December 9, 2006

I don't CAR?

I don't normally follow global warming and related issues, preferring to leave them to the concerned scientists and organizations such as the EPA. And of course, if all of them failed, we will still have Al Gore! Rice is my staple food, though. I cannot live without idlis, a South Indian rice delicacy, for more than a few weeks. Naturally, I was all alert when I read that pollution was reducing rice harvests in India.

Apparently, a team of researchers from the University of California at Berkeley, have found that the "Asian haze" has reduced annual rice yields between 1985 and 1998 by as much as 11%. I don't know what exactly is the price elasticity of rice supply in that part of the world, but I know enough about demand and supply to be not surprised if there should be a concomitant rise in the cost of my idlis.

Worried about the potentially dwindling supply of my idlis, I plowed further into the article. It warned ominously that South Asia had "one of the most widespread atmospheric brown clouds on the planet", and that these clouds could not only block the Sun's radiation, but also reduce rainfall. The research confirmed that reducing the brown clouds and greenhouse gases would increase the rice yields. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the global network of research centers devoted to farming in developing countries, pitched in too, and recommended the development of new rice strains adapted to the changed conditions.

Excellent suggestions. I am glad that someone is paying attention to the supply of my idlis! Are you listening India? Apparently not. The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), refused to be concerned about the findings of the research. Dr. Shukla, the deputy director general of ICAR, told BBC, and I quote, warming and air pollution could not be limited to a specific country and would have a global impact. He said his organisation was more concerned about the issues of water management, nutrients and rice varieties...

Hm,strange! ICAR cares about every input for rice production, but not the output? And, why? Because global warming and pollution will have global impact, and cannot be limited to India! Am I missing something badly here? Where is Dr. M.S Swaminathan when I need him the most?

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