Rising temperature, erratic rain will impact India’a rice harvest

http://www.financialexpress.com/news/rising-temperature-erratic-rain-will-impact-rice-harvest/1154454

SANDIP DAS

SUMMARY‘Temperature, rainfall and soil moisture have a significant impact on rice production.’

With the key rice-growing areas in the country receiving erratic rainfall in the last two decades, scientists have been working on techniques to minimise the adverse impact on foodgrain production. Trilochan Mohapatra, director, Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI), INDIA’s premier institute under the ministry of agriculture, talks to FE’s Sandip Das on the issues concerning climate change and its impact rice production.

What has been the impact of climate change on rice cultivation in India in last 20 years?

Temperature, rainfall and soil moisture have a significant impact on rice production. Change in climate is evident from the uneven distribution of rainfall, higher frequency of occurrence of extreme events, rise in atmospheric temperature. These changes are affecting rice in certain years. For example, the 2009 summer monsoon was the weakest since 1972 that reduced kharif rice production by 13 million tonnes to about 71 million tonnes.

Similarly, in 2002, rainfall was only 81% of the long period average. Deficit rainfall was most severe in the months of June, July and August, coinciding with the crucial vegetative and growth stages of rice. The production of rice has shown an upward trend during the period 2005-06 to 2008-09 and it reached a record level of 99.18 million tonnes in 2008-09. However, rice production declined to 89.09 million tonnes in 2009-10 due to long spells of drought.

Is the rainfall pattern change in the country impacting rice cultivation?

As per the National Plan on Climate Change report, a trend of increasing monsoon season rainfall has been found along the west coast, northern Andhra Pradesh, and north-western India (+10% to +12% of the normal over the last 100 years) while a trend of decreasing monsoon seasonal rainfall has been observed over eastern Madhya Pradesh, north-eastern India, and some parts of Gujarat and Kerala (-6% to -8% of the normal over the last 100 years) and parts of south India. Although rice production has been showing a steady upward trend, poor monsoon rainfall is the main reason for low yields in some years. Rainfall unpredictability and increasing temperature due to the impact of climate change are likely to add to the volatility of rice harvests in India and other parts of Asia.

What are new varieties, techniques developed by CRRI that would help rice farmers deal with climate change?

Under the National Initiative on Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) programme, various ICAR institutes and state agricultural universities are engaged in developing climate resilient varieties and production technologies to address the possible negative impact of climate change on future rice production and thereby increasing the production and profitability of rice. CRRI, along with other national and international research institutes, have developed climate resilient rice varieties tolerant to submergence (Swarna Sub-1), drought (Sahabaghidhan), salinity (Luna Barial, Luna Sankhi) and high temperatures (Naveen).

What should be the strategy India needs to adopt to sustain the growth in rice production in the next two decades?

Augmenting production by improved crop management, cultivation of climate tolerant varieties, improved seed sector and technology dissemination mechanisms, the lack of which are some of the key reasons for yield gaps. The watershed management programme can yield multiple benefits. Such strategies could be very useful in future climatic stress conditions. Conservation agriculture is one of the most important strategies for combating climate change adverse impacts.

Increasing the income from agricultural enterprises by suitable actions such as accelerated development of location-specific fertilizer practices, improved fertilizer supply and distribution system, improved water and fertilizer use.

Improved risk management through an early warning system and policies that encourage crop insurance can provide protection to the farmers. An early warning system for pest and disease incidence will be highly helpful.

