Living Green

May 6, 2020

As we celebrate ‘Earth Day’ (April 22), amidst a nationwide lockdown, it is time to sit back in our homes and deeply reflect, on how we can collectively be guardians of nature, by tackling the biggest challenge to the future of humanity, and the life support systems, that make our earth a better place, for humans and biodiversity. As such the primary aim of Earth Day is to bring about an ‘ecological conversion’ in the hearts and mind-set of people, from all walks of life.

We need to ask ourselves uncomfortable questions regarding the ecological integrity of our Planet Earth! Not only, ask questions based on scientific facts that will ring a bell in our inner conscience, but dare to ask questions to people in power who can take action on climate change. In all our reasoning, we need to put science, rationality, education and reason ahead of trendy dogmas – Before it is too late?

The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the annual Earth Day celebrations. This year’s theme for Earth Day is ‘climate action’. It denotes the enormous challenge, the vast opportunities and contributions that each of us can make in mitigating carbon release and slowing down global warming.

This article is so very different from the rest of our earlier articles published to date. It opens up a new wave of thinking, which is thought-provoking, intellectually stimulating, and revolutionizes the way; how, by our actions, we can safeguard the earth from global warming and the impact of climate change. It is primarily written to stimulate the imagination of Religious heads of all Faiths, globally…..To awaken themselves and their flocks, as to how they could be instruments of change and contribute toward a ‘Clean safe environment’ in places of worship, be it a diocese/parish, temple/math, gurudwara etc.

This article also aims to promote honest discussion and dialogue, while respecting divergent views as long as particular interests or ideologies will not prejudice the common good of the earth. Instead of being just thinkers, we need to ‘Tinker’ with ideas.

We are requesting all religious communities, to keep an open mind and think out of the box and find modern solutions, functional and non-polluting, that contribute towards a green environment and build sustainable ecosystems, which will be role models for all community members to follow.

Radical Thinking

A. Candles - Candles, since their creation, have been used in the rites and ceremonies of many religions. Its origins may be traced back thousands of years. The practise of lighting candles is an important tradition in Christian churches, communities and families; so also, lighting lamps, diyas in temples and other places of worship is an age-old practice.

The lighting of a candle in the church in front of a statue, an altar, a sacred image or the Sacrament, is a manifestation of faith that leaves a tangible, visible sign. The church uses candles in almost all the sacraments, from baptism to anointing, as irreplaceable symbolic elements.

We feel that burning of candles, deepas, diyas (bee wax/paraffin wax) in churches, temples, shrines and other places of worship should be discontinued because they directly contribute toward enhancing the carbon footprint, increasing global warming. Envisage hundreds of thousands of places of worship worldwide, burning millions of candles, deepas and oil lamps, and directly releasing greenhouse gases to the environment. We should start using a more energy-efficient eco-friendly product such as solar-powered LED lights.

Burning candles as a source of light or purification is a misguided concept. It contributes to increased carbon dioxide emissions. Candles are made of paraffin wax, and burn very inefficiently at low temperatures, releasing carbon dioxide. Paraffin wax is nothing but pure hydrocarbon from fossil fuel. It is a heavy alkane fraction distilled straight off crude oil.

One can argue that we generally use candles made of beeswax. Let us put the record straight, no doubt bee wax candles are carbon neutral but the chemical composition of beeswax in a candle is not especially dissimilar to petroleum (paraffin) wax. When you burn it, it does produce carbon dioxide, just like burning a petroleum fuel. But it is ‘carbon neutral’ just like a ‘bio-fuel’, in the same sense that we talk about ‘carbon neutral’ fuels in that context – like bio-oils or ethanol or biodiesel or so forth. These fuels all produce carbon dioxide when burned – But it is carbon that is naturally cycled through the ecosphere carbon cycle – Not from fossil fuel.

