October 24, 2006

Spreading the green message, Somnath style

It's the kind of story, I wish, the media would do more often. It is about a young man's effort to convey a green message in a down-to-details way that appeals to those with an accountant's mind. Whenever someone comes up with an idea or message, we tend to ask, 'what's in it for me'. Cost-benefit ratio is the key to sell anything. Which is what T N Somnath, a PUC student, has tried to figure out, to promote his case for saving trees from axemen.

A hundred year old tree, he says, is worth Rs.11.2 lakhs. How ?
Oxygen it produces is worth Rs. 2.5 lakhs
The soil erosion it stems saves Rs.2.5 lakhs
Impact on humidity - Rs.3 lakhs
Ecological benefits of a tree sheltering birds/insects - Rs.2.5 lakhs
Air pollution control - Rs.70,000

Put in such neatly calculated and tabulated format, it raises the question: How did Somnath come up with the numbers ? But I would let that pass.

The pertinent point is Somnath has come up with an imaginative way to create public awareness about the importance of trees. The next time you see full-grown tree being felled, you'd say, 'there goes Rs.11 lakh worth of our wealth'. Somnath is reported to have nailed printed notice boards, carrying his tabulated figures, on the trunks of a hundred old trees in Bangalore city. The credit for bringing the story of Somnath's crusade to save trees to public notice goes to The Hindu reporter Govind D Belgaumkar.

Great work, Somnath ; good show, Govind.

And then, S G Neginhal, retired forest service officer, says in Deccan Herald, a tree does the function of five air-conditioners in bringing down urban temperature. What's more, it harbours nocturnal birds such as owl that feed on rodents and mosquitoes, thereby keeping a check on the spread of rat fever, chikungunya, dengue and malaria.

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