Climate change sends India’s apple farmers up the Himalayas

Warming temperatures, reduced snowfall and erratic weather is affecting Himachal Pradesh’s apple farms. The climatic shifts come at a time when the industry is already struggling to upgrade its infrastructure and productivity to face increased competition from imported apples. Click here to read story.


Sherpas changing their profession

Sherpas are said to be children of the Himalayas. They introduced Mount Everest after Edmund Hillary conquered it. But they have been compelled to withdraw from their traditional role of mountain guides and turned into hoteliers. Some are chasing modern lives in the cities. Sherpas have been living the north west of Nepal since the beginning of 17th century but the world came to know about them only in the 20th century. Hillary was actually the one who first related to the Sherpas that mountaineering could be a business. Currently there are 150,000 Sherpas in the area. The Kumjhum School, set up by Hillary himself, is where almost every Sherpa child goes to study.

Khumbu Glacier melting

Khumbu, the largest glacier in the world. A part of this sea of ice turns into water continuously. This 12-mile glacier used to begin at 4000 metres in 1965 but has receded to 4,900 metres today. The local Sherpas and experts say this is not only harmful for the environment but also risky for people. There are 250 such glaciers around the 5310 square km of the Himalayas. Although many of them are still found in maps and atlases, they have all but dried and ceased to exist. Sudeep Barao has been to the Everest Base Camp 35 times in the last 20 years and says Khumbu used to be much larger before.

Climate change raises primary dropout rate

Practitioners say climate change raises the volume of people migrating to the cities as well as poverty. Consequently working and poor children frequently drop out of schools, they say. Containment of this dropout rate has become a challenge for Bangladesh education minister Nurul Islam Nahid. He says even midday meals and stipends are not working anymore. According to government figures, 99.47 children regularly attend school. But how many of them actually do attend remains in doubt. There are 7.4 million working children in Bangladesh. Of them, 78 percent have never even been to school because the families have never been able to settle in one place. And among those who go to school, 60.6 percent are compelled to leave the institution because of poverty. According to a UNICEF official, about half of all domestic helps do not spend more than a year with one employer. As a result this group has a high dropout rate. 

Solar energy institute, electric mobility mission to back India’s clean energy goals

[Posted in Nature India. Full story.]

Subhra Priyadarshini

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh inaugurating the ministerial.

India will set up a national institute of solar energy in the next couple of years and implement a national mission on electric mobility, as part of the country’s commitment to the greater use of clean energy. India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced these measures at the Fourth Clean Energy Ministerial inaugurated in New Delhi today saying they would help the country substitute the use of fossil fuels and reduce the ‘collateral damage associated with carbon emissions and other green house gases’.

Singh was addressing the conference attended by ministers and delegations from more than 23 economies accounting for 80 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions and 90 per cent of clean energy investment. The conference also saw representation from international organizations, private sector and non-governmental organizations.

Singh said India’s proposed solar energy institute would conduct international standard R&D to create more affordable and convenient solar power systems, and promote innovations that enable the storage of solar power for sustained, long-term use.

The electric mobility mission was launched in January 2013 to ensure national energy security, mitigation of the adverse impact of vehicles on the environment and growth of domestic manufacturing capabilities. It lays down targets and vision for the use of eco-friendly electric vehicle technologies in India by 2020. “I am happy that the Government of India will be joining the Electric Vehicle Initiative of the Clean Energy Ministerial,” he announced.

More coverage from the 4th Clean Energy Ministerial.

Heat warning system for India’s harsh summer

Some key people behind the action plan: (clockwise) Kim Knowlton, Dileep Mavalankar, Gulrez Azhar and Anjali Jaiswal (inset).

[12 Apr 2013 | Posted by Subhra Priyadarshini] in Nature India’s blog Indigenus]

I found it quite interesting that an Indian city should have a proper ‘action plan’ to tackle the effects of changing climate patterns that have resulted in some severe summer temperatures in the last decade. Living in India, the action plans by city or state administrations we have mostly seen are: close schools and colleges,  close offices and at best issue a “do not venture out between 11 a.m. to 4 p.m” notice. There have been sporadic public interest advertisements in newspapers on how to beat the heat.

So, this week when the U.S. based environmental action group NRDC said it would be releasing South Asia’s first ‘heat action plan’ for the city of Ahmedabad in Gujarat, India, it struck as a novel, much-needed concept.

Read the full blog piece here.