मिट्टी, पानी बचाने में लगे हैं किसान

—– संतोष सारंग

मधुबनी के मधवापुर प्रखंड के सुजातपुर गांव की एमबीए पास मंदाकिनी ने पीओ की नौकरी छोड़ कर अपने गांव में गोबर व भूसी से बड़े पैमाने पर वर्मी कंपोस्ट का उत्पादन शुरू कर आसपास के किसानों को अपना खेत बचाने को प्रेरित कर रही हैंक़ केमिकल फर्टिलाइजर व पेस्टिसाइड़स के प्रयोग से जिले के कई बड़े जोत वाले किसानों के खेत अब पहले जैसी उपज नहीं दे रहे। फसल के ईल्ड पर विपरित असर पड़ने के साथ परागन करने वाले कीट-पतंग भी मर रहे हैं। इससे निजात पाने के लिए सिर्फ कंपोस्ट ही विकल्प है। मंदाकिनी किसानों को वर्मी कंपोस्ट का उत्पादन करने, उपयोग करने एवं रासायनिक खाद का प्रयोग न करने को लेकर किसानों को जागरूक कर रही हैं। शुरू में जिसने भी मंदाकिनी के काम का मजाक उड़ाया था, वे आज उसे अपना आर्दश मान रहे हैं़ इस काम के लिए मंदाकिनी ने विकास चौधरी को साथ लिया और निकल पड़ी गांव के लिए कुछ अलग करने। मंदाकिनी को उसके आईएएस दादा एवं पिता मणिभूषण ने भी इस काम में हरसंभव मदद की़ 2010 में नौकरी छोड़ने के बाद एक छोटे से यूनिट से उसने वर्मी कंपोस्ट बनाने का काम शुरू किया। 250 क्विंटल से आज उसके यूनिट की उत्पादन क्षमता 2500 एमटी हो गयी है़ मधुबनी के अलावा दरभंगा, सीतामढ़ी, समस्तीपुर के किसान यहां बने कंपोस्ट खरीद कर ले जा रहे हैं। मधुबनी के जिला कृषि पदाद्यिकारी केके झा ने मंदाकिनी के कार्य की प्रशंसा करते हुए कहा कि किसानों को जैविक खेती की ओर बढ़ना होगा, यदि अपनी जमीन व फसल बचानी है तो।
जैविक अभियान को मुजफ्फरपुर जिले के किसान भी आगे बढ़ा रहे हैं। मीनापुर प्रखंड के प्रगतिशील किसान मनोज कुमार के खेती में नायाब प्रयोग के कारण सूबे के किसानों के प्रेरणास्त्रोत बन गये हैं। मनोज के काम को देखने मुख्यमंत्री भी आ चुके हैं। विदेशी टीम आ चुकी है। पारू प्रखंड के जलीलनगर गांव के किसान जयमंगल राम, राजमंगल राम, मोहन दास, अमरनाथ मवेशी इसलिए पाल रहे हैं कि उनके खेतों को पर्याप्त मात्र में जैविक खाद मिल सके। दो दर्जन से भी अधिक किसान जैविक खेती कर खेत, फसल व पर्यावरण बचाने में लगे हैं। इन किसानों को मिट्टी की सेहत को लेकर चिंता है कि जमीन ऊसर न हो जाये। मोहन दास का कहना है कि अनाज शुद्घ होगा तभी तन-मन भी सेहतमंद रहेगा। गांव के किसानों ने जागृति किसान क्लब बना कर जैविक खेती के अभियान को आगे बढ़ा रहे हैं। जिले के सरैया प्रखंड स्थित गोविंदपुर गांव के श्रीकांत कुशवाहा की कोशिश से गांव को जैविक ग्राम घोषित किया गया है। वे जादूगरी का सहारा