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Greta Thunberg Doesn’t Want You To Make Her A Hero, But To Take Action!

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WhyOnEarth logo mobEditor’s Note: Are you bothered by the drastic changes in our climate, causing extreme weather events and calamities such as the Kerala Floods? #WhyOnEarth aims to take the truth to the people with stories, experiences, opinions and revelations about the climate change reality that you should know, and act on. Have a story to share? Click here and publish.
By Hitesh Kumar Mahawar:
Greta Thunberg, 16, environmental activist and a student. Photo: DANIEL REINHARDT/PICTURE ALLIANCE/GETTY

Climate Crisis: have you heard this term often, lately? If yes, then you can do something if you want to save the planet; if not, then I can only pray to God or you can at least read this article to get an idea.

Just to set the context, here are some of the facts and figures:

  1. The current warming rate is roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming. Since 2010, the earth has recorded the five warmest years and 2016 was the warmest year on record.
  2. 1,000,000+ species face extinction. Around 5 species a year is the expected rate of species extinction, but we’re losing up to 10,000 times faster than the normal rate. This implies that 5–6 species go extinct every hour.
  3. The world’s tropical forests are shrinking at a shocking rate, the equivalent of 1 football pitch in every two seconds. 120,000 square kilometres of tropical forest were lost in the year 2018.
  4. In the last decade, the rate of Antarctica ice mass loss has tripled. Glaciers are now retreating almost everywhere around the globe — including the Himalayas, Alaska, Andes, Rockies, Alps, and Africa. Antarctica lost about 127 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2016.
  5. Average sea levels have swelled over 8 inches in the last century, and about three inches gained in the last 25 years. The rate has doubled in the last two decades compared with the previous century, and it is increasing every year.
  6. There is a 60% drop in average wildlife populations in just over 4 decades. Climate Change is thought to be the third biggest driver of biodiversity loss after changes in land and sea use and over-exploitation of natural resources.
  7. We are living in a time where there’s more carbon dioxide in our atmosphere than at any time in human history. The same amount of carbon dioxide contained by the earth’s atmosphere was more than three million years ago. Climate scientists have alerted that high carbon dioxide levels will lead to terrible and irreversible changes in the climate.
  8. 11% of the world’s population i.e. around 800 million people are vulnerable to climate change impacts, such as floods, droughts, extreme weather events, and sea-level rise.
  9. Our oceans are dying every day. Our planet is only as good as its oceans. The United Nations has warned that marine life faces permanent damage as millions of tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the oceans every year. 50% of the world’s coral reefs have died in just over the last 30 years.
  10. Climate change could be irreversible by 2030.

It is enough to understand the gravity of the situation if you are still not convinced then wait for some years and you will able to see yourself.

Climate change is real and it is changing our surroundings every day, at a rate that we can’t imagine. If we will not act now it will be too late to come back. 97% of the world climate scientists agree that human activities are the reason for climate crisis across the globe and the burning of fossil fuels contributes maximum to this problem. But the matter of the fact is that common people don’t give a damn about what the scientists are saying, or we are so busy in our lives that we forget to take care of the surroundings in which we are living.

Imagine or you don’t have to imagine, as we will see the disaster which we are creating for our future generations, in the near future, if we will not do anything about this situation. All countries are adversely affected by global warming, but the most vulnerable sections of the society are the biggest victims and the regions which are least responsible for creating this adverse situation.

Temperature rise, untimely heavy rainfalls, sea-level rise, biodiversity loss, strong storms are some of the signs which we can observe, and they indicate that something is not right or changing. We have to respond to this, not individually, but collectively, be it governments, industries, policymakers, activists and most importantly we, the common people.

Limiting the temperature rise to 1.5°C is not impossible but it will only be possible with the extraordinary changes in all the aspects of society and the way we live and lead our lives. Every step to tackle the climate crisis should be appreciated and replicated in every part of the world, if possible. Industries must take climate-appropriate measures proactively, the government must regularise the resources and the implementation of the laws and policy, policymakers should come up with some strict policies for all stakeholders, activists must not stop raising the red flags and be the torchbearers. People should make the government accountable and also bring changes in their day-to-day lives and come out from their comfort zones. Small steps can bring big changes if we agree to do so.

Greta Thunberg is a 16-year-old girl, a student, and a climate activist. Today, She is holding a mirror for all those, above her age and reminding them that this earth is not something which we can use and go. But we borrowed it from our ancestors and we’re liable to give it to our future generations, and our children. We can’t be selfish and close our eyes to what is happening and towards the climate crisis. We must do something and do it now. We should respond to her appeal and strengthen her voice with actions.

To contribute towards the fight against climate change, the least we can do is plant a tree. Trees are some of the cheapest and best solutions we have to save our planet and each one of us can do that. Planting a tree is not difficult, especially in this era of technology. There are several organisations that are helping and running tree plantation campaigns, Grow-Trees is one organisation where one can pledge online to plant a tree with a nominal charge and the organisation will plant a tree on your behalf.

Some activities or habits which we should adhere to and try to inculcate to save our planet are given below. You may think of something different and also follow the link to know more such activities: https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/takeaction/

Actions which you can easily take

  • Use of refillable water bottles and coffee cups is a good idea to start.
  • Bring your carry bag when you go to the shop.
  • Take short showers. Preferably 5-minute showers.
  • Shop local. It keeps people employed and helps prevent burning of fossil fuels which is required to bring goods from far distances otherwise.
  • Take public transport, use bikes and walk whenever you get time to keep yourself healthy and fit.
  • Eat less meat, poultry, and fish (completely your choice), but FYI, more resources are used to provide meat than plants.
  • Air dry. Let your clothes and hair dry naturally instead of a machine.
  • Save electricity by turning the appliances off when not in use, including computers.
  • Stop paper bills and pay online.
  • Don’t throw away an unwanted fruit or snack. Give it to someone who needs it.
  • Try to reduce any type of waste, since most waste ends up in our oceans.
  • Inspire and mentor young people. Guide them towards a better and more sustainable future.
  • Speak up! Ask your company/organisation and government to engage in initiatives that are green and sustainable.
  • Corporate Social Responsibility can play a very positive role, where companies will get an opportunity to work with civil society and find ways to help local communities and the planet to achieve collective goals.
  • Take advantage of your right to elect the leaders in your country and the local community.
  • Share, don’t just like. Share it so folks in your network see it too.
  • Stay informed.

The author has an M. Tech. from IIT Bombay and works as a Manager (Data Scientist) at Kotak Mahindra Bank Ltd

References:

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change IPCC Report

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCCC

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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