HIGHLIGHTS: *Arunachal, Assam and Sikkim battle deluge *SC order a fresh lease of life for Aravallis *First pre-event study finds climate change fingerprints all over Hurricane Florence *‘Direct existential threat’ of climate change nears point of no return: UN *Global hunger on rise, climate change to blame: UN *Air pollution particles found in mothers’ placentas
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Four Killed in Arunachal Floods; Assam, Sikkim Also Battle Deluge
The number of people killed due to flash floods in Arunachal Pradesh reached four on Saturday, 15 September, after another body was recovered from Assam. Two others are still missing, an official told PTI. The flash flood has also claimed three other lives, while two persons have been missing. Dhawan added that five teams of NDRF and four from SDRF were undertaking search and rescue operation since morning to trace the two missing persons. The northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Assam have been reeling under floods since the past couple of days, leading to several deaths and large-scale devastation.
UN joins hands with Kerala government for post-disaster planning
The New Indian Express
For the first time in the country, the United Nations will join hands with the state government for Post Disaster Need Assessment (PDNA). The 45-member UN team will associate with a 60-70-member state team, drawn from all sectors and departments, to develop the PDNA, a top bureaucrat told Express. Immediately after the PDNA documentation, another recovery and reconstruction plan will be developed based on UN’s Build Back Better plan (or BBB plan). To implement the project, an organisation will be created, which will have the Chief Minister as chairman and a senior bureaucrat with proven track record as CEO. (Also read: Mapping soil loss in disaster-prone Uttarakhand)
Government to rope in NIUA to look into causes of urban flooding
The Indian Express
In the wake of the recent floods in Kerala, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs is set to rope in the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) to chalk out ways in which the ministry can take charge of prevention and mitigation of floods in Indian towns and cities. Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told The Indian Express, “We will ask the NIUA to put together facts on the recent floods, be it in Kerala or Kashmir, and hold talks with experts to look at the causation. We will begin with urban flooding for now and later look at disaster management in all kinds of urban areas.” (Related: Scientists from IITs and central institutions to study climate change impact on Kerala)
With Climb In UN Human Development Index, India Also Gets A Warning
India loses a quarter of its human development value due to inequality, UNDP country head Francine Pickup said over India’s ranking of 130 in the human development index. Noting that despite overall progress, women continue to be deprived of healthy life, knowledge and a decent standard of living, Ms Pickup said given the current rate of progress globally, women will have to wait “more than 200 years to achieve equality in workforce” India climbed one spot to 130 out of 189 countries in the latest human development rankings released Friday by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Supreme Court to 57 power plants: Clean up act within 28 months
The Times of India
NAGPUR: Fifty-seven units of the Centre-owned thermal power plants in the country have been given a deadline of 28 months to meet the emission norms for sulphur oxide and particulate matter. These plants are based in dense and ‘critically polluted areas’.
During a recent hearing on a matter related to extension of deadline for implementing emission standards as part of the MC Mehta case, the Centre informed the Supreme Court that 57 units with an installed capacity of 500 megawatt (MW) will comply with the emission standards for the two pollutants by December 31, 2021. Out of these, 48 units are owned by central power major National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) while nine are owned by Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC). (Related: Central Pollution Control Board pushes for broader adoption of emissions monitoring systems)
Gujarat Govt’s ‘High-powered’ Plan to Bail out Adani, Tata, Essar’s Stranded Power Projects
A draft report prepared by a high-powered committee appointed by the government of Gujarat has come up with a plan to rescue stranded power projects in the state run by the Adani, Essar and Tata groups. While there have been news reports indicating what the report may recommend, Newsclick has obtained a draft copy of the entire report, which we are placing in the public domain. The three-member committee was set up by the Gujarat government on July 3, 2018 to find solutions for the three thermal power plants located in the state that were in financial dire straits. (Also read: When steel turned into gold for Tata, Vedanta, ArcelorMittal: How IBC converted NPA volcanoes into gold mines)
Supreme Court order a fresh lease of life for Aravallis
The Supreme Court’s clear ruling in the Kant Enclave case on Tuesday that land notified under the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA),1900, should be treated as forest and forest land has given a much-needed boost to the preservation of the vulnerable Aravalli mountain range. The apex court judgment may also have wide ramifications on residential complexes, farm houses and marriage lawns that have come up in the Faridabad-Gurugram belt of Aravallis.
