Know your role, do your bit

Whistleblowers Al Gore (Below) Alok Bhattacharya

Whistleblowers Al Gore (Below) Alok Bhattacharya  

BOOKMARK Alok Bhattacharya’s “Global Warming” can be a layman’s guide on climate change

The poor countries will need the help of richer countries to tame global warming

Global warming has long been considered a First World specialist subject. Well, current knowledge and the urgency of the situation tell us that it is as much a scholarly subject in a rich country as that of a layman’s in the Third World. As a citizen of this world, as a user of its resources in everyday life, common people automatically become an interested party in the betterment of nature. Faltering in playing the role of its custodian can make us a contributor, however small, to global warming.

Delhiite Alok Bhattacharya’s recently published book, “Global Warming” drives home this point quite prolifically. Bhattacharya is no expert on global warming. What has drawn him to it is his “active interest in burning social issues”. He explains, “I understand that global warming can’t be solved completely by the common man, it has to be solved at the political level, by the highest decision makers. The poor countries will need the help of richer countries to tame it. But as a common man, we need to know where lies the problem, its history, and also, how we can do our bit, however small it might be, to make the world a better place to live.” This, he states, is the essence of his book, published by Rupa.

Sixty-six-year-old Bhattacharya says the book is the result of his observation of life around him, his readings in the media and other available knowledge on the subject. “As a student from a poor developing country in the developed world (read Canada) during the late ’60s, I used to feel a degree of discontent at their level of prosperity. I began to take notes on these discrepancies. Even after returning to India, the habit continued. And after 40 years of taking notes, I thought of compiling a book with it, though initially, I was not too clear whether I will be able to pull it off,” states this alumnus of Montreal’s McGrill University. His notes began to make sense sometime in 2006, he says, “when Al Gore was making noise about global warming.” He then felt, “that everything is not well there too.”

Improving farm sector

Divided into seven chapters, the book dedicates the last one on solutions. In it, he points out, “The railways is the most eco-friendly means of transport.” Also, “we should think of slaughtering our surplus cattle to reduce methane emission.” He underlines the importance of improving our farm sector and our forest cover. “It is heartening to see that our Government is planning to undertake a massive afforestation programme with the aim of greening six million hectares of degraded forest land,” he comments.

Bhattacharya also talks of Cool Earth, a scheme set up by British MP Frank Field with an entrepreneur, Johan Eliasch, which secures forests in local trusts and watches it round the clock to keep carbon where it belongs. “It charges 170 pounds per hectare to protect the forests, which works out to 0.27 pounds per tonne, it is a very cost effective way to guard the forests,” says the author.

A man of many interests, Bhattacharya’s next book will be a travelogue. “While I was young, I hitchhiked across the world for about a year. The book will be about those travels and will come out in March-April,” he says. For this book too, he is reverting to his notes taken years ago.


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