Carbon dioxide emissions are local, but their effects are global. We are one hundred and ninety four countries on this globe; our boundaries are fixed, but the air that we breathe is shared. No matter who contributes how much to the CO2 burden, all nations suffer together. The USA, China and India are the largest producers of CO2 in the world. During a time when there are differences between developed and developing nations on how to mitigate climate change, Project Jatropha aims to demonstrate the commitment and action of the youth in developed countries to environmental issues that affect the developing nations as well.
Our vision is to promote Jatropha curcas as an ecologically friendly and economically sustainable source of biofuel initially in rural India and eventually in many countries. Near our project site, poor farmers cultivate tobacco as a cash crop in order to support their families. This has forced them to cut down the local trees and forests, jeopardizing the fauna. Jatropha biofuel has a ready, large global market, as it has negligible emissions and a small carbon footprint. Our project starts at the grassroots level with an international collaboration with Parivarthana, an NGO that helps farmers, and Labland Biotechs, a plant biotechnology company. The beneficiaries are farmers. We distributed 13,000 quality Jatropha seedlings to 50 farmer families from two villages. We have demonstrated the extraction of biofuel from Jatropha seeds, distributed the oil among farmers, and successfully run their irrigation pumps with it. Several farmers have been trained in the agronomics of Jatropha at Labland Biotechs facility.
We have successfully collaborated with high schools in rural India and California to spread the awareness of climate change. Though this project was launched in India, we hope that it will spearhead a movement that will eventually mitigate climate change from CO2 emission, decrease the dependence on fossil fuels and global poverty.
It feels wonderful to have the recognition by the preeminent agency entrusted with guarding our environment. PEYA award has given our project a invaluable visibility and exposure . This will create awareness about the fact that community action is the key to bringing about changes in the way we care for our environs.
About the author: Adarsha Shivakumar is a high school student from Oakland, CA. Along with two other high school students, he recently received a Presidents Environmental Youth Award for Project Jatropha.