It's a season that inspires and engages everyone, from the farmer to the policy maker. From the scientist to the travel writer. From the economist to the music critic, and from the botanist to the epicure. In a year in which the monsoon has played truant, Down To Earth invited a cross section of writers to unravel its myriad aspects

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Kolkata-based architect Laurent Fournier tells how ceilings can float and why bamboo-reed-mud make more sense than brick-concrete-steel.

First Asiatic lion, then cheetah: officials struggle to decide which animal to introduce, and when, in Kuno-Palpur sanctuary. But they evict tribal residents with poor compensation.

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Now that the Rio+20 summit is over, experts and the public at large have got busy analysing its outcome document. The media has already declared the conclave on sustainable development, held in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro between June 20 and 22, a failure. It is true that unlike the summit in 1992—where three conventions and the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) were born—Rio+20 did not provide the stuff media could chew for days. The summit, however, did make a signature statement on the pathway of sustainability.

About 40 kilometres from Delhi, in the bustling real estate market of Noida-Greater Noida, lies the biggest irony that the renewable energy industry faces. Indosolar, the country’s largest manufacturer of solar photovoltaic cells, has set up a 400 megawatt unit. Its entrance is slick and ultra-modern, typifying the product it manufactures. Stepping into the 28,000 square metre production unit, one is struck by the shimmering clean, futuristic and sleek production line, symbolic of the clean future that solar power promises.

Tiger tourism booms without proper regulation; new guidelines attempt to contain damage.

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Will the market-based approach to controlling air pollution prove more effective than enforcement methods used by pollution control boards? After failing to check air pollution through the usual enforcement methods, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has introduced a market-based mechanism to reduce air pollution. It is called the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). The ministry has initiated a pilot ETS in industrial areas of three states—Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu—with the aim of improving overall ambient air quality.

The Earth Summit was a historical opportunity to set the world on the correct development trajectory. Negotiators from 191 countries came together to chart a road map for sustainable development and poverty eradication. The theme was green economy. But developed and developing countries refused to bury their differences. Developed countries were not ready to let go of their extravagant lifestyle, while developing countries were expected to take on green commitments. The countries could not even reach a consensus on the definition of green economy.

Industries that over-achieve targets will be awarded energy saving certificates that can be traded like carbon. With the aim to make the industrial sector energy efficient, India’s Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) launched its 'Perform, Achieve and Trade' (PAT) scheme on July 4. The scheme has set energy efficiency targets for industries. Those that fail to achieve targets will have to pay penalty. PAT has been launched under the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, one of the eight missions under the umbrella National Action Plan on Climate Change, launched in June 2008.

Turbines can increase local temperatures. OVER the years, wind turbines have been favoured as one of the most promising renewable sources of energy. But it may come at a cost. This pollution-free and environment-friendly source of energy can cause an increase in local temperatures. Researchers from University at Albany in the US, led by Liming Zhou analysed land surface temperature data of west-central Texas between 2003 and 2011 using instruments on board NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites. The Texas region in the US has four of the world’s largest wind farms.