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NEWS UPDATE #162


The top 250 listed companies in the world account for a third of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, a new study shows. The report comes a day after the World Meteorological Organization said the concentration of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide touched a record high in 2016. Coal India, Gazprom and Exxon Mobil topped the list.

INDIA

16 killed, more than 100 injured in NTPC explosion in Uttar Pradesh
Janta Ka Reporter
At least 16 people hace died and more than 100 injured after an explosion ripped a boiler in the state-run power giant NTPC’s Unchahar plant in Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli district on Wednesday. “Four deaths have been confirmed by the district administration. The toll might go up,” ADG (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said. He said around 40-50 people received burn injuries, and the condition of some of them was serious. All of them were being rushed to hospitals for treatment, he added.

India’s coastal law is being altered in public interest – by bypassing the public
Scroll
In the first week of October, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change issued an amendment to the Coastal Regulation Zone Notification, 2011, which regulates development on India’s coastline. The change in the rules allows the mining of atomic minerals (such as uranium and thorium, which are mostly used to generate nuclear energy) in Coastal Regulation Zone areas notwithstanding their availability in other areas. While environmentalists have expressed concern over this amendment and its implications on fragile coastal areas, the change is worrisome for another reason. This is the eighth time in the last three years that the ministry has dispensed with the requirement of a public notice and instead of first issuing a draft has straight away come out with a final amendment to the notification. (Related: Government dilutes norms to allow thermal power plants to use more water)

First Draft of New National Minerals Policy Opts for Tweaks Over Structural Changes
The Wire
The first draft of a government committee’s effort to revamp India’s national minerals policy – mandated as part of a recent Supreme Court judgement that slammed illegal mining in Odisha – retains the broad structure of the earlier 2008 policy while adding new paragraphs on illegal mining, sustainable development, compensating local tribal populations affected by industrial mining and responsible mine closure. Civil society experts and environmentalists that The Wire spoke to believe that the changes, while helpful, may not do much to shake up an industry that over the last eight years has been marked by illegal and excess mining, environmental violations and unequal distribution of gains. (Related: Supreme Court gives breather to mining companies, clarifies on DMF payment)

SC bans dirty pet-coke, furnace oil in Haryana, Rajasthan, UP
Down to Earth
In a landmark ruling today the Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta banned the use of dirty furnace oil and pet-coke in Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh from November 1, 2017. This ban is already in place in Delhi. The bench has further directed the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change (MOEFCC) to notify the standards for nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulphur oxides (SOx) for the industry sector and the industry has to comply with the standards by December 31, 2017. In addition, the MOEFCC will have to pay a fine of Rs 200,000 to the Supreme Court. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) lauds this directive as a big win for Delhi and NCR as well as the rest of the country fighting a tough battle against toxic pollution. (Related: Delhi Pollution: AAP Government Wants Choppers To Sprinkle Water Over Delhi To Fight Smog)

No GM Mustard for now; Centre puts commercial release on hold following protests
Down to Earth
In a major turnaround of events, the government has put on hold the commercial release of genetically modified (GM) mustard, which got technical clearance last year. The Environment Ministry document released on Tuesday (October 24) showed that the government had to put the decision on backburner due to stiff opposition from anti-GM activists and NGOs. An official document of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), which contains the minutes of the May 11 GEAC meeting, read: “Subsequent to receipt of various representations from different stakeholders, matters related to environmental release of transgenic Mustard are kept pending for further review.” (Related: India has imported millions of tonnes of GM food products in violation of food safety laws)

Wildlife panel recommends clearance of tiger corridor area for canal
Mayank Aggarwal, Live Mint
In a decision that is bound to upset wildlife conservationists, the apex wildlife panel of the environment ministry has recommended clearance of over 600 hectares of forest area falling in a critical tiger corridor area linking three important tiger reserves for an irrigation canal. The green nod is significant as it is the latest in a line of forest clearance approvals for projects in prime tiger habitats like the Panna tiger reserve for the Ken-Betwa river interlinking project and the Palamu tiger reserve for the North Koel project. (Related: 1) NGT Admits Appeal Challenging Environment Clearance to Ken Betwa Project 2) Tamil Nadu activist faces sedition case for his book against the Centre’s river-linking plans)

