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NEWS UPDATE #163


Did you know that three meat companies–JBS, Cargill and Tyson–emitted more greenhouse gases last year than all of France and nearly as much as some of the biggest oil companies like Exxon and Shell? That’s the startling revelation made by a new report on corporate emissions from livestock, which uses the FAO’s latest research methodology.

INDIA

Paradise Papers: List of Indian company owners whose names, address are out in open
The Indian Express
The Paradise Papers is the fourth collaborative investigation into offshore and banking assets done by The Indian Express with the ICIJ. Among the 180 countries represented in the data, India ranks 19th in terms of the number of names. In all, there are 714 Indians in the tally. Several Indians have been listed in the Paradise Papers registries. A list of Indian company owners whose identities have been confirmed and addresses verified (Related: Paradise Papers: Booked by CBI, SNC-Lavalin went to Appleby to float firm, get National Highway projects)

Nashik: Farmer dead, 75 ill after lunch at Bayer Seeds event on hybrid tomatoes
The Indian Express
A farmer died and 75 others were hospitalised Wednesday after suspected food poisoning at a symposium on hybrid tomatoes organised by agrochemical major Bayer Seeds at a village near Nashik in Maharashtra. Police have registered a case of culpable homicide and those booked include the regional manager of Bayer Seeds. The company said it would cooperate with authorities in investigating the incident. (Also read: Inhaling pesticides can’t cause death: Crop care Fedn chief)

1,254 farm suicides since Maharashtra declared loan waiver
The Times of India
Maharashtra has seen as many as 1,254 farmer suicides between June and October, five months into the farm loan waiver, official data shows. Only a small portion of the waiver has been extended to farmers so far, with the bulk of accounts still being verified. More than half these cases – 691farm suicides – in these five months are from Vidarbha, the region from which chief minister Devendra Fadnavis hails. The area has also been separately impacted by pesticide-related fatalities in the farming community .

Amid clamour to save Delhi, many cities with worse air quality are forgotten
The Indian Express
Worse than even Delhi, which recorded an air quality index of 448, the city of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, recorded an AQI of 500 – the highest the scale can measure – this past Tuesday. The city’s air went from ‘very poor’ on Monday to ‘severe’ on Tuesday and remained severe for the next two days. Though cities such as Moradabad and Howrah, which recorded an AQI of 451 on Tuesday, have had consistently worsening air this week, the Centre’s focus has entirely been on mitigating the poor air quality situation in Delhi-NCR alone.  (Related: Alien paddy is causing stubble burning, but don’t blame Punjab for Delhi smog this time)

Center Issues Stop Work Order for Polavaram
Mirchi 9
Union Government has asked the State Government to stop the works of the cofferdam of Polavaram Project until a committee appointed by itself will decide if the cofferdam is really needed. Polavaram dam is at the height of 45 meters. Coffer Dams are to be constructed above and below the dam. The state government wants to construct the upper cofferdam at 42 meters high which will ensure that water to be given to the canals by June 2018 well ahead of the project completion. But the union government felt it unnecessary and issued Stop Work orders. (Also read: High court sets aside NGT stay on Kaleswaram)

Goa asks Centre not to clear Mormugao Port’s proposal to enhance coal handling capacity
Financial Express
The Goa State Pollution Control Board (GSPCB) has urged the Union environment ministry not to give the nod to a proposal of Mormugao Port Trust (MPT) to enhance its coal handling capacity, pending the air ambient study of its surrounding areas, an official has said. The GSPCB and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay will undertake the study of the air ambient quality in Vasco town, where the MPT is located, after concerns were raised by locals over the pollution in the city due to the facility, he said.

22.5 lakh hectares brought under organic farming so far
Millennium Post
Calling upon farmers to practice organic farming instead of chemicals-based farming, Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said that the government has initiated several schemes to promote organic farming in the country. “The organic farming has become a national and global requirement for providing nutritious food to people as well as to maintain sustainable production and soil health. It’s the result of government’s proactive moves to promote organic farming that about 22.5 lakh hectares have been brought under such cultivation so far,” the minister said while addressing the representatives of 110 countries and 2,000 Indian delegates at Organic World Congress 2017 on Thursday.

