8. Climate Healers

Tell them and they will forget. Show them and they may remember. Involve them and they will understand
— Ancient Chinese Proverb, attributed to Confucius

In our circle of family and friends, the 27-story, 400,000 square foot, Ambani family home, Antilla, in Mumbai, India, is a source of much derision. It cost a billion dollars to build and furnish, in a show of wealth fit for a modern day Maharajah. It is the home for a family of 6 individuals and 600 servants in a ratio that is a fitting parallel to the 1% vs. 99% debate that is raging throughout the world today. But, in our circle, Antilla is viewed as a monument to one man's hubris, a monstrosity of opulence in the midst of so much poverty, built in a nation where 48% of its children below the age of five are malnourished, a truly sickening misallocation of precious resources[1].

But it is very hard for us to step back and recognize that our modern industrial civilization is just one gigantic Antilla, from the viewpoint of our fellow Earthlings. As far as the Tiger is concerned, there are very few humans who are not Ambanis or the Ambani servants. Almost everything we do, including most of our philanthropic activities are geared towards improving the well-being of ourselves and our fellow humans, with little to no thought given to the well-being of other species. This is precisely like Mukesh Ambani showering his wealth on himself and his family in the midst of so much poverty, while possibly doling out raises to his servants once in a while. Can you imagine Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to be Ambanis, who just happen to be a little more generous to the servants, the "99%"? Well, there are very few non-Ambanis among us from the viewpoint of the tiger. And our human enterprise looks like a monument to one species's hubris, a monstrosity of opulence that covers two-thirds of the land area of the planet in the midst of so much poverty, built in a biosphere where 97% of the tigers are not just malnourished, but simply dead. It is a truly sickening misallocation of precious planetary resources.

When I began this journey four years ago, I was at a loss to know where to start, but I instinctively knew that our Caterpillar culture has got to be dismantled. A centralized, fossil fuel energy infrastructure is a deadly combination with ubiquitous, distributed communications as that allows large corporations to reach out, influence everyone and turn us all into Caterpillars. Therefore, it is imperative that the energy infrastructure of the world be changed to promote the Butterfly culture.

Climate Healers[2] is a US 501(c)3 non-profit corporation set up to promote the Butterfly culture, the culture of Life. Its stated objective is to facilitate reforestation while minimizing fuel use for cooking and lighting systems in low income neighborhoods throughout the world. Unofficially, it grew out of my frustrations with just talking about climate change through the Climate Project presentations and not doing much about it. In late 2007, I became frustrated enough that I sought the advice of my dear friend, Juan Jover, and it was he who told me to start a non-profit in the clean energy sector.

And the Lighting Project[3] was born.


[1] Gothekar Pada, "Putting the Smallest FIrst: Why India Makes a Poor Fist of Feeding the Young and How it Can do Better," The Economist magazine, Sep. 23, 2010. http://www.economist.com/node/17090948

[2] http://www.climatehealers.org

[3] http://www.thelightingproject.org/