Thursday, September 08, 2011

Can I Save the World ?

HeleneJa ponders if she can indeed fight Global Warming and save the World!

With so much information out there about global warming and the effects that are causing natural disasters, is there anything we as individuals can do to make a difference? Yep! You don't need to move mountains, but a small pebble can really make ripples that can create positive changes world wide. Here's a few "pebbles" you can use today!

We all feel we have a purpose in life. As more of us become aware of the damaging effects of global warming, we are also concerned about practical solutions to the problem. Most importantly, how can we fit in as part of the solution, instead of the problem?

Unfortunately, many of us become overwhelmed when we watch the ever-increasing natural disasters and it starts to feel like the world is crashing around us. I remember watching the plane hit the World Trade Center over and over and over again. I remember being completely paralyzed to the television. Sleep was optional, but only in between important news breaks. I felt helpless. I wanted to understand the reasoning behind the attacks to ease my fears of possible future attacks, but I mainly wanted a sense of control back into my life.

I do not like to focus on the doom of global warming because that's not the best mindset for me to find solutions and implement actions. I truly believe we all can make a difference in our lives, in the lives of our families, friends and community. I also am a firm believer that every single action taken produces a ripple effect throughout the world. When we take a simple action such as changing a light bulb to a compact fluorescent bulb, a positive motion is set in place.

Just for fun, let's see what can happen: (this will show how the action affects others)

- That old bulb in the living finally goes out. You go to your local hardware store and see miles of shelves of light bulbs! OY! (production of CFL bulbs)

- Someone comes over to help and maybe suggest a CFL. "A what?" you ask. The assistant tells you that even though the bulb is more expensive than a basic tungsten bulb, it will last years longer, it will not burn hot, uses way less energy, thus saving you money every month AND prevents the release of more than 450 pounds of emission from a power plant normally used to light the old style bulbs into the air! (increased sales and more potential advertisement of a green product, decreased amount of carbons released into the atmosphere)

- You read the advertisement and glimpse the familiar EnergyStar sign. So, you think, "Why not!" (increased awareness of a great program)

- You go home and your kids ask you about the funny looking bulb. (educates the kids and tell their friends how smart their parents are!)

- Your friends come over for dinner and recognize the bulb, but never really considered buying one until now. (increased awareness through word-of mouth [extremely powerful!!!] and more potential sales, advertisement, decreased emissions)

- You get the electric bill the next month and notice you really did use less electricity AND saved a little money. ($$$)

- You go to buy more CFL bulbs and realize the prices dropped a bit due to increased sales! (supply and demand of a product that improves our world)

That's just for changing one bulb! Just one action really can make an impact. Just because we do not always see the immediate results don't mean they aren't there!

So what are the best solutions of global warming? Can we help save the world? Yep. I would first suggest do whatever feels right for you. The level of comfort will be different for everyone. To me, it can be summed up as: AWARENESS and ACTION


My first exposure to environmental issues came about while working at Home Depot. I watch as a person chained himself to our lumber shelves and awaited the local police. His actions, maybe a bit extreme to some, created awareness to the customers, Home Depot and the media. Many of those same actions ultimately changed the way Home Depot purchased and sold lumber.

For me, my level of comfort was turning off the lights. The more I learned, the more I did to help the environment. Learning about basic, easy-to-do home repairs really made a difference and increased my confidence as well as the confidence of my customers.

Now, years later, I must say living in Thailand has taught me a lot about saving energy as well as joining together for what you believe in. I've seen Thais go to the employment office and march because wages were too low. I have witnessed the ousting of a political figure because the Thais felt betrayed.

I have greater respect for Thais and for others I've met from different countries. Their views and actions have taught me so much about global warming. I also have greater appreciation for our abilities as Americans to make changes worldwide.

So to further answer people's question - "What are the best solutions to global warming?" My suggestions are all easy to do, but the main factor lies with what is comfortable for you. If I am given a great idea, but is too time-intensive, I probably won't do it. But if it's as easy as hitting the enter key, now you got my attention!