लेकर लोगों को रासायनिक खेती छोड़ जैविक खेती अपनाने को ले जागरूक कर रहे हैं। गोविंदपुर के किसान शिवनंदन श्रीवास्तव, रविन्द्र प्रसाद, सीताराम भगत, चिरामन, रघुनाथ प्रसाद समेत दर्जनों किसानों ने एक-एक एकड़ में जैविक तरीके से सब्जी की खेती किया। साथ ही, खेत के मेड़ पर पौधे लगा कर गांव को एक नया लुक दिया है। जैविक खेती के क्षेत्र में नायाब काम करनेवाले जादूगर कुशवाहा जल, जमीन व हवा को प्रदूषणमुक्त बनाने के लिए जिले व बाहर जाकर सैकड़ों किसानों को प्रशिक्षित करते हैं। गोविंदपुर गांव के किसानों के काम का ही नतीजा है कि 2006 में जिला कृषि विभाग ने गोविंदपुर को ‘जैविक ग्राम घोषित’ किया और एसबीआइ ने उसे गोद लिया।
जैविक खेती के जानकार श्रीकांत कहते हैं कि रासायनिक खाद व कीटनाशक के प्रयोग से मिट्टी की उर्वर शक्ति ही नष्ट नहीं होती, बल्कि सिंचाई में पानी की बर्बादी भी अधिक होती है। फसल के मित्र कीट-पतंगे मर जाते हैं। परागन की प्रक्रिया बाधित होती है, जिससे फसल की उपज में कमी आती है। केंचुए पौधे की जड़ तक ऑक्सीजन पहुंचाता है। बगुला और कौए पटवन के समय कीट-पतंगों को चुन-चुनकर खाते हैं। जिससे मिट्टी के सूक्ष्म पोषक तत्व, जीवाणु, ह्यूमस और पीएच बैलेंस बने रहते हैं। जिस फसल में मधुमक्खी का बॉक्स रहता है उसमें परागन की क्रिया से 20 प्रतिशत पैदवार बढ़ जाती है। जबकि रासायनिक खेती से ग्रीन हाउस गैसों के बनने का खतरा बढ़ जाता है। रासायिनक खाद व कीटनाशक के बदले नीम, लहसून, तुलसी आदि के संयोग से बने कीटनाशक मित्रकीट को नुकसान पहुंचाये बिना फसल को पोषण देता है।
कृषि विज्ञान केंद्र, सरैया के मृदा वैज्ञानिक केके सिंह कहते हैं कि पेस्टीसाइड्स और नाइट्रोजन का अधिक प्रयोग करने से जल प्रदूषण भी हो रहा है। नाइट्रोजन का 60 प्रतिशत अंश वायुमंडल में उड़ जाता है। बारिश के दिनों में भूजल तक पेस्टीसाइड्स पहुंच जाता है, जिस कारण 40-50 फीट तक का पानी पीने योग्य नहीं रहता है। इसकी जगह नीम से निर्मित जैविक कीटनाशक का प्रयोग किया जाये तो पानी की खपत के साथ-साथ खेतों में लाभदायक कीट बचेंगे और प्रदूषण से बचा जा सकता है। जैविक खेती से 40-50 प्रतिशत पानी की बर्बादी भी रुकती है। ड्रिप इरिगेशन से पानी को बचाया जा सकता है।
आज प्रदेश के ऐसे सैकड़ों किसानों का उदाहरण दिया जा सकता है जो वर्मी कंपोस्ट का उत्पादन सिर्फ इसलिए नहीं करते हैं कि उनकी आमदनी में बढ़ोतरी हो या उनके खेत व फसल सुरक्षित रहे, बल्कि मिट्टी, हवा, पानी बचाने की चिंता भी उनके इसे काम में साफ-साफ दिखती है। बिना सरकारी सहयोग के।

