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NEWS UPDATE #118


Michael T. Klare writes: Whoever enters the Oval Office, it may be time for the rest of us to take up those antinuclear signs long left to molder, and put political pressure on leaders globally to avoid strategies and weapons that would make life on this planet so much more precarious than it already is.

Around 900 farmer suicides in drought-hit Marathwada this year
Manoj Dattatrye More, The Indian Express
Around 900 farmer suicides were reported in the eight districts of Marathwada region between January and October this year. During the same period last year, 700 farmer suicides were reported, according to officials at the Aurangabad divisional commissionerate. Compare this with 2013 and 2014, when a total of 600 suicides were reported in Marathwada. And between 2006 and 2012, less than 400 farmer suicides were reported on a yearly basis. The year 2015 recorded the highest number of farmer suicides — 1,133 from January to December — in 10 years.

Delhi pollution: Stop blaming Punjab farmers. Fault lies in the capital
Ramandeep Singh Mann, Catch News
There is no denying the fact that crop burning contributes to air pollution but the question is to what extent. Studies by IIT Kanpur and Central Pollution Control Board in 2015 confirmed that 80 % of air pollution in Delhi has it’s origins in Delhi and surrounding areas. The culprit is Delhi’s flawed urban development model – they city boasts of a population of 1.80 crore and 88.27 lakh vehicles. But instead of addressing its own unsustainable growth, Delhi has found a new scapegoat – crop burning. (Related: 1)  Farm fires in Punjab doubled in 2016: NASA 2) Construction banned, all schools shut in Delhi)

Refuelling At Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant A Major Health Hazard
VT Padmanabhan, Countercurrents.org
During December 2016, the world’s first Generation-III pressusrized water reactor (PWR)at Kudamkulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in India will be shut down for its second refueling. The 1000 MW WWER reactor, a joint venture of Russia’s Rosatom and the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) was grid connected three years ago. About 56 used (spent) fuel assemblies will be removed from the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) and 56 fresh assemblies will be inserted. Refueling operation is done by a contractor and his men. This is the time when majority of the scientists and reactor personnel avail their well-deserved annual holidays. Refueling is also the time when the people living in the local environment of the plant have to be concerned. As is well known, a nuclear reactor releases radioactive gases like tritium, argon, xenon, carbon14 and iodine, regularly during normal operations, mainly through its 100 meters high stack.

Women Of Fukushima Invite Modi: Come And See The Destruction, Don’t Buy Nukes From Japan!
Fukushima Women Against Nukes, Countercurrents.org
Indian PM Narendra Modi will visit Japan from 10-12 November, 2016. Civil society organisations of Japan have launched this petition to oppose the India-Japan Nuclear Agreement which the two governments are supposed to finalise during this visit. More than 1900 people have signed it already.

The Unmaking of the Forest Rights Act
Meena Menon, Economic and Political Weekly
Aimed at protecting the rights of forest dwelling tribal communities the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 promised much. However, over the years its implementation has been tardy and there have been concerted efforts to dilute it. In early October, conservation organisations and ecological scientists wrote to the government about this aspect.

Election 2016 And The Growing Global Nuclear Threat
Michael T Klare, Countercurrents.org
Whoever enters the Oval Office, it may be time for the rest of us to take up those antinuclear signs long left to molder in closets and memories, and put some political pressure on leaders globally to avoid strategies and weapons that would make human life on this planet so much more precarious than it already is. (Related: Paris climate deal thrown into uncertainty by US election result)

Global ‘greening’ has slowed rise of CO2 in the atmosphere, study finds
Damian Carrington, The Guardian
A global “greening” of the planet has significantly slowed the rise of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the start of the century, according to new research. More plants have been growing due to higher CO2 levels in the air and warming temperatures that cut the CO2 emitted by plants via respiration. However, this greening is only offsetting a small amount of the billions of tonnes of CO2 emitted from fossil fuel burning and other human activities and will not halt dangerous global warming.

COP22: opening session on agriculture discusses climate adaptation, food security
Shreeshan Venkatesh, Down to Earth
he opening meeting of the SBSTA commenced with a statement by Egypt on behalf of the G77 group of countries and China. The representative from Egypt highlighted the objectives of strengthening food security and ending hunger as the top priority followed by a need to look at agriculture from a context of adaptation and adaptation co-benefits. The stance of the G77 and China received full support from the Africa group of countries (represented by Malawi), Least Developed Countries (LDCs represented by Gambia) and other nations from Africa and Asia.

