Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Walk 7,500 steps a day to live longer

10,000 steps a day has become the gold standard for many people. That number has sold many step-counting devices and inspired interoffice competitions. But it’s a big number that can be hard to reach. When people continue to not hit five digits, eventually some ditch the effort altogether.
  • 10,000 steps a day, the default figure that ingrained in our health consciousness, was a mere marketing tool by a step counter device maker.
  • Quantifying exercise by counting steps can feel more doable and less overwhelming.
  • If you’re sedentary, add 2,000 more daily steps so that you average at least 4,400 daily steps. It’s not necessary to walk it all at once. Instead, try to take extra steps over the course of each waking hour.
  • Sedentary women averaged 2,700 steps a day. Women who averaged 4,400 daily steps had a 41% reduction in mortality. 
  • Mortality rates progressively improved before leveling off at approximately 7,500 steps per day. There were about nine fewer deaths per 1,000 person-years in the most active group compared with the least active group.
  • Step intensity doesn't matter. But every step counts.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park at the first empty space you see, not the one closest to the entrance. Get off the bus one stop earlier than your destination. At home, make more than one trip to bring the dinner dishes into the kitchen, or when bringing groceries in from your car. 
  • Don’t be intimidated or dissuaded by the 10,000 number.

There are many studies that demonstrate that folks who walk 10,000 have at least a 50% reduction in all cause mortality verses those who are sedentary.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

Working long hours

Sometimes entrepreneurs and employees have to put in the long hours for an extended period of time but they have to sacrifice family time, social time, self time, self care etc. Although it is important to follow your dream and to be gainfully employed it makes for an unbalanced and unfulfilled life. And it is questionable as to whether working that many hours every day for weeks, months, years is efficient use of time, energy and brain power. The answer is big 'NO'.
  • Studies show that maximum productivity per week is attained at about 40 hours per week, more than that is counter-productive.
  • If you love what you are doing, would rather be doing that than anything else, and you don't have other responsibilities, then it might be worth it for you.
  • There is a multitude of evidence demonstrating that night shift workers suffer health effects much greater than the general population as a result of higher incidence of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other ailments.
  • Over sustained periods of time, night shift workers and long-hour workers live shorter lives.
  • Often people outspend their income and end up regretting 'selling their soul to the corporation' later when they don’t have much to show for it.
  • Rarely in life you are presented with a scalable career.  
  • The world is changing fast.  Employees need to be nimble and adjust to not only what’s hot, but what’s going to be hot.
  • You can’t control your luck, but what you can control is your work ethic. To get in first, and leave last shows initiative, and a hunger to learn. There’s always something new to grasp.
  • Talking about how many hours you work is not impressive. It will be seen as a professionally embarrassing sign that you have nothing else to boast about.
  • Working too much overtime is a bad idea because of diminishing returns, impaired judgment, not enough time to recharge, you look bad when it really matters and others will think you’re slacking if you slow down.
  • In the 1800s, it was common for people to work nearly 100 hours per week over six-day workweeks. By the early 1900s, many industries had adopted the eight-hour workday, six days a week. In 1926, Henry Ford removed one day of work from his employees’ schedules that resulted in eight-hour shifts for five days a week—what we now know as the 40-hour workweek. Ford found that his workers were actually more productive working 40 hours a week than they had been working 48 hours a week. His success with the change inspired manufacturing companies all over the country to adopt the 40-hour workweek.

Eight hours labor, eight hours recreation, eight hours rest - Robert Owen

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Winners are grinners, but how much competition is too much?

