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NEWS UPDATE #147


From The Times of India: Industrial fishing fleets dump nearly 10 million tonnes of good fish back into the ocean every year – a new research study has found. Researchers found that almost 10 per cent of the world’s total catch in the last decade was discarded due to poor fishing practices and inadequate management.

Thirty new smart cities announced; India to have City Livability Index
Down to Earth
On the occasion of completion of two years of Smart Cities Mission (SCM) and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT), the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) announced the new batch of smart cities at a National Workshop on Urban Transformation. The government had launched its flagship “100 Smart Cities Mission” in 2015. As of now, 90 cities (10 in the first round, 13 in the fast track round, 27 in the second round and 30 in the third round) have been selected as smart cities. In the third round of the Smart Cities selection, the Centre had shortlisted 45 cities, out of which, 30 have been selected.

Govt clears deck to make Kishanganga hydropower project operational
Live Mint
Stepping up its game in Kashmir, India plans to fill up the reservoir to galvanise the 330 MW Kishanganga hydropower project in Jammu and Kashmir. The move is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to step up exploitation of India’s share of water in the Indus Water Treaty (IWT). In September, last year, 18 soldiers were killed when militants stormed an Indian Army battalion headquarters in northern Jammu and Kashmir (Uri region), close to the Line of Control. Following that, Modi had directed officials to pursue full exploitation of rivers under the IWT.

Tribal leader dies in police custody – as tribe denounce harassment campaign
Survival International
A leader of a tribe in India, which made headlines around the world when it won a David and Goliath battle against a British mining corporation, has died in police custody – following a violent police campaign of harassment and intimidation against activists. Bari Pidikaka of the Dongria Kondh tribe was arrested and detained on his way back from a protest in October 2015, and died this week. The Dongria from central India report systematic “intimidation, abduction and wrongful incarceration” of their leaders by state police, who they claim are acting to “further the interests” of Vedanta Resources, a British-based mining company.

Reducing MSP on minor forest produce directly harms tribal communities
Chitta Ranjan Pani, Down to Earth
The last few weeks have seen media reports abuzz with demands from farmer groups to raise the minimum support price (MSP) of agricultural crops in the wake of an imminent agrarian crisis. As government reflects on these demands, perhaps, it should also reconsider its last year’s decision to reduce the MSPs of Minor Forest Produce (MFP). A Planning Commission report had noted that MFP contributes to 20 to 40 per cent of the income of forest-dependent communities, especially the landless with a dominant population of tribals, and “provides critical subsistence during lean seasons.” The MFP economy, however, is also known to suffer from unorganised and uncertain market demands, affecting economic returns to these communities.

Rare plant species rediscovered in Western Ghats after more than 100 years
Sunderarajan Padmanabhan, Down to Earth
A group of Indian taxonomists has rediscovered a wild plant after a gap of nearly 100 years. Called Ceropegia omissa H.Huber, the species was last seen in 1916. Prior to this, it was seen and collected only on two occasions—in 1835 and 1914. Interestingly, all the sightings have been made in a narrow region, within a radius of about 50 km in southern parts of the Western Ghats. The area of occurrence of this plant is close to Courtallam (or Kuttalam) in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, a tourism spot known for its waterfalls. (Also read: Scientists record the sound of intact forest)

Uranium exploration, drilling & mining in Meghalaya kills fish in Bangladesh
Raiot.in
Uranium is not supposed to be explored or Mined in Khasi Hills without all the requisite statutory permissions have been granted to Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL). Yet large scale explorations and test mining has continued in the area near the international border between India & Bangladesh. This recent report from Bangladesh further corroborates the dangers that Uranium Mining poses to the life and ecology in Meghalaya.

70% Of India’s Farm Families Spend More Than They Earn–Debt Main Cause of Suicides
Devanik Saha, IndiaSpend
Nearly 70% of India’s 90 million agricultural households spend more than they earn on average each month, pushing them towards debt, which is now the primary reason in more than half of all suicides by farmers nationwide, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of various government data. The failing economics of such farms–agricultural households in the south are most indebted–are exacerbated by additional loans that families take to meet health issues, leaving them with diminished ability to invest in farming. Outstanding loans for health reasons doubled over a decade to 2012, and loans for farm business fell by about half over the same period.

Green Energy may renew job hopes & create 3 lakh jobs in 5 years 
The Economic Times
India’s rapidly growing renewable energy sector will generate a significant number of new jobs apart from giving the country cleaner environment, a new study has forecast. Around 300,000 such jobs in this sector will be created in the next five years, according to a study done by Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The eventual job potential of the sector, according to the study, is 34,600 in wind power, 58,600 in ground mounted solar projects and 238,000 in rooftop solar projects.

