India: The Land of Unity in Diversity and It’s Sustainable Approaches

Editor’s Note: This article was originally produced by Sunitha Anup,  a research scholar from the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi, India. To contact Sunitha directly e-mail :anup.sunitha@gmail.com.  

Picture by Pixabay

Picture by Pixabay

Issues concerning Earth’s sustainability indeed pose a challenge to every nation. Some of the alarming problems include: declining food security, natural disasters, pollution, population growth, and the degradation of biodiversity and of ecosystems. India has always been known as a land of diverse cultures, languages, landforms and religions. The existence of the land as a united territory [amid its diversity alludes to a] spirit of totality where differences are not looked down upon as a conflict; but are rather seen as a strength to enrich society. This spirit is reflected within India’s approach in combating climate change and in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It can also be seen in its policy measures and development schemes. India was also ascertained as an important player within the recent COP21 Paris Agreement.

Picture by Pixabay

Picture by Pixabay

Over the years, the traditions and lifestyles of India have always followed an environmentally friendly [trajectory]. In fact, more than 70% of India’s population belongs to villages where the rural communities live very close to nature. However, increasing trends of socio-economic growth have added more foes to this peaceful co-existence. In order to reduce carbon footprints, India has been following low-carbon models in transportation and in development, and it has been promoting a pedagogical curriculum to educate local regulatory bodies. Moreover, India is a key player within the International Energy Agency, which enables fruitful works in clean energy, policy, and open markets. All of which, allows for better energy security. Some of the national initiatives in India that are working to ensure sustainable development include:

  • National Solar Mission
  • National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency
  • Mission on Sustainable Habitat
  • Water Mission
  • Mission for Sustainable Himalayan Eco-system
  • Mission for Sustainable Agriculture

Indeed, India has begun taking baby steps to achieve its sustainability goals. As a global family, research communities all over the world should work together and learn from each other by combining ancient traditional wisdom and modern research.

Picture by Pixabay

Picture by Pixabay

How Volunteering Changes Your Career Path

Editor’s Note: This blog entry was written by Ashley Lipman, a marketing specialist for “The Blog Frog”. 

Volunteering is the best way to try a career before you commit. In this day and age, it’s hard to decide on just one career path, especially when things are changing so rapidly. Not only does volunteering give you an opportunity to try new things, but you can also gain valuable career experience to boost your application.

Whether you’re in school or looking to change careers, volunteering empowers you with the skills and network you need to make the best decision. Keep reading to explore how volunteering can change your career path for the better.

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                                                                              Image via Unsplas

Gain Experience and Skills

When you’re in school, you have the opportunity to learn a lot about several career fields. That being said, it’s harder to learn hands-on skills inside a classroom. When you work in the real-world through a volunteer experience, you get to put the things you learned in the classroom to good use while learning even more.

By working with others in your field, you gather valuable experience from their experience. Future employers want to see examples of you working well with a team. As a volunteer, you’re expected to work well under supervisors and with your fellow volunteers. Depending on your chosen volunteer experience, you might work directly with members of the public as well.

It’s hard to gain confidence in yourself and your skills if you have no experience or real-world skills. As a volunteer, you add so much more to your education than you ever can inside a classroom or library.

Try a New Career

The best part about volunteering is learning about a new career without having to commit to the structure of an actual job. Because more volunteer opportunities are for a limited amount of time, you’re able to experience what a career is really like without having to dedicate your career to a new role.

By trying a new career, you gain confidence in your career path. You can spend your entire life thinking a single career path is right for you only to realize as a volunteer that it was never [a right fit]. Maybe it wasn’t what you were thinking, or the role doesn’t align with your goals. You’ll never know until you try.

If you’re on the fence about a different career path, try volunteering. Give yourself a chance to experience something new and decide if it’s right for you. This is the best time to explore.

Make a Difference

Few things are as satisfying as really making a difference in your community and beyond. Not only will you gain experience, but you’ll be helping in an area that needs it. Finding volunteer opportunities today that matter is easier than ever. Whether you’re looking for sustainable scientist volunteer opportunities or hospital jobs, there’s a position waiting for you.

In this day and age, there’s a never-ending need for sustainability. On Sustainable Scientists, we highlight ways to help your community through research, hosting educational events, or supporting members of a sustainable organization.

We all stand to learn something from making a difference in the world. This also reflects powerfully on our career search later. Having volunteer experience that shows your commitment to making the world a better place goes a long way towards proving your passion and excitement for helping others.