Competition is great. We all have been brought up hearing mantras like ‘survival of the fittest’, ‘winner are grinners’ and ‘may the best man win’.
  • In the workplace and on the sporting field winners are rewarded, whether it is with money, a medal, a promotion, or even just praise. Winners are celebrated. In recent years, there has been some backlash against this ‘win at all costs’ attitude.
  • There are times when we need to be more conventional and to follow orders without question. There are times when it is more productive to be relentlessly focused on moving forward, even to the point of being unforgiving of mistakes.
  • Competitiveness comes under the cluster of aggressive defensive behaviour. At the extreme end of this scale, individuals don’t just desire to win, they feel a compulsion to win at all costs. These are the people who are willing to risk everything in order to be right. They will put themselves, their teams and their families in precarious situations to avoid failure or the possibility of losing.
  • Many of the successful people we admire are driven and unrelenting, single-mindedly focused on reaching the top, sometimes to the point of forgetting the people around them. These people set the bar high and don’t let anyone take advantage of them. They can always be relied upon to be 100% focused on getting the job done.
  • If being competitive got us to where we are, is there such a thing as too much competition? And if so, how much is too much?
  • Competitiveness and the relentless need to win, to do better, to be better is causing us stress and is ultimately killing us. This need to win and be better is also not making us happy.
  • Stress puts strain on our health, our families, our children, our marriages and even our careers. Stress, a leading contributor to heart disease, is an inevitable result of continuously pushing ourselves to outdo each other in work and in life generally. With one Australian dying of cardiovascular disease every 12 minutes, removing stress from our lives is more important than ever.
  • Our children are pressured to be better students, to look more attractive, to get more likes, retweets and followers, to go viral. Much of the time, they are competing against people they have never even met. Plastic surgery is increasingly popular. For women alone, the rates of plastic surgery have grown 538% since 1997. This is directly related to the competitive desire to be skinnier, younger and prettier.
  • Divorce rates are also increasing because our spouses aren’t sexy, romantic, sensitive or fun enough. Social media suggests that everyone else has these amazing relationships, so we should too.
  • In the workplace, employee satisfaction is decreasing, in part because it has become less acceptable to be content with simply doing a good job. Instead we are supposed to be continually focused on the next promotion, the next role or that next big bonus.
  • This competitiveness means that we can’t be happy when a colleague does well; instead, we turn a critical eye on ourselves to work out why we aren’t doing as well, or we look outwards to others we might blame for our lack of success.
  • Employee tenure is dropping as all of us strive to be better than one another. More of us are looking for the next best thing. The grass is always greener, there is always someone to surpass, another promotion to get, another business to start or to buy.
  • Bigger cars, buffer bodies, more money… This non-stop drive to be and to have the best in everything is simply unsustainable. Something has to give.
  • How do we find the right balance? How much competition is enough and how much is too much? Now I know that what I saw as a strength – competitive nature – becomes a weakness when it is taken to its extreme. It causes stress, physical exhaustion and an inability to be proud of what I have achieved. I am always chasing the next milestone, the next challenge.
  • I also know that when I manage to balance my competitive drive it becomes the key to my success. Finding the balance isn’t easy but I recognize that it’s essential in order to be successful over the long-term, at the same time as maintaining my physical, emotional and mental health.
Each of us needs to find our own answer to how this necessary balance might look for us. So, how much competition is too much for you?

Monday, 15 July 2019

The importance of English in India

India is a country with 22 official languages in different regions. English though not the most spoken language of India is the most understood language of India. English is the only language you will see across the length and breadth of the country. English is the mainstay of our country --  the language of the government, public administration, the legislature, law courts etc. English is used in many fields more than any other language. If one has to survive in today’s competitive world one should have a good command in English.
  • English is the third most spoken language in the world. Every third person can speak in English fluently. Most of the higher education books are printed in English. English is the unifying language. It acts both as a national and international link language.  
  • For proper mental development it is essential that we study the best literature. If we want to shed the feeling of false superiority and to broaden our minds, we must take the best from others. Hindi serves as a lingua franca - adopted as a common spoken language by those with different native languages.
  • Pandit Nehru said that "English is our major window on the modern world". It is only through English that we can establish social, economic, cultural and political relations with other countries of the world. 
  • Dr. S. Radha Krishnan, Head of The University Education Commission remarked: “English be studied in high school and universities in order that we may keep in touch with the stream of ever growing knowledge. This would prevent our isolation from the world and help us to take advantage of the wider reach of the English language. English is a language which is rich in literature, humanistic, scientific and technical. If under sentimental urges we give up English, we would cut ourselves off from the living stream of ever-growing knowledge.” 
  • English is the language of international politics, trade, commerce and industry. In the words of F.G. French, “By accidents of history and by the rapid spread of industrial development, science, technology, international trade, and by something like an explosion in the speed and ease of travel and by all the factors which have broken down frontiers and forced nations into closer inter-dependence, English has become a world language. It is the means of international communication; there is no other.”
  • In parliamentary debates members speaking in powerful English are far more effective than members debating in Hindi and other Indian languages.
  • On a global level, there has been an upward trend towards adopting English as the official language among companies and institutions and with this, it becomes imperative for individuals in India to embrace the language to order to compete in the job market.
  • One out of 10 persons in the world knows English, 75% of the world's mail, 50% of the world's newspapers, over 50% of the world's radio station and more than 50% of the world's scientific and technical periodicals use English as medium of expression. 
  • The corporate sector employs people who are confident and speak fluent English apart from the basic skills required for the job. If you desire a good and a well-paid job it’s very important to have a good command in English.
  • Most of the technologies that are used in India are received from English nations so to use technology well, English is important. It is too tough for a person to be a specialist in any line unless he has a good command over English language.
  • English must be studied as an important foreign language. It must also continue to be the medium of instruction, in science, technology, and in other subjects in higher classes. Knowing English is little about a foreign culture and all about your being part of every aspect of life as a modern person. At the same time, our national language Hindi & other regional languages should not be ignored.
People have understood the fact that good knowledge of English is the key factor for a good career, status in society and a huge advantage in knowledge and better communication in the entire world. If India has to progress then it cannot ignore the importance of the English language. David Graddol observed that throughout India, there is an extraordinary belief amongst all castes and classes, in both rural and urban areas, in the transformative power of English. English is seen not just as a useful skill, but as a symbol of a better life, a pathway out of poverty and oppression.  

