the industry owners towards sustainable business practice? Maybe the dire consequences of a 4°C could just be averted.

Sustainable Business is the best business. What we need is a Green Business Idea for every environmental problem present. Hope someone would draw the attention to my idea to World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. It could just have a chance to become a real tool perhaps, in the hands of better men.

 
 

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

Sustainable Mining should be The BASICs agenda at UNFCCC-Doha.


One of the most vexing questions which need to be tackled in the run-up to UNFCCC -Doha is the agenda of discussion here. The issue of Economically Sustainable Development vs Ecologically Sustainable Development, and how to really boost the RET’s. And how the people must manoeuvre the thought of the leaders towards concrete results.

BRASILIA, BrazilBrazil, South Africa, India and China are urging developed countries to adopt more ambitious goals to reduce global warming.The four countries form the bloc known as BASIC and representatives on Friday ended a two-day meeting to define a common position ahead of November’s United Nations’ climate change conference in Doha. BASIC acts jointly in international climate change meetings.They say developed nations must assume stronger emission reduction commitments under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that is aimed at stemming pollution and global warming. It has been opposed by the United States. (The Associated Press Published: Friday, Sep. 21, 2012)

Was this ambition to do more about Global Warming anything to do with the report below ? For Politicians too can be affected by death and disease ? Will the world leaders finally wake up to doing something concrete at the grass root level or still devise methods of corporate enrichment, using the bogey of Climate change abatement?

Global warming may be spurring the spread of Cyanobacteria, one of the most primitive of bugs, while causing them to produce greater amounts of toxins, which may affect liver, nervous system and eyes, according to a study. “These toxins may affect the liver and other organs (hepatotoxins), the nervous system (neurotoxins), different cells (cytotoxins), the eyes and mucous membranes, as well as causing dermatitis and allergies,” explains Francisca F. del Campo, study co-author and researcher at the Autonomous University of Madrid. (IANS : Jul 4, 2012,)

MUMBAI: Global warming is expected to intensify extreme precipitation, but the rate at which it does so in the tropics has remained unclear. Now an MIT study has given an estimate based on model simulations and observations: With every 1 degree Celsius rise in temperature, the study finds, tropical regions will see 10 percent heavier rainfall extremes, with possible impacts for flooding in populous regions.”The study includes some populous countries that are vulnerable to climate change,” says Paul O’Gorman, the Victor P. Starr Career Development Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT, “and impacts of changes in rainfall could be important there.” ( read rest if of article in Global warming to affect rainfall)

But, when one reads it again, one tends to wonder as to why India which is an equal partner in the fight for Climate change hardly takes centre stage in innovating any movement. That Dr. R.K.Pachauri sits at the top in the UNFCCC, seems to be the only achievement way back in the past when India mattered. Even when the TOI report states below that Mumbai would surely see another flood, sooner than later not a ripple is created in the Media or social circle. Should one read the C40 program, one would understand why such a thing is important. Although India was not the innovator of this program, both Mumbai and New Delhi are signatories. Yet I can bet my last inflation effected Rupee that not many a Citizen in both the Megalopolis know about it. Forget C40 program, I would not know how many in the administration know that you don’t cross the Zebra line, when you stop at a traffic signal. Or for that matter drive in lane.

As alien a concept to the leaders as to the public, the simple fact of driving in lane, can cut a better percentage of fuel consumption in a vehicle, simply because if one can cruise at a standard speed, instead of snaking between vehicles and pedestrians; the clutch and gears are less used. Which saves fuel.  It saves – Money! It also allows for less wear & tear of the roads and the citizens, who having more energy to work and not negotiate roads give that much more to Nation building. And as we well know by nowmoney does not grow on trees“. the dialogue made famous by our head of Government. It was only during the first Iraq conflict – The Desert Storm; that the PCRA had come up with sustained campaign to save fuel. But now our leaders are happy by simply increasing the fossil fuel cost, without an attempt to innovation. Forget innovation, our leaders do not even have the gumption to in-force the laws as simple as road discipline which can save so much of the exchequer. It is a telling commentary on their “ability to govern”.

The reason is simple. While the World is moving towards creating The CEO as statesman; some are more focussed in creating Politicians as CEO’s,  which in the process would be harmful to the Ecosystem as personal profit would become more supreme than National good. In the Essay by Ethical Corporation; The CEO as statesman  – The reach and impacts of today’s global corporations mean that, like it or loathe it, business leaders cannot ignore international relations, and global issues such as sustainable development.

Frankly, I would prefer a Politician to be a CEO, should s/he be able to rise above partisan thinking and innovate methods & laws to develop both business and the ecosystem in a balanced way. I do concede it’s a utopian thought, but wishful thinking is not yet a crime.

Therefore the CEO it would seem, is moving towards actual sensible approach to the problems vexing the planet. Or rather, to do plane speak; that would be the ideal solution. Because, all said and done; barring a very few, most are still applying the same hackneyed idea of business and hoping to succeed in fooling the people all over again. Any business is being sold by using the adage, green without actually understanding the core meaning in it.  By just using the adage, Green to everything that they are doing both the Politician and the CEO is playing with fire.

Reading another report in the DNA newspaper on the recent coal scam; a cold sweat broke when I thought how even this could be turned into a Green agenda! How long would it take for the spin-doctors to say, that the inquiry which has led to de-allocation of coal blocks, has saved huge tracts of virgin forest, while at the same time make a windfall profit by importing Coal ? From whichever Nation it be imported; most presumably another of the BASIC Nation or perhaps Australia. But how does this abate GHG ? It is just transfer of one’s dirt to another country. The faulty basis on which the Koyto Protocol began in the first place; even though the intent behind is was, and still is greater good. So, why not change the datum on the approach to CDM ?

For example,a report suggest; the energy derived from coal in India is about twice that of energy derived from oil, as against the world, where energy derived from coal is about 30% lower than energy derived from oil.

Thus Coal would always stay in the near future as India’s most important energy source. Therefore what must be done to balance the requirement of legitimate human developmental needs, against the odds stacked heavily against use of high GHG producing energy source ? The Green idea I propose here is simple. Declare Coal as the most lucrative CDM revenue earner and open the purse strings of the GCF on this regard. But only one rider must stay. Limit the destructions of life-forms. And have a MRV in place. Be it a rodent, a bird or a tree, document the destruction and make it public.

It is time that the BASIC countries, especially India while raising the issue at UNFCCC- Doha its right to develop; also propose the idea to ban open-cast mining! So, what is the option as opposed to open-cast mining ? The traditional methods off-course! BUT with a difference. Let most of the mining done be robotic. Not only it would save life & limb of humans it would also limit the other collateral destruction related to mining.

The technology is already there to go deep underground,without disturbing what is above. Be it creating the tunnel for the Higgs-Boson experiment in the Large Hadron Collider;  creating underground experiment to find Dark matter or the English Channel Tunnel which not only vindicates my argument but also shows how Public-Private partnership works; extraction of Coal with limited destruction to the ecosystem above must become mandatory. Until we do find the solution to endless clean energy. The balanced approach which India did take  while constructing India-based Neutrino Observatory, which looked into the various aspect of Environment; must also become norm for mining of minerals including coal via underground shafts only. Therefore, I repeat that we know the technology, we have the funds to conduct experiment which are extremely costly; the same approach must be adopted with creating innovative clauses in the existing CDM mandate; and let the balance between Economy Vs Ecology for future growth be the focus agenda at UNFCCC – Doha.

And what could be the real icing on the cake is, the energy which would be required to power these machines can come from CSP installed in close vicinity. Thus large amount of diesel which is required to fire the generators to turn the conveyors would be limited. And the site-offices can easily work with day-time solar power. This would not only encourage responsible eco-system management, but also boots various business opportunities in the nascent RET industry. Adding some more comments I had mentioned in my previous article Green Business Ideas – Abandoned coalfields can boost RE and save forest in India. We the environmentally concious can really make a case to the business viability of the suggestions.

