Be the Climate Change you Wish to See
HYDERABAD: Three Hyderabadis have come back from the icy continent of Antarctica not just with incredible travel tales, but with lessons of life too, especially on climate change. “Although all of us are from Hyderabad, we met at Argentina airport on our way to Antarctica. While we did feel seasick on the cruise, we must say we never felt homesick. C’mon, we were three Hyderabadis in a group of 140 from 30 countries. Hurrah to that,” say the three youngsters from the city. Aarati Rao, an engineer turned social intrapreneur, Vyshali Sagar who works with Google and Pradeep Karuturi, a techie-turned-teacher. The three have been part of International Antarctica Expedition (IAE) 2016’s ‘Leadership on the Edge’ programme along with 137 delegates from across the world.
The team took elaborate sessions onboard about glacieology, penguins, melting of ice. “Antarctica is a beautiful metaphor for the world. What happens here can happen anywhere,” say Vyshali and Aarati.
Aarati adds she has had a multi-cultural work experience of having worked in four developing nations China, Colombia and Ecuador including India. “I have imbibed a global outlook towards issues and strife to bring about positive local changes at the grassroots level to tackle them,” says the daughter of a retired Colonel who studied in seven schools across India before settling down in the city.
“I had worked with several organisations throughout college and school that include IYCN (Indian Youth climate Network) and Make a Difference. Before leaving for Antarctica, I was on a fellowship programme where I was running a solar-powered, internet-enabled, e-learning space amidst the Himalayas for kids from rural Ladakh. I was building a curriculum on sustainability to teach kids how they can save the environment,” Aarati explains.
The expeditions, she says, has taught her that every person has the capability to change the world. “Since my return, I am on a mission to spread more sustainable classrooms all over rural and urban India and to set up more E-bases around the world for children to learn about how their every conscious decision can help save the environment and also how they can choose more green careers that can help them do the same when they grow up.”
“My biggest takeaway from the expedition has been a deeper understanding of climate change and the amazingly diverse network of individuals from all around the globe to magnify the impact that we choose to create. The leadership programme itself helped me gain a deeper understanding about myself and how i can hone my personal leadership skills,” she adds.
Vyshali Sagar, a Bachelors in Management Studies from St.Francis College for Women, Begumpet, and currently with Google, says she was associated with Make A Difference foundation which mobilises young leaders to ensure equitable outcomes for underprivileged children in shelters across India. She was selected to study entrepreneurship through Jagriti Yatra; a 15-day long train journey that traverses 8,000 kms across the length and breadth of India in order to understand smaller towns and villages and build India through enterprise
“As a Googlersgive Ambassador for India, I manage strategic relationships with 10 Indian non-profits and increase employee engagement and giving. She has been part of International Antarctica Expedition in 2016 to be a Global Climate Change Ambassador.
Jagriti Yatra helped her make friends in every state in India and thanks to Antarctica Expedition now in 2016. Her takeaway, as as she puts it, “This is an expedition to learn about environment and educate as many as possible and thereby empower them to experience the reality of climate change by various ways of entrepreneurship.”
“We have heard and read about climate change, Chennai floods etc. But it was at the Neko Harbour (an inlet on the Antarctic Peninsula) that we witnessed the consequences of mindless destruction of nature. We were watching a glacier melting. The water was rapidly melting and before could utter climate, a humongous chunk of ice as big as a house fell into the water. It was like black for the next 20 minutes and we were told that the thud was heard ten miles away too.”
“We still remember how Neko looked like an oil painting at 6 am. Just picture perfect and before we knew it, we say the ice berg blast. It hit us instantly that nature is the real super power and we are little speck in front of it. It was the evil side of climate change at close quarters, so to speak,” adds Pradeep.
Pradeep Karuturi, 23, currently a volunteer with Raasta, an NGO which is into rural empowerment through environment, reduction of carbon footprint and organic farming, says that he has been a non-veggie, but the new lessons on carbon footprint has convinced him not just to turn into a vegetarian but a vegan “ Eating local food is good for the environment. When I eat a non-local bird or animal, I am burning carbon (during its transport and transit). Each of these add to the pollution of the environment,”
Just as one can offset bad karma through punya (piety), one can try carbon offset plans to compensate for the pollution one has caused. “By planting trees or buying rain forests. Based on my lifestyle, the environmentalists calculated my carbon footprint as 5 tons. So I will have to spend over 50 dollars to annul the pollution I have created,” he explains. StandForTrees is one organisation through which one can buy carbon offsets.