Thursday, July 25, 2019

No flights, a four-day week and living off-grid: what climate scientists do at home to save the planet: The Guardian

Climate change is real. Every day I read scary stories of where we're headed. This article talks about the grim reality of the situation and what climate scientists are doing in their own lives to make a difference.

Apparently, the three biggest sources of pollution are vehicles, food and electricity (mainly form heating and cooling).

"Individual choices matter: 72% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from household decisions, including mobility (especially using cars and planes), diet (especially meat and dairy consumption), and housing (heating and cooling, and electricity consumption)."

- Dr Kimberly Nicholas, associate professor of sustainability science at Lund University, Sweden

These scientists have walked the talk. Some have given up flying altogether. Some have turned vegan. Many have moved much closer to their workplace so that they can walk to work instead of driving.

The trouble is most of us don't think climate change is something that will affect us. It seems like some distant thing (if at all it is a thing) that may happen after we are dead and gone. We don't see problems that are already happening. Chennai ran out of water this year. Next year, twenty one cities in India are expected to meet the same fate.

"Month after month, there is research showing that climate change is happening faster than we thought. We’re in a car hurtling towards the edge of a cliff, we’ve got our foot on the accelerator, and we’re just talking to each other, faffing about. If anything, some of us are even putting the foot further down. What we need to do is stop the car and get out."

- Tom Bailey, head of sustainable consumption at C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group

The disturbing thing about climate change is that the poorest of the poor would be affected the most while they did not cause the pollution in any way. They are not the ones who fly, they don't eat meat, they don't live in air-conditioned houses. And yet, they will be the ones to suffer the most. The rich will pay their way through and get what's needed from what's available. The poor have no such luxury.

The developed nations claim that countries like India and China are not contributing their fair share towards addressing this problem. India and China claim that the developed countries are the ones that caused the problem in the first place. Why should they be deprived of the benefits of development if they joined the party late?

In all this drama, a leader like Donald Trump comes who doesn't believe climate change is real and sets the whole process of trying to decelerate the problems back by several years.

It is wrong to think that each of us cannot make a difference because the problem is a global one. It is truly a mammoth problem with disastrous consequences. However, each one of us can make a difference. The article linked to above has some practical things that the climate scientist have done. We all need to take a page out of their books and do our bit.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Sunday Me Blog

The "Sunday Me Blog" is an idea from Bill Peckham's blog (which is unfortunately no longer available). Bill used to do this blog on a Sunday every once in a way when he would talk about himself, how he was doing health-wise and what was happening in his life in general. It was a great opportunity for his friends from around the world to get an insight into what Bill, the patient was up to and an enjoyable break from the routine posts of Bill, the advocate.

As a tribute to Bill, here is a Sunday Me blog from me. While I am not half as famous as Bill and am not even a patch on him when it comes to zest for life (Bill has got dialysis in dozens of countries!), I thought it would be no harm in giving an update on what is happening in my life on the personal front.

While NephroPlus keeps me busy for most of the day, I try to carve out some time for my other interests. I try to take Saturdays off and pursue these interests.

My daily routine includes two fifteen-minute meditation sessions (using the Headspace app), one in the morning and the other in the evening. These meditation sessions have been life-changing for me. I have discovered a new me, one that I never knew existed. Meditation is actually mindfulness and teaches you to know your mind better. The biggest insight from this practice that I got is best summarised this quote from Eckhart Tolle: "What a liberation to realize that the 'voice in my head' is not who I am. 'Who am I, then?' The one who sees that." I also read a page of the Daily Stoic and spend a few minutes journaling every morning

I have been doing some strength training for the past year or so. This has improved the strength in my muscles tremendously. While earlier, I would be unable to climb a flight of stairs without panting, be unable to walk even moderately long distances and be unable to get up from a chair or sit on it without the support from my hands, I am able to do all these things comfortably. I can also sit on the ground, something I had given up hope of ever being able to do. I also manage about half hour of swimming every day.

Teaching kids about the Jain religion is what I do from 9:30 to 11:30 every Sunday morning. This is a very satisfying experience. I ensure to keep the classes free from dogma and encourage the kids to question everything and not accept anything blindly. I also found references from some old Jain scriptures in support of this way of thinking. Unfortunately, the way modern Jain religion is taught and practised is very different from this line of thought. The kids appreciate this and question me. This means I need to be well prepared for the class otherwise I could be embarrassed.

I have been nurturing my bread-making skills for the last few years. Ever since my parents brought home a bread machine back in 2011, I have been hooked to bread making. I started making simple breads using the machine. All I needed to do was put in the ingredients as specified in the recipe and then turn the bread machine on. It did everything else. Recently I have got hooked to sourdough bread. I took a class where they taught us the entire process and I haven't looked back. Almost every weekend, I go over the entire process and try to improve my technique to get a decent loaf. My boules are currently eminently edible but far from perfect. I will get there soon.

On the health front, I have had some small issues on and off. To begin with it was some breathlessness after the nights when I skipped dialysis. I currently dialyse five nights a week with Wednesdays and Saturdays being my off-days. On Thursdays and Sundays, I found myself feeling breathless. I tried different things, some unnecessary investigations and a lot of worrying later, I realised it was excess fluid. I had lost some weight and I had not accounted for that in my ultrafiltration on dialysis. Then there was a fistula infection (no one is sure if it was fungal or bacterial) but it is now treated (I was given both an anti-fungal and an antibiotic). I am not sure if I should continue using buttonhole needles or switch to sharps. More on this later.

I also underwent a fistuloplasty this week. A vein downstream in the fistula had narrowed and had to be opened up to prevent potential problems later on. I was not having any problems during dialysis so I often wonder if the procedure was necessary. But then, you need to trust the doctors, I guess. The worse part is they said I would need to undergo this procedure every few months because these veins generally tend to get narrow again after a fistuloplasty. And there is no permanent solution.

I am quite happy with my life at the moment. Work keeps me busy and fulfilled. These other pursuits give my life more meaning and something to look forward to apart from work. I don't think I could ask for more. Well, apart from a kidney transplant with a complement inhibitor, that is.