For, without business interest, none would be interested. Even the die-hard activist needs money to buy bread, and for that there has to be a source of income. Let’s not become rebels without a cause, but rebel for the cause of Nature and change the datum of development.

In-fact, it is my direct appeal to WRI, Greenpeace -International; CAN – International and UNEP / UNDP that they support such an initiative. It is time humans start respecting life especially at the UNFCC level. In my article Killing is not a crime,only Murder is; The difficulty of preaching Sustainable Living.; I’ve tried to show how we narrow our focus, while talking of right to live. Unless this changes, real progress towards sustainable economy will  take longer time than we presently have. To save this planet from climate change due to human intervention.

 

 

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

Green Business Ideas – Abandoned coalfields can boost RE and save forest in India.


Through this article, an attempt is being made to be on the top rung of the IWR-2012. We as a Nation must understand the meaning of Wealth as opposed to Riches. As the World reels in the clutch of economic depression; of its own making through continued myopic vision of the leadership, India my beloved nation is gearing up to tear away the last remaining virgin forests in the name of “development”. That development is a fundamental right of humans, the right of live of all living beings (trees, animals and even moss, lichen and bacteria)  and their importance in keeping this world alive can’t be discounted. As always, I abhor unlawful protest and mindless activism, but would attempt to find an idea for mankind to earn more riches but in the process create & preserve the natural wealth of the Nation.

In the recent report published, it is stated that the USA is abandoning RET for cheaper Gas. Many companies especially in the Solar PV business have closed shop.This is primarily because, people will adopt technologies which are cheaper. To this argument I have only one question to ask, is Gas renewable energy? It is not and it has its own set of problems, both ecological as well as geopolitical. Thus if the sum-total is added up, Gas is not cheaper as it is presented via a series of complex mathematical calculations. These calculations are made by “experts” who have no expertise on the environmental and ecological consequence. Neither are the experts on the physiological impact it would bring in the long term on the Peoples who, addicted as they are to fossil fuel go into depression, for want of continuous supply of the same. Every middle east upheaval can be attributed to this fear of change in the absence of another addictive fossil fuel, Oil. On whose slippery ground the modern civilization stands today. As far as I know in the India context, we are having a major Geopolitical tension with our Northern neighbours, who seem to be claiming a sea zone for itself. Although War is also a form of ‘renewable’ action, I don’t think it is sustainable and green, just as the shale gas for which we are going into so much trouble.

While we have some time unlike the USA, to really have an impact from gas; we surely have created a World record recently – by having the largest grid failure in the history of the civilized world. And this has renewed the baying for more coal field allocation, which is fatal to the preservation of the Ecosystem.

A modern Nation, with weak infrastructure is a recipe for disaster, as it becomes vulnerable to external malicious attacks. Imagine if we are in a grid-lock, with all  critical systems off-line ( although external defence may have back-ups but civil defence in disarray would only cause problems) and disaster strikes. Either natural or man-made, the resulting mayhem is to scary to discuss.  And this is exactly the matter which the mandarins at the Capital must be discussing. The sudden explosive actions across the Nation to increase electric tariff and diesel price, points to the direction that the last remaining saner voices within the administration are being heard and untenable subsidy may be on the way out.

The danger however is that, historically politicians across the world have a very myopic vision but superb oratory skill. And with this Devil – gifted skill, they would convince the Nation that “coal-gate scam” is actually a boon. And we must allow to rip the heart of Mother Earth ever more and extract coal, to fuel our thermal power plants and thus produce more electricity. And a few more Nuclear plants would actually ease the pain .

Environment be dammed! Already preparation are on to create a sham of the Madhav Gadgil report on the western ghats, which suggests detailed recommendations and suggestions on preservation of the Ecologically sensitive region which has even got the UNESCO status. ( details in DNA news).

But, as in all problems my beloved Nations faces, in this Great National Blackout too I see a fantastic Green Business opportunity. Together we the people, the environmentalists and the think-tanks can help our Corporate Czars, perhaps members of CIICESD and WBCSD to build upon the renewable energy options and reap the benefits. Before we delve into it let us first understand coal.

Coal is perhaps one of the most important discovery which catapulted the human civilization to its present form. Coal has various grades Lignite, Sub-bituminous coal,Bituminous coal, Steam coal, are mostly used for industrial purpose, where as Peat, Anthracite, Graphite have also found use in residential heating, agriculture and making lubricants and most importantly the Pencil . However the primary use of coal lets say to keep it simple, is for two basic purpose – It is primarily burned for the production of electricity and/or heat, and is also used for industrial purposes such as refining metals. The five largest coal users – China, USA, India, Russia and Japan – account for 77% of total global coal use. Coal & Oil along with their derivatives are here to stay and no amount of protest would stop its use and extraction completely. Let us not for a minute, forget that even the rudiments of protest which we as environmentalists are advocating & sharing via electronic media today would  be possible if the production of coal is stopped abruptly. Because we are using the very infrastructure built via use of coal.  Over the ages, with knowledge which we had during that time, coupled with complete absence of any form of protest against pollution; we have built this modern high-carbon life style completely dependent on one form of carbon or other.

However, if concerted action is taken we can within an acceptable and accelerated time-frame perhaps be able to switch over to more cleaner and renewable options which are already available in the alternative energy basket. And the way forward may be the idea I’m about to present. It would in no way be perfect, but just a seed of thought which I’m sure people with expertise can work on. And coupled with the renewable energy mission our country is attempting to take, we may just be able to increase  that scope. Especially Solar, Hybrid Solar  and Solar thermal power stations. And I propose another type of idea that which may be named – Geo-thermal + Hybrid solar, if it finds currency among the experts. And to this I appeal CAN-International, WRI and Green Peace International to find the experts who could make this possible.

Having established that Coal ( as is oil & gas ) is  a fuel, we need to see where it is being used. Again to keep it simple, we will take the largest consumers namely – 1. The Steel Plants  2. The Thermal Power plants.

In India, our steel plants come under the banner of Steel Authority of India (SAIL) and they are situated in the city of  Bokaro, Bhilai, Rourkela and Durgapur. To begin with let’s see look at the area a steel plant requires and what are the allied industries within it or at close proximity. Clicking on the image one would be able to zoom into the Rourkela Steel plant, Odisha.  On one end you would notice the Slag dumping ground and exactly opposite between the CISF grounds and the Diesel Colony railway station, a massive coal yard. The coal to this plant comes from  the once beautiful place around the now famous Mahanadi Coal fields thermal power plant area  around the historic IB river valley between  Jharsuguda, Brajrajnagar and Belpahar. ( “Bel” = wood apple + pahar = hill, one should know that there are no more hills because the open cast mining has ripped this place apart ) and the the iron-ore from the last dense forest cover of Kiri Buru. A place so beautiful that it could have made one of the best hill-station of that region, if humans had not found iron -ore there.  While my limited knowledge can’t find the alternate to steel, it is however a different matter about how we can limit the use of coal.

To begin with, let us switch the use of coal as being envisaged for thermal power plants  in the  steel plants too. And use Solar Photo Voltaic to the extent possible. As the supply of coal becomes more and more scarce, the massive land area within the Steel plants which has to stock up coal  can easily be converted into land for Concentrated Solar Power panels. Coal is required as a fuel, to be burnt in blast furnaces to produce heat to produce steel. Now if we can still provide the heat through heating coils, which are powered by CSP, the job can be done. The fundamentals would be more or less the same which is being advocated by NREL Coupled with heat recovery units and in time other innovations, CSP may well be able to supply the electricity required for night-time operations too, perhaps with Nickel–iron battery (NiFe Batteries) which are reborn and  presently showing promise better than the Lithium-ion batteries. But it is obvious that the land required to produce the amount of electricity needed will not be sufficient within the plant premise. For this I would like to draw our attention to the following.

