Global environmental challenges
Few events can rival the ancient rituals and riotous color of India's religious festivals. This year, the months-long celebration season is also becoming eco-friendly. Alarmed by the high levels of pollution caused by firecrackers, toxic paints and idols made of non-recyclable material, schools, environmentalists and some states are encouraging "greener" celebrations.
In Mumbai, where the 10-day festival for the elephant-headed Ganesha (the Hindu deity of prosperity) is underway with giant, colored idols and noisy street parties, radio and TV stations are airing environmental messages and school children are learning to make eco-friendly idols.
The statues, made of brightly painted plaster of Paris, are usually immersed in the sea or a lake after a lively procession that can sometimes take half a day to navigate the choked streets, and which ultimately leaves dismembered idols strewn along the shore.
But a growing number of Indians are opting for smaller clay idols which they immerse in water at home.
After one of the briefest honeymoons in history, developing nations at U.N. climate change talks in Poland are saying that President-elect Barack Obama’s goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions don’t go far enough.
Delegates from China and India told Reuters at the Dec. 1-12 talks that they welcomed Obama’s plan to cut emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 compared to less ambitious goals set by President George W. Bush. (Emissions are now about 14 percent above 1990 ).
from Pakistan: Now or Never?:
If Pakistan is to dig itself out of its current crisis it needs two things to happen. It needs strong economic growth to tackle poverty and undercut the appeal of hardline Islamists; and it needs peace with India if it is to permanently cut its ties with militants it has traditionally seen as a reserve force to be used against its much bigger neighbour. Or so goes the prevailing view.
This week's United Nations report on pollution in Asia -- and the melting of glaciers which feed the rivers of India and Pakistan -- suggest there are serious risks to that scenario of an ultimately prosperous Pakistan at peace with its neighbours. In other words, can it achieve the economic growth it needs without worsening pollution further? And can it make peace with India if the two countries end up at loggerheads over dwindling supplies of water?
Or do they just illustrate the unpredictability of the weather?
Luckily, Hurricane Gustav doesn’t seem to have inflicted devastation on the U.S. Gulf coast comparable to Katrina in 2005. On the other side of the world, the worst floods in India’s Bihar province in 50 years have displaced about three million people and killed at least 90.
About 1.6 billion people still rely on kerosene lanterns to read, work or study after dark, according to a fledgling company that hopes its LED lights will replace those lanterns, eliminating both pollution and fires.
d.light design, the brainchild of Stanford Business School graduates Sam Goldman and Ned Tozun, last month began selling its lights in India, where they say 72 million households use kerosene lanterns.