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NEWS UPDATE #135


Carbon Brief reports: The Arctic and Antarctic have experienced record lows in sea ice extent so far in 2017, according to the latest data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre. The new satellite data confirms that there is less sea ice globally than at any time in the entire 38-year satellite record.

Government sets target to triple nuclear power generation by 2024
The Economic Times
Nuclear power generation capacity in the country is expected to reach nearly 15,000 MW by 2024 as the government has expedited the process of setting up new plants, Lok Sabha was informed today. In 2014, India’s nuclear power generation capacity was 4,780 MW. Minister of State for PMO Jitendra Singh said a number of steps have been taken by the Narendra Modi government to fast-track all ongoing nuclear projects and setting up of new plants in different parts of the country. (Related: India Boycotts Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty Talks)

India’s coal reserves could remain unused in future: Minister Piyush Goyal
Sudheer Singh, The Economic Times
India’s vast coal reserves could remain unused in future, thanks to the expected mega shift towards clean energy generation sector, the country’s power, coal, renewable energy and mines minister Piyush Goyal said. “In the evolving world energy scenario, it is quite possible that India’s coal reserves remain unused in the times to come as we would be shifting towards cleaner energy technologies like solar and wind, among others,” Goyal said, speaking at a media event here. (Also read: Govt cuts 23 million tonne CO2 emission in a year by using LED bulbs)

‘India’s temperature rose by 0.60 degree over last 110 years’
The Times of India
India’s temperature has risen by nearly 0.60 degree celsius over the last 110 years and extreme events like heat waves have increased in the last 30 years, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Monday. According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), in line with rising temperatures across the globe, all India mean temperatures have risen nearly 0.60 degree Celsius over the last 110 years. Further IMD studies have highlighted that extreme events like heat waves have risen in the last 30 years.

A repeat of the 2015 Andhra-Telangana heat wave that killed 2,500 people is 10 times more likely now
Joydeep Gupta, Scroll
The heat wave that killed around 2,500 people in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana in the last week of May 2015 is directly attributable to climate change. Global warming has increased the likelihood of such a heat wave in the region from being a once-in-100-years event to a once-in-10-years event, a 10-fold increase in probability. If the pollutants that blanket the sky above Hyderabad and much of the region were removed, such a heat wave may occur once every two years. These are the three main conclusions of an analysis of the 2015 heat wave carried out by a group of researchers in India and abroad.

Rampant Fertiliser Use Could Slow Down Nitrogen Cycle, Rajasthan University Scientists Say
Vishwam Sankaran, The Wire
An interdisciplinary, international study reveals a new way fertiliser overuse could affect the soil. The team, led by two researchers from the Central University of Rajasthan, predicts that overusing ammonium in crop fields could throw the soil’s natural nitrogen cycle off balance. Although other harmful effects of fertiliser overuse – like groundwater pollution – have been known, the study illustrates the consequences for the soil’s natural nitrogen circulation mechanism. (Related: Multi-year study finds ‘hotspots’ of ammonia over world’s major agricultural areas)

NGT bans cutting of trees in forests without requisite clearance
Vani Manocha, Down to Earth
The National Green tribunal has banned cutting of trees from forests across the country without obtaining clearance from the Centre and competent authorities. The order was given on a complaint of large-scale felling of trees across the country, made by Indian Institute of Sustainable Development, according to news reports. The complaint said that catastrophes like landslips, loss of top soil and rising levels of greenhouse gases was due to cutting of trees for charcoal production in industries, according a news report in The Hindu. It claimed that industrial consumption of charcoal in India affects a forest area of 20,000 square km annually.

Supreme Court Pulls Up Ten States For Non-Implementation of Drought Relief Measures
The Wire
Hearing a contempt petition filed by Swaraj Abhiyan alleging subversion of Supreme Court’s orders in providing relief to the drought affected, the apex court has issued notices to chief secretaries of ten states to explain the non-implementation of its orders. The court also directed the chief secretaries of the states of drought affected states, including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, to explain if the directions of the court for giving supplemental nutrition through eggs or milk had been carried out in their states and whether mid-day meal were served during summer vacation of 2016, Swaraj Abhiyan said in a statement.

No new Bharat Stage III vehicles from April 1, orders SC
Usman Nasim, Down to Earth
In a decision that is being hailed as step forward in the fight for clean air, the Supreme Court has ordered a ban on the registration of new Bharat Stage III vehicles effective April 1. The bench that included Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta stated that Bharat Stage-IV fuel (which is cleaner as compared to BS III) will be available nationwide from April 1, so there was no point registering more polluting vehicles. The automobile companies had presented their inventory data to the honourable Supreme Court, which showed that there was no ramping down of production over the last quarter.

