This is my second summer in Bangalore, the (ex-)garden city. I recall that during the last summer I never felt the need of a fan in the house, whereas this year I sweat even when the fan is on! Just within a year of my stay in the city, I can see a clear difference in the weather-pattern. This reminds me of the frog example in the Al Gore movie ‘The inconvenient Truth’. The frog, when it falls into a jar of boiling water, senses the problem and instantly jumps out, but when the same frog sits in a jar of luck warm water and the water is heated slowly, it can’t sense the gradual temperature rise and remains inside well past the point of physical damage. Our collective nervous system is quite similar to that of this frog – short-sighted, unable to detect any trouble (read climate change) that appears to grow slowly, even though it’s actually speeding in. [Do not miss to watch the 1 minute video of the frog example!]
When it comes to financial security, we all think long-term, we save money for our kids’ future, get their insurance done and what not. But on the other hand, we go on adding heedlessly to our carbon footprints, which will only lead to a disastrous life for our kids. Why don’t we ever think that if we have witnessed the temperatures rising till 45 degree, earth quacks, Katrinas, Tsunamis and a number of floods in last 25 years (my age), it’s more than likely that our kids shall see even worse?! They may not even have access to enough water, let alone fuel. At this rate, there will certainly come a time when no amount of money would be able to rescue us.
There are people who complain about congestion (best illustrated by this witty cartoon), from sitting inside their SUVs. There are others that crib endlessly about what we have done to Mother Earth, despite being among the prominent culprits. “It’s become too hot”, “Bangalore isn’t the same green city now”, “there’s just too much of pollution”, “traffic congestion has become a big nuisance”, “fuel prices have gone sky high” … the list just doesn’t end! We do acknowledge the existence of the problems, we do voice our complaints, often quite aloud, but then just sit tight and retreat to our mundane tasks and momentary comforts, rather than channeling the fire to action.
But thankfully, not everyone thinks or acts the same way! Each time I meet a new chap who walks the green talk or hear about an organization plunging to alternate energy, I feel hopeful. For last few years I have been able to find myself a lot of like-minded fellows who ardently attempt to keep their carbon footprints down: be it BCW [Bus/Cycle/Walk], cutting the usage of plastic, water conservation and so on. Even here, the list is endless :-)
A discussion with my cook when I was telling him why I do home composting or cycle to work ended with “Madam, aapke akele karne se kya hoga, baki sab to vaise ke vaise hi hai”. True, I alone can’t do it, but imagine out of 20 people I talk to, 2 of them start cycling to work, and they talk to another 20 and the chain-reaction continues. Some day soon, it could reach 100 such people who try to make 2000 (20*100) more people aware, and the numbers may keep multiplying like this! This is not just possible, but also probable.
Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. – M K Gandhi
Small steps like using cloth bags, getting tap-leaks fixed at once, shutting down the computer, switching off appliances – if practiced collectively – can go a long way towards restoring the balance. And, once you jump into this ocean of change, you will subconsciously make sure that the chain continues. For example whenever I refuse plastic bags, I try make my reasons clear to the shop-keepers too :-). Here is a complete list of such tiny steps that can make a substantial change.
If only each one of us would take a step forward, without worrying about others, I think we can conquer any challenge.
As Margaret Mead rightly said: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.