Guest Article by Mridhu Tandon [i]
The Sudd wetland in the Nile basin is one of the world’s largest freshwater ecosystems. Nourished by the White Nile-a tributary of the Nile, Sudd is a mosaic of open water and submerged vegetation, seasonally inundated woodlands, rain-fed grasslands, and floodplain scrubland. An integral part of Africa’s largest intact savannahs-the Jonglei plains, Sudd supports the world’s second-largest mammal migration after Serengeti. An estimated 1.3 million antelope: white-eared kob, taing, and Mongalla gazelles move from Sudd every year to reach Ethiopia’s Gambella National Park. Sudd has been in the international news recently. Revival of the 40-year-old 240-mile Jonglei canal will divert the waters of the White Nile around the Sudd wetland and send it to Egypt. The canal will desiccate the wetland, and end seasonal flooding of the Jonglei grasslands. Why is it necessary to protect Sudd from drying up? Why has the subject received global attention? More generally, why protect wetlands at all?
Continue reading “Conserving wetlands to realize global climate and biodiversity goals” →
Guest Article by Dr. Sreeja KG and Dr. Madhusoodhanan CG
Climate change and its impacts in the tropics are changing the once familiar landscapes, once certain weather patterns, once secure living spaces beyond recognition. The disasters that can be as local as a tidal surge to national level episodes of cyclones, wildfires and massive floods are being managed in the same administrative mode as has been the practice during the more forgiving past: without training, without relevant real time information, without involvement of the communities and often merely with the strong will and dedication of the field staff and local volunteers. With events far in between, episodic and with time to recoup, we have been spared total and irrevocable breakdown of the system and society. But for how long?
Continue reading “Paddy farming in times of climate change – field notes – A sequel” →
A landmark Global declaration titled “RIVERS FOR CLIMATE” was launched on Sept 21, 2021, endorsed already by 300 organisations from 69 countries calling on governments and leaders attending COP26 (Conference of Parties meeting 26) to protect river ecosystems and stop using scarce climate funds to finance false climate solutions such as hydropower. Representing the views of civil society, peoples movements, Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, scientists, and conservationists, the declaration called out the proliferation schemes being peddled under an erroneous pretense of sustainability.
“Hydropower is not clean energy. We’re at an unprecedented moment in history; facing the triple threats of a runaway climate crisis, large-scale biodiversity loss, and a global pandemic,” said Chris Wilke, Global Advocacy Manager for Waterkeeper Alliance. “We simply cannot waste time, funding, and scarce resources on false solutions that distract us from what is really needed to address the multiple crises we face.”
Continue reading “Don’t Use Climate Funds for Hydro Projects: 300 organisations from 69 countries to UN & govts at COP26” →
The UN’s climate science panel unveiled (part 1of) its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) on Climate Change on Aug 9, 2021, the first since AR5 in 2014. This 3949 page report is called “The Physical Basis”. A 150 page Technical Summary and a 39 page Summary for Policy Makers has also been published, among other volumes. The World and Science has changed a lot in the intervening seven years. It provides projections for temperature and sea-level rises less than three months before the climate summit -Conference of Parties COP26- in Glasgow-Scotland. After two weeks of virtual negotiations, 195 nations (including India) approved the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) comprehensive assessment of past and future warming on Aug 6, 2021 in the form of a “Summary for Policy Makers” (SPM). The text, vetted and approved line by line, word by word, paints a grim picture of accelerating climate change and dire threats.[i]
Continue reading “IPCC’s AR6: Synergy between Climate Change & Development Impacts” →
Guest Article by Dr. Sreeja KG and Dr. Madhusoodhanan CG
January 6, 2021– An unexpected turn of the weather in the afternoon. Rain clouds gathered from the east and a sudden downpour that lasted through the evening. Heady smells of slaked earth and a welcome respite to the day’s heat. The joy of the surprise shower overshadowed by the worry of harvested paddy in gunny sacks stacked on the field bunds. The paddy which had dried to the satisfaction of the procurement agency’s rigorous moisture tests, is now again wet. Drying it will be an added, unforeseen expense.
