HIGHLIGHTS: *Extreme Rainfall Events in India Related to Human-made Emissions *Journalist investigating illegal sand mining killed * India Produces 100 Billionth Unit of Renewable Energy in a Year *’Extreme’ fossil fuel investments have surged under Donald Trump *China Has Met Its 2020 Carbon Target Three Years Early *Saudi Arabia Planning World’s Biggest Solar Panel Installation
Extreme Rainfall Events in India Related to Human-made Emissions
A new study says extreme rainfall events are on the rise in India and attributes the trend to human-made emissions, what scientists call anthropogenic warming. Not just this, the trend is likely to become more prominent by mid-century, particularly in southern and central India. While previous studies have shown a rising trend of extreme rainfall events, this study has sought to link it with anthropogenic emissions. Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar (IITGn), used historical datasets about daily rainfall and temperature from about 7000 meteorological stations of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), converted it into grids of one-degree spatial resolution.
Why India’s CO2 emissions grew strongly in 2017
India’s CO2 emissions grew by an estimated 4.6% in 2017, despite a turbulent year for its economy. With India being the world’s fourth largest emitter of CO2, it is important to understand what the country’s emissions are currently and where they might be headed. Given India’s early stage of economic development, low per-capita emissions and its large population, there is significant scope for its emissions to increase.
Ecologists red-flag bid to have PPP in forest care
The Times of India
Ecologists and forest rights experts have raised an alarm over the call for “public-private participation (PPP)” for afforestation activities in degraded forest lands in the draft national forest policy 2018 released recently. The environment ministry’s bid to “produce quality timber with scientific interventions” in underutilised forests may spell doom both for conservation and rights of forest dwellers believe ecologists, basing their opinion on “disastrous experiences” of similar attempts in the past.
Gujarat Water Crisis: Why Narmada’s Water Levels Are Low This Year
After inaugurating it in September 2017, the government highlighted the potential of the the Sardar Sarovar dam to irrigate almost 1.8 million hectares of agricultural land in Gujarat. Why then have the farmers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state been banned from drawing water from the Narmada river (starting 15 March), just six months after their hopes were raised by the PM? Did it happen because the “BJP used the water stocked in dams from last year’s monsoon to fill up Sabarmati, so that PM Narendra Modi can land his seaplane” and “light a diya in Rajkot’s Aji dam” prior to the 2017 Gujarat elections? Or was it because of deficient rainfall in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, which reduced the share of water Gujarat would get?
‘Decision to expand Chennai’s city limits defies all principles of planning,’ say experts
Chennai’s city limits are set to expand by over 7,000 sq km. On January 22, the Tamil Nadu government issued a notification bringing 1,709 villages of the neighbouring districts of Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Vellore under the Chennai Metropolitan Development Area. This will take the city’s area from 1,189 sq km to over 8,878 sq km. The urban development department’s notification raised several concerns among urban planners and civic groups in the city about the feasibility of the plan, its actual purpose and the environmental implications of such an expansion on the areas that will be subsumed into Chennai’s city limits.
Madhya Pradesh: Journalist investigating illegal sand mining cases run over by dumper in Bhind
A journalist investigating illegal sand mining cases in Madhya Pradesh’s Bhind district died after a dumper ran over him on Monday, ANI reported. Sandeep Sharma, working for a national TV news channel, had approached the police claiming there was an immediate threat to his life after he had accused a police officer of being involved with the sand mafia, The Times of India reported. The police officer was transferred after the TV channel aired an audio conversation involving him.
IITs find out: Lung cancer risk high for people near Delhi roads
The Indian Express
Living close to main roads in New Delhi may increase chances of “lung cancer mortality” due to the inhalation of particulate matter that contains trace elements such as chromium and nickel, a new study published in March has found. According to the study, the excess cancer risk (ECR) through trace elements in the air was calculated to be “13-16 times higher than the safe limit for children,” and in the “tolerable limit” for adults.
