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The experts speak: How industry drives conservation

Bose Varghese, Head – Green Initiatives, Infosys, in conversation with Prof. Satheesh

Highlights

  • “Corporates should be aware of the impact which they’re making to the environment. And, then they should be responsible for the ecological footprint because of their actions,” says Prof. Satheesh.
  • According to him, corporate organisations should be willing to share the outcome of the good practices which they’re following with other industries
  • Prof. Satheesh notes that, around one million species are threatened with extinction. “And many of them in the next few decades. And this is a serious scenario,” he says.

While most of the human population, world over, has been working from home under the effect of the lockdown and social distancing practices, the environment took a breather. For a few days in the last couple of months, skies were clear, breathing was easy, instances of animal and bird citing increased, and even mountains were visible from great distances.

This is the sort of impact climate scientists would hope to see even when the restrictions on activities, and movement are eased. With the theme of the World Environment Day, 2020, which is Celebrate Biodiversity, acclaimed climate scientist Prof. S.K. Satheesh says he believes that the topic is very timely and topical, and there are learnings to take away. And it is indeed time to start learning as global warming and climate change has far reaching impacts on biodiversity.

In a chat with Bose Varghese, Head – Green Initiatives, Infosys, Prof. Satheesh who had also won the Infosys Prize 2018 in Physical Sciences, notes that according to a report released last year by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), he notes, around one million species are threatened with extinction. “And many of them in the next few decades. And this is a serious scenario,” he says.

Prof. Satheesh, who teaches at the Centre for Atmospheric & Oceanic Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, and is the Director of Divecha Centre for Climate Change, says Climate Change also impacts habitats of several species, and, “Even a small change in temperature can have a significant effect on ecosystem.”

He cites reports that the rise in temperature currently, which is about one degree, can be two to four degree by 2100, if the current rate of emission continues in the same way.

“That’s what we call ‘business as usual’,” he says, adding that the options for species effected by climate change is to either migrate to another location, adapt to the new climate, or face extinction.

The role of the corporate world in protecting the environment and the associated biodiversity is critical, and Infosys, having recognized the importance of climate change and the responsibility it holds, has been advancing one step at a time over the past several years.

Steps like committing to become carbon neutral, reducing energy consumption through energy efficiency measures, making campuses green, and running community-based emission reduction projects, have now become ingrained in the ethos of the organization.

But what more can organizations do?

Three things, says Prof. Satheesh.

“Corporates should be aware of the impact which they’re making to the environment. And, then they should be responsible for the ecological footprint because of their actions,” he says, adding, “They should be willing to share the outcome of the good practices which they’re following with other industries.”

The world today, however, corporate, or otherwise, has come in the grasp of an invisible threat that has changed life as we know it. “Do you think it’s a preview to the future?” asks Varghese.

“As a climate scientist, I would consider it as a lesson, because for Covid-19 the world was not prepared,” says the climate scientist for his work on climate change, especially in the space of aerosols.

But it’s never too late to start, he says.

“Nature has shown us that we can do it,” he says adding that he believes that the human race has the capacity to flight climate change and protect the environment and biodiversity.

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