NITI Aayog wants to hand over micro irrigation to private players
Down to Earth
The NITI Aayog has put out a draft concept report seeking private participation in managing and boosting the reach of micro irrigation across the country. Known as the “Draft Model Public Private Partnership Policy Guidelines in Integrated Micro-Irrigation in India”, the report points out that the non-availability of government fund is the key reason to push for private investment in micro irrigation. For the first time, the government is seeking private investment in micro irrigation that operates at a local level.  (Also read: Bamboo will soon be declassified as a tree to encourage use and supply)

NGT suspends forest clearance for Arunachal hydropower project
Down to Earth
In a decision being hailed as rare and exceptional, the southern bench of the National Green Tribunal has suspended the Forest Clearance of the Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Project in Lohit District of Arunachal Pradesh on October 24. The Demwe Lower Hydroelectric Project, with a proposed capacity of 1,750 MW, requires construction of 163.12 metre-high dam across River Lohit. For this project, the state’s Department of Environment and Forest had granted permission to divert 1415.92 hectares (1408.30 ha surface land + 7.62 ha underground land) of forest land on August 26, 2013. (Related: The Environment Ministry cannot reject the majority view of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) without any proper reason)

Kathputli Colony Demolition: One Year Old Child Dies
Countercurrents
A child has lost its life during Delhi Development Authority’s demolition drive in Delhi Kathputli Colony, in West Delhi. One year old son of Jitu and Pooja, Aryan died late in the evening of 31st October. Yesterday, the child’s house was destroyed by the authorities and the child and the parents stayed in the cold at night. It is believed that the child got pneumonia and died. Some colony dwellers say the child died due to suffocation caused by the use of tear gas by the police. A postmortem will be conducted on the child’s body to find out the exact cause of death. (Related: Murder Of Democracy In Kathputli Colony, Houses Demolished, People Beaten Up, Annie Raja Injured)

10 rivers, including Ganga, are source to 95 per cent of plastic in seas
The Indian Express
Upto 95 per cent of plastic debris found in the sea is carried by 10 major rivers, including the Ganga, scientists have found. Eight of these are in Asia and two in Africa – areas in which hundreds of millions of people live. Every year, millions of tonnes of plastic debris ends up in the sea – a global environmental problem with unforeseeable ecological consequences. Researchers showed that plastic debris is primarily carried into the sea by large rivers. In the meantime, minute plastic particles can be found in the water in virtually every sea and river. This constitutes a serious and growing global environmental problem. (Also read: Water levels in Jhelum lowest ever recorded)

National Capital Region lost 40% of its water bodies in 42 years: Study
The Economic Times
Water bodies have decreased by a steep 40% in the national capital region (NCR) as a result of rapid urbanisation between 1972 and 2014, when the region saw a 17-fold rise in urban built-up areas, a study has revealed. At certain places, the complete transformation into an urban environment has led to an increase of 3 to 5 degrees in land surface temperature and 2 to 4 degrees in air temperature during this period, the study by the Centre for Atmospheric Sciences at IIT Delhi found. (Related: Forest The Size Of ’54 Football Fields’ To Be Sacrificed For Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway)

Adani Port In Vizhinjam Hits A Road Block As Locals Step Up Agitation
Countercurrents
Adani Port in Vizhinjam, near Thiruvananthapuram, the state capital of Kerala, India has hit a road block with local people started agitating against the port. The agitation has entered into the fourth day and is likely to intensify as there is no immediate solution to their demands. Piling and other work is stalled. Hundreds of fisherfolk, including women and children, blocked the road in the project site by placing old boats. They raised slogans demanding immediate steps from the government and Adani Vizhinjam Port Private Ltd (AVLP). Local people continue stir even at night demanding implementation of rehabilitation package. The agitators were adamant that they would not withdraw the blockage unless the issue was resolved. (Related: Inflating imports: DRI Adjudicating Authority drops second case against Adani)

Under NGT scrutiny, Art of Living to train Environment Ministry staff
The Indian Express
The Art of Living Foundation of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will coach Indian Forest Service officers of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on ‘Building Competencies for Personal Excellence’ at a ‘one-week compulsory training course’, to be held at the foundation’s international headquarters in Bengaluru this December. Asked about the decision to send forest officers for training to an organisation embroiled in a legal battle with the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Siddhanta Das, Director General, Environment Ministry, said the two issues were unrelated.

