Listen to a recording of the essay in the student’s own voice
About the author
I study in the 11th class. I am a student of Biology and Mathematics in O.P. Jindal School in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh India. I love the environment and want to make more people aware of the changes taking place in the climate and their harmful effects. I want to make people understand that small things we do, when added up, can cause big problems for human life and can harm our Earth.
About the school
The O.P. Jindal School is dedicated to educational transformation in society. Located in the city of Raigarh in Northern India, the school caters to around 5,600 students. The academic and co-curricular programs are based on the school’s mission principles, designed to foster inter-cultural understanding and world citizenship, environmental stewardship, the value of physical labor, and service to humanity with a willing spirit.
By Mansi, age 17, India
Published 2 March 2020
While India faces diverse environmental challenges from festival fireworks to fossil fuel consumption, it is making solid headway in alternative energy.
The climate of our world is changing through human activities happening all over the world. These changes can be felt not only on a global level but in every region of the world. The changes are often visible at an individual level.
I can see such changes in my own home, Raigarh. This is one of the twenty-seven districts of Chhattisgarh, the tenth largest state of India. The population as per survey of 2018 is 364,000 in Raigarh.
Raigarh has a tropical climate, with average temperatures ranging between 35.7°C in May to 20.7°C in the coldest month, December. The lifeline of the city is the Kelo River, which is a main water source in the city.
The changes felt by me in my city during the past few years are alarming and are a sign that we need to now change our style of doing work and we need to take care of our mother Earth. I have experienced increases of air pollution and changing temperatures in Raigarh.
Enjoyment done by us during festivals by bursting of crackers (fireworks) makes a lot of pollution. Firecrackers (fireworks) are lit up almost at every event which brings happiness in home wether the birth of a child or winning an election, etc.
Bursting crackers increases the level of pollutants in the air, which causes animals and humans to have problems breathing.
PPM – parts per million – is a term used to denote very small amount of concentration of a solution. That is, 1 gram in 1000 mg is 1000ppm, which means that one thousandth of a gram in 1000ml is 1ppm. The concentration of the particulate matter like dust, sulphur, arsenic, etc., increase during festivals due to the bursting of firecrackers (fireworks).
This is one example of pollution an individual causes at his/her level.
But the biggest problem in Raigarh is one that is both taking place and being felt across much of the globe. The production and consumption of energy is a huge contributor to global warming, and the most common forms of energy production have the heaviest impacts.
Worldwide today, 87% of the energy still comes from burning fossil fuels, with oil (33%) widely used in transportation, and coal (30%) and natural gas (24%) widely used to produce electricity. 4% of the world’s energy comes from nuclear energy and 9% from renewable resources, with 7% of that from hydro power and 2% from the sun and the wind.
Oil, coal and gas are the most problematic sources of energy, both because the burning of these fossil fuels injects smokes and CO2 into the atmosphere, and because extracting them from the earth leads to soil and water pollution, permanent changes in land use patterns and emissions into the atmosphere.
In India, 56% of total energy consumption comes from coal. A large part of this coal is used to produce electricity. Today, 76% of India’s electricity is produced from coal. When burning coal to produce electricity, many toxic chemicals and small particles are produced. Among the most problematic is mercury.
Mercury cannot be removed easily from the coal nor from its fumes. When coal is burned, mercury goes in the atmosphere and sooner or later accumulates in the ocean. Most of the mercury found in fish today comes from coal burning. Coal also contains sulphur, which becomes sulphur dioxide in the fumes and has been a major cause of acid rain. In India, coal is not only used in producing electricity but also as cheap fuel for kitchens, which further adds to the air pollution and increase in temperature.
From past few years the temperature of months are changing and becoming hotter especially these are changing during festive times of the year when the wind speed is low, which causes particulate matters to situate in a place causing disturbances in temperature.
Over the last years, temperature and weather conditions have been changing significantly due to global warming. Summer is becoming hotter due to global warming. Rising water levels in oceans lead to flooding in coastal regions in India. India witnessed two major floods – one in Kerala and another in Andhra Pradesh – causing a lot of destruction.
The major cause of this was the change in pattern of soil which is caused due to over-mining. Coal mining or over extraction of minerals increases risk factors for people in following ways:
- Increasing local air pollution which can lead to breathing problems,
- Releasing GHG into the atmosphere which contributes to global warming,
- Increasing the risk of flooding, and
- Making flood impacts even worse through changes to soil.
Alternative energy in India
While India still gets the majority of its energy from coal, it is making real headway in the field of alternative energy. In this area India is now becoming a world leader. While currently only 16% of its electricity comes from hydropower, sun or wind, the alternative energy industry is advancing steadily in India and we can expect production to increase significantly over the coming decades.
Indeed, with the creation of the International Solar Alliance in 2015, India is increasing production of solar electricity at a fast pace, and is now among the four leading countries in the world with China, the US and Japan in terms of adding new solar capacity every year.
The total electricity worldwide coming from solar panels is going up exponentially and is today 1.7% of total electricity produced. With this increase, the actual price of solar electricity has been steadily going down. Today it is cheaper than oil-based electricity and it might well become the cheapest source of electricity overall in the decade to come. However, for it to compete with other sources of electricity at a fair rate, subsides to coal and gas will have to be removed.
The potential alternate for energy which can be developed in India in greater extend is solar energy and hydro energy. India has the world’s third fastest expanding solar power program. In the year 2017 India added a record 9,255 megawatt of solar projects under development.
People are now becoming more aware of the environmental changes and are taking initiative to clean the surroundings by joining Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, or the Clean India Mission, which was launched nation-wide in the year 2014 which aims to clean up the surroundings. People are now doing mass plantation but still the rate of destruction is more than the rate of conservation.
Mahatma Gandhi said “The Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” Changes to our climate can be reduced if we stop our greedy activities, change our habits which are harmful to our Earth and start activities beneficial to climate such as planting lots of trees. Our small activities can save many lives on our beautiful Earth. I want to conclude by saying, by destroying our environment we are not destroying something non-living, we are destroying a part of our body, so please change your attitude before it’s too late.