What's with the Climate?

Voices of a Subcontinent grappling with Climate Change

Leave a comment

Which way will we walk?

Source: DTMMS

 A Story from Mother’s Tales and Imaginary Hot Air Balloons

by Nimesh Ved, Tobias Dorr, Daniela Boos

During school days, of which I have endearing memories, my mother used to teach me mathematics during evenings. This primarily dealt with basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. This ‘rough-work’ as it was then referred to, used to take place, on most occasions, on envelopes. Reverse of envelopes that had brought in letters, news-papers and magazines; after scraping them open with foot-rulers. White and colourful, large and small, it used to be fun to tear and get them ready for use.

Mother’s point was (and still is), to use a thing – big or small, expensive or otherwise – optimally and explore alternate use after the article was rendered unfit for its primary usage. Added to this was the dictum of only buying items that one needed.

These values I somehow imbibed. Years later when I was part of teams in Saiha (Mizoram) and Baghmara (Meghalaya), we used to regularly get Sanctuary Asia, Down to Earth, Seminar India and other engrossing reading companions to these endearing places. Envelopes that brought in these were put to use as ‘sorters’ in the office files.

Mother’s reasoning, then, was guided more from the point of saving money (a scarce resource itself!) than others. This could be, without much difficulty, today shrugged off as a miserly approach to life. But is not this facet the same as espousing a lifestyle that is low on ecological foot-print and climate friendly?

Evidence of climate change and its impact can be already observed today in daily life, at a time when we are still able to make a change. Most farmers in multiple states across the country observe changes in rainfall patterns, a decrease in duration of the winter season, uncertainty of arrival of seasons and other issues that impact farming. They may have never heard of terms like climate change or global warming, but they understand the associated phenomena well.

For instance, a researcher working on the impacts of climate change on agriculture shared that farmers lamented that their festivals have lost their bearings during recent years due to changes in climate. These changes lead to alteration in cultivation cycles and most of their festivals revolved around these cultivation cycles. It is heartening, she said, that farmers, in different regions, have designed and implemented strategies to adapt to climate change. Many farmers in Odisha, in areas affected by soil salinity owing to the Super Cyclone in 1999, had switched from paddy to crab cultivation and betel leaf plantation. Apple cultivators of Himachal Pradesh had shifted to higher altitudes owing to the rise in temperatures; apple requires a cooler climate for a certain period.

After dwelling in my childhood memories and recognizing the challenges of climate change the earth faces these days, I moved to imagining the world 50 years down the line. How would India look like some time in 2065? Where and how would people live? I closed my eyes and I flew over the country in an imaginary hot air balloon – and I was surprised: Continue reading

Leave a comment

What is the truth about the Himalaya’s Glacier melt? Why not go see for yourself?

In recent times I’ve been reading a lot about climate change not being real. First the climate gate scandal followed by

These mountains in the depths of district of Chamba in the state of Himachal Pradesh (India) used to have a lot more snow.

the many articles attacking the IPCC for incorrectly publishing information on the glaciers melting in the Himalayas by 2035. Climate scientists, economics, politicians and business persons are being interviewed left, right and centre.

The question on the lips of the public is – what is the truth? The truth is such an interesting thing – where more often than not, it is a human tendency for a person to believe what they want to hear.

I pose a question to all people who are jumping on the bandwagon of denying the Himalayan glacier melt due to an error made by the IPCC, and denying the existence of climate change. How many of you have been to the Himalayas? How many of you have spoken to the citizens in the mountains of India and Nepal who have spent their whole lives there? 

Very few of you – if any.

I do not say this to accuse anyone of being a immoral or irresponsible, however before we make accusatory remarks and write articles of great consequence, we must get our facts straight.

I am not a climate scientist, economist, business person or a politician. However I have been to the Himalayas and met some of its people.

I was up near Haridwar, at the foot of the Himalaya’s in northern India only weeks ago, speaking to friends and colleagues who have grown up in the mountains their entire lives. Every single person spoke with sadness at how quickly the glaciers have receded in their lifetime. Some mentioned to me how many of them have had to move homes in search of better soil, because the melting glaciers have meant changes in water access and there for loss of agricultural productivity. For those of you who are farmers, I’m sure you can understand how painful that process can be.

Continue reading


A Day with Mr. Al Gore, Dr. R.K. Pachauri

Al Gore and Dr. R.K. Pachauri at the Climate Project-India trainingThe Climate Project (TCP) – a world-wide organization that supports Mr. Al Gore’s efforts on promoting climate change activism – launched its India chapter (TCP India) this weekend. With support and patronage from Mr. Gore and Dr. R.K. Pachauri and with funding and in-kind support from the JSW Foundation, TCP carried out a training session at the India Habitat Center, New Delhi. During the session, some hundred carefully selected Indian delegates from different professions were personally trained by Mr. Gore and others to spread the message of climate change and take up informed actions within their communities.

Mr. Gore categorically emphasized the need for India to play an even greater role in combating climate change and in being a leader in taking such initiatives. “India is the world’s future”, he declared and went on to inspire the delegates to take the right action now lest all of us would regret later. 

At a dinner hosted in his honor, a day before the training session, Mr. Gore talked about the opportunity that lies ahead, to raise global consciousness to a higher level. “As we do so” he further went on to add, “we will find it much easier to solve the crisis of extreme poverty, to solve the challenge of HIV/AIDS, to find the political will to halt the destruction of precious forest of the planet and the devastation of ocean fishery, to stop the chronic civil wars fought by child soldiers and to bring relief to all those who are suffering unnecessarily from easily preventable diseases.”He also pressed upon the need for nations to come together to address the above challenges, all of which are now defined as political problems. “Our ability to address them will increase as we develop the capacity for vision and build the moral authority essential to taking action together as a civilization,” was the take home message by him for the night. 

The training session was even more thought provoking and the energy level and the charisma carried by Mr. Gore ensured that every eye was fixed on him throughout the day. There were useful inputs by Dr. Pachauri and the rest of the TCP team that kept trickling and adding to the learning experience as well. Mr. Gore’s passion and concern for the planet and towards the human civilization was exhibited in every single sentence that he put across. The audience only got more and more engaged as Mr. Gore shifted from one slide to the next. He concluded the day with sending best wishes to all and hoping for a better planet. He left back a fully charged up audience impatient to get out and spread the message while still wanting to hear and learn more from him.

The Climate ProjectTCP India is slated to be an independent body with a skills based advisory board to lend expertise and advice towards issues pertaining to climate change. It is also being setup to spread the TCP message further and to develop “Green curriculum” to support existing training/education.