Aboard a flight from Seychelles to Dubai, I looked down as the plane was descending. The hills of Seychelles’ thick, tall and diverse trees had been replaced by the expanse of the desert. In just four hours of time, I felt that I was celebrating both the green festival of the forest, followed by the deadly dance of the desert!
But both places had one thing in common that was lacking. They badly needed air conditioning for human beings as part of their modern life. Those who do not have air conditioning eagerly aspired for one. In Seychelles, where I was just 24 hours back, it is humid even at the highest point, i.e. 905 meters above the sea level. In Dubai, where I am now, the desert is hot and dry even near the sea.
"Air conditioning of course gives comforts not only for the rich, but also for the sick in the hospitals and workers on the shop floors. So, we need air conditioning", I was talking in the capital city- Victoria in Seychelles in the regional network meeting of the English African countries. "The trouble is it uses refrigerant HCFC 22 that depletes the ozone layer and contributes to climate change. Hence we have to replace HCFC 22, and not air conditioning", I explained. The discussions that followed were interesting. One South African delegate informed that he himself tried to replace it by using Hydrocarbon -ozone friendly and carbon friendly refrigerant in the existing room air conditioner and it worked very well! We discussed that we have to be extremely careful on safety aspects of use of Hydrocarbons.
A Zimbabwean journalist attending the meeting interviewed me and asked, "Don’t you think that human beings are really caught between development and need to care for the ecosystem? We need Air conditioning, but its use leads to grave consequences?” I used the UN language that I learned over the last 19 years and said, "But let us be optimistic. We need development and it should be sustainable!” I knew that the answer to that question cannot be that easy. The challenges are enormous.
The plane landed at Dubai international airport and I stepped out of the aircraft’s air conditioning to the airport's air conditioning. I settled in the lounge over a cup of Indian tea, pondering over the question the African journalist had posed - it kept nagging me. I opened my iPad and started surfing the internet before checking the office emails. I came across the following news:
Boy trapped behind AC unit. It said:
"A toddler was rescued by his neighbours after he fell from a balcony and became wedged between a wall and the building’s air-conditioning unit. The terrifying incident happened in Beijing, China as the anonymous three-year-old boy was reportedly left home alone by his parents. "
I remembered the journalist again and thought of sending him this message:
"We human beings are all toddlers unable to understand the reality and pace and direction of the development that we are taking. We are left alone at our only home called the Earth, by God, and we are trapped between walls of our ignorance, about the ecosystems and air conditioning systems that symbolise our addiction and greed!"
Is anyone there to rescue us? And more importantly, to each one of us not to get trapped again? END
1 comment(s) so far...
By atul bagai on
Re: We are trapped!
Very well written as always. The amazing thing is how you connect the dots. The UN Secretary General in his acceptance speech for his second term said: "We must do more to connect the dots among earth's challlenges so that solution for one global problem becomes solution for all.