Tune in to the trying tales of climate change

Keeping in constant touch with the topic, the script is written by both Benisha and Karthik and the episodes are recorded and edited at Benisha’s house.
Tune in to the trying tales of climate change

CHENNAI : A cyclone every year, scorching heat waves, unseasonal rains, a dip in groundwater level — climate change’s effects on the world is evident. While it has been spoken about, and measures are being advised to curb it, there is one area of climate change that remains unexplored — what it does at the grassroots level of society and how this impacts the livelihoods of people. Karthik G and Benisha BM, two eco-social activists and members of the Chennai Climate Action Group (CCAG), have taken this as the topic of their podcast, Aram Thinai (meaning, ethical landforms in Tamil) to create awareness among people. Launched on May 10, the podcast aims to communicate to the public about the connection between climate crisis and economic inequalities and to discuss mitigations people make to keep their livelihoods resilient.

“Communicating on this aspect of climate change is the need of the hour and podcasts are a go-to medium to reach out to more people and give a better direction to work on this issue. Aram Thinai will be a bi-monthly podcast, releasing one episode every two weeks for 15-16 minutes each,” says Benisha, who predominantly works on pollution-impacted communities and how gender, castes, and class of people make them experience climate change differently in their lives. The topic for the first episode was localised climate resilience, which is a pathway for climate action based on the local landscape, community needs of the local livelihoods, their local wisdom about the natural resources found there, and how all this is related to the growth of the local economy.

Keeping in constant touch with the topic, the script is written by both Benisha and Karthik and the episodes are recorded and edited at Benisha’s house. “The jingles were composed by our friend, Sound Mani who plays more than 50 traditional instruments to give a flavour of an announcement on something important,” she adds.

Choosing the spotlight

The duo comes from different educational backgrounds. While Benisha is an architect, Karthik is an NIT graduate who is working in the Tamil Nadu Organic Agricultural Collective promoting organic farming. During their college days, they began working on climate change initiatives, and found what they had studied in school was different from what happens at the grassroots level. “Initially, we had to unlearn a lot of things and learnt many new things about our environment and how different stratas of our society are being impacted in different ranges,” says Benisha, while Karthik explains, “There is a lot of information on how climate change is impacting the Amazon forests, ice caps melting in Antarctica, heat waves, etc. But there is not much data about how the livelihoods of people and their lifestyles are related to climate change. So, to bring focus on this, we both travelled across Tamil Nadu and met many farmers, handicraft artisans, fisher persons, forest dwellers, and tribal communities.”

Little changes in the climate can create big impacts. This year, the winds during the flowering months such as January and February had caused a lot of flowers from the mango trees to fall off, resulting in a lesser yield of mangoes in Tamil Nadu. Unseasonal rain during the harvest season in January in Thiruvallur district led to the destruction of crops. “It was not rain that could cause flooding for a week, but a small rain at the wrong time,” notes Karthik. “Our upcoming episodes will share many grassroots stories from different livelihoods. It will be carried out in a conversational way where each of us will take turns to question each other and explain with our nuanced perspectives,” he adds.

There is no single solution to climate change; by giving a direction towards attaining a solution with a shift in perspective towards those who are the most vulnerable because of climate change, will make people know what it is doing in our daily lives. The duo believes that there is a lack of human resources to work on climate change issues, and they need a lot of people to come forward and join initiatives on environmental degradation, and climate change and contribute by doing something they can on this issue. “Consuming consciously and asking questions like, what is behind this activity? Does this act cause any harm to the environment? Where did this product come from? Is it really benefiting the producer or are the middlemen benefiting more?, can make us aware of what is happening to our environment,” signs off Benisha.

‘Aram Thinai’ is available on Spotify.

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The New Indian Express