Climate Change crisis – a talk with Franklin Xavier

There are four types of people today: 1) Who start the dialogue (largely the reason for some news trending) but do nothing about it 2) Those who see how something happening can ultimately affect them but don’t know what to do. 3) Those who know the consequences but have given up hope of action 4) People who don’t care.

Given the Amazon rain-forest burning down and the large but controversial climate change strike by school kids (seriously, I don’t see the point), “Global issues” that have a large influence on our daily lives keep flooding our news-feed making us all wonder, “What now?”

There is no shortage of people who talk about what is wrong, but not everyone is realistic or accomplished enough to give you a ground zero perspective of what is happening and what can be done. So I decided to do an e-mail interview with a former collegemate and good friend Franklin Xavier, Climate Change Ambassador for YMCA, Asia Pacific.

I have never seen Frank, exclude anyone or anything in a dialogue, but he would never go past the line of realism, which is why I thought Climate change discussion was best done with him. The thing about Frank that sticks to your memory is inclusivety, polite and real feedback and most of all , his realism. Frank’s positivity is contagious so if Frank tells you something is serious, I’d take it that it is serious as can be.

Shrutthi Prabhu: May I directly ask what do you think about the Amazonian wildfires? Did you see this coming one day or another?

Frank Xavier: No, I did not; not a destruction by fire! I did expect exploitation for it’s richness,but not a wasteful destruction. The Amazon Wildfire is an unforeseen culmination of vulnerable conditions and a very unfortunate accident. The fire cannot be natural as there were no natural triggers like lightening or meteorite fall during the time so, the fire should have be an unintentionally, human, hopefully. If it was a planned operation by any government it shows the future in store for humanity.

