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When Will The Govt And MNC’s Pay Heed To Data On The Climate Crisis?

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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.

Our world witnessed a few extreme climatic patterns in the last few years. Climate change became a slogan, when Greta Thunberg and other youngsters came to the scene, organising school strikes, and speaking at the UN, thus intensifying the awareness of the global climate crisis and the urgent need to tackle it.

Several reasons, like the Earth’s orbital variation, volcanic eruptions, and solar activity were pointed out earlier for climate change. How much orbital variation would be required to destroy all life on this planet? That’s a pretty tough question. A small change in the eccentricity of Earth’s orbit can either freeze things or raise the global temperature, making it unbearable for life. This change in the Earth’s orbit will have a great consequence on our climate patterns and may wipe out all the living beings from the planet. But we have to brush the above-mentioned matters aside, as long as we have enough evidence of the increase in the number of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.

The recent movement led by the youth, along with scientific examinations, has converged upon greenhouse gas emissions as a primary reason for global warming, and extreme climatic patterns. Let us see in brief, what a greenhouse is, and how the atmosphere acts as a greenhouse. We shall also examine the various areas of human dependency on non-renewable fossil fuel. It will be interesting to know about the devices that record these emissions, as well as the latest efforts that are taken to save the planet.

What Is A GreenHouse?

A greenhouse is a structure with a roof and mostly glass walls on four sides, transparent, built to enclose plants that need a required amount of warmth. Sunlight heats the glass exterior and warms the inside air. Heat is trapped inside and cannot escape outwards giving the greenhouse warmth, for a long time. This is helpful for those plants that can’t thrive when it is cold outside. And so is the case with the sunlight reaching the Earth.

Some of this sunlight is reflected back to space and some is absorbed by land, oceans and the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases present in the atmosphere trap the heat reflected back towards space. Carbon dioxide, Methane, Nitrous oxide, Fluorinated gases, Ozone etc. are greenhouse gases. These gases are released during the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gases. An increase in the amount of these gases will increase the global temperature.

The industrial revolution has created a tremendous increase in the consumption of fossil fuels. Beginning with the consumption of coal, these non-renewable sources of energy (oil, natural gas, and coal)  make up about 85% of the energy used worldwide. Renewable sources of energy include hydropower, solar, wind, geothermal, wave, tidal and waste. Burning of fossil fuels produces around 21.3 billion tones (21.3 gigatonnes) of CO2 per year. It is estimated that natural process can only absorb about half of that amount of these gases.

Deforestation in the name of development adds to the problem of the increase in Carbon Dioxide around us. The electricity sector is unique among industrial sectors in its large contribution to emissions. Transportation, Industry, Commercial and Residential, and Agriculture are other sectors that emit these gases. Man’s dependence on his existence is totally based on these sectors. Barriers to renewable sources of technology could be a reason for the over-dependency on non-renewable sources. Renewable energy harnessing technology is a solution to many of the problems but expensive to build.

How NASA Collects Data About Emissions?

Another interesting topic is about the data regarding emissions, and a few changes happening on the surface, as well as inside the earth. NASA’s TES instrument and GRACE satellites have been helpful in observing these changes and collecting data.

Regarding the climate crisis, it is quite natural for our concern to shift to the condition of the atmosphere; whether it is fragile or robust, and also if it is stable or volatile. NASA’s Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer ( 2004 to 2018), an instrument installed on Aura satellite, studied the emission, presence, and chemical reaction of various gases in the lowest layer of atmosphere.

The team behind TES has found the presence of hydroxyl radical (OH), a chemical that gives stability to the earth’s atmosphere, by cleansing the pollutants, mainly at the lower layer.

Considered as a global detergent, it checks concentrations of Carbon Monoxide, Sulphur dioxide, Hydrogen Sulphide, Methane and higher hydrocarbons. A lot of methane will consume OH, deteriorating the air quality. Another contribution of TES is in advancing scientists’ knowledge about ozone(O3) in the troposphere. It was quite useful to understand how ozone affects human health, the climate and how it is transported to other parts of the world. The instrument was also helpful in quantifying ozone in the upper troposphere, that serves as a greenhouse gas warming the atmosphere.

As to GRACE and GRACE-FO, (Gravity Recovery And Climatic Experiment – Follow On) which was a joint mission of NASA and German Aerospace Centre, GRACE mission began orbiting the earth on March 17, 2002 and was decommissioned after 15 years far exceeding its 5-year design life span. Its successor GRACE-FO was successfully launched on 22 May 2018. The original GRACE mission provided unprecedented insights into how our planet is changing. GRACE-FO, the twin satellites will track the movement of water around the earth, thereby monitoring changes in ice sheets and glaciers, monitoring changes in underground water storage, monitoring changes in large lakes and rivers, monitoring changes in soil moisture, and monitoring changes in sea level and so on.

As long as we have enough data with verified instruments regarding greenhouse gas emission, global warming and climate change, the question naturally arises as to why our environmentalists are not being heard by the government and MNCs?

Delhi Air Quality Index

Delhi air has been time and again described as hazardous by various national and international agencies.

The complexity of the modern world and speedy developments have been cited by a global leader as an impediment to the fruitful solution. Delhi air pollution is a typical example, where this complexity is greatly involved. Diwali celebrations, stubble burning, construction work, vehicular emission etc., have been cited as major reasons for Delhi air pollution index increasing rapidly.

Even though schools were shut down for a while and odd-even system was introduced, all these did not bring an immediate drop in pollution. As it is the region utmost important to the nation with almost all the headquarters located there, construction work goes on and vehicular emission keeps going up. As with schools, the government cannot declare leave to various other offices. And as long as the offices are in function, people depend on their own vehicles, instead of public transport, as a part of ease of work life. The construction industry has contributed a lot to particulate matter in the atmosphere. It is the government’s duty to find a solution to this complexity as they are in control of almost all resources.

