On April 25, 1986, one of the worst nuclear accidents in history unfolded near the city of Chernobyl when nuclear power plant exploded and burned. The explosion released radioactive material that blew over most of Eastern Europe. 32 people died instantly and thousands suffered health concerns as a result of its aftermath. As of 2002, more than 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer had been documented in children who lived near the disaster zone, with most cases linked to exposure to radioactivity. The economic and political toll that resulted fuelled a global anti-nuclear movement.

The Deepwater Horizon was another industrial disaster that hit the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 as a result of gas shoot up buckling a drill pipe. The emergency valve designed to cap the well in case of an accident failed, and the gas reached the drill rig, triggering a massive explosion. Over the next three months, the uncapped well leaked more than 300 Olympic-sized swimming pools of oil into the Gulf’s waters, making it the largest oil spill in United States history.

These and many other similar incidents come at an environmental cost.

Both these incidents were entirely man-made with adverse effects on mankind, wildlife and the environment.

The accidents could have been prevented, and its consequences could have been mitigated, with effective training, management and regulatory oversight.

Why renewable energy?

As a step to mitigate global warming through reducing carbon emissions the world is adopting renewable energy. Ashwini Hingne, Manager Climate at World Resources Institute (WRI) states "You cannot isolate economic or climate actions from their social and environmental consequences. So, the biggest questions for all of us are to identify pathways that not only ensure macroeconomic growth and conservation of climate and resources, but to also improve the quality of life at the local level through better health outcomes, lesser   degradation of the local environment, better jobs and better incomes for the people affected."

The renewable energy industry in India accounted for approximately 7,19,000 jobs in 2018 as stated by the International Renewable Energy Agency. Expanding opportunities within the sector will eventually create job opportunities and add to the ‘green job creation’ initiative of India thereby creating more jobs especially for semi and unskilled labourers.

Ashwini and her team are doing commendable work to not only look at technological interventions to reduce emissions but also blend in financial and economic feasibility, keeping in mind the social and environmental development and deploy renewable efforts. Thereby taking a holistic approach towards sustainability.

To know more about Ashwini Hingne's intriguing mix of academia, her current work at WRI and how she grew through the struggles in the field as a woman and more, do listen to our podcast ‘Word to the W.I.S.E.’

Bibliography

"The 10 Worst Energy-Related Disasters Of Modern Times." OilPrice.com. Last modified October 4, 2014. https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/The-10-Worst-Energy-Related-Disasters-In-History.html.

"404." National Geographic. Last modified January 1, 2019. https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/environment/2019/05/chernobyl-disaster-what-happened-and-long-term-impac.

"Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill." Encyclopedia Britannica. Accessed November 17, 2021. https://www.britannica.com/event/Deepwater-Horizon-oil-spill.

"How Embracing Renewable Energy Can Help India Achieve Its Target of Becoming a $5 Trillion Economy by 2024-25." The Economic Times. Last modified March 17, 2020. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/productline/power-generation/how-embracing-renewable-energy-can-help-india-achieve-its-target-of-becoming-a-5-trillion-economy-by-2024-25/articleshow/74668710.cms.

Jorgensen, Timothy. "Who Will Prevent the Next Chernobyl? (Op-Ed)." Livescience.com. Last modified April 26, 2016. https://www.livescience.com/54550-preventing-another-nuclear-meltdown.html.