General fatigue around environment

World over the youth are acting as leaders in an effort to create a healthy relationship between environmental protection and wealth generation.

My idea of the future is one where scientific advancements and social equity and cooperation exist side by side.

S recalls how she always had to urge her parents to not throw garbage out of the car, and to carry jute bags when shopping. She never asked herself, is my little contribution really helping to keep the city clean? In 2007, The Energy and Resource Institute student from Delhi witnessed a breakthrough when the Nobel Peace prize was awarded to Al Gore making her realize that pressing environmental issues like climate change are in fact linked to world peace. It provided me with the impetus to contribute in my own way towards environmental preservation. As a student, S pursued several internships to gain a practical understanding of environment protection it took her to IISC Bangalore, CMS Vatavran Energy Alternatives and more recently, to the World Bank as an energy analyst. She also recently wrote a paper to suggest ways to solve the two big problems faced by nations today depleting energy sources in fossil fuels, and mounting wastes from development. It discussed ways to create energy out of waste to create a symbiotic relationship.

S is not alone. She represents a new generation of young minds that believe wealth generation and environmental protection have to be inclusive. For instance, a third year chemical student at the IIT Kharagpur: working in the IIT-K labs G nurtured a similar passion. He explains, In school he actively participated in tree plantation programs and cultural events in the van mahotsav programs. Later, he focused on the bigger issues around environment protection – conceptualizing, implementing an organizing a carbon trading workshop in college and working as an associate member for the annual techno management festival, Kshitij, planning the global warming theme.

In his first year at IIT he modeled a solar hydrogen fuel ell powered vehicle and investigated the roadmap for implementation of such vehicles in the commercial sector. Under the same project, which explored the advancements in bio fuels he conducted extensive research on bio-ethanol and bio-diesel. As part of his summer project at the Energy and Resources Institute, Bangalore, G worked on developing bio degradable plastics from cellulose derivatives. G also won the gold in Chem-innovation 2008, an industrial strategy forum for presenting the most viable waste recycle strategy for a Bhilai based aluminium plant.

G says they are here to add what they can to life not to get from it. G feels that his primary duty as an engineering student is to contribute to the progress of science. What he has learnt today at my educational institution must be used and implemented tomorrow for the betterment of the country.

The energy that is leading countries around the world, to finding indigenous solutions, is, show cased by the TUNZA web initiative of the UNEP where 30,000 student bodies share information on what works in their country. What works in India can work for Indians, what works in Gambia can work in Greece and given that 47 per cent of the world’s population is under 25, this positive pragmatic approach is heartening.

So, what can one say about the general fatigue around environment discussions, and the issues that seem to bring governments, industries and people at loggerheads? They have to get over doomsday mindset and find solutions through innovation declares S adding, he would not like to be part of the lobby of environmentalists who embrace a strong anti-technology perspective and hold a pessimistic view of the future, one of persistent scarcity predictions about resources and the environment. On the contrary, my idea of the future is one that’s bright here scientific advancements and social equity ad cooperation exist side by side.