Blogs | Centre for Science and Environment


Alternative Paris

I wrote last about what I expect will happen at the Paris climate change conference. But what should happen? First, the world must strongly underscore the need to keep the temperature rise below 2°C at the very least. Today, with less than 1°C rise, the world is beginning to experience deadly impacts.

Who can touch diesel?

Volkswagen diesel car scam is of no consequence to us. India’s diesel vehicle industry is so powerful that even this exposé of the cover-up of diesel emissions is like water off a duck’s back to them. They should be renamed Teflon Diesel. They will ride it out, literally, even if it means we choke and die from deadly emissions of their vehicles.

US Matters

Why should we look at the US to check out its climate action plan? The fact is that the US is the world’s largest historical contributor to greenhouse gas emissions—the stock that is already in the atmosphere and already warming the earth’s surface—and the second largest contributor (after China) to annual emissions. What the US does makes a huge difference to the world’s fight against runaway climate change. It will also force others to act. It is, after all, the leader.

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.

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