Business Standard reports: India will begin work in around a month on an $87 billion scheme to connect some of the country’s biggest rivers. The mammoth plan entails linking nearly 60 rivers, including the mighty Ganges, which the government hopes will cut farmers’ dependence on fickle monsoon rains by bringing millions of hectares under irrigation.
Climate change: Himalayan glaciers at low altitude melting at faster rate
Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
The low-altitude Himalayan glaciers are losing water at a faster pace than the ones in higher reaches due to rising temperatures creating water risk in these regions, a new study has found. Himalayan glaciers are a huge reservoir of water that sustain lives of millions of people in India and many rivers including Ganga, Brahmaputra and Indus originate from the glacial ice. While most glaciers are melting only a few have witnessed advancement in recent decades. A study of 146 glaciers spread over 660sq km in Chandra basin in the western Himalayas has for the first time estimated the loss of volume.
Modi set to begin work on $87 bn river-linking scheme to end flood woes
After years of foot-dragging India will begin work in around a month on an $87 billion scheme to connect some of the country’s biggest rivers, government sources say, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi bets on the ambitious project to end deadly floods and droughts. The mammoth plan entails linking nearly 60 rivers, including the mighty Ganges, which the government hopes will cut farmers’ dependence on fickle monsoon rains by bringing millions of hectares of cultivatable land under irrigation.
Farmer suicides: In a first, Punjab Agricultural University to build stress index of farmers in Punjab
How depressed do farmers feel on a daily basis? How excited are they about what lies ahead? How often do they feel like ending their life? In a first, the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, has started work on a three-year study under National Agricultural Science Fund (NACF) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Delhi, under which experts would be creating a stress index and psychological resource index (PRI) of farmers in Punjab.
Listen to grievances of Narmada dam oustees, provide amenities to rehab sites in 15 days, MP High Court orders
Even as hundreds of oustees protested at the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) office in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, demanding “just rehabilitation” to the Sardar Sarovar dam’s project affected families (PAFs), top Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) leader Medha Patkar and advocates supporting her argued in the state High Court that 50% of PAFs have not received the packages they are entitled to.
They said this at the High Court bench in Indore, which heard the writ petition related to the non-compliance of the Supreme Court order dated February 8, 2017, filed by Narmada dam oustees of the Narmada Valley.
Farmers refused permission of protest rally in Gujarat capital, hand over demand to return 556 sq km land midway
Gujarat farmers belonging to 68 villages on Friday were not allowed to take their vehicles rally to the state capital Gandhinagar. While the permission for the rally was sought for about 45 km stretch, starting at Dabhol village, and ending at Gandhinagar, the police “allowed” the rally for just 25 km, stopping midway at Kalol town, about 20 km from the state capital. Organized by the non-political Khedut Samaj Gujarat (GKS), and supported by OBC-SC-ST Ekta Manch and Mul Nivasi Sena, the the farmers’ rally was meant to protest against the state government, which had rejected their demand seeking cancellation of the 2009 notification, which “reserved” 566.35 sq km of agricultural area in the outskirts of Ahmedabad for urban development.
India’s demonetization “pain” coupled with GST “anxiety” back to the fore following 5.7% GDP growth: Crisil
Following one of the lowest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rates in recent years, 5.7%, in the second quarter of the financial year 2017-18, India’s top rating agency, Crisil, has said that this has brought “demonetisation pain” and goods and services tax (GST) “anxiety” again the fore. Based on data from the Central Statistical Office (CSO), Government of India, released on Thursday, Crisil says, “Crucially, the government has also revised down gross value added (GVA) growth for the fourth quarter of last fiscal by 50 basis points (bps) to 5.6%, suggesting that the impact of demonetisation on the economy was more than earlier estimated.”
No matter what govt says, coal is no longer India’s cheapest energy source
Ashish Fernandes, Hindustan Times
At a recent seminar, chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian drastically under-estimated coal’s hidden or external costs, using a 2013 estimate of $4.6 billion, which was based on the contribution of 121 gigawatts of coal power to air pollution. India now has nearly 200GW of coal. Further, the $4.6 billion estimate does not include other social costs (water pollution, deforestation, displacement, ash disposal etc.) To pass this off as an entire accounting of coal’s hidden costs is either shoddy or dishonest. The most recent estimate of health costs to India from burning all fossil fuels is over $140 billion by the Health and Environment Alliance.