Westinghouse in talks with India for six nuclear power reactors
The Economic Times
US nuclear industry giant Westinghouse expects to exit bankruptcy in the next few months following which it plans to hold commercial discussions on six nuclear reactors with India. Meanwhile, domestic oil and gas major, ONGC plans to work with Nuclear Power Corporation (NPCIL) to build more reactors in India, said Jitendra Singh, minister of state in PMO, in charge of department of atomic energy. “ONGC has come forward with a plan. They have a lot of money they would like to invest and we have the technical expertise,” he said. (Also read: India saved Rs 47,185 crore on higher energy efficiency in three years)

Modi doled out huge concessions to Gujarat tycoons by “creating” mechanism for legalised corruption: Ex-BJP CM
Sabrang India
Starting with 2005, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as Gujarat chef minister, created a well-oiled mechanism, under which he made top tycoons to fund, and also politically support, his well-publicized festivals and business meetings, including the biennial Vibrant Gujarat world business summits, and in return doled away huge concessions to them. Calling it “legalised corruption”, former BJP chief minister and industries minister under Modi in 2001-02, Suresh Mehta, who resigned from BJP in 2007, told media in Ahmedabad that this unique “Gujarat model” took shape starting with an August 5, 2005 government resolution (GR), which allowed state officials to open a separate account for the money received from business houses and use it in festivities.

Is the government’s bank recapitalisation plan a bailout?
Live Mint
The recapitalisation amount resembles a lifeboat and Morgan Stanley cheekily calls it the Indian TARP, after the Troubled Asset Reconstruction Plan of the US during the global financial crisis. For public sector lenders to truly be back in the business of lending, it would take more than the infusion. It would need corporate customers to come back with outstretched hands for loans. Until then, the government’s money is just another dole to help lenders stay afloat and to return to profits. (Related: ‘Adani’s debt equals to entire farm debt’, says JD(U) member Pawan Varma in Rajya Sabha)

Wages worth Rs 3,066 crore unpaid under MGNREGS in 19 states
Down to Earth
A civil society group called Narega sangharsh Morcha (NSM) has presented government data to show that wage payments in 19 states have been frozen. “Since August 31, no wage payments have been made in Haryana, since the first week of September, no wage payments have been made in Karnataka and West Bengal, and since a month no wage payments have been made in Kerala and Jharkhand, among other states,” says says Ashish Ranjan, a Bihar-based NREGA activist. Payments are also pending in Bihar, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Tripura. (Also read: Maharashtra loan waiver: Lists provided by banks shows Lakhs of farmers with same Aadhaar, savings account numbers)

Denotify Bt cotton seed that is no longer pest-resistant: State to Centre
The Times of India
In the wake of pesticide-related deaths of farm workers in Vidarbha, the state government has written to the Centre asking it to denotify the Bt cotton seed strain Bollgard II (BG II), pointing out that it was no longer resistant to the pink bollworm pest. This is the second letter the state has sent to the Centre this year on the failed pest resistance of the genetically modified seed. The Union agriculture ministry had invited state officials for a consultation on this issue on Wednesday.

Telangana’s Kaleshwaram project gets hydrological clearance
The Hindu
The Central Water Commission (CWC) on Monday gave hydrological clearance (approval) with the observation that the net availability of water with 75% dependability at Medigadda barrage site is 284.3 tmcft. The project secured first-stage clearance for diversion of 3,168.13 hectares of forest land for Kaleshwaram work on October 25. Similarly, the Centre cleared the air on the project three days ago, stating that it was only a continuation of the previous Pranahitha-Chevella project and not a new one. Accordingly, it need to go to Godavari River Management Board (GRMB) set up under the provisions of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act for clearance. (Also read: Rs. 1 lakh fine imposed on Sterling Biotech for polluting Tamil Nadu’s Pykara dam)

Odisha tribal women start info centre to fight for individual, community forest rights, pending for several years
Counterview
In a unique move, women of Kaptapally village in Nuagaon block of Nayagarh district in Odisha have launched a new Forest Rights Information Centre, second in the region, as an an important resource hub in their long drawn out battle for community and individual forest rights, recognized under the Forest Rights Act (FRA). Operating under the canopy of the forest that they have been managing, conserving and regenerating for the past seven years, the Centre will be run by women, who have spearheaded innovative community forest management practices in the area, conserving and protecting large areas of the dense forest.

