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Aren’t We Morally Obligated To Hand Over A ‘Liveable’ Planet To Our Next Generation?

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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.

If you love your children or your future children, please listen to me for just 10 minutes. Climate change is currently the ‘most relevant’ issue of our lives. It is affecting and will affect the whole of the present human race and its coming generations. Climate change is being considered as the greatest challenge humanity has ever faced.

And we have just 12 years left to keep the world safe for the next generations.

Global warming is a process in which the Earth’s temperature is rising uncontrollably, and this rise is leading to unbearable changes in our climate and natural resources. The rise in temperature is happening due to the heat coming from the sun, not being able to return completely. The heat coming from the sun is not able to return completely due to the rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere. CO2 is emitted in the atmosphere by the most ‘basic’ activities of our lives; like energy production from coal, running of cars, trucks and buses and burning of limestone for production of cement being used in construction.

In other words, any unnatural human activity leads to CO2 getting emitted in the atmosphere. We have been living this lifestyle dependent on CO2 emission for the past 150 years. All the CO2 emitted during this span is still up in the atmosphere. This CO2, due to a particular speciality of the heat coming from the sun, lets that heat enter the Earth’s atmosphere but prevents it from completely returning. Due to this heat getting leftover continuously, we humans have raised all the Earth’s temperature by an average 1º. The temperature will keep on rising until this CO2 is in the atmosphere.

And we are keeping on pumping more CO2 in the atmosphere.

If the earth’s global temperature rises more than 1.5°C, then fixing the damage done to the environment would be beyond  human capabilities.

What can a mere 1º rise in temperature harm? Well, almost everything. The climate in all parts of the world and their seasonal cycles are all tied in a very delicate balance. This balance gets severely disturbed by even a 0.1º change in the global temperature. Disturbed seasonal cycles will lead to irregularities in the monsoons, which will hurt the crop yields. Summer’s highest temperatures are continuously breaking records for the last 10 years, and this pattern is going to continue. Cyclones coming from the sea will get bigger and more destructive due to the increased temperature. Glaciers of rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Satluj are melting rapidly; which will lead to increased irregularity and uncertainty in the water supply for a billion people living in the Indian subcontinent.

One-third of the species of bees responsible for the pollination of 95% of the crops are already extinct due to the rise in global temperature. Melting of the Earth’s Polar glaciers is leading to a rise in sea level, which will render three crore people homeless in India alone. The intensity and frequency of natural calamities like droughts, wildfires, tropical cyclones and erratic rainfall would increase with time. The catastrophe wouldn’t come at once but would instead keep on arriving. And all or any of this would lead to famines, disease, refugee crises taking a toll on the economy.

Although it is not known for sure if all these adversities or unwanted changes will happen in ‘our’ lifetime, our children would have to bear with all this for sure. It is ‘scientifically guaranteed’.

The world will be a worse place to live. How much it will worsen, is still in our hands. Will it worsen to the point of calamity, or can we control it before that? That’s in our hands now, but time is running. Last year, the scientists calculated that if the earth’s global temperature rises more than 1.5°C, then fixing the damage done to the environment would be beyond  human capabilities. It would become impossible to turn the world back into the state in which we are used to living in now. As per the current CO2 emission rate of 11 thousand tonnes per second, staying at or below 1.5°C requires slashing global greenhouse gas emissions 45% below 2010 levels by 2030 and reaching net-zero by 2050.

The biggest contribution to cutting down carbon emissions would come from fulfilling our energy requirements from alternative sources instead of fossil fuels. We would ‘have to’ learn to live with the carbon budget allotted by the scientists. Although governments have been bringing plans for shifting to alternative energy sources in the ‘eventually’ to save the ‘environment’, that term has now been reduced to a deadline of mere 12 years, and at stake is ‘the whole Earth’.

Since every activity for our subsistence relies on getting energy from burning fossil fuels, meeting this goal demands extraordinary transitions in transportation; in energy, land, and building infrastructure, and in industrial systems. It means reducing our current coal consumption by one-third, and massive afforestation—all in the narrow window of the next 12 years while our momentum pushes us in the wrong direction. The half-degree between 1°C and 1.5°C may not seem like much, but it’s a yawning gap in terms of the effort required and the consequences thereof.

Since international borders cease to exist up in the atmosphere, any country’s emissions hurt the life of the rest of the countries’ people, and thus, a requires action from every nation. Even after the governments getting conscious, new strict laws and policy changes leading to increased difficulty in everyday living and the cost of business would be vehemently opposed by the public and businesses alike. Therefore, not only the people’s leaderships but the whole populace needs to be made aware of the whole matter and conscious about the upcoming changes. People, businesses and governments, all three would need to cooperate to bring about change.

The amount of energy needed to heat the whole planet by 0.5°C is immense. So is the effort to avoid it.

The matter needs to be told to the maximum number of people possible and the quicker, the better. It’s something that wouldn’t be believed straightaway on hearing from a stranger. But it is, in fact, the plain truth and super important. News, social media are the mediums which can give it the most widespread and quickest outreach. And there’s no other source of information more trusted by the common man. The whole matter constitutes complex scientific concepts and a long sequence of upcoming events, which only a journalist can communicate simplistically and in the language, an average person understands. Thus, the participation of media outlets in this movement is of utmost importance. And thus, this adds another big responsibility for the fourth pillar.

Young climate strikers in New Delhi.

Teenagers and children have realised that they are the ones whose lives are the most at stake in this situation, and have begun movements and strikes across the world. Indian children also joined in the protest this March. To boost ambition and accelerate actions to implement the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres hosted the 2019 Climate Action Summit on 23 September to meet the climate challenge. In conjunction to that, massive global strikes were be conducted during 20th-27th September, where people and the young climate strikers leading them, raised their voice against the ongoing crisis and demanded the declaration of a climate emergency.

In future, people who are not made aware today, shouldn’t get the chance to say that if someone had told them, they would have done something! This is our chance to open our eyes and to open everybody else’s eyes as well. Our chance to let ourselves be able to look at our grandchildren in the eyes.

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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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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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