Category Archives: Environment

Making the world greener with every new marriage

The day before yesterday Alka brought to my attention a very interesting piece of news that proves that when it comes to finding solutions, the only thing that manifests a result is the desire to get the result.

There is a person in Uttarakhan (a hilly state in Northern India) who has succeeded in single-handedly increasing the forest cover of the entire state. Whereas big organizations and governments are bickering at the UN Climate Change Conference at Copenhagen with no real intention of protecting the forests and clearing up the air, Mr. Kalyan Singh Rawat has practically triggered a major ecological revolution, according to this link in The Pioneer. Instead of trying to make people aware of the importance of protecting the existing trees and planting new trees (this would have meant banging his head in the wall) he associated the act of planting a tree sapling to the marriage ceremony. Planting a tree just after tying the nuptial knot became an auspicious act.

Religion can create hurdles and given the right direction it can also usher great positive upheavals and that’s what Mr. Rawat has achieved with an ingenious idea. How did he achieve this?

A nuptial couple plants a sapling in the maternal village of the bride to be nurtured by her family: The cost — negligible. This practice spreads and becomes a tradition at every wedding solemnised: The return — a quantum leap in the forest cover of the area. This is the Maiti movement, meaning mother’s home, the vision of Kalyan Singh Rawat, an unassuming common man with an uncommon urge to protect the environment. Then a teacher in the Government Inter College, Rawat brought a humble but determined start to the movement in 1995 in Gwaldam hamlet in Chamoli district of Garhwal.

After the tree has been planted it becomes the responsibility of the girl’s family to make sure that it remains green and grows into a full tree. Since it is associated with the girl’s prosperity and fertility, a tree dies in the rarest of the rare situations and the survival rate is almost 100%.

This has significantly increased the forest cover and people of even adjacent states are quickly embracing the practice. It has taken him 15 years and almost no money, and now 6,000 villages in 18 states are following this practice.

This news reminded me of Mahatma Gandhi. He also used (at least I think so) a weakness into strength. He knew that it was not physically possible for the Indians to throw the British out (at that time perhaps). But they had a great tolerance for violence. So no matter how much violence the British inflicted upon them, they kept their movement peaceful.

Mr. Rawat has achieved the same thing. He realized that people in India follow religion and tradition like a herd and once the planting of the tree caught on, it would be very difficult to deter them from doing it. Great thinkers and philosophers like Raja Ram Mohan Rai also used religion to re-awaken people’s pride and rid the society of cruel and demeaning rituals. What if somehow we’re able to associate religion with keeping our cities clean, eradicating corruption, illiteracy and poverty and loving fellow citizens?

Earth Hour: Are you voting for Earth today?

People all over the world will be participating in the Earth Hour today by switching off their lights and doing their bid in trying to stop global warming? Can this really stop global warming? The act in itself may not, but the awareness created in the process certainly will. Do show that you support earth, and you care for your children and their children.

Adding lime to sea water can reduce carbon on earth to pre-industrial age levels

Says this article. First I thought it’s the good old nimbu that they’ll be squeezing into the oceans, and was wondering how they were planning to grow so many limes. But then I discovered it’s actually limestone lime they are talking about. Scientists claim that if you add lime to sea water it increases its ability to absorb carbon from the atmosphere. This solution has been in circulation for many years but the problem is that too much lime is required (obviously) and the process of extracting lime from limestone releases lots of CO2 into the atmosphere.

The new process of obtaining lime from limestone does generate CO2, but once this lime is added to the sea water the sea water will absorb double the amount released, this means the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can be brought to the level of pre-industrial age. Australia’s Nullarbor Plain is being considered for the project as it has 10000 cubic kilometers of lime.

But what will happen to the extra carbon the sea absorbs? Maybe then the absorbed carbon will be re-absorbed by the marine plant life releasing oxygen in return. Sounds good.

Some are destroyers and some are saviors

This Royal Bengal pregnant tigress was saved from agitated and scared villagers in the Sundarbans, by the Forest Department personnel. The cat had inadvertently strayed into a West Bengal village. There perhaps she attacked the cattle and the villagers tried to stone her to death. It’s amazing how fast the Forest Department people reached the spot and rescued the traumatized animal.



In The Pioneer (our newspaper) there was scathing editorial terming the villagers as barbarians. Even the previous day there was a screaming headline on the first page. Although such news is sensational and encourages us to further stereotype the tribals and the villagers living around jungles I think they are the least responsible for the destruction of plants and animals the world over. Take for instance this case, if a tigress enters your village and attacks your cattle and your loved once are you going to worry about tiger conservation and animal cruelty at that time? Hardly. By all means you will try to kill the animal. Don’t we try to chase away and if that is not possible kill the insects that enter our houses lest they sting someone?

It’s people living in the cities who are actually responsible for the destruction of flora and fauna because they have least regard for the environment. They indiscriminately use products made of scarce natural resources and they pollute the air with their vehicles and other appliances. New settlements and colonies are constantly being set up on the areas cleared of jungles. The ever-increasing population puts constant pressure on the supply of food and consequently more forest area has to be cleared.

Anyway we are constantly criticizing the people working in the Forest Department. This time they showed an exemplary courage by saving the animal, getting it properly treated and then releasing it back into its original habitat. They deserve lots of praise.

[tags]royal bengal tiger, sundarbans, west bengal[/tags]