Opposition to Modi’s “pet” dam proposed in Uttarakhand gains momentum amidst “fake” environmental public hearing
Counterview
As the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) on the for River Valley Projects, under the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), deliberated on the proposed Pancheshwar project in Uttarakhand as the world’s second highest dam on Tuesday, a group dissenting protestors outside insisted, they too should be heard. Talking with media persons, Vimal Bhai of Matu Jan Sangathan, which has been in the forefront in the campaign against the dam, said, “We are here to ask how the committee will take a decision in 45 minutes about a project on which Rs 40,000 crore are going to be spent, and which is going to determine the fate of 50,000 people in two countries — India and Nepal.”

16 Million-Strong Organization In India Joins The Boycott Israel Movement
Countercurrents.org
Earlier this month, the largest national organization representing farmers and agricultural workers in India, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), has announced that it has joined the BDS movement. AIKS is is spread across 21 states in India and is over 16 million members strong. AIKS has resolved to: Endorse the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law, in order to stand for the rights of the Palestinian people and to resist the corporate takeover of Indian agriculture sector by Israeli companies, denounce and document any cases of Israeli corporate takeover in the Indian agro-sector and raise awareness among Indian farmers to prevent Israel and its corporations from reaping profits in India that finance military occupation and apartheid in Palestine.

How the Japanese Loan for India’s Bullet Train Is a Rip Off
Bishwajit Bhattacharya, The Wire
Now that the hype over the bullet train has subsided, it is time to do some cold calculations. India will borrow Japanese yen 150,000 crores [equal to Rs 88,000 crores today], bearing 0.1% interest, with a 15 year lock-in period, repayable in 50-60 years. Looks attractive indeed. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reported to have commented: the loan is “in a way free”. The prime minister was evidently not briefed properly, as the following analysis will indicate. (Related: 40 per cent seats on India’s bullet train route go vacant, reveals RTI reply)

WORLD

‘Alarm Bells Ringing’: Global CO2 Levels at Highest in 3 Million Years
Common Dreams
Ahead of the COP23 climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany next week, an annual bulletin released on Monday revealed that last year, the average global concentration of carbon dioxide surged at a record-breaking pace to the highest level in approximately 3 million years, renewing scientists’ concerns that more action is needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Greenhouse Gas Bulletin (pdf), published by the United Nations World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Global Atmosphere Watch program, found that globally averaged CO2 concentrations increased from 400 parts per million (ppm) in 2015 to 403.3 ppm last year. (Related: ‘We will be toasted, roasted and grilled’: IMF chief sounds climate change warning)

Alaska’s permafrost, shown here in 2010, is no longer permanent. It is starting to thaw.
The New York Times
The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as other parts of the planet, and even here in sub-Arctic Alaska the rate of warming is high. Sea ice and wildlife habitat are disappearing; higher sea levels threaten coastal native villages. But to the scientists from Woods Hole Research Center who have come here to study the effects of climate change, the most urgent is the fate of permafrost, the always-frozen ground that underlies much of the state. Starting just a few feet below the surface and extending tens or even hundreds of feet down, it contains vast amounts of carbon in organic matter. (Related: British Antarctic research station to shut for second winter as cracks in ice grow)

World’s top 250 firms, including Coal India, emit a third of CO2: Thomson Reuters study
Scroll
The top 250 listed companies in the world account for a third of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, a study showed on Tuesday. The report comes a day after the World Meteorological Organization said the concentration of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide touched a record high in 2016, and that the speed at which these emissions have increased was unprecedented. Coal India, Gazprom and Exxon Mobil topped the list when carbon dioxide emitted by companies and by consumers using their products was measured. (Related: 1) BP and Shell planning for catastrophic 5°C global warming despite publicly backing Paris climate agreement 2) Sea levels to rise 1.3m unless coal power ends by 2050, report says)

UN warns of ‘unacceptable’ greenhouse gas emissions gap
The Guardian
There is still a large gap between the pledges by governments to cut greenhouse gas emissions and the reductions scientists say are needed to avoid dangerous levels of climate change, the UN has said. Current plans from national governments, and pledges made by private sector companies and local authorities across the world, would lead to temperature rises of as much as 3C or more by the end of this century, far outstripping the goal set under the 2015 Paris agreement to hold warming to 2C or less, which scientists say is the limit of safety. (Related: Italy sets sights on 2025 coal power phase-out)