Dirty air and mortality: the insidious link
Down to Earth
Exposure to PM2.5 accounted for about 4.2 million deaths from heart disease and stroke, lung cancer, chronic lung disease and respiratory infections, according to the 2015 analysis of Global Burden of Diseases. Exposure to PM2.5 is the 5th highest risk factor for death after high blood pressure, smoking and cholesterol. Interestingly, over 50 per cent of deaths occurred in China and India. (Related: Dust, particulate matter in air reducing solar energy output by 25 per cent: study)

WORLD

World has three years left to stop dangerous climate change, warn experts
The Guardian
Avoiding dangerous levels of climate change is still just about possible, but will require unprecedented effort and coordination from governments, businesses, citizens and scientists in the next three years, a group of prominent experts has warned. The authors, including former UN climate chief Christiana Figueres and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, argue that the next three years will be crucial. They calculate that if emissions can be brought permanently lower by 2020 then the temperature thresholds leading to runaway irreversible climate change will not be breached. (Related: Failure to update building regulations could triple heatwave deaths by 2040)

 Ten million tonnes of fish get wasted every year: study
The Times of India
Industrial fishing fleets dump nearly 10 million tonnes of good fish back into the ocean every year – enough to fill about 4,500 Olympic sized swimming pools – a study has found. Researchers from University of British Columbia in Canada and the University of Western Australia found that almost 10 per cent of the world’s total catch in the last decade was discarded due to poor fishing practices and inadequate management.

 Revised global population forecast predicts slight increase
Down to Earth
Global population will touch 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion in 2100, a revised 2017 forecast by the United Nations published recently says. The revision raises previous predictions of 8.5 billion in 2030 and 9.7 billion in 2050. The main reason behind the revision is the growing population rate in India and Africa. India’s population, currently at 1.3 billion, is expected to surpass China’s in the next seven years. Nigeria, with the world’s fastest growing population, is projected to overtake the United States to become the third most populous country before 2050.

Ecuador rips up 16 toxic trade treaties
The Ecologist
Ecuador is the latest country to tear up ‘free trade’ agreements that have so far cost the country $21 billion in damages awarded to foreign companies by ‘corporate courts’, and yielded next to nothing in return, writes Nick Dearden. So the outgoing President Correa did the only sensible thing: in one of his final executive acts this month, he scrapped 16 toxic trade and investment treaties. (Also read: Colombian environmental protestors ‘see off’ one of the world’s biggest gold mining companies)

Africa agriculture pioneer wins 2017 World Food Prize
BBC News
African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina has won the prestigious World Food Prize for his work to boost yields and farm incomes. Dr Adesina said providing millions of farmers with seeds and fertilisers was vital to boost development. He added that 98% of the world’s 800 million undernourished people live in Africa. Since 1986, the World Food Prize aims to recognise efforts to increase the quality and quantity of available food.

As Crisis Mounts in Venezuela Children Die From Preventable Diseases, Malnutrition
The Wire
Millions of Venezuelans are struggling with shortages and triple-digit inflation during political and economic upheaval that has triggered months of street protests where at least 75 people have been killed. Declining production of oil, a major export, has left the government increasingly short of cash, and lack of everything from food to medical equipment is hitting vulnerable groups like the elderly and children particularly hard. Surveys conducted in October by Catholic non-profit organization Caritas in poor sectors of Venezuela’s four most populous states found that 48 percent of children younger than 5 were malnourished. By April, that figure had risen to 56 percent.

Johnson & Johnson to pay £51m to family of woman who died from ovarian cancer ’caused by talcum powder’
The Telegraph
The pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $72 million (£51 million) to the family of a woman who claimed her ovarian cancer was caused by talcum powder. A jury in St Louis, Missouri, said the company had failed to warn users of the potential dangers despite concerns raised by the American Cancer Society in 1999. Johnson & Johnson is currently facing 1,200 lawsuits in the US from customers who claim they were not warned about the risks.

The Gulf of Mexico Is About to Experience a “Dead Zone” the Size of Connecticut
Mother Jones
The Gulf of Mexico teems with biodiversity and contains some of the globe’s most productive fisheries. Yet starting in the early 1970s, large swaths of the Gulf began to experience annual dead zones in the late summer and early fall. This year’s will likely be nearly a third larger than normal, about the size of Connecticut, according to a recent report from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium and Louisiana State University. The problem is tied to industrial-scale meat production.

Climatologist: “Forest Fires Worldwide Burning Longer At Greater Frequency & Intensity Across Wider Areas”
Oldspeak Journal
“In recent years, there have been big fires in Siberia and various other places around the world where we typically don’t see large-scale wildfires… We know that… pest outbreaks have been caused by climate change, because there hasn’t been anything like that in the past 500 years, perhaps even 1,000 years… We can link those effects to the warmer temperatures that we’ve seen in the places where wildfires have been taking place… It creates a feedback loop: the fires create more emissions, which in turn contribute to more global warming, which will then cause more fires…” –Dr. Jason Funk, Senior Climate Scientist, Union of Concerned Scientists. (Related: It’s So Hot in Phoenix, Planes Can’t Take Off)

 

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