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NEWS UPDATE #112


The Guardian reports: Environmental destruction and landgrabs could lead to governments and individuals being prosecuted for crimes against humanity by the international criminal court following a decision to expand its remit. The ICC said it would prioritise crimes that result in “destruction of the environment”, “exploitation of natural resources” and the “illegal dispossession” of land.

Food bowl states stare at 3rd poor monsoon in a row
Ikhhlaq Aujla, The Times of India
Even though most parts of India have witnessed normal rainfall this monsoon season, the bread basket states – Punjab and Haryana – have received deficient showers (more than 20-59% below the normal) in the June 1 to September 16 period. With the monsoon entering the withdrawal stage in north west India, the situation is unlikely to improve in the next fortnight, putting these states at the risk of having the third straight deficient monsoon rainfall year. (Also read: Three ministries to join hands to ‘drought-proof’ India from October 2)

Ken-Betwa River Link-up Approved, Tiger Reserve to Be Submerged
Nitin Sethi, Business Standard
The Ken-Batwa inter-linking of rivers has got nod from the standing committee of the National Board of Wildlife. The panel headed by the Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave has agreed to submerge more than 100 square kilometres of one of the country’s prime tiger habitats, the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, for the project that the NDA government had put its weight behind. In a meeting held on August 23, the standing committee chaired by Dave cleared the project after some deliberations.

How Gadkari and Javadekar broke all rules for Mormugao Port project
Nihar Gokhale, Catch News
Facts emerging from a National Green Tribunal (NGT) case have shown that in a series of decisions taken between 2014 and 2016, Union Shipping and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and the then Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar “subverted” environmental laws, “misrepresented” facts and overruled opposition from traditional fishermen communities to push through a project at the Mormugao Port in Goa. The project – to deepen the navigational channel ships use to reach the port – would directly benefit Adani Ports and the OP Jindal Group, which operate one and two cargo handling berths at the port, respectively.

“The Dead Cannot Make A Comeback” – Is India About To Make A Catastrophic Mistake With GM Mustard?
Colin Todhunter, Countercurrents.org
Global oilseed, agribusiness and biotech corporations are engaged in a long-term attack on India’s local cooking oil producers. The country now meets more than half its cooking oil requirements through imports, with palm oil shipped from Indonesia and Malaysia and soybean oil from Brazil and Argentina (see here), with devastating impacts on the environment. At the same time, there is a push to get GM mustard (and other crops) commercialised and grown in Indian fields. (Also read: Vandana Shiva on Monsanto And The Poisonous Cartel Of GMOs In India)

Free power for farmers fuelling water crisis: Environment Minister
The Hindu
Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Anil Dave, linked the rampant extraction of groundwater to the free electricity supplied to farmers and mooted a fresh approach towards rivers and water bodies to impose discipline on water consumption. The Minister backed a call for stronger ground water management regulations made by NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, who said free electricity has made people drill deeper to get water for irrigation and is turning large parts of States such as Punjab, Rajasthan and Haryana barren. (Also read: Nitin Gadkari pushes for leapfrogging into methanol economy)

Actors and their trysts with agriculture
Surya Praphulla Kumar, The New Indian Express
While R Madhavan has set up a terrace garden in his penthouse in Mumbai—where he grows organic vegetables using hydroponics (a farming method using water and no soil), Bollywood stars like Salman Khan are growing produce in their backyard. But the more interesting stories belong to actors who have purchased tracts of farm land and are actually manning tractors and harvesting grain with their families in tow.

Why India Needs a National Framework for Responding to Stranded Marine Animals
Mridula Srinivasan, The Wire
Responding to a stranded dolphin or whale, whether alive or dead, is not an easy task for the untrained. Despite good intentions, an untrained person trying to rescue a distressed animal is putting herself and the animal at risk. Even a dead animal poses a risk to human health because of the potential for disease transmission from animal to humans (zoonosis). Additionally, responding to a stranded animal is a team job that requires organisation and clear delegation of roles and responsibilities.

