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World Earth Day: From the other pole

www.thehindu.com | April 22, 2016
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On World Earth Day, participants of the climate change campaign held in Antarctica relive their experiences.

Out of the 143 representatives selected across the world to lead a climate change campaign in the Antarctic, 19 of them were Indians. The experiences they narrate are nothing short of life-changing ones that ushered in a sea-change in the way they lead their daily lives. Almost a month after the expedition, as the world reiterates the need for environmental conservation on ‘World Earth Day’, the campaigners relive their experiences on travelling to the southern hemisphere and doing their bit for a global cause.

Avani Awasthee, a Pune resident remarks, “We were from 30 different nations, diverse in cultures who fought our own battles, but were singularly driven to contribute to our environment and generate awareness on climate change. Those 15 days were incredible and I have come back with a completely different mindset. Every tiny detail seems to making me think and react — from switching off the lights or fan, pouring only half a glass of water or even segregating the garbage at home.” She adds that the difference may not be instantaneous but these efforts are aimed for the longer haul. From rain water harvesting to drip irrigation to installing solar panels to composting — she and her family have been taking small steps towards environmental conservation.

Hyderabad-based Gloria who works in a village Tilonia, Jaipur in a firm that supplies clean renewable energy (to over 70 countries) has similar thoughts to share. “When you step on that land, feel the wind and see the wildlife – there’s a sense of wonder and peace. The place is pristine, untouched and beautiful. Everyone who went on the expedition to the Antarctic fell in love with it. Why can’t we love our Earth the same way? ‘What can you do to help your neighbours, building mates and friends?’ is the question everyone needs to answer,” she’s doesn’t just preach, but Leads by example. Gloria lives in a village where she walks to most places and survives with the least number of devices that consume power.

The Rajahmundry-resident Pradeep Karuturi, even prior to the Antarctica trip was aware of the issues concerned with climate change, given he worked at the root-levels in the relief operations of Hudhud cyclone and Uttarakhand floods. “The greatest threat to our planet is the misconception that someone else will save it, the expedition founder, Robert Swan said to us. I realised how much we could do in terms of reducing carbon consumption. We could do well to encourage locally grown food (where fuel consumption is minimal), use cycles to travel, eco-friendly bags to the places we shop and our bit to not eat food out of animal agriculture, which surprisingly is one of the major reasons for climate change,” he, a witness to the several glaciers melting at the Antarctic, states.

Saumya Dey, who for once was lost in the corporate rush, earned a new social purpose to his life after the expedition. “This journey added a whole new perspective in me. Being from the second most populated country in the world, it made me think as to how I can contribute in making the environment a better place to live in.

The corporate environment leaves one with little time to ponder over such issues but Antarctica made me think,” he says. This World Earth Day, he’s going well beyond switching off electrical appliances for an hour, participating in the cleaning up of a patch of forest at Turehalli near Bangalore. “Also I will be joining a local group that helps in the extension of green patches by planting and maintaining saplings around the city,” he’s taking his journey further. (For more details on the aim behind the Antarctica climate change campaign, contact karuturipradeep10@gmail.com)

(Source: http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/world-earth-day-from-the-other-pole/article8504603.ece)