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Young Indian Cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty wins top conservation award for issues related to Wildlife, Environment

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Indian Cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty, Source: kolkatabirds.com
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New Delhi, May 22, 2017: Avid bird watcher, Rohan Chakravarty has turned his love for wildlife and environment into his muse by drawing cartoons centred on conservation issues under the banner of Green Humour, a comic strip that is being distributed internationally

His cartoons make you laugh out loud. They also carry a strong message of conservation that leaves an instant impression in the minds of young and old alike.

Chakravarty, a wildlife and environment cartoonist from India, has won this year’s WWF International President’s Award for his efforts to change attitudes towards nature.

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The award is the top accolade given by WWF to recognise leadership in young conservationists who are under the age of 30 from around the world. The award ceremony was held recently in Manado, Indonesia.

Hailing from Nagpur (also known as the tiger capital of India), Chakravarty has been an enthusiastic bird watcher since childhood. He was on his way to becoming a dentist when the sighting of a magnificent tigress at a waterhole at Nagzira Tiger Reserve threw his planned career off gear.

It fired up the wildlife lover in him, compelled him to leave dentistry and instead use doodling as a conservation tool. It was a stark and risky career shift in a country where traditionally a lot more emphasis is given to academics rather than creative pursuits when it comes to choosing a profession.

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Today, this young cartoonist and illustrator has made his mark for sketching passionately and consistently on wildlife, climate change and other environmental issues and has many national and international magazines and newspapers lining up for his works.

With over 400 cartoons, Chakravarty probably has one of the largest online cartoon repositories — under the banner of Green Humour — that centres around environmental issues.

Green Humour, which is also the country’s first comic strip to be distributed internationally, showcases how artistic skills can become an effective communication tool to highlight green issues. And for those who like quirky collectibles, there are cartoon mugs and T-shirts available on the website.

“I am honoured to receive the title, which, more than an award, is a reminder of my responsibility to both my art and my muse — wildlife. Cartoons and humour ensure that a reader not only retains a message but also responds to it, and are hence indispensable tools in both communication and conservation,” Chakravarty said.

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“Rohan represents the younger generation of conservationists in India, one who combines his talent for fun, positivity, nature and science through his art, visualising forests and wildlife in a refreshing yet compelling form,” said Ravi Singh, Secretary General and CEO, WWF-India.

“Through his work and dedication and his added ability to mentor, Rohan inspires individuals in a way that each person can make a positive difference with expression and knowledge.”

From gossiping Arctic Terns — the bird species that encircles the whole planet on its migratory route — to fun maps of tiger reserves in the north-east Himalayan states of India, to portraits of various raptors, to a stressed-out frog who refuses to kiss a fairy-tale princess, to laughing at his own fun caricatures, Chakravarty has doodled them all.

Many of his cartoons also give insights and interesting details about the behaviour of various wild species while others address burning environmental issues. (IANS)

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U.S. President Donald Trump’s Take on Climate Change

Trump's backpedaling on the U.S. commitment raises questions about the prospects.

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Pollution, U.S., Trump
The Dave Johnson coal-fired power plant is silhouetted against the morning sun in Glenrock, Wyoming. VOA

“I’m not going to put the country out of business trying to maintain certain standards that probably don’t matter,” President Donald Trump told VOA when asked about the economic impacts of climate change.

When not denying its existence, the Trump administration’s approach to
climate change essentially comes down to three arguments: the United States has already cut its greenhouse gas emissions more than other countries, regardless of any international agreement; regulations to cut emissions come with high costs and few benefits; and those regulations would put the United States at a disadvantage because other countries will not follow.

“When you look at China, and when you look at other countries where they have foul air,” Trump added, “we’re going to be clean, but they’re not, and it costs a lot of money.”

As U.N. climate negotiations get under way in Poland to work out rules for implementing the Paris climate agreement — from which Trump intends to withdraw the United States — experts weigh in on the administration’s claims.

