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NEWS UPDATE #111


The Washington Post reports: Wilderness areas on Earth have experienced alarming losses in the past two decades, a new study suggests. Researchers have concluded that a 10th of all the world’s wilderness has been lost in just 20 years. South America lost nearly 30 percent of its wilderness area, and Africa lost about 14 percent.

Cauvery water row: When a breakthrough was within reach of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu
M.B. Maramkal, Scroll.in
In 2003, the Cauvery Family – a body comprising farmers, engineers, water experts, economists and politicians associated with farmers’ bodies from the two sparring states – was formed to find a long-lasting solution to the river water-sharing dispute. The body held more than 15 meetings with farmers from both states, and its members visited Cauvery delta districts several times to apprise themselves of the water needs of farmers in the region. Its members claim that the body was close to a solution, but the initiative collapsed in 2012 due to lack of government support.

8,856 ‘enemies of state’: An entire village in Tamil Nadu lives under shadow of sedition
Arun Janardhanan, The Indian Express
On September 5 the same day as the Supreme Court said criticism of the government isn’t sedition, a figure on a white board in a village on the distant southern tip of the country was changed — to Day 1,846. The Supreme Court ruling was on just one case, won by S P Udayakumar of Idinthakarai, but there are 140 more such cases against people in the village. In India’s sedition map, Idinthakarai is ground zero. In the protests against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) that have been on in this village and adjacent Kudankulam village since 2011, led by Udayakumar, 8,956 people have been slapped with 21 cases of sedition — the maximum such number charged in the country.

Why India needs a Wikipedia-like website on environment
Madhav Gadgil & Chinmaya S. Rathore, Scroll.in
The exclusionary culture of bureaucratic management of environmental information cannot be maintained in the modern, open democratic society of India. Realising this, the government has promulgated the National Data Sharing and Accessibility Policy and set up a National Spatial Data Infrastructure. To these proposals, we must add one more dimension: the information system should not only be publicly accessible but be participatory in nature, involving all interested citizens. It should be broad in scope and involve not only various Central and state government agencies, but also the local bodies and organisations such as industries and mines that are expected to document their pertinent activities.

Why engineering interventions won’t prevent another flood in Chennai
Nityanand Jayaraman, Scroll.in
Chennai’s floods are not a result of unplanned development. The city’s hydraulic infrastructure has been and is being systematically dismantled. Chennai’s second masterplan proposes to double the area under residential land use and increase industrial land-use from 6,563 hectares to 10,690 hectares by 2026. To accommodate this, area under agriculture will be reduced by 42%, and areas under forests, hills and waterbodies will shrink to half the existing 56,000 hectares.

Outpouring of opposition to Ennore port expansion
The Hindu
Fishermen, residents of north Chennai and activists vehemently opposed the third phase of expansion of Kamarajar Port in Ennore at a public hearing held on Friday. They raised issues including loss of livelihood, irreparable environmental damage and lack of proper rehabilitation for affected fishermen. Kadalora Makkal Paathukaapu Iyakkam’s Sasikumar said sea erosion was already a major problem in north Chennai due to the ports. Dumping boulders along the shoreline is not a solution.

Ill-conceptualised health component could end up undermining new pollution index, experts warn
Sruthisagar Yamunan, Scroll.in
In April, the Central Pollution Control Board, the department responsible for keeping pollution across the country within stipulated limits, announced a fresh index to monitor pollution levels in and around industrial clusters. For the first time, the watchdog has included marks for health in the index. This has raised hopes that there will be a more effective effort to eliminate the toxins to which industrial workers and those living around critically polluted areas are exposed. But public health experts and environmental activists say that the new index is not thorough enough. This, they fear, could make the entire exercise counter-productive.

Indian model land leasing law promises greater security for tenant farmers
Rina Chandran, Thomson Reuters Foundation
Several Indian states are adopting a model land leasing law aimed at giving poor tenant farmers greater access to benefits, such as credit, while also protecting the rights of land owners. The central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh drafted a law on land leasing last month based on recommendations from government thinktank Niti Aayog. States including Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha, Punjab and Bihar are expected to follow suit. The model Land Leasing Act, proposed by Niti Aayog in April, recommends that all lease arrangements be made formal, and gives tenant farmers access to benefits including farm credit, insurance and compensation for crop damage. It also protects the landlord’s ownership of the land.