Delhi’s Odd-Even Scheme Led to Hike in Emissions, Not Drop: Study
The conclusions of a new research study, published in the journal Current Science on March 25, suggest that the rule led to a rise in vehicular emissions, not drop. Specifically, the study found that there was a significant increase in the median concentration of gases measured from air samples as chemical tracers for emissions. The study was conducted by researchers from the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the India Meteorological Department, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Mohali.
Sewage chokes Hyderabad groundwater, spewing nalas recharge 90% table
The Times of India
Researchers who studied water balance equation for Hyderabad found that nine out of 10 litres of water that trickles into groundwater table is not contributed by precipitation (rainfall). It means for every litre of rainwater that seeps in , nine litres of municipal and industrial waste water percolates into groundwater table. Water leaking from underground water pipelines of Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (HMWSSB) also contributes to groundwater table. While this source of water is minimal, major contribution to groundwater table comes from open nalas and polluted lakes, besides the contaminated river Musi. The researchers found that net urban recharge component of groundwater was 568mm per year, but only 53mm per year was through natural (rainwater) recharge. (Also read: 1) Maharashtra Pollution Control Board to watch sewage plants in big societies 2) Bathing in Ganga can expose people to high levels of faecal coliform bacteria)
Gujarat: 50 farmers detained as they protest against proposed coal plant in Bhavnagar district
More than 50 farmers were detained on Sunday in Gujarat as they protested against a government company taking over 3,000 acres of land in Bhavnagar district for a proposed brown coal plant. Ten farmers also suffered injuries as the police fired tear gas shells to control the crowd, reported DNA. The incident took place at Baandi village where scores of people gathered. The state administration had deployed 700 police personnel. “[The] police had to charge batons and use tear gas shells to control the crowd,” Superintendent of Police Pravin Mal told DNA. (Also read: “Model” Gujarat worst paymaster to rural workers: Has highest gap between NREGA wage and minimum wage rate)
Record Set as India Produces 100 Billionth Unit of Renewable Energy in a Year
Recently, India achieved a renewable energy milestone. Somewhere in the country, a solar panel, a wind turbine or possibly a small hydro plant pushed the country’s renewable generation past one lakh gigawatt hours (GWh) in a single year for the first time. The Central Electricity Authority reported 93,207 GWh of renewable electricity up to the end of February, and the more updated daily data from POSOCO’s National Load Despatch Centre showed that a further 6,832 GWh had been generated by the end of Thursday, March 29, to push the total over the 100,000 GWh line in FY 2017-18 with two days to spare. (Related: 1) Surat becomes first district to have 100% solar powered health centres 2) Chhattisgarh bags award in Renewable Energy segment)
How inaccurate weather forecasts are adding to farmers’ woes in Maharashtra
Down to Earth
“IMD bulletins are changing their forecast too fast for the farmers to respond. The farmers rely on IMD forecasts, even though they are not always accurate, but these sudden changes in advisories make it difficult for poor farmers to adapt to those changes. Moreover, their advisories and very generic, lacking district-level specifications, which do not help farmers in their preparedness,” says Akshay Deoras, an independent weather forecaster. In one of the latest examples of such swift change in weather advisories and sudden u-turn in predictions made, the IMD, on March 4, forecast thunderstorms and hailstorms at “isolated places” of North Madhya Maharashtra and Vidarbha on March 7 and 8. However, the bulletin issued today at 1 PM has removed all the warnings of hailstorms and thunderstorms in Maharashtra.
Adani Group got 5 cr sq mt land for Rs 2-34/sq mt in Mundra
The Adani Group was allotted more than 5 crore sq mt land for its Special Economic Zone in Mundra for price ranging between Rs 2 and Rs 34 per sq mt, the state government said in the assembly on Tuesday. The information was provided in a written reply by revenue minister Kaushik Patel to a question by Congress MLA from Danilimda seat Shailesh Parmar, who had sought to know if any fallow land owned by the government in Mundra and Mandvi talukas of Kutch was allotted for the Mundra Special Economic Zone project.
