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Posts Tagged ‘Solar energy’

Next month, in New York City, the People’s Climate March will take place.  Organizers are hoping that a huge number of people will gather to raise awareness on the impacts of climate change.  There will also be a number of local rallies and marches.

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It does seem that more people are beginning to wake up and understand the impacts of climate change (I’m talking mainly here in the U.S., the epicenter of denial).  And there are many people and organizations around the world looking at solutions that will make a difference.  We as a global society are facing enormous problems, and in the face of droughts, floods, ocean acidification, heat waves and much more, the big picture is overwhelming, to say the least. But perhaps we can take solace in some initiatives underway that represent a chance to improve lives and the environment.

I’ve come across a couple of interesting projects in India that offer hope for the future.

One is a group in Jaipur, Rajasthan that is promoting organic,  roof-top gardens.  The Living Greens is an urban farming company that believes in roof-top gardening as a way to provide food and access to nature in urban areas and decrease food grown in polluted conditions.  Growing your own food is not only one way to provide sustenance, but also to reduce food insecurity.

Jaipur is a city of 3 million people (6 million in the surrounding area), in a very dry state.  Rapid urbanization in cities such as Jaipur is dramatically reducing groundwater levels and possibly even changing the climate and monsoon patterns. In Punjab – home of the Green Revolution – the drop in aquifers is alarming.  The success of projects such as this one by The Living Greens is critical if India and the rest of the world are to satisfactorily cope with a changing climate.

Watch the six minute video here to listen to what the local people have to say on how roof-top gardening is improving their lives:

 

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And then there is this story about bringing decentralized/off-grid electricity to some 400 million Indians who lack access to this necessity. It is especially important to help school children study at night with solar power rather than kerosene, which provides little light and is detrimental to people’s health. Solar, of course, is also a viable alternative to dirty fossil fuels.

The Sierra Club and other groups are doing a lot of work to raise awareness about the crisis of energy poverty in countries such as India and many in Sub-Saharan Africa and finding ways to support a transition to clean energy.

Watch “Harnessing the Sun to Keep the Lights on in India”:

 

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Lastly, I recently came across a story about the first “all-solar village” in Bihar, which is the poorest state in India. Greenpeace India, along with two other NGOs, completed  a solar-powered micro-grid that is bringing desperately needed light and power.

One farmer told Reuters that “Today, children are studying well and women are able to cook late in the evening. Villagers are getting many benefits from this venture, including commercial establishments.”  Another villager, Ranti Devi, a resident in her 70s, said, “We had a lot of problems in the past, but since the lights have been installed in our homes it has been easier for us to cook and for our children to study. We can walk around in the streets at night without any fear,” said.

We have a tough road ahead of us.  It’s encouraging to know that progress is being made that perhaps can change the tide in favor of taking action on climate change and also improve lives and protect the planet.

 

 

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Yesterday was the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day!  I spent my evening listening to some incredible and inspiring speakers talk about women taking charge of their lives, from India to Cambodia to Oakland, CA.  There is much to be hopeful about all around the planet.

Earlier in the day I came across a story about the Barefoot College in Rajasthan, India.  It is said to be the only college fully powered by solar energy.  This makes complete sense; it’s Rajasthan after all, where the sun shines practically all year.  According to the article I read, it is also the only college training illiterate rural women from remote villages from all over the world.  Through a combination of sight, sound and color, these women have become solar engineers and have solar electrified their own villages.  And the college supports other sustainability projects in addition to solar.

Over 190 grandmothers between the ages 40 and 60 have brought solar electricity to  nearly 11,000 houses in over 100 villages spread over 28 countries, saving nearly 1.3 million liters of kerosene from being used as lighting (thereby reducing pollution and improving health).

Watch a great video that originally aired on CNN on how the school brings in women from around the world to learn about solar projects.

In 2009 the Sierra Club recognized the Barefoot College, led by social entrepreneur Bunker Roy, for applying practical, traditional knowledge and community-owned sustainable technology to reach the desert state’s poorest residents.  He brings women from many countries to be trained at his college.  Why women?  In Roy’s opinion, men are more untrainable, restless, and are more apt to leave the village for work in the city.  By training women, especially mature and “gutsy” women, the village and community benefits.  It’s a bottom-up solution that works.  Maybe we should send some (most?) of our congressional officials to this school to learn about the real world, before they gut the U.S. foreign aid budget and programs that support organizations such as this.  I don’t know if the Barefoot College has ever received U.S. funds, but it represents the type of initiative that we need more of in the world.

I’ll stop before I get off on a tangent lamenting pitiful U.S. support for international aid and projects.  I’m just glad that there are people in the world with ideas and visions that are making our world better.  This is just one of many projects focusing on empowering women, which I believe is key to improving our communities and environment.

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