How many of us have consumed less food after seeing images of starving children? How many of us have used less water after seeing images of famine-stricken Karnataka villagers? Hardly any, or maybe a miniscule few.

Given that, how many of us will live consuming less of Earth resources so there will be lesser greenhouse gas emissions, after reading about the cyclone in Orissa? Possibly a handful. The drought conditions in one state and cyclone with windy rain in another state – yesterday it was at Kerala, Coorg, Chennai or Orissa and tomorrow it could be in Bangalore.

These are not freak accidental weather behaviours, but a manifestation of major climate changes emerging across the globe due to increased fossil fuel burning demanded by the millions of products that we are producing. Both the shop sales and e-commerce boast of lakhs of products to be brought, yet the human demand for more products is going unsatisfied.

Are these connected to cyclone fani? Yes. Bhubaneswar was ravaged in 1999 and remarkably recovered. But global warming has relentlessly increased, causing more cyclones worldwide, this time targeting Orissa coast again. The fact that we lost very fewer lives is laudable, but how often can we keep preparing for cyclones? What about the livestock, green foliage, power lines, roadways and infrastructure lost forever?

Videos showing buses overturning, small structures coming apart, trees being uprooted and all that proves that nature is yet more powerful than us. If we wish to claim control over her, please no way.

The alarming matter is cyclones are becoming less predictable, like the recent issue of ‘Down to Earth’ reports about the catastrophe at length. It is a paradox that Bhubaneswar is hard hit, the city designed by Otto Koenigsberger who wrote the book ‘Manual of Tropical Housing for India’ – an early textbook on climatology not only in India but also in the World. Unfortunately, we cannot blame either of them.

What is the connection between sustainable designs and cyclones? Across the world, nature is unleashing revengeful punishments against humans in multiple forms and locations. Cyclone is not an event of today but an accumulated implication of our last few centuries of agriculture and urbanisation, hence a warning signal for the future.

Could we have designed and built such that our buildings will have less of manufactured materials, hence lower embodied energy, which means fewer carbon emissions with reduced greenhouse gases that do not lead to ozone layer depletion, hence cause less global warming?

Resilience to risks and adoption to climate change are the mantras today, instead of eliminating the risks and stopping the change. At this rate, it will be too late.

Can stakeholders of the construction industry – promoters, owners, builders, material manufacturers, designers, managers, marketers, at large offer such solutions that may minimise possible future cyclones?




Posted on May 25, 2019, in fundamentals and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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