Archive for September, 2013

The River Ganga (Ganges), based on the Hindu mythology, is considered sacred and people believe it has come down to earth from the heavens. It symbolizes a means of purification to millions of Hindus who believe that bathing and drinking the Ganga water will give them “Moksha” or Salvation.

river-ganges-map

The-Ganges-River

The Ganga basin extends over more than 1 million square kilometres. It covers parts of India, Nepal, China and Bangladesh. The basin occupies a quarter of India’s land mass. It is a majorly seasonal river with 80% of the discharge occurring during the southwest Indian monsoon (July – October).


Rivers_wallpapers_405

The Ganga basin is home to around 450 million people and is considered to be one of the most populous regions on earth with an average density of more than 550 individuals per square kilometre. The economics of this river system depends on utilization of this water resource directly, navigation, irrigation, power generation and water supply to towns. The largest city or urban centre along the river is the city of Kolkata (previously Calcutta) with around 14.5 million people and most of the population uses this river water for drinking, sewage and sludge discharge and other industrial and domestic uses.

Haridwar-Ganga-Riverhep_river_ganga

The Ganga waters carry one of the highest sediment loads in the world, with a mean annual total of 1.6 billion tonnes, compared to 0.4 billion tonnes for the Amazon.

The living resources of the river have been jeopardized due to population pressure, natural resource consumption and pollution to the level of over tapping of resources.

ganga polluted

The water resource management steps applied by the Indian Government and the WWF are:

1)      Establishment of Ganga Conservation Committee.

2)      Stopping the usage of plastic bags around the river.

3)      “Conservation of Ganga River Dolphin” project.

4)      Media campaigns

5)      Development of Target specific education and awareness.

6)      Workshops with village and community leaders, local NGO’s to evaluate progress.

These steps have been applied in just a short section of the river and additional steps are being implemented to actively conserve the river at a much wider scale.

I believe that the “community based social marketing steps” can be used to foster a sustainable behaviour among the people but, to change the behaviour of such a large population and their cultural and religious beliefs, there should be certain special means which have to be used to succeed at a greater scale. For example: Building the confidence of local stakeholders, establishing strong partnerships among local NGO’s, political leaders, spiritual leaders, administrative bodies and marketing sustainable measures which are positively based on the cultural and religious importance of the river. Do you think any additional measures can be applied to support the river Ganga?

Though it is pretty difficult to integrate and satisfy all the points and needs of different interest groups, but planned approaches with clear objectives and goals can help the communities and regions to work together, identify and resolve the challenges, if they want a sustainable and clean water system for themselves and their future generations.

 

Sarkar, S. K., Saha M., et al (2007). Water quality management in the lower stretch of the river ganges, east coast of india: an approach through environmental education. Journal of Cleaner Production15, 1559-1567.

Ganges river case study. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/about_freshwater/rivers/irbm/cases/ganges_river_case_study/

(2012, July 6). BBC Our World- India’s Water Crisis [Web Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jscOuWpw_iU

(2013, February 16). Ganges River, India [Web Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYx3FUujRqY

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My specialization is in “Energy” so I was wondering what project I could do which could influence me positively. So I chose my project to be an analysis of the renewable energy market in Indiana.

It is kind of a personal market analysis where I would make a list of all the renewable energy firms in Indiana and screen them based on my requirements and gather information about what their views towards sustainability and climate change are, what do they think are the problems they are presently facing and the problems they might face in the future, what kind of interns and employees they are looking for and what difference could a student who has taken a course in “Sustainable Communities” make to their firm.

I would also like to put forth the situations and conditions in my home country – India and get their views about what policies and steps their firm would take to implement their ideas of sustainability in a developing country and if they would like to invest in countries like India. I would call it going from “Indiana to India”.

This would be the major portion of my project. There could be certain changes based on the information and ideas I receive. I know it will make a difference to my career path in sustainability and energy. I hope everybody enjoys it when I present it in front of you!

Agriculture forms the backbone of society and substantially contributes to world’s economic, social and environmental evolution. In recent times there has been a dramatic change in the type of agricultural practices applied. For example, advancement in technologies, mechanization, increased chemical usage and policies which support maximization of production,which have in turn increased the costs and environmental impacts.

We live on a planet which has limited resources and an increasing demand to consume those resources. We have had an opportunity to be prosperous for years but have to learn to manage these resources judiciously. The ‘Rule of 70’ tells us the number of years something takes to double in size, based on the growth rate.  So if human population grows by 1% annually it will take around 70 years for it to double up. The population of the world was 6 billion in 1999 and is projected to be around 9 billion by 2044, an increase of 50 percent  is expected to require 45 years. The population and consumption is multiplying exponentially, but the size of the earth is the same!

“Imagine that you have a jar filled with a bacterium at 11 PM and if the population doubles every minute and if the jar is completely full by 12 PM, the jar is half full by 11:59 PM. Thus time speeds up as you move along the exponential curve.” – Dr. Albert Bartlett.

This shows that we are currently in a critical situation with a scarcity of time!

worldpop

“The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function” – Dr. Albert Bartlett

Thus the need of the hour is to employ the latest scientific techniques to develop a type of farming which is ecologically secure, conserves the environment, makes use of renewable energy resources, economically feasible and also satisfies human needs.

Sustainable farming provides yields without undermining the natural systems and resources that productivity depends on. Farmers have to undertake a sustainable approach and use the best of current knowledge and technology to avoid the consequences of conventional farming, which involves chemical related damages.

Fossil fuels derived energy for mechanized farming was one of the main reasons for “Green Revolution” of increasing farm productivity. But the spot we are currently in, the fossil fuels are not helping but resulting in a permanent damage to the environment. Sustainable farming if followed with dedication can help us morph the damage done to the environment. The practices involved in sustainable farming will make way for long term benefits to the environment.

Climate Change:

Effects of climate change on agriculture: Climate change may have positive and negative impacts on the crops. Some research shows that warmer temperatures increase the length of growing seasons and the increase in carbon dioxide in the air results in more productivity by some crops. A warmer climate may dry up the soils and decrease soil moisture which increases the need for irrigation. Thus benefits to agriculture might be offset by the chances of experiencing heat waves, drought, thunderstorms and cyclones.

Effects of Agriculture on climate change: Farming activities serve as sources and sinks, for the climate change causing greenhouse gases. The carbon from the atmosphere is removed, and stored in the crops, which are agricultural sinks, by a process of biological sequestration. These crops remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and convert it to organic carbon by photosynthesis. Thus sustainable farming practices drastically increase the amount of carbon stored in the soil.

The most common sustainable techniques employed by farmers today to control weeds, pests, diseases and soil erosion are: Crop Rotation, Cover Crops, Soil Enrichment, Natural Pest Predators, Bio intensive Integrated Pest Management.

Achieving sustainable agriculture is not a simplistic choice, but a complex challenge. But as human beings, we prefer easily available options to difficult challenges. If we want to meet the required demands of the future, under circumstances of scarcity of water and other resources, we need to accelerate our pursuit towards  Sustainable agricultural practices.

 

References:

Burke, J. C. (2011, August). Sustainable agriculture a complex challenge not a simplistic choice. Press Republican

Sustainable Agriculture Techniques. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/solutions/advance-sustainable-agriculture/sustainable-agriculture.html

Carlson, D. (n.d.). Why sustainable farming matters [Web]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uf_mrQpN1Hw

Schahczenski, J. & Hill, H. (2009). Agriculture, climate change and carbon sequestration. ATTRA.

Measuring sustainability in agriculture . Available from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OVIpWW2vuVw