rediff.com
Skip to content


Global Warming: What do we do?

I’m thrilled at the amount of awareness and concern there is on the issue of Global Warming. (And by the way, I am delighted that Al Gore and Dr R K Pachauri won the Nobel Prize. I know very little about Dr Pachauri, but Al Gore has brought an enormous amount of global awareness to this cause with his movie, An Inconvenient Truth.)

 

However, I’m also alarmed at how much our thinking gets tripped up by petty technicalities, political ideologies and ego tussles.

 

Some of us seem to believe that this entire Global Warming thing is a scare, a shibboleth, an urban myth motivated by faulty science, bad politicians, crackpot activists and sloppy journalists who don’t check their facts. This particular post is not intended for people who hold this opinion.

 

This post is intended for those who believe that our collective burning of  hydrocarbon fuels has brought us to a grave situation, and are wondering what mitigating responses would make a meaningful difference without being too painful to implement.

 

For those of us who accept that there is indeed a problem in terms of our collective burning of hydrocarbons, I want to propose an approach which may be broadly stated as:

 

CONSUME WHATEVER REQUIRES MINIMAL

MANUFACTURING & TRANSPORTATION.

 

I am detailing this approach with five points each as to what we can do at three levels or spheres of influence.

 

 

  INDIVIDUALS:  

  Be aware of your carbon footprint, and make choices that minimize it.

 

Watch what you eat and drink. Serve your guests home-made lemon-sherbet instead of the contents of a PET bottle of coke to save money and reduce your carbon footprint. The manufacturing process of PET bottles and soft drinks involve combustion of large amounts of fuel, and so does the transportation from the bottling plant to your grocery store. Similarly, an apple imported from China involves air transport. It is more eco-friendly to consume fruits grown in Nasik or Mahabaleshwar. Anything that is home-made and does not come out of a bottle or can is more eco-friendly.

 

Watch what you wear. Imported clothes brought to your neighbourhood store through a complex distribution chain involve large amounts of transportation. Choose clothes that have been produced geographically as close to you as possible. Also, every additional set of clothes lying unused in your wardrobe is a wastage of global resources involved in manufacturing them. For every new dress that you buy, discard an old one so that someone else gets to wear them and does not have to buy new ones.

 

Watch how you entertain yourself. A walk in the park, talking with friends at home or in the neighbourhood, playing a game of chess or cards etc. involves no external energy sources, and is also good for health. Listening to music, watching television, phoning a friend is also relatively low on energy consumption. Compared to these, driving to the multiplex, the shopping mall, the bowling alley or the restaurant involves consumption of large amounts of hydrocarbons. Please minimize environmental cost of your enjoyment.

 

Watch what you drive. Avoid buying or driving oversized status-symbols. Step down to modest vehicles that have better fuel economy. Also, use public transport during non-peak hours, and walk or use a bicycle over short distances.

 

Watch your power and water usage. Switch off lights and air-conditioners when you are leaving the room. Avoid recessed or concealed light fixtures that absorb rather than emit most of the light, or cast light at the ceiling rather than directly. Minimize heating bathwater in summer, and do not waste water by leaving your tap running unnecessarily.

 

 

  CORPORATES:  

  Play a leadership role in mitigating the problem.

 

Ř     Organize employee commute programs to minimize costs.

 

Ř    Reduce business travel emissions. Consider combining trips, and the taking the aid of technology (video conferencing) to create virtual meetings.

 

Ř     Set your A/C thermostat as high as you comfortably can (around 24 degrees C). Instead of air-conditioning, open the windows of offices as often as you can and enjoy fresh air. While designing office interiors, choose openness over enclosed settings, ceiling fans over air-conditioners, and some natural lighting over a complete dependence on artificial lighting. Minimize having light fixtures for aesthetic rather than functional reasons. Avoid recessed light fixtures that absorb rather than emit most of the light. Avoid installing ‘caverned’ fixtures that direct light at the ceiling.

