What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change


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Everyday Life & Climate Change– What can we do?

By Dimple Ranpara*

Recently, prior to the Summit on Climate Change in New York, the “People’s Climate March” was held on 20th September in New Delhi. It was a march to demonstrate the climate change concerns of the citizens to the political leaders. Students, young professionals, rights groups, farming communities and welfare associations came together and adorned the capital with this global movement. The ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ launched by Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi, on October 2, 2014, is a huge initiative taken to tackle the issues of solid waste management. There will be a trickle down impact on the sectors of water and sanitation, sewage supply and related infrastructure supply chain. All of these concern the actions and impacts of preparing the country to be climate change resilient.

The consciousness is growing, but climate change cannot be left at the mercy of mere perception. Climate skeptics,who believe that climate change is a natural cycle, pose hindrance to the changes in adaption and mitigation that is required at the micro level. A group of people from Bangalore, who call themselves ‘The Ugly Indians’ work on the philosophy of ‘Kaamchalumoohbandh’ (Stop Talking, Start Doing).They work against the filth in the city and this movement has brought about a radical change in the way people view their public spaces. Such an effort is an excellent example that can motivate individuals to take responsibility, individually and collectively.

Having understood the stimuli to climate change at the government and corporate level, the question arises, how can YOU adapt to climate change and what’s YOUR plan? How can YOU contribute through YOUR actions that can bring about a paradigm shift in the way you consume and dispose resources? One has to go beyond the myopic vision and share civic responsibility towards Mother Nature.  The journey is a long one and to start with baby steps, let’s talk about what can we do for real and be consistent in our efforts to make it a sustainable lifestyle of our own.

  •  Goodbye to Standby

Use the ‘on/off’ function of the appliance to save energy. Pull the changers off the sockets because even if your mobile phone, iPod or tabs are unplugged, the charger is still draining energy. Out of the total energy consumption by mobile devices in the charging mode, 20% is consumed by the standby mode. [1] Imagine the quantum of power wastage for a nation who’s expected mobile users are 1260 Million by 2020.

  • Light up guilt-free

Replace the most frequently used bulbs of your house with CFLs or LEDs. CFLs facilitate up to 70% [2] energy savings over the conventional incandescent bulb and LEDs is even 50% lower consumption compared to CFLs. It can be a huge impact over 246.7 million households (Census 2011) in India.

  •  Covered cooking

Pressure cooking is economical and fastest way of cooking. For example, there are fuel savings of 20% on rice and 41.5%[3] on meats as compared to ordinary cooking. Covering the pots while cooking reduces loss of heat by 2.5 times thereby lowering fuel consumption.

  •  Shop Intelligently

Buying in bulk would reduce millions of tons[4] of packaging waste from entering the landfill. A bottle of 1.5 liters consumes less energy and produces lesser waste than three bottles of 0.5 liters.

  •  Act Global, Eat Local

Shopping at local farmer markets over supermarkets will save on high fossil fuels used in transporting the groceries to your plate. And fresh vegetables and fruits are way healthier than frozen processed foods (which consume lots of energy to store them). One can eliminate up to 400kgs[5] of CO2emissions in a year by switching to locally produced food.

  •  Drive inflated

Properly inflated tires improve your fuel efficiency by more than 3%[6], lowering the carbon dioxide emissions.

  •  Wash when full

Run your washing machine and dish washers only when they full, for optimized water and energy consumption. Washing machines with Energy Star labels use 35%[7]less water for laundry and 20% less energy consumption.

  •  Keep reusable bags handy

Buying milk or shopping for veggies, keeping a reusable bag would shun down the consumption of plastic.

  •  Not in my backyard

Keeping your own house clean and dumping the garbage outside your premises is too hypocrite. Adopt your lane and share the responsibility with the neighbors to keep your street clean. A clean neighborhood remains clean and demands respect compared a dirty one which only deteriorates. (See: The Ugly Indian, Bangalore)

  •  Eyes on Water

While brushing our teeth to cleansing your face, the water knob should be turned on only when you require it. 20 liters of water is wasted for every 5 minutes of running tap and 50 liters of water is lost by a dripping tap of one drop per second in a single day[8].

  • Walk and Talk

Sharing a ride together or meeting friends in open spaces is an excellent way to contribute to lower carbon emissions and higher friendship bonds. Carpooling could save an individual about 122 kgs of CO2emissions[9] in a year per km travelled.