Climate change talks in Bonn will write the rule book for Paris accord – and likely see fireworks
Scroll
In Bonn, countries will begin writing the rules to implement the Paris Agreement from 2020. The rules are to be framed by the end of next year. This will give all countries two years to change their domestic policies and systems to meet the goals. While Bonn is a pit stop to next year’s finale when the rules will be agreed upon in their entirety, it promises to be as acrimonious as climate negotiations usually are. But as at these and other multilateral talks, the acrimony will be couched in diplomatese and jargon. This makes it difficult to determine what exactly countries are saying in public, what they will push for in negotiations that are held behind closed doors and what they will settle for at the end of the two weeks. (Related: 1) New data gives hope for meeting the Paris climate targets 2) Nicaragua Joins Paris Agreement, Leaving Only U.S. and Syria Behind)

World lost 2.3 million sq km of forested land to drought in last three decades
Down to Earth
“Droughts are misery in slow motion” with impacts even deeper than previously believed. Although floods pose major economic threats, water scarcity and drought may be causing long-term harm in ways that are poorly understood and inadequately documented, claims Uncharted waters: the new economics of water scarcity and variability, a report by World Bank. Over the past decade, the world has lost 2.3 million square kilometres of forested land, of which, 80 per cent of the loss is a direct effect of expanding agricultural lands. “The empirical analysis indicates that dry shocks lead to a substantial expansion of cropland,” says the report. Long period of dryness accounts for about 60 per cent of the rate of expansion in cropland over the past three decades.

China Shuts Down Tens Of Thousands Of Factories In Unprecedented Pollution Crackdown
NPR
Entire industrial regions of China are being temporarily shut down, and the unusual sight of blue skies is reappearing as environmental inspectors go about their work. After decades of doing little about the pollution that has plagued much of the country, China’s government may be finally getting serious about enforcing its environmental laws. In the past year, China’s Ministry of Environment has sent inspectors to 30 provinces, where they’ve reprimanded, fined, or charged officials in more than 80,000 factories with criminal offenses. Entire swaths of Eastern China have halted production, prompting some companies to move entire supply chains to countries like India and Bangladesh to meet their orders. (Also read: “It’s A Huge Story”: China Launching “Petroyuan” In Two Months)

Major boost to $22 billion Adani coalmine venture? Australian govt seeks Chinese support for the project
Counterview
In a major boost to India’s powerful industrial giant, Adani Goup’s worth $22 billion Australian coalmining venture, the country’s Turnbull government is said to have written to the Chinese government seeking the latter’s support for the controversial project in the Queensland state, saying it would generate jobs and investment. This has been brought to light, ironically, by the Left-leaning think tank Australian Institute (AI), which used freedom of information laws to seek documents from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. AI is one of the top Australian institutes campaigning against the project. (Related: Australia’s ex-Cabinet minister, influential pop star, environmentalist “backs” anti-Adani coalmine campaign)

Puerto Rico Continues to Suffer Worst Electricity Failure in U.S. History
EcoWatch
Hurricane Maria caused the largest blackout in U.S. history, according to a new report. An analysis released this week from the Rhodium Group finds that the hurricane caused a net loss of 1.25 billion hours of electricity since hitting Puerto Rico on Sept. 20—the largest in recorded history. Nine of the 10 most severe power outages in the U.S. were the result of hurricanes, according to the report. Weeks after Hurricanes Maria and Irma passed over the region, 75 percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million inhabitants remain without power. (Related: Puerto Rico’s Power Authority Cancels Controversial Whitefish Contract)

Fears of Radiation Leak Soar After North Korea Nuclear Site Collapse Kills 200
EcoWatch
Experts are issuing urgent warnings of a possible radiation leak following the collapse of a tunnel at North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, an accident that reportedly killed at least 200 people. “Should [the Punggye-ri site] sink, there is a possibility” that hazardous radioactive gas could be released into the atmosphere, warned South Korea weather agency chief Nam Jae-cheol during a parliamentary meeting on Monday, ahead of reports of the incident. The tunnel’s collapse, first reported by the Japanese outlet TV Asahi on Tuesday, is presumed to have occurred as a result of the destabilization caused by Pyongyang’s powerful hydrogen bomb test last month. (Also read: Plaintiffs appeal ruling in Fukushima nuclear disaster damages suit)

