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Off the Grid: Comparing Energy Practices and Choices in US and India Vinit Parmar and Micha Tomkiewicz – Brooklyn College of CUNY Contact: [email protected] cuny. edu CONCEPT Global warming has resulted from C 02 emission that results from the burning of coal, diesel, and gas to generate electricity that we use for daily living. Some developing communities like in India have not had access to conventional forms of electricity generation. Over 300 million rural Indians live without electricity. They are still burning kerosene, like we did onehundred-fifty years ago. A: Comparison of Energy Consumption The USA’s population is 300 million and it consumes 23% of all the electricity in the world. India has a population of 1. 1 billion and consumes 3. 7% of the world’s electricity. http: //www. bp. com/statisticalreview B: Off-the-Grid in the Sundarbans Region, India Located in the Indian subcontinent region are the Sundarbans islands, the largest urban wetland tributary in the world. All four million residents of these islands live off the electrical grid, while more than 300 million Indians have no access to electricity in India. How do they cook, get warmth, and light at night? How do they charge their cell phones and watch television? C: Thousands of Years Ago, and Still Today Ever since coal and oil gas has been available for the last five hundred years, the residents rely on kerosene for light at night. They use diesel fuel on boats for transportation. They get the diesel from the mainland. But some Indians, like the Molini family, acquire electricity by investing in renewable energy technology to enter the modern world. They bypass pollutive means to enhance their quality-of-life and enjoy sustainable living. Meanwhile Americans, like the Gallaghers, use similar technology to escape the modern traps of civilization. We are making a film that explores the use of renewable technology by both the Gallaghers and Mollas to illustrate and pose solutions for urban and rural need for electricity. People all over the world are demanding more energy, and with rising concerns of global warming, traditional rural Indian practices pose a solution for cleaner, sustainable energy practices. D: A Solar Power Plant Since the 1990 s, Abujafar Molla has been the engineer of Gosaba Island’s 500 kilowatt solar power plant, which supplies electricity generated by using renewable energy technology, i. e. , burning wood without emitting polluting smoke and ashes. G: Progressive Conservation Practices A helper pummels green leaves and poultry waste as fertilizer into manure; dumped into an enclosed pit as this mixture decomposes and oxidizes in this home-owned bio-gas generator to make natural cooking gas, which emerges through a blue tube from the dome. This tube feeds a cooker, which Indra ignites. In India, the darker, less-lit areas are occupied by people who do not have access to electricity and who want very much to have electricity so that their children may do homework in the evening and that their families may watch TV and listen to the radio. E: Night Life Everyday from 5: 00 PM to 11: 00 PM, 600 of of 5, 000 homes get electricity from the solar plant. Businesses extend work hours and people enjoy their evening at the Gosaba market. The residents feel safe, due to the drastic decrease in the number of snake-bites upon illumination. F: Traditional Indian Conservation Practices To cook, Indra Molla collects cow dung, and prepares it into paddies to dry. She gathers wood from around the two acres of land they own. Then, Indra places chunks of dried cow dung, branches and sticks into a clay oven nestled in the ground, and burns the mixture for an unlimited supply of free cooking heat. This traditional, sustainable practice has been used by Indians for thousands of years. H: A Renewable Energy Store A local solar shop sells renewable energy appliances. Residents can rent charged batteries or buy solar home lighting kits and bio-gas generators to make cook gas. I: Investing for the Future Mr. Molla bought from the solar shop a solar kit to generate electricity for two lights, a fan, and a tv. Their children can now study in the evenings. K: At Home in the USA: Saving Our Precious Backyard From New York, Phil and Mary Gallagher drive to a remote Maine vacation cabin located off the electrical grid. It is set behind a lake and a handful of very tall pine trees. How will they manage to cook, to keep warm, and to see at night? Will they be able to charge a cell phone or watch television? J: Indians Keep Up With New Trends An Energy Park shows ways to enjoy sustainable and economical living. The park promises a fun hands-on recreational and educational experience. Supported by the West Bengal Energy Renewable Development Agency, the park illustrates ways in which the State provides pollution-free energy choices to various communities throughout the State. L: Can And Will Americans Help Combat Global Warming? Phil and Mary get prepared by fixing the propane gas for cooking, connecting a fresh water line from a nearby spring, and gathering wood for the fireplace. Concept Question Can we learn to live this way? What can we do now that is economical and sustainable?