Sometime Green Belt is Desirable than Black Belt…

Do you care for you, your family and your children? The answer is obvious: Of course we DO.
Do you want them to grow in a hell? The answer is also obvious: Of course we DO NOT.
DO you know they are really growing in hell, if they are growing in Dhaka city?

Dhaka city is surrounded by small rivers like a belt. This river belt could have been a nice setup to earn revenue by tourism with planned local transport, floating restaurants, parks, and green belts. Rapidly Dhaka city is expanding to east and north and south, beyond our imagination.  Maximum of these growth are not planned. Even if we look at planned grown areas like Dhanmondi, Gulshan and Uttara; by now they are not in a livable status because of crowd and traffic aside our regular context of dust cloud, horn of vehicles, throughout packaging and wrapping items, cigarettes, spitting etc.

That’s not the end. A hell needs something called fire and its black smoke. The river banks are the supply filed of clay burn bricks used heavily in the growing city. And this industry somehow created a BLACK BELT around our city with its grey and black smoke producing chimneys.

Just look at the pictures in the north west of Dhaka.

Also try to perceive the situation in the west and south Dhaka.

You can simply compare the green dots (Parks) around, in contrast with the red marked area (the Main producers in BLACK BELT, 100’s of brick filed chimneys). The comparison obviously will tell us that we are inside a BLACK BELT with small to no green area to offset the poisonous gases and carbons.

Existing Tiny Green Belt around Ramna Park (a view from Kakrail towards west). The green is not looking green, because of the unclear air, dust fall on the leaves etc.

Uncountable chimneys as you cross Gabtoli and hit Dhaka Aricha Highway.

What are the costs?

Immediate: Everyday cleaning up of the black carbon components mixed up with the dust in the air. This cleanup includes our daily usage household items to facilities etc. everything.  Maximum of our cleanup procedure uses dry cloths and/or chicken feather dusters. Thereby, we are accumulating these carbon rich dusts in our context day by day. Detergents are used more to cleanup.

Short Run: We have excessive cost of coloring our building, facilities etc. The wear and tear of our cloths and other items are having short life than expected.

Short to Long run: Tremendous increase in lung diseases like Asthma, COPD, Infectious Diseases, Lung Cancer etc.

Ts it too much for you to desired a conversion of the BLACK BELT to the GREEN BELT. Many cities tike Toronto, Perth etc. has Green Belt. We simply can say, we have nothing to do, or can take our small initiatives towards a GREEN BELT to show our care for us, to our family and the next generation.

Are you a believer of Green Happiness?

How do you measure happiness? When a rain makes someone happy, somebody else is happy with sunshine. It is very relative. We heard that happiness is formally perceived by the life expectancy and survey to people on the question “How Happy are you?” in a 10 point scale. Accumulated results for a country are being averaged to get the happiness index. In 2010, a survey to find out top 10 happiest countries determined the following rank:

Ranking (left Column)

  1. Denmark – 8.2 points
  2. Switzerland – 8.1 points
  3. Austria – 8.0 points
  4. Iceland – 7.8 points
  5. Finland – 7.7 points
  6. Australia – 7.7 points
  7. Sweden – 7.7 points
  8. Canada – 7.6 points
  9. Guatemala – 7,6 points
  10. Luxemburg – 7.6 points
Ranking (right Column)

  1. Denmark
  2. Puerto Rico
  3. Colombia
  4. Iceland
  5. Ireland
  6. Switzerland
  7. Netherlands
  8. Canada
  9. Austria
  10. etc.

Note: Some person in the same article comments/contradict and talks about above list, where we see 5 matches out of 9 with the left column, so I take the left column as okay for our analysis.

I tried to understand what make people happy with some demographic data on these countries and some other courtiers like China, India, USA and finally wanted to contrast them with our condition in Bangladesh.

40 years ago, Gross national Happiness was defined first. Currently based on lucky seven wellness the GNH is measured as Economic, Environmental, Physical, Mental, Workspace, Social and Political wellness. A Slogan in Thimphu’s School of Traditional Arts displays “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross National Product”.

