Guest Post by Sitanshi Talati-Parikh, Features Editor, Verve Magazine
The problem with writing about issues is the fatalism that creeps in and tends to swallow you whole, where you want to scream to the world to wake up – before it’s too late, but you get the sense that they are simply not getting it. And makes you want to sink into a mire of desperation and helplessness. *Shudder*.
So, the idea is to calmly embrace the fact that the world as we know it, will really not last very long. I have a distant uncle who is geared into amassing family wealth for the next seven generations – and while I am truly proud of this generous gesture towards his family’s well-being, I feel that he is just a bit deluded. At the rate we are going – denuding the earth’s natural resources without a thought towards replenishment, ransacking and pillaging and foraging like barbarians, without once questioning what it implies for tomorrow, there will be no tomorrow. And I don’t mean like, oops I’m going to wake up and June 1, 2010 will no longer exist, but really, June 2, 2020 might not!
Do we really have as many years as we think we do on this planet? As we plan the next generation of pillagers, do we really believe they will make it through another 80 years of living in toxic hell? If the planet doesn’t implode on our own sins, we will definitely self-destruct in some way or the other.
1. We have waste disposal problems.
2. We have severe water shortage issues.
3. The air we breathe is so polluted that there’s no point smoking – you’re inhaling crap anyway.
4. We are rapidly consuming all limited natural resources without really figuring out alternate sources of energy, power etc.
5. Global warming is bringing in volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, earthquakes, tremours and a lot of other stuff that should shake us in our heads, not our houses.
6. There is severe overcrowding and over population, which is merely compounding the crises mentioned in 1-4.
Specifically talking about Mumbai, do we realise that as the incorrigibly corrupt government and municipal corporations allow illegal construction of sky-rises in already sandwiched areas, it’s not just the pressure on the land, it is also the impossible question of the pressure on infrastructure? Our infrastructure is quite simply redundant – there are old pipes, rusted and cracking under the pressure, drinking water getting mixed up with sewage and refuse, there is already insane amounts of fuel, water and power shortage; and with the advent of that many more homes, families, people and cars, the problems on the surface and below will only compound. So as spanking new buildings start popping up left, right and centre, who plans to deal with the repercussions of these short-sighted activities? Forget problems like soil erosion, pollution and cloud cover thinning that you can’t comprehend, but think of the really basic stuff. Say you spend multiple arms and legs buying a flat in a nice Sobo area, in a brand new building, with a great view. What are you going to do when the pipes burst with the pressure and you get filthy water to drink and bathe with in your new luxurious haven? What are you going to do when the already choked area doesn’t allow for you to take your brand new gas-guzzler out because there’s a perennial jam of cars being taken out for unnecessary spins?
The problem is that we think that it’s not our problem yet. It’s not relevant now. It’s not about me. As long as we continue with the current status quo, living in mass oblivion, we are barely able to grasp – despite Hollywood’s barrage of disaster ‘2012’ flicks – that everything is very real, everything is NOW. Tomorrow is not just another day in the grimy city; tomorrow may be a day where we no longer exist. And it would be entirely our fault. No amount of words can make you sit up and take action – until you realise that it’s your and your family’s life at stake, not your neighbour’s.
Published: Verve Magazine, Nerve, September 2009
The writer of The Bloodless Revolution, Tristram Stuart, is back with another sit-up-and-take-notice book, Waste, about how tackling the problem of waste is one of the simplest ways of reducing pressure on the environment and on global food supplies. The UK (Sussex)-based author tells Sitanshi Talati-Parikh what’s working and what’s not in India
What are we doing right?
In India the recycling tradition has always thrived – kabari-wallahs collect unwanted trash for recycling and food waste is left for animals to graze on, turning it back into meat, milk and manure. As a result, India produces meat and dairy products much more efficiently than Europe and the United States. Also Indians eat more vegetarian food and less meat than other nations, and this is a much more efficient way of feeding people than the meaty diets of the West and of China.
What should we keep in mind as we embrace a more consumerist culture?
Growing food uses land and water, so reducing food waste can help to reduce water depletion, deforestation and global warming.
Nearly one billion people are malnourished in today’s world: we can help alleviate their hunger simply by wasting less food. It means the food will stay on the market where people can buy it to feed their families, instead of the food ending up in our rubbish bins.
We have to keep an eye on food companies, who often waste thousands of tonnes of food for no good reason. When supermarkets get too powerful, they make farmers grow food that they then decide not to stock, causing harm to the land and to the farmers.
The government should help farmers keep their food fresh so it doesn’t rot before it reaches the market. Simple things like fruit crates, cool storage in markets and on farms can help a lot.
Food storage in the home is really important: keep it cool, and use up leftovers – don’t let them go to waste.
Just remember: Buy what you need and eat what you buy!