World Refrigeration Day: TERRE Policy Centre’s ‘disruptive’ celebration.
The term refrigeration is applied to the process of cooling below ambient temperature. Cooling for comfort, cooling for preserving much-needed food, life-saving medicines and vaccines as well as in a special system of production and maintenance of sensitive products are all well known. The essential part played by refrigeration in advancing human civilization is quite familiar to many. What is not well familiar, however, is that such ‘cooling’ in modern days takes place by ‘warming’. That would sound odd.
Let me explain. In almost all cases of present-day cooling, the heat is taken out of the space, substance, or system in order to cool it and then rejected the same in other space, substance, or system which then gets heated. Put your hand on the coil in the backside of refrigerator or across the air coming out of the unit outside your room which gets cooled due to air conditioner and you would get ‘ hands-on’ proof of this heat and apparent oddity.
These refrigeration and air conditioning machines work using mechanical energy ( that drives compressors) that may come from the electricity mostly produced by burning fossil fuel. That further adds to the warming as the burning of fossil fuel emits carbon dioxide which is global warming gas.
To make such good and not so good facts about ‘cooling’ known to the public, the ‘World Refrigeration Day’, is held annually on 26th June which is the birthday of 19th-century scientist, Lord Kelvin who formulated Laws of Thermodynamics, a core science behind the refrigeration.
The World Refrigeration Day is also the day to recall what we have forgotten over the last two centuries about ‘cooling’, Nature has been performing-without use of mechanical energy-the cooling process over last nearly 400 million years.
That is the reason TERRE Policy Centre launched a major project, with the leading support of the government and private sector on the very \World Refrigeration Day, on 26th June 2020. It reminded the modern society that nature through the trees has been ‘cooling’ the air below ambient temperature.
Cooling without the use of man-made mechanical energy? Yes, it’s true.
That process taking place in nature is called ‘transpiration cooling‘. Trees release water vapor into the atmosphere from their leaves via ‘transpiration’ and the surrounding air is cooled as water goes from liquid to a vapor. The water that roots search from the soil and then it travels through the tree’s water-lifting system to leaves where transpiration takes place.
The water that is released in its vapor form has a cooling effect on the surrounding air. On top, trees play an important part in acting a ‘ carbon-sink’ by absorbing carbon-dioxide which is global warming gas. Trees act exactly in reverse of man-made mechanical energy.
All this is ‘everyday-science’. We have forgotten it, the way we forget that with reading-glasses on our forehead we enter into opticians shop to buy new glasses.
With the advent of the man-made cooling, we also disrupted our research direction. forgot to do more research to understand nature and on bio-molecular-energy where we could have got answers to our more demanding cooling processes.
The project, under the ‘ Social Forestry’, was initiated by Niva Jain of Special armed Police Force ( SRPF) of Government of Maharashtra in its 350-acre land in close partnership with TERRE Policy Centre, Tata Motors, and Persistent Foundation. Rohit Saroj of Tata Motors and Dr. Vinita Apte of TERRE joined 200 members of Police force planted nearly 6-7 ft high indigenous trees near a city of Pune which a few decades back was called as India’s capital of refrigeration.
The theme of this year’s World Refrigeration Day was related to ‘cold chain’, a term used to produce, store, transport, and sell the products by using refrigeration. The thousands of trees planted would symbolically form a formidable ‘cold chain’ to contribute to ‘ cooling our planet’.
The event also conveyed a message that India’s Special Forces not only protect our borders but also protect the environment. They not only can repeal the encroachment by our enemies but can also repeal the climate change.
By Rajendra Shende, Chairman TERRE Policy Centre, former Director UNEP, IIT Alumnus.