Apart from releasing carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, candles will give off toxic chemicals such as benzene, (carcinogen) toluene (responsible for health hazards) along with invisible particulate matter.

Carbon Footprint of one single candle - Research shows, burning a paraffin candle for one hour will release about 10 grams of carbon dioxide; whereas a CFL bulb will emit about 5 grams per hour. Burning 500 candles could result in about 10 times more CO2 emissions than regular 40-watt bulbs.

Solution - Technology that is behind solar powered candles made of LED guarantees respect for the environment.

B. Solar Lighting/Heating - Most of the traditional Churches and other places of worship have strong sensible architecture, with high roof and domes to allow for natural cross ventilation and sufficient natural solar light to come in.

The roof of these buildings should be fixed with renewable energy technologies like photovoltaic (PV) panels mounted on the rooftop to provide for all lighting needs (lights/fans/AC) as well as heating energy requirements of all buildings in the campus, may it be a wedding hall, prayer hall or a sports complex? Excess energy should be fed to the grid and the carbon credits earned exchanged for monetary benefits.

C. Vertical storied buildings - A vision plan that encompasses tall green vertical buildings to leave maximum lung space for tree avenues, and mini forests. Freeing up spaces brings about essential joys of light, air and greenery. This will support creating healthy and walkable communities for senior citizens. Tall buildings influence the microenvironment. This will result in more open spaces with adequate natural lighting and better quality air. Green tall buildings have the potential to produce as much energy as they consume or produce even more energy than they consume, described as positive energy buildings.

D. A concept called Urban Food Production - These tall buildings should have their own green spaces using plants and trees through green roofs, rain gardens, and for reduction of rainwater run-off and the terraces should be self-sufficient in urban food production.

E. Rain Water harvesting - Many other techniques, such as using packed gravel or permeable concrete instead of conventional concrete or asphalt to enhance the replenishment of groundwater, through either rooftop rainwater harvesting or groundwater recharge.

F. Wealth from waste - Today many places of worship have their community halls that cater to marriages and other functions. An alternative to this process is converting waste into fertilizer and recycling wastewater. Organic fertilizer could generate income by retailing it to farmers.

G. Solar Powered Electric Crematorium - It is frequently considered more environmentally friendly. It takes up less land and helps with the problem of overcrowded cemeteries.

H. Ecological Footprint - In a world where the finite resources of the earth are diminishing, the concept of green building has become the ethical ‘in-thing’ in an attempt to save our planet from despair.

I. Social responsibility accounting - To begin with, one particular diocese headquarters/Mutt can take the lead and implement the green building and green renovation concept, so that it will act as a driving force for others to copy or improve upon. This model building should conduct an eco-audit to monitor and evaluate its carbon footprint to ensure that it conforms to environmental, economic and societal needs. Unlike financial accounting, it should focus on the contribution that the business gives to society and the environment through its behaviour and activities. This in turn, should be incorporated in the audited balance sheet. In doing so, it will bring about transparency and accountability and will tell the present and future generations, if the building is self-sustainable or not. Later on, this will cause a ripple effect wherein other parishes/ maths will follow suit, including individual households. The carbon credits so earned could be a big revenue generator and the watchword would be ‘We Practice What We Preach’ in safeguarding our common home, Mother Earth.

Conclusion - Due to the recent developments worldwide, there is a growing sensitivity to the environment and an urgent need to protect nature, along with a growing concern, both genuine and distressing, for what is happening to our planet. We have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it brings forth a new awakening in terms of environmental consciousness for every economic activity undertaken. Such awakening can alter our perception of what kind of development is desirable and in-turn the policy choices we make. The most important benefit of Green Living is what it offers to our environment. It positively influences our climate and overall ecosystem by reducing the carbon footprint.



By Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira
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Comment on this article

  • Sandeep Holla, Ujire

    Tue, Sep 22 2020

    Dear sir Anand,
    Such a well written article this is!
    Climate change is a serious issue!!!
    As responsible human beings, we all need to take this very seriously and act upon it.
    Our Mother nature is the best gift humanity has ever received.
    'With this we are everything and without this we are nothing. '
    I think this article should be read by everyone.
    Humble request to everyone who reads this article is to share this to your friends and family and make them understand the importance of mother nature.

  • Nikhil, India

    Sat, May 23 2020

    Great article by Dr Anand Pereira. Urban Food Production, Eco Audit and Social Responsibility Accounting are great points. Some key takeaways here for people already working in these areas or looking to work on solutions in these areas.

  • Chitra Uthappa, Virajpet, Coorg

    Thu, May 21 2020

    Dear Anand, and Geeta
    Your article is so thought provoking for me as on today, to be honest with you I would not have been inclined to even read the full article 3 months back as i was that typical cosmopolitan girl like most of us. Because of this covid, the situation was such that I had to stay put inside my coffee estate for nearly a full 2 months. Initially i thought I was stuck inside a jungle, but as time passed by i started to fell in love with the same jungle. I never thought i can survive without being constantly in touch with my mobile, TV, partying, shopping, binge eating, socializing, etc, etc, etc... The environment was so peaceful and self sustaining, almost 80% of my time inside estate i cooked my meal using green leaves and veggies that was grown inside my estate, I simply enjoyed my mornings wake up call by the sounds of 100s of mother nature's messengers parrots, cuckoo's, nightingales, etc, etc... I can go on writing atleast 10 more pages of my new found love for my estate which in turn helped my realization of wonders of mother nature. We humas have been running so unconsciously for as long as we remember, i simply urge my fellow humans to please pause a bit and look up to the sky and breathe and take atleast 15mins daily of your crazy life and be considerative to mother nature in your own way. I have realized the value of mother nature and I'm forever grateful to my father and his coffee estate as it brought me so close to mother nature. I wish Anand and Geetha a very long and happy lifetime, so that they can continue to inspire more and more people.. love Chitra

  • Peter Pais, Mangalore / Muscat

    Tue, May 19 2020

    Dear Anand & Geeta
    You both have given a good deal of thought, to the current situation. Yes, we have to take cues from the current pandemic, to correct our path ahead, so that future generations can benefit. We are in this current situation, because of our past practices. It is time to change and "Go Green". What a novel idea to promote LED lights, instead of candles. After all it is symbolic and we can have the same outcome, with different / better resources. Greatest of executions, start with a thought and you have given that spark. Let us collectively make this thought grow, through the green channel. Yes solar resources we need to tap more or even hybrid technology being put to more use. Please let me know if there is anyway I can contribute, to make this idea grow further and farther. Well done Anand & Geeta !!

  • Radhakrishna, Bangalore

    Tue, May 19 2020

    I personally think that in the current scenario we are in mother nature's way of simply putting a full stop to human ways....we humans must realize it, which means every single one of us must realize the need to be more sensitive towards nature. We as common people has this very bad habit of blaming everything on the so called authority and we don't realise our own powers as a common man. Change must first start from within. We don't need to think out of the box but focus on simple basic instincts of being more considerate and compassionate towards fellow humans and that will invariably reflect towards the mother nature. Our education system needs to teach more on the ways of nature than AI and coding. We humans are fundamentally heading in a direction with unreasonable expectations of our own future...

  • Nihal Joseph, Mangalore

    Thu, May 14 2020

    Thank you for the insightful article. As a young engineering graduate, I would like to emphasize that, today we have a number of hybrid technologies that can be seamlessly integrated through artificial intelligence to maximize efficiency and productivity.
    In the list of recommendations, a time frame should be provided to implement the same and the Government should subsidize the first eco-friendly model set up so that it inspires the others to follow.