India’s food security law is against WTO norms, distributes “highly subsidized” food to 67% population: UNDP
Counterview
In what may sound music to the ears of the Narendra Modi government, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has warned India that the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, promulgated by the previous UPA government, saying that it has put India at loggerheads with the World Trade Organization (WTO). A highlighted sub-section in the UNDP’s “Human Development Report 2016” says, the “right to food” is the “biggest ever food safety net programme, distributing highly subsidized food grain (61 million tonnes) to 67% of the population.” However, it warns the report, “The scale of buying grain from poor farmers for sale to poorer consumers put India at risk of violating its WTO obligations in agriculture”.

Watch: “Justice is reserved for the rich,” says this letter from convicted Maruti Suzuki workers
Scroll
On March 18, 2017 the Gurgaon Additional District and Sessions Court sentenced 13 of those accused of violence and rioting at Maruti Suzuki’s plant in Haryana’s Manesar district in 2012 to life imprisonment. Earlier, defence lawyers had said that there were several “internal contradictions and falsehoods” in the prosecution’s case, and questioned the fairness of the police investigation. The verdict led to protests, with the sentiment was expressed as a letter written by the convicted individuals to workers across the country who stand in support of the struggle.

Environmental damage: How one Tamil Nadu protest against oil and gas extraction has inspired another
Kavita Kishore, Scroll
The residents of Periyakoilkuppam village have subsisted on agriculture for generations, with groundnut being one of their main crops. However, after ONGC started extracting natural gas from a site in the village in 2013, agriculture has taken a hit. The widely-publicised protests in Neduvasal village in the Cauvery basin against a proposed hydrocarbon extraction plant earlier this month seem to have inspired the residents of this village to speak up to highlight the problems they have been facing due to the natural gas extraction plant. After all, the residents of Periyakoilkuppam are living through the scenario Neduvasal villagers are so apprehensive of.

Why is there no action in Gujarat against industrial discharge of untreated effluents, ask environmentalists
Counterview
Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti PSS), Vadodara, have asked the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change(MoEFCC), Government of India, to provide information as to under which environment law the effluent treatment plants at Gujarat’s different industrial hugs – Vapi, Ankleshwar, Vadodara, and Ahmedabad – are “allowed” to discharge their allegedly polluted waters. Posted on Wednesday, the letter, written by Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, cite four studies which prove effluent treatment plants, jointly operated by the Gujarat government and industrial associations of the industrial hubs, are discharging untreated effluents.

For Tribals Displaced by Madhya Pradesh’s Bargi Dam, a Second Displacement Looms
Bharat Dogra & Baba Mayaram, The Wire
The Bargi dam in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, was the first large dam built on the Narmada river. Thousands of people, including tribals, were evicted from the villages in this region to build the dam. The record for rehabilitation was extremely poor in the early stages. And now, the threat of displacement has returned. For the villagers who were displaced by the Bargi dam, the construction of a nuclear plant in and around Chutka village of Mandla district could mean being displaced again. They have been living in the area surrounding the proposed plant site.

The river as being: The judgment enhancing the status of rivers is hardly game-changing
Shibani Ghosh, The Hindu
The judgment comes close on the heels of New Zealand granting legal status to the Whanganui river. But unlike the comprehensive Bill passed by the New Zealand Parliament recognising rights and settling claims, the High Court’s declaration is terse, and raises several questions. In the eyes of the law, living persons such as companies, associations, deities etc., have rights and duties — primary among these being the right to sue and the capacity to be sued. Which implies that from now on, the rivers can sue persons acting against their interests. But what for? Do they have a right not to be a receptacle for tons of sewage? Can they demand minimum ecological flows? A right not to be dammed, dredged, or diverted? If yes, who will sue whom? (Related: Why the Court Ruling to Humanise the Ganga and Yamuna Rivers Rings Hollow)

Sea ice falls to record lows in both the Arctic and Antarctic
Carbon Brief
The Arctic and Antarctic have experienced record lows in sea ice extent so far in 2017, according to the latest data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC). At about this time each year, the Antarctic reaches its lowest extent for the year while the Arctic reaches its highest. The new satellite data confirms that there is less sea ice globally than at any time in the entire 38-year satellite record. The NSIDC doesn’t usually release data for both poles simultaneously, but has done so this time because of what scientists have dubbed an “exceptional” year in 2017. (Related: Record-breaking climate change pushes world into ‘uncharted territory’)

Largest Hunger Crisis since Creation of UN Underway as US Hoards Food to Feed Harmful Addiction
Robert Barsocchini, Washington Blog
The UN notes the world is “facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the UN … more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease.” One of the reasons scholars like Gary Francione have said “there is nothing more elitist than the standard Western diet” is the plants used in the US alone to feed the animals US citizens eat  could feed the starving world several times over.