Will Bangladesh and India turn the Sundarbans into a Busy Shipping Lane?
Mohammad Arju, The Wire
Shipping and navigation through the Sundarbans is booming like never before. Unauthorised navigation routes are expanding. The vessels range from ocean-going mother and feeder cargo ships, container carriers, tankers, lighterage ships, mid-size bulk cargo and tankers from inland waterways, and trans-boundary cargo ships between Bangladesh and India. Without any sort of environmental management in place, this increasing navigation and shipping are multiplying the risk of accidents/spills and regular pollution in the world’s largest mangrove forest. (Also read: China’s ‘new Silk Road’ could expand Asia’s deserts)

ICC widens remit to include environmental destruction cases
The Guardian
Environmental destruction and landgrabs could lead to governments and individuals being prosecuted for crimes against humanity by the international criminal court following a decision to expand its remit. In a change of focus, the ICC said on Thursday it would also prioritise crimes that result in the “destruction of the environment”, “exploitation of natural resources” and the “illegal dispossession” of land. It also included an explicit reference to land-grabbing.

Countries are racing to activate the Paris climate pact this year. They’re almost there
Chris Mooney & Brady Dennis, The Washington Post
Sixty countries, representing just shy of 48 percent of the globe’s emissions, have now formally joined the Paris climate agreement, the most advanced global attempt in history to curb humanity’s role in the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere. Those numbers are significant because the agreement, negotiated last December, will formally “enter into force” when 55 countries, representing 55 percent of global emissions, join the effort. Thirty-one countries joined the accord at a ceremony Wednesday morning, or shortly before it, at the United Nations headquarters in New York. Those included the relatively large emitters Mexico (1.70 percent of global emissions), Argentina (0.89 percent), Ukraine (1.04 percent) and the United Arab Emirates (0.53 percent of emissions). (Also read: 100 countries push to phase out potentially disastrous greenhouse gas)

The Earth is soaking up less carbon than we thought — which could make it warm up even faster
Chelsea Harvey, The Washington Post
Currently, soil is believed to be a carbon sink, meaning it’s still taking up more carbon than it’s releasing into the air, and models have suggested that it will keep sucking up carbon through at least the end of the century. But according to new research, scientists may have been seriously overestimating the extent to which this is going to happen — and that could be a big setback in our global climate efforts.

Tribes Across North America Unite in ‘Wall of Opposition’ to Alberta Tar Sands
Common Dreams
In a historic show of unity, more than 50 First Nations across North America on Thursday signed a new treaty alliance against the expansion of tar sands mining and infrastructure in their territory. Leaders gathered in Vancouver, which sits on Musqueam Territory, as well as on Mohawk Territory in Montreal for simultaneous ceremonies to cement the continent-wide agreement, which specifically unites the tribes in opposition to all five current tar sands pipeline and tanker project proposals—Kinder Morgan, Energy East, Line 3, Northern Gateway, and Keystone XL—as well as tar sands rail projects. (Related: US government halts oil pipeline opposed by Native Americans)

Hundreds of U.S. scientists slam Trump for threatening to abandon Paris climate accord
Chelsea Harvey, The Washington Post
Earlier this year, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sparked the ire of scientists and climate activists when he vowed to “cancel the Paris climate agreement” once in office. Now, hundreds of U.S. scientists have addressed this threat in an open letter warning of the perils of such action. Signed by 375 members of the National Academy of Sciences, the letter explicitly refers to “the Republican nominee for President” and notes that “such a decision would make it far more difficult to develop effective global strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change. The consequences of opting out of the global community would be severe and long-lasting – for our planet’s climate and for the international credibility of the United States.”

Big Bank ‘Greenwashing’ Exposed as Major Climate Week Sponsors Fund Fossil Fuels
Common Dreams
Big bank sponsorship of Climate Week 2016, which kicked off Monday in New York City, “amounts to little more than greenwashing,” according one environmental organization, given financial institutions’ business-as-usual investment in fossil fuels. Indeed, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) charges three major sponsors—Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of the West (BNP Paribas)—with “helping [to] drive the climate crisis” through their ongoing funding of extreme fossil fuels such as coal and tar sands oil.

