Environmental protection is fundamental if we want to preserve our planet

Environmental protection is fundamental if we want to preserve our planet

“We have only one earth, save it from pollution” read the billboard near my house. As a child, I read and reread it several times but it was not until my 8th grade, 11 years ago, that I understood the seriousness of that quote. My whole ideology got tinted by it and now I am reflecting it on the world. 

I am Amruta Pujari, I am 23 years old and I am from Bengaluru, India. Being an engineer, I focus on environmental protection through innovative technology and research along with public outreach.

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Growing up in a place that was once called “Garden City” and seeing it deteriorate over the years left an enormous impact on me. My school used to be surrounded by lush green trees, that were cut down to widen the road. I gave countless speeches at school and talked to many people, trying to make them understand the severity of the situation. Though as a kid I dreamt of becoming an artist, by the time I was in 10th grade, the passion for environmental protection had dawned on me to the extent that I wanted to take it up as my career. Well, it was not easy to break the existing norm of typical career options. I had to make my parents understand how deeply this meant to me. 

During the next big phase of my life, college, I thought to myself: “How will I solve the environmental issues if I do not understand the root cause of how and why they started in the first place?”. Having the love for science and mathematics, I decided to pursue a B.E. in Chemical Engineering in India. Along with studying the industrial processes of manufacturing and the basic science of heat and mass transfer, I was also a volunteer leader at Greenpeace. We were successful in convincing the college officials to organize a human banner with more than 250 students for the arctic campaign. It was a worldwide movement aimed at condemning the arctic drilling for oil. I was excited to organize an event that would represent India on the global forum, with 280 cities in 38 countries who participated as well. 

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I have also served as one of the Board of Directors at Rotaract club RVCE and Climate leader at Climate Reality Project led by Al Gore. The two-year long projects on carbon capture and storage (CCS) with the economic implications helped me amplify my curiosity in environmental research. According to an EPA report, 27 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are due to transportation. This dragged my interest to Team Chimera, an FSAE-Hybrid project focused on hybrid vehicles, a means of transition activated by a renewable source. I contributed as the accumulator lead and the PR for our gasoline- electric hybrid car project. The team bagged 9th position in FSAE-H competition which was conducted by IEEE in New Hampshire, USA. 

Currently I am completing my Master’s in Environmental Engineering from Clemson University, USA, with my research focus on plutonium contaminations in groundwater with its extraction and simultaneous detection. I have been involved with three of the United Nations Volunteering projects: the “Niños de Guatemala” project as a digital designer, the “Madiba Cameroon” project as an outreach strategist and the “Professional Educational Organization International” project as an author of environmental and ecological coursework. I am also part of the UN e- Governance Survey project with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). 

Being involved with Toastmasters International has shaped my public speaking skills. I am also into archery and karate, because along with protecting the world a woman should be trained to protect herself. 

Exposure to research from few of the best research institutes in the world, like the Indian Institute of Science, Oak Ridge National Lab and Savannah River National Lab, has only increased my passion and drive for environmental protection through innovation. Volunteering for the United Nations, for AWWA SC Flood relief, for the National Service Scheme (NSS), for Global Cancer Concern India, for HelpAge India, for BBMP Urban Wildlife relocation, for Smile Foundation and for Greenpeace, has taught me the importance of public outreach. Martial arts have taught me how important it is to have undivided focus and attention. 

Currently I am trying to put together all my experience in technical and non-technical fields of environmental protection and bridge the gap between technological innovation and its application. Along with an amazing team, I am currently building an NGO which focuses on water issues especially in the developing and underdeveloped countries. 

I aspire to connect the dots between research, industry and politics to solve the environmental issues. My interests lie in assessing the impact of human activities on the ecology, using technological innovations to solve the issues from the root. I would also like to pursue public engagement. Having seen people openly burn the garbage around my house and having convinced them not to do it has made me realize how little the public knows about the devastated condition of our planet and how deeply it is affecting each one of us.

We need to realize we have reached a point where we cannot afford to be ignorant anymore. We need to consciously think about our actions and understand how they are affecting Mother Earth. And for the people who do realize this, it is their responsibility to spread awareness. We simply cannot afford to take a step back at this point, if we want a future for the coming generations. The world will give you tons of reasons for wanting to give up; however, always remember that fighting for a better planet is worth the struggle! That billboard changed my entire life, so you never know how your efforts will touch others and inspire them to protect this planet.

Cover cartoon credit: Sergio Algeri/GYV

Photo credit: Amruta Pujari

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