BBC News reports: There are 60,065 species of trees in the world, according to a comprehensive study of the world’s plants. Botanical Gardens Conservation International, which compiled the tree list by using data gathered from its network of 500 member organizations, hopes it will be used as a tool to identify rare and threatened species.
IMD predicts intense heat waves this summer
Umang Jalan, Down to Earth
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned of a heat wave in the coming weeks. According to forecasts, temperatures are likely to rise above 40 degrees Celsius in most parts of the country and heat wave-like conditions are likely to develop in Gujarat, Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Such extreme temperature events are becoming a norm in India and other sub-tropical countries around the world. According to reports, climate change is likely to have caused this increase in incidences and severity of heat waves. IMD estimates that average temperatures between March and May in recent years, have increased by 1-1.2°C above the 100-year-average. (Related: The drought in Kerala is so acute that farmers are sinking borewells on the river bed)
Naini lake records lowest water level, and it’s not summer yet
Subhojit Goswami, Down to Earth
Rainfall pattern in winter shows a disturbing trend. Silt accumulation rate of Naini lake is alarmingly high due to unscientific constructions at the lakeside. Oak and other trees, which help in groundwater recharge, are being cut indscriminately. The town of Nanital is staring at a major water crisis if Naini lake continues to see recediing water level.
Art of Living destroyed Yamuna floodplains and it will take 10 years, Rs 13 crore to fix it: Panel
A committee of experts informed the National Green Tribunal that the Art of Living foundation destroyed the Yamuna floodplains during its World Culture Festival held between March 11 and March 13, 2016, ANI reported on Wednesday. The experts informed the green tribunal that undoing the damage caused to the floodplains would cost Rs 13.29 crore and take 10 years, the news agency added. In March 2016, the Art of Living had held the mega cultural event to mark 35 years since the organisation was founded. Environmentalists and NGOs had protested against the event being held on the floodplains of the Yamuna, saying this would irreparably damage the ecologically sensitive zone.
India’s urban inequality: Top 10% have 50,034 times more wealth than poorest 10%: Report based on NSS data
Government of India’s National Sample Survey (NSS) figures show that the average value of assets held by urban households falling in the top 10% income category (identified as decile 10) in urban India is Rs 1.5 crore, which is 50,034 times the average value of assets held by an average urban household in the lowest 10% category, or decile 1. NSS divides household asset holding classes into 10 decile segments for rural and urban India.
Global nuclear giants go bust, should India celebrate?
In a way the diplomatic noose that had been tightened around India’s neck to buy super expensive French and American nuclear reactors has on its own been loosened if not shed at all. As part of the protracted global negotiations on admitting India back into the nuclear commerce club, a kind of barter deal had happened and India had committed itself to buy French and American reactors, but now that the commercial operations of at least two of the foreign giants is floundering, India need not back down from its commercial commitments. (Related: India, Bangladesh ink three agreements on nuclear energy in second such deal)
Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull talks up coal in Delhi, despite India’s aim to stop imports
Michael Safi, The Guardian
Malcolm Turnbull is adamant that Australian coal will play “a very big role” in powering India’s future despite a glut in the local market and clear signals from Delhi that it aims to eliminate imports of the fossil fuel as soon as possible. Selling Australia as an attractive destination for Indian students and reviving negotiations over a free-trade agreement are high on the agenda as the government vies for a slice of the world’s fastest growing major economy. On Monday Turnbull met Gautam Adani, the mining magnate whose company will soon decide whether to begin building the world’s largest coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee basin. (Related: Coal’s dirty Australian secret? It’s not coming back)
Cement industry misses deadline for new pollution norms
Kanika Bahel & Sanjeev Kumar Kanchan, Down to Earth
Almost a year ago, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) introduced new pollution norms, but the Indian cement industry, which accounts for the world’s second largest production of cement, is still struggling to meet the norms, the deadline for which was 31st March 2017. Even though the new pollution norms have relaxed emission limits for sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, the industry complains they need more time.
Tribal Communities Protest Changes in Jharkhand Land Laws
Alok Gupta, The Wire
Last year in May, when the Jharkhand government announced to remove handcuffs from all the statues and pictures of Birsa Munda, the indigenous people of the state lauded the newly-appointed first non-tribal chief minister Raghubar Das for his out-of-the-box gesture. A few months later in November, when the state assembly amended the core of land tenancy law, the euphoria of a pro-tribal government took a beating. Protests and police firings replaced pro-government sentiments to the extent that a group of tribals also hurled shoes at Das a few weeks after the amendments.
