25 April 2012

Pushing carbon emission bACkWaRdS and Celebrating Earth Day

Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22, a day where we remind ourselves that we have precious resources to protect; the ground, sky, water and everything above, between and below are reasons why we have been able to come so far in such a short period. This is a day where we remember what we are standing on - The Earth.

Earth Day was celebrated in Bangalore on April 21 2012 with much pomp, song and believe it or not pushing two-wheelers backwards by 200 college students from B.N.M Institute of Technology on a hot Saturday afternoon. Centre for Social Markets and BNM decided that its high time the present gen is reminded about issues of carbon belching, fuel drinking, noisy two-wheelers or just about anything that comes with an engine and how sustainable transport can replace the motor world.
So why two-wheelers? And why pushed backwards which takes a lot of effort? So Bangalore stands no. 1 (and not proudly) of holding the most number of two-wheelers in Bangalore - 26 lakhs. This pretty much outstrips all the rest (stats here) accounting for the increase in carbon emissions, pollution rise and high temperatures which the city has been witnessed in the last few years. Also Bangalore stands no. 3 (very proud here) of holding a young population who rather opt for bikes and scooty peps than cycles. With the number of two-wheelers + 20 somethings in the city this campaign was perfect to encourage our 'push backwards for an earth cause' campaign.

Pushing backwards was an effort to create an awareness of emissions levels caused by two-wheelers ridden by youngsters. We were telling the public become sustainable in your transport pick a cycle, walk or use public transportation, learn to curb those emissions. Learn to protect your environment for your own sake.

We pushed for 2 kilometers in Banashakari area from the college to the main road, passed the post office, reached the BDA Complex and back to the college. Going downhill at one point threatened all the bikes plummeting into one another, but with 5 people to one engine the students controlled the entire operation beautifully. With the drum beating to various tunes, some youngsters started dancing tapori style - almost like a festival procession. And it was! A festival celebrating the earth, celebrating our home, the air, water and ground which we depend upon.

An operation which involved top environmental organisations - Sanctuary Asia, Earth Day Network and Greenpeace who were our supporters and stood like pillars throughout the rally. Our media partner Namma Bengaluru Foundation gave us the media action in Bangalore.

The day ended with Greenpeace creating a human chain of a bicycle and a pledge taken by the 200 students promising to save 100,000 km of carbon emissions till the next Earth Day April 22, 2012.

What a perfect Earth Day celebration in Bangalore, and a milestone for me as an enthusiastic person wishing to make a difference. I will be doing much more.

Media coverage and support:


Sanctuary Asia

The Hindu


Bangalore Mirror

The New Indian Express

- by Kavya Chandra

02 April 2012

And Revathi did not come

Summer has descended upon the subcontinent .
The cities, towns, plains, and the once salubrious hill stations are heating up.
The days are hot, the nights are still. There is no escape.
It is immutable.Everyone waits for  rain. The Malnad is ready to receive her.

Even the beautiful Coffea Arabica  bud is ready. It awaits Revathi ,the pre-monsoon shower.  Revathi, the giver of life, the nurturer.In the wilderness of the Malnad will Revathi keep her date ? But this year she is late again. Her timely arrival is important. For some its life .For some its business as usual. Her arrival announces that the South West Monsoon is on its way.Her drizzle enhances the coffee bloom .The coffee farmer waits in anticipation.  She brings the Malnad back to life.

This year the temperatures in the Malnad touched 36 degrees  against a normal temperature  of 33-34 degrees Celsius. Apart from this higher than normal temperature, there has been a dry spell of  nearly 5 months in the coffee growing areas that is affecting coffee production. But Revathi did not come.

The  dry spell  and the high temperatures are worrying the farmers, specially in the areas that lack irrigation facilities. Coffee production in India is about 300 years old and largely occurs on small, family-owned farms - majority being up to 2.5 acres. The occurrence of irregular and unseasonal rain,  extreme weather events - have started to take its toll on India's coffee.The hard ,dark brown coffee bean belies the fact that the coffee crop is acutely sensitive and like most crops is sensitive to rain. A long-term increase in the number of extreme and unseasonal rainfall events has lowered crop yields, threatening the livelihood of those dependant on this sector .Coffee has seen a decline in its productions in the last couple of years. In fact the magnitude of this decline is quite astounding .Yields have declined almost 10% since 2000.

In the year 2009  both Arabica and Robusta suffered losses due to unseasonal heavy rains.Likewise, heavy rains during the blossoming delayed the harvest and lowered crop quality in 2010. There have been periods of drought  In 2002, Karnataka experienced a severe drought for three consecutive years (2001-02, 2002-03 and 2003-04). The IPCC on Climate Change predicts that yields from rain-dependant agriculture could be down by 50% by 2020 . In the Coorg region, some areas have already seen rainfall drop by one-third – from 106 inches per year to 70 inches.

The problem with today’s economy is that we have become obsessed by  the idea of "GDP growth” - which seems to be the single most important measure for success. A green economy is the only sustaining economy - it put values on natural resources, it uses resources sparingly, makes use of its natural capital rather than wasting it and stands committed to environmental protection.Our current GDP models do not recognise the role of natural capital.There is a lot that needs to change. Unless the economic importance of biodiversity and ecosystems, of ecology and forests, not just among economists, but at the level of policy makers, administrators, businesses and the public is understood,the wait for Revathi will get longer.

by Viva Kermani