Staff Reporter

Change and Climate Change, grand themes of the day

CHENNAI: The string of activities which happened in the city on World Environment Day on Friday would have left many grassroots environmental activists, who try to reach out and create awareness all through the year, green with envy. Most of the programmes specifically targeted the young, and the future ‘torchbearers’ were asked to undo the past by taking small local initiatives on their own. Change and Climate Change were the grand themes of the day.

This year’s earth day celebrations started on a campus from where other planets are observed. An environment mela jointly organised at the Periyar Science and Technology campus by The Energy Research Institute (TERI) brought together environmental groups in the city and children studying in classes 6 to 9 from various schools.

After introductory speeches by guest speakers, the floor was opened to the younger lot. A group of International Climate Champions, which is an initiative of the British Council to create youth modules to spread awareness, performed a mime skit stressing the harmful effects of plastics on the environment. It was followed by individual audio-visual demonstrations about various aspects of environmental degradation and simple strategies which can be adopted to decrease the impact that our lifestyle has on the environment. Vikas Madhav, a fifth grader at Shishya School, gave a presentation on environmental degradation and its impact on migratory birds. The environmental movement has always relied upon the young to reach out.

“They have the ability to throw a new perspective,” said Kartar Singh, South India Deputy Director of the British Council.

“I feel very guilty after the presentations. I just realised I’ve committed myself to an irresponsible lifestyle all this while. There is a climate champion lurking inside all of us. We just have to look within,” he said.

The young school students who attended the event found the experience rewarding and the message thought- provoking.

“It was illuminating and enriching. Instead of just lectures which bore us to death, the way of presenting the whole thing was novel. Though I knew about most of the topics which were discussed, the inspiring messages from people who belong to my own generation made me think. I actually want to go out and do something now,” said Udith Krishnan, a 9th standard student of Bala Vidhya Mandir.

But there were dissenting voices, too. “You cannot forget the environment every other day of the year. There is usually no follow-up. We need to make every day a World Environment Day. Most earth day events are just exercises by the corporate world to assuage its guilt for destroying the environment the rest of the year,” said Sekhar Raghavan, environmentalist and Ashoka Fellow.

Other events

Meanwhile, a message board was placed in the atrium of Chennai Citi Center by Nippon Paints providing a platform for the public to share their thoughts. Nina Reddy, Executive Director, Savera Hotels, said, after writing her thoughts on the board: “In times of recession, going green makes business sense. Reducing power consumption has economic incentives.”

Sheraton Park organised an event titled ‘Wealth from Waste’ which featured a fashion show in which employees walked the ramp wearing clothes designed from used upholstery, curtains and other reused material.

“The show features designer waste,” quipped D.C. Sunderraj, Fabric Care and Health Club manager.“The whole event is about the need to reuse and recycle,” he said.