India | Centre for Science and Environment


Dengue, another climate alert

What does farmer’s despair over crop failure have in common with dengue fever, which is ravaging Delhi and other cities of India? Seemingly nothing. But dig a little deeper and you will find that in both cases variable and erratic weather is at the root of these tragic events. There is another connection: lack of governmental policy, action and, quite frankly, callous neglect that has made both events even more horrific and painful.

Last fortnight, I wrote about the killing fields of India, where unseasonal, extreme and deficient rainfall had driven farmers to despair.

Stop the killing fields

This is our season of despair. This year, it would seem, the gods have been most unkind to Indian farmers. Early in the year came the weird weather events, like hailstorms and freak and untimely rains that destroyed standing crops. Nobody knew what was happening. After all, each year we witness a natural weather phenomenon called the Western Disturbance, winds that emanate from the Mediterranean and travel eastward towards India. What was new this year was the sheer “freakiness” of these disturbances, which brought extreme rain with unusual frequency and intensity.

Back to toilet school

Last August 15, speaking from the ramparts of the Red Fort, the prime minister made a very important announcement—his government would ensure “there is no school in India without separate toilets for boys and girls” by the next Independence Day. Exactly one year later, the Ministry of Human Resource Development has announced that this target has been met and that some 417,000 toilets have been built in 261,000 schools.

Governance matters

It is time we focused on strengthening the capacity of regulatory agencies

It is time we recognised that the current ways of fixing the environment are not working. Rivers are more contaminated; air is more polluted and cities are filling up with garbage we cannot handle. The question is: where are we going wrong? What do we need to do?

Deadly air: face it

Leaving Delhi for a less-polluted city would mean accepting defeat. And not many have the option. Instead, we must fight the battle against air pollution. 

Food for nutrition, nature and livelihood

What societies eat reflects their position on the modernity trajectory. Poorer countries have health problems because of lack of food. Then as people get rich, they end up losing the health advantage of food availability. They eat processed food that is high in salt, sugar and fat, which make them obese and ill. It is only when societies get very rich that they rediscover the benefits of eating real food and value sustainability.

Chinese INDCs, although ambitious, will not keep global temperature rise below 2 degree celsius, says CSE

  • China has announced its pledge to cut carbon emissions before the Paris climate meeting to be held at the end of this year. 

Promise me the monsoon

Why this weird weather? Why have western disturbances—the extra-tropical storms that originate in the Mediterranean and Atlantic seas—been lashing us again and again, with devastating impacts on agriculture? Is this normal? Or has weird weather become the new definition of normal?

How to plant trees for development

Today, in India, forest protection happens against all odds. There is no economic value seen in forests, but there is value seen in the development project for which forestland is required. Clearly, this is not the way to go. We need a value to be paid for standing forests; it needs to be shared with people who inhabit these lands; we need to grow trees in ways which bring money to the poor; and we need to learn how to protect, regenerate and grow trees, all at the same time.

The Earth for you

Down To Earth is a product of our passion for change. But it would not have made it to its 23rd anniversary without your continued commitment. Our desire is to bring you news and perspectives on the state of the environment and explain why it needs attention. It is clear to us that as we produce each issue—this is 552nd edition—the struggle for a green, but prosperous, world is getting more intense, contested and difficult. It is also clear that if we do not have independent and credible sources of information, we cannot even begin to move towards resolution.

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