From The Hindu: The rights do not stem from an intrinsic identity or status of the river, but more from their use for humans; and giving them ‘personhood’ or legal status makes it very human-centred. Can rivers not be recognised as having identity, worth, dignity, and rights as intrinsic qualities, not because they serve us?
From Friends of the Earth: The 2015 Indonesian forest fires, started by farmers and palm-oil companies to clear land for plantation, lasted for months and caused massive air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, at one point releasing more carbon dioxide than the entire U.S. economy, and causing an estimated 100,000 premature deaths in the region.
Florence Williams writes: Unfortunately for city dwellers, the closer we live to roads, the higher our risk of autism, stroke and cognitive decline in ageing, although the exact reasons haven’t been teased out. Scientists suspect it has something to do with fine particles causing tissue inflammation and altering gene expression in the brain’s immune cells.
The Wire reports: India’s environment ministry issued a notification that’s a remarkable show of partisan support to projects that have been illegally operating without environmental approvals. The document lays out a process by which illegal industrial units, mines, ports or hydro projects can be granted clearance and “brought into compliance” within the next six months.
K.P. Sasi writes: Swaminathan along with Mylamma were the initial foundations of the historic struggle at Plachimada, Kerala. The struggle initiated by a small group of these Adivasis with Dalits and farmers forced one of the largest corporate powers in the world to back down and quit Plachimada. Swaminathan passed away on March 14, 2015.
This day six years ago, tsunami waves crashed into Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, leading to a meltdown, which by one estimate continues to leak an astounding 300 tons of radioactive waste into the Pacific daily. A selection of reports and a lead article by M.V. Ramana, on what some have called history’s worst environmental disaster.
The Guardian reports: It’s a myth that pesticides are essential to feed a fast-growing global population, according to UN food and pollution experts. Their new report is severely critical of the global corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of “systematic denial of harms”, “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics” and heavy lobbying of governments to obstruct reforms.
Deepa Bhasthi writes in The Guardian: The illegal dumping of waste mixed with mass untreated sewage in Bangalore is creating a water crisis which threatens residents’ health–and is causing the city’s famous lakes to catch fire. This is the new story of the city, which some scientists believe will be “unliveable” in a few years.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Catch News reports: Chhattisgarh’s Janjgir-Champa region, once famous for paddy cultivation, is now emerging as the state’s power hub with several power plants coming up in the area during the recent years. While fuelling the state’s economic growth, dust and ash emitted from these power plants are turning thousands of local people blind from cataract.
Former nuclear reactor operator Arnie Gundersen writes: Building nuclear reactors in a trade-off for CO2 reduction creates a toxic legacy of atomic waste. Nuclear power’s proponents claim that we’re smart enough to store nuclear waste for a quarter of a million years, but are too ignorant to figure out how to store solar electricity overnight.
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.
GM mustard, if approved, will open the floodgates for other such crops making India one of the largest users of GM crops in the world. Given that its agriculture is largely in the hands of MNCs, India will end up bartering its freedom for the benefit of a few and the misery of the rest.
“Producing qualities that may give excellent results in the laboratory may be advantageous for some, but have ruinous effects for others. And the principle of caution is not enough, as very often it is limited to not allowing something to be done, whereas there is a need to act in a balanced and honest way.”
Amita Bhaduri writes: Nuclear plants require enormous amounts of water for cooling and other purposes. The Fatehabad plant will be the first project in the world to be located away from water sources. “The water will not be enough even for normal operations; what if an accident takes place?”, asks Dhanraj Jat, a local farmer.
The agreement has been welcomed because it would slow down what many fear would be an exponential rise in the greenhouse gases called hydrofluorocarbons, what with the increased use of refrigerators, ACs and cars in China and India in the years to come. But, IPCC data suggests we need to keep our excitement in check.