Posted by: Bittu Sahgal on

The rains have arrived in Mumbai on June 7, 2010. Bang on time. That is probably enough reason for the climate ignorant to say to themselves: "These environmental types are always barking up the wrong tree. See, nothing is wrong with the climate."

 Of course they are the ones holding the wrong side of the climate stick.  

India is still recovering from some of the highest recorded summer temperatures. Cyclone Phet just missed India, but killed 10 people in Pakistan and caused untold damage in parts Rajasthan. I am seriously worried about the fate of people in the Sundarbans whose lives have not yet returned to normal after Cyclone Aila.

In just another few weeks, Chief Ministers who are currently still begging for drought relief will move gears, re-edit their appeals to the Centre, and start begging for flood relief (most of which will be siphoned by crooks that have insinuated themselves into positions of influence within district administrations). Things are unlikely to get any better until someone at the top wakes to the reality of climate change and the faulty human developmental ambitions that are fueling climate change.  Humans are the direct cause of the climate SNAFU (Situation Normal All Fouled Up) that has us in its grip.

Is this the kind of country we want our children to inherit?

Somehow we have to set a better example for our children to emulate. Give them better heroes to admire. Gone are the days when young persons can afford the luxury of admiring those who shoot black buck, or get rich by destroying marine turtle nesting sites, or destroying forests to build lucrative dams. Young people today must see that that their planet and its environment is being destroyed beyond repair and that their future will be bleak if our generation continues this much longer.

In our cities, we have to start the long haul back to ecological sanity. One way to start on this long journey would be the creation of zero carbon patches in cities. These will help protect the environment, while preparing citizens for altered lifestyles in preparation for the looming climate crisis. Zero carbon patches would involve pedestrian plazas, no-car zones, locality-wise electric buses to transport people in a loop, wider, tree-lined footpaths with benches and drinking water fountains. Not just the happiness, but the health of citizens living within such zero carbon zones would see dramatic improvement. "