Reality And The U.S.-Made Famine In Yemen
Kathy Kelly, Countercurrents
UNICEF estimates that more than 460,000 children in Yemen face severe malnutrition, and 3.3 million children and pregnant or lactating women suffer acute malnutrition. More than 10,000 people have been killed, including 1,564 children, and millions have been displaced from their homes, but worse is the groundwork laid for the far greater devastation of famine. Yemen imports 90% of its food. Because of the US-imposed blockade, food and fuel prices are rising and scarcity is at crisis levels. (Related: Yemen: Workers And Their Families Left To Starve By Multi-Billionaire Companies)

Egypt’s Food Price Crisis: ‘How Are We Supposed to Eat?’
Mohamed Mahmoud, The Wire
The government has cut food subsidies several times in the last few months, causing anger and frustration for 70 million Egyptians that benefit from the ration system. Earlier this month, Egyptians held demonstrations in Alexandria and Giza against the latest bread subsidy cuts, chanting “we want bread” and “everything but a loaf”. The Ministry of Supplies has reduced the daily quota of subsidised bread loaves that bakeries are allowed to dole out to cardholders to 500 instead of between 1,000 and 4,000 loaves a day; though a separate electronic card scheme was not affected.

Trump Repeal of Climate Rules Means U.S. Paris Target Now Out of Reach
Marianne Lavelle, Inside Climate News
Whether the U.S. meets its emissions-reduction commitments under the Paris climate accord is pivotal to the success of the global agreement, but the Trump administration’s policies have all but ensured the U.S. will fall far short. One recent analysis says the country will miss its target by more than 1 billion metric tons. The nation is a third of the way to that target, but the rest was to be achieved via an array of regulations, especially the Clean Power Plan, that are now targeted for elimination by President Donald Trump. (Related: Paris climate agreement – Only Sweden, Germany and France among EU are pursuing Paris climate goals, says study)

Climate change: ‘human fingerprint’ found on global extreme weather
Damian Carrington, The Guardian
The fingerprint of human-caused climate change has been found on heatwaves, droughts and floods across the world, according to scientists. The discovery indicates that the impacts of global warming are already being felt by society and adds further urgency to the need to cut carbon emissions. A key factor is the fast-melting Arctic, which is now strongly linked to extreme weather across Europe, Asia and north America. The new work analysed a type of extreme weather event known to be caused by changes in “planetary waves” – such as California’s ongoing record drought, and recent heatwaves in the US and Russia, as well as severe floods in Pakistan in 2010.

347 Native Bee Species in North America are ‘Spiraling Toward Extinction’
EcoWatch
In the first comprehensive review of the more than 4,000 native bee species in North America and Hawaii, the Center for Biological Diversity has found that more than half the species with sufficient data to assess are declining. Nearly one in four is imperiled and at increasing risk of extinction. The new analysis revealed that more than 700 species are in trouble from a range of serious threats, including severe habitat loss and escalating pesticide use.

Nearly extinct tigers found breeding in Thai jungle
The Guardian
Conservationists say they have evidence the critically endangered Indochinese tiger is breeding in a Thai jungle, giving hope for the survival of an animal whose total population may be only a little over 200. Thailand’s conservation authorities, along with two private organisations, have announced photographs of new tiger cubs in eastern Thailand, supporting a scientific survey that confirmed the existence of the world’s second breeding population. (Also read: ‘Sightings’ of extinct Tasmanian tiger prompt search in Queensland)

California Judge Rules Against Monsanto, Allows Cancer Warning on Roundup
EcoWatch
California is the first U.S. state to require Monsanto to label its blockbuster weed killer, Roundup, as a possible carcinogen, according to a ruling issued Friday by a California judge. Judge Kapetan formalized her ruling Friday against Monsanto, which will allow California to proceed with the process of listing glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, as a chemical “known to the state to cause cancer” in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, better known as Proposition 65.

Release of Arctic Methane “May Be Apocalyptic,” Study Warns
Dahr Jamail, Truthout
scientific study published in the prestigious journal Palaeoworld in December issued a dire — and possibly prophetic — warning, though it garnered little attention in the media. “Global warming triggered by the massive release of carbon dioxide may be catastrophic,” reads the study’s abstract. “But the release of methane from hydrate may be apocalyptic.” The study, titled “Methane Hydrate: Killer Cause of Earth’s Greatest Mass Extinction,” highlights the fact that the most significant variable in the Permian Mass Extinction event, which occurred 250 million years ago and annihilated 90 percent of all the species on the planet, was methane hydrate. (Related: 7,000 underground gas bubbles poised to ‘explode’ in Arctic)

Wealth of world’s billionaires soars amid stock market surge
Shannon Jones, WSWS.org
The ranks of the world’s billionaires registered a sharp increase in 2016, with the number rising by 233 to reach a record 2,043, according to Forbes magazine’s annual survey. This was the first time that the Forbes list of the world’s richest has included more than 2,000 individuals. The combined wealth of those on Forbes’ billionaires list rose 18 percent to $7.67 trillion, a staggering sum, more than the gross domestic product of all but the wealthiest of the world’s countries. The immediate impetus for the rise are surging stock prices, which have reached record levels since the election of US president Donald Trump, and the rising price of oil over the past 12 months.

 

 

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