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NEWS UPDATE #150

Scroll.in reports: India diverts Rs 56,700 crore from the National Clean Energy and Environment Fund, allocated for the fight against climate change, to the Goods and Service Tax regime to compensate state governments. A CSE report shows crop insurers have only settled 32.45% of claims, made Rs 10,000 crore profit amid the ongoing agrarian crisis.

Conserve/Resist

The Hindu

How a holy hill got its groves back

From The Hindu: An afforestation initiative led by naturalists and locals, with support from forest and revenue department officials, has resulted in the Arunachala hill in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, shedding its barren, brown visage. Lalitha Sridhar reports on the decade-plus-long turnaround of a damaged fragile, semi-arid ecosystem by successfully harnessing scientific expertise and local knowledge.

ALTERNATIVES

Save Western Ghats group/Facebook

Tribute: A mountain and a movement: the Save Western Ghats March

From The Hindu:  Straddling six states, the 1600-odd kilometre-long Western Ghats is home to an astonishing diversity of life and supports innumerable communities and cultures. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the remarkable 100-day ‘Save Western Ghats March’, a landmark event in Indian environmental activism, which became the model for numerous campaigns to follow.

ALTERNATIVES

Lia McLaughlin/USFWS

Dam busters! The nascent green movement liberating rivers and freeing fish

From Hakai Magazine: For almost 15 years, Harold and Gephard have removed five dams from Connecticut waterways. They spend most of their time meeting owners whose ties to their dams can go back centuries. “It’s about trying to get dam owners to do something that they can’t quite decide. You have to basically say, ‘trust me.’”

Conflict/Displacement

Nivedita Khandekar: Why floods in Assam and Bihar are worsening over time

From Daily O: Two important things stand out: lack of information at the grassroots level and the attitude of policymakers, and to some extent people too, towards dealing with floods. Assam’s information network has improved, but population explosion forces people to risk lives for a few weeks of floods by living at the river bank.

ALTERNATIVES

Google engineers say today’s RE technologies won’t save us. So what will?

From IEEE Spectrum: At the beginning, engineers at RE<C, Google’s now defunct renewable energy initiative, had shared the attitude of many environmentalists: They felt that with steady improvements to today’s renewable energy technologies, society could stave off catastrophic climate change. They now know that to be a false hope—but that doesn’t mean the planet is doomed.

Education/Awareness

Chetan Misher / Sanctuary Asia

India’s top predator may just be the dog. And we’re to blame

From Hindustan Times: Man’s best friend has become a growing threat to India’s wildlife. As canine numbers rise in cities, towns and villages, entire ecosystems are being affected.They’ve attacked endangered stags in Kashmir and preyed on livestock in the Himalayas. Wild ass, gazelle, nilgai, blackbuck and deer have died of dog attacks in our sanctuaries.

Bookshelf

What tames inequality? Violence and mayhem, says new book

From Chronicle.com: In his new book, The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, Stanford University professor Walter Scheidel puts forth the following thesis: that historically, it took four kinds of violent ruptures  –mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolution, state failure, and lethal pandemics– to reduce widespread inequality.

ALTERNATIVES

Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals

Martin Lukacs writes in The Guardian: Capitalism thrives on people believing that being afflicted by the structural problems of an exploitative system –poverty, joblessness, poor health, lack of fulfillment –is a personal deficiency. Neoliberalism has taken this internalised self-blame and turbocharged it. So, you are now also responsible for bearing the burden of potential ecological collapse!

CLIMATE CHANGE

The Dirty 120: Urgewald exposes world’s biggest coal plant developers

From Mining Review Africa: Environmental NGO Urgewald has revealed companies that are at the forefront to expand the world’s coal-fired power by 42.8%. The report identifies the 120 companies that are planning about 850 new coal plants in 62 countries–including Indian coal majors Adani, Tata, Lanco and Coal India, which are driving the biggest plants.

ALTERNATIVES

Announcing ‘Converging Crises 101’: Free online courses to understand the key challenges of our times

Ecologise has consistently driven home a single point -that humanity needs to prepare for unprecedented environmental, economic and socio-political upheaval and uncertainty in the 21st century. In this new series, we showcase free short duration online courses from the world’s leading universities, which can serve as vital tools to aid our understanding of these complex challenges. The first installment is focused on climate change.

Development/Growth

From Bangalore to Srinagar, India’s lakes are dead in the water

From Hindustan Times: The NGT has repeatedly criticised Bengaluru’s civic authorities this year for letting the city’s water bodies become toxic waste dumps. The central body could find similarly mistreated lakes in countless Indian cities, where wetlands are being lost due to urbanisation, changes in land use and pollution. What lakes have survived are shrinking.

Consumerism/Lifestyle

A million bottles a minute: world’s plastic binge ‘as dangerous as climate change’

From The Guardian: A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute and the number will jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis some consider as serious as climate change. The demand, equivalent to about 20,000 bottles being bought every second, is driven by an apparently insatiable desire for bottled water.

NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #149

From IndiaSpend: A new report has analysed the impact of environmental hazards on global health across 194 countries. These deaths –avoidable if governments and citizens adopted sustainable environmental practices– accounted for 30% of all deaths in India that year. In comparison, 25% and 23% deaths, in Pakistan and Bangladesh, respectively, were attributable to the environment.