The attached     table    on degraded and wasteland  from a research paper by Indian  Council  of Agricultural Research and National Academy of Agricultural   Sciences       (double click on image for full report) shows that we have an average of 133.95 Million Hectares of degraded and wasteland. A detailed and easy to understand report it warns of the impending food crisis and climate change due to the continuous degradation of land. Excerpts – Forests occupy about 19.4% of the total geographical area of the country against the ideal requirement of 33%…. Per capita availability of inelastic land resource is rapidly declining in  relation
to annual population growth of 1.4% in the country.  Increasing GDP growth is expanding urbanization and industrialization and, therefore, more and more of agricultural lands are being utilized for non-agricultural purposes. The complex interplay of natural and anthropogenic processes compounds problems of land-use planning further. Maintaining and enhancing productive potential of our land resources is vital for progressive introduction of sustainable technologies, and thereby resilience in crop production….This challenge must and needs to be met in the face of the changing consumption patterns, impacts of the climate change and degradation of the finite land and water resources. Management of land resources, in general, and potentially cultivable lands in particular, encompasses, crop production methods that will keep pace with country’s food needs, sustaining environment, blunting impacts of climate change, preserving and enhancing natural resources, and supporting livelihood of farmers and rural population in the country. Thus, there is a pressing need for enlarging area under arable lands, by the way of reclaiming degraded lands for sustainable intensification of agriculture, in which crop yields can be increased without compromising and yielding to adverse environmental impacts and without reducing area under forests…. Land degradation, like climate change, is an anthropogenic induced process and poses biggest threat to sustainable livelihood security of the farming communities across the country. All of these factors combined with increased rate of land degradation are contributing towards decline in agricultural productivity leading to food insecurity. Since land resources are finite, requisite measures are required to reclaim degraded and wastelands, so that areas going out of cultivation due to social and economic reasons are replenished by reclaiming these lands and by arresting further loss of production potential.
In all this dark and doom, one can see that India’s democratic foundation is strong and its institutions work. Only the reports which can actually make a positive impact gets buried in Crony Capitalism and narrow political agenda of a few. That there is a rot in the cart of apples is evident, therefore the better ones are in grave danger and need all the more to connect to the pulse of the people and do the right thing.

And if the recent buzz is to be believed we are going to lose a massive forest cover sooner than later for mining coal for feeding our thermal power and steel plants. And this can be reduced if not stopped.

And that would be to identify the completely degraded land and set up Solar plants in them to offset the needs of the power and steel industry. According to the Wasteland Map of India–NRSA data, land which comes under Physical degradation that is – Mining and industrial waste 0.19 million hectares; Water-logging (permanent surface inundation) 0.88 million hectares; and as per Salt-Af fected Soils Map of India,CSSRI, NBSS & LUP, NRSA and others, land under Chemical degradation ie; Exclusively salt affected soils amount to 5.44million hectares.

If one visits the coal -belt area between Durgapur Steel Plant and Asansol ( Burnpur steel from British era ) and halt at Andal junction, one would find huge tracts of waste land, where not even a single blade of grass grow. While underground mining is relatively better for the ecology  but how far biological reclamation is possible needs to be understood, as this Newsletter of ISEB India has touched upon.  Therefore one suggestion could be that solar power plants be installed in these degraded land. Even the permanent water logged abandoned mine areas and contaminated water from the mines which are run-off can be taken into good use by converting them into the mini-source of water, which is what in the form of steam runs the turbines of a thermal power plant to generate electricity.

And the most important innovation would be to tap into the heat of the smouldering underground fire which these vast mine fields have ignited.By using Geothermal Technology. It is a phenomena found World wide and I can not fathom how the great corporate Czars have not yet thought of exploring this heat to electricity and earn a Noble Prize in the process.

The Greatest Green Business Idea till now would be that with one deft stroke, where-ever possible ( everything is possible if economics do not come in the way, just as it does not when a Nation hosts the Olympics, spending billions on stadia which would hardly see the same amount of use, ever again ) degraded land especially near Steel plants and Thermal power plants need to install CSP. And capture the latent heat from the vast burning underground coal fields to supplement the night-time requirements.   A strong policy which looks into the aspects of support as required by this fledgling RET industry must be given. And for those who are wondering how to capture the heat from the burning coal-fields just read-up on geo-thermal technology.

As mentioned in my earlier article, the private sector is already geared up to meet this challenge and some of the players would jump into the opportunity of Build Own Operate and Transfer model (BOOT).  The challenge is would the media house and the top environment NGO’s take this matter up to create a crescendo of public awareness, thus making the government take action !

Note:  The images used have their original urls attached to them (and the articles therein are a must read) as are underlined links which contain the complete story to support this article. These images are only for representation purpose, however if the idea in the article helps recover any waste land for good use, I shall be grateful.

 

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

Millennium Development Goals – towards Sustainable Living


The UNFCCC Rio+20; is over. We all must look towards the next one. And while we do, it is our duty to make the common person understand in as simple term as possible the agenda of the Millennium Development and how it is related to their every day life.

English: A 2005 photograph of James Lovelock, ...

English: A 2005 photograph of James Lovelock, scientist and author best known for the Gaia hypothesis. Photograph taken by Bruno Comby of Association of Environmentalists For Nuclear Energy. Original at http://www.ecolo.org/lovelock/. Released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license versions 2.5, 2.0, and 1.0. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The eminent British scientist James Lovelock, back in the 1970s, formulated his theory of Gaia, which held that the Earth was a kind of super organism. It had a self-regulating quality that would keep everything within that narrow band that made life possible. If things got too warm or too cold—if sunlight varied, or volcanoes caused a fall in temperatures, and so forth—Gaia would eventually compensate.This was a comforting notion to many. Later, he said he was wrong, “I have to tell you, as members of the Earth’s family and an intimate part of it, that you and especially civilization are in grave danger,” he wrote in the Independent in 2006. .

The world has warmed since those heady days of Gaia, and scientists have grown gloomier in their assessment of the state of the world’s climate. NASA climate scientist James Hanson has warned of a Venus effect,” in which runaway warming turns Earth into an uninhabitable desert, with a surface temperature high enough to melt lead, sometime in the next few centuries.

pleistocene extinction

pleistocene extinction (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In a provocative, gripping book, Scientific American editor Fred Guterl says – The sixth “mass extinction event” in the history of planet Earth is currently under way, with over two hundred species dying off every day. The cause of this seismic event is also the source of the single biggest threat to human life: our own inventions. But for all our talk about sea levels and biotechnology, do we really know what our future will actually look like? Will our immune systems be attacked by so-called super bugs, always evolving, and more easily spread than ever? Will the disappearance of numerous species cripple the biosphere? And if it does, what happens then? We find ourselves in a trap: Technology got us into this mess, and it’s also the only thing that can help us survive it.

So, what must be done ? Elinor Ostrom winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics says –  The good news is that evolutionary policymaking is already happening organically. In the absence of effective national and international legislation to curb greenhouse gases, a growing number of city leaders are acting to protect their citizens and economies.

pleistocene extinction

This is hardly surprising – indeed, it should be encouraged. This grassroots diversity in ‘green policy making’ makes economic sense. ‘Sustainable cities’ attract the creative, educated people who want to live in a pollution-free, modern, urban environment that suits their lifestyles. This is where future growth lies. Like upgrading a mobile phone, when people see the benefits, they will discard old models in a flash. Most major cities sit on coasts, straddle rivers, or lie on vulnerable deltas, putting them on the front line of rising sea levels and flooding in the coming decades. Adaptation is a necessity. But, with cities responsible for 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, mitigation is better. Of course, true sustainability goes further than pollution control. City planners must look beyond municipal limits and analyse flows of resources – energy, food, water, and people – into and out of their cities. Setting goals can overcome inertia, but everyone must have a stake in establishing them: countries, states, cities, organisations, companies, and people everywhere. Success will hinge on developing many overlapping policies to achieve the goals.