Ok. We are much more aware of what's going on. We understand we have a problem. Now what?


I started with small steps. As I learned more, I found the bigger steps easier than I realized. I discussed my views with others and listened to their ideas.

My friends in Alabama recently installed solar heaters and a tankless water heater. Businesses are seeing the advantages of doing the right thing and stepping up their environmental cleaning efforts People from all walks of life have created petitions requesting a more proactive government. Even the 2008 Presidential Candidates are listening. Many are now including global warming as their primary issue.

Need some ideas to get your creative green juices flowing? OK! Here you go! Enjoy!

- Get the family involved - make it fun and educational.

- Make it a project during your child's science fair.

- Chat with your friends - they may have some unique ideas.

- Add a signature tag to your emails. I have a personal account with Yahoo. Whenever I send someone an email, my signature message or quote is at the end of the page. I create the signature once and forget about it. If you see a quote you like or have a message to share with others - signature it!

- Find out what tax incentives or refunds are available to you, i.e. hybrid car tax incentives, toilet replacement rebates, deduct the costs of energy-saving appliances and energy renovations in your home.

- Support greener businesses. Our money dictates what businesses sell. Our support encourages businesses to continue doing the right thing.

- Want to invest in the stock market? What companies are moving forward in clean-up? Researching new technologies? Contributing portions of their profits to support environmental organizations?

- Vote. What candidates are fighting for positive changes in the environment? Who seems to be making global warming a primary focus in their campaign? How does the candidate balance global warming and the economy? Does the candidate understand the threat and what solutions does he or she offer?

- Join others online and become a part of something bigger. In the past, petitions involved going door-to-door or standing near the mall entrance. Thanks to the internet, a letter to Congress has never been easier - or more effective! Read the letter already prepared. If you agree with it, type your name and hit ENTER!

- Submit your ideas to websites. I would love input from you! Your ideas can be just what someone else needed! Many websites would also benefit from your thoughts and appreciate the communication!

- Start a discussion group in your community. Barnes and Noble or Borders are excellent meetings spots. It's a great way to meet others and bounce around ideas.

- Help improve your neighborhood. In Tampa, there's a wonderful community group that has a Project Lottery. Each participant chooses a project they need completed on their house. A name is pulled every month. The neighbors spend one weekend on the project. The lucky owner provides drinks and snacks to the neighbors volunteering.

- Create a website of your own! Everyone has a voice. Today, websites are effective communicators and very inexpensive. Get the kids or the community involved. Let your voice be heard too! Even better, volunteer for Green Coalition.

HeleneJa is a writer and an environmentalist in the making!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Who is Corrupt?

Sourabh Thakur dissects the inherent hypocrisy surrounding the Anna Hazare Anti-Corruption Movement!

Am I corrupt? Yes I am. I put up a certain self-image in society to gain acceptance, money and power. I lie to my loved ones, protecting my self-image on the pretext of not hurting their feelings. I curb my anger in public to protect that image. I curb all the corrupt thoughts, lie to myself just to get a self-proclaimed label of a nice human being. Even my honesty comes with a carrot of an ego boost or spirituality.

If I am caught drinking and driving, I pay a little money to get away. I try to avoid paying duty while carrying my expensive camera or laptop back home. I produce fake documents to reduce my taxes. I jump waiting lines whenever I can. I use pirated software. I pay my maid a piddly amount of money while I make big bucks myself. I take advantage of situations for my own good. I manipulate situations. I do emotional blackmailing. I use influential people in my life to get things done for me. I like free stuff.

If I am a father I bribe my kids to get good marks in exams. I bribe my dog to be a good dog (whatever that is). If I am a kid I bribe my parents by being a good kid. If I am a political party I bribe you with progress, protection and such vague stuff. If I am a religion I bribe you with god / nirvana / heaven to become good human beings. I even bribe god for good things to happen in my life. And most of the time I am bribing myself.

