This post is entirely inspired by the phenomenon called blog mela.
Some of you must be going ... WHAT !
Let me explain. The word mela means carnival (or festival). A blog mela is a weekly (or fortnightly) carnival/round up of all things happening in the Indian blogosphere. Each week it is hosted by a different blogger. It is one of the coolest things going around. The last one was hosted by Sunil Laxman of Balancing Life.
The word Hariyali means greenery. Hariyali express is a weekly roundup/journey through all things green in this world. Moments of tree hugging joy, sadness, frustrations and hope. So fasten your seat belts folks. Hariyali Express is ready to roll.
Let me begin by mentioning a great effort. The wiki project, Katrina People finder . Check it out if you get a chance.
The environmental disaster left behind by Katrina is pretty bad. All week long, a lot of people debated the possible connections between global warming and hurricanes. While both sides of the aisle have attacked each other viciously, realclimate.org takes a sensible look at the issue. The fact of the matter, global warming is real and the warning signs are clear.
The clean up efforts have started. Sadly though, toxic water is being pumped into Lake Pontchartrain. The damage to the lake's eco system could be irreversible. In situations like this, there is probably no other option. The images do hurt, but stupid comments like these hurt even more.
"The wonderful thing about nature is its resilience,The organic material will degrade with natural processes. Metals will probably fall and be captured in the sediments. Nature does a good job. It just takes awhile"...Michael D. McDaniel, the Louisiana secretary of environmental quality
Well Michael..What about all the chemicals and industrial solvents? Nature is not a punching bag. There is only so much mistreatment it can take.
On the topic of mistreatment here is another dreadful story. The current US administration is looking to reverse all the good things done to protect the national parks. A majority of the national park rangers don't agree with the policy of opening up pristine forests for commercial activity. They leaked the administration's devious proposal. The very thought of golf courses, timber mills, beer bars and ATV rentals inside Yosemite makes me obnoxious. The good news is that, 3 American states have joined hands and filed a lawsuit against the administration.
9 American states have joined hands and have decided to cut down power plant emissions in their states and honor the principles of the Kyoto protocol. As the officials put it..."It is a race against time to tackle global warming". Talk about racing, who would have thought a NASCAR driver would have a tree hugging heart!!!. Ward Burton certainly does. Check out his wildlife foundation. He made a passionate speech at the cooperative conservation conference recently. He seems passionate and sincere. Am not sure about the audience at the conference though. Going back to the subject of global warming, the Asian peat fires grabbed world attention. The peatlands contain upto 21% of global land-based stores of carbon.
Talk about the unexpected. One would normally not expect green news from the Middle East. It was a pleasant surprise to hear that UAE recently hosted a environmental exhibition and had a very good response.
The summer might be over but solar energy is here to stay. Around 100,000 rooftops in Shanghai are set to go solar by 2015, generating about 430 million kwh electricity a year. California with its Million Solar Roofs bill and New Jersey with its incentives and subsidies are two states where solar energy is becoming more mainstream every day. Home Depot and BP now seem to be sold on solar. Solar Energy is even taking roots in Tennessee, the heart of coal country. More and more houses are harvesting solar energy and at times pumping excess energy back into the grid. A negative electric bill!. Wouldn't it be great if negative bills became the norm. India too has ambitious goals in this area. Solar heating has become a common term these days. My dad is planning on getting a system installed. It is expected that solar heating will be made mandatory in all cities in India by 2012.
While implementation of solar energy is picking up steam, there is research also happening. The company Sunlight Direct has patented an interesting technology called Hybrid Solar Lighting. It uses a solar concentrator to collect and distribute sunlight into a building via plastic optical fibers.
It is quite the norm to attach "pundit" to blog names. So I wasn't surprised to see this blog Israpundit. It is an Israeli blog and they have linked to an interesting research item. The use of solar energy to produce hydrogen fuel.
Ministers and government officials in Ghana and Zimbabwe(surprisingly) talked about the need for solar energy infrastructure and sustainable development. It is a good thing to talk, but Africa today needs action more than words. The National Geographic's latest issue is entirely devoted to Africa. It is a wealth of information. One story in particular just guts you. Bush meat has now become a multi million dollar trade and it is wiping out Africa's wildlife. More at bushmeat.org
From South America comes the story of Father Tamayo. A Honduran priest who fights the powerful timber mafia. The saddest part of the story is that a majority of that illegal timber ends up in the US where it probably gets churned into junk mail. Like Africa, South America's future too depends on its environment preservation. Treehugger.com links to a recent Bill Clinton interview on environment preservation and NGOs. The former president heads the foundation called Clinton Global Initiative
The head of UNEP, Klaus Toepfer is planning to step down. It probably has something to do with his party, (Christian Democrats) doing well in German polls. Future environment minister maybe!. Anyway, UNEP is actively involved in planning the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Montreal conference in November. All lot of eyes will be on this conference. It is estimated that 2 million tons of carbon was traded in the month of July alone. That is about 50 million dollars in trade. More than 112 Indian companies like Tata Steel are expected to also start trading.
The rising gas prices is the water cooler topic presently. There are some interesting patterns I have been observing lately. More people are now receptive to the idea of car pooling. Pizza and Chinese take-outs have mandated a 10 - 20 dollar minimum order. So people are into take-out food pooling too. And as treehugger.com points out smaller Japanese cars might hit the American market also.
Thanks to high prices, biodiesel has been getting a lot of press. Willie Nelson's BioWille is now available in gas stations. The American trucking industry is sure tuning in .
The planning commission of India's proposal/policy draft on biodiesel seems to have hit red tape. The Indian private and public sector companies are however moving forward with plans. As Kiran of Indic View points out, ONGC and Reliance Industries have big plans for biodiesel and Jatropha. It is not just India that is Jatropha savvy these days. A governor in Philipines made headlines when he talked about planting Jatropha in the millions.
Any discussion is incomplete without mentioning environmental awareness and education. The Supreme Court of India (after about 13 years) finally mandated that all schools in India have environment education (EE) added to the curriculum. I personally feel that it is a great idea. It is expected to go into effect this year. Already, there have been reports about lack of teachers and lack of textbooks. I sincerely hope these are just initial hiccups. Meanwhile students of a green school in Chicago started classes where plants grow on the roof.
This has been a long post. I think I badly need a break. Talking about breaks, the state of Vermont has designed and implemented a state of the art eco rest room... Green flush toilets and a Greenhouse.
I hope this post was informative reading, as it was for me posting. Anyone wanting to host the express next, please do comment and let me know