Climate Change in Bangalore

This is part 2 of 3 in a series about the effects of climate change in parts of the developing world. In this article I’ll focus on the city of Bangalore and how climate change has affected the daily life of the people who live here. In addition, I’ve included some cool, new inventions from people all over the world which reduce our footprint as a civilization and prepare us for whatever the future holds. Be sure to click follow at the bottom of the screen to see all of the posts as they come out!

At first glance, you’d never know Bangalore is stricken by droughts. It’s nickname of the Garden City means it is filled with lush greenery everywhere you look – flowers, grass, palm trees, ferns, fruit trees, etc. This greenery helps to give the city its cool climate and to mute the noisy traffic passing by. Looking a little harder will likely show a store without lights on, generators on the sidewalk in front of businesses and a sign outside of the ATM saying “Out of Service.”

Scheduled power outages are the norm here in Bangalore. Most of the city’s electricity comes from hydropower (yay renewables!!) but with the lack of rain, there just isn’t enough water to generate the amount of electricity the city demands. This means that each day, everyone loses power for a total of 3 hours (1 hour in the morning, 1 in the afternoon, and 1 in the evening) and the timing varies depending on the municipality you’re in.

Droughts aren’t the only factor putting a strain on the power in Bangalore – the population of the city has exploded in recent years. According to the Indian census, in 2015 there are just over 10,800,000 people in the city. In the year 2001, there were 5,101,000 citizens. In 1981, there were 2,900,000.

It seems that everyone wants to be here. Bangalore is referred to as the Silicon Valley of India, teeming with new tech startups and established giants. To get Bangalored is a new verb created referring to getting outsourced to India, specifically to Bangalore. Also, its moderate climate, diverse population, and low cost of living attracts expats from all over the world (like me!) and infrastructure just couldn’t keep up with the population growth.

The local government has been trying to move towards solar and requires new buildings to have a Solar-Passive design. This means the building must provide the maximum amount of shade to itself, have natural ventilation, and utilize other strategies of achieving thermal and visual comfort such as vegetation and optimizing daylight indoors to reduce the amount of artificial light needed. There are many diagrams as to the types of ventilation which is best and the different types of natural cooling. There are also requirements on the types of materials used for walls and for roofing to absorb as little heat as possible. I have heard many times that 20 years ago you didn’t even need a fan in Bangalore…let alone AC. With more people and a warmer planet, a fans and AC units abound, putting even more pressure on  already scarce power sources.

Solar energy is gaining momentum but is still slightly cost-prohibitive for many, especially in India. Fortunately, in India and around the world, people are creating new ways to make solar energy more accessible to everyone. Here are some of my favorites which were recently in the news:

  • Project Sunroof, a new Google spinoff, lets you use Google Maps to look at the roof of your house and see how many solar panels you could put, what it would cost, and how much electricity you could generate. Currently only in Fresno, San Francisco and Boston, but more cities to come!
  • A university student in the Philippines is developing electricity generated by saltwater.
  • Solar Sister brings renewable electricity to women in Africa who otherwise would not have access. One solar lantern replaces approx. 60 liters of kerosene!
  • Two guys from Switzerland made a solar powered airplane which can fly for 5 days and nights without using any fuel.
  • A group of students in India chttp://innovatedevelopment.org/2015/01/12/solar-panels-that-can-self-cleanreated a solar powered conduction dryer which allows farmers to dry their crops and save them for up to a year.
  • Canada makes its first geothermal power plant.
  • Students at Boston University created self-cleaning solar panels, particularly useful in dry, dusty climates.
  • An interesting article by One on how providing electricity to rural communities can help people get out of poverty.
  • A man in Vietnam developed a small, portable, resilient solar powered generator to bring power where there currently is none.

The final part in the series will be out next week! Click follow to make sure you don’t miss it! Here is some of the greenery that makes Bangalore so awesome.

View from my office

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Community Park in Jayanagar, 3rd block

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