We have lived in the Stone Age, Iron age, Golden Age. We now live in Garbage.
- Mrs. Mangalam, Founder, Exnora Green Pammal.
June 5, 1972. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), decides to take an initiative to galvanize public action towards maintaining a positive, healthy ecosystem. June 5 is henceforth known as WED – World Environment Day. A day spent every year to remember our environment.
Cut to the present.
June 6, 2015. Alagappa College of Technology. 09.30 AM IST.
The World Environment Day Celebrations, 2015, was conducted by the Engineers Without Borders (EWB) - Chennai Chapter, in association with the Indian Institute of Chemical Engineers (IIChE) - Chennai Regional Centre & Anna University.
The gathering was graced by the presence of the dignitaries:
- Dr. Balasubramanian - Chairman, IIChE - CRC,
- D. Gokul – President, EWB Chennai Chapter,
- K. Sadanand – Country Head, Industrial Water Technology Division, PT Solenis Technologies.
And the guest lecturers:
- G. Sundarrajan, Poovulagin Nanbargal, Chennai,
- Mrs. Mangalam, Founder, Exnora Green Pammal,
- Dr. Murugavel, Founder, Eco Club, Chennai.
The dignitaries and the guest lecturers were all presented with a memento, a basket of fruits and, most importantly, a sapling; the day's speeches were both invigorating and enlightening.
Some of the highlighted points were :
- If a World War III is to be fought, it will be over water.
- Make responsible decisions about whether you want, or need, what you plan to buy.
- The global, and all regional, ecosystems can survive with or without the human species. However, not one human can survive even a single large-scale disturbance of the environment.
- Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
- Human-animal conflicts are becoming commonplace as we wander into their territories in a vain attempt to satisfy our greed.
A few disturbing facts from the speakers of the day:
- Coltan is a mineral mined to make mobile phones. Coltan is obtained from the habitat of the Mountain Gorilla. Long story short – Mountain Gorillas are being slaughtered to make mobile phones with Corning Gorilla Glass. Google it up.
- Every time a highway is built or extended – huge areas of trees vanish. Apparently talks are on to bring a new law to remove all trees around highways to increase visibility. Press the brakes for death by accidents and push the accelerator for deaths by climate change – which include heat waves, droughts, tropical disease, rising sea levels etc.
- We are the first generation in which the parents watch the children succumb to diseases aka cancer, diabetes, hypertension and the likes. The reason – our lifestyle with addictions to alcohol, Android, refrigerators, air-conditioners, junk food etc.
- Virtual water is something which we don’t realise. It is defined as the total volume of water needed to produce and process a commodity or service. It is the amount of water required to procure the raw materials. And that is why; developed countries use the developing countries to acquire raw materials. They safeguard their water resources while draining the developing nation’s waterhold.
- One hour of electricity used in an urban mall, is more than enough to power an entire village for a week.
The most symbolic gesture of the day was when the dignitaries got their own hands dirty to plant a jackfruit sapling in ACTech soil.
Some of the ideas given to the students:
- Plant a couple of trees - at the least, one for you, one for society.
- Technology creates and destroys. Use it wisely to solve the problems of the environment. Nature has equilibrium of its own. Nothing is wasted in Nature. Do not try disturbing it. The effects end up being much larger in magnitude. For instance, local rat populations are kept under control by owls residing in trees. Cut the trees = lose the owls = Rampage of the Rats.
- Accept that Nature is our primary educator. Every single human invention is based on nature only.
- Water is a resource. Not a commodity. It is not created by man to be sold or bought. It is to be used, judicially, by mankind.
- Do not lose your cultural intelligence while gaining technical knowledge. The children of today are learning that zebras and ostriches exist – but they do not know of the existence of endemic species.
Several videos were played to interlace with the speakers. These include a video on Nammazhvar, an advertisement for green homes and a TED Talk by Michael Pitchard (inventor of the LifeSaver).
One of the more positive messages that came across in this congregation was the fact that waste management is an excellent field for entrepreneurship (production of fertilizers, energy, briquettes, upcycling, manure and so on).
Inspired by the speakers, 15 students from various engineering colleges came forward to develop:
- Solar powered vehicles to transport segregated wastes
- A Blue print for a biogas plant
- A case study on briquettes and their application, upon the request of Mrs. Mangalam.
Later, saplings were distributed to the members along with certificates.