Please help keep this Site Going

Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet



World Environment Day 2023: Green growth strategies can ensure climate-resilience in rural India

Investments in infrastructure, such as water management systems, irrigation facilities and early warning systems, can help communities cope with climate-related disasters

Rising global temperatures and erratic weather patterns have made India highly vulnerable to climate change. As over 75 per cent of the country’s districts are identified as hotspots for extreme climate events, there is an undeniable and urgent need to actively address the issue.

When it comes to climate change, not all are impacted equally. Factors such as socioeconomic status, cultural norms and geographic location contribute to the uneven impact experienced by different communities. 

Rural communities often lack the necessary resources and adaptive capacities to effectively deal with the impacts of climate change. Limited access to technology, financial resources, information, and education impedes their ability to adopt climate-resilient practices and diversify livelihood options, thereby increasing vulnerability to the adverse effects of climate change.

Also read: Financial inclusion critical for building sustainable Indian cities

The agricultural sector, heavily reliant on reliable weather and rainfall patterns, suffers greatly from the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events. Droughts, floods and storms disrupt agricultural activities, leading to crop failures, loss of livelihoods and food insecurity, leaving farmers exposed to decreased productivity and income instability. 

Additionally, in countries like India, climate change also widens gender-based disparities. In many rural areas, women shoulder the burden of fetching water, collecting fuel and working on family farms, making their daily lives increasingly challenging as climate change exacerbates these difficulties.

Hindered well-being and development opportunities for women and children, due to reduced mobility and decision-making, in the face of increasing challenges further perpetuates the inequity. 

Capacity building critical

Climate information services play a critical role in enhancing society’s resilience, providing essential data on climate risks and available strategies for adaptation and mitigation. By promoting access to climate information, India can empower its citizens to build resilience, make informed choices, and contribute to a sustainable and climate-resilient future.

There should be a focus on enhancing adaptive capacity through climate-resilient agriculture practices, diversification of livelihoods and access to credit and insurance for farmers. Investments in infrastructure, such as water management systems, irrigation facilities and early warning systems, can help communities cope with climate-related disasters. 

Education and awareness programmes that highlight climate change impacts and adaptation strategies should be promoted at the community level. Demonstrating techniques and creating community leadership to tackle climate issues can further help sensitise the larger community. 

Interventions around water management that bring clean potable water to the rural doorstep or sustainable fuel alternatives can directly target environmental indicators and some of the gender disparities associated with climate change.

Building climate resilience in rural India while incorporating a gendered perspective into interventional frameworks can have additional outsized positive impacts on outcomes. Empowering women through gender-responsive policies, and improving their access to education, healthcare and income-generating opportunities, is vital for building their resilience.

Women, children and other vulnerable groups should take on leadership roles, as they are disproportionately reliant on natural resources to support their day-to-day lives. Such resources are more heavily impacted by climate change.

Green growth — a crucial step

Green growth entails balancing economic growth with environmental sustainability, as opposed to pursuing short-term economic development without considering its long-term cost to the planet.

In rural areas, where communities heavily rely on agriculture and natural resources, embracing green growth principles can lead to multiple benefits. Implementing climate-smart agricultural techniques, adopting renewable energy solutions and promoting sustainable land and water management practices can reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as enhance rural livelihoods and resilience.

Also read: World Nature Conservation Day: These 5 communities of India preserve ecology in their own distinct ways

Embracing green growth strategies can allow rural India to pave the way for a more sustainable and climate-resilient future, benefiting both the environment and its communities.

Philanthropic initiatives play a vital role in building climate-resilient communities. India currently heavily relies on government expenditure (93 per cent in 2020) for social sector funding, the focus for which is largely on achieving UN-mandated sustainable development goals by 2030.

However, for climate finance, private capital has been essential. As of 2019-2020, the private sector contributed over 57 per cent of climate finance in India, amounting to Rs 1,75,000 crore.

The negative effects of climate change demand philanthropic investments as a high priority, safeguarding vulnerable stakeholders and expediting the transition to a net-zero future. Philanthropic action has already played a pivotal role in advancing climate action in India.

Still, domestic and global resources in this area remain inadequate compared to the magnitude of the problem. Given the limited time window to stabilise the climate, the outcomes of philanthropic efforts are highly significant for the future of humanity.

Fostering collaboration and partnerships among various stakeholders, including government agencies, civil society organisations, research institutions and private sector entities, can promote knowledge exchange, sharing of best practices, and joint efforts to build climate resilience in rural India. By working together, we can create a more sustainable and resilient future for all.

The author is the chairperson and founder of The Hans Foundation, a non-profit focussing on sustainable development.

