Mridula Ramesh is a prominent clean-tech angel investor who has a portfolio of more than 15 startups. She was also involved in numerous initiatives to build climate entrepreneurship.
In trying to find out why that happened and what could be done about it, her first book, “The Climate Solution” and entry into the world of climate happened—only to realise that people speaking about climate change speak almost exclusively of carbon, while the climate itself speaks in the language of water.
Mridula said that India is arguably the most vulnerable country to climate change. Her new book, Watershed (Hachette India), is an attempt to rectify that imbalance. Mridula explained that India has crossed certain climate thresholds and that water needs to be addressed to reduce the pain Indians feel in this changing climate.
More worrisome, the changing climate and water cycle “is highlighting inequalities—such as those between rich and poor within a given city and between the developed and developing world. She said that drought, flooding, and storms are more damaging to the poor than for the rich.
Additionally, when we look at this from a climate justice perspective, “we find adaptation (a large portion of which is managing waters) is getting a far lower conversation-share, and lower share of funding than mitigation, even though the cumulative GHG emissions that have caused global warming are far less by developing countries.” Mridula explained, “This lower priority only serves the increase inequalities.”
She also stated that “as climate heats, it is likely that vast swathes land will be submerged. water-related extremes, which will reshape industry, and famine will return to the country.” (In fact, the first signs of this are already evident.
“Some parts of the country will be underwater at least once a year in the future due to sea-level rise and stronger storms, and storm surges,” said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Many industries came up with the belief that water is endless and cheap—climate change is challenging both of those beliefs. Sectors such as thermal power plants in dry areas may find it difficult to make a profit and may need relocation or closure.
“On famine, we have gone a nation consisting of 220 million people who ate mainly millets to one consisting of 1.3 billion people who eat rice and wheat. The groundwater from the dry northwest has been a major source of this water. A state committee in 2019 had suggested that Punjab could run out of groundwater within 20-25 years. What happens if El Nino strikes after that? “That’s what Chapter 24 attempts to portray if all of these happen in the near future,” Mridula warned.
The book offers a five-point checklist that outlines the steps to take.
Acknowledge water—don’t take it for granted and see how India’s water is special. Recognize that we are the best keeper of our water resilience. Act with data and act now—begin by preparing a water balance sheet—where is it coming from and where is it going. Although version 1.0 may not be perfect, it is better than nothing. Every day, you can improve. The same applies to a nation, a country, a community, or a factory.
Protect the forces that soothe India’s volatile and variable waters—this includes forests, tanks and sewage treatment. In doing so, keep in mind the importance of cash flow—something may be very valuable and provide a great water-smoothening service, but if it does not generate cash flow, it becomes vulnerable in our economic world.
Customers must realize that there is no free lunch. Ask your favorite brands to be aware of their carbon/waste/water footprint and ensure that their entire supply chain is fairly compensated.
Let us recognise the power of decentralised policy—water pricing at the level of a city, mandating distributed farmgate storage in a district or sensitising bulk generators of waste/sewage, tank tourism—can generate a wave of innovation that can bring the jobs India needs while building climate resilience.
We are very close to the abyss yet, and most of our voters do not vote for managing our shared resources. If we want to take meaningful policy actions, this needs to change.
The book has been the subject of extensive research, with the Sundaram Climate Institute in Madurai being one of its core pillars.
“We have spoken with over 2,000 households to learn about their waste and water realities. We also studied the communities and impact 100 tanks had on these communities. Then there was the historical research—many of which involved interviews, site visits and perusal of primary sources such as letters or writings of colonial officials. Mridula explained that there was also peer-reviewed literature from historians, chemists. hydrologists. climatologists.
We had extensive conversations and interviews with many people, including Rajendra Singh (India’s Water Man), the founder of many startups that are trying to build water resilience, scientists, businesspeople, activists, bureaucrats, politicians, and bureaucrats. Finally, the investment process for startups.
How does India compare to the rest of the world, Africa, and Europe.
“In terms of climate and water vulnerabilities, India ranks high—very high—because of its population, its relative financial position, the large share of rainfed farms in agriculture and its long coastline. Mridula noted that the Indian Ocean had warmed faster than any other oceans in the globe, leading to stronger storms.
When she spoke about her experience with her netzero-waste house and how it can be replicated at both the micro and macro level, she stated that: “Before anything we collected data, we wasted what, who, why and how. Over time, patterns emerged and we began seeing what the biggest areas of waste were—so we brought the amount of ‘generated waste’ down.”
“Second, we began to see how much of the ‘waste’ we could reuse—that is re-imagination, how to see ‘waste’ as a ‘resource’—that was the killer step. The garden is kept healthy by making compost and biogas. This keeps the costs down and the garden happy. We also bring in waste from outside—flower waste and cow dung—to help with the compost and biogas.
Mriduala stated, “We have had our successes as well as our failures, but what has kept me going is the focus of data and emphasis on making every action as simple as possible.”
The headline and text of the above article were published by a wire agency.