Tamil Nadu has filed 133 cases against this man as part of its crackdown on anti-Sterlite protests
M Rajkumar, 32, an administrative assistant at a private hospital in coastal Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi town, was hard at work last week updating financial records. He had to make up for lost time. It had been only a month since he returned to his job after spending 45 days in jail. Rajkumar was arrested on June 14 for participating in protests against the expansion of a Sterlite copper smelter on the edge of the town, which residents feared would greatly increase pollution levels. He was booked in an astonishing 133 cases, mostly for destruction of property. (Related: Tamil Nadu is silencing anti-Sterlite protests by forcing hundreds of people to exit WhatsApp groups)
Fast-Tracked TN Road Plan That Stalled Older, Green-Lit Project Smells of Cronyism
Documents unearthed through RTI petitions provide fresh basis to prevailing suspicion of underlying irregularities and vested interests behind the police muscle being deployed to facilitate the controversial eight-lane Chennai-Salem expressway. The documents reveal that the Centre has arbitrarily inserted the Rs-7,200-crore project into the prestigious Bharatmala scheme even as it has abandoned the Chennai-Madurai corridor, which the scheme claims had been identified in a “scientific manner”, after rigorous study. (Also read: Why no action on illegal extraction of groundwater, Madras HC asks collectors)
A historic judgement by the Supreme Court on elephant corridors
Down to Earth
Last month, the Supreme Court (SC) did something extraordinary. On August 9, in response to a Public Interest Litigation, it directed the Tamil Nadu government to seal or close down 39 hotels and resorts constructed on an “elephant corridor” in the Nilgiri Hills in violation of law, within the next 48 hours. Justice Lokur, along with Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta also said elephants were the country’s “national heritage” and expressed displeasure about the encroachments. It was a historic judgement by the SC on India’s elephants. While they play a key role as a “Keystone Species” in the forest ecosystem and are termed as the “National Heritage Animal of India” by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the plight of the Indian Elephant is known to all. (Also read: 77km Katol-Wardha rly line to cut through Bor tiger reserve)
Rajasthan Quietly Given Extra Water By Bhakra Dam Board To Improve BJP’s Poll Prospects
The Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) diverted scarce water from the Bhakra and Pong reservoirs to poll-bound Rajasthan earlier this year, lowering their water levels to the dead-storage mark at a time of extreme shortage, HuffPost India has learnt. The water was released at a time when Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government was besieged by rampant farmer unrest. Interviews with government officials in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh indicate that BBMB officials released this water to Rajasthan without sanction, prompting the Haryana government to file a complaint. Some of this surplus water was allegedly released under the guise of maintenance work on a rarely used irrigation tunnel at Pong dam. (Also read: A disaster foretold: Bansagar Dam ready to create another flood disaster along Sone and Ganga)
Bullet train service to connect Kolkata in India to Kunming in China? Why China is pushing for the project
Imagine a bullet train between India and China! Recently, Chinese Consul-General Ma Zhanwu stated that his country, China, was mooting a bullet train service between Kunming and Kolkata, traversing through neighbouring countries Myanmar and Bangladesh. The Chinese Consul-General, at a conference in Kolkata, said that with joint efforts of both the countries, a high-speed rail link could be established between both the cities, Kunming and Kolkata. He also claimed that if the railway line becomes a reality, it will only take a few hours time to reach Kolkata from Kunming. (Also read: Airports Authority of India shelves water aerodrome project in Chilika Lake)
IIT Bombay wants to throw adivasis out of campus
Peru Baug is nestled between IIT Bombay and National Institute of Industrial Engineering in Powai. Over 267 adivasi families live in the IIT campus; around 180 of them are believed to have been living there long before the concrete foundations of IIT-B took root — since before 1935. Many of them, like Barap, do not know their age. Now IIT wants to build a new research centre and MMRDA has been tasked with the rehabilitation of the indigenous tribe. Arrangements have been made in Kurla. (Also read: 1) Over 600 Families Continue To Live In the Fear of Eviction Near Kaziranga National Park 2) Odisha govt lures industries via land banks, alienates people from commons)
60% pesticide poisoning patients were sans safety gear: Akola GMC
This takes the total number of patients to 327.Doctors at Yavatmal GMC, where so far 128 patients have been admitted, said nearly 90% of them are expected to be spraying without safety gear. The GMC at Yavtmal has also received patients from neighbouring Washim and Nanded districts. Around 15 patients have come from Nanded and 5-6 from Washim. This is probably because Yavatmal got all the attention after last year’s deaths and other areas were neglected.Majority of the persons were spraying pesticides on the cotton crop. (Also read: Notice to Gujarat Pollution Control Board over industrial pollution in Vapi)
One tree cut every hour over last 13 years, says Delhi govt data
On average, one tree has been felled in Delhi every hour over the past 13 years, according to data shared by the Delhi government on its website following directions from the Central Information Commission (CIC) and the Delhi high court. The disclosure comes amid concern over proposed cutting of thousands of more trees to make way for new neighbourhoods. The data shows that from 2005 to February 2018, a total of 112,169 trees have been cut — an average of 24 per day. The forest department’s data on the number of trees cut by various government agencies between 2005 and 2010 shows that the maximum number of trees were felled by Delhi government’s public works department (PWD), the main road-building agency of the city, followed by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) and the Railways.