  • Deepali, Melbourne

    Wed, May 13 2020

    Dearest Anand Uncle and Geeta Aunty, Must sincerely congratulate you on this stimulating and thought provoking article. It’s inspiring and full of great insights and more importantly solutions. As a 9 year old , I am very much enthused having read it with Dad. They say - it’s better to light a candle than curse the darkness. We would love to light the LED candles with you figuratively and in reality too. Best wishes to our beloved earth and to you both.

  • Valentina Varbanova, Austria

    Mon, May 11 2020

    Dear Anand and Geeta,
    This is an excellent article - well thought and well written. We, humans, urgently need to start living more sustainably, and reducing anything that is unnecessary or burdening or over exploiting the earth. You have given some excellent suggestions for being more ecofriendly and sustainable. I only wish more and more people follow it, both in West and East. For example, here in Austria, banks give interest free loans to install solar panels. It is much more sustainable, as well as bills for electricity are so much lower. I am not sure if there are such subsidies elsewhere. Here government disencourages the use of cars - many people find it a burden to have a car indeed, while public transport is well developed and is at prices within the reach of anybody here. It's a different world but just some examples from this context. I am sure that in any context there are adequate measures to be taken. I have seen here the birds are happy, the birds show all their majesty because they are now undisturbed. Stay blessed and continue the excellent work you are doing. Valentina

  • Sneha Rasquinha, Pune India

    Sat, May 09 2020

    A very enlightening article highlighting the need to adapt our religious rites to be in tune with nature and thinking of innovative and alternate ways to continue our methods of worship without causing further global warming.
    Covid has made us humans realize we need to change our thinking. Anand Geeta as always Have touched upon a sensitive issue with such elegance that we are motivated to change our ways for the better. Cheers !

  • Maria Dcosta, Mangalore

    Sat, May 09 2020

    An excellent reminder and an eye opener to the harm,dismay and destruction we are causing mother Earth.
    Yes, we need to renew our thinking, act upon it and think out new ways and means of educating the world through articles, talks and discussions.
    We meet for celebrations and spend in lakhs ; here is something we can meet to discuss present papers, researched articles so that each one of us play our role as Anand and Geetha have done to educate, motivate and inspire us the citizens of Mother Earth to save ourselves, for now and for tomorrow.

  • Allen, Brisbane

    Sat, May 09 2020

    Dear Dr Anand & Geeta.

    This is a perfect article un folded during the right time of a pandemic ,it is time we all changed the way we lived our life & reflect into Containment of our universe .

    We are practicing rain water harvesting in Brisbane ever though the council has made it not mandatory.

    Growing our own vegetables is something that we also practice to get the feel of the soil & physical maintenance.

    How ever it is our duty to keep reminding people the necessity to continuously alert the public time and again even though they give a deff ear,at least we have done our duty.

    Thank you both once again for the interesting article.

    God bless you both .

    Allen Pais.

  • Dan M, Dubai / Mangalore

    Thu, May 07 2020

    Jesus on changeable weather and God is in control of everything

    Message to Valentina, Sydney.
    27 July 2019

    Valentina, people are talking and wondering why you have such changeable weather all over the world. I tell you now, you are all going through the last pages of the book I spoke to you, in John, the Book of Revelation and the period of changes in the world. History is about to change forever.”

    “I, the Lord, Myself,” He said moving His holy hand in a sweeping circle, “am doing this.”

    “I keep shifting your courses of history and they are disturbing your weather and the nature is confused. Even science cannot find an answer as to why all this is happening. Drastically, they are moving and disturbing your planet, until mankind realises that it is God in control of everything, but man is blind and will remain blind and they have no knowledge of My Creation because they are not spiritual enough to discern right from wrong.”

    “These disturbing events will persist and will bring catastrophic disasters, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, floods, droughts, heat waves, icy weather, storms and so on, but still this will not awaken people to pray and to change men’s hearts. Their hearts will remain icy cold but this will not change them because their pride will prevent them from doing so, until My fire will come from Heaven to cleanse all evil from this sinful world.”

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