Discover more from The UnEarth Bulletin
Is Carbon Capture the Answer?
My Question this Week
It is now clear that we won't make the 1.5-degree benchmark, perhaps not even the 2-degree one. And so the only option left if we are to curtail climate change is to capture carbon through various means. Till now these alternatives have largely been in the domain of western thinkers. But now even the Niti Aayog is considering this as the last option left. The problem is carbon capture is currently very costly, not very effective, and has many unknown risks. The rationalist in me asks the question - which is worse, an unknown risk or a known one?
My Views this Week
Large parts of India’s agriculture are still dependent on rainfall and almost all of it is susceptible to extreme heat events. But technologies that enable resilient farming are available and at least for some areas, the costs of doing so are quite low. Provided, and this is important, the farmers are well-trained and a good market exists for their slightly costlier crops. The last item, costs, is the biggest challenge that India needs to work on. But a pilot in drought-prone parts of Maharashtra shows how involving women can help make a difference.
Imagine a production process where the entrepreneur throws out all his machinery every few months. That’s what the farmers do, for almost all major crops. Perennial farming is based on varieties of plants that can yield crops every year for a few years before they are replanted. Such varieties tend to be more resilient, need lesser inputs every few months, and there are major environmental savings as well. And that is why this Chinese experiment, could do more for the environment than almost any other invention this year.
Why would you plant trees in Haryana to make up for the loss in the Nicobar islands? That’s because the government is most concerned about India’s net emissions and therefore on that metric, the carbon capture loss due to the 8.5 lakh trees felled in Nicobar would be compensated by tree plantations in Haryana. At times like this, I wonder what would have occurred had there been a global agreement banning the destruction of local habitats.
With the intent of developing the eastern part of India, the government has chalked out an ambitious infrastructure plan in that part of the country. Except that a large part of eastern and central India are covered by forests which get in the way of such infrastructure construction; and local populations many times did not provide the required permissions. And now the government has reportedly eliminated the necessity of local permission. The CM of Jharkhand Hemant Soren is asking the PM to intervene and reinstate local people’s powers. Much more land will be required across eastern India over the next few decades. Economic growth has a large appetite for land.