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The Bramble Cay melomys is the first mammal recorded extinct due to climate change.

Ecologists are fiddling while our natural heritage burns, says Harvard scientist

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.

Displacement & Conflict

Srestha Banerjee/Down to Earth

Fatehabad nuclear plant: A Fukushima in the making?

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.



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.

Displacement & Conflict

Watch: Pentagon video warns of “unavoidable” dystopian future

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

Obituary: The Great Barrier Reef (25 Million BC-2016)

“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.


Mushrooms can save the world (and put Monsanto out of business)

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.”


Is renewable energy really environmentally friendly?

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 on the Uttarakhand fires and how we fail our forests

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.

Digests & Specials

Was Fukushima the worst environmental disaster in human history?

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.


James Hansen: Climate Change is ‘young people’s burden’, Paris treaty a fraud

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.

Forests & Wildlife

felixdance/Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Spotlight: Who is running our pollution control boards?

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.


India’s sinking $50 billion to build hundreds of coal plants it doesn’t need

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.


Why the Left should embrace degrowth

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.



Photo story: Draining a glacial lake in Sikkim to prevent climate disaster

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.



Creating “urban-rural bioregions” in India: a self-sustaining regional planning alternative

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.

Health & Safety

Air pollution could have killed 600,000 Indians in 2012, says WHO study

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.


Botswana prez is ‘Racist of the Year’; Indian godman among nominees

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.


Why is India holding out on the Paris Climate Agreement?

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


Obituary: Peaceful warrior: Permaculture visionary Bill Mollison

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.

Development & Growth

Soon, we may not have a Cauvery river to fight over

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.

Food & Farming

Who is Devinder Sharma? Whose interests does Kisan Ekta serve?

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.


Bookshelf: Business Interests and the Environmental Crisis

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.


Koodankulam’s untameable atomic reactor: Tickling the dragon’€™s tail again?

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.