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NEWS UPDATE #139


Deccan Herald reports: India lost more than 57,000 sq km of jungles – an area larger than Himachal Pradesh- in forest fire in 2014, says India’s first scientific estimation of forest fire losses. The total burnt area under vegetation cover was 57,127.75 sq km, which in 2014 accounts for almost 7% of India’s forest cover.

INDIA

Forest Fire destroys more than 57,000 sq km of India’s woods in 2014
Kalyan Ray, Deccan Herald
India lost more than 57,000 sq km of jungles – an area larger than Himachal Pradesh – in forest fire in 2014, says India’s first scientific estimation of forest fire losses. The total burnt area under vegetation cover (forest, scrub and grasslands) was 57,127.75 sq km, which in 2014 accounts for almost 7% of India’s forest cover. The highest burnt area was recorded in the Deccan zone followed by North East and Western Ghats. No fire was seen in the Himalayas and the islands in that year.

As El Nino probability increases, uncertainty looms over Indian monsoon
Shreeshan Venkatesh, Down to Earth
The latest forecast of the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), issued jointly by the NOAA Climate Prediction Centre and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, shows a dramatic increase in the probability of an earlier-than-expected El Nino, aggravating uncertainty over the Indian monsoon. Earlier this month, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast a “normal” monsoon driven by a low probability of an El Nino occurrence as per climate models. The El Nino causes anomalous heating over the Pacific Ocean and Eastern Indian Ocean and weakens monsoonal winds that bring rain to the sub-continent.

Coal India FY18 production target cut on weak demand
The Times of India
In an unprecedented move, the Union government has reduced the production target for Coal India Ltd (CIL) from 660 million tonnes (mt) to 600 mt in the current year due to tepid demand for the fuel from thermal power plants. CIL, the monopoly state-owned miner, has stock of around 69 mt of coal, according to a key official, who asked not to be named. In addition, power plants across the country have in their stock 26-28 mt of coal, this person added. (Also read: Sulphur dioxide (SO2) levels of the three new units at the Koradi Thermal Power Station are over five times the permissible limit)

Modi government plans major policy push to promote e-vehicles
Sarita Singh, The Economic Times
India will soon embark on an ambitious programme aimed at switching most, if not all, of its vehicles to battery power by 2030. In an audacious move worthy of Elon Musk, the key to the plan’s success will be the eschewing of subsidies driven by a battery leasing strategy. The scheme, which kicks off in the next few months, includes limited tax breaks for manufacturers and the sale of vehicles without batteries to improve affordability, said a senior government official with knowledge of the plan. (Related: India shows the path for cheaper solar energy: World Bank)

Economy to grow over 3-fold to $7.25 trillion by 2030: Arvind Panagariya
The Economic Times
India will be a Rs 469 lakh crore, or $7.2 trillion, economy by 2030, growing at an average rate of 8 per cent, Niti Aayog, the government’s premier think-tank, has projected as part of its 15-year vision document. This would be a more than three-fold expansion from Rs 137 lakh crore, or $2.1 trillion, in 2015-16. The increase of Rs 332 lakh crore ($5.1trillion) in 15 years compares with the addition of $8.1 trillion in China’s GDP over the past 15 years.

Interview: Winner of “Green Nobel” says India is plundering not protecting tribal lands
Nita Bhalla, Thomson Reuters
India is plundering the land of its indigenous people to profit from mining, with little regard of the devastation caused to poor tribal communities, said an Indian land rights activist who won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize on Monday. Prafulla Samantara, 66, from India’s eastern state of Odisha is one of six winners of the annual prize – often known as the “Green Nobel” – which honours grassroots activists for efforts to protect the environment, often at their own risk. Samantara, recognised by the Goldman jury for winning a 12-year legal battle to stop a multi-national firm mining bauxite on tribal lands, said he was honoured by the award but voiced concern at the continued mining threats faced by India’s tribes.