If we generalize the demographics of these countries (with minor exception), we can say, a country in the top 10 list has a GDP over USD 35k (exception Guatemala), livable area is less than 200k sq.mi (exception is Australia and Canada) and population is less than 35 million.

In reality, there are other factors from our known factors come in place.

  1. US is the 17th rank in the happiness list, but Anxiety disorders in the U.S. affecting 40 million adults (18% of U.S. population) cost more than $42 billion a year (adaa.org).
  2. Majority of the countries in the list are having aging population.
  3. In general, happiness has a relationship with hygiene factors (minimal need satisfying) in living, while wealth CANNOT be the pre-condition for happiness (it’s easier to make a poor person happy than a wealthy person, just think about Maslow’s need hierarchy).
  4. Happiness shifts over time, based on the need shift and its context shift.
  5. The green population has more dreams and aims.  (Happiness is man’s greatest aim in life. Tranquility and rationality are the cornerstones of happiness. ~ Epicurus.)

In Bangladesh we cannot raise our GDP from 1.7k to to 35K in a single day; it might be away from decades after decades of hard-work. We also can not reduce our population density to one fifth to fit into that of top ten happy countries, while we strategically think our people are our resources and the majority is in the group of youth (GREEN).

I got the opportunities to interact with the people of listed happy societies in their own context. In contrast, I found Bangladeshi people are generally more relaxed and happy, as majority of our people have never been exposed to so called “Quality of Life”, the words has been mentioned to me many times by the people in the developed countries. The perspective of happiness is different here. If I talk about GREEN HEROES, a Rickshaw-puller is happy with a mid day nap under the shade of a green tree, while a street kid is happy with his freedom, be it insecure.

The picture obviously depicts that happiness revolves around childhood and youth by virtue. The happiness is there, but is not sustainable as these happy people do not exist after some real storm to their lives with the act of reality. This happiness can be sustained though creating current and future opportunities for the unprivileged child and youth. I want to name it as GREEN HAPPINESS to come up with forthcoming activates in coming day.

All of your ideas, thoughts and positive criticism around it would be highly appreciated would really be helpful to take it forward.

Related Links:

Heroes live forever, what about GREEN heroes?

We heard about 3P (people, planet, profit) as Triple Bottom Line (TBL) in eco-capitalism approach. Corporate are having social approaches for their ecological sustainable prioritized projects e.g. eco-tourism etc. etc.

What about individuals, who are not part of any corporate initiative? There are freelance workers in the nature, who live by day on their own activity. Some of them are human recycling machines; some are human alternative to engines in vehicles reducing fuel usage and carbon emission.  Some are simply collecting renewable resources to reduce cooking gas usage. Some of them are simply using hand-looms, manual machines etc. etc.

Let’s take an example of energy savings. There are 300,000 Rikshaws in Dhaka city pulled by some 600,000 regular Rikshaw pullers. Thereby total energy savings per day is 300,000 Rikshaws X 10 liters X 365 days which is 1 million billion petrol per year.  This is equivalent to 1.42 trillion liter carbon-dioxide.  2425 billion Trees in one year can absorb this volume of CO2. One rickshaw puller is serving as 4042 trees. Thereby they are our GREEN Heroes.

Let’s talk about Toaki (“I collect” is the English equivalent of this Bengali word). They are street/floating children who collect our garbage and throwaways. There are 2 million street/floating children in urban areas of Bangladesh of which 11% work in formal sector and the rest work in non-formal sector. Alone in Dhaka city, the number is 334,000+ of which approximately half are female. Think about recycled paper boxes we use every day, and the recycled PET Bottle Flakes our country exports. Nestle Water says: 25 recycled PET bottles are needed to make a sweater, and recycling 3,700 PET bottles saves one barrel of petrol?  If a child collects 50 pet bottles in 300 days a year and 30% of the street population are in this trade, they serve as 122 million trees. One Child is serving as 1221 trees.

Now, after this analysis, are you ready to call them GREEN heroes? What is the fate of these heroes?