English was the greatest gift of Goddess Saraswati to India - Rajaji

One language sets you in a corridor for life. 
Two languages open every door along the way - Frank Smith

English literature in quantity and quality is second to none - H Champion

Remember the old words from a teacher - When you go to USA as a student, to escape from paying fine talk in English, laugh in English, cry in English, etc... if not pay fine, every time you speak in something other than English.

Friday, 12 July 2019

It's immoral to be rich

Being extremely wealthy is impossible to justify in a world containing deprivation. There is a lot of public discussion about inequality, but there seems to be far less talk about just how patently shameful it is to be rich. There are plenty of people on this earth who die because they cannot afford to pay for medical care. There are elderly people who become homeless because they cannot afford rent. There are children living on streets, there are mothers who can’t afford diapers for their babies. And all of it could be ameliorated if people who had lots of money simply gave those other people their money. It’s deeply shameful to be rich. It’s not a morally defensible thing to be rich. 
  • White families in America have 16 times as much wealth on average as black families. This is indisputably because of slavery, which was very recent.
  • Larry Ellison of Oracle bought the island of Lanai. It’s kind of extraordinary that a single human being can just own the sixth-largest Hawaiian island, but that’s what concentrated wealth leads to.
  • Every dollar you have is a dollar you’re not giving to somebody else, the decision to retain wealth is a decision to deprive others.
  • It is sometimes claimed that CEOs get paid too much, or that the super-wealthy do not pay enough in taxes. There is no problem in CEOs getting paid as much as the company decides to pay them. And taxes are certainly a tyrannical form of legalized theft. But the question is of the morality of their retaining wealth after it is given to them.
  • The process by which those rich people attained their wealth is totally consensual. People on the right often defend wealth along these lines. I earned it, therefore it’s not unfair for me to have it. But the question is that regardless of how you have earned it, to what degree you are morally permitted to retain it? 
  • It’s one thing to argue that you got rich legitimately. It’s another to explain why you feel justified in spending your wealth upon houses and sculptures rather than helping some struggling people. There may be nothing unseemly about the process by which a basketball player earns his millions. But there’s certainly something unseemly about his having those millions. 
  • If the problem of inequality is systemic, and rich people do not really make choices but pursue their class interests, then asking them whether it is moral for wealthy people to retain their wealth is irrelevant and incoherent. 
  • Giving away wealth in the form of charity is actually bad, because it allows capitalism to look superficially generous without actually altering the balance of power in the society. “The worst slave owners were those who were kind to their slaves, because they prevented the core of the system from being realized by those who suffered from it,” as Oscar Wilde ludicrously put it.
  • Moral duty becomes greater the more wealth you have. The super-rich, the infamous millionaires and billionaires, are constantly squandering resources that could be used to create wonderful and humane things. If you’re a billionaire, you could literally open a hospital and make it free. You could help make sure no child ever had to go without lunch.
  • Everyone who earns anything beyond is obligated to give away the excess in its entirety. The refusal to do so means intentionally allowing others to suffer, a statement which is true regardless of whether you “earned” or “deserved” the income you were originally given. 
  • Wealthy people do give away money often in piecemeal and self-interested and foolish ways. They’ll donate to colleges with huge endowments to get needless buildings built and named after them. David Geffen will pay to open a school for the children of wealthy. Mark Zuckerberg will squander millions of dollars trying to fix Newark’s schools by hiring $1000-a-day-consultants. Brad Pitt will try to build homes for Katrina victims in New Orleans, but will insist that they’re architecturally cutting-edge and funky looking, instead of just trying to make as many simple houses as possible. Just as the rich can’t be trusted to spend their money well generally, they’re colossally terrible at giving it away. This is because so much is about self-aggrandizement, and “philanthropy” is far more about the donor than the donee. 
  • If you’re a multi-billionaire, giving away $1 billion is morally meaningless and you’re still incredibly wealthy, and thus still harming many people through your retention of wealth. You have to get rid of all of it, beyond the maximum moral income. 
It is not justifiable to retain vast wealth. This is because that wealth has the potential to help people who are suffering, and by not helping them you are letting them suffer. It does not make a difference whether you earned the vast wealth. The point is that you have it. We should acknowledge that it is immoral to be rich. 

I don’t hate capitalism, I just hate rich people.
If you are an egalitarian, how come you are so rich - GA Cohen 
Rich do not deserve their wealth - Robert Nozick 