SP: Our carbon footprints must have quadrupled when we became an industrial economy, why do you say that Farming is a major contributor to Climate Change, is extensive agriculture the culprit?
FRANK: Take this for example, an athlete was made to practice extensively everyday throughout the year. Energy supplements, steroids etc to make him a winner. But just before the race, he died.
An IT employee committed suicide due to Work Pressure. A Japanese scientist died whilst
walking, after continuous work. The person here, is LAND.
The thing about agriculture is that, it’s not just land dying in lack of natural mineral
regeneration, it is missing it’s friends the earth worms, etc .
Again there is the huge water consumption involved. The pesticides, fertilizers sprayed into air and soil, killing the microbes, insects and other lives that normally would make agriculture easier. Agriculture is process that is intentionally destructive of nature with sadly minimal alternatives or awareness considering the increasingly booming population.
SP:Consuming any form of packaged merchandise lesser, using less electricity, reusing water, can being a minimalist significantly reduce a person’s individual footprint? Is change of attitude the solution?
Frank: Obviously! That’s the only solution. Quoting my most favorite Testla’s claim: “ the solution to all social problems starts only from the enlightenment of each being”!
To realize, accept what we are doing, then, deciding to lead a life which in one way is affecting a fellow life least minimal way, be it animal, insect or tree. Life with less greed and more love, inclusiveness of all life is the only way to sustain life here.
climate change_photo1
SP:There are a million, “clean”, “green” products now, almost all of them come in non-biodegradable packaging, what do you think of this, how can companies cover the cost of cleaner packaging?
Frank: Not all products. If companies want, they can do it. They don’t, because of the market
competitiveness in terms of price. The young generation is conscious, research paints a positive picture, future generations will buy products based on the companies values, initiatives and beliefs more than just marketing or the product. The government can simply lay a mandatory law for eco-friendly packing, or the various association of companies can do it with a minimal increase in price, I believe the future generation will take the step forward.
SP:What does it mean to you to be a climate change ambassador?
Frank: Advocacy is needed in a world where ignorance is still rampant despite all the available knowledge and someone needs to keep reminding people around us to do the right thing. The president of Brazil would have acted fast if he had a friend who talked enough about Amazon and Climate change with him. I am that friend to many students in particular who are pitched to be future leaders.
SP:This may sound skeptical but in a state of emergency are the leaders of Governments doing enough? Because all we see are conferences . How long will it take for them to reach even local governments on policy changes?
Frank :Conferences are inherently good, a lot of policies and programmes are the resultant of them. Ironically, The Earth Summit at Brazil in 1992 was first of it’s kind with impactful resolutions. MDGs, SDGs, Paris Agreement the most successful environmental policies, etc all are results of such conferences.
Reaching local implementation, unfortunately is upto each country, state, corporation, etc. In my views, the hierarchy is the main culprit, environmental measures should be give super power and prime attention to bypass this hierarchy and the politics involved and to put these policies to work.
SP:What is the biggest driver of climate change with reference to India? Is interlinking of rivers going to contribute to climate change?
Frank :I don’t stand with that plan. It’s against the very nature of nature. Creating a new flow path is dangerous as this plan has no moderation. The process is of course polluting. Biodiversity will be lost. We advocate that dams in itself are bad. It’s again out greed to meet our demands and not looking at importance of Eco systems and how what we throw will end back with us. Floods are good, as far I am concerned, as water from land must reach the sea for the survival of the sea life.Flood are the saviors of sea life in this human greed filled world. The devastations are consequences of mindlessness and greed.
SP: As an ordinary individual will converting as much as possible from a consumerist mindset to a sustainable one like producing your own vegetables, composting kitchen waste, upcycling clothes and plastic, solar power installation help?
Frank :YES. Resources reutilization, effective utilization and conscious consumption are the prime keys. On a larger picture, Shared economy/resources are the future. For example , Bike rentals like Bounce, Voho, airBnb instead of building more hotels, car pooling.
DAAS(devices as a service) is the future eg. Furniture for rent by Urban Smith, cars for subcription by hyundai, etc.And fortunately these are also proving economically beneficial and therefore are an effective and disruptive business model of today where needs are skyrocketing.
SP:Do you think climate change is affecting animals and humans equally and upsetting natural functioning and hormone health?
Frank :It’s always the helpless who are first and most affected. Animals or any other life formdo not have sunscreens, hospitals or RO water , or air conditioning like us. We are the culprits and the other life forms are victims.
Polar bears can’t build houses with AC to live in. It’s a losing existential battle for them even as we speak, and all we think we are doing is sharing this information when we should be taking action.
SP: Do you think, there is light at the end of the tunnel?
Frank :If we continue to dig the tunnel deeper, there is only grave ahead. We have to put down our regular, mindless practices, stop what we are doing immediately and detour upwards to reach light or we will have to reap the effects of what we sow, which we already are.
SP:On the ground level, If you were to suggest policy changes to my local government like panchayat or corporation, what would you say?

Frank :Read about Ban Paluk a village in Thailand. The world Eco friendly modern village. It’s a social change towards Eco centric life by all people of the village through a change seeded by it’s leaders.
SP: Finally , what do you have to say to climate change skeptics who believe the earth can heal itself?
Frank :I can’t stress enough how serious this is, though it may look like sermonising:
“If we continue cutting our flesh expecting it to heal, we will loose our hand. We have to give it both time and favourable conditions to heal. We can’t expect for an apple tree to bear an apple by the time we devour one.Healing TAKES time.

There’s a complicated web of economic, social and environmental elements we have created.We need to try and untie the knot first and that can happen only when what Tesla said happens, REALISATION, ACCEPTANCE and ACTION.

Franklin Xavier is an alumnus of VIT and CSI College of Engineering has lead community entrepreneurship projects under Enactus , has worked at companies like Century Extrusions and has co-ordinated Not-for Profit projects at Project-DEFY. He is currently employed at Infosys. He can be reached at and at his twitter handle: frank_roxtar

Published by Shrutthi Shivaswamy Prabhakaran

Documenting unique people |Minimal living |Design harmony and other things that bother me

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