Environment Forum

from FaithWorld:

Indians add green touch to religious festivals

ganesha-11 (Photo: Procession with Ganesha statue in Mumbai, 15 Aug, 2009/Punit Paranjpe)

Few events can rival the ancient rituals and riotous color of India's religious festivals. This year, the months-long celebration season is also becoming eco-friendly.  Alarmed by the high levels of pollution caused by firecrackers, toxic paints and idols made of non-recyclable material, schools, environmentalists and some states are encouraging "greener" celebrations.

In Mumbai, where the 10-day festival for the elephant-headed Ganesha (the Hindu deity of prosperity) is underway with giant, colored idols and noisy street parties, radio and TV stations are airing environmental messages and school children are learning to make eco-friendly idols.

The statues, made of brightly painted plaster of Paris, are usually immersed in the sea or a lake after a lively procession that can sometimes take half a day to navigate the choked streets, and which ultimately leaves dismembered idols strewn along the shore.

But a growing number of Indians are opting for smaller clay idols which they immerse in water at home.

"An idol that doesn't dissolve in the sea is just a tragic end for something you have worshipped for so many days," said Abhijit Karandikar, a creative director at an advertising agency. "More people are realizing they can be more eco-friendly in our festivals. It's something that's in our control."

Obama honeymoon short-lived at U.N. climate talks

After one of the briefest honeymoons in history, developing nations at U.N. climate change talks in Poland are saying that President-elect Barack Obama’s goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions don’t go far enough.

Delegates from China and India told Reuters at the Dec. 1-12 talks that they welcomed Obama’s plan to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 compared to less ambitious goals set by President George W. Bush. (Emissions are now about 14 percent above 1990 ).

But they say Obama isn’t going far enough. See story here.

Developing nations want all developed nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by far more. That, they say, is the condition for the poor to start slowing their own rising emissions from factories, power plants and cars.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Pakistan and the melting glaciers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If Pakistan is to dig itself out of its current crisis it needs two things to happen.  It needs strong economic growth to tackle poverty and undercut the appeal of hardline Islamists; and it needs peace with India if it is to permanently cut its ties with militants it has traditionally seen as a reserve force to be used against its much bigger neighbour.  Or so goes the prevailing view.

This week's United Nations report on pollution in Asia -- and the melting of glaciers which feed the rivers of India and Pakistan -- suggest there are serious risks to that scenario of an ultimately prosperous Pakistan at peace with its neighbours. In other words, can it achieve the economic growth it needs without worsening pollution further? And can it make peace with India if the two countries end up at loggerheads over dwindling supplies of water?

According to the U.N. report (see full pdf document here), thick clouds of brown soot and other pollutants are hanging over Asia, darkening cities, disrupting the monsoon and accelerating the melting of the mountain glaciers. These atmospheric brown clouds exacerbate the effect of global warming by depositing soot on the glaciers, which captures more solar heat than white snow and ice. "If the current rate of retreat continues unabated, these glaciers and snow packs are expected to shrink by as much as 75 percent before the year 2050, posing grave danger to the region's water security," it says.

Are hurricanes, India floods signs of global warming?

Adrian (R) and his son John Herbert walk past an overturned travel trailer in their neighborhood in Houma, Louisiana, which was heavily damaged as Hurricane Gustav passed through, September 1, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Wallheiser (UNITED STATES)We seem to hear more and more about natural weather disasters – are these signs of global warming? 

Or do they just illustrate the unpredictability of the weather?

Luckily, Hurricane Gustav doesn’t seem to have inflicted devastation on the U.S. Gulf coast comparable to Katrina in 2005. On the other side of the world, the worst floods in India’s Bihar province in 50 years have displaced about three million people and killed at least 90.

Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Programme, says that more powerful hurricanes and more floods are in line with predictions by the U.N. Climate Panel of ever more disruptions linked to a build-up of greenhouse gases.    Flood-affected people wait for a rescue team at Chondipur village of Madhepura district in India’s eastern state of Bihar August 31, 2008. Authorities struggling to provide aid after devastating floods in Bihar said on Sunday they needed more boats and rescuers to help hundreds of thousands of people still marooned in remote villages. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri (INDIA)

Startup sees big business in replacing kerosene

kerosene3.jpgAbout 1.6 billion people still rely on kerosene lanterns to read, work or study after dark, according to a fledgling company that hopes its LED lights will replace those lanterns, eliminating both pollution and fires. 

d.light design, the brainchild of Stanford Business School graduates Sam Goldman and Ned Tozun, last month began selling its lights in India, where they say 72 million households use kerosene lanterns. 

The company’s products, some of which are charged by sunlight, range between $10 and $30, d.light President Tozun said in a recent interview. The Chinese-made lights all burn brighter than kerosene, and are safer and cleaner, he said.

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