: Meet the 14-Year-Old Girl Whose Solar-Powered Invention Is a Finalist for Prince William’s Earthshot Prize #WorldNEWS Tell Vinisha Umashankar that your teen years pale in comparison to hers, and
Meet the 14-Year-Old Girl Whose Solar-Powered Invention Is a Finalist for Prince William’s Earthshot Prize #WorldNEWS
Tell Vinisha Umashankar that your teen years pale in comparison to hers, and she is quick to remind you that everyone has a different life journey.
But the 14-year-old also knows that the future looks very different for her generation if the world doesnt act to slow global warming and the effects of climate change. Still, shes optimistic that collective action of people her age will turn the tide.
Thats probably why Umashankar has already been doing more than her fair share. In Tiruvannamalai, a small temple town in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, she designed an ingenious solar-powered alternative for the millions of charcoal-burning ironing carts that ply the streets of Indias cities—pressing clothes for workers and families.
Her invention is now getting global recognition. Umashankar is the youngest finalist for the first Earthshot Prize, a £1 million (. 3 million) award launched by Prince William, the Duke of Cambridge. The initiative plans to give £50 million ( million) in awards over the next decade to people working to solve environmental problems, with the aim of providing “at least 50 solutions to the world’s greatest problems by 2030. ”
READ MORE: Prince William Announces Environment Prize, Calls for Decade of Action to Repair the Earth
There are 14 other finalists including, the Republic of Costa Rica for a scheme that helped revive rainforests, the Italian city of Milan for cutting down on waste while trying to resolve hunger and a Chinese app, The Blue Map App, that allows citizens to report environmental violations. Five winners will be announced on Oct. 17.
Umashankar’s invention is especially significant in her native India, which is home to 22 out of the 30 most polluted cities in the world, according to a report by IQAir, a Swiss air quality technology company. In 2019, 1. 6 million deaths in India were attributed to toxic air. The country is also the world’s third-highest carbon dioxide emitter, after China and the U. S. , despite being one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of human-induced climate change.
It’s these pressing problems that Umashankar aims to address by reducing the use of charcoal with her solar-power ironing cart. Ironing vendors, called “press wallahs,” pushing their carts from one neighborhood to the next are a common sight in India. According to the Indian government’s science and technology department, there are an estimated 10 million ironing carts in the country. Each of them uses about 11 pounds of charcoal daily, taking a heavy toll on the country’s air and forests.
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