 

Ř     Assign a department to audit your company’s energy and transport (including flight) kilometers etc, and devise ways to achieve a 2% reduction in these costs every month.

 

Ř     Incentivate junior staffs to walk, use bicycles and scooters. Also, encourage all employees to choose the stairs over the lift as often as they possibly can.

 

 

  MUNICIPALITIES:  

  Legislate and regulate for lower fuel costs.

 

Reduce motorized transportation within residential neighborhoods and office localities. Vehicles, including public transport, must be discouraged from entering neighborhoods and office localities. Passengers should be dropped off at well-planned nodal points with large parking lots. People should be encouraged to walk the last half kilometer to their destinations. This will improve the air quality in work and living environments, give people peaceful zones for walking, bicycling etc and improve people’s health overall. It will also considerably reduce traffic jams and reduce per capita petroleum consumption.

 

Maximise the facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. Wide, continuous footpaths unobstructed by clutter, parked vehicles and hawkers, should be a norm to encourage walking. Create a bicycle lane for at least two kilometers on roads near schools. Children who enjoy walking or taking the bicycle to school will not have to be dropped to school by car or scooter.

 

Dim the traffic lights between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m. every night to save electricity. Also, switch off the lights on all advertisement hoardings after midnight.

 

Meter the water usage of individual flats rather than entire buildings in order to encourage more thrifty utilization of water, in order to conserve both water resources and the power used for pumping them to the taps.

 

Incentivate vehicle owners to reduce the size and number of vehicles they own. Road tax on households owning two or more four-wheeled vehicles must be fixed at disproportionately higher rates. Road tax on luxury vehicles that occupy more space and give a low mileage should also be hiked up. On the other hand, tax on smaller vehicles and two-wheelers should be slashed, and purchase of bicycles should be cross-subsidized.

 

I realize that implementing these measures would have some untoward consequences on the economy, and on some sections of people in particular. While we can discuss those side-effects, I welcome ideas that are more painless and more easily implemented than the ones proposed.

 

 

Posted in Our Future.


31 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. Tarun Giribuwa says

    Good Practical suggestions. I remember my GF once castigating me for using BEST bus on my way top meet her when I had just bought a brand new car. WHen I explained why I did it, she called it a lie and pronounced me a kanjoos.

  2. Irreverent Iyer says

    FG, do I notice a parallel between your belief in God & in global warming…? Both appear to be articles of faith, glossing over ”petty” technicalities…! The funny thing is that a lot of your action plan makes sense (esp. for India) independent of whether global warming is happening or not…simply based on the high levels of pollution & poor infrastructure in the country. So, not clear why you”d need to get into contentious space when its not necessary.

  3. Elisabeth says

    I agree that it”s important for everybody to realize that”s anything can help and do the suggestions you give. > CHANGE THE WORLD, BEGIN AT/BY YOURSELF!!!! What a terrible photo!! Good illustration at the sad story of our world!

  4. neetha nair says

    why dont we adopt solar lights for street lights instead of this electricity once – there are some successful example in india itself- some place lighted by solar only- dont remember where it was – the existing lights itself remains switched on well after bright morning many a days , wasting energy which could other wise have been saved. The battery operated vechiles that are coming in to the market seems to be a better option ? wonder if the batteirs that are charged by electricty will cause another environment problem? what about this computers and periphrals and related waste material that are harmful ?

  5. neetha nair says

    i am unable to think and talk seriously now – hence 1) the suggestion regarding eat & drink suits me fine – it reduces the pull on the purse 2)I am by birth allergic to synthetics by mind and skin 3)Entertain my self …. ????4) i am not able to afford to drive any such 5) electricity charges had gobe bloody expensive – i agree 200%

  6. Madhavan PK says

    Nice one. Plan to reread it many time. Am thrilled that I have played cricket with a Nobel Prize winner– Mr Pachauri, an ardent , die hard cricket freak and his rather good TERI team while at Delhi.

  7. Observer Me says

    And yes…Lets not rape Mother Earth. but lets make love to her.

