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NEWS UPDATE #133


iNews reports: The world is facing the “largest humanitarian crisis” since 1945, the United Nations has warned, with over 20 million people facing famine and starvation in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria. Stephen O’Brien, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, has called for international assistance to avoid a “catastrophe” that could see widespread death and devastation.

As reservoir levels plunge in three states, South India braces for more water wars
Sruthisagar Yamunan, Scroll.in
South India is staring at an acute drinking water crisis. After the failure of both the south-west and the retreating north-east monsoons, three southern states are in the midst what officials are calling the “second-worst drought” in history, after the dry spells of the 1960s. Across Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, reservoirs are so dry that even drinking water is hard to come by in several regions. (Related: Bandipur Tiger Reserve is facing an acute water crisis. But drought alone is not to blame 2) In Chennai, a tanker strike spells the beginning of a water crisis even before summer has set in 3) Now, every drop counts as Kerala water authority goes for cut in supply)

India’s thermal power generation to reduce by half in next five years
The Economic Times
Coal-fired power generation is expected to grow 4.05 per cent during 2017-18, suggests Central Electricity Authority (CEA) in its latest estimates. Hydel on the other hand is expected to grow 5.52 per cent, while nuclear will grow only about 2.43 per cent during the same year. (Related: 20 hydro projects of 6,329 MW stalled or stressed, says Piyush Goyal)

‘Green nods given to projects that don’t meet criteria’
The Times of India
Highlighting irregularities in the process of granting green nods to many projects in the country, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has noted that almost a third of the nearly 200 developmental projects which got environmental clearances between 2011-2015 did not adhere to the procedure of seeking mandatory public consultation. In its report, tabled in the Parliament on Friday, the CAG also said that the existing processes for grant of environmental clearance in the country suffered from various procedural deficiencies and there were delays at each stage of environment impact assessment (EIA) process.

Worst attack in two years, Maoists kill 12 CRPF men in Sukma
The Indian Express
In the biggest Maoist attack on security forces in over two years, 12 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed and two injured in an ambush in the Bhejji area of Sukma district in Chhattisgarh on Saturday morning. All personnel belonged to the 219 Battalion of the paramilitary force, which has a post at Bhejji. The attack came on the same day as a Maoist strike in 2014 in Tahkawada region of Bastar that had killed 16, including 11 CRPF men, four police personnel and a civilian. (Also read: Voicing Silence: A Report Of A Fake Encounter Of A Disabled Adivasi Youth)

Bayer’s Trojan Horse: Criminal Prosecution Required To Stop GM Food
Colin Todhunter, Countercurrents.org
The decision whether to allow the commercialisation of the first genetically modified (GM) food crop (mustard) in India is close. Serious conflicts of interest, sleight of hand and regulatory delinquency – not to mention outright fraud – could mean the decision coming down in favour of commercialisation. The real story behind GM mustard in India seems to be that it presents the opportunity to make various herbicide tolerant (HT) mustard hybrids using India’s best germ plasm, which would be an irresistible money spinner for the developers and chemical manufacturers (Bayer-Monsanto). (Related: Punjab varsity develops new Bt cotton varieties 2) A common class of insecticides puts farmers at high risk of diabetes)

World Wildlife Day: Survival launches boycott of India’s notorious ‘shoot on sight’ National Park
Survival international
Survival International has launched a boycott of Kaziranga National Park in India – notorious for its “shoot on sight” conservation tactics – beginning this World Wildlife Day (March 3). The boycott will last until the park stops shooting people on sight. Survival has written to 131 tour companies in 10 countries urging them to join the boycott. Two French operators – Hote Antic Travel and Evaneos – have already signed up.

Delhi: Garbage collectors don’t want to be treated as trash
Paras Singh, The Times of India
“The upcoming waste-to-energy plant at Bawana might be a sign of development and progress, but it’ll directly hit our bellies,” said Saira Bano (32), a garbage collector at Bhalaswa. With the corporation elections due in April, over 70 ragpickers and garbage collectors from across Delhi took part in a ‘public hearing’ on Thursday seeking their basic rights. (Related: Health hazards, declining incomes hit waste pickers)

‘World’s 75% remaining biodiversity in the land of indigenous peoples’
Eastern Mirror Nagaland
75% of the remaining biodiversity of this world is in the land and territories of indigenous peoples, said Phrang Roy, coordinator, Indegenious Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty, Italy and chairman for North East Slow Food & Agrobiodiversity Society, India while speaking at the programme, ‘Biodiversity Festival: Celebrating biological diversity, bonding earth communities’ at NEN Resource Centre Chizama, Phek district, Nagaland.

New research by Indian scientist claims wheat yields can be raised by 50%
Sayantan Bera, Live Mint
In a year when India was forced to import over five million tonnes of wheat due to a production shortfall at home, new research by an Indian scientist offers hope that wheat yields could be raised significantly by a chemical intervention in existing varieties. A water-soluble white powder—similar to Trehalose-6-Phosphate (T6P), a central sugar signal in wheat plants—can enhance levels of starch and biomass produced by the plants, the research shows.

UN warns of ‘largest humanitarian crisis’ since 1945 as 20 million people face starvation and famine
iNews
The world is facing the “largest humanitarian crisis” since 1945, the United Nations has warned, with over 20 million people facing famine and starvation in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria. Stephen O’Brien, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, has called for help to avoid a “catastrophe” that could see international death and devastation.

