WITH global warming causing chaos, the climate emergency has become a hot topic with everyone from protestors and people affected to world leaders. Indian environmentalist, adventurer, and social entrepreneur Aakash Ranison is one of those leading the fight by promoting sustainable living, climate change awareness, and environmental conservation.
By raising awareness about environmental issues, through avenues like social media and books, the 28-year-old based in Ladakh is inspiring people worldwide to make a positive change. He has travelled the length and breadth of India by walking, cycling, hitchhiking, and public transport with just his backpack and camera to spread messages of kindness and sustainability.
This has included walking for 8,000 kilometers from India to Nepal and cycling for 20,000 kilometres from India to Bhutan. Eastern Eye caught up with the inspiring activist to discuss his journey as an environmentalist and why we should take the climate emergency seriously. He also explained why the world is sleepwalking towards an apocalypse and what can be done.
What made you want to become an environmentalist?
I was travelling around India and other countries cycling, walking, and hitchhiking. In 2015, I visited Ladakh for the first time on a snow leopard conservation project with WWF and was amazed by its beautiful landscape. However, I couldn’t come to terms with the plastic littered around me and it unconsciously sparked a desire to protect what I love. Nature.
You are also an adventurer, what is the most memorable experience you have had?
Each adventure has left me with amazing memories and life lessons. A memorable one was walking from Manali, Himachal Pradesh to Leh, Ladakh. Covering 460 kilometers in about eight days walking solo with my 22-kilo backpack. Being locked in the pandemic really impacted my mental health, which inspired my journey to break free. The whole journey is available on my YouTube channel in a series called Footprints.
What is the inspiration behind your latest book I’m A Climate Optimist?
When I realised one of the biggest issues with climate change is the way it’s communicated. Either it’s very technical or just focused on plastic waste, whereas the reality is very different. This inspired me to communicate climate change and sustainability to people in a simplified language and format they prefer to consume information.
Tell us about your book.
The primary objective was to simplify climate change and sustainability for individuals. Presently, people struggle to comprehend the actual nature of the problem, so it becomes challenging to expect them to actively contribute toward its resolution. The book encompasses insights from 45 industry experts and highlights over 100 indigenous businesses across eight sectors that offer sustainable alternatives – food and beverages, textiles and clothing, transportation, tourism/hospitality, digital/ technology, home and households, beauty and cosmetics, and plastic and packaging
The book has been praised for being India’s first carbon neutral book…
Yes, it is printed on FSC-certified environmentally friendly paper using vegetable ink. The entire earnings from the book will be donated to a climate charity, which invests in green projects.
How seriously do you think we should take the climate emergency?
According to a Lancet study, in India there are 655,400 deaths each year attributed to abnormally cold temperatures. The spike in average summer temperature and number of extremely hot days has an impact on mortality, according to multiple reports. There are many millions of deaths each year to due to temperature rises caused by climate change. We all know the damage being done with floods, and the rapidly increasing number of natural disasters. I can fill thousands of pages with such facts. All these deaths and dramatic changes to our world should spark us into action.
Do you think that the world is sleepwalking towards something apocalyptic?
Certainly, and it’s not by accident. It’s designed by corporates to keep us in the dark to make us consume blindly and never question. That’s how they thrive.
What can be done realistically to save the planet?
Some of the things we can do is to cut down on GHG emissions. Focus on carbon capture. We need to protect the environment/forests at all costs. Investing in reforestation is the key. Trees are one of the quickest and most sustainable solutions we have. We can make simple changes ourselves like recycling. Awareness is the key.
What can we expect next from you?
I’m currently working with my team on my social enterprise Greener Earth Foundation. The organization’s mission is to bring on-ground solutions to the climate crisis. Alongside this, I do have the next book in the pipeline and a documentary on an environmental subject.
What inspires you?
I don’t really look for inspiration. I know the things I enjoy and do them. Doing these defined things inspires me to keep doing more of it.
Why should we pick up your new book?
If you already don’t know what can you do about climate change, this book is your way forward. This book offers the action plan in the simplest language.