Aaron M. Ellison writes in Nature: Better data will not save elephants, rhinos or any other species. Countless individuals, institutions, governments, and multinational and non-governmental organizations have been collecting, assimilating and organizing such data for decades, essentially fiddling while our biological heritage burns… I suggest three crucial actions that scientists can take, beginning right now.
A new study by Oil Change International and 14 other organizations, scientifically grounds the growing movement to keep carbon in the ground by revealing the need to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure and industry expansion. It’s accompanied by a letter to global leaders, to be delivered at the next round of UN climate negotiations.
Srestha Banerjee/Down to Earth
Amita Bhaduri writes: Nuclear plants require enormous amounts of water for cooling and other purposes. The Fatehabad plant will be the first project in the world to be located away from water sources. “The water will not be enough even for normal operations; what if an accident takes place?”, asks Dhanraj Jat, a local farmer.
The agreement has been welcomed because it would slow down what many fear would be an exponential rise in the greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons, what with the increased use of refrigerators, ACs and cars in China and India in the years to come. But, IPCC data suggests we need to keep our excitement in check.
Live Mint reports: By 2030, without significant investment into making cities more resilient, climate change may push up to 77 million more urban residents into poverty, said a new World Bank report. It stated that a growing number of natural disasters, economic, social, and environmental shocks and stresses, pose the greatest risk to rapidly-growing cities.
The Intercept reports: This startling five minute video from the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations University depicts an “unavoidable” future of brutal and anarchic supercities and offers an apocalyptic list of ills endemic to this new urban environment. In addition, “Growth will magnify the increasing separation between rich and poor,” the narrator warns at one point.
XL Catlin Seaview Survey via Associated Press
“The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old.” So begins Rowan Jacobsen’s moving obituary for the world’s largest living structure. With 2,900 individual reefs and 1,050 islands, it’s larger than the United Kingdom, and it contained more biodiversity than all of Europe combined.
According to an authoritative new report, some of the heat that accumulates in oceans over the years can get released back to the atmosphere. In a nutshell, the oceans were behaving less like heat sponges over the last year or more, instead releasing heat to the surface, and hence the spike in average global temperatures.
EcoSnippets reports: According to Paul Stamets, one of the world’s leading mycologists, his patented ‘smart pesticides’ can provide a safe and nearly permanent solution for controlling over 200,000 species of insects – and all thanks to the ‘magic’ of mushrooms. In fact, pesticide industry executives have called it “the most disruptive technology we have ever witnessed.”
Robin Delobel writes: The issue is rarely raised, but renewable energies have a heavy environmental impact when the total production chain and overall product life-cycle is taken into account– particularly, the stage of mining the metals needed in their production. In addition, chemical products used in the mining operations often lead to severe long-term pollution.
Dia Mirza writes: We cannot call this devastation of ecology and livelihoods ‘natural calamities’ anymore; it’s evident that there is a nexus of powerful people who are ignorant to the ramifications of their idea of “development” and “progress” that is gutting our forests, polluting our rivers and leading many states to a state of drought.
The Guardian reports: The International Monetary Fund has urged governments to take action to tackle a record $152tn debt mountain before it triggers a fresh global financial and economic crisis. New research covering 113 countries had shown that debt was currently 225% of global GDP, with the private sector responsible for two-thirds of the total.
Whitney Webb reports: Fukushima continues to leak an astounding 300 tons of radioactive waste into the Pacific every day. It will continue do so indefinitely as the leak’s source is inaccessible to both humans and robots due to extremely high temperatures. In other words, Fukushima has contaminated the entire Pacific Ocean in just five years.
To fight climate change, a war-like mobilization a la McKibben is not necessary. Actually we are not at war at all. If we are, then it is we who are the aggressors, we are the enemy of nature. Then the first task for the transition is to end our aggression. We need only to withdraw.
Former NASA scientist James Hansen is widely regarded as ‘the father of climate change awareness’. His new paper, titled ‘Young People’s Burden’, outlines how — if governments don’t take aggressive climate action today—future generations will inherit a climate system so altered it will require prohibitively expensive— and possibly infeasible— extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere.
felixdance/Flickr, CC BY 2.0
Ritwick Dutta writes: The National Green Tribunal recently passed a landmark judgment ruling that only those persons who have ‘special knowledge’ and ‘practical experience’ in ‘matters relating to environmental protection’ are eligible for appointment to pollution control boards. Unfortunately, across various states, persons who do not fulfill the criterion have been appointed in these posts.
Greenpeace reports: India remains committed to one of the most aggressive programmes to build new coal plants (some 600 of them) that the planet has ever seen. Yet, 94% of the coal power capacity currently under construction will be lying idle. What’s more, solar power’s now cheaper than coal power, by the government’s own admission.
Giorgos Kallis writes: Degrowth is a frontal attack on the ideology of economic growth. No Left party might dare to openly question growth, but I find it hard to see how in the long-term they can avoid it. Growth is not only ecologically unsustainable but, as economists like Piketty admit, increasingly unlikely, especially for advanced economies.