Himachal Pradesh To Be First In India To Get Climate-Smart Agriculture
Himachal Pradesh is going to be the first state in India to get its climate-smart agriculture (CSA) profile done. Regional program leader of the Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Dr Pramod Aggarwal said that that they had collaborated with the World Bank to prepare CSA profiles of 20 countries and Himachal was chosen because it was a fairly progressive state with rich experience and depth in data through ongoing projects, which needed to be analyzed. (Also read: After NGT orders, Govt forms Special Task Force to check pollution in Ghaggar tributaries)
New mayfly find in Meghalaya signifies good river health
When mayflies come to a riverine system, it is an indication that it is not polluted. Being sensitive to pollution, they are mostly seen in the upper end of streams, rather than in rivers which travel down through the plains gathering dirt. Rongbu, Umkhen and Wankwar riverine streams in Meghalaya, a state situated in the eastern hills of Himalayas, are home to a newly discovered species of mayfly Choroterpes kaegies, which could mean that these watercourses are clean, according to a study done by the Zoological Survey of India. Mayflies are bioindicators of the water quality of a region, as previous studies from across the world have shown. (Also read: Ganga cleaning agency to spend Rs 3 crore to build its social media image)
Technology to convert waste plastic into fuel
The NIT-C and the FACT Engineering Design and Organisation (FEDO), the consultancy division of Kochi-based FACT Ltd, have inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the design and implementation of a pilot plant for converting waste plastic into energy. “We have already made a prototype. Nearly 89% of conversion is possible with this technology and the residue is equivalent to ash. Petrol is extracted from the plastic oil,” Lisa Sreejith, professor of chemistry, NIT-C, told The Hindu on Saturday. She said the FEDO would execute the project on the NIT-C campus within a year.
India’s first 205 tonne dump truck by BEML launched in Mysuru
The country’s first 205T Electric Drive Rear Dump Truck (BH205-E) – designed and developed at the Mysuru plant of Bharat Earth Movers Limited (BEML) – was flagged off here on Monday. A premier manufacturer of mining and construction equipments, BEML, a PSU under the Ministry of Defence, developed the gargantuan dump truck to reinforce the ‘Make in India’ initiative by addressing the growing demand for higher capacity equipments in the mining industry. The dump truck has been developed for use in the project of Northern Coalfields Limited (NCL), Singrauli.