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

2000 watts society - Zurich’s path to sustainable energy use

On Nov 30, 2008, the people of Zurich voted, with a large majority (over 75%), in favor of (i) sustainable development, (ii) reduction of energy consumption to 2000 watts per  person, (iii) reducing its annual CO2 emissions to one tonne per person by 2050, (iv) promoting renewable energies and energy efficiency, and (v) not renewing its investments in nuclear power plantsAs a 2000-watt society, Zurich will be better equipped for times of scarce and expensive energy  resources. The idea behind the 2000-watt society is that a lighter life requires less energy is an ecological necessity and can also be a better life. Zurich cannot solve the climate crisis, nor the expected scarcity of oil, nor the uneven distribution of resources worldwide, but it can make its contribution – and in doing so, it will also benefit in its own right.
  • If the human race continues to consume natural resources, and particularly energy, at the same rate as it does today, we are headed towards drastic climate change. 
  • In the past, it was taken for granted that higher energy consumption brings more prosperity.  From 1970 onward, there was growing realization that energy consumption causes ecological and political problems.
  • We live in a culture of energy wastefulness. We only use a tiny fraction of the energy we consume and the rest disappears as waste heat. By using energy more efficiently, the energy required for each energy service could be reduced by over 80 to 85%.
  • Below the threshold of 1000 watts per person, people are better off if they can increase their energy consumption. However, once this threshold is reached, more energy does not improve the quality of life. 
  • Consuming more energy would be undesirable, even if the energy could be provided in a completely clean way. It is just that consuming an ever-increasing amount of energy does not make people happier.
  • Numerous authorities in Switzerland have committed to the goal of the 2000-watt society. Zurich is the first body to lay this down in its municipal code as a binding goal.
  • Global justice demands sufficiency that offers fair opportunities for all and everyone must also have access to a similar amount of energy. It is not possible for the poor countries to raise their energy consumption to the level of rich countries. If all people consumed as much energy as the rich countries, the worldwide energy consumption would be more than three times as high as it is today.
  • At present, the average European uses around 6,000 watts, compared to 12,000 watts in the United States, 1,500 watts in China, 900 watts in India and 300 watts in Bangladesh. Today, Zurich consumes around 5,000 watts of primary energy per resident. If the total grey energy is also taken into account, the consumption is considerably higher. The work performed by twenty workers, or three horses, working around the clock, amounts to 2000 watts. Anyone who burns one litre of petrol every six hours consumes 2000 watts.
  • One tonne of CO2 is produced upon combustion of 300 litres of petrol. This is enough to drive a car 4000 kms. Zurich residents cause 5.5 tonnes of CO2 emissions per person each year. This would be considerably more if the grey emissions are also taken into account.
  • Today’s material living standard in Switzerland could be maintained with 2000 watts per person if the energy were used more effectively. With consumption of 2000 watts per person, annual CO2 emissions reduction, caused by energy use, to less than one tonne per person is realistic. Also 2000 watts corresponds to the average energy consumption worldwide. According to the IPCC report, worldwide annual greenhouse gas emissions must drop to one tonne per person by 2050, so that climate warming can be limited to two degrees.
  • Although nuclear power does not directly contribute to climate change, it is not sustainable. It consumes the finite raw material uranium, the extraction of which severely harms the local environment. It leaves behind highly dangerous waste, for the disposal of which, no satisfactory solution has been found. Any accident is a tragedy for the people affected and renders large areas uninhabitable for long periods of time.
  • Buildings and infrastructures which essentially determine a society’s energy consumption cannot be changed overnight. In view of climate change and dwindling energy reserves, ambitious goals are necessary. The required reduction of CO2 emissions is only realistic in parallel with a significant reduction of energy consumption.
  • Cost efficiency and energy efficiency are central themes in renovation, conversion and new construction projects. 
  • Switzerland will not result in political, cultural and social factors that determine how it is used. Technological progress is not enough and must not cause us to oversleep and neglect the need for social change.
  • Mobility is responsible for 18 percent of energy consumption and 37 percent of CO2 emissions in the City of Zurich. However, without mobility, there is no urban life.
The 2000-watt society costs nothing, because all the measures pay for themselves. The 2000-watt society - the idea is that a lighter life has less impact on the environment and is also a better life. It means that we all consume considerably less energy and only cause CO2 emissions at a fraction of today’s level. It also means that with efficient energy use and renewable energies, we can abandon nuclear power, making Zurich environmentally friendly, climate-friendly and very well prepared for a future in which the scarcity of resources will play an increasingly major role. The 2000-watt society requires alongside the political will and also requires more renewable energies, energy-efficient buildings and a city in which people get around very well on foot, by bicycle or with public transport.

We should leave oil before it leaves us - Fatih Birol

Monday, 8 July 2019

Carbon footprint factsheet

A carbon footprint is the total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product.




