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NEWS UPDATE #93


The fact remains that India has a terrible track record when protecting people from heat wave – a record that’s only been growing worse over the years. Since 1992, there have been 22,562 deaths due to heat waves. In the last 23 years, India has had no fewer than 393 deaths in a single year.

One chart that shows the rising number of heat waves deaths since 1992
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The fact remains that India has a terrible track record when protecting people from heat wave – a record that’s only been growing worse over the years. Since 1992, there have been 22,562 deaths due to heat waves. In the last 23 years, India has had no fewer than 393 deaths in a single year. Between 1992 and 2004, the annual death toll crossed 1,000 twice – in 1995 and 1998. Since then, more than thousand people died in seven heat waves. The worst summer in terms of the sheer number of casualties was 2015 when 2,422 died.

Maharashtra Drought: Task Force seeks ban of cash crops
The Free Press Journal
Drinking water is an over exploited source for cultivation of cash crops like sugarcane and BT Cotton, which has added fuel to the fire of the agrarian crisis in the state. Hence these crops need to be banned and replaced with food crops like oil seeds, pulses, maize and sorghum; this needs to be supported with state incentive and price protection, a state government task force on farm distress has recommended.

‘Exhibits at National Museum of Natural History destroyed in all probability’
Down to Earth
Exhibits kept at the National Museum of Natural History in the national capital have been destroyed in all probability due to the massive fire that swept through it, officials have said. Among the exhibits were fossils of dinosaurs that once used to roam the Indian landscape. “We had the femur bones of sauropoda and their eggs. There were also fossils of ammonites, an extinct group of marine mollusc animals,” said Vikas Rana, Educational Assistant at the Museum. There were also taxidermy or stuffed exhibits of dead animals. “The specimens were mostly of the flora and fauna of the Indian Subcontinent—fish, mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds. There were lions, tigers, deer, birds, snakes,” Rana said.

New Institutional Structure for Water Security in India
Jayanta Bandyopadhyay, EPW
There has been no significant change in the knowledge-base and institutional structure for managing water systems since colonial rule. This makes the recent efforts of the Ministry of Water Resources for restructuring the Central Water Commission and the Central Ground Water Board significant. This article argues that the effort should be backed by interdisciplinary studies that see surface water and groundwater as ecologically connected.

Guess who made our green panel stall an Arunachal hydel project
Nihar Gokhale, Catch News
On 7 April, the National Green Tribunal suspended environment clearance to a 780 MW hydroelectric plant because of the black-necked crane, which ‘winters’ in a 3-km stretch of the Nyamjang Chhu river in Arunachal Pradesh’s Tawang district. The presence of the bird in the project area was debated before the NGT for over four years. A recent sighting of the bird led the NGT to pass a final judgement on the matter. Lawyers say this is the first time a single species has led to the entire clearance being suspended.

Making a hollow in the Forest Rights Act
Chitrangada Choudhury, The Hindu
Gram sabhas mandated by the landmark Forest Rights Act, 2006 (FRA), are the only officially-recognised space for Adivasi and forest-dwelling communities to participate in State decision-making around the enclosure and destruction of forests for mining. This, when such communities not just depend on but proactively protect such forests. Forging gram sabha resolutions clears the path to lucrative mining. For example, OMC valued the ore it would sell from this proposed mine at Rs.79,000 crore. Such fictions manufacture on file the legal requirement of villagers’ participation and consent. A senior forester, serving in another Adivasi-populated, mineral-rich State, wrote to me after reading my account (http://bit.ly/22J6fHZ) of the forgery, saying, “I have seen this many times, in many files.”

NITI Aayog proposes model land leasing law
Live Mint
The NITI Aayog is considering a proposal for model law that will help increase farm productivity by reviving lease farming through securing the rights of the agricultural land owners and helping them lease their land to tenant farmers, who can then access credit and insurance from the government. Tenant farmers will also be able to avail compensation for crop damage under the act—a facility they do not have now. The law has been mooted by an expert committee led by T. Haque, former head of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, that was formed in September 2015 to look into ways to liberalise land leasing.