‘Our goal, no coal’: Droves of Goans stay up half the night at green hearing to oppose JSW port plan
Nihar Gokhale, Scroll.in
“Maka coal naka [I don’t want coal].” “Goa against coal.” “Our goal, no coal”. Those were among the signs on display as nearly 1,500 Goans gathered at a ground in the Vasco Da Gama town on Wednesday for a crucial environmental public hearing on whether the administration should permit the construction of facilities to allow large amounts of coal to be transported through the state. At stake, opponents of the idea contend, is the health of those who live near the proposed projects as well as the risk of increased environmental pollution.

Tamil Nadu farmers call off protest, serving a grim reminder of how far removed state has become from India
T.S. Sudhir, Firstpost
For the last six weeks, 100-odd farmers from Tamil Nadu, covering themselves with no more than a loincloth, had reduced themselves to a spectacle, compromising their sense of dignity. They tried to drink their own urine, ran naked in front of the prime minister’s residence, carried the skulls of their loved ones who had died or committed suicide since October last year, ate food served on the road, clutched live rats and dead snakes in their mouth. But except attracting media attention, and even that was more because of the macabre optics of their protest, their non-violent approach did not achieve anything.

Three orphaned tiger cubs die
Business Standard
Three days after the death of its two siblings, a third orphaned tiger cub has died in Madhya Pradesh’s Bandhavgarh National Park, officials said on Friday. The cubs were kept in an enclosure in the field bungalow of the Forest Department after their mother was electrocuted by a poacher near the Sanjay-Dubri Tiger Reserve in January. More than 50 tigers have reportedly died in the past 20 months in Madhya Pradesh, a state known for its forests and tigers.

What’s causing elephants in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu to die? Hunger and thirst
Subhojit Goswami, Down to Earth
As water shortage and scorching heat continue to prevail over large swathes of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, animals in forest reserves and sanctuaries continue to bear the brunt of drought. Faced with drought situation, wildlife reserves in Karnataka neither have water, nor any grass left to help elephants sustain. Desperately in need of water and fodder, the elephants are wandering into human territories. In March as many as seven elephants died in Karnataka. (Also read: A 20 km.-long fence erected by the Nepal government has exacerbated human-elephant conflict in West Bengal)

Karnataka cabinet rejects Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats
Deccan Herald
The Karnataka Cabinet on Wednesday decided to reject the recommendations of the Kasturirangan report on the Western Ghats and convey the same to the Centre. Briefing reporters after the meeting, Law Minister T B Jayachandra said the decision was taken based on feedback from 1,592 villages in the Western Ghats range which have been classified as Ecological Sensitive Areas (ESAs). The villages did not want the recommendations to be implemented as they will hamper livelihood and development in the region, Jayachandra said. (Related: Karnataka dropping Bhimgad from ESZ upsets Goa)

50 actions of resistance in India at 50 places against ADB’s 50 year of inequitable policies
Counterview
In the Asia-Pacific region, ADB has come up as the third largest source of financial investment, after the World Bank and Govt. of Japan. India is a founding member of ADB. From a mere total lending of $3 billion inits first decade (1966-76), ADB has grown to$123 billion dollars lending institution in the last decade.These lending were used to make mega projects across the countries, including India, resulting in serious loss of livelihood, displacement, irreversible damage caused to water, forest, land and community life wrought by its very concept of development and irresponsible and opaque investment.

Civil rights body denies being a Maoist front
The Hindu
Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan (VVJVA) has issued a statement denying the Home Ministry’s allegation that the organisation was a “front of the CPI (Maoist)”. “VVJVA is by no means a frontal organisation of the CPI (Maoist) as claimed in the recent Annual Report [2016-‘17] of the Union Home Ministry,” said social activist Father Stan Swamy, about his organisation. Mr. Swamy is also one of the popular faces of Jharkhand’s anti-displacement movement. The Home Ministry report claimed that VVJVA is “a front of the CPI (Maoist)” that has tried to “take up pro-tribal issues and opposed amendments” to the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act [CNT] and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act’s [SPT] “modifications in Domicile Policy. (Also read: “Sukma Repeat of Dantewada Mistakes, Solution Lies in the 5th Schedule For Tribal Rights”: Former BSF Chief Rammohan)