  •  Go Digital

Switch to online payments, service complaints, invoicing and ordering. Saves time, energy and emissions.

  •  Cool with sense

Sun control films on windows can reduce air-conditioning cost by 5-10% and lining windows with plants reduces the costs by 40%[10].

  •  Explore Nature’s Beauty

Next time you plan your holiday, instead of going to a luxurious resort, try visiting some natural landscapes of your region or country to experience the beauty of Nature. It shall move you and strengthen your responsibility towards protecting it.

  •  Turn it off

Every driver should switch off his engine at a traffic signal over a halt of 14 seconds. While idling, CO2emissions increase about 5 times[11].

These simple, energy and cost efficient steps can be an easy part of our everyday lives. Collective effort is required but at the same time, individual effort in its own way shall be the driving force to this huge mission of reducing man-made impacts leading to climate change. Let’s be more responsible, involved, and aware to inspire communities around us by being an example of change. Be your own Agent of Change and let the nation follow.

References and Web Links

[1]http://www.cstep.in/sites/default/files/CSTEP_Energy%20Consumption%20and%20CO2%20Emissions%20by%20the%20Indian%20Mobile.pdf

[2] https://www.bijlibachao.com/lights/use-energy-efficient-lights.html

[3] http://www.pcra.org/english/domestic/lastLong.htm

[4] http://www.bulkisgreen.org/blog/post/Portland-St-University-releases-first-US-Bulk-Foods-Study.aspx

[5] Calculated by http://www.carbonindependent.org/

[6] http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/fuel-gas-mileage-tips

[7] http://www.surfexcel.in/machine-maintenance/choose-the-best-washing-machine-in-india-to-save-water-and-energy/

[8] https://www.projectsunlight.co.in/stories/392270/What-s-your-water-quotient-.aspx

[9]http://timeforchange.org/what-is-a-carbon-footprint-definition

[10] http://www.bsesdelhi.com/bsesdelhi/wbMyCoolIdea.do

[11] http://ijret.org/Volumes/V02/I10/IJRET_110210006.pdf

*Deepa Ranpara is an intern with Project Survival Media.

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The Invisible Green Workers

Why do waste-pickers continue to be a neglected lot, in spite of their vital contribution to keeping a city clean? 

Pinky Chandran, Kabir Arora and Nalini Shekar

Bengaluru 

Mary is a waste-picker in Bengaluru. A single mother of two, she walks up to 25 km every day to collect 75- odd kg of waste, for a paltry sum of INR 100–150 a day. Being a woman, Mary is often harassed by lewd and drunk men, questioned by the police, threatened by other contract workers, laughed at by kids or accused by the neighbours of being a thief, yet she continues making rounds to collect waste, every day. Waste-picking for her and 25,000 others in Bengaluru is not a hobby, but an occupation that—apart from a fair share of hazards—is considered dirty, ridiculed and traditionally excluded from the narratives of urban life.

Like most Indian cities, Bengaluru has a booming informal economy with an estimated 25,000 waste-pickers, working together with the municipal waste system as it follows a centralised approach of collection and transportation to the landfills. However, despite this attitude of treating waste as disposal, several community-based initiatives were set up in the late 1980s, stressing the need for public participation in solid waste management. The Centre for Environment Education (CEE) started the Committee for Clean Bangalore in partnership with various organisations in 1989 to promote segregation at source. Twenty years later, in 2009, a group of individuals called the Solid Waste Management Round Table (SWMRT) got together to promote decentralised waste management in the city for efficient waste handling.

In 2011, an alliance of waste-pickers filed an affidavit for recognition of waste-pickers which led the Lok Adalat to issue the landmark directive to the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) for the registration and enumeration of waste-pickers and scrap dealers. Around 8,000 waste-pickers were enumerated and more than 6,000 provided identity cards by the municipal body, which had the signature of the Commissioner of the city. This was facilitated by Hasiru Dala, a waste-picker member-based organisation, and the occasional advocacy of Solid Waste Management Round Table.

Continued here….

The piece was first published in Hard News Portal.


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A Journey to Remember: Climate Solutions Road Tour (Episodes 1 & 2)

In 2009, an adventurous team of young people gathered in India to undertake a 3,500 kilometer journey across the country in search of solutions to climate change.  This unforgettable journey in a caravan led by electric vehicles made quite a splash.  Five years later thanks to Solar Punch, we are able to share this journey with you in snippets.  For more on the tour, you can also visit the website.