  • Fossil fuels and coal make up 67% of generated electricity. Besides electricity generation, transportation is the next big CO2 producer.
  • US carbon footprint is 16.5 tons per person, per year whereas EU’s per capita carbon footprint is 6.8 tons per year. The per capita average for the world as a whole is even lower at 5 tons of CO2e per year. India’s emissions are still very low – at only 1.8 tonnes of CO2 per capita.
  • One tonne of CO2 is produced upon combustion of 300 litres of petrol. This is enough to drive a car 4000 kilometres.
  • Your water has a high carbon footprint. You may think that your water comes from local lakes, rivers etc, the efforts to maintain and purify water takes up energy.
  • Similar to water, the use of paper contributes to carbon emissions, deforestation. Deforestation is responsible for more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the world’s cars, trucks, planes, and ships put together. The trees release the carbon they are storing into the atmosphere when they’re felled. 
  • Food production accounts for 83% of carbon emissions. Businesses that produce food contribute to emissions of carbon dioxide etc and the methane released by their livestock like sheep, cattle, and goats. Transporting food accounts for 11% of carbon emissions.
  • An estimated one-third of all food produced for human consumption in the world (~1.3 billion tonnes) is either lost or wasted each year. This food wastage represents not only a devastating misuse of natural resources, but also a bigger carbon footprint. 
  • Landfills are incredible sources of greenhouse gases and pollution. Every pound of organic materials in landfills you throw away, you’ll create one pound of greenhouse gases. As organic materials in landfills decays, it releases carbon dioxide and methane.
  • By driving two miles, 0.88 kilograms of CO2 is released into the air, but walking the same distance only releases 0.039 kilograms and riding a bicycle just 0.017 kilograms of carbon dioxide.
  • China accounted for 23 percent of greenhouse gas emissions associated with information technology. Increased emissions from this area are also experienced in Brazil, India, and Indonesia. These will increase 9 percent annually through 2020. 
  • A vegetarian typically has a smaller carbon footprint than a meat eater but the plant-based diet isn’t practical everywhere, especially for those who live in dry or cold places that cannot support the growth of most vegetable crops.
  • Approximately 1,800 gallons of water is needed per pound to raise a cow, the amount of water needed in order to successfully farm in desert-like climates can be huge and is unsustainable. 2000 - 3000 litres of water required to produced 1kg of rice.

  • Conserve water, especially at places with high carbon foot print.
  • Eat local, vegetarian, or organic foods.
  • Organic food requires 30-50% less energy during production but requires one-third more hours of human labor compared to typical farming practices, making it more expensive.
  • Walk, bike, carpool, use mass transit, or drive a best-in-class vehicle. Avoid unnecessary travel.
  • Avoid flying when possible, fly less frequently, and fly economy class. Prince William flies economy class and leads by example. Don’t fly on private jets.
  • Avoid taking vacations at far away places, and take more frequent and driveable staycations closer to home.
  • Increase your use of video-conferencing tools and reduce your work related air travel.
  • Smaller homes & apartments use less energy. 
  • Use a low-flow shower head. Setting the temperature to 50°C helps improve a hot water heater’s efficiency.
  • Turn off your TV, computer, and other electronics when not in use. Unplug unused electronics.
  • Choose energy-efficient lighting.
  • Recycle household waste.
  • Buy products with minimal packaging to reduce waste.
  • While shopping, purchase items with lower carbon footprint.

Everything we buy has a carbon footprint.

Everything we use has a carbon footprint. It is impossible to reduce the carbon emissions to zero, no matter how hard we try. There is a way to balance your emissions by purchasing carbon offsets. This is a practical and affordable way to do something about those remaining emissions and support the renewable energy projects that help our planet. 

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Growth focused economy is unsustainable

Most world leaders seem to believe that economic growth is a panacea for many of society’s problems. There are many links between our society’s addiction to economic growth, the disturbing ecological crisis, the rapid rise of social inequality and the decline in the quality of democracy. All these are deeply interconnected processes.
  • Greater economic growth on its own does very little or nothing at all to enhance social well-being. 
  • Reducing income inequality is an effective way to resolve social problems such as violence, criminality, imprisonment rates, obesity and mental illness, children’s educational performance, population life expectancy, and social levels of trust and mobility.
  • Societies that are more equal do much better in all the aforementioned areas than more unequal ones, independent of their GDP.
  • Unchecked capitalism tends to increase inequality and undermine democratic practices. The focus of a successful social policy should be to reduce inequality, not to grow the GDP for its own sake.
  • Our frenetic economic activity has already transgressed ecological planetary boundaries. If current trends continue, humanity will soon face dire and dramatic consequences.
  • Constant economic growth is a biophysical impossibility in a limited biosphere, and the faster the global economy grows, the faster the living systems of the planet collapse. This growth increases inequality and undermines democracy, multiplying the number of social problems that erode human communities.
  • We have created a dysfunctional economic system of growing the pace of production and consumption, destroys the ecological systems upon which it depends. And when it does not grow, it becomes socially unsustainable. In a game with these rules, there is no way to win!
  • Breaking the spiral of socio-ecological disaster is easier than we think. We do not need a new planet to colonize, but only to change the way we frame things.
  • The economy is a subsystem of the ecology, not the other way around. If we begin to organize our priorities according to the biophysical reality rather than the market demands, it quickly becomes clear that our dominant economic system is absurd because it destroys the ecosystems that are the source of its wealth.
  • In a desirable economic model the goal is to serve the well-being of communities and ecosystems and not to accumulate capital. At a global level we cannot afford to grow at all since we need to reduce economic throughput to be sustainable. 