Indonesia’s Illegal Deforestation Fires Killed Over 100,000: Study
Common Dreams
As illegal forest-clearing fires once again burn acres of tropical peatland in Indonesia, new research on last year’s deadly blazes estimates that 100,000 people died prematurely from the toxic haze that resulted from the fires. The fires are set each year to cheaply and quickly clear tropical peatland for palm oil and pulpwood plantations. While technically illegal, Indonesia has historically failed to regulate the devastating practice. An Indonesian scientist described the fires last year as a “crime against humanity,” and NASA characterized the out-of-control blazes as the worst climate disaster on Earth at the time, as Common Dreams reported.

Monsanto And Bayer: Why Food And Agriculture Just Took A Turn For The Worse
Colin Todhunter, Countercurrents.org
News broke this week that Monsanto accepted a $66 billion takeover bid from Bayer. The new company would control more than 25 per cent of the global supply of commercial seeds and pesticides. Bayer’s crop chemicals business is the world’s second largest after Syngenta, and Monsanto is the leading commercial seeds business. Monsanto held a 26 per cent market share of all seeds sold in 2011. Bayer (mainly a pharmaceuticals company) sells 17 per cent of the world’s total agrochemicals and also has a comparatively small seeds sector. If competition authorities pass the deal, the combined company would be the globe’s largest seller of both seeds and agrochemicals.

The European CSA Declaration adopted in Ostrava
Urgenci.net
All over Europe, people are coming together to take control of our food systems, from production to distribution to consumption. We are building systems centered on our local communities. We are joining forces to achieve food sovereignty, by claiming our right to define our own food and agricultural systems. The time is ripe to address the disastrous effects of the industrial food system. Food is too important to merely treat it as a commodity. The Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement generates practical, inclusive solutions to the food crises. Participants unanimously adopted the European Declaration on Community Supported Agriculture which they will all take home to their respective countries. (Also read: 2.6 million dead bees delivered to EPA headquarters in protest)

The Natural Gas War Burning Under Syria
James Durso, Oil Price
To better understand the war in Syria, remember the surge in natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean starting in 2009. Israel, Cyprus, and Egypt have found large gas deposits, and offshore Lebanon has the potential for significant gas resources. Israel has the potential to export gas to Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, and Turkey. (Israel and Turkey have discussed a pipeline to Turkey, but Cyprus has objected as it does not have diplomatic relations with Turkey.) If the pipeline from Iran to Syria it could create an energy hub in Syria, and could block Qatar gas sales to Europe at a time when Qatar’s gas exports to the U.S. have dropped to zero, largely due to increasing U.S. domestic production of natural gas.

Costa Rica has been running on 100% renewable energy for 2 months straight
Science Alert
Costa Rica ran on 100 percent renewable energy for 76 straight days between June and August this year, according to a new report, demonstrating that life without fossil fuels is possible – for small countries, at least. This is the second time in two years that the Central American country has run for more than two months straight on renewables alone, and it brings the 2016 total to 150 days and counting. (Also read: France just became the first country to ban all plastic plates, cups, and utensils)

An Asteroid Called “Peak Oil” – The Real Cause Of The Growing Social Inequality In The US
Ugo Bardi, Cassandra’s Legacy
In a recent article on the Huffington Post, Stan Sorscher reports the graph above and asks the question of what could have happened in the early 1970s that changed everything. Impressive, but what caused this “something” that happened in the early 1970s? According to Sorscher, X marks the spot. In this case, “X” is our choice of national values. We abandoned traditional American values that built a great and prosperous nation.   Unfortunately, this is a classic case of an explanation that doesn’t explain anything. Why did the American people decide to abandon traditional American values just at that specific moment in time?

 

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