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Food for nutrition, nature & livelihood

Issue Date: Jul 15, 2015
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.

Delhi’s clean air challenge

Issue Date: Jun 30, 2015
It is good that deadly air pollution in Delhi has become national headline. But it is bad that we are failing to deal with it and find answers that are commensurate with the scale of the problem. It is time to understand what we have done and the actions we need to take urgently and decisively. Otherwise, next winter—barely five months away—will be even more severe and hazardous. While foreigners can choose not to live in polluted Delhi, most of us do not have that option.

Promise me the monsoon

Issue Date: Jun 15, 2015
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

Issue Date: May 31, 2015
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

Issue Date: May 15, 2015
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.

Games people play

Issue Date: Apr 30, 2015
Debates are essentially polarised and noisy. But for resolution and movement in life we need to go beyond the absolute positions. In an ideal world there should be enough trust and confidence that once we begin to move ahead, there can be reviews, assessments and course correction. But this is difficult in the current scenario where the polluters, miners and dam builders wield more power than the rest. Institutions that would help resolve conflicts and take credible decisions have been weakened. Trust is lost and the worst defence plays out.

Act locally, benefit globally

Issue Date: Apr 15, 2015
This is a real life story of the world’s three wicked problems, one opportunity and a new way to confront global challenges.

How power can be cleaned

Issue Date: Mar 31, 2015
Coal is an environmentalist’s bugbear. The use of coal to generate energy is the key reason the world is looking at a catastrophic future because of climate change. Recognising this, global civil society has given a rousing call for coal divestment, asking companies, universities and individuals to stop investment in coal thermal power plants. They want coal to go, renewables to be in. And in the interim, clean gas, also a fossil fuel, to be used as a “bridge fuel”. In this scenario any talk of “cleaning” coal to make it less damaging is untenable.

Walk the talk on carbon tax, Mr Finance Minister

Issue Date: Mar 15, 2015
Budget 2015, presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, has a first. In it, India has accepted that it has a de-facto carbon tax—on petroleum products and dirty coal. Arguably, the only big green initiative of this budget is the increase of cess on coal—from Rs 100 per tonne to Rs 200 per tonne. But the question is: is this carbon tax, imposed on the carbon content of fuel, doing what it should—reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for climate change?

Straw in the wind

Issue Date: Feb 28, 2015
What does the decision to save groundwater in Punjab or Haryana have to do with air pollution in Delhi? Plenty. We need to know this because many actions have unintended and deadly consequences.
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