If the rich nations in the world keep growing their economies by 2% each year and by 2050 the poorest nations catch up, the global economy of more than 9 billion people will be around 15 times larger than it is now. If the global economy then grows by 3% to the end of the century, it will be 60 times larger than now. The existing economy is already environmentally unsustainable. It is utterly implausible to think we can “decouple” economic growth from environmental impact since technological advancement have only increased our impacts on the planet, not reduced them. The GDP – the monetary value of all goods and services produced in an economy – is a deeply flawed measure of progress.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Greta Thunberg - Speeches - Excerpts

Greta Thunberg (16), Climate activist from Sweden

On March 15, 2019, about 1.4 million students in 123 countries joined school strike for climate justice. I am going to continue school striking until Sweden is in line with The Paris Agreement.  Richest 10% of world population emits about half of greenhouse gases. Richest 1% emits more than the poorest 50%. About 100 companies emit approximately 71% of our total emissions of CO2. If the richest 10% of the world’s population would lower their emissions to that of the average citizen in EU, then the world’s emissions of CO2 would be cut by about one third. Our biosphere is being sacrificed so that rich people in countries like mine can live in luxury. It is the sufferings of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.
  • People tell success stories but their financial success has come with an unthinkable price tag.
  • We need to start living within the planetary boundaries. This will be drastic change for many but not for most. Because most of the world population is already living within the planetary boundaries. It is minority who are not. 
  • The main solution however is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases. And either we do that or we don't. 
  • People are not aware that there is such a thing as a carbon budget. If you regularly fly around the world, eat meat and dairy and are living a high carbon lifestyle then that means you have used up countless of people’s remaining carbon budgets. Carbon budgets that they will need in their everyday life, for generations to come. Those whose carbon budgets we are stealing are the ones least responsible and the ones who are going to be affected the most by this crisis.
  • We must change almost everything in our current societies. The bigger your carbon footprint is, the bigger your moral duty. The bigger your platform the bigger your responsibility. 
  • I want you to act as if you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house was on fire, because it is. 
  • We need to keep the fossil fuels in the ground and we need to focus on equity. And if solutions within this system are so impossible to find then maybe we should change the system itself. We have run out of excuses and we are running out of time. We have come here to let you know that change is coming whether you like it or not. The real power belongs to the people! 
  • Rich countries like Sweden need to start reducing emissions by at least 15% every year to reach the 2 degree warming target. 
  • We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, and the extinction rate is up to 10,000 times faster than what is considered normal, with up to 200 species becoming extinct every single day. Erosion of fertile topsoil, deforestation of our great forests, toxic air pollution, loss of insects and wildlife, the acidification of our oceans. These are all disastrous trends being accelerated by a way of life that we, here in our financially-fortunate part of the world, see as our right to simply carry on. 
  • Our house is falling apart, and our leaders need to start acting accordingly, because at the moment they are not. If our house was falling apart, you would change almost every part of your behavior, as you do in an emergency. If our house was falling apart, you wouldn't hold three emergency Brexit summits and no emergency summit regarding the breakdown of the climate and environment. 
  • No one ever speak about the aspect of equity clearly stated everywhere in the Paris agreement, which is absolutely necessary to make it work on a global scale. That means that rich countries like mine (Sweden) to get down to zero emissions, within 6–12 years, so that people in poorer countries can heighten their standard of living by building some of the infrastructure that we have already built, such as hospitals, electricity, clean drinking water and so on.
  • The climate crisis has already been solved. We already have all the facts and solutions. All we have to do is to wake up and change. 
  • Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every single day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground. So we can’t save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed. Everything needs to change. And it has to start today. 
  • Since our leaders are behaving like children, we will have to take the responsibility they should have taken long ago. 
  • If burning fossil fuels was so bad that it threatened our very existence, how could we just continue like before? Why were there no restrictions? Why wasn't it made illegal? 
  • I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome OCD and selective mutism. That basically means I only speak when I think it is necessary. Now is one of those moments. 
  • If the emissions have to stop, then we must stop the emissions. Either we go on as a civilization or we don't. We have to change. We need a system change rather than individual change. But you can not have one without the other.
  • Rich countries like Sweden need to start reducing emissions by at least 15 percent every year. And that is so that we can stay below a two degree warming target. IPCC have recently demonstrated, aiming instead for 1.5 degrees Celsius would significantly reduce the climate impacts.
  • People keep doing what they do because the vast majority doesn't have a clue about the actual consequences of our everyday life.
  • No one is acting as if we were in a crisis. Even most climate scientists or green politicians keep on flying around the world, eating meat and dairy. 
  • What we do or don't do right now will affect my entire life and the lives of my children and grandchildren. What we do or don't do right now, me and my generation can't undo in the future. 
  • We children usually don't do as you tell us to do, we do as you do. And if you adults don't care about my future, neither do I. 