If one reads into the Euro Zone crisis, all that is being debated is whether there should be austerity or business as usual. And in this whatever the European Union has gained and trying to gain in the area of Climate Change abatement, would be the first casualty. Because those who advocate austerity would find sustainable development “costly” to implement and those who oppose it would consider sustainable development as barrier to growth, the high carbon growth which did bring the Nations to their prime but at the cost of the environment; which would be glossed over by impassioned speech more or less with the justification that they are doing this for the benefit of the people. And Peoples and Sheep from time of Anthony when he buried Cesar, get easily swayed in not recognizing the actual ambition of the Orator. And Europe is not alone in this, there are already grumblings on the Bunker fuel tax, Euro Zone has levied from January 2012; with even India along with China and Russia of the BRICS  group opposing it.

Capitalism, the form which is practiced today, measures profit by monetary gain only. It has so dis-oriented  the “experts” and “leaders” that it is difficult for them to come out of it. The system has trained Law & Business Graduates to distrust, mistrust, lie and intimidate at every turn. And when this is topped with greed and avarice, the heady mix is a dangerous concoction of disastrous results, which at times just needs a small nudge from Nature to implode/explode into a catastrophe – the most recent example is Fukushima, Lehman Brother episode. The Indian list is endless, so I best leave it for now by just saying; it is being mentioned that, should we be able to repatriate the money parked in off-shore accounts, India can have the 5 year plan of  Sustainable Growth covered in one go.

Although among climate experts, there’s an extraordinary level of agreement with 97 out of 100 climate scientists agreeing that humans are causing global warming. Action taken on the ground are far from satisfactory.

English: Inaugural Ministerial Meeting of the ...

English: Inaugural Ministerial Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate in Sydney, Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why is this happening? It is because the mandarins in power are straight jacketed in their thoughts vis-a-vis international commerce & trade as well as Geo-politics. Habits die hard and the more seasoned the diplomat, the more suspicious s/he would be of every proposal; even if it were for Climate change abatement and Sustainable Development. It came to as no surprise, when just post the failure of Copenhagen UNFCCC COP15 summit, a very high up in the Indian delegation said that, the failure is not because no one understood the grim reality of climate change; but inherently all consider it just another gathering of World Economic Forum in disguise. So each Nation / Group look at maximizing their economic benefit.

It is therefore imperative for the common person to understand the reasons and patterns behind the hardships they are facing and what their children would face; they need to understand that many are out of work because the corporates did not factor in the climate risks when polluting the earth endlessly, and being part of the employee pool we to have our fair share in it. This has to led to food crises in many Nations, drought & famine in other. This  desperate atmosphere at times creates situation for war & piracy at high-seas. It also encourages impressionable minds to dream of “paradise” when they willingly explode having nothing to lose.

When all the chips are down the only thing a human needs is -FOOD & SHELTER just like all other animals in this eco-system and Climate change is leading the world towards that disaster. The evidence of impending Armageddon is all around us to see, the trick is to abate it in time. Adaptation is a stop-gap option not the solution. Sustainable practice is all encompassing. It can not be seen in isolation. This I could learn over time through experience. From looking at sustainability through the narrow prism of Energy Efficient Building Design, it slowly dawned unto me that the buildings I think of designing and the Renewable Energy I love to promote can not exist in vacuum. They are but an infrastructure service for betterment of Humanity, and if modern Civilization gets devoid of mankind due to Climate change  what purpose would the buildings serve?

As the 8 Millennium Development Goals suggests – 1. Eradication of Extreme Poverty & Hunger. – talk to a hungry person of not cutting down a tree for sale as fire-wood so that s/he can feed the family, it just won’t work.

2. Achieve Universal Primary Education.-how else would the citizens understand and adapt to the various programs for betterment of the under privileged, who are fooled at every turn by the unscrupulous and thus face the brunt of any natural or man-made calamity.

3. Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women. – it is a fact that women have better intuition, more caring, perceive more colors  , can identify more through  smell, have a better memory power than men and have Emotional intelligence  far better then men. The list is endless. In India as in the rest of the world “Mother Goddess” was supreme. Today in India the worship of the female power as Goddess Shakti is only but a lip service, without understanding why our ancient ancestors put so much currency on the empowerment of women. For without having the Mother teaching a child to nurture how can Nature sustain itself ?

4. Reduce Child Mortality. Although India has the highest “youth capital”; it also has a dismal record of child mortality. A Country prospers on the back of the people – the farmer, the solider, the mason, the weaver; without able body to shoulder the burden, there would neither be food, shelter or clothing and none to protect the Nations wealth. 

5.Improve Maternal Health.- If the wealth of a Nation is its able citizens, then the continuity can only be maintained through sustained efforts to keep the mother of the child, who is the future of the Nation, healthy.

6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other disease. –Without education, gender equality and eradication of poverty; the complete physical, physiological and ecological balance suffers leading to disease and destruction.

Only by achieving the desired result in the above six can we complete the other two

7. Ensure Environment Sustainability- Reduction of Green House Gases and other forms of pollution is the only way to stop the Extinction of the modern Civilization.

8. Develop a Global Partnership for Development. – Sustained efforts in global partnership on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) which
“serve as a crucial enabler for territorial development, accelerating progress in poverty reduction, while promoting inclusive growth.” By sharing knowledge of sustainable development practice Nations can learn from each other and create better job opportunities while veering away form the disastrous High Carbon Economy of today.

Courtesy:amazon.com/The-Fate-Species; scientific american.com/The Fate of the Species.;  abc.net.au/environment.

 

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

Green Business Ideas: India gives a PAT to Inclusive Wealth Report 2012


Whatever said and done; the Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh has the best sense of timing when it  comes to providing impetus to the Economy, launching PAT under NMEEE this week, is one such achievement. Let us look at how such green initiatives are going to be one of the best bet in boosting the Green Economy not only in India but world-wide.

A direct link can easily be established between India’s NAPCC agenda (of which PAT is a part) and IWR’s core thought. I had dealt in greater detail on what is NAPCC in – Green Business Ideas : India should promote NSM & NMSH to make NMEEE a success. So I will only bring out the thought which resonates with the IWR in this article. Below are some of the very recent remarks found on the News, post the culmination of UNFCCC‘s summit at Rio and excerpts from the UNU-IHDP’s & UNEP’s  report IWR 2012 .

guardian.co.ukThe bizarre weather of early summer in the US – from heatwave, wildfires, drought to freak storms – is just a sampling of what is to come for 2012 and a window to the future under climate change…..

green-buzz.net – Global warming will mess up with attempts to save the Amazon rainforest, based on a negative new research that predicts that a third of its trees will be wiped out by even small temperature rises. …

guardian.co.uk – Whenever an episode of extreme weather – heat wave, flood, drought, etc – hits the headlines, someone somewhere is sure to point the finger of blame at human-induced climate change….

bbc.co.uk – Leaves are getting narrower on some plant species as a result of changes to the climate, a study has suggested.

In the last decade, almost one million people have been killed by disasters and more than one trillion dollars have been lost. Yet only 1% of international aid is spent to minimise the impact of these disasters : UNDP

The remark of UNDP simply reinforces the scope and depth of opportunity global business has in extracting itself out of the morass of economic slowdown and begin towards a newer and dynamic economic model based on the lines of a B-Corp, a recent and fast catching phenomenon around the western hemisphere.  And presently the slow down of  world economy is partly due to the slowdown in ideas and direction in the EU and lets not forget the Lehman Brothers very soon, lest the USA makes similar mistake again, in its present climb-up the ladder of economic well-being.

