MEET British writer and environmentalist Jonathon Porritt feels that generating more renewable sources of energy will help creating a sustainable world
“People don’t seem to know what a sustainable world looks like in practice,” says British writer and environmentalist Jonathon Porritt. “I’ll show you what it does look like,” he says flipping open a copy of his latest book titled, The World We Made , which was released in October this year.
Pointing to a photograph of a slum in Lagos equipped with solar panels he says: “People who have access to renewable sources of energy are liberated and can do far more.” The book which is narrated in the voice of a fictional character called Alex McKay offers a glimpse into the world of the future — “a world characterised by better, cleaner technology and more holistic economic growth.” With most of my other books, I start from the present and write about what will happen in the next five, ten years. And it’s a bit gloomy because things are going to get worse before they get better. “This time I thought I’d change all that. Here, I look back from 2050, showing how we did make a difference by creating a better, just, more sustainable world. And it is hugely liberating.”
Jonathon is certainly striving hard to create that sustainable world. He has been an active member of the Green Party since the early 70s and was instrumental in expanding its membership and bringing about tremendous change. “Though I am no longer politically active, I am still a member of the Green Party. I wouldn’t be a member of any other part, it is the only party that tells the truth and doesn’t shy away from addressing controversial issues. I know it is a problem for most politicians but someone needs to tell people that you cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet.”
And this is perhaps why he firmly believes that one needs to have a mechanism in place to check population growth. “The huge population explosion is going to be a problem in India. It will affect the distribution of wealth and resources and inhibit the creation of a healthy functioning environment. Take water for instance, so many people are living under conditions of huge water stress today. Having fewer children will ensure optimal utilization of resources. I know that culturally people think that every child is a gift from God, but I don’t think you need to have so many gifts,” he says.
Generating more renewable sources of energy will also help greatly in creating a sustainable world. He says: “The cost of renewable energy is falling all the time. India is blessed with renewable energy resources — solar, wind, hydra, and biomass. All of these sources can change people’s lives, especially the people in rural India who are not connected to the grid at the moment. It’s just not about green house gases and emission, it’s also about increased social justice. It is about people’s livelihood, protecting their future and making energy available for all.”
Nuclear energy is not something that he advocates, however, “Policy makers seem more interested in nuclear power than renewable energy. I don’t think nuclear energy is as clean as people make out to be, because of the waste that it creates. It really worries me. We are getting enthusiastic about nuclear power without waste solutions. There are very ambitious plans for nuclear energy in India. I would rather people channel that enthusiasm into renewable energy,” he says.