Views expressed are the author’s own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Down To Earth


World Environment Day 2023: How a teen climate crusader battled poverty, abuse after Cyclone Yaas

Across the world, there are millions of children who have been displaced from a stable life by climate-change induced natural calamities

As news of cyclone Mocha advancing towards India’s eastern coast blared from television sets and microphones a few weeks ago, 16-year-old Sikha (name changed), a Green Scout member in her remote village in Bengal’s South 24 Parganas, watched the ominous dark clouds gathered on the horizon. 

Cyclones, storms and floods are a way of life in the environmentally fragile zone that Sikha lives in. Year after year, villages in the region have been ravaged, leaving behind a trail of death, destruction of property and infrastructure, damage to the environment and ecosystem and endless misery. Lives and livelihoods have been rebuilt, only to be decimated again the following year or the next. 

In 2020, it was Cyclone Amphan, and the following year it was Cyclone Yaas. 

Sikha can never forget how her life changed after Yaas. The cyclone had flattened their home, and the incessant rain and flooding that followed submerged whatever remained. When calm returned, her village was in ruins, as far as the eye could see.

The aftermath

Over the next few months, Sikha’s family of five, lived on one watery meal a day. A tarpaulin sheet tied precariously over four bamboo poles was the roof over their heads. For Sikha though, the worst was yet to come. 

One dark day, Sikha’s “aunt” told the Class IX student that she would find a good home for her in a neighbouring village, where she would get two meals a day, a roof over her head and also help with studies. She took the unsuspecting girl to an unknown house in an unknown place and left her there. 

Back home, when the hapless parents enquired about Sikha, the aunt said she had married off their daughter in a happy family, where she would be taken care of well. Already struggling to provide a square meal for his family and a roof over their heads, the father thought whatever had happened had happened for the best. 

A few villages away, the “best” turned out to be hell for Sikha. The husband and the family took turns in physically assaulting her every single day and night. She was made to do chores, kept unfed and not allowed to come out. 

Sikha forgot to smile. Actually, she could just about manage to breathe and live. There came a moment when she could take the torture no more — she ran away. The flight to freedom was short-lived, though. Back in her nightmare, the blows reigned free. 

Days rolled into several months and the parents hadn’t heard a word about their teenage daughter. When repeated questions to the “aunt” did not work, the family approached Kaajla Janakalyan Samity, a CRY partner and explained the situation. “We took the family to the police. The father narrated the situation. The police told them that if the girl didn’t return on her own in a few days, they would accept a complaint,” said Vivekananda Sahu, project coordinator of Kaajla.

Around the same time, Sikha’s mother received a phone call from an unknown number. The voice on the other side, barely recognizable after almost a year, told a horror story of torture, abuse and a “marriage” of sorts. Sikha could not give the name of the village she was kept confined at, but the neigbour whose phone she was using, mentioned the name.

The Kaajla team swung into action, contacted the Gram Panchayat Pradhan of that particular village and made plans to bring her back. Before they could rescue her, Sikha ran away from hell, and this time she succeeded.

Back home with her parents, the nightmare came out in the open. The aunt, who many in the village say doubles as an “agent”, was nowhere to be found. 

A new beginning

In December 2022-January 2023 began a process of recuperation and rehabilitation for Sikha. “The girl was in trauma and suicidal. It took us endless talks to convince her that she could fight back,” said Sahu. 

With help and encouragement, the 16-year-old started attending classes at the Antarasha centre, run by Kaajla and CRY. She was admitted to a local school. Antarasha gave Sikha a reason to live and believe. Support classes made up for her learning gap and life-skill sessions helped her become mentally strong. 

Sikha attended special sessions where she learned about environmental degradation, global warming, soil erosion and more. She knows now why cyclones, storms and floods have become more frequent than before. She is aware that her village may be decimated again in the aftermath of another Amphaan or Yaas. And she knows how lives can change after a natural calamity. Hers did. 

Now a student of Class X, Sikha has joined the Green Scouts team in her village. Conscious of the fragile ecosystem around her, she tries to spread awareness about the little things that we can do to conserve our environment. 

People need to know more about why the cyclones happen, and steps that can be taken in daily lives to mitigate the sufferings in the aftermath. Sikha and team convince people to plant trees and nurture them. The more the greenery, the less the amount of carbon dioxide in the air — the easiest remedy to reverse the adverse effects of climate change. 

The 16-year-old has stopped the use of plastic in her family and she asks neighbours to do the same. Plastic waste can choke rivers and propel erosion at the edges, the crusader tells people. 

Developing new understanding

A climate crisis is a child rights crisis, according to UNICEF. Climate change is the greatest threat facing the world’s children and young people. It poses major threats to their health, nutrition, education and future. 

Across the world, there are millions of children like Sikha who have been displaced from a stable life or adversely impacted by a climate-change induced natural calamity.

