The Childhood of our Parents
Since the mid-20th century, the world has changed a lot. But so has the Earth. If you’re a millennial or GEN Z, chances are that your parents might have been born in the 1950s or 60s. Due to no internet or pollution in the 1960s, there probably was no concept of ‘awareness related to climate change’ during their childhood. Hence, our parents might not have grown up with the same awareness of the alarming dangers of pollution and climate change.
Today in 2022, we stand at a very crucial stage which demands action from every single citizen of the world. More than anything our parents are desperate to leave behind as a legacy, the most important thing has to be a clean and green planet.
After starting to pollute the Earth from the mid-1980s at an alarming rate, we have never seemed to look back. There have been numerous efforts by innumerable people and organizations to shift our feet from the gas to the brakes, but unfortunately even today, a large number of people happen to be ignorant of the impact that they have on the Earth on a daily basis. Most of these people are accused to be people from our previous generations, who get their access to pseudo-science from unchecked sources on social media. For so long since the industrial revolution, capitalistic corporations have always tried to hide the true impacts of their actions, but these impacts became too obvious to be ignored by the late 20th century. This is also the time which saw an increase in climate consciousness in India.
Post independent India has been witness to several environmentalist movements. Some of them are:
The Chipko Movement
The Chipko movement, which began in the pre-independence era to protect Himalayan forests from destruction, has its origins there. In 1960, a massive road network was built in the area for border security purposes, in addition to taking on numerous other types of undertakings.
All of this was devastating for the area’s woodlands as well as the overall ecology. The removal of trees and then rolling them down slopes weakened the higher soil, which was eroded even more during rain, resulting in the terrible Alaknanda flood of 1970 July, which wreaked devastation in the upper area of the catchment. During the 1970s flood, Dasholi Gram Sarajya Mandal, Gopeswar, a social service organisation in Uttarakhand, came to help with rescue efforts.
The Mandal’s volunteers understood that land and forest, as well as man and forest, we’re all intertwined. Then they began teaching the public about the negative consequences of deforestation on the slopes, eventually forming a movement
The movement’s name, ‘Chipko,’ is derived from the Hindi word ’embrace’. The people are alleged to have hugged, embraced, or adhered to the forest trees to keep them from being felled by the contractors. The name ‘Chipko’ comes from a mutually agreed-upon tactic of clinging to trees as nonviolent direct action.
Narmada Bachao Andolan
The struggle against the Narmada River Valley Project is India’s most well-known environmental movement. The Narmada is the Indian peninsula’s greatest west-flowing river.
The Narmada River Development Project, which involves the construction of thirty huge dams and several smaller ones on the river and its fifty-one main tributaries, is one of the world’s largest multipurpose water projects. The initiative will improve food production and hydropower generation in Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra, as well as reshape the valley and the lifestyle of its population.
Dams and reservoirs will displace 1 million people and sink 350,000 ha of forestland and 200,000 hectares of agricultural land, according to estimates. The Sardar Sarovar Dam, which is now being built in Gujarat, is experiencing strong opposition from tribal tribes that hunt and graze in the forest gorges, as well as peasants who would be displaced by the reservoir’s inundation, which will submerge over 40,000 hectares of land and 250 settlements.
The movement’s current leaders, such as Medha Patkar, are seeking to provide adequate rehabilitation programmes for those who have been displaced by the project. Human rights advocates have been the articulators of anti-dam protests as a result of the state’s poor implementation of rehabilitation programmes. Their demands included the dam’s complete closure, as well as resettlement and rehabilitation benefits for the displaced people.
The Way Forward
Movements like these, or attempts to form movements like these must not be uncommon in our country. But these examples which stand out are proof of the fact that even the most ‘illiterate’ and ‘uncivilised’ people can be called on for action when they are educated and made aware of the gravity of a situation. Since we consider ourselves so ‘educated’, ‘literate’, and ‘civilised’, why are we not taking all the necessary steps to reduce the impact of our carbon footprint? The prior examples also show that environmental exploitation (or any type of exploitation) has always thrived due to the ignorance of naïve people. Since it is easy to observe youngsters practising climate consciousness, the role of generations prior to GEN Z comes into question.
