Illustration: Yogendra Anand / CSE
Illustration: Yogendra Anand / CSE

A mirror called Down To Earth

In this time of half-truths and no truths, we are determined to offer journalism that is fact-based and rigorous

Illustration: Yogendra Anand / CSE

It’s the 32nd anniversary of Down To Earth, and over these years, the world seems to have turned on its head. When we began in 1992, the Rio Earth Conference was a month away and a climate change agreement was on the agenda. This was when the world had realised that it was interconnected and what one country would do within its territory could impact another. Leaders came together to frame rules for ecological globalisation—how emissions could be mitigated and how common futures could be shared. We wrote about this from Rio, explaining that much more needed to be done to build a cooperative world order that was based on equity and inclusion. In June 1992, we put the leaders’ group photograph on our cover, saying this was a class that failed. A few years later, skirmishes over the global agreement for free trade started; we reported on this, saying that liberalisation of trade should not come at the cost of people or the Planet.

As I write today on our 32nd anniversary, it seems that we are in reverse gear. The world, instead of moving ahead on the critical and existential challenge of climate change, is more divided, hateful and more fractured than it was in 1992. The incredible technological advances have not been enough to stem the climate crisis. At the same time, societies across the globe are grappling with an economic system that is not working for all. It is making the rich richer and the poor poorer. It is also destroying our environment—and let’s be clear that even if rich societies have no visible pollution of plastic litter on their roads or black toxic smoke in their air, things are not good for them as well. Their cost of cleaning up is so high that the only way they can afford it is by exporting production to the rest of the world, or by externalising it and adding to emissions in the atmosphere. Now, instead of proselytising about the virtues of free trade, the rich countries are reversing towards domestic manufacture. The two global superpowers—the US and China—are the warring elephants, and as says the African proverb, it is the grass that is getting trampled and destroyed. The new-gen war is weaponising green technology and the minerals needed to get us there.

This, then, is the life journey of our magazine—to bring you the news, analyses and perspectives on what really matters. And our job is not done; it’s not even close. The fact is that the world needs, more than ever, to be shown the mirror—beauty and blemishes and all. We need on the one hand to keep telling the stories from the ground up. We need to hear the voices of the people on the margins, who are today worse off because of constant hits of extreme weather. But we also need to look—and however difficult it may be—for stories of courage, of inspiration and of innovation. We need to keep our sights firmly on the need for change.

What is most important for any publication today is to keep the trust of its readers. In the last decade, this has been the fundamental flaw of the information systems; on the one hand we have a partisan and polarised global media and on the other hand, we have a divisive social media that is loud but often not accurate. It is a time of half-truths and no truths in the likes of the WhatsApp university. This is why at Down To Earth, our most precious gift is your continued belief in our work.

I know this, because I hear from you—I get an email if we make even the smallest of factual errors on our pages; or if our work does not meet your standards. I take every one of your comments to heart; we all do. This is critical. We need to know that you read us. We need to know that you expect from us the kind of journalism that is fact-based and rigorous. This is our promise. Do stay with us on this journey. Together, we will make a difference.

Down To Earth