Govt approves unrestricted exports of organic agri products
The Times of India
The government today allowed unrestricted exports of all certified organic agricultural products, a move that would help in boosting shipments. The decision in this regard was taken in the meeting of the cabinet committee on economic affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, the government said in view of acute shortage in the country, the quantitative ceiling on shipments of organic pulses and lentils will continue. (Also read: Retail giant Big Basket signs up with farmer groups to buy millets)

Eureka! Minister’s thermo-cool project to prevent water loss
Kaushik Kannan, The New Indian Express
From world-famous scientists to school children conducting science experiments, none would have thought of such an innovative solution to solve our water crisis as Co-operatives Minister Sellur K Raju did. When the minister and officials invited media to witness the breakthrough technique to reduce water evaporation from the Vaigai Dam, little did they know of what was in store. It was only after travelling 67 km from Madurai to the spot that the scribes were told the plan was to cover the entire water surface with sheets of thermocol taped together!

WORLD

Famine Creeps in on Africa While the World’s Media Looks Elsewhere
John R. Campbell, The Conversation
The western media’s focus on momentous events at home has come at the expense of reporting on events unfolding in the global South. Among the events which have been eclipsed by the media’s preoccupation is the famine that’s unfolding in Africa. Today the causes of famine are largely man-made even though below average rainfall has exacerbated local food production in the Horn of Africa over the past 18 to 24 months. However, in Sudan, Niger, the Central African Republic and Nigeria military conflict over the past three to four years has disrupted food production, displaced millions and created conditions which prevent the delivery of humanitarian assistance (assuming it was available). (Related: ‘Looming ‘catastrophe’ in East Africa proves why world must tackle climate change, says Oxfam)

We Just Breached the 410 PPM Threshold for CO2
Brian Kahn, Scientific American
The world just passed another round-numbered climate milestone. Scientists predicted it would happen this year and lo and behold, it has. On Tuesday, the Mauna Loa Observatory recorded its first-ever carbon dioxide reading in excess of 410 parts per million (it was 410.28 ppm in case you want the full deal). Carbon dioxide hasn’t reached that height in millions of years. It’s a new atmosphere that humanity will have to contend with, one that’s trapping more heat and causing the climate to change at a quickening rate.

2017 to be the hottest year: Sea-ice shrinks, WMO says world entered ‘uncharted territory’
India Today
The World Meterological Organization (WMO) that crowned the 2016 as the warmest year now predicts 2017 will be hotter and could be the hottest year in living memory. High levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, that escalated to an all time high of 400 parts per million in the atmosphere, and the El Nino phenomenon of 2014/2015/2016 made the previous year the warmest on record. David Carlson, World Climate Research Programme Director, said in a report that the world is entering an “uncharted territory”. He said, “Even without a strong El Nino in 2017, we are seeing other remarkable changes across the planet that are challenging the limits of our understanding of the climate system.” (Related: March set a remarkable new record for global warming, NOAA reports

UK launches ‘world first’ research programme into negative emissions
Simon Evans, Carbon Brief
The UK has launched a £8.6m national research programme on how to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. It is thought to be the world’s first research programme dedicated to this topic. The public money will fund projects exploring the real-world potential of “negative emissions” technologies (NETs), including soil carbon management, afforestation, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), enhanced weathering and direct capture of methane from the air. (Related: Scientists convert CO2 to solar fuel with artificial photosynthesis) 2) EU states approve plans for stricter limits on pollutants from power plants)

Burma coal-mining companies agree to close down operations following protests
Burma News International
The Pyae Aung Hein and Hein Mitter coal-mining companies have both agreed to halt operations at their sites following a protest by some 4,000 residents in Mong Kung on April 11. Sao Ekka Sina, a Buddhist monk who was one of the demonstration organizers, said that representatives of both firms agreed to a cessation in coal mining at the site after meeting with the representatives of the people of Mong Kung Township, Loilem district in southern Shan State two days after the demonstration.

