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Pollution & Toxicity

Darryl D’Monte: Does India’s refusal to tackle air pollution amount to genocide?

There were 1.1 million premature deaths in India due to long-term exposure to pollutants. While China registered slightly higher figures, it has now acted against this hazard—the situation in India, in contrast, is getting worse. The highest number of premature deaths globally due to ozone is also in India. Might all this qualify as genocide?

‘Ganga, Yamuna are drains, no party cares’

The Third Pole reports: Over 140 million people are eligible to vote as Uttar Pradesh —the land of the Ganga and the Yamuna— goes to polls. Everybody agrees that the poison affects drinking water and irrigation. Still, the apathy is mirrored in town after town in eastern UP. Candidates rarely address it in their campaigns.

Irada: a well-intended expose of pollution and graft from Bollywood

Debutant director Aparnaa Singh’s Irada is said to have been inspired by real events –the pollution of groundwater by a chemical manufacturer with the blessings of a state’s ruling party. Set in Punjab, Irada advocates solutions that viewers will be hard-pressed to replicate, but its concerns are timely, character sketches memorable, and its empathy unmistakable.

Tribute: Alexei Yablokov, grandfather of Russian environmentalism

Alexei Yablokov, the towering grandfather of Russian ecology who worked to unmask Cold War nuclear dumping practices in the Arctic region, died in Moscow last week. Yablokov commanded a broad environmental and political mandate in Russia, founded Russia’s branch of Greenpeace and was the leader of the Green Russia faction of the Yabloko opposition party.

Take a deep breath – here’s what 2016 revealed about the deadly dangers of air pollution

Gary Haq writes: The health impacts of air pollution are well documented; but now, new evidence suggests a link between air pollution and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, with exposure to poor air quality equivalent to passively smoking six cigarettes a day. Toxic air has been blamed for more road traffic crashes from pollutants distracting drivers.

Paul Ehrlich: Radical overhaul needed to halt earth’s sixth great extinction

Growing numbers of scientists have asserted that our planet might soon see a sixth massive extinction— driven by the escalating impacts of humanity. Others, such as the Swedish economist Bjørn Lomborg, have characterised such claims as ill-informed. We argue that the jury is in and the debate is over: Earth’s sixth great extinction has arrived.

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.

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.

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.

Landmark NGT judgments hold private firms, not god or government, responsible

Nehmat Kaur writes: The National Green Tribunal covered new ground for the ‘polluter pays’ principle by invoking it in two landmark judgments recently. Activists are hopeful that this will help deter corporations from functioning with impunity, under the cover of governmental apathy. The judgments in both cases acknowledged governmental inaction in dealing with environmental damage.

Exposed: The global super court that rules the world

A parallel legal universe, open only to corporations and largely invisible to everyone else, helps executives convicted of crimes escape punishment. In this court, a nation that tries to prosecute a corrupt CEO or ban dangerous pollution can be sued for millions, even billions of dollars for ‘interfering with profits’. A investigative series from BuzzFeed.

Debate: Can organic farming feed the world?

Bjorn Lomborg, long known as a ‘contrarian’ environmentalist, recently triggered a heated media debate when he claimed that organic farming cannot provide food security for the world, and even asserted that it is bad for the environment. Here we present Lomborg’s original column in USA Today and a selection of voices that counter his view.

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