Continue reading “Paddy farming in times of climate change – field notes” →
Krishna basin is again facing unprecedented floods, for the second straight year. Unprecedented is a bit of overused word these days, but consider the facts: At no less than ten locations, the Highest Flood Levels (HFL) ever recorded at those locations in the Krishna basin were surpassed (nine locations) or equaled (one location). Some of the HFLs surpassed this year were amazing 56, 51 and 44-year-old records! And imagine most of this happening in second half of Oct 2020, when South West monsoon is traditionally over by end of Sept! There is no doubt the floods were unprecedented.
Continue reading “Krishna-Bhima basin floods in Oct 2020 breaks 56-year-old record” →
Clearer rivers[i], cleaner air, more birds and wildlife around us, reduced emissions of global warming gases, rock bottom demand of fossil fuels, quieter surroundings, view of Himalayan mountains from Jalandhar and other places, more flamingoes in Mumbai, reduced road accidents, to name a few. Can we call them collateral Benefits of Covid-19 induced lockdown? It’s true that with the kind of unprecedented sickness, misery and impacts that Covid-19 has brought, with all the attendant Hardships to the poor, the death and the sickness of thousands, it’s difficult to talk about any benefits of this episode. But on this 50th anniversary of Earth Day 2020 on April 22, a lot of people are talking about healing of the earth. (The above photo is a screenshot from official Earth Day 2020 website.)
And there is little doubt that this indirect fall out of man made Covid-19 crisis, this healing of the earth was long overdue. It has in fact brought people closer to the nature. Naturally, question arises, how can we sustain these collateral benefits of this crisis? It will of course demand a lot of doing by each of the earth resident to make it possible to sustain these benefits. Continue reading “Earth Day 2020: Can we sustain the Collateral Benefits of Covid Lockdown?” →
This photoblog by Abhay Kanvinde takes us to mangroves of Aghanashini River Estuary in Kumta Taluk of Uttar Kannada, Karnataka. This is a special place as Aghanashini is a free flowing river with good forest cover in its entire catchment. This means that the mangroves get unhindered supply of freshwater as well as nutrients from the riverine system. This has resulted in the highest area under mangroves in Honnavar Forest Division at 169.4 hectares. Forest Department has also planted about 6 sq. kms of mangroves here, which are thriving. Continue reading “Photoblog: Mangroves of the Aghanashini: Linking the River, Land and the Sea” →
The Water & Environment sector, including the Agriculture, Environment & Forests, Urban Development, Ganga and & Other Rivers, Water Resources Ministry, Rural Employment Program and Rural Drinking Water Mission, seems to have seen disappointment from the allocations in Union Budget 2020-21 presented by the Union Finance Minister Smt Nirmala Seetharaman to the Parliament on Feb 1, 2020, most independent observers have concluded. The Budget has proposed some welcome measures in solar power and rural infrastructure sector. But on the whole, considering the situation in Water Sector & Climate Change impacts already upon us, and considering the various statements from the government, these sectors have not received the priority they deserve. Continue reading “Water-Environment Sectors disappointment in Budget 2020” →
The Climate Risk Index Briefing Paper “GLOBAL CLIMATE RISK INDEX 2020: Who Suffers Most from Extreme Weather Events? Weather-Related Loss Events in 2018 and 1999 to 2018” released by the Environmental Think tank German Watch[i] on Dec 4, 2019[ii] made a media splash in India[iii] since the report ranked India as fifth country (it was 14th in 2018 report) most at risk in the context of climate change.
Indeed, it is worth taking note that maximum number of deaths (2081) and Economic losses (USD 37808 million[iv], equivalent to four times country’s annual health sector budget) due to climate change happened in 2018 in India. Both these numbers were highest among the top ten Climate Risk countries of the world in 2018. This is one of the many reports which are coming out on the occasion of 25th Conference of Parties happening in Madrid (Spain) in early December 2019. Continue reading “GermanWatch Report: Can India not assess its Climate Risk & Vulnerability?” →