The important question: What can be done to redress? To begin with, efforts to sustain a livable planet must not only account for the unique needs and vulnerabilities of young people; they must also include them in the solutions. Children have critical skills, experiences and ideas for safer, more sustainable societies. 

On World Environment Day, it is our responsibility to groom children like Sikha, who have been victims themselves, as ‘change-makers’ for the environment. Let them learn to use their knowledge and resources available to them to protect and conserve the Earth. Let them carry the mantle of ushering in a better tomorrow for themselves and the generations to follow.

Views expressed are the authors’ own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Down To Earth.

Climate crisis accelerating at faster pace than expected: Koll

ByJayashree Nandi Jun 05, 2023 12:24 AM IST Climate meetings like the one that starts on Monday in Germany’s Bonn put climate scientists and most of their recommendations in the back seat, says Roxy Mathew Koll {{#userSubscribed}} {{/userSubscribed}} {{^userSubscribed}} {{/userSubscribed}}…

‘Climate crisis accelerating at faster pace than expected’: Scientist Roxy Koll

ByJayashree Nandi Jun 05, 2023 01:59 AM IST Share Via Copy Link Climate meetings like the one that starts on Monday in Germany’s Bonn put climate scientists and most of their recommendations in the back seat, says Roxy Koll. The…

Media plot to conceal cow fart contribution to global warming? – Animals 24-7

(Beth Clifton collage) Did you know about it?  If so,  how?  Did cow farts affect what you had for dinner? SEATTLE,  Washington––Is there a media conspiracy to suppress awareness of the contribution of animal agriculture to global warming? Considering that…

First Recorded Stand-Up Comedy Sketch from 500 Years Ago Discovered in 15th Century Manuscript

– University of Cambridge via SWNS

While this old parchment page may look like one out of a wizard’s spellbook, it’s actually what scholars believe to be the world’s oldest recorded stand-up comedy routine.

In the year 1,480, a household cleric and tutor to a noble family named Richard Heege went to a feast where there was a minstrel performing a three-part act. Heege recorded as much as he could remember, opening with “By me, Richard Heege, because I was at that feast and did not have a drink.”

That is illustrative of where the story goes from there—a performance relevant to the humor enjoyed in Britain today, and one which colors the high Middle Ages as a time of artistic liberty, social mobility, and vigorous nightlife.

Heege’s booklet contains three texts gleaned from the jester’s material: a Hunting of the Hare story featuring a killer rabbit, a mock sermon in prose in which three kings eat so much that 24 bulls explode out of their stomachs and begin sword fighting, and an alliteration nonsense verse entitled The Battle of Brackonwet.

Reminiscent of Geoffrey Chaucer’s writings, or Monty Python’s killer rabbit of Caerbannog sketch in their film Monty Python and The Holy Grail, The Hunting of the Hare is a rhyming burlesque romance, meaning the frivolous is important and the serious is treated lightly.

In it, two fictional peasants get involved with a series of hijinks that includes a cany coney who kicks one of them in the head.

In The Battle of Brackonwet, Robin Hood, killer bumblebees, and jousting bears color a tale full of nonsense within what would have been Mr. Heege and the minstrel’s local neighborhood on the border of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire where Mr. Heege lived.

The texts were found in the National Library of Scotland by Dr. James Wade, of Cambridge’s English Faculty, who recently wrote a paper on them explaining that such material is extremely rare, but offers a wondrous glimpse into life not only among England’s medieval middle-class, but the skill and appreciation for minstrels.

“Here we have a self-made entertainer with very little education creating really original, ironic material. To get an insight into someone like that from this period is incredibly rare and exciting,” Dr. Wade said.

“You can find echoes of this minstrel’s humor in [today’s] shows like Mock the Week, situational comedies, and slapstick. The self-irony and making audiences the butt of the joke are still very characteristic of British stand-up comedy.”

MORE LAUGHS: Watch the Hilarious Speeches as Jon Stewart is Honored With Mark Twain Prize at Kennedy Center

During the Middle Ages minstrels roamed between fairs, taverns, and baronial halls to entertain with songs and stories either across the country or along a local circuit. Many had day jobs, such as a plowman or peddler, but gigged through the nights and weekends.

“These texts remind us that festive entertainment was flourishing at a time of growing social mobility,” said Dr. Wade. “[They] give us a snapshot of medieval life being lived well.”

MORE INTERESTING HISTORY: Smells Like History: Academics Recreate the Lost Smells of Europe for Museums

“People back then partied a lot more than we do today, so minstrels had plenty of opportunities to perform. They were really important figures in people’s lives right across the social hierarchy.”

It also shows that what we sometimes think of as a society of science-denying religious tyranny created not only these talented comics but people who enjoyed their work enough to copy it down.

MORE LITERARY HISTORY: Dozens of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Paintings and Maps Are Now Online to Inspire Adventure

Mr. Heege worked for a noble family and would have been considered right and proper, yet he appears to have had a sense of humor and to have enjoyed literature that others may have dismissed as too lowbrow to preserve.