If I am a CEO I can draw huge amount of moolah for myself, as I deserve it. If I want engineering seat I don’t mind paying donation, but at the same time condemn those who come from quota because they don’t deserve it. If I am a cricketer I can take money to influence match results. If I am a doctor I can get commission from pharmaceuticals to prescribe their drugs. If I run a newspaper I can take fee to publish certain news and suppress others. If I am a cop I can take money to register your FIR. If I am in advertising I can make money by lying to people about my product and trying to feed their fears. If I am an armyman I can rape powerless tribal women, and if I have permission I kill the men. If I am a multinational company I can make huge profits while running sweatshops. If I am a manager I can work to increase my company’s profit, with little regard about people working under me, while protecting my own personal life. If I earn hugely disproportionate amount of money compared to majority of the world I can give some of it as a charity and go gaga over my divine intentions. If I am social activist I can honestly work for social welfare while tirelessly filling my pockets with foreign funding.

I am corrupt in different degrees in different situations according to the circumstances and my capacity. More the power I have, more the capacity to be even more corrupt. I am corrupt in the context of nature, world, nation, society, family and friends or just pure moral self. I am corrupt for money, status, acceptance, praise, power, pleasure, love, sex, nirvana, god, self-image, ego etc etc.

I live in a society where we need laws so that we don’t cheat each other. We need police so that we don’t kill each other. We need armies so that we don’t destroy our civilizations. We need democracy to tell us that we are all equal. We need false identity of a nation so that we can unite each other. And we need government to take care of all this and more for us, because if left on our own we desire attached power hungry selves would destroy everyone and everything around us. So we elect few amongst us, who seem capable or more like who promise to fulfill our hopes and dreams and visions, to run things for us. We give them power to run things for us and with that capacity to be more corrupt. We expect them not to take advantage of the powers that they have got while I continue to be corrupt in my own capacity. So I want to elect another mortal amongst us to police them, who will be totally honest, or create a system, which will not allow him to be otherwise.

How and who are to choose such a person or create such a system? Who has such a keen understanding of human psychology to elect a person with all good intentions and honesty? If there can be such a system why isn’t it employed to elect the leader itself. And if this police become corrupt after all this, which is more likely looking at the history, are we to invent another police to police them?

So I feel like a hypocrite shouting out against corruption, just because it is of a larger proportion and context. Who is to draw this imaginary line and where? Everybody have their own justifications for doing right or wrong things. I don’t want this unending loop of policing. I don’t want another hero who can change others. I want to change myself.

Sourabh Thakur is a Designer/Photographer and lives in Calcutta. You can checkout his Tumblr profile here.

FireFighting a Global Warming Duel

Daily news continues to roll in with regard to global warming and weather change especially but international and national policymakers remain unsure of both its veracity and consequences. Information that supports the theories of eco-alarmists and environmental skeptics alike seem to pepper the airwaves, while news of bush fires in Australia and devastating floods in India only aggravate the issue. To add to the barrage, I recently read that an internationally funded Weather satellite has just been tasked to exclusively study the melting of ice that sits atop the North Pole, allowing researchers to watch the movement of ice in great detail for the first time (yes, apparently first time). And the borders of Italy and Switzerland have to to reworked due to the melting icepeaks!

This issue that the human industrial presence was causing an unprecedented rise in global temperatures sparked a lively discussion among 2 of my close friends who are also involved in this area but in diametrically opposite fields. One is a researcher at a Greencetric NGO that actively hunts environmental violations by corporates and fights it out in courts while the other is a lawyer who coincidentally represents these corporate baddies. I played the firefighter albeit with a green bias and got to hear interesting arguments.

For my attorney pal, he dismissed the alarmist point of view and argued that nature needs to be harnessed. With regard to ice melting at the poles and the Italian-Swiss borders, he felt we could gather scientific data before jumping to political conclusions. Just because a wacky global warming activist misrepresents scant satellite information for her own visionary schemes, he felt there was no reason to go off half-cocked and ban the global internal combustion engine.

