Climate Change panelists during Delphique'09 at MDI, Gurgaon
(L to R: Gopal Krishna, Sudhirendar Sharma, Kuldeep Ratnoo, Milap Sharma)
At a time when the whole world is repeatedly warned of dangers of climate change, the students of Management Development Institute (MDI) Gurgaon, the premier management institute of the country, couldn't have been left unmoved. So, they joined hands with d-sector.org, a fast emerging information resource on development issues, to organize an insightful panel discussion on the issue during their annual research event 'Delphique'.
During Delphique'09, the MDI students researched seven critically important issues including 'Climate Change: Opportunities and Challenges'. The student research initiative culminated into a series of stimulating discussions with eminent personalities from the corporate and public domains.
With the help of their knowledge partners and faculty mentors, the MDI community explored aspects of economic resurgence and social importance for two days on 28th and 29th November. The event has been a regular and prestigious feature of MDI calendar for the past 13 years. Panels on Climate Change, Entrepreneurship and Analytics were introduced for the first time this year, and a panel on Communications was reintroduced, keeping in mind the critical importance of these topics.
The two-day National Management Convention on the theme of "Resurgence of Industries in the backdrop of Global meltdown" was inaugurated by Mr. Arun Goyal, the Director of Financial Intelligence Unit, India (FIU-IND) at MDI Gurgaon. Dr. B. S. Sahay, Director, MDI and Dr. Neelu Bhullar, Chairperson, Student Affairs, MDI welcomed the panelists and the participants. Addressing the future business leaders, Mr. Goyal explained how India was able to cope with the financial turmoil, where as countries like USA were still bracing up for its long term impacts.
"All national and international meets on climate change at fancy venues end up doing nothing but increasing the emissions."
Climate Change: Challenges and Opportunities
The first panel discussion was on Climate Change with d-sector.org as its knowledge partner. The panelists included Dr. Sudhirendar Sharma, environmentalist and Development Analyst, Dr. Milap Chandra Sharma, renowned glaciologist and Associate Professor at JNU, Mr. Gopal Krishna, environment researcher and activist. Dr. Kuldeep Ratnoo, Editor of the web portal d-sector.org, anchored the discussion. They discussed in detail the history, the socio-cultural factors, political-economy and scientific basis and implications of climate change.
Kuldeep Ratnoo (C), editor, d-sector.org initiating the discussion.
Also seen Sudhirendar Sharma (L) and Milap Sharma (R)
Beginning the discussion, Kuldeep Ratnoo commented that while all national and international meets on climate change at fancy venues end up doing nothing but increasing the emissions, this panel discussion at MDI is unique in the sense that most of the participants, being resident students, have come walking to the venue. He said that every person having access to media has some or other opinion on climate change but nobody can claim to be an expert of issues relevant to it. Mr Ratnoo requested the panelists to help clear the clouds of confusion on the issue by providing insights from the perspectives of scientific research, geopolitics and philosophy.
Dr. Milap C. Sharma shared his research findings on Himalayan glaciers and dismissed the much publicized hype about the fast melting of Himalayan glaciers and the dangers of glacier disappearance. He explained to the students that the glacier retreat and expansion was a natural phenomenon and it happened after every 30-40 years. Showing slides of various glaciers' pictures taken at different intervals in the last 100 years; he highlighted the fact that lately the rate of retreat of Himalayan glaciers had slowed down considerably despite rise in carbon emissions.
"Nobody could authoritatively claim about glacier melt becoming a general trend since different glaciers behave differently even during the same period."
The leading glaciologist, who hails from higher regions of Himachal Pradesh, shared several instances of unpredictability of nature and its working in the mountains. He emphasized that nobody could authoritatively claim about glacier melt becoming a general trend since different glaciers behave differently even during the same period. He said while few glaciers were receding at a rate faster than before, some glaciers in Himalayas were in fact expanding.
Criticising the scaremongers over the retreat of glaciers, Dr Sharma said, "melting and displacement of glaciers and icebergs during summers are natural and by repeatedly showing the difference between pictures taken in winder and summer months, media is adding to the confusion among general public."
"We are told that certain glaciers will disappear within 30 years. I can say it with conviction on the basis of my several decades of experience that all such predictions about glacier disappearance will turn out to be empty scares and nothing else. Even as few glaciers melt, new glaciers take form and expand in the Himalayas. Future projections must be based on wider objective researches and scientific principles rather than drawing room conclusions," Milap Sharma concluded.