First Pre-Event Study Finds Climate Change Fingerprints All Over Hurricane Florence
Climate Liability News
Climate change will likely help turn Hurricane Florence into a raging rain machine by dumping 50 percent more water than it would have without global warming, according to a study that for the first time has modeled climate change’s role in a hurricane before landfall. Human-driven global warming will also make Florence about 50 miles larger in diameter than it would be otherwise, said the analysis from Stony Brook University, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. (Related: Yet another El Niño on the anvil; could make 2018 one of the warmest on record)
‘Direct existential threat’ of climate change nears point of no return, warns UN chief
United Nations secretary general António Guterres has warned that the world is facing “a direct existential threat” and must rapidly shift from dependence on fossil fuels by 2020 to prevent “runaway climate change”. Guterres called the crisis urgent and decried the lack of global leadership to address global warming. “Climate change is moving faster than we are,” Guterres said on Monday. “We need to put the brake on deadly greenhouse gas emissions and drive climate action.” (Related: Methane release from Arctic permafrost found to be > doubled by unexpectedly abrupt thawing)
Global hunger on rise, climate change to blame: UN
The number of hungry people in the world is growing again, in large part due to climate change that is wreaking havoc on crop production in much of the developing world, the United Nations said on Tuesday. Major UN agencies said in an annual report that the number of hungry people facing chronic food deprivation increased to 821 million in 2017 from 804 million in 2016, reversing recent downward trends. South America and Africa showed the worst increase. “This message today should frighten the world,” said David Beasley, head of the World Food Programme. (Related: Rise in insect pests under climate change to hit crop yields, study says)
Air pollution particles found in mothers’ placentas
Scientists have found the first evidence that particles of air pollution travel through pregnant women’s lungs and lodge in their placentas. Toxic air is already strongly linked to harm in foetuses but how the damage is done is unknown. The new study, involving mothers living in London, UK, revealed sooty particles in the placentas of each of their babies and researchers say it is quite possible the particles entered the foetuses too. “It is a worrying problem – there is a massive association between air pollution a mother breathes in and the effect it has on the foetus,” said Dr Lisa Miyashita, at Queen Mary University of London, one of the research team.
EXPOSED: €58 billion in hidden subsidies for coal, gas and nuclear
Brussels – As EU leaders discuss the future of the EU electricity market, new research reveals how much money goes to supporting coal, gas and nuclear in the form of so-called capacity mechanisms. Almost €58 billion – 98% of these subsidies – is being added to energy bills to prop up coal, gas and nuclear plants, according to analysis and data gathered by Greenpeace. In the last twenty years, spending on capacity mechanisms across the EU has nearly quadrupled. Capacity mechanisms are a type of controversial subsidy given to coal, gas and nuclear plants, supposedly to ensure supply in case extra power is needed.
Russian Ministry Warns of Coming Environmental Apocalypse Fueled by Climate Change
Russia’s environmental ministry has published a report that paints an apocalyptic future for the country due to climate change, with consequences including epidemics, drought, mass flooding and hunger. While Russia has been slated to reap economic benefits from a modest rise in global temperatures — which are expected to open navigation in the Arctic and allow for more economic activity in the winter — the country has allocated an estimated 1.55 trillion rubles ($22 billion) on a new environmental program to promote air pollution reduction, reforestation and recycling.
EU climate law could cause ‘catastrophic’ deforestation
Senior climate scientists say that the world’s carbon sinks could be facing a grave threat from a wholly unexpected source: the EU’s renewable energy directive. The climate law could suck in as much imported wood as Europe harvests each year because it will count energy created from the burning of whole trees as “carbon neutral”, according to several academics including a former vice-chair of the UN IPCC. Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, who is now a climate sciences professor at Université Catholique de Louvain, said the risk of the directive encouraging tree clearances and the destruction of global carbon sinks was now “extremely high”.