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Is Sri Lanka prepared for climate change?

Vulnerability of coastal areas in Sri Lanka due to rising oceans. Source: National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for Sri Lanka 2011 to 2016.

By Apsara Perera

Haiyan’s devastation as one the strongest typhoons ever recorded has left the world reeling in shock and the Philippines, as the country worst affected by the super storm, is slowly trying to get back on its feet again.

During the same period as the typhoon, Sri Lanka too experienced heavy rains, winds, thunder and lightning and thus, it only seems fair to bring forward the oft posed question: is climate change to be blamed for it? If so, what can we do about it?

The Climate Budget

With the Appropriation Bill having been taken up in parliament recently, let’s face the crucial question of how much of the annual budget is set aside for climate change related activities in Sri Lanka. The answer is no surprise – it is within the overall amount set aside for the activities of the Ministry of Environment, under whose purview the Climate Change Secretariat functions. The money is for research: climate change impact studies, research on scenarios, adaptation, and mitigation but, the allocation is said to be low. (Confirmation on the exact amount requested for climate change research was not available at the time of going to print as the officials concerned were not available for comment due to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)).

Climate change consultant Tharuka Dissanaike, speaking to Ceylon Today, points out that this is due to several practical reasons. “For research and adaptation on climate change, it is difficult to give a budgetary percentage. This is because, unlike education and health where allocations can be reflected as a percentage of the total budget or government expenditure, climate change impacts are across sectors and ministries”.

Impacts are felt in agriculture, fisheries, urban development, forestry, water management, irrigation, health, coastal and disaster management, making it difficult to quantify it as a percentage of the total budget.

“In general, in the worst affected sectors such as agriculture, water management and coastal protection it would be good to see around 20% of the sectoral budget allocated for research and adaptation measures. Especially for drought and flood tolerant crops, land management, rehabilitating small irrigation tanks, strengthening coastal dunes and protecting mangrove areas. However there is no general agreement on this,” she states further. Continue reading


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दलों का दलदल

(We are all trapped in the quicksand of political parties)

Elections have just concluded in 5 of the 30 states of India.  There has been a record turnout of youth and women voters this election season.  In Delhi alone, youth voters turned out in historical numbers pushing the total number of voters to 65% (the maximum before this was 61.8% in 1993).  While the allure of new political winds ushered in by the arrival of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) (The Common Man’s Party) may have driven some of the enthusiasm in a population beleaguered by poor governance and the false prophets of established political parties, let’s hope that these demographic shifts are here to stay.  And why shouldn’t youth be engaged?  After all, it is their future that is being whittled away by career politicians who are happy to sell the ecological wealth on which their livelihoods will depend.

So why do Indian political parties fail to acknowledge the need for environmental conservation in their campaigns? Article 48(A) of Part IV of the Indian constitution reads: “The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.”  In no political party’s manifesto is it apparent that the political class has thought clearly about the matter.  If we can thank anyone for the protection of any ounce of our nation’s ecological capital (from a legal/governance perspective) it is the Supreme Court which has been cited as the greenest court in the world.

Why the empty promises of 30% reduced electricity tariffs which will only further bleed our utilities dry and leave them with no revenue to innovate for the future much less provide reliable access?  Why promise 700 liters of free potable water when you have a fetid and dead river that flows through your city (and there’s hardly any ground water left)?  Why promise new sewage treatment plants when billions of dollars have been spent on sewage treatment plants already and while we still have over 50% of our untreated sewage making its way to the river?  Who needs “Statehood” for what should be the most easily governed unit in the whole Republic of India?  You want to set up child-friendly courts for crimes against children?  How about one that will ensure that these children have their right to life and livelihood protected by having a firm foundation (environment) in place by the time they grow up?  You want a monorail?  Did you forget about the ring rail that is hardly used?  How about refurbishing that and integrating it with the metro system (and continuing to build the Bus Rapid Transit)?  These populous promises mean nothing.  Meanwhile Delhi and India at large are headed nowhere, very fast.  Think about that the next time you are caught in traffic and choking on the ever-increasing fumes while mantri’s whiz past you in their luxury vehicles.

  By Supriya Singh and Kartikeya Singh