Gopal Krishna, environmental health policy analyst, stressed on the need for a change in public policies regarding pollution control as these were getting influenced by the western superpowers. Outlining the geo-politics of climate change, he explained that initiatives to reduce carbon emissions like carbon trading were only focussing on money part and not on climate as the actual carbon emitters had not reduced emissions and just bought some carbon credits.
"The concept of climate change has to be looked in the context of providing solution to this industrial pollution crisis. Industrial pollution started with the advent of industrial revolution in 1750. We locate the political economy of the industrial pollution in the context of responsive thinking to the climate", Gopal Krishna said.
Gopal Krishna (L) answering the queries of MDI students.
Also seen Sudhirendar Sharma (C) and Kuldeep Ratnoo (R)
"It's not true that all pollution cost has been externalized, but all cost which pollution brings on human life has been externalized. Thus, the externalization of pollution cost has led to the climate crisis. It's high time that modern economy does its homework and utilises this cost. The cost of drinking mineral water is not high, but the cost in disposing of the plastic bottle is very high" he added.
Mr Krishna said that on the pretext of climate change developed world was pressurising poor countries to cut down their carbon emissions. "Though rich nations are the biggest polluters on the earth, they want developing countries to pay for others' misdeeds."
"The externalization of pollution cost has led to the climate crisis. The cost of drinking mineral water is not high, but the cost in disposing of the plastic bottle is very high."
Responding to a question on the possible outcome of Copenhagen climate talks, which is round the corner, he said, "The United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the original treaty and the amendment to this is Kyoto Protocol. The first commitment period of this Protocol ends in 2012. What is being debated is what will happen from 2012 onwards, whether US will be the part of the next commitment period? The failure of the Kyoto Protocol lies in the fact that industrialised countries who had committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions did not meet their obligations. Considering narrow and selfish stand of industrialised nations, a conclusive outcome at Copenhagen is very difficult".
Condemning the apathetic attitude of West, Mr Krishna said "The attempt of the entire developed world is to kill the Kyoto Protocol. They want to ensure that rich countries get the treatment of developing countries"
Noted environmentalist Dr Sudhirendar Sharma provided a unique philosophical perspective on nature, earth and climate. "Humans attribute only 5 per cent to the entire share of carbon emissions in the world. Rest all is by other organisms present in the nature. How do we plan to control them? It's our misconception that carbon is the main culprit. Nature works in balance and the carbon di-oxide that we exhale is life support for the plants" he informed.
Downplaying the media created hype of climate change, Dr. Sharma said, "Earth is a living system and we are part of the whole, not the whole itself. Earth decides its own course and goal and we can't decide its future. It has survived all the past effects and will survive future effects as well. We are following the earth and we can't predict or dictate its course or future".
"Earth is a living system and we are part of the whole, not the whole itself. Earth decides its own course and goal and we can't decide its future."
Distinguishing between the concept of 'The World' and 'My World', he elaborated that this difference in perception was the reason behind the climate crisis. "Each one of us will have to understand our responsibility towards the environment and act accordingly. Viewing the problem of waste and pollution from a rational and business like perspective will not lead us anywhere. Unfortunately, the Western thought views everything from monetary angle only and has no long term scientific and cultural solution to offer."
The research team of MDI students also gave a detailed presentation on the topic and earned praise from the panelists for their efforts. Concluding the discussion, Dr Neelu Bhullar, expressed hope that the future business leaders from MDI would help create a better environment by proposing environment friendly business policies in the organisations they would join after completing education.
Dr. R. K. Pachauri speaking during Delphique'09 at MDI, Gurgaon.
Also seen Dr B.S. Sahay (L) and Dr Bhimaraya Metri (C)
Delphique'09 culminated by a valedictory address by Dr. R. K. Pachauri, chairperson of IPCC and the Director General of TERI. Dr. Pachauri opined that while looking at business sustainability, corporates look solely at the financial debt, and completely neglect what he termed the 'natural debt'. He felt that no business could survive in a dying society and urged corporates to restore sources of livelihood back to the masses.
Dr Pachauri also envisaged the abundant business opportunities available in the development of sustainable infrastructure for environment conservation. In his view, politics, science and society should work together to ensure swift and affirmative action. Dr. B. S. Sahay, Director, MDI expressed hope that the research projects undertaken by students during the event would help them equip better for the challenges they would face after completing their education. Dr Bhimaraya Metri, Dean, Academic Programs at MDI, Gurgaon, thanked all the knowledge partners, panelists and participants at Delphique'09 on behalf of the institute.