“IWI is among a range of potential replacements which world leaders can consider as a way of bringing great precision to assessing wealth generation in order to realize sustainable development and eradicate poverty,”said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, during the launch of the Inclusive Wealth Report 2012 (IWR), a joint initiative launched at Rio+20 by the “International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (UNU-IHDP) hosted by the United Nations University and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Wealth accounting, the concept behind the IWI, draws up a balance sheet for nations and shows countries where their wealth lies. By taking into account a wide array of capital assets a nation has at its disposal to secure society’s well-being, it presents a more comprehensive picture and informs policy makers on the importance of maintaining their nation’s capital base for future generations. The importance of keeping an eye on the full range of a country’s capital assets becomes particularly evident when population growth is factored in.

Key findings from the report are:

  • While 19 out of the 20 countries experienced a decline in natural capital, six also saw a decline in their inclusive wealth, putting them on an unsustainable track, Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, South Africa and Nigeria were the nations that failed to grow. The remaining 70 per cent of countries show IWI per-capita growth, indicating sustainability.
  • High population growth with respect to IWI growth created unsustainable conditions in five of the six countries mentioned above. Russia’s lack of growth was due largely to a drop in manufactured capital
  • 25 per cent of countries which showed a positive trend when measured by GDP per capita and HDI were found to have a negative IWI per capita. The primary driver of the difference in performance was the decline in natural capital
  • With the exception of France, Germany, Japan, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States, all countries surveyed have a higher share of natural capital than manufactured capital, highlighting its importance
  • Human capital has increased in every country and is the prime capital form that offsets the decline in natural capital in most economies
  • There are clear signs of trade-off effects between the different forms of capital
  • Technological innovation and/or oil capital gains (due to rising prices) outweigh decline in natural capital and damages from climate change, moving a number of countries – Russia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela – from an unsustainable to a sustainable trajectory
  • Estimates of inclusive wealth can be improved significantly with better data on the stocks of natural, human and social capital and their values for human well-being.

Recommendations

While inclusive wealth has increased for most countries, the report shows that an examination of natural capital is crucial for policy makers.

Even though a reduction in natural capital can be offset by the accumulation of manufactured and human capital, which are reproducible, many natural resources such as oil and minerals cannot be replaced. As a result, a more inclusive definition of wealth that will secure a legacy for future generations is urgently needed in the discussion of sustainable economic and social development.

The report, which will be produced every two years, makes the following specific recommendations:

  • Countries witnessing diminishing returns in natural capital should invest in renewable natural capital to improve their IWI and the well-being of their citizens. Example investments include reforestation and agricultural biodiversity
  • Nations should incorporate the IWI within planning and development ministries to encourage the creation of sustainable policies
  • Countries should speed up the process of moving from an income-based accounting framework to a wealth accounting framework
  • Macroeconomic policies should be evaluated on the basis of IWI rather than GDP per capita
  • Governments and international organizations should establish research programmes to value key components of natural capital, in particular ecosystems.

UN Under-Secretary General and Rector of the United Nations University, Prof. Konrad Osterwalder, concluded that using the IWI would safeguard the interests of many developing nations.

If one reads the document of NAPCC  and compares it with the MDG’s which reads- “The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have functioned as an important tool to focus international attention and action around key pressing global issues,” he said. “As 2015 fast approaches, the deadline for meeting the MDGs, it is clear that the opportunities for many developing countries to achieve their goals may be compromised if the present rates of decline of various crucial ecosystem services continue.”  – one would find a lot of commonalities.

And in the recently launched PAT document India is moving another step in the right direction towards inclusive wealth generation. – Designated Consumers (DCs) account for 25% of the national gross domestic product (GDP) and about 45% of commercial energy use in India. In order to further accelerate as well as incentivize energy efficiency, the Government of India is designing a Perform Achieve and Trade (PAT) Scheme. PAT is a market based mechanism to enhance cost effectiveness of improvements in energy efficiency in energy intensive large industries and facilities, through certification of energy savings that could be traded. The genesis of the PAT mechanism flows out of the provision of the Energy Conservation Act, 2001.

By this one very act, if implemented properly business all-over the world would get a boost. An an Emerging Economy India needs to develop and for that it has to create capacity in the core fields of – 9 industrial sectors namely Thermal
Power Plants, Fertilizer, Cement, Pulp and Paper, Textiles, Chlor-Alkali, Iron & Steel, Aluminium and Railways.

To bring in energy efficiency in these core sectors Indian Industry would be looking at the West which whatever be the current economic scenario, still lead in R&D in many areas and has off-the shelf solutions for most industrial machinery. They have the state of art product design and solution and a need a wider market which can absorb the supply. The BRIC Nations are the ones which can rise up to the occasion and with PAT, India can attain leadership position by 2015, in this space. NMEEE can be divided into   PAT; MTEE; EEFP & FEED  and together they would not only be able to have a positive impact on the GDP but their implementation shall have a direct positive effect on various service sectors  and  create the much needed jobs all around.

Let us take the most important and controversial sector of Thermal Power Plants – it is one of the greatest concern for Environmentalist all over the planet and if this sector itself has to reduce its SEC, serious thought would be applied to overcome the challenges.  And through PAT it shall be addressed because conventional thermal power fuel is coal, which although a natural capital is also a potential GHG hazard and to extract it we need to deplete the most important wealth of any Nation – the forest cover.

The Indian Industry through the CII is already geared up for this challenge and ground work has already started. The CII – Sohrabji Godrej Green Business Centre [CII Godrej GBC] is promoting the concept of ‘Make Indian thermal power plants world class’. The main aim is to bring the industry together to exchange views and meet new technologies, facilitate continuous performance improvement in thermal power plants and thereby achieve world  class standards. I am confident that given the stakes, a green economy with long term wealth generation vs  “gone” ecology, the present Thermal Power plants which are coal fired and GHG intensive would take on the new avatar of  CSP driven thermal power plants.

To the common person who associate Thermal power plants to polluting coal and do not want to see them existing any-more, the coal is just a fuel that is used to boil the water to steam, which runs the turbines and generates electricity. In technical terms all that is required is to switch the fuel from the GHG intensive Coal to Concentrated Solar Power or CSP.  The era of Solar Aided Power Generation from Conventional Fossil Fuelled Power Stations has already arrived.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region a great concept towards renewable energy is taking shape The DESERTEC concept which will be an astronomical step towards sustainable supply of green energy at a global dimension. It is estimated that CSP plants in MENA can generate up to 470, 000 MW by 2050. Similarly in the USA, Bright Source Energy’s tower solar collector in the Mojave Desert would supply up to 900 megawatts of clean energy to California in the next decade. The new technology will use several “power towers” at each commercial plant. An array of hundreds of mirrors known as heliostats will reflect sunlight onto a boiler atop each tower, and the resulting steam will power a turbine.

The above illustrates the great changes that are occurring in  the Industry and Economy of the world. And we have in the India context only  touched the first of the 9-DC’s considered under PAT. Rest assured, the green economy model would soon encompass all sectors of industry mentioned. And it would be the best thing than can happen to this planet.

 

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

Sustainable Development Goals: The dangers of Urban Sprawl and its long term affects on the National Growth


The Monsoon in India, is delayed and it is predicted that we shall have scanty rain-fall this year. Every sign of Climate change, which have been predicted are happening. In the USA, the unprecedented power outages and heat wave are prime time News.  Perhaps if in the last 20+ years the World had listened and shifted to a better Economic model, than the “grow quickly rich – and throw everything else into the ditch!” Corny capitalism; things would perhaps be improving by now.

But how does the common person know they are the part of the problem? And how can they help?  Through this article I shall try to weave seemingly different News articles which have been published in various Indian News papers,in the immediate past  and try and show how we still are going horribly wrong at every turn and the efforts of a few, be it in the Governance of the Nation or NGO’s; are not being able to make the desired impact.

