This coming Saturday is World Environment Day. Sure, things are a mess, but let’s look at the glass half full. June 5 is an occasion to exhume our inner environmentalists. What can the average person do?
I think food is a key way to make our lives more sustainable. It involves several resources to produce food-water, fertilisers and in the case of meat, huge quantities other foods. Now, it’s getting more complex. You’ve probably heard of Chinese farming in Africa, but did you know that the Saudis have an agreement with Indonesia for nearly 5 million acres to grow rice? Or that South Korea grows wheat in Sudan over 1.7 acres? What does this do the food system and ecology? Perhaps farmers are giving up local seeds and biodiversity as lands become hyper-commercialized.
Take a look at a bigger Indian city today — often, imported apples from the US are cheaper than Himachali apples. With no jingoistic intent, I suggest all of us learn about our food by talking to the sabjiwalas and the stores, and learn to eat food that is at least grown locally and doesn’t imply overseas travel and excess carbon emissions. That doesn’t mean it is grown in an ecological manner, but at least, it is untainted by emissions from overseas travel.
Spare Us This Green
There are some things Indians seem to just love — shining granite, for example. And ornamental ficus trees. No wonder then, that Delhi, as the country’s capital, has gone on an ornamental ficus rampage.
All over the city’s newly planted public spaces, the plant predominates. It offers neither shelter for birds, nor shade, nor the ecological niche of many of the trees all over Luytens Delhi-Jamun, Imli, Neem, for example.
Instead of making up for the hundreds of trees cut off for infrastructure development in the last few years, we’re getting a fast forward that won’t give us real green benefits.