Aseem Prakash

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A girl holds a hose to fill a container with water from a mobile water tank in Hyderabad, India, on Saturday. (Mahesh Kumar A./AP)

March 22 is World Water Day — an annual call to action to help the millions of people who lack access to safe water sources. Water availability is an important global policy objective, listed as U.N. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) # 6: “ensure access to water and sanitation for all” by 2030.

But climate change is making water availability less predictable. Droughts are often followed by extreme precipitation that does not sufficiently recharge groundwater, leading to water runoff and contaminated water sources. More than 2 billion people are now living in countries experiencing high water stress.

Arguably, technology can address water collection and distribution issues.…  Seguir leyendo »

To reboot economies in recession after pandemic-related lockdowns and disruptions, governments around the world are planning ambitious recovery packages. Many environmental groups want these plans to include climate conditionalities — and fund sustainability, not just unemployment assistance, infrastructure spending, industry bailouts and regulatory relief. The $825 million European Union proposal includes these features, while the U.S. package seems to favor oil and gas industries over renewable energy sectors in terms of bailouts, tax relief and regulatory rollbacks.

How climate-friendly is China’s coronavirus recovery package? One analysis of Group of 20 countries’ committed public finance places China near the top in terms of funding for clean energy vs.…  Seguir leyendo »

A forest fire rages in the town of Porto Velho, state of Rondonia, Amazonia, Brazil, on Sept. 9. (Fernando Bizerra/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

As fires devastate the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, much of the world has been outraged, arguing the loss will accelerate climate change. French President Emmanuel Macron harshly criticized Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for encouraging deforestation. The Group of Seven nations offered $22.2 million to help fight the fires. Some activists want to try Bolsonaro at The Hague for ecocide.

Meanwhile, similarly vast forest fires in Indonesia and Malaysia receive far less attention. In both parts of the world, forest fires usually start as controlled burns set by farmers or plantation companies wanting to clear land for agriculture: soybeans, corn or cattle ranching in the Amazon, and palm oil in Southeast Asia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian residents ride a bike along a road after Cyclone Fani slammed into Puri in the eastern Indian state of Odisha on May 3, 2019, with winds gusting at speeds of up to 200 kilometres (125 miles) per hour. (DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Can democracy and technology help poor countries adapt to extreme weather events? If we look at how one extremely poor state in India managed to save so many citizens from this spring’s devastating cyclone, we might conclude that the answer is yes.

Cyclone Fani was extremely dangerous

Cyclone Fani hit the state of Odisha on India’s eastern coast on May 3. Since Fani had an average wind speed of 120 miles per hour, the India Meteorological Department classified it as an “extremely severe cyclone”. Such cyclones are infrequent: There have only been 39 in the last 50 years. Nearly 60 percent of those are recorded in October through December, after India’s monsoon season, which generally runs from June to September.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters demand justice on Nov. 7, 2017, after a gang rape in Bhopal, India. (EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

India’s recently released 2018 Economic Survey gushes about its economic progress. At the same time, it also notes the country’s 63 million “missing” women and 21 million “unwanted” girls. Why has India’s rising economic prosperity not delivered more gender equality?

Since 1991, when India embarked on economic liberalization, the size of its economy has more than quadrupled. It’s now estimated at about $8 trillion, making it the world’s third-largest economy, behind China and the United States. India also continues to be ranked among the fastest-growing economies in the world, often competing with China for the top spot. In a recognition of India’s stellar economic performance, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered a keynote address at the 2018 Davos summit.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indian security personnel stand guard at the Rajghat memorial amid heavy smog in New Delhi on November 7, 2017. New Delhi woke up to a choking blanket of smog on November 7 as air quality in the world’s most polluted capital city reached hazardous levels. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)

This week India’s capital city, Delhi has been hit with extreme air pollution – so extreme that the city’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal described it as a gas chamber.  The city’s Air Quality Index has been in the range of 700 to 1,000; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considers anything over 300 to be hazardous. The index measures the concentration of particulate matter, microscopic particles that can harm the lungs, causing cancer, exacerbating asthma, and damaging organs.

In response, the city is taking extreme measures. On Tuesday, the Delhi government closed schools for the week. The National Green Tribunal has banned construction, one source of particulate pollution, in the region through November 14; truck and car travel has also been limited.…  Seguir leyendo »

A boy eats out of a ladle at his home in Ngop in South Sudan in March. The Norwegian Refugee Council, a humanitarian group, distributed food for more than 7,100 people in Ngop. (Albert Gonzalez/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images)

Why are some governments cracking down on civil society or nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)? By our count, 39 of the world’s 153 low- and middle-income countries enacted restrictive funding laws between 1993 and 2012, targeting NGOs operating in-country with foreign funding.

This trend continues apace today. The Hungarian parliament recently approved a law obligating foreign-supported NGOs to declare their “foreign” status on websites and promotional materials. Egypt, Russia, Israel and other nations have enacted similar laws.

In many cases, governments hope to delegitimize NGOs by “naming and shaming” these groups as foreign agents backed by foreign funds. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban often notes George Soros’s Open Society Foundation as an example of foreign meddling in Hungary’s internal affairs.…  Seguir leyendo »

Do African exports to China hurt labor rights?

President Trump blames China’s trade policy for hurting U.S. exports — and U.S. jobs. But there’s another important piece to the China trade story: how its growing economic power may also influence the labor and environmental practices of its trade partners.

Just how much do trading relationships shape domestic politics? Starting with the debates on regulatory races to the bottom and the pollution haven hypothesis, political scientists have been investigating this question for more than 30 years. There was much debate in the 1990s when the North American Free Trade Agreement came into force and when China later joined the World Trade Organization.…  Seguir leyendo »