Newly-built Malsisar dam in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu suffers damage, nearby villages flooded
The ambitious Kumbharam Arya Lift Canal Project, which was set to provide water to hundreds of villages in Jhunjhunu and its adjoining districts in Rajasthan, suffered a setback today as water breached the dam built at Malsisar town and flooded nearby villages. Water has surrounded the Malsisar town, but there is no loss of life reported, local authorities said. The tehsil bhawan, police station and other official buildings are surrounded by water. The pumping station and other buildings associated with the project too have suffered damage.
Questions over lease extension to iron ore miner in Odisha
The Economic Times
Hrithik Roshan dances at an infant’s birthday bash and Priyanka Chopra drops in at a wedding for this family which has made big money from iron ore but has also been dogged by controversies — latest being the state’s opposition questioning how Serajuddin and Co’s lease for a giant iron ore mine was extended. Despite the glitter, glamour and wealth, the mining company has generally kept away from public spotlight, but like many miners in the state it has faced intense regulatory and judicial scrutiny in the course of its meteoric rise.
Meet the 2018 Zayed Future Energy Prize winners, among them SELCO Foundation from India
The Zayed Future Energy Prize winners were announced on Monday during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. The winners included five schools who were chosen from a shortlist of 15, and Selco Foundation, based in India.The Selco Foundation works to improve quality of life and increase incomes for the poor. It encourages disruptive ideas and decentralised energy solutions that can be developed and replicated around the world. The foundation’s philosophy is that technology, finance and social aspects must be combined to demonstrate the link between environmental sustainability and poverty alleviation.
Olive Ridley Turtles Make a Comeback on Mumbai’s Versova Beach
On March 21, about 80 olive ridley turtle hatchlings beelined from the Versova beach in Mumbai towards the Arabian Sea. According to anecdotal accounts, it is the first sighting of olive ridleys in Versova after 12-15 years. This event in India’s financial capital is now being tied to a recent beach cleaning campaign. Versova is one of the most polluted beaches in Mumbai. Troubled by the mounting debris on the shore, Afroz Shah, a lawyer, launched a citizen-based weekend clean-up program in 2015. Shah and his team have since cleared about 5 million kilograms of debris from a 2.7 km shoreline.
Speciality rice varieties of Kerala are storehouse of nutrition: study
Down to Earth
Rice is a staple food for millions of Indians. It can also be a vital source of nutrition and health-benefiting substances if some of the nutritious varieties of rice traditionally grown can be popularised and polishing is kept to a minimum, a new study of diverse rice varieties done in Kerala has concluded. Kerala is home to a number of speciality rice varieties such as Pokkali, a saltwater-tolerant organic rice having medicinal properties and special taste; Jeerakasala and Gandhakasala (scented rice varieties); Black Njavara and Golden Njavara (medicinal rice varieties extensively used in the Ayurveda).
New hydrogel to help drought-hit crops
India Water Portal
Scientists have developed a hydrogel from the gum of guar (cluster bean) that can increase soil moisture and help farmers save their crops in case of water scarcity. Hydrogels are a network of polymers that can hold a large amount of water and are extensively used in diapers and sanitary napkins. Synthetic hydrogels are, however, not readily biodegradable and their degradation products are considered to be hazardous for the environment. “The Guar gum-based hydrogel is biodegradable. Besides increasing moisture content, it adds organic content to the soil upon degradation,” explained Nandkishore Thombare, a scientist at Ranchi-based Indian Institute of Natural Resins and Gums and a member of the research team.
Study finds flooding in polluted rivers has the potential to make groundwater unsafe
India Water Portal
In December of 2015, when Chennai was flooded and people were marooned, a team of scientists from Anna University was collecting groundwater samples along the Adyar river to investigate if the groundwater in this region was fit for human consumption. Researchers collected water samples from 17 locations in December 2015 and April 2016, that is, during and after floods. They tested the samples for salt and heavy metal concentration, microbial load and their susceptibility to available antibiotics. The results showed that heavy metal and microbial load in groundwater samples was high.
