Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour: Hour of Ignorance


Few days back I got a mail from a representative of Earth Hour India to write something about the cause on my blog. At the same time my Twitter time line got bombarded by join the Earth Hour tweets from a popular celebrity. I was amused and just like many other friends of mine tweeted back to the celeb mocking him that it’s a joke to be having the Earth Hour in India. What with the power cuts that we anyways have irrespective of the Earth Hour. It’s a concept that is alien to us and doesn’t work. Reason enough for me not to write anything about it on my blog. I wasn’t convinced and I didn’t find anyone who could convince me. But today, something happened, something that opened my eyes. I realize how ignorant I was and to my horror also realize that most people around me are equally ignorant. Read on to know what happened.


A Book Fair

Just like every other day, today also I was wondering what the fuss was all about this Earth Hour. And was thinking I should write a letter to the guy from Earth Hour India and say sorry. But today was no routine day. I had to go to my son’s school to collect his report card. He was graduating from Nursery to KG.

So we reached the school, there were lots of tiny tots tagging along with their glamorous mothers. I also spotted a few dads who could make it to school. Also there was a book fair at the school, that too next to the play pen for tiny tots. My first thought was, what a marketing gimmick, kids are anyhow going to drag their parents to the playpen and it was a sure shot recipe for success to have the books at arms distance. I too fell into the trap. My son wanted a spin in the merry-go-round and I had to do a round of the books along with my wife and little daughter. While going through the books I saw among a heap a book that read The Down to Earth Guide to Global Warming by Laurie David and Cambria Gordon.

It was obviously a book for kids and out of curiosity I picked it up; to my surprise I was hooked onto it for the next few minutes. This book gave me a feeling I was reading a Global Warming guide for Dummies. It had beautifully illustrated how fragile our earth was and how delicate an ecosystem we live in and how often and easily we abuse it. I felt uneasy at first and then elated to find this book. Being a parent myself I realized how important it is for us to be kids sometimes and understand the world from their perspective. And it is also imperative on us adults to give our kids a clean and green future. I was totally convinced with the concept of global warming. This book got sold the next instant. But wait, what about the switching of lights thing, it still didn’t make any sense.

Eat your lunch or else....

How often have you heard a parent tell a child to eat his or her lunch or else so and so scary character would come or something bad would happen? Parents always use metaphors to convey messages to kids. Most cases it is the animals which are used in stories to drive across a point or a moral. Even adults do that and understand these signals, how else would you explain a dove to be the symbol of peace. It’s mostly metaphors and we even associate colors with emotions.

So it is no wonder that to drive across a point something totally unrelated or remotely related could also become a symbol of that message. In that context, switching off lights might seem to be a trivial thing for many but it sure is a signal and messages that says, yes we are aware of the issue and are committed to make a change. It’s not the change itself that is expected in that one hour but the need to initiate the real change which is an ongoing and daily exercise that we must be aware of and act upon. 

The Earth Hour is just a wake up call, like your daily morning alarm clock. The clock has nothing to do with the rest of your day but is still a very important part of your daily life. At this moment I am tempted to talk about what this change from our side should be, but I would rather write about a few other thoughts that occurred to me. There is enough stuff already available online on the topics of green house gasses and global warming, etc and how we can reduce or stop it. Or just read the book that I mentioned above for more clarity.

After I glanced through the book a million thoughts hit me, I will speak about a few here. 

Single scoop of earth please!

I could visualize an image where our earth was a large size single scoop ice cream. It looks so delicious and tempting. Can’t wait to take a bite of it! And once we take a bite we like to take few more bites and finally it’s gone. Its real fun till it lasts. You totally enjoy it. Yet you feel hungry for more. You can choose to pick up another scoop or another flavor. But Alas! We don’t have any more scoops of earth left in this universe. It’s probably the only one with its unique flavor. 

It’s our duty as the most intelligent species on earth to preserve this last scoop of wonder that god has created. I repeat, there is no flavor as such available anywhere else in this galaxy. And when I say galaxy I am not using superlatives but using absolute terms. There truly is nothing that compares to our Mother Earth. 

2012 and a flat world

Next thought was about the movie '2012', am sure most of you have seen this epic disaster movie. I enjoyed watching it too. What had stuck me quite clearly while watching the movie then was the scale of the movie in terms of the efforts involved in the process of saving mankind from extinction.  In a clear departure from the director’s earlier movie 'Independence Day' which was more of an American hero centric film, this movie talked of global citizens and efforts from multiple countries involved in this rescue. The brain behind the prediction being attributed to an Indian which is quite commendable though he doesn’t get to survive in the end. 

Hollywood has woken up to the reality that this world isn’t all about America but a converging world where every country is important and no one can be ignored. The world is getting truly flat and we are seeing increasing evidence of it. Hence the argument of saying that the Earth Hour concept is alien to India is just closing our eyes to an event that has far greater significance than anything else today. You do want your kids to enjoy the scoop as much as you did, don’t you want to?

CO2 & Indians

When it comes to talk about depletion of Ozone layer the biggest threat, most often repeated term is that of Carbon Dioxide (CO2). We humans inhale oxygen and exhale CO2. And we have also learnt in school that plants absorb CO2 and don’t let the gases escape to cause more harm. So plants are needed, plenty of them, to keep this earth sane. But what about humans, what if we keep on multiplying the way we are doing. Especially Indians, we are well on our way to becoming the most populous country overtaking China in a few years time. Did you ever think how much of CO2 we all would be leaving collectively into the atmosphere? So the moral is, control population means control global warming too. Simple and Straight.

Time to play catchup

India is not only a rapidly developing nation but also at the same time is one of the slowest to catch up and its people one of the most ignorant and ill informed about various things that the rest of the world seems to have already learnt and acted upon. For instance take the case of development activities for the Common Wealth games in Delhi - the metros, roads, etc. Isn’t Delhi probably the most sophisticated and advanced city in terms of infrastructure in the country? But wait a minute, look back a little into history and you would realize that New York did all this more than 100 years ago, same with London. Yes, the metros including. Where does that leave us? Imagine living in the 1900s. This is the undeniable truth. 

We might have caught up with a lot of things with the west in terms of technology, but are far behind them in a lot of other things. We tend to ape the west only many decades after they have implemented and tried their systems. Malls, Multiplexes, Suburban cities, Giant Super Markets, etc, were all there in the west many decades ago. We also tend to make the same mistakes that they had committed years ago. Why can’t we simply skip the ‘make the mistake’ process and just jump forward to implementing from their learnings. 

So with regards to the Earth Hour, we don’t want India to wake up after another 100 years and then realize what a mess we have landed ourselves into. We already use a lot of hazardous chemicals in our products and many other harmful things that we are not aware of yet, which the west has already discarded. Think about this.
 
Humble request 

My request to you all is to sincerely participate in this global event and be aware of the change that needs to take place. And yes, am sure you will get to enjoy a few moments of peace when the lights are off looking at the serene sky filled with the beautiful moon and stars and feel your place in this world. Feel blessed to be a part of this celestial siesta and make a wish to be the change and protect mother earth.