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Coffee Zeit with Roli Mahajan

Updated: May 18, 2023

"If we can build AI to replace human workers then can we not build some systems to save the planet? We can but we lack a collective political will."

1. Why should everyone be concerned about climate change?

Climate Change is real and I think we have moved beyond that moment in history when we were privileged enough to have not experienced climate change. It is not someone else’s problem, it is our problem and we need to do something, NOW!

Changing weather patterns and erratic weather conditions that have become a new norm are all gifts of unprecedented human activity where people have forgotten to value, respect and include nature in their plans.

To be honest, clean water is already a privilege that not many people enjoy. Freshwater resources are becoming scarce in different parts of the world. I hate painting a doom and gloom picture but that is the reality. Who knows, another 20 years and people wearing masks and carrying oxygen cylinders might become a reality. We are living in a world that is grey with disappearing shades of green, so I will not be surprised if the air we breathe will become a commodity with a price tag on it.

2. How will people with limited resources be involved to make a difference?

At a personal level, we can all make a difference. Yes, climate change does need action at the government level, but if we were to believe that we, as people, can do nothing then we are giving up without even trying. We need to fight for our future generations. We need to fight as though there is no tomorrow because there isn’t one, really!

We can stop wasting electricity. We can stop wasting water. We can try to recycle our own food waste, if we have a garden. We can raise awareness to stop our community gardens from burning leaves. We can protect the trees around us. We can try to consume mindfully and responsibly. We can reuse plastic, again and again. Maybe we can even have some fun by challenging ourselves to see how we can reduce our footprint on this planet.

In case the above sounds too simple or like preaching then, I can just give my example. Since I was working from home last year, I had the luxury of working from anywhere. I used this and travelled between cities only when necessary. In total, I travelled thrice and that too on a train. When in my partner’s city, I tried recycling all my fruit and vegetable waste. I do not have a garden, but I got three huge buckets and dumped all my vegetable and fruit peels and seeds into it, along with anything that could help decompose this waste. No, it did not smell bad. These buckets are kept at the back of my flat on a small balcony, near my cute plants. It is so satisfying to see my own waste becoming food for my plants instead of it adding to the planet’s burden.

3. Point out three major challenges in addressing climate change?

This is a tough one. There are so many challenges and yet everything is surmountable. If we try as a collective, as a race, then I for one believe that we can slow down the heating of our planet. Can’t we as a human race opt for less consumption? Can we not come together and opt for community living? Can we not brainstorm to save trees and give up a few comforts to create a world powered by clean energy?

If we can build AI to replace human workers then can we not build some systems to save the planet? We can but we lack a collective political will. Given that there is so much diversity on our planet, the tendency of different countries to act according to their own self interests is not surprising. But at some point, we have to realize that living is more important than borders etched on the whims of colonial rulers (in most of the global south). These borders have already cost us human lives, can we now not think of collaborating to save the human race?

Therefore, the biggest challenge in addressing climate change is human greed, both at micro and macro level. We need to stop thinking of how we can earn/save more dollars at a policy level and opt for revival of some of the climate friendly, resource non-intensive ancient wisdom. We need to start respecting nature again and learn to coexist peacefully with it.

This may come across as a very socialistic narrative, but it is not. I do think we need to make some drastic changes to really survive as, business as usual will not help us or our children.

4. How can we fight against misinformation about the subject?

This field is evolving as different people study climate change from different angles. It is ok to admit that you do not know the latest news rather than quoting wrong statements. Sad truth is that governments tend to twist facts to show themselves in a good light, specially in the field of environment and climate change.

  • I would think that picking a trusted think tank and a news outlet known for being critical of the government might be good sources of information in this scenario.

  • Check and cross-check all information that you are planning to store in your brain or share with friends.

Please read what you share or clearly state that “I am sharing what I found but have not read it because of scarcity of time, therefore do feel free to investigate.”
  • Do check urls and maybe rely more on trusted organizations for your news intake. For example: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is known for producing well researched news about climate change.

The above are just things that I do and are not holistic.

5. List three primary, yet feasible, changes which we can adopt to minimise the impact of climate change in our daily lives.

  • Get together as a community and try to reduce your climate footprint.

  • Support your local farmers and eat food grown in your garden or locally.

  • Reuse as much as possible and reduce wastage.

These are some baby steps that we can take. They are a good start and am sure that most readers might already be doing this in their personal lives. Maybe, we can then wear our professional mantles and pick the climate battle in our workplaces such that through collaborative action at the policy or corporate level we can take some steps which might be small for an organization but big for the planet.

Ha! I guess, one can at least dream and hope for clear blue skies, clean air and water.

Roli Mahajan is Lucknow (India) based journalist working on climate, environment and peace. You can reach her at

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