Not climate, we must change

Sangita Jindal, Chairperson of JSW Foundation.

The snow-capped mountains, the pine and the deodar trees reaching out to the sky, clear streams meandering through with an unhurried elegance, the twittering of birds amid a golden sunset and even a waft of fresh breeze will soon become a thing of the past and a luxury no amount of money will be able to buy. Fuelled by man’s lust for senseless and insensitive development, wastelands, floods, storms, starvation, growing sea levels and submergence of low-lying areas have all become a common occurrence.

Four years ago, I met Al Gore and saw his presentation on climate change. I don’t want to sound alarmist, but the scenario that emerged from our discussions was earth-shattering, to say the least. I realized with pain and anguish that the world as I know will never be the same again.

The developed world, the developing world, callous governments, insensitive people, senseless industrialization, obsession with GDP numbers — all play a part in ruining this planet. But more than finger-pointing, the right thing to do was to stand up and make a contribution, no matter how small or humble it may be. I decided then and there that the JSW Foundation would go ahead and try to make a difference.

The enormity of the problem is such that governments and policy makers the world over should strive for a global consensus. Moreover, we in India should also realize that it is in our immediate interests that we move towards a low carbon future. Some of the facts are worth mentioning here:

India is currently one of the fastest growing economies. With a share of one-sixth of the world’s population, India’s emissions are set to increase dramatically.
The frightening aspects of global warming have already manifest in India — retreating glaciers, unpredictable monsoons, floods, droughts, disappearing forest cover…
lIt is well-documented that the weaker sections of society will find it more difficult to cope with climate change. With 27% of the population living below the poverty line, we as Indians should come out of our complacency
Our dependence on agriculture is very high and it has been proved that even a one-degree rise in temperature will lead to a drop in wheat production by 4-5
million tonnes
Disappearing forests will not only adversely impact local climates but will also affect the livelihood of the poor people who have based their lives on forest products.
Over the years, my appreciation has grown with reference to two aspects of sustainable development that are intertwined. The first is about the felt need to evolve from packaged community welfare to enable community participation in a way that fosters environment-friendly interventions. The second aspect is about climate change mitigation and adaptation with several cross-cutting implications. The urge to understand the latter was stimulated by my Foundation’s activities on the Earth Care Awards.

We are also convinced about the need to “go beyond rhetoric and actually help mitigate and adapt”. Accordingly, we will now work on threats arising due to unplanned development, ozone layer depletion and per capita emissions and strengthen resilience of our communities through location-specific research and management inputs.

We are fortunate to have an eminent Jury for the Earth Care Awards as also for the process of helping some of the applicants as a follow-up to the awards function.

I have a great regard for individuals and organizations that are propagating and making a difference. It is such a beautiful world and if each one of us does even a little bit to help, we can nurture our earth. In our fight against global warming, the key factor should be our ability to change ourselves and respect mother earth more than we respect our faulty developmental indices.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.” It is clear that it is we who need to change and not the climate.


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