  8. Observer Me says

    I have lived both lives. Life of luxury and life of simplictiy. Life of luxury is something that i am done with and now out of necessity i am living a life of simplicity. Let me tell you, i am being more individual and I am being more myself. I am entertaining myself better and pampering all the more, more. Now i realize, the ”assumed” life while i was living the life of luxury just made an ass out of me while the ”real” life makes me really feel what a ass i was. By the way, my point is, being more individualistic will help a lot of things and Global Warming is definitely one among those.

  9. ekantapadhika says

    About FG”s and Turbo Jet”s comments on the need/desirability for Passerby to have an Iland identity , it doesn”t make sense to me because if any of his/her comments has to be refuted or commented upon , it can be done right here, where it can be read by others as well , in the context of what is being discussed. All such relevant exchanges, in fact should be put out here , so that somebody interested enough , can read it at one place, instead of having to flit from one Iland to another.

  10. Noanee Kapadia says

    I do follow many of your suggetions ,i regularly gift plants of different variety to friends ,and on little children”s birthday we give them pot of plant as take away gift .I also take seeds of vegetables and flowering palants when I am trekking and give them to the village women , and talk to them about growing kitchen garden

  11. friendly ghost says

    RESPONSE TO EKANTAPADHIKA: The two terms that you use — ”comfort traps” and ”moral strength” — are especially appropriate in the context of individuals like ourselves. Of these, ”comfort trap” is a concept that I have made a mental note of for future use in blogs, as well as the little bit of social campaigning that I am currently engaged in. Warm Regards, Ghost

  12. ekantapadhika says

    May be then, we will have the moral strength to join hands and start forming pressure groups to bear upon the policy makers. If we are not willing to use a little less of electricity we cannot justify our call against big dams and the resultant cutting down of forests. Our individual mindset has to change…consume less now and we may be , just may be able to defer, to slow down the process of global warming . Else it may be too late

  13. ekantapadhika says

    My son is an undergraduate. I was able to see “Inconvenient Truths” because he had heard about it from his friends and had managed to download the same . i dont think he had heard about mr.pachauri then. what i am trying to say is that Al Gore did make a lot more people aware of the urgency associated with climate change. It would be going off at an unnececessary tangent to argue whether he was less deserving of the award because he was not a scientist. The facts are staring at us too much in the face to wait for more data and reports from scientists to start doing something about it. We have to be willing , as individuals, to get out of our comfort traps and make a personal commitment to using a little less, if not giving up totally, all those things that add upto mor carbon levels, starting NOW.

  14. sushi says

    ur very sweet friend thanks for ur cute mesg,pl spread cool and peace as ur alwyas.thanks

    ZWANI.com - The place for myspace comments, glitters, graphics, backgrounds and codes
    Myspace Showin Love Comments & Graphics

  15. passerby says

    FG, as of now – and it could change :-) – you are addressing topics that really need to be addressed and you are making a sincere effort to do so, hence the consonance! Your earlier topics and, moreover, your treatment of them, well …… !! It is still disconcerting that you are aware of Gore – wonderful – but less so or not at all about the IPCC, Pachauri, etc. Am I on the mark or far off it?? Yet, there is common ground to go forward on. Tim Flannery from Australia is worth knowing about. TURBO, I have posted an email to you saying that the purpose of the Gb entries was to merely let you know that I had posted a comment as a rejoinder here and that you can delete those entries as that purpose has been served. I have also added that your post on climate change – all that you make of it – is awaited so that this discussion may be jogged along rather than get stuck on Gore, the Nobel Prize Committee, the Swedish Academy of Sciences, etc.

  16. friendly ghost says

    Am following your exchange with Passerby with great interest, Turbo. Pleasantly surprised to find Passerby and me in consonance on this particular topic, although in general, he/she is no admirer of mine. About your remark that Passerby should let us know where he/she is coming from before posting in our GBs, lemme put it this way: if Passerby were a bit more transparent and if we could respond in his/her GB, the world would seem a nicer place.

