Jharia is one of the most important coal mines in India. It is one of the largest in Asia. It is present in the state of Jharkhand which is in the eastern part of India. Once a great resource with high quality coking coal, uncontrollable fires have turned it into an inferno. The people of Bokhapadi village in Jharia face severe economic and environmental consequences because of the mining activities. Jharia was once an area filled with dense forests and local tribes used the land for farming and their livelihood. But to fuel the economic growth, the mining industry is extracting more coal every day at the cost of the people and the environment. The coal mining industries have forced the people to let go of their farms and now the people are forced to become coal scavengers.

Jharia Coal Reserve

Jharia Coal Reserve

Coal Fire

Coal Fire

There is a continuous fire burning in the mine due to the temperature and oxidation. Most of the fires in Jharia ignite when coal, exposed to air during mining operations, spontaneously combusts. This fire gives out smoke which contains poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide. Thousands of poor, mostly unskilled, migrants from neighbouring states have settled in Jharia over the years. Most of them collect coal illegally and earn money for just two meals a day. This has led to ill health of the people living around the mine, causing lung diseases. It also has resulted in child labour, and the most common diseases in this area are tuberculosis, asthma, pneumoconiosis and other chronic lung disorders. All the other environmental impacts of burning coal, such as, green house gas emissions, global warming and climate change are also important issues.

One of the miners in the video mentions – “We are working against nature”. So these are few of the consequences of going against the natural environment.

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Inferno

Coal Scavenging

Coal Scavenging

Can we put a money value on the problems these people are facing? The pricing of the market does not include these externalities. The effects on the people around coal mines should be taken into consideration when the price of a good is being set. It is very difficult to take into consideration all these externalities, but as mentioned by Pearce and Barbier in the article- “The Economic System and Natural Environments”, environmental economists have developed complicated techniques to measure the total economic value of an environmental asset.

Child Labour

Child Labour

Thus I personally believe that the costs of these externalities should be added to the price of fossil fuels and other polluting goods in the energy market. There should be a global implementation of carbon tax. This would create awareness among the people and the markets, and great care would be taken to prevent such environmental and social impacts. It is difficult but a very strong and viable option to work towards environmental sustainability.

References:

Caton, P. (2010, October 13). Jharia coal belt documentation . Retrieved from Jharia Coal Belt Documentation

Munnik, V., & Hochmann, G. (2010). The social and environmental consequences of coal mining in south africa a case study . Retrieved from http://www.bothends.org/uploaded_files/uploadlibraryitem/1case_study_South_Africa_updated.pdf

Ugly Faces of Economic Development in India [Web Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbd1gF3Z5Fo

Peace, G. (2011, October 4). The true cost of coal – jharia coal mine, india. Retrieved from http://quitcoal.org/blog/true-cost-coal-jharia-coal-mine-india

Prakesh, A. (Photographer). The rising global interest in coal fires [Web Photo]. Retrieved from http://www.earthmagazine.org/article/rising-global-interest-coal-fires

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Mining of coal, in the United States, has been going on since the 1740s, but surface mining became widespread only after the 1930s. After mining is completed, coal mining companies have to reclaim the mine land to the standards defined by the state and federal government. This is a “Sustainable” practice. It is based on the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) of 1977.

“SMCRA balances the need to protect the environment from the adverse effects of surface coal mining with the Nation’s need for coal as an essential energy source. It ensures that coal mining operations are conducted in an environmentally responsible manner and that the land is adequately reclaimed during and following the mining process” (Title V of the SMCRA).