Isha just one case, Karunya University stands in a jungle of land violations in Coimbatore
Amutha Kannan, The News Minute
No, this is not about Isha Yoga Centrer, but Karunya University at Mathuvarayapuram village at the foothills of the Western Ghats, 13 km from Isha, which constructed “without permission / consent required under Section 47A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971”. According to environmentalist M. Siva who has been involved in both the cases, Isha and Karunya, “The violations and lack of approvals are almost the same in both cases. In the case of Karunya, the university spread over 800 acres, sits on the elephant corridor, which also contains wetlands and several water sources of River Noyyal.”
Solar energy can take care of half of Mumbai’s power needs, finds study
Musab Qazi, Hindustan Times
Mumbai has the potential to generate 1.72 Giga Watt Peak (GWp) solar energy through photovoltaic (solar) panels atop buildings, a study has revealed. If installed , these would take care of roughly half the city’s power requirements, which peaks at 3.6 GW in summer. Currently, the city generates only 5 Megawatt Peak (MWp) solar energy -— 0.3% of its potential. The study was conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Observer Research Foundation (ORF). (Related: Solar Prices in the U.S. Drop Below Utility Delivery Prices)
Facebook, Microsoft helping to bring green power microgrids to India
Facebook, Microsoft and venture capitalists at Allotrope Partners have set up a facility to finance energy access projects in Indonesia, India and East Africa. A microgrid is a miniature power system that operates independently of a national grid. The International Energy Agency estimates that more than 1.2 billion people don’t have access to electricity, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia. As renewable energy technologies such as solar panels become cheaper, microgrids have emerged as an option to more people. The Microgrid Investment Accelerator, or MIA, will seek to mobilise $50 million from 2018 to 2020, according to an emailed statement.
Implement city compost policy in time-bound manner: Parliamentary Panel
India Environment Portal
In view of slow progress made in implementation of the policy, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Chemicals and Fertilisers has recommended the government to review progress of the policy on city compost at regular intervals. The installed capacity to process waste is 10 lakh tonne, whereas compost production at present is around 16,000 tonne per annum said the parliamentary panel in this report.
Inbreeding among trees and higher rates of offspring deaths may see some tree species in isolated forest patches die out slowly
Mohit M. Rao, The Hindu
In perhaps the first elaborate study of its kind in the Western Ghats, a team of researchers from across the globe has found that breaking up forests by even 200 metres can lead to the gradual death of tree species. The results of the study — published recently in the journal New Phytologist — are disconcerting and show that less than 10% of germinated seeds survive in such patches owing to genetic faults, when compared to over 50% in contiguous forests.
Study: World is home to ‘60,000 tree species’
Mark Kinver, BBC News
There are 60,065 species of trees in the world, according to a comprehensive study of the world’s plants. Botanical Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) compiled the tree list by using data gathered from its network of 500 member organisations. It hopes the list will be used as a tool to identify rare and threatened species in need of immediate action to prevent them becoming extinct. (Related: 1) Globally, over 15 per cent of all tree species face extinction threat 2) How far to the next forest? A new way to measure deforestation)
Renewables growth breaks records again despite fall in investment
Falling costs allowed the world to add record new renewable capacity even as investment fell, according to a new report. The findings, from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), show 139 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity was built in 2016. This was an 8% increase on the year before, largely driven by the steeply falling costs of renewables, even while investment fell by 23%. (Related: Kentucky Coal Mining Museum converts to solar power)
Jet Streams Stumble as the World Warms
Tim Radford, Climate News Network
Researchers have once again linked a sequence of devastating climate events to global warming fuelled by prodigal human use of fossil fuels. And this time, they believe they have identified the agency behind the blazing summers that have claimed lives and destroyed livelihoods repeatedly during this century. They argue in the journal Scientific Reports that human impact on the climate now reaches high into the stratosphere, to influence the behaviour patterns of the giant jet streams that carry heat and moisture around the northern hemisphere, and keep the weather on the move. (Related: N2O emissions from Arctic soils not as low as previously thought: study)
US Blocks G7 Climate Statement As White House Waffles on Paris Deal
Nations attending the Group of 7 (G7) conference in Italy were unable to put out a joint statement on climate change this week because of the Trump administration’s foot-dragging on environmental policies, particularly its commitment to the Paris agreement, Reuters reported Monday. President Donald Trump signed an order last month undoing climate regulations drawn up under former President Barack Obama, particularly the Clean Power Plan (CPP). At the conference in Rome on Monday, Italian industry and energy minister Carlo Calenda confirmed that had caused the G7’s delay in releasing a statement. (Related: “Trump Forest” Blooms to Counter “Trump’s Monumental Stupidity” and Attack on Earth)
Six Teenagers Win Court Appeal In Colorado Fracking Case
Tsvetana Paraskova, Oil Price
The Colorado Court of Appeals has recently ruled 2-1 in favor of six teenage activists who had petitioned the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to consider a rule that places public health and environment before oil and gas development instead of seeking a ‘balance’ between resources development and people’s health. Although the appeals court ruling can be further challenged at Colorado’s Supreme Court, it gives environmentalists and green activists a reason to rejoice in this victory and potentially a new tool in seeking to oppose fracking in Colorado, which has been a battleground state for activists and counties opposing oil and gas drilling.
