Kolkata, 12th February 2024: On the second day of Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival, celebrated environmental artist and writer Louise Fowler Smith and environmentalist and ornithologist Tara Gandhi were in conversation with environmental activist and writer, Bittu Sahgal in the session ‘Green Earth’ themed around Climate Change. The session was supported by the honorary Australian Consulate-General, Kolkata.
The discussion dived deep into the intersections of their respective fields exploring vital environmental concerns and new perspectives. During the session, Louise Fowler Smith captivated the audience with her book ‘Sacred Trees of India: Adornment and Adorations an Alternative to the Commodification of Nature’ presenting awe-inspiring images of trees being revered in remote corners of the country.
During the discussion, ornithologist, environmentalist, founder and life trustee of WTI, Tara Gandhi, rightly said, “It’s high time that we all come forward as activists and treat the environmental issues with urgency to reverse the effects on the planet. When I was young there was a poignant curiosity among children to know or point out a bird which has been noticed. But nowadays it’s become scarce to notice even sparrows in cities let alone getting curious about knowing about them, a hobby which was inculcated in us by Dr. Salim Ali through his book ‘The Book of Indian Birds’. A subtle change if we look at it but it speaks volumes about the environmental change which started taking place decades ago.”
The panel also discussed how deforestation poses a fundamental threat to ecological sustainability and to the continuation of life on earth. Through her book author Louise Fowler Smith reiterated on the causes of reversing deforestation to achieve NET ZERO which has been a global goal for the countries worldwide. Her journey through parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Assam and Orissa to observe how trees were worshipped, adorned and ornamented for generations, a tradition deep rooted in India, which has been significantly able to protect the environment.
Moderator, Bittu Sahgal skillfully facilitated the discussion, navigating through various aspects of climate change and its detrimental impact on the ecosystem. The panel discussed pressing issues surrounding the environment, shedding light on the urgent need for collective action and the potential consequences if we fail to address these challenges effectively.