EcoUniv delivered a special lecture on sustainability to college students and faculty from various disciplines at Tilak Maharashtra Vidyapeeth, a renowned University in Pune, on August 28, 2017.
Aniket’s talk was about the threat to our natural ecosystems like rivers and lakes due to discharge of toxic chemicals, the chemicals that are a part of products in our daily use, and the negative impact these chemicals have on our health and the environment.
Yogesh introduced the students to concepts like carbon footprint, ecological footprint, land use change, bio-environmental limits, sustainability and the various facets of sustainablity.
We also announced our mentoring program for students interested in green careers and green entrepreneurship. If you are a student and are interested in this, email us at connect AT ecouniv.in
Aniket Motale conducted an introductory session on Toxin Free Lifestyle at the renowned Yoga institute, Niramaya Yoga Chikitsa Kendra in Pune on August 27, 2017.
Aniket talked about the threat to our natural ecosystems like rivers and lakes due to discharge of toxic chemicals, the chemicals that are a part of products in our daily use, and the negative impact these chemicals have on our health and the environment. He also presented natural alternatives for several such consumer products.
by Yogesh Pathak
We know Darwin for his work on evolution. But he also spent a significant amount of time analyzing the soil in his fields, the role of worms in the recycling of soil, and estimating how much soil formed in the British countryside every year. “dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations”, written by geomorphologist David Montgomery, starts by noting Darwin’s intriguing observations on soil. The book highlights the central role occupied by soil in the sustenance of human cultures.
The study of soil is the study of geology, rainfall and climate, agriculture, irrigation, and human land use. The author describes the role played by soil in the growth and decay of ancient cultures like Egypt, Mesopotamia, Rome, Mayans, and China. He observes that most cultures have lived harvest-to-harvest with little hedge against crop failure. Our population expanded or got squeezed in tandem with agricultural surpluses.
During the colonial era, Europeans outsourced food production as they built industrial economies. The author describes the interesting history of tobacco farming in USA and how the soil was getting degraded fast. Edmund Ruffin’s practices to improve soil fertility saved American agriculture. The book mentions the interesting history of guano as a soil nutrient and competition among nations for this strategic resource. In India, we know the role played by hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides in improving yields (the “green revolution”) while we dealt with an exploding population. There is a pattern here: When faced with the crisis of unproductive soil, nations look for short-term solutions based on resource grab or technology.
But in the end, we continue to be vulnerable to the gradually accumulating effects of soil degradation. Organic farming is making a comeback as a response to this. Soil needs to be seen as an “ecological system where microbes provide a living bridge from soil humus to living plants”. Urban farming also needs to be encouraged.
The book makes an interesting read for anyone looking for a deeper dive in the history of soil and agriculture.
(This review was originally published in the Newsletter of the Ecological Society)
by Yogesh Pathak
As we know, the environmental crisis is a multi-faceted monster. Chief among these is the food crisis, which has come to the center stage in the last 10 years. Its many aspects include the sheer quantity of food needed to feed the growing global population, malnutrition, unequal distribution of resources, changing land use, toxic-laden food due to fertilizers, pesticides, and preservatives, GM food, persistent rise in food prices (partly due to biofuels), falling yields, and the decline in the quality of soil.
‘Feeding Frenzy’ by Paul McMahon is among the first “post crisis” books on the topic. Published in 2013 by Profile Books, it traces the history of the global food system and dissects the causes of the current turmoil. The author raises key questions like: Can we feed a population of 9 billion by 2050? Do we have enough land and water? Will free markets really help in solving the problem?
Governments and industry are reacting by banning food exports, controlling supply chains, and buying large farmland in African countries for contract farming. Many of these are knee-jerk reactions. Poor countries will be the ones to suffer most as their dependence on imports will increase. e.g. A “nightmare scenario” similar to 1840s Ireland could be waiting for Africa.
The final chapter, ‘Better Ways to Feed the World’, lists solutions coming out of the author’s analysis: Helping smaller farmers and poor countries to grow more food (self-sufficiency), putting ecology at the center of food production, making financial markets solve rather than aggravate the problem of food pricing and availability, adapting to higher food prices (here the author presents good contrarian thinking), and accepting biofuels as a norm and regulating that industry. This last solution is something that does not make complete sense to us if we adhere to the holistic perspective for sustainability. We believe the world needs to reduce its aggregate consumption of energy. Precious land and water should be used to grow food and restore ecosystems, not for biofuel crops.
The book has a global perspective and offers insightful country-specific examples. It is an engaging read for anyone interested in the topic.
(This review was earlier published in the Newsletter of the Ecological Society, Pune)
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