DOWN TO EARTH |

SUNITA NARAIN | FEBRUARY 15 2016

I saw this situation first-hand in the Mewat district of Haryana, where farmers told me they had been suffering for the past three cropping seasons. They were broke as each time they planted crops there was some unseasonal devastation that took a crippling toll. In the summer of 2015, for instance, they had planted rice and first rains were delayed. They begged and borrowed to run expensive diesel-fuelled tube wells (electricity for agriculture is supposedly assured but it goes off when farmers need it most). Finally, paddy was ready. But then came a night of apocalyptic rain—it rained over 250 mm in five hours. This, in a district where average annual rainfall is 500-600 mm. When I visited the village, not even two hours’ drive from Delhi, fields were flooded, crops destroyed. There was deep despair in the eyes of every farmer I met.

Let’s leave for the moment the questions—very real and urgent—why these extreme weather events are happening in our world with greater frequency and intensity. Let’s discuss instead what we need to do.

First, we need to know that these events are breaking our world. Today, we read more about Snowzilla—the massive snowstorm that has hit the eastern coast of the US—than the hailstorms and freak rain events that are livelihood spoilers in our country. These events have to make news, even if…CONTINUE READING

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