a unique hour

How many of us do actually switch off lights when we leave a room, never leave our computers or TVs on stand by, segregate our house waste shut the tap off while we brush our teeth, carry a cloth bag during all our shopping sprees, or travel in a car pool. Not many I guess. But are we not also the many who lecture others on all of the above, nod our heads vigorously during any debate on saving the environment and are the first to sign any petition on the same.

Yesterday someone mentioned a recent article predicting that the North Pole would actually melt this summer. His words brought terrible images to mind, yet before this could truly sink in, the conversation that was threatening to become disturbing moved on, as is too often the case, to a lighter vein. Somehow we always tend to push away what has the potential to rock our boat.

Yet the writing is on the wall: global warming is no more a topic to be debated it lies at our doorstep as we have seen this summer in Delhi. True that there was practically no summer this year, no hot searing heat that sweetens the melons and kills the mosquitoes. True again that the rains came early and the temperature remained low. But this is no cause to rejoice as it is a portent of things to come. Nature has been disturbed and no one knows what lies ahead.

Awareness on environmental issues has been something that we at project why have tried to disseminate, and I say tried, as I must confess our attempts have not been successful or maybe not wholehearted enough. Most of our efforts failed as they clashed with mindsets - our children will never clean streets was the answer to our no plastic programme - or social attitudes.

And yet we know that something needs to be done. It is with this in mind that I approached a friend who walks the talk as far as environment issues go. What I sought was a scintillating project that would look good on the pwhy CV! What my friend suggested was quite the contrary. Have every one follow a zero carbon hour, was his quiet suggestion. I was a tad confused as it made no sense to me. He set out to explain his idea. What he meant was that each one of us, collectively or individually, should once a day or once a week spend one hour where we ensure that our carbon footprint is nil. Translated in other terms it means that for that one hour we use no cellphone, no computers, no iPod, no TV, no cars, no electricity, no fuel of any kind. And further translated in practical terms it means that for one hour you just take a walk or sit in a park or in a room weather permitting.

At first it seemed nothing short of preposterous and yet as I pondered over it, it was a overwhelming. A simple idea and yet one that had immense power as not only was it kind to the environment but also good for us individually. A forced meditation pause that would ensure we get off the spinning wheel and reconnect with ourselves. And there was no excuse as it cost nothing, needed no props or training and could be followed by all.

At this moment of time I do not know how this will be accepted by our team. I do foresee obstacles and hurdles but at the same time I know I am going to use all the power I have to see it happen: maybe not an hour to start with but 30 minutes; maybe not everyday to begin with but once a week but we at project why will adopt a zero carbon hour programme.

To be continued...