Haphazard infrastructure creation in a tectonically active region, add to it an erratic, forceful monsoon, and what do you have: Flash floods and landslides of an unprecedented scale, as recently witnessed in the hill states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. Is this a climate crisis playing out?
Cut to Europe, which recently reeled under a heatwave. Italy had temperatures you’d usually associate with a New Delhi summer, in the 45 degree vicinity. And prolonged spells of hot weather were witnessed in southern and eastern Europe, from France and Spain to Poland and Greece. Is this a climate crisis playing out?
The US’ geography has made it a regular target for everything from tornadoes and hurricanes to wildfires and ice storms. Is climate change increasing the intensity and frequency of these extreme weather incidents?
The year 2023 has also seen record severe wildfires, from Greece to Canada, and Chile to Australia, burning tens of thousands of acres. Is climate change creating the adverse weather conditions that makes it easier for wildfires to spread?
It may not be fair to directly attribute climate change to an extreme weather event. Yet, humans compound these events into disasters with ill-planned development coupled with often mindless burning of fossil fuels. And it’s the resultant long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns that are worsening America’s tornadoes, Australia’s wildfires, Europe’s heatwaves and Himachal’s flash floods.
So how does the world alleviate the impact of climate change? Perhaps a more mindful human being could help. And, alongside, innovations aimed at ensuring that the planet doesn’t get warmer than it already is.
This fortnight in our Climate Special, Forbes India shines an eco-friendly light on ventures that are doing their bit to reduce emissions and address the impacts of climate change. On the cover are founders/co-founders of three of the startups Divya Shekhar has profiled that are seeking to make significant environmental and social impact.
Shrikumar Suryanarayan is the co-founder and chairman of a Bengaluru-based startup that’s farming the ocean in the quest for a replacement to crude oil. Sea6 Energy is developing a large-scale sustainable alternative feedstock of seaweed that “can potentially replace everything that we do today with crude oil”.
Then there’s Kushagra Srivastava who, when at IIT-Delhi, registered a company called Chakr Innovation to reduce emissions that contribute to air pollution. Result? The Chakr Shield, a patented technology that Srivastava declares is the world’s first retro-fit emission-control device and that, he claims, captures over 70 percent particulate matter emissions from the exhaust of diesel generators.
The third innovator on the cover is Mainak Chakraborty, one of the founders of GPS Renewables, which may be running Asia’s largest bioCNG plant in Indore, among 100 other captive biogas units. Sea6, Chakr and GPS are three of the six climate-tech ventures Divya has profiled. The good news, she says, is that climate-tech is rapidly maturing as an asset class for investors, and such startups are attracting meaningful funding.
Innovation and funding alone, though, won’t be enough to rein in the effects of climate change. Citizens, too, will need to be the agents of change. For that, they need to, to begin with, understand the problem, and equip themselves with the knowledge and skills to deal with it. In ‘A Study In Grey’ Anubhuti Matta asks whether the current education system is adequate for an education on climate change. The answer to that may just be blowing in the high-speed cyclonic winds.