What else can we conclude when the man committed the minstrel’s rhymes of “Drink you to me and I to you and hold your cup up high — God loves neither horse nor mare, but merry men that in the cup can stare” to memory well enough to write it down?

SHARE This Truly Special Piece of English Literary History With Your Friends… 

Climate Change: What You Need to Know

Every year, the climate crisis intensifies — promising severe droughts, supercharged storms, blistering heatwaves, and other extreme weather events — threatening the lives and livelihoods of billions of people, and overwhelming the capacities of governments around the world. But there’s…

Jerry Shenk: The Gospel of ‘Global Warming’

People, generally, acknowledge that climate changes, but most remain skeptical that it’s man-made or apocalyptic. Rather than “settled science,” global warming activism has become a cult-like evangelistic movement outside normally-accepted skeptical approaches to the rest of science. In fact, pagans…


Native species over invasive: This Tamil Nadu village is a pioneer in climate action

Vast patches of wastelands in the region were invaded by the alien, invasive Karuvelam tree or prosopis juliflora

The initiative called Pasumai Payanam procures taller plants of more than 12-15 feet and plants them in pits of 1 cubic metre using earth movers. Photo: Ilayaraja. The initiative called Pasumai Payanam procures taller plants of more than 12-15 feet and plants them in pits of 1 cubic metre using earth movers. Photo: Ilayaraja.

Anukkur village, located in the Perambalur district of Tamil Nadu, receives only a moderate rainfall of 600-800 millimetres per annum. Though it is located about 6 kilometres from the eastern slope of Pachchamalais, part of the Eastern Ghats, the village is notable for its arid terrains and not-so-prosperous agriculture.

Vast patches of wastelands in the region were invaded by the alien, invasive Karuvelam tree or prosopis juliflora. This species extracts maximum water from the ground, impacting the groundwater levels. In addition, the area started receiving scanty rainfall due to insufficient tree cover.

Also read: How to save Banni grasslands from invasive species? Here’s what a new study suggests

Though more than a thousand hectares of land here are agricultural land, less than a hundred hectares (ha) are irrigated through wells and tube wells. Lakes and tanks irrigate a meagre portion of about 5 ha.

The village has a government higher secondary school. The youth here are fortunate to have received a school education, and many are employed in foreign countries.

One such student, Ilayaraja, undertook an initiative called Pasumai Payanam (green journey) to replace Karuvelam with beneficial plant species with the help of the old students as well as the villagers. The journey commenced by him in 2017 has been continuing successfully to date. Ilayaraja understood the ill effects of the alien invasive species and the need for green cover to maintain a comfortable groundwater level. 

The villagers appreciated the initiative and started removing the invasive alien species from the school premises, government offices, hospitals, the panchayat office, government poramboke (wasteland) and roadsides.

Instead, they started planting useful tree species such as calophylluminophyllum (punnai), couroupitaguinanensis (nagalingam), elaeocarpus species (rudraksham), anthocephalus cadamba (kadambu), bassia latifolia (iluppai), ficus glomerata (aththi), ficus lacor (ichchi), azadirachta indica (vembu), mimusopselengi (magizham), tamarindus indica (puli), syzygiumcumini (naval), pongamia pinnata (pungan), ficus benghalensis (aal), ficus religiosa (arasu), emblicaofficinalais (nelli), Terminalaia arjuna (neermarudhu) and inga dulcis (kodukkapuli).

Watch video: How India lost its finest Banni grasslands to an exotic species called Prosopis Juliflora

In addition, they removed 135 acres of weeds that covered the village lake and planted about 4,000 plants. The initiative is highly appreciated as they procure taller plants of more than 12-15 feet and plant them in pits of 1 cubic metre using earth movers.

The group procures well-grown saplings from Andhra Pradesh. Plants are watered as and when required using tractors and hose pipes. On seeing the programme’s success, the villagers started supporting it by providing voluntary services. They helped in fencing the plants with sticks and green nets.

Now, the Gram Panchayat has come forward to provide the necessary maintenance of the plants through the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.

The younger generation of Anukkur has set an example of the successful greening of the village. In a world reeling under global warming and climate change, these kinds of initiatives are the need of the hour. Greening efforts should be made in every village, town and city to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change.

This group, however, haven’t yet received any support from the state government. Being a forerunner of climate action, the Tamil Nadu government should extend a helping hand to the volunteers in Anukkur village. In addition, coordinating service-minded citizens in every village will go a long way towards mitigating climate change.

Governments at the state and centre should identify dedicated and viable forums and recognise their service by motivating youngsters to climate action.

Read more:

Views expressed are the author’s own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Down To Earth

Please help keep this Site Going