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Spotlight: China’s communist-capitalist ecological apocalypse

From Truthout.org: This superbly researched 2015 paper explains why China’s unfolding environmental crisis is so horrific, so much worse than “normal” capitalism most everywhere else, and why the government is incapable of suppressing pollution even from its own industries. It should serve as a warning for India, whose official policies increasingly mimic the ‘China model’.

The world’s most toxic town: the terrible legacy of Zambia’s lead mines

From The Guardian: Zambia’s Kabwe is the world’s most toxic town, according to pollution experts, where mass lead poisoning has almost certainly damaged the brains and other organs of generations of children –who continue to be poisoned every day. The lead levels in Kabwe are as much as 100 times that of recommended safety levels.

Spotlight: The continuing trauma of the endosulfan victims

Hundreds of Endosulfan-affected people, this time from Karnataka, are threatening to sit on a fast until death from May 27 to demand better care from the government. Here are exhaustive reports from Down to Earth magazine, which first exposed the issue in 2001, chronicling one of the worst and longest-running pesticide poisoning episodes in history.

Study: A minor change in your diet can reduce water use for agriculture

A new modeling study published in The Lancet suggests that India’s agricultural need for water can be met if Indians introduce minor diet changes. Research team leader Alan Dangour tells Down to Earth that “dietary change is a potential way to improve resilience of the Indian food system in the face of future groundwater decline.”

What does it mean for a river to have rights?

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?

Warning: living in a city could seriously damage your health

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.

A first: Indian court declares Ganga, Yamuna as living legal entities

Live Mint reports: The Uttarakhand high court has recognized the Ganga and the Yamuna as so-called living entities, giving the rivers that have seen years of damage, a legal voice. Animals, for instance, aren’t considered living entities by law. It’s the first time a court has recognized a non-human as a living entity in India.

Six years later: A closer look at Fukushima

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.

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.

Power plants are making thousands go blind in Chhattisgarh

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.

Watch: “Good nutrition begins in healthy soils”

There’s no such thing as ‘healthy food’ if it’s not produced by sustainable farming systems on living soils, Patrick Holden told the recent ‘Food: The Forgotten Medicine’ conference. But after 70 years of industrial farming, there’s a huge job to be done to restore depleted soils and the impoverished genetic diversity of seeds and crops.

Fatehabad nuclear plant: A Fukushima in the making?

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.

Was Fukushima the worst environmental disaster in human history?

Whitney Webb reports: Fukushima continues to leak an astounding 300 tons of radioactive waste into the Pacific every day. It will continue do so indefinitely as the leak’s source is inaccessible to both humans and robots due to extremely high temperatures. In other words, Fukushima has contaminated the entire Pacific Ocean in just five years.

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.

India now among the world’s top ten most polluted countries

According to new data from the World Health Organization, India now ranks in the top ten of the top 50 most polluted countries on earth, although it does rank better than many of its closest neighbors. Meanwhile, data from NASA show parts of the Indo-Gangetic plain to be some of the planet’s most polluted places.

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