English: topographic map of India

English: topographic map of India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We all know that at long last the “Western Ghats”; have been accorded with UNESCO recognition. It would bring cheer to many environmentalist, who are deeply concerned with the destruction of this fragile eco-system. However, how much it would be able to help in the ground is something we have to wait and see.

The weekend News papers in India‘s, usually carry features on property. Having been caught up to the developments around UNFCCC Rio+20 agenda, I had not been paying too much attention to them. But over the last weekend the barrage of “up coming” once in a life-time bargain ‘second homes” caught my eye. All these projects are beyond the limits of the megalopolis of Mumbai by a minimum of 150 Km. Most are either on or close to hill stations atop the Western Ghats range, or industrial zones, which are situated in the valley of the ghats. The examples I would like to give here are two – one a hill station, Lonavala and the other an Industrial estate area – Roha. Both are close to Mumbai.  Roha is located in Raigad district in the state of Maharashtra(INDIA). Many big companies have their manufacturing plants there like – Pepsi, Clariant, Sudarshan Chemicals, Excel, Unichem Laboratories etc. It is only 120 km south-east of Mumbai, and with a population of over 40,000 it is only natural that in time, the big builder/ developers would like to set up residential townships, the likes which are found in and around Pune and Mumbai.

The town is surrounded by natural beauty, as it is part of the western-ghats. When I had gone during my “project manager” days in the early 2000, I had worked on a project there. It is a beautiful place, small industrial town, nestled in the valley of the Ghats, which is more or less self-sufficient, but at one time industrial air-bone pollution was at the extreme. Now, we are going to have another danger, far bigger looming around this area. And that, sadly is “development”.  For, if you type into your computers – “Development rules in the district of Raigarh, Roha taluk”; nothing is found.  A vague Environment & Forest Notification is all you find.

No maps clearly demarcating which are industrial zones, forest areas, residential and commercial zones can be found easily. If you notice, you would rarely find a guide-map of the locality you reside; in New Delhi you have them at the entrance of each residential colony. In Mumbai and rest of India its a rare sight. Even if one types “development rules of Mumbai”; a 1999 pdf is available from MMRDA preceded by many latest news talking about amendments.  Compare this by typing -development rules of New York USA.

A country which prides itself on its IT strength, does not have any information, which the common man can find at a click of a button. To keep abreast or simply familiarize oneself of the laws, so that should one find wrong-doing like finding a park area being constructed /encroached upon or an earmarked residential area  or a natural drain, being paved over for creating a shopping complex ; spot it and make aware the authorities to take action. Of-course we have the Right to Information Act, but I’m sure there is no information available or worthy enough to look into of various places which are not large Cities or Towns of India. And even the large towns and cities do not have at times complete information or information which is easily available. The apathy and incompetence, almost seems like a deliberate act to help in corruption. And the loss is always going to be to the Nation and its people.

Last week, in Mumbai a 24 year old girl died due to tree falling over her during a sudden squall. Today the DNA newspaper carries a statistic under the heading –Tree falls claim 21 since 2005. The other news was –Rain fill lakes with 3 days of water supply for Mumbai. Disjointed as they may seem, these two are interlinked not only to each other, but also the the paragraphs above.

Just as in the beautiful lush-green surroundings of  the hill station of Lonawala, unplanned townships are coming up in many locations. Farmlands are getting changed into residential and commercial areas. While there is planning within the perimeter of the projects, infrastructure is never given precedence. Neither are there any strict laws laid down to deter littering. If one looks at the city of Mumbai, in the early 1980’s the now congested suburbs were farmlands and mangroves. Catchment areas essential for groundwater recharge and prevention of flooding, which slowly started to get converted into township, with scant regard to town-planning in the proper sense. Today we have encroachments, super-bad roads and clogged drains; most of the buildings require high maintenance from water proofing and salt water corrosion.

The common person does not think twice before littering the street or not buying from illegal vendors who occupy most of Mumbai foot-paths and foot-over-bridges. In fact it is a welcome sign, to have the first illegal grocery, tea/cigarette kiosk next to the new building  which comes up in far-off locality. Any architect, who has worked in far-off sites, would empathise with me at the relief one gets when a small tea & cigarette shop opens up opposite the construction site across the road; where one can relax the tired limbs and have a “cutting-chai”. ( chai = tea). This happens because when a developer goes to the Urban fringe and builds a township, the State does not cater to the welcoming opportunity the private developer creates for up-liftment of local business and does not match it in pace with infrastructure and innovative schemes which can create proper commercial zones especially de-marked for the urban poor who find an opportunity to do an honest business. These local semi-urban populace do not have the money to buy into the commercial areas, if built by the developer. Their shops usually come up as shanties while the township is under construction to cater to the labourers and even the engineers. But this relief turns into grief for the citizens in time as no infrastructure, such as roads, drainage systems, waste-disposal or safety measures are built around them.

Similarly the shady-tree which once helped the labourers and engineers to have  a momentary relief while sipping into the tea, soon gets surrounded by shops and most of the ground, right up to the bark gets paved over. The tree starts to die, and then one rainy day it falls, taking along with it life of an innocent bystander. The newly built suburban rail station looks exactly the same as all suburban rail-station around Mumbai, filthy and difficult to negotiate through the illegally constructed shops and haphazardly parked vehicles.

Water supply is scarce and come summer, the citizens of this once new town become desperate for potable water. Ground water gets depleted as most of the catchment areas get paved over and constructed upon much before the “development rules” comes into force.

Farm fresh vegetables and live-stock which were once easily available become a distant dream for most as due to land-use change most fertile land are lost. The word “green” becomes a mockery as maximum one finds in patches atop utterly destroyed local ecosystem are some  “Chinese” grass lawns, bottle palms and a few decorative flowering shrubs.  For a water body, a swimming pool is considered a great gift from the developers and accepted with great pride by the residents. Some standard advertisement goes –  live by the river side with lush greenery and natural surroundings. And should one inspect – 9 out of 10 projects would have no safety features, or advisory of how not to litter or degrade the natural surrounds.

Every-time I see the images of a super expensive and super large hill-station township, which got created in the recent past, breaking almost every environmental law as reported in the news. I feel very disappointed. My fear, is not the development of a hill-station as I’m not against development; but if it is at the cost of the eco-system then we are staring at a lot of trouble. And it is around a fresh water lake. With almost zero civic sense in most of us, imagine what can happen, if strict precautions have not been taken by the developer; as each home owner post the mandatory “Griha Pravesh Pooja” would,  giving scant regard to the environmental hazard, dispose the ritual materials right into the lake, tied in a plastic bag, so that it helps pollute the once pristine lake a little more.

The concept of dust-bins, public urinals and civic sense advisory board, along with clean-up marshals or policemen to penalize offenders, is alien in most areas of India.  Therefore if anyone has visited the lake city of Udaipur in the state of Rajasthan or other tourist destinations in India which has a water body, would appreciate what I mean to imply here. And this is also true in the megalopolis like Mumbai, which is also a tourist destination & has a large water body, the legendary Ban-ganga and the Arabian sea; both choking with refuse.

While there is an urgent need for India to “develop”, and we have the right to do so; we as Peoples need to understand the dangers of unsustainable urban living. It is for us to decide the course of growth. With unplanned and unsustainable urban sprawl which would seem as “growth” in economic sense for a short while would actually deplete our resources and would not improve the quality of living. And this in the long run would weaken the Country from all indices of growth. We must adhere to and understand about Sustainable Cities – Why town planning is important.

The World’s Best Places to Live  according to human resources consulting firm Mercer’s, 2011 quality of living survey report looks at living conditions such as economy, socio-cultural environment, politics, education, and the health sector. Rediff.com also did a survey of 15 Best cities of India, but as per world standards – Mumbai is ranked a dismal 117th, New Delhi is ahead at 113th scoring 56.5 and 58.6 per cent, respectively.

