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  Features|Book Shelf


   The Vanishing Face of Gaia
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
06 Apr 2010

Ever since he propounded the Gaia Theory in the late 60's, James Lovelock has consistently maintained that the earth regulates its climate and chemistry so as to sustain habitability. Now in his 90's, Lovelock says in public what most climatologists say in private - that climate change is irreversible if the current list of solutions on offer are anything to go by. Simply put, it means that the earth will take care of itself but not mankind.

Lovelock believes that the climate is fast changing but wonders how the IPCC could reach a consensus on a matter of science, because the word 'consensus' belongs to the world of politics and the courtroom where reaching a consensus has been a way of solving human difference. Having failed to correctly forecast the course of climate change up to 2007, Lovelock doesn't take IPCC predictions for the future seriously.

For Lovelock, climate change is the sales talk about green stuff like carbon trade and renewable energy. For him, consumers like bacteria, nematodes and worms are important who exhale 95 per cent, or 550 gigatonnes, of the entire atmospheric carbon. Unless we learn to cheat these creatures by fixing carbon as charcoal, argues Lovelock, there is unlikely to be any substantive reduction in overall anthropogenic carbon emissions.

Lovelock's books on Gaia are a collector's delight. The latest, The Vanishing Face of Gaia, takes that genre of writing a step further. It is refreshingly readable in presenting a scary subject of mankind's survival with fluent prose.

The Vanishing Face of Gaia
By James Lovelock, Basic Books, New York, 288 pages, $ 25

 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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