Disappearing flora, tradition, culture, vocation and language with climate change

A passionate plea from the heart of Poornaprajna Belur to revert to time honoured farming practices that for generations preserved medicinal plants, wild fruits and vegetables. At times when allopathic drugs were not easily accessible, this repository of ancient wisdom healed wounds, cured stomach ailments and promoted wholesome lifestyles. Poornaprajna is disheartened that along with medicines and food, tradition, culture and vocabulary linked to them are disappearing. His vision is for rejuvenating our legacy of healthy life styles that have for centuries stood the test of time. 

Chennai Skyline

Urbanisation, deforestation and climate change

The puncturing of the ozone layer, rampant deforestation, developmental projects, drying up of river bodies, and pollution of the atmosphere are destroying the capacity of human kind to survive on this planet. Motorized vehicles guzzling petrol and diesel emit volumes of carbon dioxide into the air. They have no foliage sinks to absorb the noxious fumes. Renuga Kasi goes on to emphasize that even refrigerators and air conditioners spewing fluorocarbons into the environment stifle our ability to survive. She goes on to say that of the nine planets in the solar system, only earth has the capacity to sustain life. It is incumbent on us to reverse this trend of deceleration; recapture our equilibrium which is being lost due to the destructive actions of mankind.

Village water

Virtual Water – The Blue Gold

The developed nations of USA and Europe have discreetly offloaded their supply chain manufacturing processes to developing countries like India. The finished products include Textiles, Leather and consumables like Bread and Burgers. Nakeeran, in a forceful essay, documents the depletion of water resources that is driving the exporting countries to starvation and collapse. Surface river bodies are polluted and ground water reserves are fast diminishing to near famine conditions. He makes a plea to put an end to virtual water trade by steering to local economic activity, reducing time, distance and becoming self-sufficient within a Geographical zone. 

ICRISAT

Case study of ‘local’ agriculture being destroyed by the market

Until about forty years ago, innumerable varieties of millets were grown extensively in Antharsathe, a town in HD Kote taluk. Market forces, says Siddhartha, have now determined the cultivation of cash crops like Bt cotton and sugarcane. They are supplanting traditional farming practices, which had a repository of knowledge concerning soil regeneration, fertility, storing and exchange of seeds.

The public distribution system is now the institutionalized storage facility for wheat and rice. The seeds the government distributes for millets are considered by many farmers to be suspect.

In the context of climate change, thousands of farmers are bucking the trend and reverting to organic farming and cultivation of crops that are more in sync with local conditions.

Photo by Latha Nagarajan

Moving towards the local and the regional

The concept of Swadeshi, as stated by Gandhi, is that self-sufficiency in food at the local and regional levels can ensure food sovereignty.

Siddhartha explains that the cultivation of millets, practicing mixed cropping and making use of the public distribution system’s warehouses can consolidate sustainability. Furthermore, trading of surpluses between villages and towns can enhance the economic viability of the rural community. Efforts to improve livelihoods by utilizing compost and traditional crops would also ensure stability.

Photo by Pradeep Kumbhashi

Saving South Asia

Zulfiquar Shah has forecast that South Asia, with its shared natural resources, would be most affected with the onset of accelerating climate change. Himalayan glaciers would melt, floods and dry spells would be common, and those living in the coastal regions would be particularly vulnerable as sea levels rise and islands submerge. There would be mass migrations and pressure on the infrastructure in towns and cities. The environment is no respecter of boundaries, so the emphasis of the article is to call for a regional meeting of concerned scientists and policymakers of the affected regions to work out modalities to cope with the inevitable changes that are bound to occur with the looming crisis.

Photo by Sundaram Ramaswamy

Spirituality needed in times of climate change

The emphasis of this article is in renewing our female attributes of compassion, justice and truth. Acquisition, power and control, all male traits, have dominated our psyche and pushed the human race to the brink of self-destruction.

Radha Kunke says that our natural tendency to work cooperatively has been subsumed in the race for greed and aggrandizement. Remnants of these behaviours can still be observed in tribal societies. The author calls for a spiritual turnaround.

In the article, she gives classic examples like Google with its open source platforms, Gen Y striving to move out of stifling cubicle environments and grassroots-level initiatives where resources are utilized to renew and regenerate traditional modes of spirituality.

Photo by awaterma (Flickr)

Distorted government policies will lead to eventual food shortages

Siddhartha of Pipal Tree explains how globalization, in its wake, has brought a distorted distribution system with local retail outlets storing products that have crossed great distances and blurred transnational boundaries. The carbon footprint that it leaves behind is decreasing our ability to live as a human species.

Before globalization, unpolished rice and vegetables were grown locally without chemical fertilisers and genetic modification. Market fundamentalism and financial strength by multinational corporations are holding sway and destroying a whole way of live that was fundamental to the traditional ethos. A wholesome way of life is gradually being annihilated by mega-agribusiness.