The Climate Solution by Mridula Ramesh-Review

Title: The Climate Solution

Author: Mridula Ramesh

Publisher: Hachette India

Pages: 295

Price: 550

Not just India, the whole world is facing drastic climatic changes. But this issue has assumed alarming proportions in India and is worsening rapidly. Mridula Ramesh has tried to stem the rot by analysing the whole phenomenon of climate change and provided solutions that need to be implemented forthwith to put mockers on the declining scenario.

Supercharging India’s innovation ecosystem and getting start-ups to focus on climate resilience is one of the strongest weapons in our arsenal. If we crack this puzzle, with luck, we might even thrive in the coming decades. The protection and management of our common goods-waste, water, air-have all been thus far the realm of the government or development organizations. There are valid arguments to be made for why we should consider opening them up carefully to competitive forces.

Mridula suggests that we must use every weapon in our armoury, including market forces, to combat the climate change. She finds start-ups to be highly impactful tools in building climate resilience-whether among small farmers, or in strengthening our cities, creating carbon-neutral sources of energy, creating water out of these start-ups makes the author wonder if a 1991-liberalization style moment awaits India if we open our agricultural and waste markets to competitive forces.

One might find it difficult at first to discuss vegan food and its relation to climate, but a deeper look will make the readers see the link: The sister of water is food (bhojanam bhagininam asti salil) and we will understand why a vegan diet is the most climate-friendly way to eat.

Today, for meat and milk lovers, it’s easier than ever to go vegan. There is soy milk, almond milk, and there are several meat substitutes in the market many of which are indistinguishable from the real thing. Going vegan is one of the steps to maintaining the climate-equilibrium.

While decanting upon practical solutions, Mridula’s foremost emphasis is on water. She talks of literally creating water out of thin air. Companies such as Watergen, Waterseer or Uravu Labs capture ambient moisture, condense it and then release it as clean water to drink. Many are powered by solar modules, making them ideally suited for decentralized applications. Combine this technology with an ATM-like front-end, and the franchise model of Sarvajal looks like a winning proposition.

The author also exhorts people to be more enterprising and open to innovations. Digging Johads (Rajasthani Hindi word for man-made ponds or water-craters) for rainwater-harvesting brought about remarkable benefits to the people of barren Rajasthan where heat and water scarcity go hand in hand. In the words of Rajendra Singh, who began digging Johads in 1985 along with a few like-minded individuals, “The maximum temperature of Alwar (Rajasthan, now a part of NCR and lies between Jaipur and Delhi) used to touch 49 degree Celsius before we started our work. Now it doesn’t go beyond 46 degree Celsius.”

Here some elaboration is required: The water from the borewells in Alwar is often contaminated with fluorides or other salts, making the water from the Johad the preferred source. Maximum temperatures going down in a warming world can there be a better treatment to the power of adaptation and entrepreneurship?

For the record, by 2010, more than a thousand villages built or repaired over 8,600 small and big Johads, covering an area of 6,500 sq. km. And more seasonal rivulets blossomed into full-grown rivers. Along with governmental endeavours, which often remain stuck in red-tapism and bureaucracy, collective mass mobilization in the direction of conservation of water and eco-system may bring about the desired results.

The author has given pragmatic solutions and workable probabilities to conserve energy, water and other components that constitute climate and maintain eco-system. The book contains a description of the consequences of climate change and methods of meeting the challenge of higher temperature, uncertain precipitation and sea-level rise. These solutions have a feasible ring to them and are not based on mere ideation. The author has cogitated over them, studied their feasibility and then propounded them as measures and not as something hypothetical. Statistical data and references lend credibility to her research and make her task reliable.

Every chapter begins with one or two apposite quotes that stoke the interest and increase the readability quotient of the book. The author’s erudition is unquestionable and her credentials are unimpeachable. All said and done, this is again a book for specialised readers and not exactly for the common ones. The statistical overdose regularly interrupts the flow. Yet, it’s almost a Bible for the conservationists. The solutions, if implemented in earnest, are bound to yield positive results and bring back the climate
of yore.

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