Yesterday, I happened to read an alarming article, 'Apocalypse Now' by Raj Chengappa, in India Today. There were 'sister-articles' about what is wrong with the monsoons and melting glaciers. As I read the article, I started feeling queasy in my stomach. If we do not take control of the pollution-situation right now, we are literally going to be in a soup (of very salty water, dead aquatic animals and industrial waste), what with the sea level rising because of global warming. How is this for starters - there was a picture of the Gateway of India, half submerged in the sea. Or these statistics, I quote - "379 parts per million is the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the highest in 6,50,000 years, and 2035 is the year when the Himalayan glaciers may totally disappear, causing catastrophic disruptions". We will be paying the price for decades, if not centuries of harm that we have inflicted on Mother Earth.
Raj Chengappa quotes Syed Iqbal Hasnain, a professor of glaciology, who saw that the snout of the gangOtri glacier that feeds Ganga had developed huge fractures and crevices along a 10-km stretch, which indicated large-scale ice-melts. The professor also saw that the temperature was an average five degrees Celsius higher than last year's. According to the professor, this kind of deterioration is unprecedented. He (Prof. Hasnain) says: "If the rate continues, we could see much of the Gangotri glacier and others in the Himalayas vanish in the next couple of decades."
Heavens! Where would we be if the Gangotri glacier disappeared? The fertile plain fed by Ganga would be only a memory, while North India would become a desert! Our monsoons have already become erratic, and no one would be surprised in the least, if the above scenario were to be seen soon. If this article is not a terrifying wake-up call, I do not know what is.
As it is, I rant enough and I do not want to write about the other horrifying statistics given in the article. Chengappa gives some simple suggestions on how we can help reduce global warming, in our own small way. Here goes: (My comments are preceded by 'P:')
1. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact flourescent lamps.
2. Use solar devices to heat water for bathing. P: I think this is very popular already. I would like to add solar cookers and solar inverters to the list. Visit the india-solar mailing list on yahoo groups.
3. Construct green (=environmentally friendly) buildings. P: Some suggestions: Use hollow bricks so it does not get too hot or too cold in the house. Result- you save on cooling and heating. Have skylight(s), so you don't have to turn on electric lights till late in the evening. Position windows so that you get maximum light out of them. Use eco-friendly paints. Grow plants in and around the house.
4. Turn off computers when not in use. Apparently they consume as much energy as three 60-W bulbs (P: I did not know this!!). So, avoid the standby mode.
5. Switch off the lights when not in use.
6. Conserve water. Use sprinklers or drip-irrigation devices for watering lawns or growing crops. P: I have read that this works for home gardens too. Can't wait to try it out.
7. Check your tyre-pressure often to save fuel.
8. Buy energy-efficient appliances.
9. Prepare for disaster: Dengue and Diarrhoea cases are expected to rise. Ensure that your local hospitals are well equipped to handle the imminent crisis so that recovery is quick and there is minimum loss of life. P: Folks, if this does not scare you, you're not human.
10. Buy fuel-efficient cars. For every litre of petrol consumed, about four kg of carbon dioxide gets injected into the atmosphere. P: Reva tops my list of favorite cars.
11. Walk, do not drive. If you must drive, combine a lot of chores. P: You will benefit from the exercise, and will help the environment too.
12. Reduce air-travel.
13. Good quality shower heads ensure the flow of water is low but efficient, thereby conserving energy.
14. Consume less. P: The most difficult thing in this consumer-driven age.
15. Don't waste water.
17. Switch to wind power. P: Dunno how this can be implemented.
18. Shun plastic bags. P: If you do have plastic covers, reuse them as many times as you can. In the US, almost all shops have this system of returning carry-covers back to the store itself. Something like that can be started here also.
19. Use public transport. Push the government to improve public transport facilities. P: Using the public transport - another hard thing to do. Pushing the government - much harder. What do we do?
20. Save paper.
21. Rationalize price of electricity. ...haul up politicians for indulging in populism and educate villagers on the virtues of paid power. P: Virtually impossible
22. Plant trees: Make it a point to plant and take care of as many trees as you can.
23. Switch to bio-fuels.
24. Demand clean technology. ...get the government to persist on developed countries to sell clean technology to India cheap... P: Again, very hard to do.
25. Let others know. P: I am doing my part by writing this post :)
I agree with the author on most of the twenty-five points. The only thing that seems impossible to do is persuading the government to do anything. They are more interested in increasing reservation quota and fighting with the opposition. It is totally in *our* hands to make our situation better. It is more we-have-to-do-it, than we-can-do-it.
In addition to the above 25, if you have any more suggestions, please share it with me, and also the readers of India Today.