Rural Distress, Farmer Suicides, Drought Measures

‘Study linking climate change and farmer suicides baseless’

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Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Recently, we had a newscard on the same issue. This newscard presents the other side of the story. And presents some real errors, in the study by the PNAS.


Who are they saying it Baseless?

  1. Some professors have termed as “baselessthe claims of a recent study that links climate change and agricultural suicides
  2. According them, the claims are a consequence of “uncritical use of data, bad assumptions, flawed analysis” and “unacceptable neglect”
  3. These professors are from TISS School of Habitat Studies
  4. They have also submitted a formal comment on the study to PNAS

What did the study say?

  1. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) of the USA
  2. It found that temperatures during India’s main agricultural season have a “strong positive effect” on annual suicide rates
  3. The study calculated that “warming a single day by 1 degree Celsius during India’s agricultural growing season leads to roughly 65 suicides across the country
  4. Warming a day by 5 degrees Celsius has five times that effect

Arguments against the US’ study

  1. TISS professors have themselves conducted a detailed study of the impact of extreme temperatures on crop production in Karnataka
  2. But no study provides any corroborative evidence for the dramatic conclusions of this paper(PNAS)

Serious Errors in the study by PNAS

  1. Among the “serious errors” is the “incorrect use of suicide data”
  2. For example, the “paper uses state-level data on suicides, data that includes both urban and rural suicides
  3. But the study talked about farmer’s suicide(in rural area)
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