Monsanto Faces Blowback Over Cancer Cover-Up
Spiegel
Agricultural chemicals giant Monsanto is under fire because the company’s herbicide, Roundup (active ingredient: glyphosate), is suspected of being carcinogenic. Permission to sell the chemical in the European Union expires on December 15 with member states set to decide on Wednesday whether to renew it for another 10 years. And now, the longstanding dispute about glyphosate has been brought to a head by the release of explosive documents. (Related: 1) EU on brink of historic decision on pervasive glyphosate weedkiller 2) Human Exposure to Glyphosate Has Skyrocketed 500% Since Introduction of GMO Crops)

Tyson Foods Linked to Largest Toxic Dead Zone in U.S. History
EcoWatch
What comes to mind when you think of Tyson Foods? A chicken nugget? A big red logo? How about the largest toxic dead zone in U.S. history? It turns out the meat industry—and corporate giants like Tyson Foods—are directly linked to this environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, and many others. The largest dead zone in U.S. history in the Gulf of Mexico is currently more than 8,000 square miles, where no marine life can survive due to toxic fertilizer pollution.

Chile Bans Plastic Bags in 100+ Coastal Areas
EcoWatch
Chilean President Michelle Bachelet signed a bill Wednesday that prohibits the sale of single-use plastic bags in 102 coastal villages and towns in a bid to stop the build-up of ocean plastic and to “[take] care of our marine ecosystems.” An estimated eight million tons of plastic trash gets dumped into our oceans each year, literally choking marine life, harming ocean ecosystems and threatening the larger food chain. Businesses found using and distributing plastic bags could face a US$300 fine, Telesur reported about the legislation.

UK is 30-40 years away from ‘eradication of soil fertility’, warns environment secretary
The Guardian
The UK is 30 to 40 years away from “the fundamental eradication of soil fertility” in parts of the country, the environment secretary Michael Gove has warned. “We have encouraged a type of farming which has damaged the earth,” Gove told the parliamentary launch of the Sustainable Soils Alliance (SSA). “Countries can withstand coups d’état, wars and conflict, even leaving the EU, but no country can withstand the loss of its soil and fertility. “If you have heavy machines churning the soil and impacting it, if you drench it in chemicals that improve yields but in the long term undercut the future fertility of that soil, you can increase yields year on year but ultimately you really are cutting the ground away from beneath your own feet. Farmers know that.”

New Zealand considers creating climate change refugee visas
The Guardian
New Zealand’s new government is considering creating a visa category to help relocate Pacific peoples displaced by climate change. The new category would make official the Green party’s pre-election policy which promised 100 visas for those affected by climate change. As part of the new Labour-led coalition government, the Green party leader James Shaw was given the role of climate change minister.

Conservationists win court battle to stop clearing of old-growth Victorian forest
The Guardian
Conservationists have won an injunction stopping a Victorian government-owned business from clearing old-growth trees in the Kuark forest in East Gippsland. Environmental Justice Australia, representing the Fauna and Flora Research Collective, took VicForests to the supreme court on Wednesday and successfully won an injunction stopping the logging of an area known as Princess Cut. The area earmarked for logging contains countless trees that are centuries old.

‘It’s able to create knowledge itself’: Google unveils AI that learns on its own
The Guardian
Google’s artificial intelligence group, DeepMind, has unveiled the latest incarnation of its Go-playing program, AlphaGo – an AI so powerful that it derived thousands of years of human knowledge of the game before inventing better moves of its own, all in the space of three days. Named AlphaGo Zero, the AI program has been hailed as a major advance because it mastered the ancient Chinese board game from scratch, and with no human help beyond being told the rules. In games against the 2015 version, which famously beat Lee Sedol, the South Korean grandmaster, in the following year, AlphaGo Zero won 100 to 0.

Devolution Everywhere: Spain, Italy, Britain And The Problems Of Complexity
Kurt Cobb
The spread of independence-seeking across Europe points to something more than just sibling rivalry. In an age which seems to call out for transnational solutions to climate change, pollution, deforestation, species extinction, and myriad social, economic, and health issues including wealth inequality, cybercrime, and possible pandemics—in such an age we are faced with the strange centrifugal force of devolution as many people lose faith in centralized authorities to solve their problems.

 

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