New wildlife plan backs Adivasi rights in tiger reserves despite environment ministry stalling them
Scroll.in
The National Wildlife Action Plan released by India’s environment ministry has asked for the speedy recognition of the forest rights of communities living inside tiger reserves, months after the ministry itself stalled the process. India has designated 50 parks and sanctuaries as tiger reserves. More than 400,000 people, including Adivasis, live here. In March, the environment ministry passed an order that put on hold the settlement of the forest rights of these communities until guidelines are drafted for identifying critical wildlife habitats, which are legally defined as areas required to be kept “inviolate for the purposes of wildlife conservation”.

Media Blacks Out Massive Workers’ Protest in Delhi
News Click
Nearly 100,000 workers gathered at Delhi’s Parliament Street from 9 November 2017 to protest against the central government’s policies that have adversely affected the working class of India. The protest – called ‘mahapadav’ or mega sit-in – will continue till 11 November. But that’s not “news” for the major media houses in India. Most newspapers and television channels did not carry any report on the protest or carried small items buried deep inside their advertisement filled pages. As far as one could make out, The Hindu, The Indian Express and The Hindustan Times had no report while there are small reports in The Times of India and The Business Line (which claims the protest is by “hundreds of workers” – without pictures so that people don’t get to know of the real size of the gathering). (Related: Code On Wage Bill 2017- A Proposed Legislation Violating The Rights Of The Workers)

How Bengal’s Mejia Power Plant is Wrecking the Life of the People It’s Supposed to Benefit
The Wire
Nine people have died in Latiaboni in the past three months due to cancer, tuberculosis and breathlessness and villagers blame pollution from the plant. Despite supplying power to West Bengal and neighbouring states, the plant has brought misery to the lives of several hundreds of villages who live near it. Harmful emissions from the power plant have not only polluted the ground water but have also caused health hazards. The fly ash pond, spread across an area of 700 acres, is filled with waste that has risen to a level of 100 feet. Villagers say that over 7,000 tonnes of fly ash is dumped in the pond everyday.

As Jharkhand attempts to stem decline in tiger population in state, Adivasis fear second uprooting
Scroll
In the February 28 hearing, a Jharkhand High Court bench comprising Justices DN Patel and Ratnaker Bhengra ordered state authorities to immediately implement the Tiger Conservation Plan as approved by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the apex body for matters related to tiger conservation in India. The authority mandates that each tiger reserve in the country should have a conservation plan, which includes a scheme of voluntary relocation of all Adivasi families from core tiger areas.

Kidney Disease Stalks Rural Odisha, Suspicions Turn to Monazite Mining
The Wire
Out of a population of roughly 3,000 people, almost 200 in Badaputti have been diagnosed with renal ailments since 2013. There are a couple of other villages (Begnipetta and Lakhimpur) from where cases of kidney ailments have also been reported. Approximately 50 deaths have been reported due to kidney failure over the last two years in the area. We were even told by some villagers that the village is now so stigmatised that nobody is ready to marry their daughters and sons with anyone from the village. Elected representatives of the district have turned a blind eye as well.

Bihar floods: Dalits, minorities “neglected” in relief and rescue, suffered huge livelihood setback, says report
Counterview
A recent fact-finding report on how the Bihar floods this year affected the marginalized communities in Araria and Kishanganj districts, jointly prepared by National Dalit Watch, National Campaign on Dalit human Rights, All-India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch and Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, has said that there was gross neglect of “huge population of Muslims and Dalits in giving them relief and rescue.” The report is based on information gathered from 21 relief camps, surveying 2,451 mainly Dalits, minority and Adivasis families from 45 villages.

Areas selected for smart city development are heat islands: study
Down to Earth
The phenomenon of urban heat islands, in which concrete and built areas in cities experience higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas, may get accentuated with rapid urbanisation. This is the conclusion of a new study of urban areas selected for development of smart cities. The study, which covered 89 of 100 areas selected for development of smart cities, has found that agriculture and irrigation are two dominant drivers of urban heat islands (UHIs) in India. In addition, significant presence of atmospheric aerosols—mainly pollutants—over urban areas can influence UHI.

Why continuous rain failed to raise groundwater level in Bengaluru
The Hindu
Despite the record-setting rains this year, the city’s groundwater levels have significantly worsened compared to last year. Experts have attributed this to borewell exploitation, concreting landscape, and erratic intensity of the rains. An analysis of groundwater levels between October 2016 and October 2017 — which is the latest available data for Bengaluru Urban district — shows that levels in all four taluks have significantly reduced between 2 to 9 metres in the past year, indicates data obtained from the District Groundwater Authority. Even more disconcerting is that despite over 1,200 mm received during monsoons in 2017 or, more than double of what was received in monsoons of 2016, water levels do not seem to have risen appreciably.