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Image via Unsplash

Lead with Confidence

Having confidence in your career doesn’t happen overnight. You need experience to back up your feelings, whether you’re charging into a well-known field or uncharted territory. By volunteering with a worthy organization, you gain confidence in yourself and your new skills.

Volunteering isn’t always easy. You’re pushed from your comfort zone and told to try new things. Handling these new tasks and obstacles successfully will let you know you’re ready to take on anything. Fight discouragement in your career path with your own confidence.

When you help others and your community, you feel useful. You’re productive, and you’re active in ways you haven’t been before. That leads to a feeling of belonging that won’t fade away anytime soon.

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 Image via Unsplash

Start Volunteering

Are you ready to make a difference? Now is the best time to experiment with your career. The world needs enthusiastic volunteers, and you are always in a position to grow your skills. By helping others, you help yourself and your job. This is a win-win we can all get behind.

You can look in your local community for places to volunteer as well as through your university if you’re enrolled in a program. Consider fields you’re already interested in, but don’t be afraid to try something new and unexpected. You never know what you might find when you open your mind.

How to Raise a Vegetarian Family

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jennifer McGregor. 


Photo courtesy of Pixabay

More and more people have been converting to vegetarianism and veganism in recent years. A reported 6% of the U.S. population is now vegan, up from just 1% in 2014. What’s causing this trend? There are many reasons why one might convert to vegetarianism. Regardless of whether you believe eating meat is unethical, there are many health benefits to a plant-based diet. First and foremost, eating meat has been linked to a variety of conditions—cancer, heart disease, obesity, and hormonal issues, to name a few—while a plant-based diet has been shown to reduce these risks.

In addition to being better for your health, vegan and vegetarian diets are also better for the planet. Industrial animal agriculture, which is responsible for most of the world’s meat products, is a key driving factor behind greenhouse gas emissions, according to One Green Planet. Therefore, by eating less meat, you can cut your family’s carbon footprint, save water, redirect grain that can be eaten by people in need (rather than consumed by agricultural livestock), and help protect the world’s rainforests and endangered species.

If you’re looking to maintain your family’s health while reducing your carbon footprint, a vegan or vegetarian diet might be the way to go. Here’s how to get started with raising a vegetarian family.

Tips for Parents

Raising vegan or vegetarian children doesn’t mean you have to immediately give up all meat products. Sometimes, slowly transitioning to vegetarianism by eliminating one product at a time can be easier and more successful in the long run. For instance, you might start by limiting consumption of specific meats, possibly replacing them with eco-friendly, cholesterol-free meat alternatives.


You can also swap animal-based products like milk, cheese, ice cream, or butter for vegan alternatives, which can be made from coconut, almond, cashew, and more. Try to stick with local, organic whole foods whenever possible. Choose high-quality plant-based foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, and protein sources such as nuts, seeds, and beans.

Before you make the switch, you also need to consider nutrition. This might include discussing your child’s health with a pediatrician and/or nutritionist. Does your child have any health conditions or specific dietary needs? With any diet, you’ll need to ensure your child is getting adequate nutrition and proper amounts of protein; vegan and vegetarian diets are no different.

Tips for Pet Owners

If your family is going vegetarian, should you include your four-legged family members? That depends. Cats, for instance, evolved to eat meat and might have a harder time on a vegan diet. Dogs, on the other hand, can benefit from a vegetarian diet. Rover.com reports that switching to a vegetarian dog food can decrease your dog’s risk of skin allergies, liver disease, and kidney stones.

Although switching your pet to a vegetarian diet can be good for your pet and for the planet, it’s not always the best idea. It’s important to check with your veterinarian before making such a major change to your pet’s diet. Even if your pet is getting adequate nutrition, you might need to increase your number of vet visits to monitor your pet’s health on the new diet. If you have a young puppy or if you’re considering breeding your pet, it’s best to stick with a more traditional dog food.

At the end of the day, your decision of what to feed your family is deeply personal. Every situation is unique. Before making any major lifestyle changes, talk to your doctor, nutritionist, your child’s pediatrician, and your pet’s veterinarian to help determine what options might work best for your entire family.

 

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We are always looking for more people to write for the NESSE blog. If you want to share inspiring sustainable science and engineering stories from around the world, contact blog@sustainablescientists.org.