The youngsters all around are not to be blamed. When the kids study about greenhouse and greenhouse effect, photosynthesis and respiration, biodiversity and monoculture, renewable and non-renewable resources, freezing point and melting point of ice, the different types pollution and its impact, and various other topics, their rationale works. They understand their existence is at stake. To exemplify, let us consider what we studied about the freezing point of water and melting point of ice. It takes place at zero degrees celsius. A slight change in temperature creates variation. If a one-degree rise in temperature can melt ice, a one-degree rise in average global temperature can melt the vast amount of ice sheets at the poles, which in turn can lead to an increase in sea-level rise.

As we all know, Carbon Dioxide is the major contributor to global warming. It reacts with ocean water, forming carbonic acid, which does not cause immediate acidification, but will reduce the alkaline nature of the ocean, thereby impacting marine life. As the development is on a geometric proportion, Carbon Dioxide content is rapidly increasing around us. Deforestation aggravates the situation.

Floods And Hurricanes

As long as we have substitutes for non-renewable sources, which can fulfil the basic necessities of modern-day lifestyle, governments and MNC’s will be at a distance from the environmentalists. Certain activities cannot be reversed and we don’t know the impact in the upcoming years. Kerala flood is a typical example of such irreversible activity.

PATHANAMTHITTA, INDIA – AUGUST 17: People carrying a lady to safer place during flood at Pandalam, on August 17, 2018 in district Pathanamthitta, India. The flooding, described by the chief minister as the worst in nearly a century, began shortly after August 8 when a spell on unusually heavy rain began. In this period, nearly 222 people have died and around 350,000 have been taken to relief camps. Officials said 67 helicopters, 24 aeroplanes and 548 motorboats have fanned out across Kerala in what has turned into one of the biggest rescue operations to be carried out in India. (Photo by Amal KS/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The destruction of western ghats for development purpose has led to a series of disasters in 2018 and 2019 in Kerala. Precipitation too has been high and led to the opening of dams, which created floods. Quarrying of hills, destruction of agricultural lands, reduction of biodiverse forests, waste disposal, use of chemical farming, increase in the number of vehicles etc., are modern-day problems. Air and surface of the Earth are degraded as a result, and both of them combine to create catastrophes like floods, hurricanes, droughts and acid rain.

Regarding hurricanes in the United States, between June and November, it is observed that the intensity has been increasing making it catastrophic. These hurricanes are formed in the ocean when the ocean surface gets heated up at 26.5 degree Celsius.

‘Harvesting Energy From Hurricanes’, a documentary by Mark Arstin and the Pleiades Group of Seven considers hurricanes as an energy source that does not consume any natural resources, nor produces any pollution or carbon dioxide emissions. So far, the energy of hurricanes has not been harvested because it is spread over a large area of land.

Technical built up to harvest hurricane energy can be really complex and expensive too. It requires deep-sea floating platforms that are transportable and can withstand the intensity of the hurricane. It is time for the scientists to research on the possibility of trapping this energy during its formation and in its less intense stage. If drones can pick this energy on a regular basis during its formation, it can reduce the intensity of hurricanes, and at the same time, this energy can replace fossil fuel energy to a great extent.

According to the scientists, 24 platforms, each having 4800 turbines at 10% efficiency in a category 3 tropical cyclone, can produce from 14,640MW/h to 20,239 MW/h of energy. Another initiative to trap a renewable source of energy is the initiative by California based Makani, a self-flying energy kite to trap wind power. The world should come up with innovative ideas though it may be expensive in the beginning. Research and development wing of companies should work on it as soon as possible. Nothing valuable comes easy of cost.

How Can We Combat The Effects Of Climate Change?

Another point to be noted during climate chaos is the necessity of the shift to be made from industrial agriculture towards agroecology and organic farming. Fossil fuel-based chemical industrial agriculture drains the nutrients from the soil, impact food and nutritional security, and deprives the plants of their water-holding capacity, thereby aggravating the impact of drought.

A noteworthy initiative to make the dry land green again, by capturing rainwater, and introducing sustainable agriculture, is done by an international non-profit organisation, Justdiggit. It invites the world to pick up the shovel and help combat climate change. Their approach to restoring dry land is called the Hydrologic Corridor. In dry areas, the soil is degraded and rainwater can no longer infiltrate into the ground. It evaporates or causes erosion and flooding, and washes away the remaining fertile soil. By opening the soil, the rainwater can infiltrate and is available for vegetation again. Seeds will sprout, plants and trees will start growing and wildlife will return to these areas.

We need harmony with nature for our survival and well being. We need the developments which keep the world going, but at the same time, we need to step back a little, enjoy nature, understand how it protects its living beings in a natural setting. We need trees, shrubs and herbs as well for survival in the long run. We need the balance of nature that has enabled species sustenance possible from a very long time. Let us not shed our optimism, so long as we don’t see much improvements taking place in a quick manner.

Projects like Justdiggit and Self-flying kites can be pioneers in this field of change. As little drops of water make the mighty ocean, these positive steps can steer a new way of life that mitigate environmental damage and climate crisis. As to climate crisis what has been not done is the reduction in the usage of fossil fuel consumption and scientific planning of environmental policy, that can be accepted by every global player involved.

Montreal Protocol, a treaty designed to protect the ozone layer, is a wonderful example of success in unity in diversity. What has been done are a countable number of projects that make use of renewable resources, and a few efforts to rejuvenate the planet. What has been not done outweighs what has been done.

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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, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’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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