WORLD

The UN And Genocide By Starvation In Somalia
Countercurrents
According to just released information sourced from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the FSNAU between October 2015 and April 2016, a period of only six months, upwards of 400,000 Somali’s, two thirds of whom were children, died of starvation. And the famine, if anything, has gotten worse since then. Here the world is now, 18 months later and possibly a million more deaths, bringing the number of children who have died from starvation in the past 2 years in Somalia up to a million.

Big meat and big dairy’s climate emissions put Exxon Mobil to shame
The Guardian
Did you know that three meat companies – JBS, Cargill and Tyson – are estimated to have emitted more greenhouse gases last year than all of France and nearly as much as some of the biggest oil companies like Exxon, BP and Shell? Few meat and dairy companies calculate or publish their climate emissions. So for the first time ever, we have estimated corporate emissions from livestock, using the most comprehensive methodology created to date by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Syria is signing the Paris climate agreement, leaving the US alone against the rest of the world
Quartz.com
It’s everyone against the United States of America. When Donald Trump announced that he intends to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, the implication was that the US would join Syria and Nicaragua as the only non-signatories of the accord. The other holdouts had legitimate excuses: Syria was in the middle of a war and Nicaragua thought the agreement wasn’t ambitious enough. Now, both countries have had a change of heart. (Related: Michael Bloomberg’s ‘war on coal’ goes global with $50m fund)

Nuclear accident in Russia or Kazakhstan sends ‘harmless’ radioactive cloud over Europe
The Guardian
A cloud of radioactive pollution over Europe in recent weeks indicates that an accident has happened in a nuclear facility in Russia or Kazakhstan in the last week of September, French nuclear safety institute IRSN has said. The IRSN on Thursday ruled out an accident in a nuclear reactor, saying it was likely to be in a nuclear fuel treatment site or centre for radioactive medicine. There has been no impact on human health or the environment in Europe, the IRSN said.

The world lost an area of tree cover the size of New Zealand last year
Mongabay
A new analysis of satellite data found 29.7 million hectares of tree cover was lost in 2016. The number represents a 51 percent jump over 2015. The analysts say fire is the big culprit. The data indicate big upticks in fires around the around the world, both in areas where fire naturally occurs as well as wetter areas of the tropics where fire is a rare phenomenon. El Nino coupled with human-caused land disturbance like slash-and-burn clearing is thought to have been a big contributor to increase in fire activity around the world. Preliminary data indicate 2017 may also be a big fire year. The analysts recommend improved forest management to lower the risks of fire and tree cover loss.

Study Shows Massive Increase in Human Exposure to Glyphosate, Regulatory Agencies Refuse to Monitor
Green Med Info
The public unfolding of the dangers of glyphosate, Monsanto’s cancer-causing herbicide, appears to be reaching a crescendo, as mounting evidence is now threatening to bury this failed agricultural technology once and for all. A new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) titled Excretion of the Herbicide Glyphosate in Older Adults Between 1993 and 2016 reveal findings no longer able to be ignored. The study shows that human exposure to glyphosate among the participants has increased by 500 percent in the past two decades.

Stop using antibiotics to promote growth, prevent disease in animals: WHO
Down to Earth
The World Health Organization has come up with new recommendations asking farmers and food industry to avoid use of antibiotics to promote growth and prevent disease in healthy animals. This would prevent resistance against antibiotics, which are extensively used to treat diseases in humans. WHO estimates that in many countries, approximately 80 per cent of total consumption of antibiotics is in the animal sector. The step is important considering that many pathogens that cause diseases in humans are already resistant to existing antibiotics. Also, no new antibiotic has been developed recently.

After 60 million years of extreme living, seabirds are crashing
The Guardian
Conservationists have long known that many seabird populations are in decline, but a recent paper in PLOS ONE finds the situation worse than anticipated. According to the researchers, seabird abundance has dropped 69.7% in just 60 years – representing the deaths of some 230 million animals. “I was very surprised with the result, it was considerably greater than I’d expected,” said Edd Hammill, co-author of the paper, with Utah State University. “What we should take away from this is that something is serious amiss in the oceans.”

