Dallas Jain pathshala students shine a Jain lens on Veganism, Energy, Water and other Environmental Issues

Environmental Fair PosterThe Jain Society of North Texas’ (JSNT) high school  age youth (Pathshala Group 6), with the help of  Joseph R. Otterbine,an  M.S. Applied Environmental Anthropology Candidate  from the University of North Texas, recently held  the JSNT Environmental  Fair. The Fair  brought a Jain lens to bear on  energy and electricity, veganism,  transportation, water usage, and methane production. The youth decided on these topics and researched them thoroughly.  They split into five groups and prepared presentations, visuals, and takeaways (e.g. vegan brownies [yummy!] , pamphlets, fact  sheets, water usage calculator, etc.) for their booths at the fair.
The Fair started with time for the community to walk around and see the booths, followed by a  presentation from Dr. Pankaj Jain (University of North Texas) on the topic of Dharma and  Ecology.

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After his short lecture the community members were urged to visit the five different presentations at the booths set up around the hall. The community was extremely receptive to the
youth’s efforts and proud of all the work that they had done in putting together all the intricacies of the Fair. When it came to the scheduled end of the Fair, some community membewer asked for more time to explore all the work that the youth had done! 

This event was successful because the youth wanted to do it,  and OWNED it!
This enthusiasm was palpable in their presentations, their attitudes, and interactions with the  community. The Fair got the Jain Society of North Texas to look at environmental issues and  how they, as Jains, are poised as natural environmentalists.
For a slide show of the event please see http://www.dfwjains.org/
and  keep reading this post to hear more about about environmentalism and energy use in a state traditionally known for its economic dependence on oil from these amazing Jain students. And for more on veganism, methane and water use, see the next post…

IMAG0041 (1)ENERGY AND ELECTRICITY
The population grows exponentially as does energy consumption. Hence, there is a growing demand for energy. The world in which we live in revolves around the use of fossil fuels, which we all know are nonrenewable resources. There is much speculation regarding the seriousness of the situation and many people point to probable reserves as support for the argument that there is still a lot of undiscovered oil and natural gas underneath the earth’s surface, so there isn’t anything to worry about for a long time. The problem with this idea is that probable reserves are just “probably there”. They haven’t been found nor have been proven to exist yet, so the counter argument is that we are close to depleting our natural resources. In fact, if you were to disregard probable reserves oil and natural gas will be depleted within 70 years, which is with the lifetime of today’s youngest generation. Through the course of our presentation we presented alternative methods of harnessing energy through hydroelectric dams, solar cell systems, wind farming, etc. Through a Jain lens, it is easy to see why we as Jains should discount dams and wind farms as they pose threats to nature and wild life. The construction of dams distorts the migratory patterns of fish and surrounding wild life, while also cutting off parts of nature from its water source. The massive blades on the wind fans easy kill birds and are also responsible to disrupting their flight patterns as well. In addition, the wind farms produce insane amounts of noise pollution. What we proposed at the end of our presentation is that solar energy is clearly the cleanest and most environmentally friendly way to harnessing energy, and the best part is that it is already available for use by homeowners and businesses.

– Simmi Nandu

TRANSPORTATION
For the transportation part of the fair, we covered the effects of transportation on the environment, how to reduce these effects and its impact on Jainism. We discussed CO2 emissions from different types of vehicles (hybrids, standard gasoline, electric), utilizing public transportation, the greenhouse effect and how all the factors that go into our carbon footprint are directly impacting ourselves.

– Avni Nandu

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These words really show the value of these students’ engaging in the learning process. Sharing their knowledge of  applying ahimsa to the modern world provides hope for all of us!

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