Weather alert

While 2015 was the hottest year on record, Indian cities have been getting warmer by the year

The average temperature in the country has risen by 2.2°C over the last 200 years, according to a study.

With 2015 now the hottest year since records started being kept 135 years ago, Delhi, Mumbai and other Indian cities have heated up substantially since the 19th and 20th centuries, data from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) reveal.

Mumbai’s average annual temperature has risen 2.4 °C since 1891 and Delhi’s average annual temperature has risen 0.3 °C since 1930, as the chart below indicates:

Source: NASA
Source: NASA

An alternative study from Berkeleyearth.org, a US non-profit that analyses climate science, appears to confirm the larger trend seen in the temperature rise in India: a rise of 2.2 °C over 200 years.

Source: BerkeleyEarth.org
Source: BerkeleyEarth.org

Finland, Spain experience greatest warming

NASA took data from 6,300 weather stations around the world and compared it to a baseline, which is the average temperature from 1951-1980 (and can be taken roughly as 14 °C). In 2015, the temperature deviation from the baseline was 0.87 °C, making it the hottest year since 2014, when the global temperature was 0.74 °C above the baseline.

Source: NASA
Source: NASA

The 10 hottest years on record have now all occurred after 2000 and deviations from the baseline have increased at a rate of 0.03°C for every year from 2000 to 2015, indicative of a larger trend of global warming.

Finland and Spain had their warmest years ever while Argentina had its second warmest year. In the long term, the biggest temperature increases have occurred around the poles, while temperatures around the equator haven’t changed much, according to a report on PBS.org.

Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USA
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USA

A closer look at the map also shows there is no region untouched by warming. “Further affirmation of the reality of the warming is its spatial distribution, which has largest values at locations remote from any local human influence,” a NASA statement said.

Most of the weather stations around the world are in the northern hemisphere, where most of the Earth’s land mass is located. This means we do not really have a good idea of how the southern hemisphere, which is mostly ocean, has heated up. So, global warming could be underestimated, according to a report from realclimate.org, a commentary site on climate science.

El Niño's role

It would be easy to blame human activity and greenhouse gases for the warming, but according to some scientists, while that may not be possible for a single year, it does adequately explain the longer trend.

“[A] specific year [being the warmest]…is not attributable to greenhouse gases per se…but the long-term trend … is attributable,” said Gavin Schmidt, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies in 2015.

A role in warming the world, and parts of India, in 2015 can also be attributed to the complex phenomenon called El Niño, a vast ocean-atmosphere climate interaction in parts of the Pacific Ocean, linked to warmer sea-surface temperatures. IndiaSpend has reported how El Niño in 2015 brought a more intense heatwave in northern India and a weaker monsoon.

The fact that there were record hot years, such as 2014, without an El Nino is seen as further evidence of global warming.

Potential consequences

More flooding in Europe, water shortages in Africa, droughts in Asia and wildfires in North America. These are some of the effects that could result if the Earth’s warming continues, the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, a United Nations agency responsible for investigating the effects of global warming, predicted in a 2014 report.

Countries around the world took their most significant step yet at COP21, the Paris climate change conference in December. (IndiaSpend has reported on India’s position at the summit here.) Agreeing to keep the rise in global temperatures in 2030 to under 2°C from pre-industrial times, while striving for a 1.5 °C rise, will go a long way, but, to borrow a proverb, the proof will be in the pudding.

This article was first published on IndiaSpend, a data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Behind the garb of wealth and success, white collar criminals are hiding in plain sight

Understanding the forces that motivate leaders to become fraudsters.

Most con artists are very easy to like; the ones that belong to the corporate society, even more so. The Jordan Belforts of the world are confident, sharp and can smooth-talk their way into convincing people to bend at their will. For years, Harshad Mehta, a practiced con-artist, employed all-of-the-above to earn the sobriquet “big bull” on Dalaal Street. In 1992, the stockbroker used the pump and dump technique, explained later, to falsely inflate the Sensex from 1,194 points to 4,467. It was only after the scam that journalist Sucheta Dalal, acting on a tip-off, broke the story exposing how he fraudulently dipped into the banking system to finance a boom that manipulated the stock market.

Play

In her book ‘The confidence game’, Maria Konnikova observes that con artists are expert storytellers - “When a story is plausible, we often assume it’s true.” Harshad Mehta’s story was an endearing rags-to-riches tale in which an insurance agent turned stockbroker flourished based on his skill and knowledge of the market. For years, he gave hope to marketmen that they too could one day live in a 15,000 sq.ft. posh apartment with a swimming pool in upmarket Worli.

