Updated: Jan 4
It is so easy for especially the younger generation to get swayed by pessimistic social media posts about climate change and believe that there is no hope for the future. Shravan Shankar helped in dispelling myths in this context to present the truth- There is hope. Considerable efforts are being made in India to figure out the best ways to transform the way we live and fight climate change in the process.
At the Young Writers' Club we have been discussing various aspects of climate change over the last few weeks. We have made an effort to understand this phenomenon, we have discussed the standard solutions that are being suggested and tried to discover the challenges that are involved in implementing those proposed solutions in life like scenarios. Some of the young executives took the initiative to even bring interesting anecdotes from the news in this context. It can be a very confusing time for especially teens who are likely to be exposed to different sorts of information on the internet and get swayed easily. One of the teens for instance, shared a social media post that showcased a girl protesting against the authorities for not acting soon enough to reverse climate change. She wore a t-shirt that read "We have only 1028 days left." The reactions to this post were mixed. The discussion ended thankfully on a positive note thanks to one of the teens providing more facts connected to this media post, thus enabling the others to dismiss the post as insignificant.
Enabling the teens to become well informed in order to take social media and internet posts with a pinch of salt.
The best way to obtain reliable information is to have a conversation with an expert in the field. Shravan Shankar, the co-founder of Climake was invited to talk with the teens. He has been in this field since 2009. He presented the facts in such a way that the big picture became easy enough for them to comprehend and absorb.
Climake plays a critical role in enabling innovative and effective solutions in the climate action space to get implemented:
Advisory role to companies in the climate action space
Help them access funding to build their solutions
Enable them to access customers and in the process make their solutions more prevalent and easily accessible. In this process Climake has been helping to create opportunities for tech and sustainability startups to grow.
Climake has witnessed tremendous amount of progress in the climate action space in India, leading Shravan to strongly believe that there is hope for the future.
Shravan's interaction with the teens at the Young Writers' Club had several important takeaways that enabled the group to not just gain a better understanding of this phenomenon but also learn about the significant efforts that are happening in India, in the climate action space. His presentation is an eye opener not just for teens but also for every adult. Sharing a synopsis of what we learnt from him. Read on to be correctly informed.
Climate change is real.
The session began with Shravan bringing to light the fact that global warming and climate change are real.
Carbon di oxide, Nitrous oxide and methane gases are the three gases that are focussed upon in the field of climate action. These gases have formed a barrier in the atmosphere preventing the excess heat from the sun's radiation to bounce back into space. This has led to rise in global temperatures.
These gases have formed a barrier in the atmosphere preventing the excess heat from the sun's radiation to bounce back into space. This has led to rise in global temperatures.
The lesser known fact perhaps is that greenhouse gas emissions happen even in nature. Ocean floors for instance have methane pockets from which methane is released into the atmosphere. Methane absorbs more heat than carbon di oxide. Similarly, when there is a volcanic eruption, there is carbon di oxide being released. Why then are greenhouse gas emissions by humankind alone blamed? The reason is that our emissions are a lot more in volume which has been steadily heating up the atmosphere, leading to rise in global temperatures. About 70% of our green house emissions come from coal plants and another significant portion is from vehicular emissions. Followed by contributions from agriculture. Energy generation on farms, paddy cultivation, livestock manure etc. contribute to methane emissions. On the whole 40% comes from natural sources and 60% is from humankind's activities.
About 70% of our green house emissions come from coal plants and another significant portion is from vehicular emissions. Followed by contributions from agriculture. On the whole 40% comes from natural sources and 60% is from humankind's activities.
The consequences of rising temperatures worldwide.
Water becoming scarce: The hotter it gets, the faster the rate of evaporation of water from water bodies leading to higher rate at which water bodies run dry.
Extreme weather conditions: Several places have experienced unusual changes in weather patterns which has direct impact on growth of certain plants. Floods and droughts become common.
Potential shortage of food: Extreme weather changes and unpredictable weather patterns could make it difficult for certain types of plants to grow. This could impact food production globally.
Forest fires: Drier countries becoming even more dry making it easy for catch fire.
Excess snow & blizzards: The reverse effect in colder countries.
