Anyone for a Revolution?

by Hemant Anant Jain   (This essay won an award at the EU Blogging Competition in 2009)

“With an apple I will astonish Paris”  - CEZANNE

I wonder, when did the information age become the misinformation age? Or, in our context, the age of greenwashing.

pigs nasa water coca colaCoca-Cola says they want to become water-neutral and then commit every known water crime : known, unknown and even unbelievable. 

I cite the water example because human activities have caused North India’s water tables to shrink at an abysmal low (a NASA study).  Coca-Cola has been one of the major culprits in using up the groundwater in many parts of India. And now, in trying to greenwash, it says the water tables are rising (because of its water harvesting efforts) in Kala Dera in North India, where it has a bottling plant.  Perhaps Coca-Cola needs to send some of their ‘scientists’ to NASA to refute the data.

Also, their claims are baseless, as they admit they have no way to measure what they are claiming

But let’s take the buzzword that did the rounds of Copenhagen last year. Clean-coal.  It’s a scientific fact that there is nothing clean about coal. It is just an advertising con job that took more than $40 million in the making.

Here’s why ‘clean coal’ isn’t.  And yet it will be traded to the Southern countries in the name of clean technologies in Copenhagen this December.

Sunita Narain, one of India’s foremost environmental activists from Center for Science and Environment writes: “The big coal, oil and power businesses are laughing — all the way to the bank and back. Their governments have become technology-pimps. We are all being sold an ultimate dream — sin and bury it. Let’s see how gullible all of us can be.”

So, if indeed it is the information age, I come back to my question: how is it also a time when huge lies like clean coal are being propagated with so much ease?

And how will we ever usurp the era of consumerism, greed and a fossil-fuel based society and let in an era of sustainable development? For isn’t that what we need to fight climate change?

Here’s a recipe for a revolution. 


Hemant Revolution question mark 

 Remember the six honest serving men of Rudyard Kipling?

 I keep six honest serving-men

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.

Well, time to bring them back. And once you have the six men, the seventh isn’t very difficult to find. It’s called – google. While the lies are sugar coated, the truth, too is out there.

Just google ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ and weigh it against everything that plastic lobby has told you about how polythene is not harmful. The Indian environment minister will also benefit from google, I think. He recently remarked that banning polythene bags is not an eco-friendly solution. Armed with the answers I got by asking the six questions, I wrote an open letter to him.


(Click here to see a larger, readable version)

Indeed, it is to the power of asking questions, that I refer to as the recipe for a revolution. Because when we don’t ask questions, we get served lies, get greenwashed and fooled by big companies. 

Why this is also important is because people do not believe that climate change affects them. A new study shows that the main reason keeping people from “punishing” “bad companies” is lack of knowledge.

 hemant global warming affect


So if you and me and people like us start asking the right questions and inspire other people to do so, we would have helped everyone to have a fair chance of making informed choices.

People can drive companies to change their ways just by choosing not to buy their products, if they feel the products are causing an unsustainable damage to the environment. People can get governments to change their ways.

People, armed with the right questions will eventually get the right information. And they will then not make choices that put our planet in peril. I still believe in humanity enough to hold my head high and say that.

And that is the revolution we need. A revolution brought about not by arms and violence, but the power of the very humble ‘questions’.

Give me a fair chance to make a choice. And then, to rework Cezanne’s quote, I will astonish the world by choosing a non genetically modified apple.


This essay is by our Guest Writer, Hemant Anant Jain, a professional ad designer based in Mumbai, India. He weaves his skills as a Writer and Illustrator to tell stories that raise awareness about various environmental issues.  His websites include: The Great Indian Clearance Sale, Munna On The Run and EU Th!nk About It blog. 

Further links you may be interested in:

EWTT by Hemant Anant Jain : There should only be one Millennium Development Goal. Redefine Development




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Posted by on May 31 2010. Filed under Behaviour Change, Green Activism, Greenwashing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Anyone for a Revolution?”

  1. It’s not a comment really, more a thank you. Thank you for your “clarity, creativity and courage in a World Gone Mad” – as Frances Moore Lappe says! (www.gettingagrip.org)

    And thanks for your compassion too: I love this line of yours:

    “People, armed with the right questions will eventually get the right information. And they will then not make choices that put our planet in peril. I still believe in humanity enough to hold my head high and say that.”

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