This blog updates at least weekly on any of the days below with the topics as follows:
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Thursday, 15 October 2009

Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change-Should I Be Bothered More about My Carbon Footprint or in the Existence of Bigfoot!?

Image re-published from

Today is Blog Action Day 2009! I will continue with this post later on today but for now I will leave you with this song...relevance will become clearer later on! :) But for now...

"I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony...grow apple trees and honey bees and snow white turtle doves!" -The Coca Cola Company

Hey I drink and buy their products all the time too so it's not what you might be thinking either...wait to hear more but for now sing! :)

So here I am again amid Diwali festivities trying to keep my Blog Action Day commitment. So here it goes…

My relationship with worrying about the environment started kinda young… looking back at it now…I mean I was reading Time magazine at 11 (takes you back to approx. 1986) and it seems I saw this whole thing about ozone depletion way back then…I was so into the whole ‘Greenhouse Effect’ phenomenon and everything that I took it upon myself to draw my own chart…a scaled up version of the magazine drawing and stick it up on the class bulletin board...looking back at myself now well…:)…ahmmm…but then I never really fit in…of course though as Kermit The Frog said, “It’s not easy being green!”

So I was thinking about Climate Change when it was still mostly termed as Global Warming and the Greenhouse Effect…stopped using CFCs in my early teens…worried about my impact on the dwindling water supply and all of that…doing ‘the good thing’ like many others I guess closing the tap to not let the water run while brushing my teeth. I was probably wondering about my ‘Carbon Footprint’ long before it was even termed that! But I’m sure this was not unique to me…there was a whole generation of kids world over being created to worry worry about the environment! Sesame Streeters…Generation Xers…all feel the bludgeoning burden of not being easy to be green!

But like most undergoing development…as an adolescent I guess, I began to rebel…began to think…on my own…not just regurgitating facts and certainly not re-creating charts from Time magazine…in fact can’t tell you the last time I read the magazine…in fact even for this Blog Action Day I’m winging it on my own…not referring to their notes and guidelines…hey I’m not going to join the masses here…I’m not going to just add my voice because…I agreed to blog…but I’m going to question…figure this thing out for myself…after all, us humans were given the gift of independent thought you know…

Of course there are ‘experts’ out there…people who spend more time focusing or
‘uncovering’ certain 'truths' than I…and so I do have to reference them from time to time else it would be ignorant, arrogant and so know it all of me!

But to be honest the more you think about something and get into it the more you wonder about its validity…so really as I got into ‘adulthood’ and now into my 30s…I’ve often wondered- “Should I Be Worrying More About My Carbon Footprint Or In the Existence of Bigfoot?!”….seriously! :) And this is after completing studies in Environmental Engineering in my early to mid twenties and getting more and more ‘officially’ into concepts like ‘sustainable development’. In fact I had a big 30something let’s get over the Global Warming business thing discussion already on my favourite online community Intent…where I called Dave Trager a very smart man! :) And I still think he is…but I guess I’m back to where OK…OK…load me up with the backpack and let’s go…baggage on…again…as I agreed to do this blog albeit over two days…noticeably I never said we should be all nasty with the environment ever…but what’s with everyone in my generation having to be beast of burdens toting the environmental cause and a billion other causes already! Can’t we just be?

I mean the brainy pop physicists also say the universe is expanding as it should and there is also risk of global freezing! Seriously that’s what I’m kinda reading now in Parallel Worlds by Michio Kaku:) But hey I understand there is a scientic consensus by the IPCC and for sure there is climate change and although in the end the forces beyond man’s control like Bigfoot coming down after the snow caps melt or who knows the thing that killed the dinosaurs doing us more harm…I have to still be responsible for my own actions and don’t use it as an excuse to nasty up the planet! :) So as I said load the backpack on again already and here I go!

But for sure I will tell you this I was always on that road…the sustainable development belief system one that is…never was I born to be an environmentalist through and through…you should have seen the look on my Biology teacher’s face when I put up my hand one day in class and said when discussing a question…and seriously this stays with me today- the disappointment she felt…and I never got to explain myself…I guess I was seen as a goody two shoes by her…filled with love for nature and birds and the bees…after all I am a Hindu…and we tend to worship nature and I am vegetarian at that! Anyway, the teacher for whatever reason expected better of me when I said “Why bother about the environment anyway!” :)

It was one of those moments…forever stuck in time…a case when if the media was covering the story and I was a famous person…the equivalent of them taking the line and running with it…so next day…if there was press to cover it the headline would read:

“Why bother about the environment anyway!” –this was the exclamation by the student who should have known better in a Biology class today when contemplating the pros and cons of building a paper making plant on a Caribbean island.

You see what we were discussing in the class was the section of a question we normally had to answer for the Caribbean exams in Biology back then…you see they were already asking about Sustainable Development even then…but I was stuck with a bunch of pure environmentalists…purist like no other?! But if you ask them..Well you love the environment right? So like would you be willing to go live by the bank of a river then…and rock in a hammock…play with the animals that come to drink water and eat berries and nuts? And they stare at you blankly…:) However,thing is I feel that maybe us going back to ‘the Golden Age’ but unless society as a whole decides to go that way…we have to live in a world of balance …development…but a sustainable one…

So back in high school Biology class, what I had meant was the option we had looked at wasn’t economically feasible so we could have scrapped the plant anyway…so there wasn’t any point in going further to discuss or analyse what would the environmental impact be…as the plant wouldn’t need to be put up in the first place since it would make no money! It didn’t mean I didn’t care about the Environment in general! If only I could get to go back in time and explain…awww…! :) I did care! :)

But perhaps then it was also me making my way into the profession of Chemical Engineering that I’m now in…but with the bent that it should be done in a genuinely environmentally friendly way and sustainable development be considered upfront…I can wish at least!

