Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Checking In

Hello all. I'm checking in from India (briefly.)

I've had a very nice trip, relaxed, ate good food, chatted with my relatives, saw some monkeys in a tree and a peacock on the street, etc.

I've also tried not to think about environmental matters too much. After all, I'm on VACATION. And after the stress of finishing off my dissertation, I need a little break.

But I can't help it.

See when I got to Bombay, I found that the city has introduced stringent water cuts. Which means that between 11pm and about 5 am almost all water is shut off. And if the city doesn't get more rain in the next couple months, the water cuts could get worse.

Meanwhile in Delhi, there are now more cars on the roads than in Bombay and Chennai combined! Thankfully, work is underway to expand the Delhi metro, but I'm not sure even the metro will do much to stymie the rise of automobiles.

India continues to change. A bus in Delhi proudly claims to be a bus from the largest CNG fleet in the world ... I actually think the buses in LA claim the same thing. There is more awareness about pollution, of environmental matters, of organics.

But at the same time people continue to buy cars. Traffic worsens. Old traditional ways of life are disappearing in favor of "modern" less sustainable methods.

India is a country on a precipice. They can choose: sustainable development or unsustainable. They can choose to make their vast population a problem, or they can choose to make it the most incredible asset by investing in said population.

They can choose to become an epicenter of technology by innovating and designing new clean technologies or they can continue with the same old carbon emitting technologies.

I don't know which way India will choose.

But I know what I hope for.


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Alex said...

I currently live in Beijing and I think that consumers from the west really need to stop and think about what products we buy. When we buy something produced in a developing country we have the power to chose whether we buy products which are made in a sustainable fashion or not. If all consumers in the west did this, companies in India and China etc would be motivated to make their factories cleaner and greener etc. As well-off consumers, an extra 5 cents or even 1 dollar on a product don't make that much difference to us, but it might make the difference to the managers of the factory. We have the power as consumers to encourage the developing world to develop in a sustainable way. I hope we can make it happen but I fear that people are generally too lazy, selfish or ambivalent to bother. I'm glad that blogs like this one and No Impact Man are trying to encourage people to do the right thing. Every little thing counts. Cheers, Alex

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