India says the cost of solar power is now cheaper than coal
Science Alert
One of the consequences of the ongoing investment in solar infrastructure is that the cost of providing solar power in India is becoming increasingly affordable – to the point where the country’s energy minister, Piyush Goyal, now says that solar power is a more cost-effective option than the old fossil-fuel staple, coal. “I think a new coal plant would give you costlier power than a solar plant,” Goyal told the media at a press conference in India on Monday. “Of course there are challenges of 24/7 power. We accept all of that – but we have been able to come up with a solar-based long term vision that is not subsidy based.” That vision is part a national plan for to generate more than 100 gigawatts of solar power by 2022 – an ambitious target that’s about 20 times beyond the current level solar provides in India. (Also read: Haryana makes solar plants mandatory for housing societies)

India to become $10 trillion economy with 10% growth: Kant
The Hindu
India will become $10 trillion economy and achieve growth rate of 10 per cent by 2032, Niti Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant said on Thursday. The country’s growth rate was 7.6 per cent in 2015—16 and its economy worth $1.7 trillion. In a presentation made during Civil Services Day function attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and large number of civil servants, he projected creation of 175 millions jobs and zero per cent of Below Poverty Line (BPL) population by 2032.

First BRICS bank loans spark debate over environmental protection
Robert Soutar, India Climate Dialogue
Instead of funding coal plants, oil refineries or roads that cut through pristine forests as some observers had feared, new southern-led infrastructure lender the New Development Bank (NDB or BRICS bank), has earmarked its first US$ 811 million batch of loans for renewable energy projects. NDB project funding has been the subject of intrigue and concern among civil society organizations (CSOs) since the bank’s formal launch in Fortaleza, Brazil, in 2014. Yet news of these first ‘green’ loans has done little to ease their fears. The problem, CSOs say, is that since the NDB still lacks a proper social and environmental policy framework, it cannot safeguard against the adverse impacts of its projects – no matter how green they claim to be.

World heading for catastrophe over natural disasters, U.N. risk expert warns
The Guardian
The world’s failure to prepare for natural disasters will have “inconceivably bad” consequences as climate change fuels a huge increase in catastrophic droughts and floods and the humanitarian crises that follow, the UN’s head of disaster planning has warned. Robert Glasser, the special representative of the secretary general for disaster risk reduction, said that with the world already “falling short” in its response to humanitarian emergencies, things would only get worse as climate change adds to the pressure.

Scientists resort to advertising to get Great Barrier Reef crisis in Queensland paper
The Guardian
Scientists say they are fed up with Queensland’s biggest newspaper not covering the worst bleaching event to hit the Great Barrier Reef, so have taken out a full page ad to get the message out. The ad comes as a survey revealed 93% of the Great Barrier Reef was affected by the bleaching. That finding motivated the Queensland government to call on the federal government to convene an urgent meeting of the nation’s environment ministers to talk about measures to address climate change in light of bleaching.

Wind farms’ climate impact recorded for first time
BBC News
In the first study of its kind, scientists have been able to measure the climatic effect of a wind farm on the local environment. The team said its experiment showed that there was a very slight warming at ground level and that it was localised to within a wind farm’s perimeter. Data suggested the operation of onshore wind farms did not have an adverse ecological effect, the group added. (Also read: San Francisco Becomes First Major City to Require Solar Panels on New Buildings)

Mikhail Gorbachev: 30 years after Chernobyl, time to phase out nuclear power
The Ecologist
Thirty years after Chernobyl former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev remains haunted by the world’s greatest ever industrial catastrophe, writes Linda Pentz Gunter. Now 85 and a committed environmentalist, he’s still campaigning to bring the failed nuclear experiment to an end before further disasters follow, and encouraging a clean, efficient and renewable global energy economy.