But hey here’s where Coke, Bigfoot, Indian farmers committing suicide due to drought, my carbon footprint and even Farmville the rave of a game application on Facebook comes in! Through in the buzz words sustainable development, corporate social responsibilty and social entrepreneurship and voila you are about to see why I had the Coke commercial up!:

You see when Coke did that ad…I don’t think the corporate world was the same place…they knew people liked all this peace and love and honey bees business but they wanted them to buy their Coke so…they sold their Coke by piggy backing on the whole global love and oneness theme so hey….

Coke = peace, love, harmony, global oneness…did I say peace already?

Hey but so does Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and without going into details and risk of offending religious sensibilities and the prayers over on my sister blog UCP…any character or figure head you put up there can be seen as the symbol of hope, peace, love, compassion…the list of loveliness goes on! And for sure it’s what everyone really wants for sure that IS the REAL THING! :)

OK so why not Coke! I say so be it! Of course Coke isn’t perhaps a healthy, wholesome drink but then when you look at other factors that cause death…well…of course Coke is not water…so then Coke started to sell water but then there are those plastic bottles and another plant just to give you something that should in actuality exist in nature in the first place for free! But you see that comes back to the point…we’re not in that Golden Age! We’re not in Paanchvati of the Ramayan or The Garden of Eden!

But really Coke is the real thing…and it is going to be, in a whatever sugar free version, for a very long time, from all signs of it…but if you’re the real thing Coke at least live up to your name nah…so…here is where the Indian farmers and drought and Coke and water supply come in…you see it’s all tied to Climate change because I guess the droughts this year globally so far could be pegged perhaps to Climate change phenomenon…but then Coke…is also tied to several water supply issues too in particular in India so I thought I’d throw all that into the story too…you can easily google up those stories…and Coke’s promise to become water neutral by the end of this year…don’t know the outcome…

Point being is here is my proposed solution to all this environmental baggage business…

Coke do the right thing and be the real thing if you like…so tell people what you’re selling and also try to sell things for people that are good for them at a fair price and they will give you back love…the real thing…

And there you’d have it…sustainable development moving to corporate social responsibility moving to social entrepreneurship…because to me that is the transition and it is already happening…first people were OK with (well people post the dirty Dickensian days at least and in the 'less impoverished and less populated world' where labour is not disposable i.e. India and China not included in these standards):

Sustainable development: You could build the plants once they did not drastically harm the workers, their pets, their neighbours and their pets and then don’t forget about all animals and the waterways, air etc.

Then people started to say no…

Corporate Social Responsibilty: You can’t build the plant if it is going to harm us physically for sure but also you can’t bulid it if we don’t feel happy…provide funding for cultural events, develop the local sports team…we are already inhaling badish fumes, eating bad food, drinking bad stuff…so the least you can do is encourage or help us pay to gather and do healthier things!

But then comes…

Social Entrepreneurship: We want the nice things…that your sales brings…the real thing and all…but you must make the sales by being nice…make nice products…things that don’t harm a fly to create, produce and distribute and when the flies drink them they will achieve nirvana! Make a business out of helping us reach nirvana…care for the old and call it a business…

Now perhaps the next step after that will be we all just really do want to chuck it all in and go live in a hut by a river…but guess what?

We may not be able to do it by then if the rivers are polluted and if we’re still as competitive cause then everyone will fight for who gets the best hut space and the nicest river view! So really it’s not Coke’s fault…it’s yours and yours and yours and mines…the fabulous Gandhian quote-“Be the change you want to see!” comes to mind here!

It’s why I’ll just have a sip of Coke Zero for now thank you! And join the rest of the Generation Xers on Facebook for a word game that promised to save 20 tropical rainforest trees if I made a 10 letter word and Farmville to make believe that I’m growing apple trees with honey bees and snow white turtle doves(I've already requested they add honey bees and snow white turtle doves to the game)…but as a Farmville using friend from Venezuela and I obeserved we really don’t have to face the hot sun and bachacs (ants that bite hard and eat crops) like farmers in the region would have to! And so before I close…I give a thought for those Indian farmers who committed suicide…no matter how bad things are why kill yourself I mean the worse that can happen is you would die anyway?! So sad always to hear of suicide...and really I wish I was there to give them a cold Coke and say doh worry the worse can happen is you will die so don't kill yourself over will die one day anyway! But this really did happen and it is definitely a clear indicator of how hard some people on this planet have it and it’s not going to be solved by clicking a button for a cause on Facebook!

Solutions welcome…no wonder the Nobel Committee awarded to Obama! They too decided to simply sing…the Coke song! Because…all they can do is hope! :)

And Coke those Indian farmers really need the water! So please let them have it or at least leave some in the reservoirs for then they can be alive and you can sell them Coke later!

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