Towards a greener economy: notes from a meeting of ‘young’ scientists

Last week I had the good fortune to attend the FutureEarth early-career researchers conference discussing challenges and solutions to how we can build a green economy that supports human wellbeing and ecosystems. I was lucky not only for the incredible setting in an Italianate villa overlooking the postcard-perfect Lake Como with a heart-wrenching background story of tragic young love, but more importantly for the contact with such a broad range of both younger and more established researchers working in diverse fields from analysing tipping points in climatic systems, studying economic models for forestry products in Switzerland, understanding governance structures and their impact on agricultural land-use change to understanding individual’s perspectives on energy-use in the home.

You can listen to the interesting perspectives raised by some of the speakers in these videos. Long debates and discussions raged both during the sessions and in the evenings over a beer about how best to bring about a greener economy (as well as what is a green economy). Do we just need to change the economic system and rethink growth using alternative metrics to GDP? How does green technology fit in with wellbeing and ecosystems and are technologic ‘fixes’ overvalued versus social change? How can social movements or government institutions create change?

….and basically…we know there’s a massive problem, we have some of the solutions…how do we start moving the massive juggernaut of the fossil-fuel and consumption economy in the right direction as quickly as possible.

We came out with some great research questions and workshop outputs and you can follow the post-conference work on the wiki. You can also read a blog with more details of the discussions and see the photos of us hard at work.

I came away with the desire to connect my research in the lab much more closely with broader issues and questions of sustainability and to build into NESSE both interdisciplinary networking between people developing green technologies and to researchers that can help us understand how they fit and don’t fit into society and ecosystems. We need to be asking the questions: How do I know that this technology is sustainable? Is it environmentally sustainable? Is it socially sustainable? What are its limits and what are the trade-offs? Who is this technology for and who might it exclude/marginalise?

However, it also highlighted many of the challenges we face in terms of language and approach to successfully build these connections. I had a very interesting discussion with someone who had worked with a team of engineers and chemists looking at CO2 capture and storage. He had been studying the public’s perception of the technology. But there were real challenges. How do you bring together reports presenting quantitative about CO2 absorption rates and qualitative data on people’s worries that the CO2 running under their houses might be flammable?! How do you really get one to inform the other? We need to learn each other’s language, each other’s approaches, learn the art of listening and remain open and flexible to change the way we do things to incorporate other perspectives.

I also made some great connections with two other early-career networks, INNGE for ecologists and INET YSI for economists. Look out for more collaborations with them on webinars and events in the future.

In the meantime, what are your thoughts on interdisciplinary working? How can we build a green economy that works for people and the planet?

NESSE Launch Event: From Bench to Big Picture

How is science making a difference on critical environmental, economic, and social issues? How do you bring your science from the bench to the big picture?

We are very excited to announce the launch of NESSE in collaboration with the American Chemical Society Green Chemistry Institute on Monday 16th June from 6.30-8.30pm in Washington DC at a unique cross-disciplinary event discussing how we can create truly sustainable science.

Today’s most pressing problems require all hands on deck, therefore it is crucial for scientists to connect their work across disciplines and to the general public. If you want to know to bridge science to big-picture issues like climate change, conflict minerals, sustainable business, and more, this is the event for you.

We will be joined by a panel of scientists who are actively pursuing world-changing chemistry, communicators who will elucidate what skills are necessary to do this, professionals who help scientists connect their work to policy decisions on The Hill, and students who are fostering communities across disciplines.

There will be brief introductions from the speakers, followed by a town-hall style and small-group discussions that will allow all audience members to talk about the science and issues they are most passionate about!

Speakers include:

Paul Chirik, Professor of Chemistry at Princeton University
Darcy Gentleman, Manager of Public Policy Communications at American Chemical Society
Laura Hoch, Graduate student at University of Toronto & Founding member of NESSE
Caroline Trupp Gil, Director of Federal Affairs at American Chemical Society

The event is free and includes food and refreshments. Tickets are limited so sign-up today

A new online course in Global Food Security

Food vs fuel. Land-use change. Global food miles. The use of land for food, fuel, feed and materials is already a major issue and will increase in the coming years as the population continues to expand. Within the sustainable sciences there is a big push to use renewable resources but how can we do this without negatively impacting on other uses of land? How can we increase food supply in a world with increasing costs for fossil fuels and scarcity of some of the major nutrients: potassium and phosphorous?

You can learn about some of these issues on a new online course ‘Global Food Security: Addressing the Challenge.’

The course is free and runs for 8 weeks, requiring about 3 hrs per week of time.