How Have The IEA’s Renewable Forecasts Changed?
Simon Evans, Carbon Brief
Renewable energy capacity is growing more rapidly than expected, says the International Energy Agency (IEA), overtaking coal for the first time. The IEA also says it has “significantly increased” its forecasts for the growth of renewable capacity over the next five years. Yet its forecasts continue to show future growth slowing down. Carbon Brief looks at the latest IEA renewable forecasts and how they have changed. (Related: Renewables just passed coal as the largest source of new electricity worldwide)

Millions Spent, No One Served: Who Is to Blame for the Failure of GMO Golden Rice?
Angelika Hilbeck & Hans Herren, Independent Science News
The recent Nobel laureates’ letter accusing Greenpeace of a “crime against humanity” for opposing genetically modified (GMO) golden rice reveals a deep division not only between civil societies and some science circles but also within the science community – a division in the visions for our common future and which path to take for our joint development. A division we see growing and escalating. A strong indication of this division is that among the Nobel laureate signatories, there seems to be hardly anybody with a solid scientific track record in agriculture, food production, development, or the socio-ecological and political causes of poverty and hunger.

“China’s Debt Has Grown $4.5 Trillion In Past 12 Months, More Than The US, Japan And Europe Combined”
Zero Hedge
China has played a pivotal role in driving the global inflation cycle – this time on the upside – as the cyclical recovery has both lifted China’s own inflation and transmitted it globally, here is how this happened: the recovery in China has been driven by yet another round of debt indulgence. Debt in China has grown by US$4.5 trillion over the past 12 months, by far the highest amount of debt creation globally as compared to US$2.2 trillion in the US, US$870 billion in Japan and US$550 billion in the euro area. Indeed, China on its own has added more debt than the US, Japan and the euro area combined.

‘Climate Tax’ on Meat and Dairy Would Sink Emissions and Diseases: Study
Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams
Taxing the meat and dairy industries for their impact on climate would lead to lower emissions and save about half a million lives per year, according to the first global study of the issue, published Tuesday. A 40 percent fee on beef and a 20 percent fee on dairy would counter the industries’ impact on climate change, as livestock release significant greenhouse gases while exacerbating deforestation, and would encourage people to consume less of each—which in turn would improve global health, according to the Oxford Martin Program on the Future of Food, part of the University of Oxford.

Saudi Arabia’s Oil War Gained It 1% Market Share – Which It Is About To Lose
Rakesh Upadhyay, Oil Price
Saudi Arabia has wielded immense power over both the oil producers and consumers based on its proven oil reserves. It not only has the second largest proven oil reserves at 266 billion barrels, its cost of producing a barrel of oil is as low as $8.98 a barrel, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal. In contrast, in 2014, the cost of producing a barrel of U.S. shale oil ranged anywhere between $50 to $80 a barrel, and the total proven oil reserves at that time stood at 55 billion barrels—relatively small in comparison the reserves on Saudi soil. Using these strengths, Saudi Arabia embarked on a strategy to scuttle the rapid growth in U.S. shale oil production. Though two years down the line, Saudi Arabia has managed to reduce U.S. production and gain 1 percent of the market share, it has lost considerable market power that it once wielded.

European Researchers Develop Self-Installing Offshore Wind Turbine
Clean Technica
Researchers with the European Union’s Community Research and Development Information Service (CORDIS) have developed an “innovative” offshore wind turbine construction process which uses a gravity-based foundation combined with a telescoping tower complete with wind turbine. The offshore wind turbine system can be completely pre-assembled and pre-commissioned in controlled harbour conditions before being towed to its open-water site using conventional tugboats, where the platform is then secured to the seabed and the turbine tower raised. (Also read: Iceland is drilling the hottest hole in the world to get electricity from magma)

TTP & TTIP: Map Shows How Trade Deals Would Enable ‘Polluter Power-Grab’
Common Dreams
Is a “polluter power-grab” lurking in your backyard? According to the Sierra Club, one might just be, thanks to two pending trade deals—the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—that would allow multinational corporations to exert their power before private tribunals and thwart efforts to keep fossil fuels in the ground. The environmental organization plotted out the coast-to-coast potential threats on a new interactive map, released Thursday. It captures over 400 fossil fuel projects, and “for the first time … gives people a chance to see if toxic trade is in their own backyard,” said Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program.

Tick bites that trigger severe meat allergy on rise around the world
Elle Hunt, The Guardian
People living in tick-endemic areas around the world are being warned of an increasingly prevalent, potentially life-threatening side effect to being bitten: developing a severe allergy to meat. The link between tick bites and meat allergies was first described in 2007, and has since been confirmed around the world. Sufferers of “tick-induced mammalian meat allergy” will experience a delayed reaction of between two and 10 hours after eating red meat. Almost invariably, they are found to have been bitten by a tick – sometimes as much as six months before. (Related: Trimming the excess: how cutting down on junk food could help save the environment)

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