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Climate Emergency

Author: Suno India

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In India, every year, the summers are getting longer, the winters harsher and the downpours intense. Floods in Assam, droughts in Tamil Nadu and growing problem of water scarcity in many states are no longer an abnormality but the new reality!There is an urgency to solve the problems caused by human induced climate change and to understand and find solutions before it is late. This is Climate Emergency and we will bring to fore and discuss the growing impact of climate change. We will also highlight and celebrate climate champions- individuals and communities who are undoing the damage done so far
22 Episodes
In August this year, the Madras High Court delivered a rare, but decisive victory to the people of Thoothukudi in their fight against an industrial giant in their quarter-century battle. Thoothukudi is an industrial seaside town of 700,000 facing the Bay of Bengal in South India. The court not only denied Vedanta, the multi-billion-dollar global mining and metals conglomerate permission to resume its shuttered copper smelter, it also held the company responsible for widespread environmental degradation and severe health consequences suffered by the people of Thoothukudi as a result of sulphur dioxide poisoning.  This episode on the Climate Emergency podcast reported by journalist Kunal Shankar captures why this court order is significant to India’s environmental jurisprudence and how opposition to Vedanta has influenced the social and political dynamics of Tamil Nadu.
In August this year, the Madras High Court delivered a rare, but decisive victory to the people of Thoothukudi in their fight against an industrial giant in their quarter century battle. Thoothukudi is an industrial seaside town of 700,000 facing the Bay of Bengal in South India. The court not only denied Vedanta, the multi-billion-dollar global mining and metals conglomerate permission to resume its shuttered copper smelter, it also held the company responsible for widespread environmental degradation and severe health consequences suffered by the people of Thoothukudi as a result of Sulphur dioxide poisoning. This episode on the Climate Emergency podcast reported by journalist Kunal Shankar ( captures the genesis of Vedanta’s entry into Thoothukudi and the beginnings of what has come to be a highly effective grassroots environmental campaign.
Forest owlets are one of the most endangered and cryptic bird species in India. These birds are found only in India and nowhere else. Though the bird was first spotted in the 1880s, for almost a little over a century, the bird was not discussed by anyone. Forest owlets looked similar to spotted owlets (a more commonly seen species), and hence were often mistaken for them. After 113 years, the species was rediscovered by Pamela Rassmussen from the Smithsonian Institute. After her team spotted these birds in India, more researchers started working on forest owlets. Two research papers, one relating to the genetic research on these owlet species, and two, relating the bird’s diversification to ancient climatic change were significant in understanding the species in a better way. For the first time, genetic research was done for the owlet species in India, which led to new information that was unknown earlier. In this episode, Sharada Balasubramanian talks to various researchers about the Conundrums of the forest owlet.
At a time when the voices of youth are growing louder in the climate change campaigns because it concerns their future. Delhi police has slapped UAPA (Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act) on a youth led climate change advocacy organsiation called Fridays for Future(FFF).  Fridays For Future is a global people's movement for climate justice. They are a volunteer based youth led movement with over 10000 volunteers and more than 60 branches across the country. The crime they have allegedly committed according to the Delhi police and some media reports is to spam the email of Prakash Javadekar, minister of environment forest and climate change with request to not to make amends to the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) as they believe it will impact the environment negatively. The website of FFF was pulled down from 10th July till 24th July which meant they lost a lot of time for their campaign as well. To discuss this we have with us Vaishnavi, an 18 year old volunteer from Bangalore, who completed her 12th and wants to become a lawyer. Also in this episode, we have Apar Gupta, Executive director of Internet freedom foundation who has offered pro bono legal support. Please note the link to the representation mentioned by Apar Gupta here ( .