India blocking efforts to save planet from climate-killing air conditioners

Has India tossed out the Kama Sutra and come up with another way of screwing the world?

The country is getting in the way of international efforts to protect the climate by phasing out HFCs.

HFCs have become popular coolants since CFCs were phased out under the Montreal Protocol, a 1987 treaty to protect the ozone layer. Today, more than 100 million air conditioners use HFCs in the U.S. alone, and lots of fridges too. The switch from CFCs to HFCs helped save the ozone layer, but it turns out that HFCs are terrible for the climate. And as the ozone heals but the weather goes bonkers, world leaders from U.S. President Barack Obama to Chinese President Xi Jinping have been pledging to work together to stamp out the use of HFCs.

India’s leaders have publicly voiced support for efforts to ban the use of HFCs by amending the Montreal Protocol. But when it came to crunch time during meetings in Bangkok this week, the nation’s negotiators prevented formal discussion of making any such changes.

Continue reading at Grist … http://grist.org/news/india-blocking-efforts-to-save-planet-from-climate-killing-air-conditioners/

Good science & good journalism: what’s the link?

Posted in Indigenus blog

by Subhra Priyadarshini | Category: ,

In journalism, the more you write about a particular issue, the more chances you have of being heard by people who matter and of impacting public policy — that’s an obvious thing.

In science, the more you publish, the more you influence your peers and, in effect, people who matter. Now, that too is pretty obvious.

In many ways — especially when the issues are of immediate importance to you and me (such as the environment or health) — journalism and scientific publishing have a lot in common. They help create the buzz, bring matters to the fore and, if done well, could influence national policies. In many cases, a glaring scientific observation lends seamlessly to a brilliant work of high-impact journalism and vice-versa.

The latest IPCC working group report (fifth assessment report or AR5), as always and with reason, got a lot of media attention when it was released last month. There have been studies and more studies showing how media coverage of climate change issues peaks during IPCC negotiations and before and after the release of such ARs. However, there’s also much disappointment among negotiators and climate change communicators that effective coverage does not happen where it matters most.

During a south Asian climate change communicators’ meet last year, the issue of journalism versus activism was discussed at length as a section of journalists seemed to be gleefully crossing the line, created by modern journalism, to “do their bit for the society”. Some debated that we live in times when journalism is no longer considered a vocation, it is a profession guided mostly by advertising revenue, circulation/viewership and space/time crunch. However, most agreed that environment journalism is still that niche area where these lines often blur effortlessly.

Award winning environmental journalist Mark Schapiro says science lends itself seamlessly to great investigative stories.

The sentiments were echoed this month when a meet of global investigative journalists discussed how environmental journalism could be made more scientific and high-impact. The session discussed at length the many layers of environmental coverage, the use of scientific methodology and new age tools (satellite images, scientific literature and geotagged maps) to make sense of it all.

Taking this discussion to the next level — that is to ask ‘how environment journalists can make a difference’ — David Dodman of London-based International Institute of Environment and Development recently outlined what journalists in their role as communicators can do towards “strengthening the resilience of vulnerable citizens and infrastructure.”  They could advocate wise use of funds to improve living conditions and build resilience.

Dodman says urban populations in Africa and Asia live in places exposed to hazards, such as floods and tropical storms, which will become more frequent and intense in the coming decades. Many towns and cities lack the necessary basic infrastructure and resources to reduce the risk that such hazards pose,” he wrote in his blog. Urban residents are not always aware of the range of funds that their cities could use. Journalists can inform vulnerable citizens about them, so that citizens can in turn make the right demands from their authorities at different scales, he says.

A couple of months ago, an article in Nature Reviews Climate Change made a direct connection between pollution in a particular country/region to the number of scientific papers published in that country/region. The article accompanied by a beautiful map  concluded that the more the number of scientific papers produced from a country, the lesser are its pollution levels. “Good scientific research is necessary to provide the basis for the implementation of policies that aim to control harmful environmental agents, helping society to decide a course of action,” write Lais Fajersztain and colleagues in the paper.

They also infer from their study that governments that spend more on health care have more stringent air quality standards, probably because of greater governmental awareness of the adverse health effects of air pollution and the consequent establishment of air pollution control measures to avoid increased health costs. The researchers found that scientific research on the impact of air pollution on health is concentrated mainly in North America and Europe, China, Australia, Brazil and Japan. Such research is practically nonexistent in Africa, India and other South American countries — developing countries were found to contribute only 5% of the total research.

The map depicted a comparative panel of the number of papers produced from 1983 to date on malaria, water quality and air pollution, using the Web of Science database. “There was a marked imbalance between levels of air pollution and local scientific production: a more balanced scenario emerges when waterborne diseases and malaria are considered,” the scientists wrote.

Now that is something to pick on. And it brings to fore another question: are countries traditionally doing well in science also producing the best journalistic works? The question, in turn, merits another scientific study.

Good science and good journalism will never cease to give-and-take.

Watchdog finds malpractice in Bangladesh climate finance

Tue, 15 Oct 2013

Author: Syful Islam

DHAKA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – An international watchdog has uncovered malpractice in the management of Bangladesh’s climate change funding, finding that some groups paid 20 percent of their allocation as “commission” in order to be chosen for adaptation projects.