Reclamation Standard: If the coal mine was a farm with productivity “x”, before mining, then after the mining procedure has been completed, the reclaimed land should have the productivity of “x” or more


I recently visited an abandoned coal reclamation site called Enos in Pike County, IN. It was a site where the coal mining companies, before 1977, used to dump all the waste coal (powdered form). The technologies available during that time could not burn the powdered form of coal and could only burn stoker coal (We have the technology to burn the pulverized coal now). This coal has been lying in the same area for more than fifty years, and only recently action was taken to clear and reclaim the area by OSM (Office of Surface Mining). But the damage was done as it had a lot of adverse environmental effects such as:

  • Land Disturbance – The disturbance of forests, surface and ground water, soils, local land use, native vegetation, and wildlife populations.
  • Water pollution – Acid mine drainage (AMD). It is the water rich with metals that are formed from the reactions between rocks containing minerals of sulphur and water. The acid run-off formed, dissolves heavy metals such as copper, lead, and mercury into ground and surface water.
  • Destruction – surface and underground aquifers
RECLAMATION SITE

RECLAMATION SITE

The project of clearing the land was given to a contractor by OSM and there was no exchange of money between the two parties. The contractor did the job only because he earned a lot just by selling the (waste) coal.

The water due to the AMD was nearly blood red with a pH of around 2.0. The authorities were worried that this acidic water could pollute the water system of Patoka River which was nearby. Thus they used a bioreactor system to purify the water and strip off all the acidity.

BEFORE RECLAMATION

BEFORE RECLAMATION

AFTER RECLAMATION

AFTER RECLAMATION

ACIDIC WATER

ACIDIC WATER

ACID MINE DRAINAGE

ACID MINE DRAINAGE

The Bioreactor that was constructed was very efficient and was able to remove most of the oxides and sulphates, and brought down the pH from around 2.0 to 7.1 (pH of pure water is around 7.0). This clean water later joined the Patoka River.

THE BIOREACTOR

THE BIOREACTOR

THE WHOLE SITE

THE WHOLE SITE

It is mentioned by Ann Riley in the article,What is Restoration? – “It may be institutionally or ecologically not possible to restore a waterway”. But there is a lot of research going on in reclamation practices as there are a lot of problems involved with it.  Still, such sustainable practices can help prevent the land damage and inhibit pollution for the present and future generations.

References:

OFFICE of SURFACE MINING RECLAMATION and ENFORCEMENT. (n.d.). Regulating coal mines. Retrieved from http://www.osmre.gov/programs/rcm.shtm

Coal mine reclamation. (2011, August 22). Retrieved from http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Coal_mine_reclamation

I have been trying to do a lot of research on the renewable energy firms in Indiana. The basic steps I took were to look up the types of Renewable Energy firms. I never knew that Indiana had a huge list of renewable energy firms and that they are divided into so many different categories as there are a lot of different components involved in a renewable energy technology.

Firms that produce batteries to provide more power, more energy and have a longer lifespan.

1) Chrome Battery

2) Enerdel Inc.,

3) Battery Xpress, Inc.

4) Bulldog Battery Corporation

5) Batteries, Com.

6) Greenworks Energy

7) Integrated Power Systems

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Firms that produce water heating systems using renewable energy sources such as Geothermal and Solar and energy efficient water pumps (Also includes some solar and wind businesses)

1)      WaterFurnace Inc.

2)      I Power Energy Systems (Water Pumps)

3)      SunWind Power Systems Inc. (Solar water heating)

4)      Bpm Service Today

5)      One Planet Solar and Wind Inc.

Firms that design and construct wind turbines and produce products which enhance the wind energy systems.

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1)      Industrial steel construction (Components of wind turbines)

2)      Kinetic Art and Technology (SEMA Motors for wind turbines)

3)      Major Tool & Machine Inc. (Wind, Hydro and Ocean Energy System Components)

4)      Phoenix Fabricators and Erectors (Wind energy towers)

5)      REO USA Inc. ( Wind Energy System Components)

6)      Estes Design and Manufacturing Inc. (Small wind energy components)

7)      Moon Fabricating Corp. (Large Wind energy towers)

8)      ECI Wind and Solar (Wind Turbines & Tower Charge Controllers)

Firms that design, construct and install Solar Energy PV panels for various residential and industrial locations. There are numerous firms which are developing and marketing solar energy as it is the next big thing in the energy markets and Indiana has a solar compatible climate. They are:

Imagemap_large_pv_IN

1)      SunRise Solar (Solar Powered Ventilation)

2)      Earth-Solar Technologies Corporation

3)      River Bridge Electric (HVAC , electrical and plumbing)

4)      Garrett Energy Systems (HVAC, Solar space heating and hot water systems)

5)      Solar Wind Power Systems Inc.