Fracking’s Total Environmental Impact Is Staggering, Report Finds
Think Progress
Fracking, a form of extraction that injects large volumes of chemical-laced water into shale, releasing pockets of oil and gas, has been on the rise in the United States for the past decade, and the sheer numbers are staggering. Environment America reports that at least 239 billion gallons of water — an average of three million gallons per well — has been used for fracking. In 2014 alone, fracking created 15 billion gallons of wastewater. This water generally cannot be reused, and is often toxic. Fracking operators reinject the water underground, where it can leach into drinking water sources. A new report, released Thursday, details the sheer amount of water contamination, air pollution, climate impacts, and chemical use in fracking in the United States. (Also read: ‘People should be terrified fracking is spreading’ – Australian MP who set river on fire to RT)

The Real Reason Saudi Arabia Killed Doha
Rakesh Upadhyay, OilPrice.com
The first signs of the shale producer vulnerability are now, however, becoming visible, with oil production in the U.S. dropping below 9 million barrels a day—the lowest in 18 months. If oil prices continue to remain below $40 per barrel, a few more shale oil producers will fall by the wayside. But if crude prices rise above $50 per barrel, the shale producers have made their intentions clear, that they will be back in business. If Saudi Arabia had accepted the deal, oil prices would have jumped to $50/b, giving the shale oil industry a new lease on life. Shale producers would have started pumping at a frantic pace, increasing the glut and pushing oil prices back down. This whole exercise would permanently dent Saudi Arabia’s reputation as the leading oil player. The baton would have passed to the shale oil drillers—an event that the Saudis simply cannot allow. (Also read: Leading geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar’s piece on Saudi Arabia’s growing tensions with the U.S. and its implications)

Can Oil Companies Save the World from Global Warming?
David Biello, Scientific American
At least three coal-fired power plants are under construction in the U.S. that are designed to have their CO2 emissions captured and sent to an oil field for enhanced oil recovery, including the Kemper County Energy Facility up the road from here. More arrangements like this are being made worldwide. The scheme is vital: The only way nations can meet the targets in the Paris Agreement to combat climate change is to eliminate the burning of fossil fuels or to capture emissions and find a place to store them besides the atmosphere. Sequestering the gas belowground costs money, and the only way to pay for it on a scale large enough to slow global warming is for oil companies worldwide to buy the CO2 for enhanced oil recovery. The coal plants, in return, would make money selling their CO2.

‘There is No Doubt’: Exxon Knew CO2 Pollution Was A Global Threat By Late 1970s
Common Dreams
Throughout Exxon’s global operations, the company knew that CO2 was a harmful pollutant in the atmosphere years earlier than previously reported. DeSmog has uncovered Exxon corporate documents from the late 1970s stating unequivocally “there is no doubt” that CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels was a growing “problem” well understood within the company. (Also read: Mitsubishi Lied About Vehicle Emissions for 25 Years)

Semiconductors Tell The Real Story Of The Global Economic Slowdown
Moneyball Economics
Inventories are dropping for the first time since the recession ended. No inventory re-stocking is underway. In 2H 2015, the drop was in both nominal and growth terms. Normally, inventories rebound after deep cuts, but not this time since producers are expecting sustained drops in end-user demand. To gauge the degree and duration of the manufacturing slowdown, turn to semiconductors, which are the primary and early component in all things manufactured. That, plus other factors, make semiconductors an excellent leading indicator. (Also read: A Bird’s-Eye View Of How The US Economy Is Falling Apart (In 4 Simple Charts))

“This Is The Longest Uninterrupted Selling Streak since 2008” – Smart Money Sells Stocks For Record 13 Consecutive Weeks
Zero Hedge
One week ago we were surprised to learn that no matter what the market was doing, whether it was going up, down or sideways, Bank of America’s “smart money” (institutional, private and hedge funds) clients, simply refused to buy anything, and in fact had continued to sell stocks for a near-record 12 consecutive weeks. In fact, the selling continued despite what we said, namely that “at this point it was about time for the selling to stock, if purely statistically, otherwise said “smart money” would be sending the clearest signal yet that the market rally from the February lows is nothing but a huge gift to sell into.” One week later we were absolutely convinced that finally the selling would end. It has not. (Also read: With Tech Tanking, Can Anything Save The System?)

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