On Oct. 3, the Bangladesh chapter of Transparency International (TIB) released a study on climate fund governance that revealed political influence, nepotism and corruption in the selection of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to carry out work on the ground.

It described how the Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), a state-owned ‘not-for-profit’ company that funds micro-credit programmes, had picked 63 NGOs to receive grants from the Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund (BCCTF), set up to channel money budgeted by the government to help communities adapt to climate shifts.

From 2011 onwards, TIB investigated the selection process, funding and project progress for 55 NGOs out of the 63. Researchers were unable to trace 10 of the NGOs. They also discovered that the heads of 13 NGOs were involved in politics, and that nine projects were awarded as a result of political influence.

“It is alleged (to us) that some NGOs received projects through political influence, by paying commissions (20 percent of total project value), by engaging associate NGOs with connections with policy makers for implementing the project in partnership with the approved NGO, and by colluding with decision-makers and providing undue benefits, such as establishing a computer centre in the electoral constituency of the concerned official,” TIB researchers said.

Only 17 of the NGOs had prior experience of working directly on natural disasters, environment and climate change, according to the report. Presenting the research, assistant coordinator Mohua Rauf said most of the NGOs chosen were inexperienced, lacked the necessary infrastructure and had questionable credibility.

Funding allocations do not appear to be based on need, she added. Among the districts worst-affected by climate change, Khulna got only 6.5 percent of the total, while Satkhira received only 1.2 percent and Bagerhat nothing. But districts that are much less affected – Tangail, Gaibandha, Rajshahi and Nowabganj – were awarded a large number of projects.

Rauf said the PKSF, which manages the trust fund, did not monitor, inspect or review the progress of project implementation. This could be due to a lack of funding to carry out the work, as the body has not received any money from the BCCTF for that purpose, she added.

‘SOME DIFFICULTIES’

The PKSF hit back at the TIB investigation after it was reported in different media outlets.

“Initially, (the) government selected 131 NGOs from over 4,000 applications. Later on PKSF was entrusted with the NGO verification and finance. Finally, 63 NGOs were selected. During the procedure, PKSF investigated (the) existence of the NGOs, their capacity, previous activities/experience etc. Only those NGOs which fulfilled the above criteria were selected for funding,” it said in a statement.

TIB’s finding that 10 NGOs did not exist was incorrect, the PKSF added.

“According to the existing terms and conditions, selected NGOs are at liberty to engage partners for project implementation. Since climate change adaptation is a new concept, we found some NGOs are facing some difficulties in implementing the project,” it said.

The PKSF’s fund allocation and selection criteria “are very rigid and transparent”, it continued. “Strict rules are followed in the entire process. There is no scope for any unfair means or corrupt practice in PKSF activities,” it said.

TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman told Thomson Reuters Foundation projects should be selected based on local need.

“Political influence, nepotism and other malpractices should not get consideration in project selection,” he said. “Projects should be undertaken in the areas where people are more affected and vulnerable to climate change impacts.”

In addition, project transparency and accountability has to be ensured during implementation, he said. If that doesn’t happen, international funds may stop flowing, he warned.

Up to June this year, developed nations made climate finance pledges of $594 million to Bangladesh, although much of the money has yet to be delivered. In addition, the South Asian nation has received $147 million out of $149 million promised by a group of wealthy states through the Bangladesh Climate Change Resilience Fund (BCCRF), a multi-donor fund administered by the World Bank.

“We get money from (the) national and international level for adaptation. If we can utilise it effectively, more funds will be channelled in the near future. If the malpractices are not eliminated, donors won’t show interest,” Iftekharuzzaman said.

‘IT’S A VERY EASY JOB’

Ruhul Matin, executive director of Sagarika Samaj Unnayan Sangstha (Sagarika Social Development Organisation), said he had submitted a project proposal for Tk 30 million ($386,400) to help 5,000 fishermen in the southeastern districts of Noakhali, Laxmipur and Feni.

“I was given Tk 3 million, and we are now supporting 500 fishermen,” he said. “We helped them elevate houses, provided some trees for forestation and lifejackets, and gave (them) some training for income-generation activities.”