6)      ECI Wind and Solar

7)      Green Alternatives Inc.

8)      Riverbridge Electric, LLC.

9)      Solar Energy Systems, LLC. (Solar and Wind Energy Systems)

10)  Whole Sun Designs Inc.

11)  GreenLink Global (LED Lighting, Mono crystalline and Poly crystalline silicon PV cells)

12)  Midwest Wind and Solar LLC.

13)  Johnson Melloh Solutions

14)  G-Tech Energy Inc. (PV Systems and other green energy products)

15)  Home Energy LLC

16)  Morton Solar & Wind LLC. (Solar , Wind and Water heating systems)

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Most of these firms provide a mix of multiple energy system products. These are not all the renewable energy firms. There are many more small scale other renewable energy firms that use bio energy and produce bio fuels, which I am going to look into. Based on these firms I am going to shortlist the firms which I feel have a plan in mind to work towards attaining sustainable communities with energy independence (by contacting them directly).

The Near Eastside Community Charrette for urban development took place at the community centre. The IU – SPEA students and the Ball State students of Urban Development, worked together to create a plan for the local residents of the community to have a sustainable development strategy. It aimed at dealing with most of the problems which the community was facing. I got a chance to attend the event on day 1 and day 2.

Day 1: We presented our slides and showed them the strategies that could be applied to help them develop their community. The residents had a lot of questions based on our presentations. For example:Questioning Time

Which option is more feasible on the Brown field? Solar or Geothermal?

Can the residents be directly benefitted from the Energy?

Can the community sell excess energy to the city of Indianapolis for powering the electric cars? (http://www.theindychannel.com/news/local-news/french-electric-vehicle-sharing-system-coming-to-indianapolis)

How can we eliminate the fear of new technology from the minds of the residents?

How can the strategies in the presentation be used to create more jobs?

Based on the questions they figured out that the three main problems the community is facing is

a)      Employment

b)      Housing

c)       Crime

These were the main outcomes from the discussions on Day 1. The Charrette on Day 2 was going to create strategies for sustainable urban development which could overcome these problems

Day 2: Three teams were made which concentrated on 3 different aspects (with a focus on the above problems). Each team had to come up with at least 3 development plans.

  Team 1: Industrial and Employment

IMAG1905

Team 2: Residential and Recreational

IMAG1902

Team 3: Energy

I was in the Energy team and thus can describe more about the strategies we came up with.

We first decided to walk to the Brownfield site so that we could get a clearer picture about what we were dealing with.

Brownfield and Community Centre - Paint

-We observed that the back entrance on the community centre must have been a celebrated    location before, but was rarely being used in recent times.

– The sidewalks were incompletely constructed.

– The Brownfield had an E-waste plant which could be used as an asset.

– The I-70 which is near the Brownfield could be used as an asset for Solar.

Solar and Geothermal were the two Energy options which were being considered. There were different ideas such as:

– Brownfield to Solar Field: A Solar Canopy for the whole Brown field area which could be used for organizing certain events like a Farmer’s Market.

–  Solar Canopies for the parking areas of schools and other public buildings

–  Rooftop solar for public buildings such as schools & E-waste plant: Areas and the estimated energy outputs per year were calculated.

–  A Geothermal loop was being considered for the heating and cooling of residential and commercial buildings.

–  Solar Panels on the I-70 close to the community.

IMAG1898

–  Brown field to Eco Industrial Park: Scrap wood and saw dust from furniture waste could be recycled to produce pulp and then paper. Organic wastes could be used to produce methanol and Biogas.

–   All the above ideas would result in multiple green jobs.

–   The solar contractors would be used to train local people to manage the solar panels.

IMAG1895

There were various designs developed based on these ideas which can be seen in the pictures. Thus the Charrette was a great hands-on experience to learn how multiple sustainability ideas are moulded into a Sustainable Urban Design for the development of communities.

 

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

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