Land degradation threatens human wellbeing, major report warns
Land degradation is undermining the wellbeing of two-fifths of humanity, raising the risks of migration and conflict, according to the most comprehensive global assessment of the problem to date. The UN-backed report underscores the urgent need for consumers, companies and governments to rein in excessive consumption – particularly of beef – and for farmers to draw back from conversions of forests and wetlands, according to the authors. With more than 3.2 billion people affected, this is already one of the world’s biggest environmental problems and it will worsen without rapid remedial action, according to Robert Scholes, co-chair of the assessment by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). (Related: 1) The Sahara, the world’s largest desert, has grown even larger due to climate change 2) ‘Extreme’ Iceberg Seasons Threaten Oil Rigs and Shipping as the Arctic Warms)
‘Extreme’ fossil fuel investments have surged under Donald Trump, report reveals
Bank holdings in “extreme” fossil fuels skyrocketed globally to $115bn during Donald Trump’s first year as US president, with holdings in tar sands oil more than doubling, a new report has found. A sharp flight from fossil fuels investments after the Paris agreement was reversed last year with a return to energy sources dubbed “extreme” because of their contribution to global emissions. This included an 11% hike in funding for carbon-heavy tar sands, as well as Arctic and ultra-deepwater oil and coal. (Related: 1) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accused of urging staff to downplay climate change after memo leaks 2) Environmental Groups Sue EPA Over Rule Change That Could Quadruple Toxic Emissions)
Boston Judge Acquits 13 Pipeline Protesters in Groundbreaking Decision
A Boston judge on Tuesday sided with 13 climate activists who were arrested for protesting the West Roxbury Mass Lateral Pipeline. Judge Mary Ann Driscoll of West Roxbury District Court decided it was necessary for the protestors to engage in civil disobedience to block the construction of Spectra Energy’s high-pressure fracked gas pipeline and acquitted the activists of civil infractions, according to media reports. The judge made the decision after hearing each defendant’s testimony. They argued the threat of climate change necessitated their civil disobedience. (Also read: 1) Court Tosses Exxon’s ‘Implausible’ Lawsuit Seeking to Stop Climate Probe) 2) About half of Americans don’t think climate change will affect them — here’s why)
China Has Met Its 2020 Carbon Target Three Years Early
Yale Environment 360
China met its 2020 carbon intensity target — the amount of carbon dioxide it produces per unit of economic growth — three years ahead of schedule, according to the country’s top climate official, Xie Zhenhua. In 2017, China cut its carbon intensity by 46 percent from 2005 levels, a drop of 5.1 percent from the previous year, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. Xie announced the milestone at the country’s Green Carbon Summit on Monday. (Also read:
China ‘environment census’ reveals 50% rise in pollution sources)
Saudi Arabia Is Planning the World’s Biggest Solar Panel Installation
Saudi Arabia has announced that it would partner with Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank to build the world’s largest solar power project, Bloomberg reported. Except that “world’s largest” doesn’t quite cover of size of the project’s ambitions. According to Bloomberg, the project, which will be built in the Saudi desert, is projected to generate 100,000 jobs and produce 200 gigawatts of power by 2030, 100 times the next biggest planned project, the Solar Choice Bulli Creek PV Plant in Australia, which only aims to produce two. (Related: 1) Stunning drops in solar, wind costs mean economic case for coal, gas is ‘crumbling’ 2) Solar Surprise: Small-Scale Solar a Better Deal than Big)
Chemicals in daily use products cause as much pollution as vehicles: study
Down to Earth
Although vehicular pollution is considered a major source of air pollution in cities around the world, a recent study shows that the source of ambient air pollution in urban spaces has shifted to other Volatile Chemical Products (VCPs), or everyday products, such as pesticides, coatings, printing inks, adhesives, cleaning agents and personal care. They contain organic solvents which are major sources of pollutants called Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). Pollution from chemical products used indoors is usually more dangerous than outdoor pollution, according to the study conducted by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
As Oceans Warm, the World’s Kelp Forests Begin to Disappear
Yale Environment 360
Today, more than 95 percent of eastern Tasmania’s kelp forests — luxuriant marine environments that provide food and shelter for species at all levels of the food web — are gone. With the water still warming rapidly and the long-spine urchin spreading southward in the favorable conditions, researchers see little hope of saving the vanishing ecosystem. The Tasmanian saga is just one of many examples of how climate change and other environmental shifts are driving worldwide losses of giant kelp, a brown algae whose strands can grow to 100 feet. (Related: 1) Fish stocks in Asia-Pacific to be over by 2048 2) Greenland Ice Sheet Melting Doubled Over The Last Century)
World lost 87 per cent wetlands in 300 years
Down to Earth
The world has lost 87 per cent of its wetlands in the past 300 years, says a study on land degradation released at the sixth plenary session of Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in Colombia on Monday (March 26). The estimated economic cost of biodiversity and ecosystem services lost because of land degradation is more than 10 per cent of annual global gross product. “The negative impacts are affecting at least 3.2 billion people,” says Robert Scholes, co-chair from South Africa.