He complained that there were too many people who wanted social change at all costs, such as those who released urban bred animals to certain death in the forests rather than use them to warm our bodies or fill our stomachs, those who would rather leave millions starve for water than let build a dam and those who preach about poverty alleviation, govt negligence but themselves don’t pay the tax. Hmmm!

Even if the ice was indeed melting at the poles, he argued that we needed to avoid the divisive rhetoric of the eco-radicals in dealing with it, if we need to deal with it at all. After all, he felt there has been far more damage to forests from Mother Nature’s rains and floods than harvesting by loggers would ever cause. And responsible loggers replant with a constructive purpose; nature still needs to be harnessed. Mother Nature doesn’t think, and often environmentalists and global warming worrywarts don’t take time for that either. He stated both needed to be challenged when they run amuck.

After my lawyer pal was through downing almost a full bottle of Smirnoff, my eco-warrior buddy made his case for caution in our overconsumption and overcopulating ways.

Mother Nature, as you say, “needs to be harnessed” because we as a species have this mistaken notion that our running amuck is a “natural” Progression. If we hadn’t been so arrogant as to think plopping down 7 billion people on this planet wouldn’t have adverse effects on the climate, ecology, etc. then we’d understand that losing 200,000 acres of forest to wild fires isn’t that big a deal – or wasn’t till we reduced our forests to such a small tiny mass. We’d rather believe that this planet can get along fine with very limited populations of all species except our own.

Sure, the ecosystem is very large and not all effects are felt immediately; however, the belief that our present course of action won’t result in the destabilization of said system and the destruction of the planet as we know it - is the same stupidity and lack foresight and judgement which resulted in so many our children being born deformed due to their parents either exposed or/ of drinking contaminated water and food. He added that everyone wanted to believe that if it looks good two years down the road, then there are no worries… but as we all now know, that’s a big mistake and too big a gamble to risk this planet.

After hearing this loud verbal duel, I was left with enough food for thought of my own that I couldn’t declare a verdict nor present my personal view to this hugely gigantic issue. Mankind I realized needed a much bigger, collective and gargantuan firefighter for this burning problem and I was just a small fry. Really small indeed.

- Websnacker is a blogger/bootlegger from Antartica

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Green Coalition - Bessy Beach Cleanup 2011

550 Kgs of Beach Trash Combed in 3 Hours!

Green Coalition Network partnered with Times of India and Garnier for the "Bessy Beach Cleanup" on July 24, 2011. This was the only officially endorsed "Take Care Take Charge" environment day event in Chennai, India and was held at the Elliots Beach in Besant Nagar between 6 AM and 9 AM.

More than 500 volunteers across different age groups participated in the Beach cleanup. This included school and college students, corporate staff, beach patrons besides members, interns and volunteers of Green Coalition Network and other NGOs which ensured the clean up was a great success. A special mention to the AVM Rajeswari School since they enthusiastically contributed over 200 students for the cleanup besides the CSR sponsors - Logica, Royal Sundaram Insurance and Ideasonic Studios.

Armed with protective hand gloves, caps, recyclable trash bags and jute sacks, each of our volunteer removed an estimated one KG each of trash from the beach sands, the shore and the beach roads. Some of our more active volunteers individually collected over 5 kgs each! Plastic, paper, cigarette butts, straws, thermocol, styrofoam, footwear, glass, food wrappers, metal objects, wood chunks besides odd surprises like broken helmets, old tires, floppy disks and a significant amount of clothing trash were combed from the beach area.

Approximately 550 Kgs of trash and marine debris was collected, brought to the shore and kept aside with regular garbage for collection by the Chennai Corporation conservancy dept. This is an impressive achievement considering the cleanup started before sunrise with an inclement rain soaked weather the previous night and some of our volunteers being absolute first-timers. Awareness lectures and distribution of leaflets were also organised for the benefit of the student volunteers and the local citizenry at the beach. This incidentally was the second beach cleanup organised by Green Coalition this year.

You can view the event pics on the official Take Care Take Charge Facebook community page or the Green Coalition Facebook page.