Aakash Ranison- Environmentalist, Author, Entrepreneur and Digital Content Creator. (Image: DC)
Environmentalist, Author, Entrepreneur and Digital Content Creator Aakash Ranison, talks to Deccan Chronicle about his journey as a climate activist
Can you tell us about your journey as climate activist content creator and author?
I was travelling around India and other countries cycling, walking, and hitchhiking, and in 2015 I visited Ladakh for the first time on a Snow Leopard Conservation Project with WWF & was amazed by the beauty of Ladakh’s landscape. However, I couldn’t come to terms with the plastic littered around me and it unconsciously sparked a desire to protect what I love- Nature.
It didn’t take to connect the dot from plastic to climate change. When I realized one of the biggest issues with climate change is the way it’s communicated, either it’s in a very technical language or it’s just focused on "plastic waste", wherein the reality is very different. This is where I choose to focus on communicating climate change and sustainability to people in simplified language and in the format they prefer to consume information.
So you recently launched your book 'I am a Climate Optimist' on World Environmental Day, can you give us some insight regarding the ways Agricultural sector is contributing to climate change mitigation and adaption.
Climate Change Mitigation:
Agroforestry: Planting trees in agricultural fields helps sequester atmospheric carbon dioxide, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Conservation Agriculture: Practices like zero tillage, crop rotation, and mulching help conserve soil moisture, improve soil health, and reduce carbon emissions from plowing & following practices like; Efficient Irrigation, Renewable Energy, and Methane Capture can help the agriculture industry cut down on emissions from energy consumption.
According to the "Mitsui & Co. Global Strategic Studies Institute Monthly Report, February 2023" Among the countries with pending projects under VM0042, India is estimated to have the highest emission reductions, amounting to 10,465,177 metric tons of CO2 equivalent.
Additionally, India has the highest number of projects worldwide, with a total of 10 projects. Companies like Boomitra Inc, Grow Indigo Private Ltd, and Sagri Bengaluru Private Limited are leading the way with Indian Farmers and top-notch technology.
Climate Change Adaptation:
To enhance their resilience to climate-related risks, farmers in India are adopting crop diversification strategies. This involves cultivating multiple crop varieties and selecting climate-resilient species that are better suited to changing weather patterns. By utilizing weather forecasts and climate information, farmers are making informed choices regarding when to plant, irrigate, and manage pests, thus strengthening their adaptive capabilities.
Moreover, they are implementing effective water management techniques like rainwater harvesting and constructing farm ponds to address water scarcity during droughts and unpredictable rainfall patterns. Additionally, measures such as contour bunding, terracing, and agroforestry are being employed to combat soil erosion, maintain soil fertility, and improve the overall resilience of agricultural systems.
As a climate optimist, What are some innovative green technologies or sustainable practices that have the potential to revolutionize industries and contribute to a greener future?
The problem we are in, trust me, requires much more than innovative technologies or sustainable practices. Yes, we need to shift to better systems to improve the ways we operate and we need to learn to live sustainably but the problem is far bigger than that.
Here are a few technologies, practices, or solutions we can rely on:
Renewable Energy, Energy Storage Systems, Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles, Circular Economy, Smart Grid Systems, Green Building Design, Precision Agriculture, Water Conservation Technologies, Sustainable Waste Management, Carbon Capture, and Storage.
You have done 3 art installations one in 2017 and the following one in 2019 & 2020, what inspired those Art installations and are you planning on doing more such installations in the Future?
Indeed yes, I enjoy the process of making these art installations. It helps me understand society better and put my brain to work on communicating the message of climate change to people.
I have a few ideas in mind as soon the time allows me, I’ll start putting them together one by one, I am hoping to do the next one in Mumbai.
According to you, How can individuals make a meaningful impact on mitigating climate change in their daily lives?
To get to the solution, we first must understand the problem; In recent decades, the per capita carbon dioxide (CO) emissions in India have experienced a
significant increase, rising from 0.39 metric tons in 1970 to reach a peak of 1.9 metric tons in 2021.
India ranks as one of the largest emitters of CO globally, following China and the United States. Within the Indian economy, the electricity and heat sector holds the highest proportion of greenhouse gas emissions, constituting approximately 37 percent.
India's significant emissions can be attributed to its heavy dependence on coal, which is recognized as the most environmentally harmful among fossil fuels. In 2021, India's CO emissions from coal surpassed 1.8 billion metric tons, accounting for over 70 percent of the country's total emissions during that year.
Now the solution is simple; Analyse our energy consumption patterns, focus on cutting them down, and shift our current non-renewable energy source to renewable energy sources.
In your opinion, How does climate change impact biodiversity and ecosystems? What are some strategies for protecting and restoring biodiversity in the face of climate change?
Truth be told, human [industrialization and consumrisum] is a bigger threat to biodiversity and ecosystems than climate change, not to forget climate change is a human-made disaster.
The timing of natural events such as flowering, migration, and breeding is influenced by climate change. When species' life cycles become out of synchronization with their environment, it can disrupt crucial interactions between species, such as pollination and predation. These disruptions in phenological patterns have wide-ranging effects on ecosystems, affecting the delicate balance of biodiversity.
Moreover, climate change amplifies the risk of species extinctions. Rapid changes in temperature and rainfall patterns can exceed the tolerance limits of many species, resulting in population declines and, in extreme cases, local or even global extinctions. The loss of species has significant consequences as it disrupts food webs, reduces ecological resilience, and ultimately diminishes overall biodiversity.
Climate change also impacts the natural world by causing shifts in temperature and precipitation patterns, leading to changes in habitats and the ranges of species.
Consequently, some species encounter challenges in adapting to these changes, leading to habitat loss and fragmentation. This disruption of ecosystems further contributes to the loss of biodiversity as species struggle to find suitable habitats and resources.
What is the next project you plan to embark on, please elaborate?
I’m currently in Paris, France for "SUMMIT FOR A NEW GLOBAL FINANCING PACT" negotiating on financing the underdeveloped and developing countries to help fight against the climate crisis.
Alongside, working with my team on my social enterprise "Greener Earth Foundation". The organization’s mission is the bring on-ground solutions to Climate Crisis. And I do have the next book in the pipeline and a documentary on an environmental subject too.