  17. Misty Bella says

    OOOOOOPPPPPPPPSSSSSSS Sorry FG, no Birthday wishes for you yet!, Spongy was a mistake!

  18. Turbo Jet says

    Hey Passerby, just noticed you are not a member. If you are going to post on GBs of members, it”s only fair you tell us about yourself. Put it on the line yourself, buddy, and tell me where you are coming from.

    (Sorry, FG)

  19. Turbo Jet says

    If the Swedish Academy of Science gave Gore a Nobel for Physics … hot damn, I”d be impressed. Hell, they gave Kissinger the Nobel Peace too … and he”s still flitting in and out of the White House back-doors advising Bush how to stay the course on the ”war on terror”.

    Here”s what one blogger had to say (on WaPo) “I”m puzzled. Why didn”t they give him the Nobel Prize in one of the branches of science? Isn”t global warming about science?” If they wanted a politician who has really done something, they should have selected the Governor of California … yep, the Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the battle for public opinion in America (let”s face it, it”s America where the initiatives are gonna come from), the Nobel Peace, I”m afraid, is going to put off a sceptical public even more. Bad PR move, I would say.

  20. Turbo Jet says

    Oh but Passerby, I know all about Gore”s advocacy … he was ”green” back in those days when the word only meant ”amateur”. Climate change is not about giving Bush indigestion. Sure, America – alongwith India and China – have to be brought to the table. For that, there”s still helluva lot more work to be done on the science. My point is, Gore is a distraction from this work. When you have the honchos from the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the RAND Corporation, Wall Street Journal – not to mention Big Oil, Big Auto, Big Steel, Big Everything – to confront, public opinion is not gonna be impressed by a Nobel Peace here or an Oscar there. I”m happy for Gore, it”s small recompense for not becoming POTUS. However, he should surrender the stage to the IPCC and ”graciously” move to one side. Or, he should announce his candidacy for the Dem nomination (he has till this month-end, I think) and attack Hillary Clinton and Rudy Guiliani and Big Business from that pulpit.

  21. passerby says

    TURBO J : the IPCC is in the process of confirming that which you feel Gore has been merely grandstanding about. The individual who stands up – and he has been at it since his days as a Senator – needs to be appreciated and the Nobel is one more appreciation, not the only and misguided one. It is not that Gandhiji struggled alone, that Mandela alone battled apartheid, that King alone marched for all those discriminated against but, usually, one individual DOES become associated with any ”movement” as its poster-boy-in-chief and in this case it happens to be, FOR THE MOMENT, Al Gore. All of the 400 scientists associated with the IPCC could not have collectively drawn attention to this issue as effectively as Al Gore has done, ably supported by many. So, let us not be ungracious in applauding him for his efforts. As G B Shaw said to the lone heckler in the audience at the premiere of his play (if i recall correctly) – ” I agree with you, but what are the two of us to do against so many.”

  22. Turbo Jet says

    Gore is suspect – one, he once claimed to be the father of the internet; two, his film “An Inconvenient Truth” used hyberbole, political licence and made claims which the IPCC do not hold or support. Also, The Nobel Peace, unlike the other Nobels, is not awarded by the Swedish Academy of Sciences but by a committee appointed by the Norwegian government of the day. Norway is neck-deep in the climate change debate, for obvious reasons. Norway over the years has used the Nobel Peace to plug the political mood-script of the day – from giving it to Kissinger and not to Gandhi, etc etc

    I say all this not because I”m a debunker but because the debate is by no means over; in fact, it has barely started. The science is not faulty but for govt policy-informing purposes … across nations, who need to act in concert … it is incomplete. That is why I wish the IPCC were the sole winners, because there”s so much more to be done and only the scientists can do it. (contd)

  23. Turbo Jet says

    “This particular post is not intended for people who hold this opinion”, u wrote – the opinion being the dissenting view. Preaching to the converted is stressless. But it won”t get you anywhere if the dissent is considerably more intellectual, scientific, tech, financial and democratic than propaganda aimed at “faulty science, bad politicians, crackpot activists and sloppy journalists”.