His organisation is an implementation partner for PKSF-funded projects, whose progress is being closely monitored by PKSF officials, he added.

Selim Chowdhury, project coordinator for Samahar, an NGO that was allocated Tk 3 million to plant trees in the capital, said his organisation had previously carried out garbage management work in the city with the Dhaka City Corporation.

The TIB research team said this NGO had been selected for climate change funding because of political influence. Chowdhury denied this.

“It’s a very easy job – anyone, experienced or inexperienced, can do the work. We will plant trees on two sides of the roads in some areas of Dhaka,” he said.

NEED TO SHOW RIGOUR

Ainun Nishat, an environmentalist and vice chancellor of BRAC University in Dhaka, told Thomson Reuters Foundation the BCCTF is governed by a high-powered committee comprising several ministers, government secretaries and experts.

“But you can get nothing online about the NGO projects under the BCCTF, which does not reflect transparency and accountability,” said Nishat.

The PKSF is also helping select NGOs for the disbursement of 10 percent of the money in the donor-backed climate change resilience fund. In this case, information about the NGOs, selection criteria, project details and implementation progress are available online, Nishat added.

“No matter whether the funds come from donors or the government exchequer, transparency in the selection of NGOs and projects must be ensured,” he said.

Atiq Rahman, executive director of the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, an NGO that works on sustainable development issues, said Bangladesh has attracted international sympathy for its vulnerability to climate change, as well as it efforts to tackle the problem.

“In the near future, there will be greater allocation from the global sources of funding. Bangladesh needs to demonstrate its capacity to absorb funds through technically sound projects which have a high degree of transparency and accountability,” he said.

“It is in our interest to build that capacity and rigour as soon as we can,” he added.

Syful Islam is a journalist with the Financial Express newspaper in Bangladesh. He can be reached at: [email protected]

http://www.trust.org/item/20131015100349-6sbou/

Weeping sea : Documentary on climate change

Weeping sea 
 Duration: 21 minutes
 Language: Malayalam (Subtitled in English)
 Direction: K Rajendran
 Camera: K Rajendran, Rahul R Chandran, Muhammed Basheer
 Editing: Jayakrishnan

 

An investigation on
How does climate impact marine and fisheries sector?
How does it affect fishermen?

How does human intervention precipitate climate change impacts?

1. Depletion of Mussels.
Location: Elephant mussels hill, Thiruvanandhapuram.
Two varieties of mussels are found in Kerala;Brown mussels and green
mussels. This (September-December) is the season of mussels. Huge
depletion of mussels is being found this season. Depletion is being felt
during last 3 years. According to marine expert this is due to the climate
change.

2. Fishes disappearing

Location; Kovalam beach, Thiruvanandhapuram
Many varieties of fishes are disappearing in Kerala sea shore.. Kilimeen (Mesoprion) is the best example. According to Central Marine and Fisheries research institute, it is one of the best examples of climate change impact on fisheries. Kilimeen is known as the ideal fish for poor. Because of it’s less
cost and good taste. So it’s depletion is widely effected the poor who doesn’t have enough money to purchase fishes of high cost.

3 .How islanders are affected?

Location: Lakshadweep
How lonely islander is being affected? .Lakshadweep is the best example.
Three islands in Lakshadweep, Pitti(Fastest sinking Island) ,Kavarathi,
Agathy are telling their stories.
Here 3 climate change impacts;
A . Water level is rising marginally.
B. Depletion of fishes is being felt
C. Corals are vanishing.
4. Salty water
Location; Mavilakadavu village, Poovar

This is a new phenomenon in many of the villages in Kerala. Water in the well became alty although it is situating 5 or 6 Km away from sea. According to marine expert this is an excellent example of climate change.

5. Human intervention expedites climate change

Location: Puzhikara beach
Once, the beautiful beach Puzhikara, was known for the varieties of fishes. Now it has become a “beach of Eagles”. The beach has been turned as a dumping place of waste. Eco system in the seashore is being scuttled.6. Encroachments

Location; Vembanadu backwater, Alapuzha
This backwater is converted as a lake of Tourism and encroachment. All existing laws are being violated. Encroachments are being done by big corporates. Authorities act as mute spectators.