Science, environment not a priority as Brazil announces major cuts in budget
Down to Earth
While in North America, Trump’s budget proposal mentions a significant cut in the funds to the UN climate talks, Green Climate Fund and the Clean Power Plan, in South America, we have Brazil cutting its environment ministry budget by 51 per cent to limit the country’s deficit. The decision comes at a time when deforestation rates are rising. The Amazon region, according to researchers from Brown University, has lost about 9,000 square kilometres to deforestation between 2008 and 2012 without even being detected by official monitoring system. The Brazilian government has proposed a steeper cut in spending than the 31 per cent that Donald Trump’s administration recently proposed for the US Environmental Protection Agency. (Related: 1) A Canadian Company Is Set to Construct Brazil’s Largest Open-Pit Gold Mine—in the Heart of the Amazon 2) Brazil’s Temer government, backed by the agribusiness lobby, seems determined to reduce indigenous rights and end recognition of new indigenous territories)
Two-thirds of Great Barrier Reef hit by back-to-back mass coral bleaching – video
‘The combined impact of this bleaching stretches for 1,500km, leaving only the southern third unscathed,’ says Prof Terry Hughes, director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, who undertook aerial surveys in 2016 and 2017. He has warned Australia faces a closing window to take action on climate change in time to save the reef.
More than a quarter of UK birds face extinction risk or steep decline – study
Kate Lyons, The Guardian
More than a quarter of UK birds, including the puffin, nightingale and curlew, require urgent conservation efforts to ensure their survival, according to a new report on the state of the UK’s birds. Since the last review in 2009, an additional 15 species of bird have been placed on the “red list”, a category that indicates a species is in danger of extinction or that has experienced significant decline in population or habitat in recent years. The total number of species on the red list is now 67 out of a total of 247. (Related: UK butterflies worst hit in 2016 with 70% of species in decline, study finds)
Germany unveils zero-emissions train that only emits steam
Tom Embury-Dennis, Independent UK
Germany is set to introduce the world’s first zero-emission passenger train to be powered by hydrogen. The Coradia iLint only emits excess steam into the atmosphere, and provides an alternative to the country’s 4,000 diesel trains. Lower Saxony has already ordered 14 of them from French company Alstom, and more are likely to be seen around the country if they are judged a success, reports Die Welt.
How mangrove forest conversion is killing Earth
You may want to stop creating those man-made ponds or pastures as a recent study has revealed that clear-cutting of tropical mangrove forests contributes significantly to the greenhouse gas, like carbon, one of the leading causes of global warming. The researchers concluded that mangrove conversion to agricultural uses resulted in a land-use carbon footprint of 1,440 pounds of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere for the production of every pound of beef; and 1,603 pounds of released carbon dioxide for every pound of shrimp.
Can China’s ivory trade ban save elephants?
John Sudworth, BBC News
This week, by the end of business hours on Friday, almost half of China’s authorised, government-approved ivory factories and shops will have closed their doors for good. A team of officials from the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) will be on hand to witness the shutdown. The rest of China’s legal trade will be gone by the end of the year – a total of 34 factories and 138 shops.
A closer look at China’s stalled carbon emissions
Dr Jan Ivar &and Dr Glen Peters, CICERO Center for International Climate Research
The Chinese government does not release annual statistics on CO2 emissions, but based on energy consumption and cement production data we estimate that CO2 emissions grew by approximately 0.5% from 2015 to 2016, or just 0.2% if adjusted for the fact that 2016 was a leap year and contained one more day than 2015. Given typical uncertainties in Chinese energy statistics and emission factors, this is practically the same as saying emissions were flat. (Related: The world’s forests to provide a quarter of Paris Agreement’s pledged mitigation)
‘Traveling’ droughts bring new possibilities for prediction
A small subset of the most intense droughts move across continents in predictable patterns, according a new study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters by researchers in Austria and the United States. While most droughts tend to stay put near where they started, approximately 10% travel between 1,400 to 3,100 kilometers (depending on the continent), the study found. The study could help improve projections of future drought, allowing for more effective planning.