New Science Shows Bee-Killing Pesticides Are Unnecessary on Most Farms
Neonics have also made national headlines because of their impact on the ecosystems in which they’re used. They are now firmly established as causing widespread harm to a range of organisms, including the bees that produce our honey and pollinate our fruits and vegetables, the insects that protect our crops from pests, birds, and a range of aquatic life that provide food for fish. A new study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research, shows that, in fact, only a small fraction of corn acres need neonic seed treatments. (Related: 1) 40,000-acre U.S. farm goes organic 2) Herbicide Found in Urine of Pregnant Women Linked with Shorter Pregnancies)
Global increase and geographic convergence in antibiotic consumption between 2000 and 2015
India Environment Portal
Antibiotic use more than doubled in India between 2000 and 2015, fuelling antibiotic resistance that is making common infections such as E.coli, strep throat, pneumonia and tuberculosis more difficult to treat, according to this new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), in the United States. Antibiotic resistance, driven by antibiotic consumption, is a growing global health threat.
‘We want to repower NSW’: thousands rally against coal in Sydney
Exactly a year out from the state election, thousands of people from across New South Wales – including some on horseback – have marched through Sydney, calling for an end to coal seam gas and coal mining and a renewed focus on renewables. The “Time to Choose” rally, which began at Martin Place, marched to Prince Alfred Park in the city’s south stretching almost 2km along a partially closed Elizabeth Street. (Also read: Minister cites climate change in rejection of opencast coal mine)
Texas sinkholes: oil and gas drilling increases threat, scientists warn
Oil and gas activity is contributing to alarming land movements and a rising threat of sinkholes across a huge swath of west Texas, a new study suggests. According to geophysicists from Southern Methodist University, the ground is rising and falling in a region that has been “punctured like a pin cushion with oil wells and injection wells since the 1940s”. There were nearly 297,000 oil wells in Texas as of last month, according to the state regulator. Many are in the Permian Basin, described in a Bloomberg article last September as the “world’s hottest oil patch”.
Cash-Strapped U.S. Towns Are Un-Paving Roads They Can’t Afford to Fix
In an era of dismal infrastructure spending, where the American Society of Civil Engineers gives the country’s roads a D grade, rural areas all over the country are embracing this kind of strategic retreat. Transportation agencies in at least 27 states have unpaved roads, according to a new report from the National Highway Cooperative Highway Research program. They’ve done the bulk of that work in the past five years.
Missouri River lawsuit verdict may set precedent
Nebraska City News-Press
A 259-page ruling by U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Nancy Firestone, unsealed on Tuesday, March 13, could set precedent for determining legal responsibility for flood events. The verdict for a case tied to the flooding of the Missouri River in 2011 determined that the flood event was the fault of the government, i.e. the Army Corps of Engineers. In addition to the potential receipt of damages, plaintiffs are also hoping that the ruling will lead to a re-priorizing of Missouri River management decisions such that river flood events will be lessened in frequency and intensity.