    That is why I wish Gore was not named. The IPCC scientists who do the hard science have got lost in Gore-Bush Round II. Slowing down planetary growth is a super-mega policy decision which only govts can make. Govts need reasons because tax-payers” money, employment, livelihoods of billions are involved. Gore provided awareness, fair enough, but persussion is needed and Gore is no use to the likes of Bush (or Hillary), Hu Jintao, Manmohan (sorry, Sonia), Brown, Putin or Lula. (contd)

  24. meena sundar says

    first let the government check the emmiosn of black smoke from goverment own buses and vehicles. i am living in Elec board ouaters, so, power is free..well everyone let the fan and light on all the time, they dont bother to switch it off, i try to tell them, but no use. but to my part , i always switch it off, whne it doenst needed. ppls attitude has to change krish, if u tell them anything, they try to tell u one thing, “i am not the only one doing this, eveyone is doing the same”….

  25. Lissome Lady says

    This kind of stuff is preached in every school so there is no dearth of information available on what to do at the individual level. As far as the environmental damage goes the big players are the ones to be watched and protested against. In India Narmada, Enron, Sethu Samudram need support in their andolans. Guys like the Tatas with their 1 lakh car project and Ministries that sanctioned it, need to be flogged in public as environment criminals. Power generating industries like metal smelting cement dyes fertilizers steel leather pesticides petrochem pharma paper and refineries are big time polluters. Transparency in their deals must be demanded. A good thing is the carbon credit exchanges are gettign popular. By 2012 India stands to gain 2 billion euros if we reduce carbon emission by a fifth. Businessmen understand money. When debt swap for environment was first mooted selfish America was not too enthu. Rich countries need to be forced. Our Festival lighting must stop.

  26. sushi says

    what cn i say,ur doing nice work to cool earth thanks i like what u write freind.

    ZWANI.com - The place for myspace comments, glitters, graphics, backgrounds and codes
    Myspace Showin Love Comments & Graphics

  27. nilima dahat says

    thanks for all this info and ur views on global warming krish,it is realy good to read this.yes we hv to tk measures some some to control this.

  28. passerby says

    FG, a correction – Al Gore and the IPCC have been awarded, not Dr.P who happens to Chair the IPCC, a considerable responsibility surely – just so that you are not seen as being sloppy with the facts. :-) The Indian media, of course, have gone to town crediting Pachauri personally, ahead of Gore, drawing up a list of the few Indian Nobel laureates etc., as if it were Pachauri who had been personally awarded. The award shall surely heighten the visibility of the discussion on climate change but my gut-feeling is that, at the macro-level as well as the micro-level, that which is likely to be required to be done is to be too much for individuals and govts. to be able to implement in day-to-day living. If at all, we are likely to apply brakes sporadically to our hurtling towards the edge of the precipice but go over the edge we shall. Our collective ”karm” is just too much to be reversed but TRY WE CAN !!

  29. lata ojha says

    v need to put our joint efforts only then any thing will work.its now or never time,we must unite n follow the steps….hope all will start to check n correct themselves for the sake of OUR LIFE-OUR EARTH.

  30. ekantapadhika says

    In the final reckoning it may not really matter , whether we are able to restrain or acclerate the process of global warming…may be these are cycles that this planet has to go through anyway….To me what is important is the way of life and attiutudes each of one us adopts…are we attuned to live selfishly only for ourselves or do we live with the awareness of the degree to which our everyday way of life, thoughts, words and actions, contribute to the general disharmony between human and human and human and the rest of nature. That is personal choice each one of us makes as we go along. That which contributes to the greater common good is what should be taken as the right choice.

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2014 Rediff.com India Limited. All rights Reserved.  
Terms of Use  |   Disclaimer  |   Feedback  |   Advertise with us