One such marketman was Ketan Parekh who took over Dalaal Street after the arrest of Harshad Mehta. Ketan Parekh kept a low profile and broke character only to celebrate milestones such as reaching Rs. 100 crore in net worth, for which he threw a lavish bash with a star-studded guest-list to show off his wealth and connections. Ketan Parekh, a trainee in Harshad Mehta’s company, used the same infamous pump-and-dump scheme to make his riches. In that, he first used false bank documents to buy high stakes in shares that would inflate the stock prices of certain companies. The rise in stock prices lured in other institutional investors, further increasing the price of the stock. Once the price was high, Ketan dumped these stocks making huge profits and causing the stock market to take a tumble since it was propped up on misleading share prices. Ketan Parekh was later implicated in the 2001 securities scam and is serving a 14-years SEBI ban. The tactics employed by Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh were similar, in that they found a loophole in the system and took advantage of it to accumulate an obscene amount of wealth.

Play

Call it greed, addiction or smarts, the 1992 and 2001 Securities Scams, for the first time, revealed the magnitude of white collar crimes in India. To fill the gaps exposed through these scams, the Securities Laws Act 1995 widened SEBI’s jurisdiction and allowed it to regulate depositories, FIIs, venture capital funds and credit-rating agencies. SEBI further received greater autonomy to penalise capital market violations with a fine of Rs 10 lakhs.

Despite an empowered regulatory body, the next white-collar crime struck India’s capital market with a massive blow. In a confession letter, Ramalinga Raju, ex-chairman of Satyam Computers convicted of criminal conspiracy and financial fraud, disclosed that Satyam’s balance sheets were cooked up to show an excess of revenues amounting to Rs. 7,000 crore. This accounting fraud allowed the chairman to keep the share prices of the company high. The deception, once revealed to unsuspecting board members and shareholders, made the company’s stock prices crash, with the investors losing as much as Rs. 14,000 crores. The crash of India’s fourth largest software services company is often likened to the bankruptcy of Enron - both companies achieved dizzying heights but collapsed to the ground taking their shareholders with them. Ramalinga Raju wrote in his letter “it was like riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten”, implying that even after the realisation of consequences of the crime, it was impossible for him to rectify it.

It is theorised that white-collar crimes like these are highly rationalised. The motivation for the crime can be linked to the strain theory developed by Robert K Merton who stated that society puts pressure on individuals to achieve socially accepted goals (the importance of money, social status etc.). Not having the means to achieve those goals leads individuals to commit crimes.

Take the case of the executive who spent nine years in McKinsey as managing director and thereafter on the corporate and non-profit boards of Goldman Sachs, Procter & Gamble, American Airlines, and Harvard Business School. Rajat Gupta was a figure of success. Furthermore, his commitment to philanthropy added an additional layer of credibility to his image. He created the American India Foundation which brought in millions of dollars in philanthropic contributions from NRIs to development programs across the country. Rajat Gupta’s descent started during the investigation on Raj Rajaratnam, a Sri-Lankan hedge fund manager accused of insider trading. Convicted for leaking confidential information about Warren Buffet’s sizeable investment plans for Goldman Sachs to Raj Rajaratnam, Rajat Gupta was found guilty of conspiracy and three counts of securities fraud. Safe to say, Mr. Gupta’s philanthropic work did not sway the jury.

Play

The people discussed above have one thing in common - each one of them was well respected and celebrated for their industry prowess and social standing, but got sucked down a path of non-violent crime. The question remains - Why are individuals at successful positions willing to risk it all? The book Why They Do It: Inside the mind of the White-Collar Criminal based on a research by Eugene Soltes reveals a startling insight. Soltes spoke to fifty white collar criminals to understand their motivations behind the crimes. Like most of us, Soltes expected the workings of a calculated and greedy mind behind the crimes, something that could separate them from regular people. However, the results were surprisingly unnerving. According to the research, most of the executives who committed crimes made decisions the way we all do–on the basis of their intuitions and gut feelings. They often didn’t realise the consequences of their action and got caught in the flow of making more money.

Play

The arena of white collar crimes is full of commanding players with large and complex personalities. Billions, starring Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti, captures the undercurrents of Wall Street and delivers a high-octane ‘ruthless attorney vs wealthy kingpin’ drama. The show looks at the fine line between success and fraud in the stock market. Bobby Axelrod, the hedge fund kingpin, skilfully walks on this fine line like a tightrope walker, making it difficult for Chuck Rhoades, a US attorney, to build a case against him.

If financial drama is your thing, then block your weekend for Billions. You can catch it on Hotstar Premium, a platform that offers a wide collection of popular and Emmy-winning shows such as Game of Thrones, Modern Family and This Is Us, in addition to live sports coverage, and movies. To subscribe, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Hotstar and not by the Scroll editorial team.