India, please don’t make the same mistakes we made in industrialised world: Swiss President
Down to Earth
“By the end of this century, we would need 2.8 planets to survive if we are not able to change people’s mindset, industrial processes and our behaviour,” said the President of Switzerland, Doris Leuthard, during her address at a town hall organised by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) at the India Habitat Centre on September 1, 2017. She was perhaps alluding to the goal of restricting global temperature rise to well below 2.8°F (1.5°C) by the end of this century.
Country’s First ‘Nutrition Atlas’ Comes Online
India currently faces twin challenges in the nutrition sector – undernutrition manifesting causing several health problems and, second, exacerbating the consequences of being overweight and obese. Together, they contribute to the national burden of noncommunicable diseases. In order to provide a snapshot of all relevant data and information about nutrition, the Hyderabad-based National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) has developed the country’s first ‘nutrition atlas’. The nutrition atlas provides information and data on the nutritional status of population groups at national and state levels, along with an overview of nutrition-related deficiencies, disorders and prevalence levels in various parts of the country. It also provides information on nutrients, nutrient-rich foods, nutritional deficiency disorders and a host of other topics.
Indian scientists develop technology for harvesting water from dew
Down to Earth
India’s first potable water production plant designed to harvestatmospheric moisture and process it into drinking water has been set up at Kothara village in the Kutch region. It has a capacity to processan average 500 liters of water daily. The dew harvesting technology involves harvesting dew using specially designed condenser panels, storing raw water and putting it through filtration process. When conditions for dew formation are right – clear sky and humid coastal breeze- the panel surfaces cool to dew point temperature causing condensation to occur. Condensing water flows down sloping sides by gravity into a central channel.
Stunning NASA Chart Shows How Fast the Ground Beneath our Feet is Heating Up
Global temperatures are rising faster on the land, where we live, than the oceans, where we don’t, NASA charts reveal. Since scientists have long predicted this trend and say it will continue, it’s worth a closer look. In the past six decades, land temperatures have risen about 2.3°F, a warming rate of nearly 0.4°F a decade, as the top chart shows. That’s nearly double the temperature rise of the ocean, which is 1.25°F per decade. Moreover, in the past 30 years, the rate of warming appears to have sped up even more, with land temperatures rising more than 0.6°F a decade. That’s now a bit more than double the ocean warming. (Also read: Abandoned North Sea Wells May be Emitting ‘Significant’ Amounts of Methane, Study Warns)
Why Greenland matters: Rapid climate change on world’s largest island will affect us all
The largest wildfire ever recorded in Greenland was recently spotted close to the west coast town of Sisimiut, not far from Disko Island where I research retreating glaciers. The fire has captured public and scientific interest not just because its size and location came as a surprise, but also because it is yet another signpost of deep environmental change in the Arctic. Greenland is especially vulnerable to climate change, as Arctic air temperatures are currently rising at twice the global average rate. Environmental conditions are frequently setting new records: “the warmest”, “the wettest”, “the driest”. (Related: As Arctic Sea Ice Disappears, 2,000 Walruses Mob Remote Alaska Beach)
As Hurricanes Irma and Harvey Slam the U.S., Climate Deniers Remain Steadfast
Inside Climate News
With the lives of Texans and Floridians upended by back-to-back superstorms, one thing hasn’t been shaken: climate change denial. Hurricane Harvey, which broke the continental U.S. rainfall record with its deluge of southeast Texas, and Hurricane Irma, barreling toward South Florida as one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded, epitomize the consensus science warnings of heightened risks in a warming world. But steadfast opponents of action on global warming are either sticking to their guns or avoiding comment, while Trump administration officials declare it inappropriate to discuss climate amid tragedy. (Related: 1) U.S. Is Eliminating Its Arctic and Climate Envoys. What Message Does that Send?) 2) California passes bill to protect scientific data from federal censorship)
Climate change could drive a third of parasites to extinction by 2070
As many as one in three parasites could become extinct as a result of climate change by 2070, new research suggests. This may sound like good news, but the loss of parasites could destabilise many of the world’s ecosystems, the lead author tells Carbon Brief. Parasites play a critical role in maintaining food webs and, in their absence, a diverse range of animals could be threatened with extinction. (Related: Climate change could flip European peak power demand to summer, study says)
World’s soils have lost 133bn tonnes of carbon since the dawn of agriculture
The world’s soils have lost a total of 133bn tonnes of carbon since humans first started farming the land around 12,000 years ago, new research suggests. And the rate of carbon loss has increased dramatically since the start of the industrial revolution. The study, which maps where soil carbon has been lost and gained since 10,000BC, shows that crop production and cattle grazing have contributed almost equally to global losses. Understanding how agriculture has altered soil carbon stocks is critical to finding ways to restore lost carbon to the ground, which could help to buffer the CO2 accumulating in the atmosphere.