The 2 degree Celsius barrier: Discussions on climate change often talk about preventing the temperature from rising beyond a difference of 2 degree Celsius. The 2 degree that is often referred to is the difference in global temperature now and what it was in the 1850s which is considered the pre-industrial revolution era. The industrial revolution rendered large scale manufacturing possible. This also increased the requirement for energy and fossil fuels were the primary source of energy. What was not known back then was how energy generation from fossil fuels could contribute significantly to the adverse impact of the greenhouse effect. So much so, that if we do not transform our ways soon, we could face an existential threat. If the difference in temperatures in the pre-industrial revolution era and now, exceeds the 2 degree mark, survival on earth would become extremely difficult. This is because the impact of the above mentioned consequences of rising temperatures worldwide, will become even more severe.
There is good news. We can fix climate change.
The following efforts are being made in India today.
Mitigation: First and foremost we need to reduce emissions. For this we need to move to alternative sources of energy such as solar energy, biogas (energy from food and organic waste), use more electric vehicles, wind energy and so on. Solar panels on roof tops are becoming more and more common these days. The largest bio natural gas plant in Asia is in Indore, India. Maharashtra has the highest number of electric buses. More number of people are considering electric cars and scooters. Mode of transport that runs on renewable sources of energy enables even individuals to make a difference. There are some hurdles to be crossed in this arena, but efforts are being made.
The largest bio natural gas plant in Asia is in Indore, India. Maharashtra has the highest number of electric buses.
Reduce waste and make "circular" products: Plastic packaging is sourced from fossil fuels. Hence the need to move to alternate means of packing, again to reduce emissions from the process of manufacturing these, is high. A company based out of Pune is making plastic like packing material using sea weeds. The process is clean and packaging material created this way can decompose on its own. Reuse plastic is another popular method.
A company based out of Pune is making plastic like packing material using sea weeds. The process is clean and packaging material created this way can decompose on its own.
Adaptation: Dealing better with the negative effects of climate change.
An excellent example of this approach is Mangrove forests. They help in preventing flooding in coastal areas. These act as natural dams and prevent flooding into the inlands when there are extreme cyclones/tsunami. This is happening in a big way in Maharashtra as well as in Karnataka.
Solar cooling solutions are helping farmers immensely to store their produce in cold and closed environment. Today, supply of electricity to farms to store produce in cold storage is intermittent and less reliable. Innovative solutions such as the solar cooling units have been especially critical in enabling farmers to prevent their produce from spoiling due to extreme heat conditions. These solar cooling solutions harness solar power during the day to power the cold storage units.
Creating water from water vapor: Water is increasingly becoming a scarce resource. Water vapor is everywhere and there are solutions becoming available today to make water from water vapor.
Growing climate resilient crops: A lot of innovation is happening to ensure that the soil is not too dry and the inputs are not chemical heavy. Choosing crops such as millet that are more climate resilient is another way we can ensure food security in the face of adverse effect of climate change.
Current status of the climate action space in India
Renewable energy sources are generating 25% of the energy requirement as of 2022. This is expected to become 50% of total energy requirement by 2030. In absolute terms, this would mean four times rise in renewable energy generation. This target has high likelihood of being achieved as there is immense government support and capital is being invested in a big way.
India's tree cover has increased tremendously. It has increased by 10% of the country's size, which amounts to an addition of 385,000 sq.kms of tree cover. Tree planting works. One tree can absorb 1 tonne of carbon di oxide in its life time. However it must be stressed that tree planting alone cannot fix our problems.
1000s of smart people are coming forward to develop innovative solutions. We have government organisations, banks, academia, think-tanks such as Ellen Macarthur Foundation and citizens who are working hard to make a difference.
While the climate action space has been witnessing tremendous progress, there are challenges in implementing solutions:
Convincing people to switch to climate friendly solutions. Many climate friendly solutions are in early stages. Though people are more conscious, there is a reluctance to switch over completely for various reasons.
Changing people's behaviours. For example, convincing people to segregate waste at home has been an uphill task. The process does not end there. Waste that has been picked up needs to be taken to respective waste treatment areas and not combined before transit.
Solutions are new and are in trial and error stage: All may not work in all situations. There are several factors involved and hence the need for patience.
Reversing climate change clearly cannot happen overnight or in the next 1000 days. It will take years for transformation to take place. The good news is the wheel of change has begun rolling and it is only a matter of time.
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The Young Writers' Club program is an activity based program for the 12-14 age group. The program offers guidance and opportunities for active participation in group discussions/debates, enhance thinking and listening skills through teamwork scenarios and practice one's written expression via a variety of writing assignments. Need more information? Please fill in the contact form below and we will reach out to you asap.