Carbon dioxide is stated to be responsible for over 60 per cent of the "enhanced greenhouse effect." Humans are burning coal, oil, and natural gas at a fast rate. The carbon stored in the fuels is released into the atmosphere, which upsets the carbon cycle. Currently, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide are rising by over 10 per cent every 20 years.
Rishika, who is a standard XII student and her friends are spreading the message that we should reduce carbon emissions, said: "Every activity that we do generally emit carbon. Transport, lifestyle, clothing, and the food you eat -- all add to carbon."
Rishika recently won the International Climate Champions contest for writing an essay on the ecology of Sunderbans. She will speak at the Global Humanitarian Forum in Geneva on June 21.
Rishika and her classmates go around the city in spare time and keep looking for garbage dumps. They take photographs and then mail the pictures with a letter to those who have dumped the garbage and ask them to clean up the mess. They keep up the pressure till the owners clean the place.
She has convinced several of her friends to join a pool car service to school to reduce use of several cars, forsake use of nail polish and synthetic clothes, defrost food in water instead of a microwave.
"Whenever we have time, we go around the city and find out which areas of the city are heavily polluted. We have found Bhutta (Corn), lemon, construction waste, chewing Gutka packets We are going to write a letter to the management of this area and ask them to clean it up. We are concerned about the rising level of pollution in our city," says Harshita, one of Rishika's team members.
She has also influenced her parents.
"We tried to know and understand how we can save more energy. I had to change the tubes of our houses. Previously, we used to use long tubes. I now use CFL tubes though they are little more expensive but if it saves electricity and helps save the planet. I think why not," said Ishita, her mother.
"She has made us change our lifestyles. We now do not use the lift. So, there is less footfall. Only my mother who's aged 86, takes the lift in absolute emergency otherwise, we mostly use the staircase. Previously, I used to do a lot of defrosting in microwave. But now I try not to use microwave. Air conditioners are sparingly used," Ishita added.
Meanwhile, Rishika says that Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, who recently received Nobel Prize for being the chief of UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), inspired her tremendously since she heard him speak at the Energy Resort Institute on the Gurgaon-Faridabad Road.
She also draws her motivation from, British boy Donnashad McCarthy, who has become carbon negative and is currently selling excess power to the power grid London.
Rishika is looking forward to the day the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Agriculture (DEFRA), UK, will certify her as carbon neutral.