Students in Madhya Pradesh are documenting excess fluoride in groundwater through a citizen science project that uses smartphones and portable fluoride detection kits. The students go around villages in Alirajpur district, testing water samples from handpumps, geotagging them, and marking them as safe or unsafe. Madhya Pradesh is one of the 19 Indian states severely affected by high fluoride content in drinking water. Long-term ingestion of large amounts of fluoride can lead to dental and skeletal fluorosis. Through the project run by Columbia University researchers and local partners, the young volunteers, majorly girls, are finding a solution to the fluoride crisis by identifying the extent of the problem in their homelands. Visit Mongabay India ( for news and inspiration from nature’s frontline in India. The story was supported by the Solutions Journalism Network ‘LEDE’ fellowship ( . Download Transcript. (
In 2011, Cyclone Thane had a serious impact on the livelihood of farmers in Cuddalore, the eastern coast of Tamilnadu. The farmers in this region could only grow casuarina, cashew, due to the soil conditions here. After the cyclone, many farmers looked for an alternative crop. Vettiver, a perennial grass variety, turned out to be the only feasible alternative. This hard grass could survive drought, rain and tolerate salinity. Many farmers shifted to vettiver cultivation hereafter 2011. Though the state was traditionally growing this crop for bund strengthening, the practice reduced over time. A few traditional farmers still practised it. What further gave an impetus to vettiver farming in Tamilnadu was the announcement of Aroma Mission in 2016 by the Indian government. Cuddalore was declared as the hub for vettiver cultivation by the Prime Minister. Over the last five years, the acreage of vettiver plants increased in Cuddalore due to climate change, and the announcement of aroma mission. The crop made environmental and business sense, as the profits seemed good. However, the graph changed this year, with fluctuating prices. The plant is climate-resilient, good for the environment, and makes good business sense. To make vettiver a robust climate-resilient crop that also gives sustainable income to farmers, government support is needed. Farmers believe that if the government supports in marketing, setting a minimum price, gives concessions on solar pumps, and encourage exports, it would be greatly beneficial for them to sustain.
In this episode, Sharada Balasubramanian set off to Vanagiri, a small fishing village, in the Nagapattinam district of Tamilnadu.  Every year, Olive Ridley turtles come here for nesting, all the way from Orissa. Local people say that in recent years, the turtle population has been declining. Also, the arrival of these turtles are now varying. In the last decade, shift to modern fishing practices, like use of destructive nets, are one among many reasons why this vulnerable species is at risk. Propellers in the boats often injure the turtles, and also leads to fatalities. In Vanagiri, a fisherman, Kutti Andi has been working on the conservation of turtles from 2009. He was roped in by the forest department to do this. Every year, Kutti Andi collects turtle eggs and keeps them safe until they hatch. After the turtle eggs hatch, he releases the little ones into the sea. Earlier, eggs were destroyed by fishermen, or even consumed by the local people. Now, with increased awareness and knowledge, local people having been coming together to collect these eggs. They safeguard the eggs until hatching. Training programmes were done by MSSRF along with the fisheries department, forest department, panchayat, and local people. The fishermen were told that for the fishes to breed, oceans need to clean, and if oceans need to be clean, turtles should be protected, as these turtles cleaned the oceans. Knowing the impacts of plastic on these turtles and on marine life, fishermen have also taken concrete steps. They have stopped taking plastic water packets to the sea. Conscious and concerted efforts through integration and collaboration from the forest department, fisheries department, NGO, panchayat, along with fishermen communities has bettered conservation of turtles in Vanagiri.
Poompuhar, a quaint, ancient, port town is in the Nagapattinam district of Tamilnadu. The land has a history of a tsunami and sea-level rise, as many historians and scientists point out. The 2004 tsunami impacted the lives and livelihood of fishermen here. MS Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) set up ‘Fish for all Centre’ in Poompuhar, and worked with local communities on rebuilding their lives after the tsunami, and offering training programmes to better their livelihood for a sustainable income. As overfishing, and exploitation of marine resources is becoming rampant, small scale fishermen cannot depend on one source of income for a sustainable livelihood. Integrated Fish Farming was introduced by MSSRF and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to create community fishing ponds. Unutilised farm ponds were brought back to life and converted into fish ponds. Overall, 152 farm ponds were rejuvenated to convert them into fish ponds in the Nagapattinam district. Along with this fish pond, farmers also diversified their livelihood through horticulture, floriculture, apiculture and other components. By integrating these components in their farmland, fish farmers had increased incomes and could reduce their livelihood risks in times of changing climate.
The videos of Kangaroos and koala bears being rescued in bushfires in Australia have made it headlines all over the world. This year the bushfires were as big as that of the whole of South Korea killing more than a billion animals in the forests and damaging millions of dollars of property. For some years, various parts of Australia have been in drought conditions which led to the spread of fires. Ahead of the bushfires, the scientists have already anticipated intense fire breakout in the country due to the hotter and drier climate conditions. They also cautioned the catastrophic and irreversible climate breakdown beyond a rise of 2C. The Paris agreement was estimated to put the world on track for 3C of heating in order to control the greenhouse gas emissions.  To know more about the bushfires in Australia, we reached out to Kaushik Sridhar, who is based out of Melbourne, and has been working in Climate change and sustainability space for more than a decade.
Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) methods are said to be more resilient to climatic changes and have more nutritious yields. It enables farmers to shift out of chemical-input based agriculture to low-cost, non-chemical farming, and instead of one crop, grow many types of crops in one harvesting period. In the recent budget session, the finance minister announced that the government will promote ZBNF. In this episode of Climate Emergency, our reporter Vaishali speaks with Ramprasad Sana, from Centre for Sustainable Agriculture, to understand what it takes to practice climate resilient farming, in the context of arid and semi-arid regions of Andhra Pradesh.
Women forest dwellers struggle to defend their rights to the forests in the wake of the Supreme Court judgement in the forest rights case as their rights are compromised by the threat of eviction of millions of Adivasis and forest dwellers. MAKAAM - Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch - a nation-wide advocacy platform was created in 2014 with a mission to visibilise women farmers – especially marginalized women, with a development vision to create and secure rights over productive livelihood resources. In this episode, we reached out to Dr Soma KP, a researcher, a policy analyst and one of the leading members of MAKAAM to know more about the organisation and the struggles of women forest dwellers. This episode also features the voices of other members of Makaam, Rajhim Khewas from Chhattisgarh and Shubhada Deshmukh from Maharashtra.
Every country agrees that we need to fight Climate change but no one agrees who has to pay for it. Historically most developed countries grew unsustainably mainly by mining for oil and coal for their development. In the process releasing a great amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which causes climate change. Scientists have predicted that increasing CO2 increases temperatures and if the temperature of earth goes beyond 1.5 degrees it will lead to irreversible damage.  A UN report called "Emissions Gap report" that came in this week says that we have to cut global emissions by 7.6 percent every year for the next decade to prevent irreversible damage to climate change.  A long-standing discussion in global climate change negotiations is a demand for equitable distribution of carbon space. What it means is that we assume that only a certain amount of CO2 is released into the atmosphere to limit temperature rise by 1.5 degrees and as that space in the atmosphere is a common property and every individual has a right to it, it has to be shared equally. There are many theories that carbon space should be divided equally among countries based on population, based on their historical use, based on development etc. To discuss this concept and more we talk to Arjuna Srinidhi, a research analyst specialising in Climate Change policy, Natural Resource Management and Sustainable Development. He works with the Watershed Organisation Trust - WOTR - an NGO based in Pune and has over 10 years of experience across India and Southeast Asia working at the interface of science, policy and practice of development issues.   Arjuna follows international Climate Change negotiations closely and writes extensively on the subject of Adaptation through various forums and publications. He is also the author of the book RISING TO THE CALL - Good practices of Climate Change adaptation in India ( and a TEDx speaker.
On World Pneumonia Day, we bring this special episode which looks at the impact of air pollution on our health but most importantly those of our children. I interviewed Dr Anupam Sachdeva, Chairman, Department of Pediatric and chairman of Academics at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in Delhi. He is also the President of Indian academy of paediatrics.
Every winter Delhi turns into a gas chamber with air pollution causing severe health effects making the city go standstill. But why is Delhi failing and what needs to be done to make it a better place for children to breathe and parents to live. To discuss this and more we talk to Pallavi Pant, who was originally from Delhi but now lives in Boston has over 10 years of experience in air quality measurement and management.
With over 500 islands, the Andaman and Nicobar islands, with its turquoise beaches and tropical forests has been facing extreme weather events in the recent past. From tsunami to cyclonic storms, these islands have seen it all. Such extreme weather events impact the livelihood of farmers living here, as agriculture is one of the key economic activities for the locals. With no borewell, canals, dams, or huge rivers and streams, the farmers face a humungous challenge every day. Central Island Agriculture Research Institute's scientists engaged with farmers to protect the land and water, and also ensure farmers gained sustainable income through smart climate-resilient farming.
On 15th August, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, announced that India will ban single-use plastic from October 2nd of this year. But on 2nd October the government decided to phase out single-use plastic by 2022 instead. To discuss this issue and more Suno India reached out to Aparna Susarla, Director, Swach Cooperative.
Over 4.2 million people from over 170 countries, old and young participated in the Climate March held last Friday. This week too, estimated 2 million people too are expected to participate in the climate strikes to be held all around the world. This is happening at the backdrop of UN Climate Summit being held at New York from September 23rd to 29th. Suno India has partnered with IndiaSpend, India's leading data journalism portal to bring exclusive podcasts from the Summit. Disha Shetty, Columbia Journalism School, and IndiaSpend reporting fellow interviewed 11-year-old Ridhima Pandey who is among 16 children from across the world who have filed a petition against five countries for failing to uphold their end of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and for not cutting emissions thereby endangering their futures. Even before Greta Thunberg started the school strike, Ridhima Pandey, a native of Rishikesh, Uttarakhand filed her first petition when she was 9-years-old against the Indian government in the National Green Tribunal. She stated in the petition that the Indian government should take “effective, science-based action to reduce and minimize the adverse impacts of climate change”. Her petition wasn't taken forward by NGT and she has since then petitioned the Supreme Court demanding the same.
Sagar Island is one of the 102 Islands in the Indian Sundarban. Surrounded by Bay of Bengal on one side, and Hooghly river and Muriganga river on the other two, this island is experiencing real time effects of climate change. With the mangroves being torn down and the fragile land being used for agricultural purposes, those living there say nothing can save them from the wrath of the sea.  This is their story brought to you by our reporter Vaishali Pandiyen who is in conversation with those living in Sagar Island as well as professor-cum-researcher Tuhin Ghosh from the School of oceanographic studies, Jadavpur University.
Desertification and land use has been in the news recently a lot more than it usually is mainly because of the UNCCD COP 14 held in Delhi recently. So during the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, all countries came together and decided to host COPs on three thematic issues Climate Change, Biodiversity and desertification. Since then there have been many many meetings across the world and this year the desertification COP was hosted by India. India is the current President of COP14 and will serve for 2 years. Desertification initially looked as a lone ranger now is looked at more seriously partly because of climate change worsening it. So to understand this very pertinent issue we speak to Rishu Garg - Deputy Director - Watershed Organisation Trust and Kundan Pandey, Sr. Reporter at Down To Earth Magazine. For more stories like this, you can listen on ( . Also follow us on Facebook ( , Twitter ( or Instagram ( .
We hear of floods in the northeastern state of Assam almost every year, sometimes multiple times in the same year! And with increasing rainfall intensities because of climate change, are the existing embankments in Assam a good adaptation mechanism or are they adding to the problem? Anupam Chakravartty, an independent journalist based out of Guwahati, reaches out to the experts and most vulnerable communities by travelling to Kaziranga and unearthing the reality of the situation. This ground report brings to you perspectives that are hardly discussed in the Media. For instance, is the govt policy to build concrete houses good adaptation mechanism or going against age-old practices of building houses on stilts? While every year Kaziranga is flooded we see animals being rescued but we see very little about tribal communities which live in harmony with the animals? Why is there very little discussion on the need for people living around Kaziranga?  Are Embankments just another fraudulent practice for speculative profits? Anupam discusses this and more with Pranab Tulip, a member of a mass organisation called Gipal krishak sangathan and researcher Mirza Zulfequr Rahman.  For more stories like this, you can listen on ( . Also follow us on Facebook ( , Twitter ( or Instagram ( .
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