And among all the areas of development, I consider Urban development as most important  because without the proper standards of living; which directly affects the overall well-being of the citizens,  the country can not prosper and today  the Indian economic health has not much to cheer about, due to various internal and external factors. Therefore it is imperative we learn our lessons and follow into the path of overall Sustainable Development.

To prove my point (it almost seems to be written in 2012)  below are excerpts from an article published in The South Asian Voice in 2001

As economic growth rates have plummeted throughout the world, India (like the rest of South East Asia) has not escaped the impact. Growth rates have been reluctantly pruned to about 5% for the year, and may have to be revised further downwards if an anticipated post-monsoon pick-up in consumer consumption and industrial manufacturing fails to materialize. While, booms and busts are endemic to “free-market” or capitalistic economies, sections of the Indian media had sought to convey the impression that the switch to greater “market freedom” would result in a continuous economic boom. …..However, it is doubtful if these factors will continue to play as important a role in propelling the Indian economy forward.….There are also several structural impediments to increases in rural incomes. Already India is one of the most densely populated nations in the world. Pressure on land is already very high and existing water resources have been depleting at an alarming rate. Even with a switch to more sustainable agriculture and water-management policies, it is unlikely that improvements in agricultural productivity can take place at previously seen rates.….However, so far, there has not been any serious analysis of the trajectory of the Indian economy or on the policy direction taken by the government. Neither has there been any comprehensive look at the relationship between economic growth rates and improvements in living standards….Consider an article by Jonathon Rowe titled “A misguided quest for ‘productivity'” that appeared in the Christian Science Monitor (June 28, 2001). In this essay, the author bemoans the American obsession with “productivity” without regard for the value of what is produced and whether it contributes to human happiness. “We Americans are not lacking for products. Our basements and garages are groaning. A warehouse industry has arisen to hold all our stuff. Yet they tell us that the benchmark of our economy remains whether we can turn out still more stuff per hour. Is that scientific principle, or fetish?” …….Take the recent fascination with cars. For people to really enjoy the use of a personal car, a country must have enough land for wide roads and large parking lots. And that’s exactly how every automobile ad in India shows off new cars. Cars for the Indian market are shown scurrying along wide and vacant highways in dreamy countryside settings, completely unrelated to the actual Indian reality or experience. After all, some of India’s most scenic destinations aren’t even connected by motorable roads, and virtually all Indian cities are so densely populated that even newer residential and commercial areas are planned with narrow roads and limited parking facilities. There is thus something very surreal about the Indian media’s glamorization of the car……But imagine, if the country produced better means of public transportation. Assuming that a mini-bus costs only three times as much to produce as a car, and assuming that the average mini-bus seats about 30 people (or more) comfortably, there is a ten-fold increase in transportation options…..And this is just one example of a glaring disconnect between economic growth and it’s linkage to all-round social well-being and the overall quality of life. We can also find examples that illustrate the reverse case where an activity may have a low price tag but significant long term social value….Consider how this decade of “liberalization” has marginalized cultural activities that may have a much more profound impact on human happiness, quality of life and social harmony……. – each of these activities may potentially be of much greater value to human health and happiness than their calculation in the country’s GDP….The liberalization decade has not only failed to make such contributions, it has also created an environment where people have stopped appreciating cultural activities. They have also been trained to devalue those activities that can only bring about gains after long gestation periods such as activities in scientific and social research. It is often forgotten that India’s present strength is in no small measure a result of the many direct and indirect benefits of earlier investment in public institutions of higher learning and advanced scientific and technological research.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Post Rio+20 – the path towards the actual Green Economy.


English: Graph showing Human Development Index...

English: Graph showing Human Development Index and Ecological Footprint. The “sustainable” criteria of ecological footprint within global capacity, and human development index above 0.8, is shaded. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the eve and post Rio+20 UNFCCC meet a lot of things happened which needs to be understood for its far reaching implications in the near future. Highlighted below are a few paragraphs –

The world’s fixation on economic growth ignores a rapid and largely irreversible trend of natural resources depletion that will seriously harm future generations, according to a newly released report that unveils a new indicator aimed at encouraging sustainability.

On 17 June 2012, at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (the Rio+20 Summit), the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP) and partners launched the Inclusive Wealth Report 2012.(IWR 2012)

The IWI report examined changes in the combined wealth of twenty countries, which together account for almost three quarters of global GDP, from 1990 to 2008. Despite reporting a growth in GDP Brazil, China, South Africa and the United States were shown to have significantly depleted their natural capital including fossil fuels, forests and fisheries.

Around the same time a letter was published at the Rio+20 Summit.The Clean Revolution campaign, a major initiative by The Climate Group and a range of partners from the public and private sectors that calls for a ‘green growth’ push out of global recession. The letter, says: “By the end of the decade, the low carbon market could triple in value to over US$2 trillion. At a time when government and business leaders everywhere are calling for strategies that deliver growth, we have an historic opportunity before us to lead the world out of recession and into a more stable, sustainable future. This is the time for a green industrial revolution led by real investment in clean technologies and infrastructure. The ‘Clean Revolution’ is essential if we want to ensure we save our economies from the crippling costs of runaway climate change, and create meaningful jobs and enhance energy security.” It will be a new Industrial Revolution – Tony Blair.

The attempt to have subsidies removed all together from fossil fuel was the first  step in the right direction. It was bound to fail, but that itself is a success. Because never before so many groups from such diverse back ground could raise the collective voice against the fossil fuel lobby and be heard.

English: Created in Photoshop, based on "...

English: Created in Photoshop, based on “Sustainable development” diagram at Cornell Sustainability Campus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What must be understood is that to have a resurgent economy, one must have the resources in place. And today, the World has an historic opportunity to remove inequality. Today we do not, other than in theory; have a developed against a developing world. Because once we change the indices which measures development and growth, it is the “least developed” and “emerging economies” which have more Natural wealth than some of the developed Nations who have over exploited their own.

However, the developed Nations like the EU & the USA, Japan, Russia, Australia and others have enormous technological advancement and knowledge base, which should be exchanged in fair-value for equitable distribution of the Earth’s Natural resources. And at the same time efforts must be made to replenish what is possible. It is indeed a fantastic time to do business which by default has to be sustainable because there are no options left. The best part is the large conglomerates and corporations survival depends on continued and constant supply of raw material for production. And they will ensure that Sustainability in all form of modern living is applied. It would be done either with partnership or coercion.

The call for going beyond material wealth to gauge our well-being and make sure that well-being is achievable and sustainable for future generations has long appeared in much of the sustainable development, environmental, and ecological economics literature, significantly less in economics and development literature. The present pre-occupation with the Green Economy, we fear, will not provide the change we seek if we do not address the fundamental problem of what precisely we are measuring and the indicators we need to develop. 

English: Sustainability chart

English: Sustainability chart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These words in the IWR 2012, underscores the changing mindsets of the economies which have an impact in this World. And it would be well for all Nations to adapt and adopt measures which lead to an age and era where history will define it as the Golden Age of Mankind, when generating wealth would no more mean accumulation of riches which are intrinsic in nature but have the true resonance of Sustainable Development Goals and Millennium Development Goals .

 

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

Energy Efficient Buildings are a tribute to the Environment


It is being foretold by many experts, that it would be innovative business strategy and restructuring of the Corporate conduct which would help stop Global Warming.  The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and The CII -ITC Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Development (CIICESD) are perhaps the vanguard for abatement of Climate Change, should one agree to the statement above.

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

World Business Council for Sustainable Development (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The CIICESD which generates awareness & thought leadership, and builds organization capacity to achieve sustainability and the WBCSD which is a CEO-led organization of forward-thinking companies that galvanizes the global business community to create a sustainable future for business, society and the environment. These organisations, soon be able to convince all business to morph into what is now becoming popular in the USA and soon would encompass the World, the B-CORP . It is not only the matter of Salvation of the Earth, but deeply entwined with Earth’s fate is the survival of the Business community and thus by default the modern society itself.