Sea salt around the world is contaminated by plastic, studies show
Sea salt around the world has been contaminated by plastic pollution, adding to experts’ fears that microplastics are becoming ubiquitous in the environment and finding their way into the food chain via the salt in our diets. Following this week’s revelations in the Guardian about levels of plastic contamination in tap water, new studies have shown that tiny particles have been found in sea salt in the UK, France and Spain, as well as China and now the US. Researchers believe the majority of the contamination comes from microfibres and single-use plastics such as water bottles, items that comprise the majority of plastic waste.
Six farmers shot dead over land rights battle in Peru
Six farmers have been shot dead by a criminal gang who wanted to seize their farms to muscle in on the lucrative palm oil trade, according to indigenous Amazon leaders in Peru. Local leaders in the central Amazon region of Ucayali say the victims were targeted last Friday because they had refused to give up their land. A police report seen by the Guardian details how the farmers’ bodies were found early on Saturday dumped in a stream near the Bajo Rayal hamlet where the men had lived.
Survival International–WWF OECD talks break down over tribal consent
The landmark mediation talks between Survival and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) over breaches of Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) guidelines for multinational corporations have broken down over the issue of tribal peoples’ consent. Survival had asked WWF to agree to secure the Baka “Pygmies’” consent for how the conservation zones on their lands in Cameroon were managed in the future, in line with the organization’s own indigenous peoples policy. WWF refused, at which point Survival decided there was no purpose continuing the talks.
Pakistan just planted one billion trees to tackle deforestation and climate change
In less than two years, a province in Pakistan just planted 1 billion trees. Pakistani provincial leader Imran Khan started the Billion Tree Tsunami Afforestation Project in 2015 and it now reached fruition. In less than two years, 1,000,000,000 trees were planted, even faster than anticipated (by the end of 2017). This is just one province in one country. The Bonn Challenge calls for the global restoration of 150 million hectares of deforested and degraded lands by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. (Related: The collision of surging glaciers and rivers in Pakistan’s Karakoram mountains is causing floods)
The world’s largest floating solar farm is producing energy atop a former coal mine
The Chinese city of Huainan is rich in coal—very rich. By one 2008 estimate, it has nearly a fifth of all of China’s coal reserves. Now the city has become home to the world’s largest floating solar farm. Appropriately, it has been built atop a former coal mine, which had become a lake after being flooded with groundwater. The China Daily reports that the farm started generating electricity earlier this week. The 40-megawatt power plant consists of 120,000 solar panels covering an area of more than 160 American football fields.
Artist Donates BP Prize Money to Greenpeace
A growing number of artists and concerned citizens are speaking out against the oil industry’s sponsorship of the arts. The Guardian reported this week that Henry Christian-Slane, the winner of BP’s annual Young Artist Award at the National Portrait Gallery in London, donated a portion of his £7,000 prize money to Greenpeace in protest of the multinational oil and gas giant. The 26-year-old artist and illustrator from New Zealand received the prestigious award for his portrait of his partner, Gabi Lardies.
What most concerns us about our personal lives and the societies we live in?
In a new study*, two University of Wollongong researchers and I examined people’s levels of concern about a range of societal and personal issues characterising modern life, and the association between concern and personal stress. The study is based on a 2013 survey of over 2,000 people in four countries – the US, UK, Canada and Australia – but has only just been published. Our study found that, on average, 49% of respondents across the four countries were moderately or seriously concerned about 19 personal issues, with health and wellbeing, family matters, and cost of living and financial security topping the list.