US activists launch climate change initiatives in absence of federal leadership
America’s governors, mayors and CEOs are forging ahead with climate change initiatives despite the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and commitment to reviving the coal industry. But a report published today sets out a roadmap that could quicken that pace and cut carbon emissions to 24% below 2005 levels by 2025 in the absence of federal leadership. Many US states, cities and businesses have rallied around the Paris commitments since Donald Trump pulled out from the agreement in June 2017. (Related: California Gov. Jerry Brown casually unveils history’s most ambitious climate target)
Drought-stricken farmers challenge Australian government’s climate change stance in TV ad
“This drought has really hit our family hard,” says Longreach farmer Jody Brown. “Climate change is making the droughts more severe.” Those two sentences are the opening lines to a new advertisement challenging the federal government’s stance on climate change and the drought in Australia’s eastern states. The 30-second ad will begin airing on commercial channels this week and will be beamed into politically important suburban areas of Australia’s three largest capital cities during the NRL grand final on 30 September. (Related: 1) Australia on track to miss Paris climate targets as emissions hit record highs 2) State and federal investigation launched into Adani’s Carmichael water drilling)
Plastic pollution: Scientists identify two more potential ‘garbage patch’ zones in world’s oceans
An attempt to locate millions of tons of “missing” plastic in the world’s oceans has thrown up two locations that may contain enormous, previously unreported patches of debris. Plastic has risen to the top of the environmental agenda after scientists sounded the alarm about the potential impact it as having on marine life. Best estimates suggest 10 million tons of plastic are dumped in the sea every year. In reality the Pacific patch is one of at least five major accumulation zones, with others located in coastal regions around the Mediterranean and in Southeast Asia. (Related: Plastic is killing 40% of baby sea turtles: Hatchlings are four times more likely to be killed by ingesting the deadly material than their parents 2) Countries voice support for controlling plastic scrap in international trade treaty)
27 Cities Have Reached Peak Greenhouse Gas Emissions whilst Populations Increase and Economies Grow
27 of the world’s greatest cities, representing 54 million urban citizens and $6 trillion in GDP have peaked their greenhouse gas emissions. New analysis reveals that the cities have seen emissions fall over a 5 year period, and are now at least 10% lower than their peak. City Halls around the world have achieved this crucial milestone, whilst population numbers have increased and city economies have grown. These 27 cities have continued to decrease emissions by an average of 2% per year since their peak, while populations grew by 1.4% per year, and their economies by 3% per year on average. (Also read: BBC admits ‘we get climate change coverage wrong too often’)
The EU needs a stability and wellbeing pact, not more growth
238 academics call on the European Union and its member states to plan for a post-growth future in which human and ecological wellbeing is prioritised over GDP. “For the past seven decades, GDP growth has stood as the primary economic objective of European nations. But as our economies have grown, so has our negative impact on the environment. We are now exceeding the safe operating space for humanity on this planet, and there is no sign that economic activity is being decoupled from resource use or pollution at anything like the scale required. Today, solving social problems within European nations does not require more growth. It requires a fairer distribution of the income and wealth that we already have.” their statement reads.
Environmental Activists Halt Construction at Armenian Gold Mine
Throughout this summer, dozens of residents of Armenia’s Jermuk community and several other surrounding regions, including the villages of Gndevaz and Kechut, have been blocking all roads leading to the Amulsar mountain, a site targeted for gold mining to be operated by Lydian Armenia. The protesters began camping at the entrances to the mountain in late June, despite repeated urges and calls from new Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to unblock the roads while experts are deciding whether Lydian Armenia, a subsidiary of offshore-registered Lydian International, should be given the green light to go ahead with their planned gold mining operations.
Walmart Files Patent for Pollination Drones
With pollinators at risk and companies trying to maintain habitats for the bees which food plants rely on, Walmart is taking a different tack when it comes to human influence on the environment. According to Science Alert, the retail giant has filed a patent for robots that could fly like bees. These “unmanned vehicles” as the patent calls them, would host “a pollen applicator configured to collect pollen from a flower of a first crop and to apply the pollen collected from the flower of the first crop onto a flower of the second crop, and a sensor configured to detect presence of the pollen.” (Also read: Big Pharma’s pollution is creating deadly superbugs while the world looks the other way)
New Tree Species Discovered — and Declared Extinct
In 1951 a member of the Nigerian Forestry Service collected specimens of a rare tree in the highlands of northwestern Cameroon. It was soon identified as a member of the Vepris genus, a group of 80 or so large tree species that range throughout the African continent and the islands of Madagascar and Zanzibar. Unfortunately the specimens were incomplete, and full identification of the species was not, at the time, achieved. Now, nearly 70 years later, the species has been named — just in time to etch that name on its tombstone.
Burning Borderlands: Open-Source Monitoring of Conflict-caused Wildfires in Iraq
Iraq is on fire. Since late June, media has reported on wildfires in northern parts of Iraqi Kurdistan among the border with Turkey, along the border with Iran in the northeast and in the southeast of Iraq at the Hawizeh marshes, bordering Iran. A hazardous cocktail of climate change-induced increased summer heat, water shortages, military shelling of various armed groups operating in these areas combined with random human errors and spontaneous outbreaks left the earth scorched. This blog will provide a short open-source based overview based on media reporting on various locations in Iraq combined with the use of satellite imagery