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NEWS UPDATE #169


The Guardian reports: Ocean dead zones with zero oxygen have quadrupled in size since 1950, scientists have just warned, while the numbers of very low oxygen sites near coasts have multiplied tenfold. Most sea creatures cannot survive in these zones and current trends would lead to mass extinction in the long run, risking dire consequences.

INDIA

Centre proposes more power for states to grant environmental clearance
Down to Earth
On December 18, 2017, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) issued a draft notification to amend the Environment Impact Assessment Notification (2006) and subsequent amending notifications such as those issued in 2014 and 2016. The latest amendment increases the ambit of state government authorities to grant environmental clearances (ECs) to development projects. The draft notification particularly relates to mining projects involving non-coal minerals and minor minerals, as well as river valley/irrigation projects.

Maharashtra lost 63sqkm of forest land in 3 years
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra lost 6,346 hectares or 63 sq km of forests to non-forestry purposes including mining, between 2014 and 2017, reveals data from the union environment ministry. The forest land lost in the last three years is roughly equivalent to the area of Mumbai’s island city, which is 65 sq km (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation data). At the same time, the country lost 62,369 hectares or 623 sq km forest area, roughly the area of six Sanjay Gandhi National Parks spread across 104 sq km. Maharashtra ranked fourth in India for maximum forest land diverted, with 40 proposals sanctioned over three years.

Since 2007, Centre has allowed import of GM edible oil, violating food safety laws
Scroll.in
The Union government admitted in Parliament that genetically modified edible oil is being illegally imported in India, without the mandatory assessment of its safety for human consumption. It disclosed for the first time that between 2007 and 2015 it allowed at least four companies to import edible oil made from genetically-modified crops, in violation of India’s food safety law.

India’s poor “left” in the lurch in Central government’s new urban thrust, as experts allege middle class policy bias
Counter View
The recent Government of India decision to make its credit-linked subsidy scheme for urban housing more attractive for the middle income groups by offering them a higher carpet area than what hitherto was the case has come under sharp criticism of the country’s top urban experts, who say, it would dilute the “core pro-poor character” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s much publicised urban housing thrust.

CTGC threatens to pull out from West Seti project
Kathmandu Post
China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC), the potential builder of the West Seti Hydropower Project, has threatened to pull out if Nepal doesn’t revise its guidelines regarding the power purchase rate. The rate offered by the guideline doesn’t make the project bankable, said the Chinese company in a letter to Investment Board Nepal (IBN) about the 750 MW reservoir type scheme located in far west Nepal. CTGC had requested that the power purchase rate be revised during a meeting with IBN and its joint venture partner the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) last November. However, the NEA said that it couldn’t be done. The state-owned power utility and CTGC have agreed to form a joint venture company to develop the project.

As Formal Farm Credit Grows, So Does Hold Of Moneylenders. Here’s Why
India Spend
Despite a 11% rise in loans to agriculture over a year to a record Rs 10 lakh crore in 2017-18, the share of professional moneylenders in agricultural credit grew nine percentage points over 11 years to 2013, and two important government programmes meant to ease credit are denying farmers the benefits they seek, according to an IndiaSpend analysis.

Odisha Government Trying To Hand Over POSCO Land To JSW Steel
Countercurrents.org
Odisha is planning to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to hand over our land to JSW Steel Limited. JSW Steel Limited is a part of the Sajjan Jindal controlled JSW Group. The Odisha government is helping the corporate forces avoid direct confrontation with land losers by floating land bank through Industrial Development Corporation of Odisha (IDCO) – an unconstitutional body designed to promote ruthless land grabbing in the interests of private corporate interests.

Govt approves Rs 5,369 cr waterway project on NW 1
MoneyControl
The government has approved the Rs 5,369-crore Jal Vikas Marg Project (JVMP) for enhanced navigation on the Haldia-Varanasi stretch of National Waterway-1 (NW-1).Based on the findings of this study, a proposal for development of NW-1 at an estimated cost of Rs 4,200 crore (USD 700 million) was taken up for seeking technical assistance and investment support from the World Bank to the tune of USD 350 million in three phases.

WORLD

Oceans suffocating as huge dead zones quadruple since 1950, scientists warn
The Guardian
Ocean dead zones with zero oxygen have quadrupled in size since 1950, scientists have warned, while the numbers of very low oxygen sites near coasts have multiplied tenfold. Most sea creatures cannot survive in these zones and current trends would lead to mass extinction in the long run, risking dire consequences for the hundreds of millions of people who depend on the sea. Climate change caused by fossil fuel burning is the cause of the large-scale deoxygenation, as warmer waters hold less oxygen. The coastal dead zones result from fertiliser and sewage running off the land and into the seas.

