Print edition | Centre for Science and Environment

Print edition


Real pride of ancient indian science

I write this with considerable impatience and one question. Do we really have the time to waste on controversies like what ancient India did or did not achieve by way of scientific discoveries? This is when there is the huge unfinished agenda to use the best of science to tackle current challenges and crises.

India’s climate strategy needs revision

 Climate change negotiations are by now predictable. The already-industrialised come to each conference of the parties (COP) with a clear game plan, that is, to erase their contribution to the emissions already present in the atmosphere, thereby effectively remove the differentiation between their responsibility and that of the rest of the world to act. This would rewrite the 1992 convention on climate change and let them evade the obligation to provide funds and technology for action in the developing world.

So that we can breathe easy

THE EASIEST way to clear air pollution is to not know how bad it is. This is what India practices—in most parts of the country. There is virtually no equipment to monitor the air we breathe and no system that tells us what we should do when pollution levels are up and unhealthy.

Last call to get climate deal right

The Indian government must not use “equity” to block climate change negotiations. It must be proactive on equity and put forward a position on how to operationalise the sharing of the carbon budget—accounting for countries’ contribution to past emissions and allocating future space—in climate talks.

I wrote this last year when the UPA government was in power. I am repeating this as the NDA government prepares for the next conference of parties (CoP) to be held in December in Peru.

Making sense of green building rating

The building sector is set to grow exponentially. It already has a huge environmental footprint, with the domestic and commercial sectors consuming some 30 per cent of India’s electricity. So, the imperative to go green is clear. The question is where India is and where it should go.

The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) has issued the Energy Conservation Building Code (ECBC) to improve the energy performance of buildings by 40-60 per cent. But the use of the code in design is not linked to the actual performance of the building after it has been commissioned.

Ozone-smart, climate-cool

One item on the agenda of the much-discussed Narendra Modi-Barack Obama meeting that has Indian commentators flummoxed is hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The joint statement issued after the meeting of the two heads of states says rather ambiguously that the two sides agreed to cooperate on “next steps to tackle the challenge posed by HFCs to global warming.”

The myth of green building

There is no question that India and other parts of the still-under-construction world must build green. The building sector is a major contributor to climate change and local environmental destruction because of construction materials used; energy expended for lighting, heating and cooling; and water consumption and waste discharge. This is the threat. There is an opportunity as well.

India's double challenge

While climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, traditional system of flood management through lakes and connected water channels has been forgotten. This makes flood and devastation inevitable

Chicken comes home to roost

What should I eat now? Is there nothing that is safe?” This is what I am asked every time the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) does a study on toxins in food. It is a fact that our food is becoming unhealthy—not because of deliberate adulteration but because we are choosing to produce it in unsafe ways. India is at the beginning of industrial food production focused on efficiency and profits, and not on consumer safety, so it still has a choice to get it right. Why should the country not exercise its right to food that secures livelihoods and nutrition? 

If only cities can see wetlands

Sixty People died in a building collapse in Chennai last fortnight. There is much more than the municipal incompetence that needs to be fixed to avoid such tragic incidents. This building was located on Porur lake, a water body that provides services like groundwater recharge and flood management to an otherwise water-starved city. If you care to ask the obvious question how construction was permitted on the wetland, you will get a not-so-obvious response. Wetlands are rarely recorded under municipal land laws, so nobody knows about them.

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