Kerala farmers embrace aquaponics to combat climate change
K Rajendran, India Climate Dialogue
Aquaponics has triggered new hope at a time fishermen and farmers have been bearing the brunt of climate change. Unseasonal rainfall and unexpected droughts have affected farmers in the southern state of Kerala. Last year, 105 farmers committed suicide in those regions of the state where cash crops are cultivated, according to data available with the National Crime Records Bureau. The impact of climate change is more severe in the fisheries sector as the Arabian Sea has been witnessing the depletion of many fish varieties, especially sardine, known as the poor man’s fish. Both fishery and farming experts say climate change is one of the main reasons for the drop in yields. Many experts, at levels from global to local, are trying to find ways to make food production more resilient to climate change.

The world has lost a tenth of all its wilderness in the past two decades
Chelsea Harvey, The Washington Post
Wilderness areas on Earth have experienced alarming losses in the past two decades, a new study suggests. By comparing global maps from the present day and the early 1990s, researchers have concluded that a 10th of all the world’s wilderness has been lost in just 20 years. The study, published Thursday in the journal Current Biology, finds that just over 30 million square kilometers (or 11.5 million square miles) of wilderness remains on Earth, composing nearly a quarter of the planet’s terrestrial area. On the other hand, 3.3 million square kilometers have been lost since the early 1990s. The losses were more pronounced in some areas than in others. South America lost nearly 30 percent of its wilderness area, and Africa lost about 14 percent. Overall, most of the remaining wilderness is concentrated in North America, North Asia, North Africa and Australia, the researchers note.

Massive ice avalanche in Tibet
The Third Pole
On July 17, 2016, a huge stream of ice and rock tumbled down a narrow valley in the Aru Range of Tibet. When the ice stopped moving, it had spread a pile of debris that was up to 30 meters (98 feet) thick across 10 square kilometers (4 square miles). Nine people, 350 sheep, and 110 yaks in the remote village of Dungru were killed during the avalanche. The massive debris field makes this one of the largest ice avalanches ever recorded. The only event of a comparable size was a 2002 avalanche from Kolka Glacier in in the Caucasus , explained Andreas Kääb, a glaciologist at the University of Oslo. (Also read: Arctic death spiral: Icebreakers reach North Pole as sea ice disintegrates)

Costa Rica has gone 76 straight days using 100% renewable electricity
Brad Plumer, Vox.com
Costa Rica is pulling off a feat most countries just daydream about: For two straight months, the Central American country hasn’t burned any fossil fuels to generate electricity. That’s right: 100 percent renewable power. This isn’t a blip, either. For 300 total days last year and 150 days so far this year, Costa Rica’s electricity has come entirely from renewable sources, mostly hydropower and geothermal. Heavy rains have helped four big hydroelectric dams run above their usual capacity, letting the country turn off its diesel generators.

This new gene technology could wipe out entire species — to save others
Chelsea Harvey, The Washington Post
Scientists from around the world are currently gathered in Hawaii for an international conservation congress, where they’ve spent the past week discussing the most pressing issues facing the environment today. One topic on the table is a form of genetic editing called “gene drive” technology, which can be used to alter — or even wipe out — entire species. And while some experts have argued that the practice could be a useful conservation tool, others have warned that its impact on the environment could be devastating should it get out of control. (Also read: World’s largest gorilla moved to ‘critically endangered’ status)

The Largest Native American Protest In HISTORY Is Happening Right Now And YOU Need To Know About It!
The Earth Child
Right now the largest Native American PROTECT (not PROTEST) in history is happening in the Dakota’s. What’s going on? Well, the US Government is taking control of Native American lands and forcing them to allow oil developers to drill on their land and move oil via pipelines. From watching what happened with the Tar Sands of Canada, we can get a good glimpse at what the land will look like after they’re done with it.

Bayer confirms $66bn Monsanto takeover
BBC News
German chemicals giant Bayer has confirmed its record-breaking $66bn takeover of GM seeds business Monsanto – a deal that would create the world’s biggest seeds and pesticides company. The offer, a record cash takeover, values Monsanto shares at $128 and will create a company worth $66bn (£50bn). As well as farm-products, Bayer also sells healthcare products including Alka-Seltzer. Monsanto is known for its genetically modified seeds for crops. The use of such seeds is widespread in the US, but plans to introduce these into Europe have prompted fierce protests by environmental activists. (Related: Damning Emails Against Monsanto-Bayer)

Plants’ future water use affects long-term drought estimates
Science Magazine
As humans pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and global temperatures rise, many questions loom. One major issue is how much fresh water will be available for people, forests and agriculture. A study led by the University of Washington shows that popular long-term drought estimates have a major flaw: They ignore the fact that plants will be less thirsty as carbon dioxide rises. The study shows that shifts in how plants use water could roughly halve the extent of climate change-induced droughts.

 

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