Your happiness is costing the planet: Environmental activist

However, by depending less on energy we can save our planet and ourselves from extinction, says Solanki.

Published: 05th April 2022 07:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 05th April 2022 07:00 AM   |  A+A-

Chetan Singh Solanki, aka Solar Gandhi, with his bus | A Sanesh

Express News Service

KOCHI: “How are you?” — were the first words spoken by Chetan Singh Solanki,  a professor at IIT-Bombay and brand ambassador of Madhya Pradesh’s solar energy initiative, during his speech at Cusat, Kochi. Solanki, who is in Kerala as part of the Energy Swaraj Yatra on behalf of his Energy Swaraj Foundation, wasn’t looking to hear “I am fine” as the answer. The reply he was looking for was “I am happy”. 

“But are you? Also, is your actions to achieve happiness coming at the cost of the Earth,” asks Solanki next. His aim, with this journey, is to bring energy literacy to over 100 crore people and encourage more than one crore families to switch to 100 per cent solar energy. 

“People buy things like cars, refrigerators, ACs, geysers and other gadgets hoping they will fetch them happiness. These require energy from fossil fuels and increase the carbon footprint in the atmosphere,” he says. “This, in turn, is posing a threat to the existence of human beings,” he added. 

According to him, we are running out of time, and if steps are not taken immediately, the situation will soon hit a point of no return. Solanki, who began his yatra in 2020, has covered eight states till now.

“Kerala is the ninth. After Kochi, I will be visiting Kottayam, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram before moving to Kanyakumari,” he said. 

The professor, who has four US patents in his kitty, said he will be travelling and living on his bus for 11 years to spread awareness on switching to sustainable forms of energy. “My vision isn’t limited to India alone. I want to create Energy Swaraj across the world,” he says.

In 2019, Solanki had travelled 30 countries to cultivate dialogues on solar energy. According to him, the rate at which people are pumping out carbon dioxide is not good for the planet. “Do you know that a kilo of CO2 takes 300 years to decay? On average, a single household produces around 600kg of CO2 per month. Now do the math. Our planet is getting sicker by the day,“ he adds. 

However, by depending less on energy we can save our planet and ourselves from extinction, says Solanki. According to him, we have to keep the increase in atmospheric temperature below 1.5 degrees celsius. “But we have very less time for this. In seven years, the temperature will breach the 1.5 degrees Celsius mark,” he added. If this happens, climate change will become irreversible, he warns.

According to him, even with 1 degree Celsius change, calamities have been unleashed around the globe in the form of forest fires, heatwaves and rising sea levels.

“The planet can only afford 300 billion tonnes of carbon emission, but we are already emitting 10,000 tonnes of carbon per second — 41 billion tonnes per year. As per this projection, the planet has a little over six years before it is damaged irreversibly,” he says. But even as he promotes solar energy as an alternative source of energy, he says even that cannot be overused. “The mantra is to avoid the use of energy as much as possible. I have removed fridge, geyser, microwave oven and other gadgets that aren’t necessary for my existence from my home,” he says.

According to him, the ratio of the AMG rule should be 1/3:1/3:1/3. “The solar revolution will happen only if every individual will decide to adopt this form of energy. Joining the grid is not the answer. Individual effort is what will make the difference,” he added.


Chetan Singh Solanki is planning to spend the next decade or so on his bus, which is entirely powered by Solar energy. He reached the Cochin University of Science and Technology in Kochi on Monday as part of the awareness campaign.


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