It is the duty of the young generation to call forth everyone for contributing towards environmental sustainability, and people like Greta Thunberg have become the face of massive global movements like these. Making people aware of the adverse impacts that they could be facing by the next decade or 2050, she has rightly described the practise of sustainability as the ‘moral responsibility’ of every person. Everyone wants to provide their child good education for a bright future, but the fact that an exasperated teenager from Sweden had to ‘be somewhere where she shouldn’t be’ because ‘things have gone wrong’, makes us wonder whether there is really a future that exists for children who are now school-goers. Though not all of us can be Greta Thunbergs or Sadhgurus who mobilise millions of people in their home country and around the world, we can surely try to make changes in the behaviour of our family members, neighbours, and all elders who are kind enough to be willing to leave a green world behind as their legacy.
Politicians don’t act if we don’t, and social movements don’t work we don’t. As youngsters, we have been trying what is possible. Now, the need is for EVERYONE to act.
What should (and our close ones) do?
- Ask your elders to use public transport. The cheapest, safest, and fastest way to travel!
- If travelling from public transport is not possible, ask them to use CNG instead of petroleum as a fuel to cut down their emissions. Though CNG comes with less trunk space and more waiting in lines, imagine how much emission we could be cutting on if everyone in a metropolitan city like Delhi or Mumbai installed CNG in their vehicles.
- Carpool with people working in the same place.
- Or even better, let your next vehicle be an electric one! You might have heard the phrase ‘EV is the future’ a lot. Well, the future is now.
- Go paperless in your household as much as you can. Ask your parents to go for paperless mails, bills, newsletters, etc.
- Installs CFLs or LEDs. Spiral-shaped, energy-saving Compact Fluorescent Light bulbs cut energy usage significantly compared to incandescent bulbs.
- Choose bubbles over balloons! Did you know that helium is a finite resource? It also generally goes into plastic balloons which end up choking wildlife. So, rather than use balloons to mark your party location, get a bubble machine, that you can use for every occasion. Bubbles are a delight for all ages (much like balloons) and they don’t wreak havoc on the environment.
- Switch to renewables. Energy providers around the world are now offering greener tariffs. By switching to a company that provides electricity from solar, wind, or hydroelectric energy, you can reduce your household emissions and save money on your energy bills. You could even install solar panels if they’re readily available where you live.
- Donate used electronics. One man’s trash could be another man’s treasure!
- Ask your family to reduce the consumption (or stop, if possible) of meat and dairy products. The production of meat and dairy products require the exploitation of animals at a great scale. Try plant-based meat!
- Look for Energy Stars whenever buying a new electric appliance. More the number of stars, more energy efficient and environment friendly it will be!
- As a family, pledge not to waste ANYTHING.
Food, water, energy, are priceless resources. The production of food requires immense amount of energy. When you throw food, you waste energy, you increase your carbon footprint, and you insult all the millions of people who have to go to bed hungry (some of them have to, due to the direct effects of climate change).
There is no need to stress upon the importance of water. Ask your father to turn off the tap while shaving, and ask your mother to water the plants with the water that she uses to wash vegetables. Always take a bucket bath.
Do not keep any electrical appliances unnecessarily turned on when not in use.
Whenever you waste anything, you not only waste the resource itself, but also the hard-earned money that you spent to get access to it. (At least that should convince our parents to Go Green 😊)
Remember, understanding the dynamics of climate change and implementing the solutions to it is a constant process. We need to stay constantly updated and also keep others around us updated and informed in our fight against global warming.
If we fail to keep the average increase in global temperatures under 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius, we will witness irreversibly destructive chain reactions of climate change.
Once again, Tarumitra reminds you and your family to reduce, reuse, and recycle 😊