Earth’s oceans are warming 13% faster than thought, and accelerating
John Abraham, The Guardian
New research has convincingly quantified how much the Earth has warmed over the past 56 years.Over 90% of the extra heat ends up in the ocean and hence perhaps the most important measurements of global warming are made in the oceans. This study shows that more heat is likely to have been absorbed by the oceans over the past 50 years than had previously been reported. With upward revisions in our estimates of the climate’s sensitivity to greenhouse gases and the associated resultant sea level rise.

Solar power growth leaps by 50% worldwide thanks to US and China
Adam Vaughan, The Guardian
The amount of solar power added worldwide soared by some 50% last year because of a sun rush in the US and China, new figures show. New solar photovoltaic capacity installed in 2016 reached more than 76 gigawatts, a dramatic increase on the 50GW installed the year before. China and the US led the surge, with both countries almost doubling the amount of solar they added in 2015, according to data compiled by Europe’s solar power trade body. Globally there is now 305GW of solar power capacity, up from around 50GW in 2010 and virtually nothing at the turn of the millennium.

Just who are these 300 ‘scientists’ telling Trump to burn the climate?
John Abraham, The Guardian
If you read the headlines, it might have seemed impressive: “300 Scientists Tell Trump to Leave UN Climate Agreement.” Wow, 300 scientists. That’s a lot right? Actually, it’s a pitiful list. First of all, hardly anyone on the list was a climate scientist; many were not even natural scientists. It is almost as though anyone with a college degree (and there are about 21 million enrolled in higher education programs just in the USA) was qualified to sign that letter. (Related: U.S. Congressional Energy and Climate Committees Are Loaded with Ex-Fossil Fuel Lobbyists 2) Leading climatologist urges mass protest against Trump administration amid global warming denial 3) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt denies that carbon dioxide causes global warming)

Honduran Farmers Sue World Bank Lending Arm for ‘Profiting From Murder’
Nika Knight, Common Dreams
Honduran farmers on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against a branch of the World Bank for funding a massive palm oil corporation that the suit alleges has been responsible for the killings of over 100 farmers, as well as torture, violent assaults, and “other acts of aggression.” The World Bank has “knowingly profited from the financing of murder,” argues the lawsuit filed in a federal court in Washington, D.C.

Forced sterilization of 272,000 indigenous women ‘not a crime against humanity’: public prosecutor
Shena Cavallo, openDemocracy
In Peru, during the presidency of Alberto Fujimori, 272,000 women and 22,004 men were sterilized between 1996 and 2000 as part of the National Reproductive Health and Family Planning Program. Most of the men and women were indigenous, poor, and living in rural areas. Over 2,000 women have testified that medical practitioners performed the procedures against their will. Last month, Public Prosecutor Marcelita Gutiérrez decided not to pursue charges of crimes against humanity against former President Fujimori and several staff members of the Ministry of Health.

Alarming New Coral Bleaching Event Has Begun at the Great Barrier Reef
Dahr Jamail, Truthout
After a major coral bleaching event killed 22 percent of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in 2016, the reef is once again undergoing what could be another major bleaching event. Coral bleaching occurs when corals become stressed by warmer-than-normal water, causing them to expel symbiotic algae that lives in their tissues from which they get their energy. Coral turns completely white when it bleaches, and if it remains bleached long enough, it dies. (Also read: British-owned cruise ship wrecks one of Indonesia’s best coral reefs)

Source of world’s biggest pool of underwater greenhouse gas discovered by scientists
Ian Johnston , The Independent UK
The source of the world’s biggest underwater pool of the powerful greenhouse gas methane has been discovered in the Pacific Ocean by a team of scientists. The discovery could have implications for humans’ use of the sea as any disturbance could send large amounts of the gas into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change. Methane’s warming effect is 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, but there is less of it and it does not last as long in the atmosphere. (Related: Trump Cuts Regulations as Oceanic Dead Zones Release Massive Amounts of Methane)

One Of The Last Beloved ‘Great Tusker’ African Elephants Was Just Killed
Brianna Acuesta, True Activist
There are only about 25 “great tusker” elephants left in Africa, a name that was lovingly given to elephants whose tusks are so long that they nearly touch the ground. Since their tusks are so large, they’re the “perfect” victims of poachers looking to make money from the ivory. One such recent victim was an elephant named Satao II, a great tusker elephant that lived until he was 50 years old before he was tragically killed by poachers.

EU experts accused of conflict of interest over herbicide linked to cancer
Ian Johnston , The Independent UK
Greenpeace has accused members of a European Union expert committee of having conflicts of interest over whether a controversial weedkiller linked to cancer and harmful effects on bees should be banned. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup and the world’s most widely used herbicide, was said to “probably” cause cancer by the World Health Organisation’s cancer agency in 2015 in a paper in the journal Lancet Oncology

Burger King animal feed sourced from deforested lands in Brazil and Bolivia
Arthur Neslen, The Guardian
The hamburger chain Burger King has been buying animal feed produced in soy plantations carved out by the burning of tropical forests in Brazil and Bolivia, according to a new report. Jaguars, giant anteaters and sloths have all been affected by the disappearance of around 700,000 hectares (1,729,738 acres) of forest land between 2011 and 2015. The campaign group Mighty Earth says that evidence gathered from aerial drones, satellite imaging, supply-chain mapping and field research shows a systematic pattern of forest-burning.

‘World’s largest floating windfarm’ to be built off Scottish coast
The Independent
A floating windfarm — said to be the largest in the world — is to be built off the coast of North-East Scotland, after the Scottish Government gave its approval. Eight six-megawatt turbines will be installed about 15km south-east of Aberdeen and will provide enough power for about 56,000 homes.

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