Earth Day Thoughts


Today is April 22nd. The world around me brought to me by the print, visual and social media is crying hoarse about the Earth Day. While it is appreciable that there is a dedicated day that is observed for the last 46 years to protect the earth and conserve her resources, one wonders if the impact it has had is enough. In today’s instant fix world and life, it is no wonder that we have one Earth Day, and not every day. Look at the following shocking facts to realize that a catastrophe awaits us, a ticking time bomb.

  • 2015 was globally the warmest year since records began in 1880, according to NASA and NOAA. The average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.62 F (0.90 C) above the 20th century average.
  • Fifteen of the 16 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001.
  • In the 10,000 years before the Industrial Revolution in 1751, carbon dioxide levels rose less than one percent. Since then, they’ve risen 37 percent!
  • By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world’s population living in water-stressed regions.
  • Almost 800 million people lack access to clean safe water every day.
  • Compared to today, five times as much land is likely to be under “extreme drought” by 2050.
  • The global middle class will surge from 1.8 to 4.9 billion by 2030, which will result in a significant increase in freshwater consumption.
  • By the year 2040 there will not be enough water in the world to quench the thirst of the world population and keep the current energy and power solutions going if we continue doing what we are doing today.
  • By 2050, 1 in 5 developing countries will face water shortages says UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
  • The first of the 10 top endangered animals in the world is our national animal  – the Tiger. 😦
  • The polar ice caps have melted faster in last 20 years than in the last 10,000. A comprehensive satellite study confirms that the melting ice caps are raising sea levels at an accelerating rate.
  • Every year sees humans using over 300 million tons of plastic out of which only 10% or less is recycled or reused.
  • Even in a developed country like the US only 20-25% of e-waste is recycled. Large amounts of hazardous materials such as lead, mercury, and cadmium leach into our air and water, contaminating our community resources.

As I dig up more and more data, there is more and more reason to feel depressed and pessimistic. So I reflect on this wonderful palindrome poem by Jonathan Reed – Lost Generation. (Thanks to Sir Christopher Stone, Senior Vice President GEMS Education, who introduced it yesterday while addressing us at school.) This 2011 poem is about cynicism and optimism. Read to the end, then read in reverse starting from “There is hope” and continuing upward. Check it out:

I am part of a lost generation
and I refuse to believe that
I can change the world
I realize this may be a shock but
“Happiness comes from within.”
is a lie, and
“Money will make me happy.”
So in 30 years I will tell my children
they are not the most important thing in my life
My employer will know that
I have my priorities straight because
is more important than
I tell you this
Once upon a time
Families stayed together
but this will not be true in my era
This is a quick fix society
Experts tell me
30 years from now, I will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my divorce
I do not concede that
I will live in a country of my own making
In the future
Environmental destruction will be the norm
No longer can it be said that
My peers and I care about this earth
It will be evident that
My generation is apathetic and lethargic
It is foolish to presume that
There is hope.

And all of this will come true unless we choose to reverse it.

There is hope.
It is foolish to presume that
My generation is apathetic and lethargic.
It will be evident that
My peers and I care about this Earth.
No longer can it be said that
Environmental destruction will be the norm.
In the future
I will live in a country of my choosing.
I do not concede that
30 years from now I will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of my
Experts tell me
that this is a quick fix society,
but this will not be true in my era.
Families stayed together,
once upon a time.
I tell you this –
is more important than
I have my priorities straight because
my employer will know that they are not the most
important thing in my life.
So in 30 years I will tell my children that
“money will make me happy”
is a lie, and
“happiness comes from within.”
This might be a shock,
but I can change the world!
And I refuse to believe that
I am a part of a lost generation.

Yes, and I refuse to be believe I can do nothing. I can do something and make a difference. So what am I going to do to make my carbon footprints less each day and show compassion to the only living place we have? I am proud to say that I have only relied on handkerchiefs. So, it’s wash, use and reuse. I have already made some difference by not using tissue papers. They may be soft tissue papers, but they are hard on the environment.
Now going forward, it’s these that am going to embrace:

  • Resist the urge to open and close my fridge doors as and when I please. Each time I open it, cool air escapes and the compressor is forced to use more power to cool it down again.
  • Reduce the use of plastics bags as much as possible. I have taken this pledge that I will never use plastic spoons from today. I believe in my small way I can make a difference. Wherever I go, I will carry with me a stainless steel spoon which I can wash or if not possible, wipe clean.

So it’s official. I am a Spoon Washer from today. Care to join me?

Sustainable development should be the mantra for governments world over. Conserving, afforesting, recycling, reusing and reducing – if we don’t remember these actions each and every day it would be too late to undo the damage already done.

Am reminded of the profound Cree Indian prophesy:

“Only when the last tree has been cut down, the last fish been caught, and the last stream poisoned, will we realize we cannot eat money.”

The question is should we wait till that time???
Let’s make each day an Earth Day.
We owe it to posterity, don’t we?


Sometimes one learns valuable lessons in life from the most unexpected quarters and the least expected people.  And such lessons become eye-openers and we start looking at things from a totally new and different perspective.


Last weekend my daughter and I stole some time to spend at the Brookefields Mall at Coimbatore. Since our only agenda was spending some time together and definitely not shopping, we ambled around floor after floor, chatting and doing a lot of window shopping.  We reached the mall after a sumptuous lunch at Shri Annapoorna, a multi-cuisine high class vegetarian restaurant at Avinashi Road and hence even casual snacking was not on cards.

As we sauntered leisurely, we heard a rhythm of beats, different from the usual drums and percussion instruments. We reached in front of the place and found that it was a simple corn kiosk which served flavoured steamed corn. A small crowd stood there waiting for their turn and enjoying the cadence.

The Kiosk serving Corn

The vendor, a young man with a charming smile, was inside dishing out the corn cups and it was while making it that he used the ladle, strumming out a kind of kitchen music. We waited to see him in action and needless to say it was fascinating. As a group carried their corn cups and walked away, we impulsively decided to buy a cup of buttered corn. And as he started his chore, we filmed it.

Later we espied another corn seller in another floor – he had a bored countenance and a lethargic persona. No prizes for guessing – there were no customers for him.

What made one a winner and the other a loser? The winner had an attitude – the right attitude and oodles of optimism. His positive attitude gave him power over his circumstances instead of the other way round. He enjoyed his work so much that it was fun, not chore. He smiled often; it was his attitude and verve that made customers flock to him – even those who had no plans to get the stuff from him. We expressed our deep appreciation for his remarkable way of selling his ware and the difference he made to a seemingly mundane task.

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference” said Winston Churchill. Yes a big, palpable difference this person made was the biggest takeaway for us as we left the mall.