Indigenous Oil Strike in Peru Ends in Victory
Intercontinental Cry
Indigenous groups in Peru ended a 43-day protest after winning healthcare and consultation rights regarding Block 192 oil fields, leaders announced last Tuesday. Community members are celebrating their triumph, said Aurelio Chino, president of the Native Quechua del Pastaza Federation, after the government of President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was forced to the negotiation table. Members of Peru’s Achuar, Quechua and Kichwa communities met with government officials last month to discuss the details of Block 192, a two-year contract signed with the Canadian Frontera Energy Corp. which hasn’t had access to the oil since protesters seized the oil wells on Sept. 18. (Related: Rare victory for South American rainforests as nations vow to stop ‘death by chocolate’)

UK will back total ban on bee-harming pesticides
The Guardian
The UK will back a total ban on insect-harming pesticides in fields across Europe, the environment secretary, Michael Gove, has revealed. The decision reverses the government’s previous position and is justified by recent new evidence showing neonicotinoids have contaminated the whole landscape and cause damage to colonies of bees. It also follows the revelation that 75% of all flying insects have disappeared in Germany and probably much further afield, a discovery Gove said had shocked him.

Food sector consolidation by corporations threatens food security
Farm Land Grab
Food sector consolidation represents a growing threat to global food security, a new report suggests. According to the Agrifood Atlas​ – the monopolisation of the food chain by “ever-fewer, ever-larger”​ corporations has far-reaching consequences for the global food system. The researchers stressed that the rate of consolidation in the agri-food space is accelerating. Between 2015 and 2016, five of the 12 largest mergers between publicly-traded companies came in the agri-food sector, with a total value of almost US$500bn (€431.3bn).

Beleaguered Environmental Activists in Honduras Face Threat From the Country’s Law
The Wire
In Honduras, a recently approved law dictating that protestors can no longer organise demonstrations without the possibility of being considered criminals, or even “terrorists“, has been added to the risks that environmental activists face in the country. According to the criminal code law, organisers of demonstrations could face 20 years in prison, and regular protestors 15 years, regardless of the reason for the protest. The law is a new burden for citizens of the Central American country where demonstrators face regular and sometimes lethal violence simply for defending their rights and their lands.

Will China Bring an Energy-Debt Crisis?
Gail Tverberg
China is reaching energy production limits in a way few would have imagined. As long as coal and oil prices were rising, it made sense to keep drilling. Once fuel prices started dropping in 2014, it made sense to close unprofitable coal mines and oil wells. The thing that is striking is that the drop in prices corresponds to a slowdown in the wage growth of Chinese urban workers. Perhaps rapidly rising Chinese wages have been playing a significant role in maintaining high world “demand” (and thus prices) for energy products. Low Chinese wage growth thus seems to depress energy prices.

‘Impossible To Save’: Scientists Are Watching China’s Glaciers Disappear
Parallels
Xinjiang, a land of mountains, forests and deserts, is four times the size of California and is home to 20,000 glaciers — nearly half of all the glaciers in China. Since the 1950s, all of Xinjiang’s glaciers have retreated by between 21 percent to 27 percent. In the past 50 years, the average global temperature has risen by 1 degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit). As a result, these glaciers — split from the original Tianshan No. 1 glacier into No. 1 East and No. 1 West — are retreating by around 30 feet each year.

Conservationists, Computer Scientists to Map a ‘Safety Net’ for Earth
EcoWatch
A team of biologists and computer scientists plan to map a global “safety net” for planet Earth. The mapping effort, to be led by Washington, DC-based non-profit research organization RESOLVE together with Globaïa, an NGO based in Quebec, Canada, and Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Viçosa, aims to identify the most critical terrestrial regions to protect as we work towards the goal of conserving 50 percent of the world’s land area. Scientists and conservationists have argued for years that setting aside at least half of the world’s land mass as off-limits to human enterprise is necessary if we are to conserve our planet’s biodiversity.

Eagles Destroy Corporate Drones, Cost Mining Company More Than $100,000
The Indigenous American
Mining in Australia is a major industry with gold mining in Western Australia alone generating over $10 billionevery year. However, some of the gold mines there have been experiencing a costly and unexpected problem as nature has apparently decided to fight back against its incursions. Drones that are used to survey the territory around gold mines are being destroyed by native wedge-tailed eagles. Rick Steven, a mine surveyor in the region, said that he had lost nine of his Trimble UX5 drones to eagles, which he labeled “the natural enemy” of drones.

 

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