‘I visited Jaisalmer in April, Shimla in May and Cherrapunji too. I am no traveler; this is just Bengaluru over the last four weeks.’
– Anonymous Instagram user
At first, this Instagram post made me laugh, but this cold truth put me to thought. In Bengaluru, May is a summer month, and like every year I expected a 34-35 C heat, instead I witnessed two weeks of intense rains that flooded many parts of Bengaluru. Furthermore, 10th May was recorded as the coldest day in the city over last 30 years. I didn’t know if I needed a sweater or an umbrella. In a span of four weeks, my city witnessed heatwaves, extreme rainfall, flash floods, and extreme temperature changes. This is exactly what the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report warned us -- India will see an increase in extreme events, in the form of erratic floods, cyclonic depressions, heatwaves and more. This threat lingers not just in Bengaluru, but in many cities like Chennai, Delhi, Pune, and Kolkata.
The sixth assessment report of the IPCC clearly states what needs to be done to minimise and avoid the impacts globally, but as a researcher working in the space, I have also wondered how we can fight this in our own homes and within our own capacities. That is when I came upon a visualisation (see fig.1) developed by Slow Factory Foundation that perfectly answers this.
This visualisation spotlights how one can fundamentally transform from a state of inaction to action. Many of us are often stuck in our comfort or fear zone, where we either don’t care about the crisis, or we ‘pose’ to care about it without sufficient action – such as sharing a Facebook post on World Water Day and not worrying about it for the rest of the year. However, fighting the climate crisis mandates us to move into a learning and growth zone, where we are actively aware of the current climate impacts and commit to sustainable choices, like eating local diet, wearing sustainable clothing, and choosing public transport over cars and motorcycles. In addition to the global efforts taken by national governments to reduce carbon emissions, these changes at an individual level are equally important and critical, to save the planet.
Hence, ahead of this World Environment Day, I intend to remind all of us that we have only one planet, only one India and only one Bengaluru. To protect our cities and our homes, it is imperative to bring about transformative actions both personally and professionally. So where do you see yourself in this spectrum of transition – fear zone or growth zone?