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Conflict/Displacement

Three times rise in killings of India’s land, eco-defenders: Modi govt blamed for “stifling opposition” by any means

From Counterview/Global Witness: A just-released global report has revealed that the number of land and environment defenders killed in India has almost trebled, from 6 in 2015 to 16 in 2016, blaming it on “a disturbing trend” of increasing police brutality, indicating the Modi government’s determination “to stifle opposition to ‘development’ by any means necessary.”

CLIMATE CHANGE

New York Magazine

Viral essay: The Uninhabitable Earth

It is not often that an article about climate change becomes the most hotly debated item on the internet. But David Wallace-Wells’ lengthy essay published in New York Magazine did exactly that. The full text of the essay –admittedly a worst-case scenario- which has kicked up a firestorm of debate online, along with selected responses.

Conserve/Resist

Wikimedia Commons

India’s first urban biodiversity heritage site – A ray of hope

From EarthaMag: India recently conferred biodiversity heritage status on the Ameenpur Lake on the fringes of Hyderabad. Other sites across the country also received this distinction. But what sets Ameenpur Lake apart is that the tag is the first of its kind in the country for a water body, and the first in an urban environment.

Conserve/Resist

Study: Ongoing mass extinction causing ‘biological annihilation’

From Mongabay: Scientists warn in a new study that Earth is undergoing a sixth mass extinction that is “more severe than perceived.” Not only that, human activity —including pollution, deforestation, overpopulation, poaching, warming oceans and extreme weather events tied to climate change— is to blame for this massive loss in biodiversity, according to the analysis.

Conflict/Displacement

A grain of truth: RCEP and the corporate hijack of Indian agriculture

Colin Todhunter writes in Countercurrents.org: A combination of debt, economic liberalisation, subsidised imports, rising input costs and a shift to cash crops (including GM-cotton) has caused massive financial distress to small farmers in India. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a trade deal now being negotiated by 16 countries across Asia-Pacific, could accelerate this process.

ENERGY

Nuclear power: Expensive, hazardous and inequitable

From The Hindu: The government’s recent decision to approve the construction of ten 700 MW Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors deserves to be scrutinised carefully. The government claims that this displays “India’s commitment to sustainable development”. But does the path to sustainable development run through a source of electricity that’s expensive, hazardous and antithetical to equity?

CLIMATE CHANGE

Deadline 2020: Just three years before global climate tipping point

From Common Dreams: Humanity has just three years left to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions before risking a climate-safe world. After roughly 1°C of global warming driven by human activity, ice sheets are melting, summer sea ice is disappearing in the Arctic and coral reefs dying from heat stress— entire ecosystems are starting to collapse.

Conflict/Displacement

Amruta Pradhan/SANDRP

Sabarmati riverfront, inland waterways, Mahanadi dispute, are all newer forms of onslaught on rivers

From Counterview.org: The Sabarmati River Front has been in the news lately as a model of “river beautification”. When in reality, it is a dead river, filled with effluents and sewage. It was “rejuvenated” with Narmada water, which came at a great cost of the displacement of lakhs of people and destruction of the environment.

Conserve/Resist

Branding the farmer agitations ‘political’ betrays a lack of understanding

From The Indian Express: It’s a dark satire to tell a farmer that the Minimum Support Price (MSP), CPI and WPI changes reflect farmer incomes are doubling and farmer suicides are declining. The trigger for the recent farm agitation remains the depressed farm gate price compared to previous years —that’s what matters on the ground.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Mapped: How the West massively outsources carbon emissions to the rest

Carbon Brief reports: A startling 22% of global CO2 emissions stem from the production of goods that are consumed in a different country. However, traditional inventories do not include emissions associated with imports. While Western countries have reduced domestic emissions recently, some of this reduction has been offset by increasing imports from countries like China.

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NEWS ARCHIVE

NEWS UPDATE #148

Enviro News reports: Seaborne cesium 134, the so-called “fingerprint of Fukushima,” has been detected on US shores for the first time, researchers from the WHOI, a crowd-funded science seawater sampling project. It has been monitoring the radioactive plume making its way across the Pacific from the demolished Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in eastern Japan.

CLIMATE CHANGE

Bratto Amin

A Bangladeshi professor is risking his life to defend the Sundarbans

From Scroll.in: 60-year-old Anu Muhammad, the author of 30 books, has been getting repeated death threats for his role leading a seven-year campaign against plans to build a $1.5 billion coal-fired power plant in Rampal, southern Bangladesh, on a site teeming with waterways, mud flats and a host of threatened species from crocodiles to pythons.

ALTERNATIVES

Frida Kahlo

Fight back: An ecopsychological understanding of depression

Will Falk writes: I’m an environmental activist. I have depression. To be an activist with depression places me squarely in an irreconcilable dilemma: The destruction of the natural world creates stress which exacerbates depression. However, acting to stop the destruction of the natural world exposes me to a lot of stress which, again, exacerbates depression.

Development/Growth

Reuters/Santiago Osorio

Why landslides have been leading to a higher loss of life in recent times

From The Wire: Why are landslides are proving so costly in terms of loss of human lives in recent years? Relentless deforestation leads to denudation of the hills, making them more vulnerable to landslides. Another factor is that without giving due consideration to vulnerability of certain areas, indiscriminate construction and mining activities are taken up.

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