Natural living gone forever?
Though many material and construction options are highly energy consuming, hence damaging to the environment, why do we all continue to use them extensively?
It is very heartening to meet people who say they read these Green Sense essays, appreciating the effort in outreach of ideas, and equally disheartening to meet people who say that many options discussed here are already well known. Naturally one wonders, if these alternative eco-friendly ideas are among the known options, why are they not very popular? Though many material and construction options are highly energy consuming, hence damaging to the environment, why do we all continue to use them extensively?
More than one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions from the earth are caused by the construction industry where steel, cement, glass, aluminium and such others have high embodied energy, hence damage more than other natural materials. Yet, today we have reached a stage where we cannot build without them. Is the age of natural living finished with the new age of artificiality in air, light, materials and buildings emerging now? Exploring this question may lead to many answers, but the more relevant to discuss here is the awareness that a mere awareness does not lead to action.
It is apparent that we are living a life of paradoxes today. Though the first signals of ecological doom started in the 1970s itself, it was the Earth Summit 1992 at Rio de Janeiro which highlighted the impending danger and gave it worldwide publicity. The Rio 20 summit held in 2012 marked 20 years of ecological awareness.
Curiously, in these 20 years, dozens of films, hundreds of books and thousands of articles appeared in many countries around the world related to resource consumption, carbon footprint, climate change and such others. While the research, data, seminars and general knowledge increased, paradoxically the materialistic production, conspicuous consumption and ecological degradation have also increased.
Increasingly, the affluent and even the middle class population are living a default life controlled by the market and conditioned by unquestioned trends. Today it is difficult to have a clean meal at the roadside dhaba; ; buy a car without AC; stay in a simple hotel with natural air; or own a necessary gadget without technological overkill.
Energy-intense lifestyle is fast replacing simple low energy living, not because the earlier mode of living was erroneous or dangerous, but partly because the emerging mode of living is profiting, consuming and attracting. Gradually, this lifestyle is becoming compulsive by peer pressure.
What we call as technological advancement, increased efficiency, general progress and economic development have all resulted in increased comfort for the human beings, but possibly at the cost of increased discomfort to the earth. In many ways the last three decades have been epochal, suggesting the enormous unlimited potential of human beings where nothing appears any more impossible.
Equally well, these years have suggested the very limited potentials of the Earth, which we have only one. The coming decades may seal the future of Earth for ever, either for good or bad.
This is to particularly remind you that this column is exploring ways and means to bring in green techniques for having an eco-friendly build. It’s an earnest effort to help you with some green sense for your home.