Rikshaw Puller (1 puller: 4042 Trees)

  • Exposed to all weather conditions
  • Exposed to risk of accident by motorized vehicles
  • Exposed to pollution including heavy dust
  • Diseases like TB
  • Pressurized by Rikshaw owners
  • Bitten by traffic police and others
  • Lives in measurable life condition in poverty
  • Exposed to Frustration of uncertainty
  • Exposed to Drugs
Street/Floating Kids ( 1 kid : 1221 trees)

  • Sexual trafficking
  • Organized crime
  • Drug and substance abuse
  • Homelessness and malnutrition

Once these children are victims of any of the above, it is very difficult for them to get back on track and feel safe and they are often completely alone.

 

In reality, the total initiative to save these GREEN heroes is nothing compared to their contribution to us and our future generation.

Let’s talk about action point. In the era of green economy, there are eco-businesses focusing on carbon emission trading. My above discussion can be a fruit for thought for them, to save this population (with finance from carbon producing companies in first world countries) by showing them as equivalent trees. Allow the green heroes not to be wasted.

Further Reading:

Go Ahead when Green, why not always GREEN?

The Traffic light gives us go-ahead or stop signal. In our agility, we don’t want to stop. We always expect a green light on our way of life. But in reality, there are more reds than green, when we are in a society of 160 million people living in a small piece of land.

Can Green be implanted in our heart? Can we be kind enough to sacrifice our regular habits to become green? Last year, one of my colleagues told me that God created us with green and purple. What does that mean? Renew of ourselves with the generations is our green part. On the other hand, kindness has a color called purple, and God is Kind. God blessed the creation with a glimpse of his kindness in-built in his creation.

Those are all philosophical thoughts from people around us. In reality, we cannot short fall in exhibiting our kindness to our new generation. We have to work towards leaving behind a livable world, which our previous generation left for us. Some of them really did well while others did not do that good. Despite, we got to move on with our goal of Green and Purple…

Green is obviously the color of desired growth. Green does not mean the nature only, it’s the initiative, agility and the promptness towards innovate ways to help current and next generations. Some of our local corporate are branding themselves with real activities which is encouraging. Please visit BRAC Bank’s CSR initiative report (just released today) with its GREEN theme cover page. http://www.bracbank.com/csrreport/CSR%20Initiatives%202011.pdf

Aside,  there are some initiative they called by “Year 2012 Resolution”, In developed countries, people are thinking about having some resolutions in terms of changing their habits, although in practicality we are yet to see, really much is achievable…

huffingtonpost

  • Buy Less Bottled Water
  • Drive Less
  • Only Use Reusable Shopping Bags
  • Shorten Your Shower Time
  • Eat Less Meat
  • Recycle Paper
  • Use Earth Friendly Cleaners
  • Compost, etc. etc.
EcoTucson

  • Eat Local/Grow Your Own
  • Save energy/save money
  • Drive less/bike more
  • Bag it!
  • Use less paper

What about us?

For our resource scarce country within our context, I believe we got to work on some of our habits too.

We know that Dhaka is running 80% on ground water, whereas it is recommended that a city should only run on 20% ground water. For the rest of its water supply, it should use its surface water options. Thereby we are already in risk by doing wrong to our Eco system every single day.

Eco idea 1: A report says, currently there are more than 1 million vehicles in Dhaka and its suburbs.  Every morning, we see our drivers using water hose at the parking/cleaning area  to clean up the car/vehicle. It is assumed that a hose releases some 10 to 15 bucket of water, whereas we need only one bucket of water to clean up the car. Can we budget for maximum 366 buckets of waters for the entire year 2012 per car and monitor our drivers following our resolution?

There are thousands of Eco ideas, but let us take one initiative a day, put it in our habit and convince others to adopt that. In my article title, I used “why not always GREEN “, meaning we waive our (changeable) habits, and give a go ahead green signal for everyday, even if possible every moment. Please don’t waste your time on items that you can not control (e.g. politics, gossips, gimmick etc…) , rather do things that are in your control. (The six sigma makes us learn that Y is function of X and X are the controllable variables, that has impact on uncontrollable variable Y). Let’s derive a Eco resolution a day and bring a green and purple year 2012 for our surrounding where we live.

Further Reading: