Monthly Archives: October 2011

Listen to the land breathing…

Try this sometime. Find a starry night, go outdoors, lie down with your ear to the ground on a quite piece of land, and listen to the soil respiring, beyond the sound of your own breathing.

The soil-to-air cycle of carbon dioxide or soil respiration is a major source of CO2 emission. Continue reading

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Will India move toward corporate farming?

Over this decade and the next, is there a good possibility of small farmland holders giving way to larger corporate and industrial farms? This is a question that India has to seriously look at soon enough for the strengths of such industrial farming ensure that many risks of livestock and diseases are contained far better with such large farmlands, says another report. Continue reading

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Too small, too many

India comprises just 2.4 per cent of the world’s inhabitable geographical area. Yet it supports 16.7 per cent of the world’s population. This leads to tremendous pressure on its natural resources.

(Pic source: internet)

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This ‘Chatting Toilet’ is now the rage

They called it the Mahila Gappa Shauchalaya. Which roughly translates as the ‘women’s chatting toilet’. It was an instant success when the model was put up. It offered a safe and healthy experience to women. They could talk to each other as they went about their business. And there was fresh air.

The village is Deolgaon Mali. In Mehkar tehsil. The district is Buldhana in the bowels of rural Vidarbha, of eastern Maharashtra.

It began about three years ago with a regular tussle that the villagers had with the BDO for they refused to offer the money for a community toilet. Continue reading

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It’s an unequal world, alright!

There was not one single year between 1952 and 1986 in which the richest 1 per cent American families earned more than one-tenth the national income.

Yet after rising steadily since the mid-1980s, in 2007 the income share of the richest one per cent reached a staggering 18.3 per cent of the total American wealth. The last time America was such an unequal place was in 1929 when the equivalent figure of the richest percentile was 18.4 per cent.

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Oil demand surges, production cost falls

The world oil consumption is rising again. The price of a barrel is moving towards $100. By 2035, demand may reach 110 million barrels a day, about 20 per cent more than in 2009.

The interesting thing is that the cost of production has been falling. A few years ago, most firms thought that the breakeven price was $75 per barrel. But now companies such as Shell say new developments are economical at $50.

There are obstacles mainly because of the sheer dirtiness of the business. In America, objections to the import of bituminous oil are loud; domestic opposition to exploiting tar sands and building pipelines which has long been fierce is gathering strength. Global production of conventional oil, the stuff that can be recovered easily using drills and wells is near or already at its peak. Only a leap in output from unconventional sources will prevent new surges in price.

Even if countries around the world agree on measures to control CO2 emissions, tar sand oil, like Canada’s, must fill a supply gap in the future. With more than 70 per cent of the world’s remaining oil in the hands of OPEC, half of its free oil is in the tar sands.

And that’s a good reason for the Americans to want to exploit these tar sand reserves of Canada.

(Pic source: internet)

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Fine wine and crude oil dance in step …

A bottle of the best wine can cost over $5000, whereas an equivalent volume of crude oil (about a liter) sells for a dollar or less. The bottle of wine may taste a little rough, yet fine wine and crude oil have more in common than you may think. Their prices have risen and fallen in step in the last 15 years.

Wine experts usually explain the price movement by supply-side factors such as weather and age. But supply has only a small impact on prices. Continue reading

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In Vidarbha, women design a toilet their way

One village in Vidarbha came up with its own solution. Women spoke out against a public toilet design that the district authority had provided through the state government. The women decided to scrap it. They wanted isolated blocks, with just a 4-feet wall to cover the portion of land that they used to their business. And they wanted short walls around the sitting area. The official showed good sense and adapted that design to what they wanted. Community toilets in Vidarbha have followed that pattern for women.

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No toilets, no school

In thousands of villages across the country, girls commonly avoid school because of the absence of toilets. Women have to wake up well before dawn to defecate. Men can do their business just about anywhere. Public toilets and the personal sensitive nature of excretion is not something that has got enough attention from architects or any kind of planners.

(Pic: Savita Hiremath)

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Monsoon rains set to change pattern


In 2010, the monsoon rainfall was 29 per cent below average. Rainfall is predicted to fall in shorter, more intense bursts, over several regions in the years ahead. This will mean more powerful surface runoff and greater soil erosion. Farmers have to deal with more barren lands.

Continue reading

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