Coral reef bleaching ‘the new normal’ and a fatal threat to ecosystems
The Guardian
In a study published in the journal Science, the researchers revealed a “dramatic shortening” of the time between bleaching events was “threatening the future existence of these iconic ecosystems and the livelihoods of many millions of people”. The study examined 100 tropical reef locations across the world, analysing existing data on coral bleaching events as well as new field research conducted on the Great Barrier Reef after the longest and worst case of bleaching caused by climate change killed almost 25% of the coral.

2017 was the hottest year on record without an El Niño, thanks to global warming
The Guardian
In fact, 2017 was the hottest year without an El Niño by a wide margin – a whopping 0.17°C hotter than 2014, which previously held that record. Remarkably, 2017 was also hotter than 2015, which at the time was by far the hottest year on record thanks in part to a strong El Niño event that year.

China’s plan to stop recycling the world’s rubbish may backfire
New Scientist
China’s ban on waste imports is threatening to cause global panic, because the nation is the world’s largest recycler of scrap metals, plastic and paper. It’s not that we weren’t warned. Last July, China declared that it was no longer willing to accept yang laji, or “foreign garbage“, from 1 January 2018. It notified the World Trade Organization (WTO) of its plan to ban the import of 24 types of scrap, including plastics for recycling, waste textile materials and all unsorted waste paper — basically the sort of paper that accumulates in household bins.

17 Ways the Trump Administration Assaulted the Environment Over the Holidays
EcoWatch
While visions of sugarplums danced in some of our heads, the Trump administration had a different vision—of a country unbound by rules that protect people, places, wildlife and the climate. Over the past two weeks, the administration has proposed or finalized changes to how the government and the industries it regulates respond to climate change, migratory birds, clean energy, pesticides and toxic chemicals

3D maps show famous landmarks swamped by sea-level rise
Yale Climate Connections
A report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration finds that if emissions of carbon pollution continue unchecked throughout this century, this extreme scenario is possible. To help people imagine what it would look like locally, the nonprofit Climate Central created an overlay for Google Earth’s 3D maps. Users can zoom in and see renderings of flooded neighborhoods and streets.

Is this the future? Dutch plan vast windfarm island in North Sea
The Guardian
The radical proposal envisages an island being built to act as a hub for vast offshore windfarms that would eclipse today’s facilities in scale. Dogger Bank, 125km (78 miles) off the East Yorkshire coast, has been identified as a potentially windy and shallow site. The power hub would send electricity over a long-distance cable to the UK and Netherlands, and possibly later to Belgium, Germany, and Denmark.

New highways in remote Amazon risk ‘ethnocide’, say Peruvians
The Guardian
Indigenous federations and other Peruvians have responded fiercely to a proposed law promoting the construction of highways in some of the remotest parts of the Peruvian Amazon near the border with Brazil. A series of “protected natural areas”, including four national parks, and five reserves for indigenous peoples living in “isolation” could ultimately be impacted.

Keep global warming under 1.5C or ‘quarter of planet could become arid’
The Guardian
More than a quarter of the planet’s surface could become significantly drier if global temperatures rise 2C above pre-industrial levels, scientists predict. The study, which is one of the most detailed assessments to date of future aridity, suggests that many regions could face an increased threat of drought and wildfires. Limiting global warming to under 1.5C would avoid extreme changes for two-thirds of these areas, the study suggested.

NASA’s satellite observations provide first direct evidence of ozone hole recovery
Down to Earth
In a first, scientists at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have shown through direct satellite observations that the levels of ozone-destroying chlorine are declining, thus, reducing the extent of ozone depletion. The scientists, based on the measurements from NASA’s Aura satellite, studied the chlorine concentration within the Antarctic ozone hole over the last several years.

Asiatic Cheetahs are fast becoming extinct; less than 50 alive
Down to Earth
Asiatic Cheetahs are under threat of extinction as the Phase II of the conservation project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) draws to a close. Conservationists warn that the species will soon be extinct if necessary steps aren’t taken for its conservation as less than 50 Asiatic cheetahs exist currently. The UNDP announced that the organisation would not be extending its support for the Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah Project after December and said that Iran should now run the project single-handedly.

The West must pay for its external water footprints: expert
Down to Earth
Developing countries are mostly water-stressed, but ironically, they are also using significant amount of their water to grow food to be imported to developed countries. Water-intensive production is further worsening water shortages in the developing world. According to Roger Falconer, professor of Water Management at Cardiff University, UK, we must take into account how our water footprint is affecting the rest of the world.

 

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