India: Environmental Scholars On a Very Cool Mission

About two weeks ago, I read in Tom Friedman's column in the New York Times about two young scholars from the U.S who were on a very impressive mission in India. Alexis Ringwald and Caroline Howe are touring the country in an electric/solar powered car to raise awareness about the dire climate situation in the massive subcontinent. They are encouraging the young and energetic to innovate cleaner, greener, and more sustainable sources of energy. I was very impressed with their work and decided to share their story here. Their online portal India climate Solutions includes a blog, videos, photos, information on climate in India, and a lot more:

The three Reva cars

The three Reva cars

In the launching of the tour, Caroline wrote:

To learn more about the journey and see an example of the very basic climate solutions’ films that we are encouraging youth to create about their own solutions, their own crazy ideas, and their own thoughts on climate change, please do watch our first Climate Solutions Video — our first interviews about electric cars and our very first Reva Road Trip. We were limited to 1.5 minutes to enter Google’s ReCharge IT conference with the theme of “Why I Want to Drive a Plug-In”, but think it’s another example of how video contests can inspire new films and what we are trying to do.

Alexis wrote:

It wasn’t until the 4th day that I realized the magnitude of what we were doing. On January 3, 2009, a group of passionate individuals launched on a Climate Solutions Road Tour, an epic month-long 3,500 km journey from Chennai to New Delhi, India to demonstrate that clean transportation solutions do exist and call upon automakers globally to build them.

On the 4th day of this adventure, January 7, I truly understood the seeds of revolution that we were planting on our “Drive to Change.”

Anna Da Costa, one of their project supporters, wrote:

One of the simplest and most effective climate solutions we have come across as we traverse the Indian sub-continent is solar water heating.

Here in Udaipur, a city of mirroring lakes and canals, age old palaces, ornamented and armoured gateways and sleepy walkways, we have found just one such example.

The way they work is incredibly simple; a simple heat collector (the panels you can see), made up of a heat conducting material, such as metal, holds the water in a position perpendicular to the sun in a series of small tubes which link directly to an insulated water tank where the hot water is stored. As the water is heated within the collector, it naturally moves through the system by convection maintaining a flow of water through the system, and as such keeping it evenly heated.

This is one of the cheapest and simplest ways to heat water in hot countries, and can provide up between 85-100% of hot water needs for a household. An average 50-gallon system also displaces the use of 11.1 barrels of oil per year when replacing an electrically heated system.

The president of India has recently received the climate team at her palace, and Alexis had this to say about it:

We had the incredible honor to be invited to meet President Patil, the honorable President of India, at her home at Rashtrapati Bhavan! She was thrilled to hear about our Climate Solutions Road Tour and was supportive of our efforts to take action on climate solutions. We hope that all Heads of State around the world recognize the young people in their countries who are making a difference on this issue!

(Image credit: India Climate Solutions)

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