Scientists Say Only 10 Years Left to Save the Planet
EcoWatch
The planet, as we know it, has been given a deadline: 10 years. According to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, if humans don’t reduce greenhouse gas emissions drastically and maintain carbon sinks, like forests, then the results will be catastrophic for the climate. But the researchers have developed a model that they believe could do the trick. The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, outlines a plan that could simultaneously account for carbon uptake by plants and carbon release by anthropogenic (human-induced) activities. (Related: Cut fossil fuel use ‘dramatically’ to meet climate goals, says Shell-backed report)

Take note, Antarctica has huge waterfalls and they point to warming climate
Down to Earth
From a collection of ponds to a seasonal river and a 400-ft-wide waterfall, Antarctica has it all. In fact, the continent has almost 700 seasonal networks of ponds, channels and streams flowing over the ice shelf from all sides. While water moving across the surface of Antarctica is considered extremely rare, a new study shows that this is widespread now. This hitherto unknown fact emerged after scientists from the US and UK studied aerial photographs of the entire continent taken by military aircraft from 1947 and satellite images from 1973. (Related: Spy Images From Cold War a ‘Gold Mine’ for Climate Scientists)

Thousands to gather in Washington for People’s Climate March
The Week
Thousands are expected to gather Saturday in Washington, D.C., on President Trump’s 100th day in office for the 2017 People’s Climate March. Activists are hailing the event as an opportunity to fight for climate protections the Trump administration has threatened to roll back and to push the promise of clean energy. “The climate movement will convene in D.C. to show that the election didn’t cancel physics,” said climate activist and author Bill McKibben, who helped organize the first iteration of the People’s Climate March, which took place in New York in 2014. (Related: 1) Impacted Communities Draw ‘Red Line’ for Mother Earth Across US Capitol 2) 100 Percent Renewable Energy by 2050: U.S. Senators Introduce ‘Most Ambitious’ Climate Plan Ever)

Big four banks distance themselves from Adani coalmine as Westpac rules out loan
Joshua Robertson, The Guardian
Australia’s big four banks have all ruled out funding or withdrawn from Adani’s Queensland coal project, after Westpac said it would not back opening up new coalmining regions, prompting a scathing attack from the resources minister, Matthew Canavan. Adani’s Carmichael mine would be the first in the Galilee basin and the coal would have only 4,950 kilocalories per kg, the miner told the Queensland land court in 2014. (Related: Adani coalmine at heightened risk of becoming a stranded asset, report says 2) Latest Lancet Data Imply Adani Australian Coal Project Will  Kill 1.4 Million Indians)

Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Pete Dolack, Counterpunch
The tribunal, consisting of five international judges, has found Monsanto guilty. The tribunal is not a court of law and it has no power to enforce any judgment. The decision is a moral one, albeit grounded, the tribunal says, in international human rights and humanitarian law. The main conclusion drawn by the tribunal, which handed down its ruling on April 18, is this: “The judges conclude that Monsanto has engaged in practices which have negatively impacted the right to a healthy environment, the right to food and the right to health. On top of that Monsanto’s conduct is negatively affecting the right to freedom indispensable for scientific research.”

Press Release: Train Tracks Sabotaged To Stop Fracking Equipment
Puget Sound Anarchists, It’s Going Down
“Early in the morning of April 20th we poured concrete on the train tracks that lead out of the Port of Olympia to block any trains from using the tracks. We took precautions to notify BNSF (the train company) – we called them and we used wires to send a signal that the tracks were blocked. We did this not to avoid damaging a train, nothing would bring bigger grins to our faces, but to avoid the risk of injuring railway workers. This action was done to disrupt the movement of trains carrying proppants used in natural gas fracturing. These train tracks are part of a system of pipelines, fracking wells, mines, clearcuts, control centers, fiberoptics, dams, highways and factories that cover the planet and are physical manifestations of a process that is destroying the ecosystems, cultures, and inhabitants everywhere.” (Also read: 1) Skagit County Jury Refuses to Convict Six of Those Arrested During ‘Break Free’ Climate Protests 2) Sniper attack on Utah substation highlights grid vulnerability)

Mysterious spike in humpback whale deaths on Atlantic Coast
RT.com
Federal officials have declared an “unusual mortality event” after finding a high number of dead whales washing ashore on the East coast. Scientists are investigating the cause, which could provide greater insight into larger environmental issues. On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Fisheries issued a press release, declaring an “unusual mortality event” when an abnormally high number of marine mammals were found dead for unknown reasons. There have been 62 such events designated since 1991, when the program was established.

 

 

 

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