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December 16, 2005

New Delhi: Ecotopia

Okay, don't want to push it that hard, but one thing that is startling about being in New Delhi, among the craziness of crammed streets, raucous life, history, and crazy drivers is the clear evidence of India striving to get control of its environment and pollution.

A guide on one tour told us about recent court decisions moving toxic industry out of residential areas and various signs promote environmental consciousness. But most obvious is the core issue that Bush's administration -- as well as most of the US officialdom -- doesn't want to deal with, namely cars.

India is rapidly converting over to motorized vehicles and nothing is more ubiquitous than the three-wheeled taxis that are the step-up successor to the old rickshaw. But what's startingly is that almost every one of them is run on condensed natural gas, as are almost all the buses. Shockingly, you can ride around in these open-air vehicles, surrounded by a crush of other cars idling in traffic, or gunning forward -- and you can breathe and breathe easily.

India has taken the problem of expanding use of cars and put green fuels at the forefront of its efforts-- and the results are dramatic. People who have visited Delhi in the past tell me the air if far more breatheable and the haze, while still there, is less thick.

So for all you hear Bush administration folks and conservatives justifying the US abdication on Kyoto by saying that India and China aren't doing enough, at least be clear that India is taking the issue far more seriously than the US itself.

Posted by Nathan at December 16, 2005 01:22 PM