[00:00.00]When Rani’s husband took his own life, he left his family with debts they could not pay.
[00:07.21]Rani’s family farms in southern India.
[00:11.44]Now, she says her family’s farming days are over.
[00:16.34]“There are no rains,” Rani said.
[00:20.53]Rani is a 44-year-old woman from Tamil Nadu state.
[00:26.46]She was one of hundreds of farmers protesting in the capital New Delhi for increased government support for farmers.
[00:36.33]Her state has been affected by drought.
[00:40.11]“Even for drinking, we get water only once in 10 days,” she said.
[00:46.89]A recently released study suggests that more tragedies like Rani’s will happen.
[00:54.74]Higher temperatures are damaging crops and worsening droughts, the study says.
[01:02.00]It argues that the temperature and the number of people who take their lives are linked.
[01:10.30]It states that for every one degree above 20 degrees Celsius on any day during the growing season, an average of about 70 suicides take place.
[01:25.61]The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS.
[01:35.41]Scientists predict that the worldwide average temperature could rise up to 3 degrees by 2050.
[01:45.41]With hotter weather, more droughts and stronger storms are likely to take place.
[01:54.91]In addition, extreme weather changes could become more common.
[02:01.08]These changes could affect Indian farmers who depend on good weather for income.
[02:08.99]Tamma Carleton was the author of the study.
[02:14.00]She is a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley where she studies agriculture and resource economics.
[02:24.13]Carleton looked at numbers from India’s National Crime Records Bureau.
[02:29.85]She compared the number of people who took their own lives between 1967 and 2013 with other information on agricultural crops and temperature changes.
[02:45.30]Carleton estimated that hotter temperatures over the last 30 years “have already been responsible for over 59,000 suicides throughout India.”
[03:00.91]The study said that hotter temperatures were one of the reasons why there was a 6.8 percent increase in the number of people who took their own lives in India over 30 years.
[03:19.15]Vikram Patel is a psychiatrist and mental health expert with Harvard Medical School.
[03:27.89]Although he was not involved with the study, he helped write India’s first national mental health policy.
[03:37.19]Patel said farming is a risky job.
[03:42.23]He said the amount a farmer earns depends on the weather.
[03:47.56]And farming gets riskier with climate change.
[03:52.06]Patel said anything that affects their job negatively will affect farmers’ mental health.
[04:01.24]India has 1.3 billion people. For half of those people, agriculture is their source of income.
[04:12.53]Although farmers are an important part of Indian society, they have been struggling economically over the last 30 years.
[04:23.35]Usually there is not a single reason for a person to take his or her own life.
[04:31.35]But, some reasons include losing crops, debt, poverty or a lack of community support.
[04:40.18]Farmers with a lot of debt may take their own lives so the government, in some cases, would give money to their families.
[04:50.29]“We may not be able to stop the world from warming, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do something to address suicide,” Patel said.
[05:00.41]He said financial support and increased attention to mental health could help deal with the issue.
[05:09.51]Howard Frumkin is an environmental and occupational health professor at the University of Washington. He was also not involved in the study.
[05:23.52]Frumkin said the study shows that unfavorable weather leads to less crops, rural misery and more people taking their own lives.
[05:36.86]India’s farms are regularly being hit by strong storms, extreme drought and heat waves.
[05:47.75]This kind of weather is going to increase with higher temperatures.
[05:53.73]Some farmers in India still depend on rainfall instead of irrigation to water their crops.
[06:03.35]India’s farmers have held many protests for better crop prices,
[06:10.00]more help with loan repayments and water delivery systems among other issues.
[06:17.62]Such systems would help guarantee irrigation during droughts.
[06:24.32]Many farmers said they believe they have been ignored.
[06:30.17]Some are protesting at government offices and some have dumped large amounts of vegetables on roads to block traffic to bring attention to their situation.
[06:44.02]In the past month, hundreds of farmers have been protesting in a central New Delhi square.
[06:51.76]Some are holding human skulls that they say are from other farmers who have taken their own lives in Tamil Nadu.
[07:02.40]They say it will be a 100-day protest.
[07:07.06]They say they are protesting to “prevent the suicide of farmers who feed the nation.”
[07:15.57]On July 27, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh told lawmakers that 11,458 farmers took their own lives in 2016.
[07:33.28]That is the lowest number in 20 years.
[07:37.55]That year also had good temperatures and normal seasonal rains.
[07:44.78]Singh noted that for 2014 and 2015, the number of farmers who took their own lives increased by 9 percent.
[07:56.98]Those two years had a drought.
[08:00.10]The number of farmers who took their own lives reached 12,602 in 2015.
[08:09.61]Some reasons included financial failure, debt and other farming issues.
[08:16.99]Most of the people were farmers with less than two hectares of land.
[08:22.94]M. S. Swaminathan is a geneticist who is known for creating India’s Green Revolution in the 1960s.
[08:34.30]That was a movement to greatly increase agricultural productivity.
[08:41.20]He said, “Suicides occur due to extreme economic despair.”
[08:48.37]Swaminathan has carried out research suggesting that small temperature changes can hurt crop harvests.
[08:58.37]The M S Swaminathan Research Foundation works to solve farming problems related to climate change.
[09:09.30]Some of these include rising heat, drought and increasing salt levels in soil because of rising sea levels.
[09:21.05]Swaminathan said better crop insurance and quick compensation for crops lost to climate change “will help to avoid a sense of hopelessness that leads to suicide.”
[09:37.54]I’m Mario Ritter.
[09:39.44]And I’m Olivia Liu.