Kindly watch the filmPlease click here

Funerals, weddings skew South Asia emission figures

[doi:10.1038/nindia.2013.137; Published online 19 October 2013]

Subhra Priyadarshini

Across South Asia, a disturbing and hitherto unaccounted amount of smoke is making its way stealthily into the air — the kind of smoke people chose to revere, inhale and quietly ignore. This is the smoke from tonnes of incense sticks in temples, mosques and graveyards as also from burning the dead in open funeral pyres. The smoke has been adding significantly to the region’s ‘brown carbon’ and ‘volatile organic compound’ emissions but remains completely missing from national health indices or international climate models.

A researcher measures brown carbon emissions at an open air cremation site in Chattisgarh, India. © PRSU

 

Scientists from Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University (PRSU) in Raipur, Chattisgarh along with colleagues from the Desert Research Institute (DRI) in Reno, Nevada, USA have now accounted for the first time how much these religious practices are actually contributing to national emissions in the region 12.

It turns out that the funeral pyres alone could be contributing as much as 92 Gg/year (green house gas emissions per year) of light-absorbing carbon aerosols. This, they say, is equivalent to almost 23 percent of the total carbonaceous aerosol mass produced by human-burnt fossil fuels, and 10 percent of biofuels in the South Asian region.

Additionally, samples collected from marriage ceremonies, Muslim graveyards, Hindu and Buddhist temples in Chattisgarh state of India indicate emissions of massive quantities of carcinogenic volatile organic compounds (VOC). Extrapolated to a national scale, the figures turn out to be 0.001 Terra grams per year (Tg/yr), which the scientists term as ‘very huge’. (Total VOC emission estimate from all ritual activities was found to be 7.388 Tg/year out of which crematoria alone contributed 7.387 Tg/year).

Says Rajan Chakrabarty from DRI,” Our main motivation to investigate funeral pyres and widely-prevalent cultural practices in India stemmed from the lack of data about these emission sources in current regional emission inventories used by global climate models. Current inventories include pollutants primarily from technology-based (or energy production) sources such as fossil fuel and residential biofuel burning.”

Hence, when Shamsh Pervez from the PRSU in Chattisgarh visited DRI as a Fulbright fellow in 2011, the laid out the blueprint for the study. Their investigations began when Pervez returned to India.

An interesting thing the team found in funeral pyres were the organic carbon particles (and not black carbon) as primary emitters. These absorb sunlight and caused heating. “Conventional organic carbon aerosols are treated in climate models as non-absorbing in the visible spectrum. This class of light-absorbing organic carbon is known as brown carbon aerosols”, Chakrabarty says.

Their study on funeral pyre emissions in India and Nepal pointed out that over South Asia, one could expect not just black carbon (or soot) but brown carbon also playing a major warming effect and subsequently impacting the climate.

“We need to study this better to understand the effects of brown carbon and climate impacts over South Asia from previously non-inventoried and unstudied sources,” he points out.

Carbon aerosols are known to be the second largest anthropogenic contributor to global warming after carbon dioxide. The dark particles settling on snow make snow covers absorb more sunlight and accelerate glacial melting. Chakrabarty’s earlier work in the north-east Indian city of Guwahati revealed that alarmingly high pollution levels in the Brahmaputra river might be resulting in an outflow of pollutants into the Himalayas, melting glaciers faster and interfering with India’s monsoon cycle 3.

Between 2011 and 2012, Pervez and his colleagues hopped from marriage ceremonies to graveyards and temples to shrines in Raipur city measuring what they call the ’emission factors’ of plumes from embers and flames. Alongside the regular incense, they found people burning barks of mango and sal (Shorea rodusta) trees, cow dung, cow urine, dry leaves, oil, vermillion powder, camphor, ghee (clarified butter), cotton and grains in these rituals. The scientists then measured fourteen deadly volatile organic compounds from these samples including formaldehyde, benzene, styrene and 1, 3 butadiene.