Pollution, Trump
A bus gives off exhaust fumes in Alexandria, Virginia. VOA

Emissions cuts

It’s true that the United States has reduced its greenhouse gas production more than any other country. U.S. emissions peaked in 2005. In the last decade, they have fallen by about 13 percent, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

But the United States was the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases until 2006. And, others have made bigger cuts by percentage. Hungary’s levels, for example, decreased 14 percent.

U.S. emissions started to fall when the fracking boom took off.

The new technique of hydraulic fracturing turned the United States into a major natural gas producer. As the price of natural gas has dropped, it has been steadily replacing coal as the dominant fuel for electricity generation. Because burning natural gas produces far less carbon dioxide than coal, greenhouse gas emissions have decreased.

More recently, renewable sources such as solar and wind power have started to make inroads on the power grid.

Donald Trump, democrats, government,
U.S. President Donald Trump. VOA

While U.S. emissions have fallen since the 2000s, China’s have soared.

The country pursued astonishing economic growth with an enormous investment in coal-fired power plants. China is now the leading producer of greenhouse gases by far, roughly doubling U.S. output.

Cost-benefit

Trump has argued that regulations aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions would hobble the U.S. economy. He has moved to undo the Obama administration’s proposed rules on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and efficiency standards for vehicles and appliances, among others.

Critics question whether those regulations would cost as much Trump suggests.

“None of these policies were going to have dramatic increases in the prices that consumers would see,” Duke University public policy professor Billy Pizer said. He added that normal price swings would likely swamp the cost of the regulations Trump targets.

Trump, pollution
Paris depends on countries following through on increasingly ambitious emissions cuts. Pixabay

The emissions reductions the Obama administration pledged in Paris “were built largely on a continuation of the coal-to-gas transition and a continuation of growth in renewable energy that’s already happening,” said Alex Trembath of the Breakthrough Institute research center. As such, he added, they “don’t imply a large cost. In fact, they imply a marginal increased benefit to the U.S.”

Those benefits come, for example, because burning less coal produces less air pollution, which lowers health costs.

Not to mention the direct results of climate change: wildfires, floods, droughts and so on.

“We have enough science and enough economics to show that there are damages resulting from us releasing CO2 into the atmosphere. We know that that is not a free thing,” University of Chicago public policy professor Amir Jina said. “And yet, we are artificially setting it as free because we’re not paying the price of that externality.”

He said economists nearly unanimously support a carbon tax, a cap-and-trade program or some other way to put a price on carbon emissions.

Collective action

Few nations have taken the necessary steps to meet the emissions reduction pledges they made in Paris, according to the most recent United Nations emissions gap report.

Paris Agreement, CLimate, trump
Developed countries are being urged to honour Paris Agreement. Flickr

Even those pledges would fall far short of the Paris goal of limiting global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, the report adds. Reaching that target will take “unprecedented and urgent action.” A 2016 report said an additional $5.2 trillion investment in renewable energy will be necessary worldwide over the next 25 years.

Trump’s statement — “we’re going to be clean, but they’re not, and it costs a lot of money” — sums up why nations are reluctant to act: no one wants to take on burdens that they think others won’t.

“It’s the thing which has been dogging action on climate change for generations,” Jina said.

“We only really solve the problem if everybody acts together,” he added. “And if enough people are not acting, then we don’t.”

Paris depends on countries following through on increasingly ambitious emissions cuts.

Each country decides what it is willing to do. Every five years, countries come together and show their progress.

Climate Change, Trump, disasters
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. VOA

“You over time build confidence in each other,” Pizer said. “Ideally, you ratchet up the commitments as you see your actions reciprocated by other countries.”

Trump’s backpedaling on the U.S. commitment raises questions about the prospects.

However, the first of these check-ins is five years away. Trump can’t formally withdraw the United States from the agreement until 2020.

Also Read: Paris Adopts Climate Action Plan, Aims to Achieve a ‘Zero-Carbon’ Future

Pizer notes that the predecessor to the Paris Agreement, the Kyoto Protocol, failed in part because it imposed caps on countries’ carbon emissions, and most of the world balked.

“In my mind, this is the best we can do,” he said. “If there were a different way to do it, I’d be all over that.” (VOA)