The first story in this podcast is complicated. Really complicated. But I'm going to keep it simple.
It starts in India. At the moment, many non governmental organizations (NGOs) are being leaned on by the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs. One of them is Greenpeace, though there are others. This 'leaning' happens in the way that governments often do; bureaucratic pressure. Asking for papers that were never needed before. Blocking bank accounts so they can make inquiries. Lots of red tape and allegations.
This is alarmingly common around the world. Criminalizing dissent and people being branded as unpatriotic when they have a disagreeable position or hold an unpopular opinion.
Small example: An Indian Greepeace employee wasn't allowed to leave India and talk about the harmful effects of coal to British MPs. Another GP employee (Australian) was not allowed to enter India to work despite having all the right visas.
What is going on in in the world’s largest democracy? Aarti Betigeri is an Australian radio reporter and lives in New Delhi. In her report she says the agenda for development and full employment is so ferocious that concerns for keeping the air clean and the water unpolluted are dismissed. This happens when the World Health Organization says air pollution is the number one health hazard in the world and of the top 14 most polluted cities, 10 of them are in India.
This WHO map gives an idea of how the air pollutants (particulate matter) are distributed.
Thinking about Indians are working to protect their water and forests, I thought about the Mahan forest in India. It's an ancient forest and an important ‘carbon sink’. But to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what a carbon sink is. Rolf Skar is one of the original tree huggers. He works on saving forests with Greenpeace US and he told me that ancient forests hold carbon in their dense tree trunks and roots and they continue to take it out of the air more efficiently than young trees, if we don't cut them down. He also said that oceans are huge carbon sinks. All happily working very effectively if we don't mess with them, which we do. You don't have to hug a tree to appreciate them!
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