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Travel pollution

There are many ways to go from here to there. And the mode of transportation we choose can have a big impact. It can affect time, comfort and cost. But how we travel can also have a big impact on the planet. Airplanes are about 3% of total global climate emissions. Business travel is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Travel accounts for an average 15% to 20% of a business’s total emissions, reaching as high as 80% for service business. Carbon pollution from aviation is the fastest-growing source of the greenhouse gas emissions driving global climate change. 
  • Short-haul air travel by regional flights of less than 300 miles, create the most carbon emissions because of the high fuel consumption during takeoffs and landings. 
  • Planes also emit carbon dioxide directly into the earth’s upper atmosphere, making it especially harmful.
  • Trains use 50% less fuel per passenger than planes for the same trips.
  • Bus travel emits less carbon dioxide than trains on short and long trips.
  • On longer trips of more than 700 miles, train and plane emissions per passenger are comparable. Bus travel is still the greenest option. 
  • Solo car travel is the biggest culprit when it comes to emissions, producing nearly twice that of trains and three to four times that of buses.
  • Reducing unnecessary trips, using buses, eliminating solo car travel minimizes carbon emissions.
Driving a car solo has the same basic climate impact as taking an 80% full plane flight a similar distance. It pays to carpool. Trains and buses have an average occupancy of only 40%. If the plane is full, it beats the solo car. If your travel is fully booked, the diesel bus comes out on top, followed by the high-speed train, the car with three people in it, then the medium aircraft. Environmentally speaking, the growth of air transport is not desirable. It can be good if people use their cars less and use train or bus rather than taking the plane instead.

Environmentally speaking - train is the best, followed by bus , then car with 3-4 persons, then solo car and lastly air travel. Business & First class air travel is 3-6 times burdensome on both costs and emissions.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Greta Thunberg ....

  • Greta Thunberg cut a frail and lonely figure when she started a school strike for the climate outside the Swedish parliament building last August (2018). Her parents tried to dissuade her. Classmates declined to join. Passersby expressed pity and bemusement at the sight of the then unknown 15-year-old sitting on the cobblestones with a hand-painted banner. Eight months later on this Friday Mar 15, 2019, the global climate school strike (over a million students on strike for climate justice) has become the biggest environmental protests the world has ever seen. 
  • Ms Thunberg's made it clear that "if solutions within the system are so impossible to find, maybe we should change the system itself". In her speech to MPs in April 2019, Miss Thunberg said the UK was supporting shale gas fracking, greater exploitation of North Sea oil and gas fields and expanding airports. "This ongoing irresponsible behavior will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind," she said. She described the UK's carbon emissions reduction as the result of "very creative" accounting.
  • In an industry conference, Oil and Gas UK chief executive Ms. Deirdre Michie said: "I would like to reassure Greta Thunberg - we are listening, because we want the world to be a better place too. And while we believe that our industry's global contribution has improved the lives of billions of people, we are clear that climate change is a real and present danger that we must deal with together." She described the climate activist (Ms.Greta Thunberg) as an "impressive young woman we can all take inspiration from".
  • Unfortunately the public's, Govt's, etc Green credentials vaporize at the first suggestion that to avert climate change they may have to compromise their lifestyles a tiny bit. Much easier subscribe to the delusion that wind turbines, solar panels electric cars, etc help, even if they obviously don't. Meanwhile the worlds fossil fuel consumption grows year-on-year unabated.

Excerpts from Greta Thunberg's speeches:
  • Some people can let things go. I can’t.
  • The main solution however is so simple that even a small child can understand it. We have to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • We must change almost everything in our current societies.
  • Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity with a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money. 
  • And if solutions within this system are so impossible to find then maybe we should change the system itself.
  • The real power belongs to the people! 
  • 200 species going extinct every single day.
  • If the emissions have to stop, then we must stop the emissions. 
  • People keep doing what they do because the vast majority doesn't have a clue about the actual consequences of our everyday life.
  • Most climate scientists or green politicians keep on flying around the world, eating meat and dairy.
  • We need action more than hope. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere. 
  • Today we use 100 million barrels of oil every single day. There are no politics to change that. There are no rules to keep that oil in the ground. So we can't save the world by playing by the rules. Because the rules have to be changed. 

Greta Thunberg speeches
  1. Speech at TEDxStockholm 
  2. Speech at COP24 Dec 3 2018 
  3. Speech at COP24 Dec 12 2018 
  4. Challenging The World Economic Forum in Davos - January 22 2019 
  5. Speech "Our House is on Fire" at 2019 World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos 
  6. Speech 2019-02-21 in Brussels: "We want politicians to listen to the scientists" 
  7. "You can't just sit around waiting for hope to come" 2019-02-21 in Brussels 
  8. Speech at the EU Parliament in Strasbourg 2019-04-16 