“There are three million religious places of worship in India alone and over 10 million marriages take place every year in this country according to the 2011 census. When these results were multiplied to fit these scales, the quantum of emissions was just baffling,” Pervez told Nature India.

The scientists feel they have to tread cautiously in suggesting mitigation measures for religious practices-induced warming and health hazards since these are deeply-entrenched and culturally sensitive issues. “No wonder the cases of chronic bronchitis and lung cancer are much higher among people conducting these religious practices but that, of course, is a matter of another scientific study,” Pervez says.

He says it is possible, however, to inculcate climate and health-friendly practices among people without hurting their religious sentiments. “For example, this month during the religious Hindu festival of Sharad Purnima, which involves cooking kheer(a sweetmeat) in the open and keeping it in the open overnight in the belief that it turns into nectar in the auspicious full moon light, we advocated that people cover it with transparent sheets. It would mean that moonlight does reach the kheer and at the same time it remains untouched by the heavy load of pollutants in the Chattisgarh air.”

The advocacy bore fruit and people have taken to the practice well, Pervez says. Similarly, for religious burning practices he suggests making a start by shunning all synthetic burning materials and sticking to safer biomaterials such as wood. As of now, using the most recent Hindu and Sikh population death-rate data, they estimate that more than four tera grams of burning material is used annually in India and Nepal, with the highest amount being used in the Indo-Gangetic plains and western Indian states.

  • References

    1. Chakrabarty, R. K. et al. Funeral pyres in South Asia: brown carbon aerosol emissions and climate impacts. Environ. Sci. Tech. doi: 10.1021/ez4000669(2013)
    2. Dewangan, S. et al. Emission of volatile organic compounds from religious and ritual activities in India. Environ. Monit. Assess. doi: 10.1007/s10661-013-3250-z (2013)
    3. Chakrabarty, R. K. et al. Strong radiative heating due to wintertime black carbon aerosols in the Brahmaputra River Valley. Geophys. Res. Lett. doi:10.1029/2012GL051148 (2012)

Battle in the Himalayas

Saurav with Apa Sharpa [ Photo by – Paribesh Pradhan ]

Apa Sherpa’s battle and struggles in the Himalayas- to raise awareness about Climate Change in the mountain communities and the successful completion of the historic Great Himalaya Trai-Climate Smart Celebrity Trek (15 Jan-22 April 2012).

I spent more than three months traversing Nepal’s harsh mountainous regions, taking stock of the life of vulnerable people and assessing the impacts of climate change. Along with Apa Sherpa, the 21st-time Everest summitter, I completed a grueling 1,555 kilometers trek which took me to some of the highest Himalayan passes and acquainted him with diverse cultures, lifestyles and people.

After return to Kathmandu on April 20, 2012 I had shared my experiences through local media. Moreover, I am producing short films on changing livelihoods that I shot during the trek. I haven’t left my mission of storytelling of people particularly in Nepal’s northern territories. I am continued my work through www.storycycle.com as an online editor.

Now I am more into exploring the Information and Service delivery System in Local level, that effect people daily life and adaptation approach in environment changes. I also want to explore the socioeconomic changes and identification of adaptation/coping mechanisms of the mountain people hear in Nepal.

To do that I am focusing on three things 1, Connectivity 2, Content Creation and promotion of those content.

The rural places are not yet to be connected with any media presence like there are not mobile network or any Internet footprint. I have identified 62 different locations along these 1555 KM where there is no connectivity.

Now  we are organizing “Travel Story Camp” in community people to create local content . Where we focus on digital story telling,  train the participants on storytelling skills.

At the camp, they will be taught how to conceptualize report, collect stories and information related to it, and finally to design the content so that it could be made presentable for internet (Digital footprint). In the camp, they will be given hands on knowledge on audio and video editing tools. Moreover, they will be taught to exploit social media tools like facebook, twitter, Youtube etc to the fullest to publicize their contents.

Apa Sherpa’s Battle in the Himalayas

Great Himalayan Trail – Storyteller