by: Vidit Baya
Our planet is a beautiful place and it needs our help to flourish. From the beautiful valleys to the majestic mountains, from the deep gorges to the beautiful oceans, I believe there is nothing that can replace it. From the first human colonies till modern man we have all enjoyed and cherished what the earth has on offer.
Every year on the 5th of June, over 1 billion people come together irrespective of ethnicity, gender, and language to celebrate one thing which we all have in common; we are Earthlings. We come together to act towards a better and sustainable future for us and future generations. The theme of this year's Earth Day is "Climate Action".
The foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the climate that makes our planet habitable all comes from nature. Yet, these are exceptional times in which nature is sending us a message:
To care for ourselves we must care for nature. It's time to wake up. To take notice. To raise our voices. It's time to build back better for People and Planet. This World Environment Day, it's Time for Nature.
-UN Environment Programme
The world is facing a crisis, not the corona virus pandemic but the crisis from which if action not taken today will lead to human extinction. Climate change will lead to human extinction and no quarantine will work over here. But we have a vaccine that will prevent this extinction, it's termed "Climate Action". All living organisms have evolved and some have been naturally selected by nature; we humans are lucky to be the one. Humans are the only living organisms who are self-conscious and can adapt even in the most extreme conditions.
Climate Change is no joke, it's real, can be avoided, action is a must.
What is Climate Change?
According to the UN, "shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, and the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly".
From the rising temperatures to increasing desertification, from the rising sea levels to the melting of glaciers, increase in floods to massive cyclones, we have all experienced and will continue to experience climate change till we take action. Our everyday activities damage the environment directly or indirectly. The human species have been the driving force of increased eutrophication, species extinction, global warming, rising sea, and carbon levels, increased population, and what have I missed?? Our extinction.
The Earth is slowly turning into a ball of fire and you can stop it. Yes, you can help the human race to survive.
The million-dollar question, how can I stop human extinction?
We need to fight climate change as if our lives depend on it – because it does. I'll give you five ways in which you can help delay and possibly eliminate human extinction.
- Use energy wisely and save money too - The average electricity consumption in India is about 800kWh according to World Bank. The majority of electricity produced in India is through coal and nuclear-powered plants. The amount of carbon produced by these plants is huge. We as individuals can cut that by:
- Invest in renewable like Solar Energy - The Indian Government does provide subsidies and various other benefits to people who shift to renewable energy.
- Rural India has a huge potential to generate electricity through the use of biogas.
- Go for a solar cooker - My family uses it and trust me the taste of rice, pulses (dal) is pretty good. You'll save gas.
- Eat for a sustainable planet - Good news for the diet-conscious people and people like I who even after eating a lot of food just can't increase weight.
- Decrease the consumption of animal products and go vegetarian. This decreases the huge amount of carbon emissions that come from the cattle, dairy, and livestock industry.
- Grow your food and nothing is better than organic. When you grow organic you decrease the number of pesticides that enter your body.
- A process called Biomagnification is responsible for the increase in the number of toxic substances at successive levels of the food chain. These toxins can be pesticides, DDT, etc.
- Change the way you commute – India is the 4th largest emitter of CO2 in the world and a huge proportion of that comes from vehicular emissions. An electric and hybrid vehicle market can make a large impact by helping us not only reduce emissions but also ensuring that the oil stays in the ground. I believe the government has a significant role to play here but if we voters can understand the importance of hybrid and electric vehicles, so will the government. Use cabs, carpool, walk, cycle, take public transport. This not only reduces emissions but is also economical. There is a saying "Cheap sells fast", I believe especially in India it does so. I have surveyed about 10-15 auto-rickshaw drivers and they have told me that all their passengers are great hagglers. So there is no doubt about Indians being economical or the best bargainers in the world.
- Move towards a zero-waste policy – This is a slow process and does not happen overnight. It takes days for people to figure out the way to do it. I am moving towards one and I have observed the bin being empty for a significant amount of time and that somehow makes me happy, I don't know why? Start with plastics and remove them from the shelves and never bring them back. Plastic has now turned out to be a curse on this planet. We have alternative options like Glass jars ("Achar" and "jam" bottle), use clay pots or steel jars for keeping water instead of plastic bottles, make compost of the kitchen waste, and most importantly ensure to segregate waste before dumping. It significantly decreases cost and labour, making the process fast and efficient. Going zero waste is now possible.
- Let's not be clueless and ignorant anymore – The time has come for us to act and not blame the government. We as individuals need to change as to be an example for our future generations.
When my kids ask me what I have done for the planet, I'll have an answer ready for them.
The author, Vidit Baya is a student of Class XII from Udaipur and a Climate Activist. His views have been featured in leading platforms like the Guardian, Time, etc.