Reflections on Earth day – how our life changed in last few decades and its cost on environment.
Yes, you heard it right; there was a time when electricity had no use and I stand witness to this. I do understand that this is something that Millennials & Gen Z can neither relate to nor believe it to be true. After all, life today revolves around electronic gadgets and none would work if there was no power.
Flashback to 1975
I was growing up in a remote part of India when electricity reached our village but no one in the entire village was apparently excited about it. It may surprise many of the current generation that we had nothing that could be run on electricity. Back then, the life was very simple & rudimentary with every village being a self-sustaining entity.
The village was much beyond subsistence economy and each household in the community was economically sound. Almost all things required were produced in village itself; barring salt and tea. All grains, lentils, vegetables were grown and stored for the use for the complete year. Each house had milch animals and cultivation was done with oxen and water requirement was met with hand pumps and open wells. Milling of grains was done in water-mills. So no one exactly knew what to do with this electricity. These guys did not even need a bulb because they would go to sleep as soon it was dark.
Garbage & Waste
There was nothing called waste and garbage – everything was composted as manure. Only in town/city one would see something called waste in form of garbage dumps; in village everything was recycled to use. Circular economy and waste management being advocated today was an age-old practice back then.
Then came so called development
This was the time when the machines were making inroads in rural India too. Green revolution brought us plenty of money which triggered socio-economic changes in our lifestyle. We became exposed to various machines be it for agriculture or for households. These machines over a period of time became necessity and now life cannot be imagined without them e.g. it is impossible to carry out agriculture activities without a tractor and allied machinery. Green revolution also introduced us to chemical fertilisers and excessive use of underground water. Now each house has at least two motor bikes (few have cars as well), fans, coolers, ACs, refrigerators, televisions, water pumps – name a thing and it is indispensable now.
We changed for worse
And lo and behold, in no time each one of us transited from net zero to spewing almost 2 tons of CO2 every year. Climate did not change….we did !!!