Sonam Wangchuk, the real life inspiration of the character “Phunsuk Wangdu” in Bollywood hit “3 idiots”, recently led an expedition to Sikkim’s Lhonak lake, which has been declared dangerous. Their objective was to install a siphoning system to drain the lake and prevent climate disaster, probably the first project of its kind in the world.
Soumya Dutta writes: Pakistan is a dry country, with average annual rainfall of less than 250 mm, less than our desert district of Bikaner. The Indus, which India is now threatening to block, irrigates around 70% of the ‘food basket’ farmlands in Punjab & Sindh; it’s literally the life line for the people of Pakistan.
Didier Prost writes: Development impacts on the climate, the way fertile land is used and on ecosystems are catastrophic for the environment. A “return to (the notion of) land as a common good” requires us to raise “awareness or consciousness of place” in order to rebuild relationships of co-evolution between human settlements and the environment.
Trees operate on very different time-scales from the ones we are used to, both in terms of life-spans and in terms of how long it takes them to process information and translate it into action. Is this the main reason why we find it so difficult to recognise them as truly sentient beings, Wohlleben wonders.
The Hindu reports: Air pollution could have killed at least 600,000 Indians in 2012, worldwide because they were exposed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) that may have aggravated or been directly responsible for cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer according to the WHO. India comes just behind China–which witnessed an estimated 800,000 deaths, says the study.
Survival International has given its “Racist of the Year” award for 2016 to President Ian Khama of Botswana. The award is given annually to the person displaying the greatest prejudice against tribal peoples. Nominees in 2016 included Australian cartoonist Bill Leak and Indian godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, whose film MSG-2 depicts tribal people as “evil”.
Scroll.in reports: India will ratify the Paris agreement on climate change today, after President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent to the deal. The move was originally announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who said the government had chosen Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary for the occasion. The Union cabinet had approved the move on September 28.
Gopi Sankarasubramani writes: The issue at hand is the impending approval of GM mustard in India. GMOs introduce irreversible, long term changes in the ecosystem that cannot be contained – any farm will be contaminated, because the farm next door has GMOs. With it, we risk permanently losing our 10,000 year-old inheritance of sustainable agriculture.
Global Risk Insights reports: Recent developments suggest that India has been seeking to leverage its ratification of the Paris Agreement. Specifically, the Modi Government has claimed it will only be able to meet emissions reduction targets if it rapidly expands its capacity to produce nuclear energy, which would be difficult to achieve without NSG membership. Global
Climate Central reports: In the centuries to come, history books will likely look back on September 2016 as a major milestone for the world’s climate. 2016 will be the year that carbon dioxide officially passed the symbolic 400 parts per million mark, never to return below it in our lifetimes, according to scientists at NASA.
Michael T. Klare writes: Nationalistic exceptionalism could become something of the norm if Donald Trump wins, or other nations put the needs of a fossil fuel-based domestic growth agenda ahead of global climate commitments. In its latest report, the Norwegian energy giant Statoil outlines a chilling scenario focused on just this sort of dystopian future.
From Juggernaut publishing: There’s a hidden war going on in central India away from the headlines — and Bastar is at the centre of it. Sociologist Nandini Sundar, who has written about Bastar and its people for nearly three decades, has now authored a gripping account of the war between the Maoists and the State.
Australian educator, author and co-inventor of Permaculture, Bruce Charles ‘Bill’ Mollison, died on the 24 September 2016. He has been praised across the world for his visionary work, and left behind a global network of ‘peaceful warriors’ in over 100 countries working tirelessly to fulfill his ambition to build harmony between humanity and Mother Earth.
Whitney Webb reports: Farmers in India’s poorest region are recording record rice yields by growing organically, debunking once and for all the myth that GMOs are necessary to feed the world’s growing population… In Bihar, Sumant Kumar and his family produced an astounding 22.4 tons of rice on only one hectare of land, in 2013.
Nityanand Jayaraman writes: The complexity of river systems, the hydrological dynamics that determine their ebb and flow, and anthropogenic confounders such as land-use change and climate change had no influence on the tribunal order… Today’s planners try to spare water for ecological flows, not realising that ecological flows are what keep the river a river.
Anandi Sharan writes: Devinder Sharma is a founder member of Kisan Ekta, that claims to represent ‘400 million farmers, fishermen and farm workers’. But does Sharma, a close associate of the controversial yoga teacher-turned businessman Baba Ramdev, understand the ground reality of the politics of food, agriculture and hunger? Whose interests does Kisan Ekta serve?
The Guardian reports: Environmental destruction and landgrabs could lead to governments and individuals being prosecuted for crimes against humanity by the international criminal court following a decision to expand its remit. The ICC said it would prioritise crimes that result in “destruction of the environment”, “exploitation of natural resources” and the “illegal dispossession” of land.
Book excerpt: Both corporations and governments alike, who seek to consolidate their land ownership, often push for clearly defined tenurial rights rather than have to deal with messy overlapping custodianships. Many scholars have highlighted the limits of tenurial security in achieving conservation and that a tenure creates willing stakeholders in large scale land use change.
The reactor failed four times in the final commissioning test. Numerous emergency shutdowns and four maintenance outages have kept the reactor off-grid for days, and it has supplied far less electricity than it was supposed to. Yet, plans to import a dozen more reactors of the same vintage from the same vendor are in progress.