Climate crisis is real

After more than a century and a half of industrialization, deforestation, and large scale agriculture, quantities of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have risen to record levels not seen in three million years. As populations, economies and standards of living grow, so does the cumulative level of greenhouse gases emissions. Climate change is potentially irreversible threat to human societies. Climate change is shifting of weather patterns that threaten food production, rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.
  • The concentration of GHGs in the earth’s atmosphere is directly linked to the average global temperature on Earth.
  • The most abundant GHG, accounting for about two-thirds of GHGs, is carbon dioxide (CO2), is largely the product of burning fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions account for around 80% of global warming.
  • In 2013, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its report made a categorical conclusion: climate change is real and human activities are the main cause.
  • It also estimates and provides a CO2 budget for future emissions to limit warming to less than 2°C. About half of this maximum amount was already emitted by 2011.
  • Oceans have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished and the sea level has risen. 
  • The sea ice extent in the Arctic is shrinking. Given current concentrations and ongoing emissions of greenhouse gases, it is likely that the end of this century that global mean temperature will continue to rise. The world’s oceans will warm and ice melt will continue. Most aspects of climate change will persist for many centuries, even if emissions are stopped.
  • The leading irreversible changes in the planetary climate system, may already have been reached or passed. Mountain glaciers are in alarming retreat and the downstream effects of reduced water supply in the driest months will have repercussions that transcend generations.
  • In October 2018 the IPCC issued a special report on the impacts of limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society. While previous estimates focused on estimating the damage if average temperatures were to rise by 2°C, this report shows that many of the adverse impacts of climate change will come at the 1.5°C mark. 
  • A number of climate change impacts could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5ºC.
  • Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.
  • Arctic permafrost is melting decades earlier than the worst-case scenarios threatening to unlock vast amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on governments to stop building new coal plants by 2020, cut greenhouse emissions by 45% over the next decade and overhauling fossil fuel-driven economies with new technologies like solar and wind. He said the world is facing a grave climate emergency and  even if Paris climate accord promises are fully met, the world still faces a catastrophic 3-degree temperature rise by the end of the century. Guterres urged to halve greenhouse emissions by 2030 and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. He suggested taxing major carbon-emitting industries and polluters, ending the subsidization of oil and gas, and halting the building of all new coal plants by next year. Cutting emissions to zero would be challenging and spell the end of petrol and diesel cars, as well as gas boilers. People will have to fly less, waste less and eat less meat. The average footprint for people in India is 1.73 metric tons; for the industrial nations is about 11 metric tons; worldwide carbon footprint is about 4 metric tons; The worldwide target to combat climate change is 2 metric tons.

Low carbon lifestyle

Global warming can lead to irreversible changes in the delicate balance that exists in the planet’s climate and life systems. It is a growing crisis with large scale implications on mortality, health, economics and security. All of us will be affected, irrespective of economic status or nationality. We have still not reached a point of no return and the most dangerous climate changes can still be avoided. We need to make climate friendly choices in everyday actions in the use of electrical appliances, transport, paper, water, etc. A low-carbon lifestyle reduces greenhouse gases and saves resources. Many people don't know a lot about climate change, but then there are some people who know but who don't care. It is reported that the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21 or CMP 11) held in Paris, France, has emitted about 300,000 tons of CO2.
  1. Consume less energy from fossil fuels (petroleum, gas and coal).
  2. Use energy efficient lights, fans and other electrical appliances.
  3. Turn off lights and fans when not in use.
  4. Switch from a desktop to a laptop.
  5. Go out for a couple of hours everyday instead of watching TV or computer.
  6. Avoid using hot water, wherever possible.
  7. Go solar where ever possible.
  8. Buy clothes when it is a must.
  9. Choose cotton and silk clothes. Organic cotton is even better.
  10. Donate unwanted clothes to charities.
  11. Buy local food products.
  12. Choose organic and seasonal foods.
  13. Avoid meat and dairy.
  14. Use organic foods to reduce use of fertilizers and pesticides.
  15. Don't waste food, energy, water etc.
  16. Select natural products with less processing and packaging.
  17. Eat more vegetables and fruits.
  18. Travel only when it is absolutely necessary.
  19. Avoid car usage where ever you can.
  20. Use small and fuel efficient cars.
  21. Drive car in a fuel efficient manner.
  22. Use public transportation or shared vehicles.
  23. Walk or cycle over short distances.
  24. Avoid air travel.
  25. Never travel by business class or first class.
  26. Travel by direct flights, as far as possible.
  27. Travel by train for over night journeys.
  28. Use video conferencing and avoid long distance journeys.
  29. Use paper only when it is a must.
  30. Plant trees.
  31. Conserve water. Use no more than 10 liters for bathing.
  32. Harvest rain water.
  33. Never use single use plastic carry bags, water bottles, teacups etc.
  34. Ensure used plastics are disposed off for recycle/reuse.
  35. Stop dying hair and other body lotions.
  36. Buy only essentials.
  37. Be low on consumption.
  38. Repair and postpone replacements.
  39. Eliminate unnecessary items in every aspect of living.
Individual efforts may seem like drops in the ocean. The impacts from the positive changes in lifestyles by millions of people will make significant contributions towards a more climate friendly planet. 

Could you live a low carbon life? Meet the people who already are. 

Whatever you do may seem insignificant to you, 
but it is most important you do it - Mahatma Gandhi

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing
would suffice to solve most of the world's problems - Mahatma Gandhi