Close cooperation between all stakeholders in society is essential to creating a sustainable future for business, society and the environment. And the key elements of all business revolve around 3 fundamental needs of humans – Food, Clothing and Shelter.

Se below

Se below (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A Sustainable village would be one which is fashioned such, that it ultimately provides near self sufficiency in most areas and excel in some; which become the  core trading with other self-sufficient towns but lacking expertise or sufficiency in those which the other has. Thus a perfect symbiosis and balance can be achieved. But the first step to obtain the desired level of sustainability and making it norm, would require us to build the new cities and retro-fit, where possible the old ones in accordance to the ideas of sustainability.  Below is an attempt to provide a very brief over-view of what should be achieved.

THE BUILDING SECTOR

The building sector can be viewed as being comprised of two broad elements:

Residential buildings — housing the population; and

Commercial buildings — housing a range of activities including retail trade, accommodation, business services, government and government agencies, recreation and cultural services and industry, which represents around two thirds of national employment.

Component parts of the building sector are noted in chart

Residential Building Commercial Building
Detached housesAttached dwellingsBuildings containing two or more sole occupancy units Wholesale tradeRetailAccommodation, cafes and restaurantsCommunication servicesFinance and insuranceProperty and business servicesGovernment administration andDefense

Education

Health and community services

Cultural and recreational services

Personal and other services

The estimate of greenhouse gas emissions due to energy consumption in the building sector takes account of:
1. The amount of energy consumed; [inclusive of embodied energy in materials]
2. The mix of fuels used;
3. The average greenhouse gas emissions from the different fuels (electricity is treated as a fuel); and
4. Upstream emissions from transmission and other activities.

The electricity consumed within a building is only a part of the energy used to support that demand. A large amount of electricity and greenhouse gas emissions is also involved in distribution, transmission and generation. When reducing demand for electricity it is practical to eliminate the need for this upstream energy use and GHG emissions. A larger proportion of GHG emissions are attributable to the building sector than its share of energy use because the building sector uses greenhouse gas intensive energy. Notably the building sector energy end use is dominated by electricity consumption which is dominated by coal fired generation located at the end of long transmission networks.

Emissions from the building sector are broadly of the same scale as emissions produced by the entire transport sector.

Facts
• Buildings’ share of final energy consumption: 30-40%
• Global CO2 emissions from energy in buildings (2005): 9Gt
• Estimated growth by 2050 in all 6 EEB regions: 76%
• Growth in global population by 2050: 2.7 billion or 42%

Many energy efficiency projects are feasible with today’s energy costs. Building energy efficiency investments in the six EEB regions (Brazil, China, Europe, India, Japan and the US) studied, totalling US$ 150 billion annually, will reduce related energy use and the corresponding carbon footprint in the range of 40% with five-year discounted paybacks for the owners. A further US$ 150 billion with paybacks between five and 10 years will add 12 percentage points and bring the total reduction to slightly more than half.
(WBCSD-2010)

THE ABATEMENT POTENTIAL

The building sector could reduce its GHG emissions by 30–35 per cent by 2050 on an economic basis. Economic in this context means that the initial costs would be offset — and in many cases be more than offset — by subsequent energy savings over time.

In the residential sector changes can be achieved through:
1. Substitution for more energy efficient light fittings;
2. Greater use of natural light;
3. Substitution for more efficient refrigeration;
4. Adoption of more efficient hot water appliances with solar where possible;
5. Adoption of appliances with a low standby energy use;
6. The introduction of more efficient heating and cooling mechanical systems; and better insulation.
7. Where possible use of Renewable Energy solutions as feasible.

In commercial buildings substantial savings to both costs and greenhouse gas emissions could be generated by:
1. Improving air conditioning systems efficiency and including ‘economy’ cycles;
2. Use of natural ventilation where possible;
3. The use of more efficient office appliances;
4. Better insulation;
5. Improved heating and ventilation;
6. The use of efficient light fixtures;
7. Upgrading to more efficient water heating systems; and
8. Where possible use of Renewable Energy solutions as feasible.

Under each area, detailed topics have been sorted out according to time span to wide adoption in construction:
1. State-of the art [current situation]: technologies that are already commonly used in the industry form the baseline for future development,
2. Short term […2013]: technologies that are available and are ready for being used in construction;
3. Medium term […2020]: technologies that offer beneficial opportunities for construction but need to be adopted or further developed for construction.
4. Long term […2030]: emerging new technologies that are deemed to offer benefits to construction in ling term in applications that still need to be identified.

STATE-OF THE ART & SHORT TERM ACTIONS:

1. Design and demonstrate energy positive new building solutions:
1. RE -driven µCHCP [“combined heat, cooling, and power production”]
2. Smart & small AHU
3. Passive energy storing construction materials/design
4. LED/Induction Lighting
5. Smart glazing
6. E&C [effective daylight capture through ceiling]
2. Design and demonstrate prefabricated and modular energy retrofit solutions, like:
1. Multifunctional building envelope solutions
2. Low temperature heating and cooling solutions [ LowEX ]
3. Hybrid ventilation solutions
4. Advanced lighting solutions
5. Building and community systems
3. Develop performance indicators and criteria for sustainability, environmental impacts and GHG reductions in buildings [ low energy class, energy star , etc]
4. Develop advanced control system, sensor networks, user-interfaces and information management technology to improve energy efficiency and reduce negative environmental impacts in buildings and communities : wireless sensor/ actuator network; smart meters; dynamic heat and power grids.

Note:
End-use efficiency gains are likely to take the lion’s share of energy reductions, and in many cases will be the most economically viable option. Analysis of the potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from energy shows that substantial reductions are needed both in energy generation and consumption.

There are three elements:
1. Use less energy – cut buildings’ energy demand by improved design, using insulation and equipment that is more energy efficient
2. Make more energy locally – produce energy locally from renewable and otherwise wasted energy resources
3. Share energy – create buildings that can generate surplus energy and feed it into an intelligent grid infrastructure to balance the energy needs of other buildings

MEDIUM & LONG TERM ACTIONS:

5. Design and demonstrate more solutions for energy positive buildings [new & retrofit]:
1. Vacuum frame
2. Cabrio-facades
3. Lego (retrofitting) building elements & interior furbishing
4. Compact seasonal heat/cold storages
6. Demonstrate Zero -or Plus-Energy communities
1. Intuitive, educational, self-learning E & C ms
2. HRU-bank for HHA [and waste water]
7. Develop more solutions for energy positive new buildings and retrofit:
1. Thermo-chemical material for heat storage
2. Daylight storage
3. H2produced from the sun
4. Vacuum envelope
8. Develop solutions supporting energy positive communities:
1. Energy -HUB; economic driven buildings [industry] & transport
2. DC grids
3. PV&T wipe & pipe free
4. Wireless energy exchange
9. Demonstrate Sustainable communities
1. Economic efficiency by integrated system optimization [optimal use of energy]

It is now time that all stake-holders, should enter the market, there are opportunities for architects, engineers, property developers, the finance community and others in the building sector to capitalize on energy efficiency opportunities to build the “hybrid house”.

Private Sector Jobs - April 2011

Private Sector Jobs – April 2011 (Photo credit: Leader Nancy Pelosi)

Business which are totally moribund can be revitalized with new energy and direction. Architects should be ready to take the responsibility to act as the integrator of different systems, building parts and services into a solution that fulfils the end-user’s needs. And create Buildings that are G.O.L.D (Globally Optimised Locally Designed). Instead of components or buildings, offering integrated and performance based solutions for energy efficient & environmentally friendly buildings and communities that support sustainability.

Courtesy: WBCSD

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,