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USAID, Monsanto and the real reason behind Delhi’s horrific smoke season

The Delhi metropolitan area has one of the highest concentrations of population in the world, and suffocating the people of the area on an annual basis should be treated as a crime against humanity, especially when it can be controlled. Arvind Kumar writes on the connection between USAID, Monsanto and Delhi’s annual air pollution spike.

‘We’re facing a conspiracy of silence’: Sunita Narain

Sunita Narain, India’s best-known environmentalist, says the environment challenges we confront-like Delhi’s extreme air pollution-are progenies of “a conspiracy of silence”. “It is a conspiracy because you don’t want the people to know (the harmful effects of environmental pollution),” says Narain, whose new book “Conflicts of Interest” gives a personal account of her green battles.

Spotlight: Is ‘petcoke’ the hidden villain in Delhi’s pollution crisis?

Delhi’s killer smog has been blamed on many things, but rarely on highly polluting industrial fuels like petcoke. India is the world’s biggest importer of this dirtiest of fuels, banned in most countries. Last month, the Supreme Court banned it in the NCR; but given the big players involved, who will ensure the ban’s implemented?

Carbon: A Hindi short film set in 2067

The short film Carbon focuses on global warming and takes a look at what the future could hold for us if we don’t act today. The Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Prachi Desai and Jackky Bhagnani starrer deals with serious environmental issues like Global Warming & pollution and their impact on our world. Watch the full movie here.

Spotlight: China’s communist-capitalist ecological apocalypse

From Truthout.org: This superbly researched 2015 paper explains why China’s unfolding environmental crisis is so horrific, so much worse than “normal” capitalism almost everywhere else, and why the government is incapable of suppressing pollution even from its own industries. It should serve as a warning for India, whose official policies increasingly mimic the ‘China model’.

Ground Report: India’s slow but sure shift away from coal

Keith Schneider writes: It is almost impossible for a single place to embody the full array of emerging factors around climate, carbon, water, finance, culture and cleaner technology that have utterly changed how India and the world view the value and risks of coal. But if such a place exists, it’s Vilambur in Tamil Nadu.

Historic verdict in Indonesia’s fight against deforestation

From Friends of the Earth: The 2015 Indonesian forest fires, started by farmers and palm-oil companies to clear land for plantation, lasted for months and caused massive air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, at one point releasing more carbon dioxide than the entire U.S. economy, and causing an estimated 100,000 premature deaths in the region.

Warning: living in a city could seriously damage your health

Florence Williams writes: Unfortunately for city dwellers, the closer we live to roads, the higher our risk of autism, stroke and cognitive decline in ageing, although the exact reasons haven’t been teased out. Scientists suspect it has something to do with fine particles causing tissue inflammation and altering gene expression in the brain’s immune cells.

Darryl D’Monte: Does India’s refusal to tackle air pollution amount to genocide?

There were 1.1 million premature deaths in India due to long-term exposure to pollutants. While China registered slightly higher figures, it has now acted against this hazard—the situation in India, in contrast, is getting worse. The highest number of premature deaths globally due to ozone is also in India. Might all this qualify as genocide?

Take a deep breath – here’s what 2016 revealed about the deadly dangers of air pollution

Gary Haq writes: The health impacts of air pollution are well documented; but now, new evidence suggests a link between air pollution and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, with exposure to poor air quality equivalent to passively smoking six cigarettes a day. Toxic air has been blamed for more road traffic crashes from pollutants distracting drivers.

Power plants are making thousands go blind in Chhattisgarh

Catch News reports: Chhattisgarh’s Janjgir-Champa region, once famous for paddy cultivation, is now emerging as the state’s power hub with several power plants coming up in the area during the recent years. While fuelling the state’s economic growth, dust and ash emitted from these power plants are turning thousands of local people blind from cataract.

Air pollution could have killed 600,000 Indians in 2012, says WHO study

The Hindu reports: Air pollution could have killed at least 600,000 Indians in 2012, worldwide because they were exposed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) that may have aggravated or been directly responsible for cardiovascular diseases and lung cancer according to the WHO. India comes just behind China–which witnessed an estimated 800,000 deaths, says the study.

India now among the world’s top ten most polluted countries

According to new data from the World Health Organization, India now ranks in the top ten of the top 50 most polluted countries on earth, although it does rank better than many of its closest neighbors. Meanwhile, data from NASA show parts of the Indo-Gangetic plain to be some of the planet’s most polluted places.

Collision course: The incompatibility of India’s coal and renewable strategies

CoalSwarm’s new report details how India has a total of 243 GW of coal plants under development, threatening to derail its renewable energy ambitions, leading to either locked-out renewables or stranded coal plants. It would push the country towards more expensive and underutilized coal plants at the expense of lower cost and cleaner renewable energy.

No thanks to the govt, but coal may be on its way out in India anyway

The Centre’s recent directive to state-owned power generation firms to stop coal imports and instead buy domestic coal, saw skeptical voices warning against seeing it as a sign of new commitment to reduce coal consumption. However, there’s good reason to the hope that India may be moving away from coal, irrespective of the government’s intent.

Report card: Environmental governance under NDA government

Two years of NDA government have meant a mixed bag for environmental governance in India, according to a performance review by the non-profit Centre for Science and Environment, While there was commendable progress on pollution control and waste management, forest governance took on a more industry-centric approach and the Paris Agreement was a missed opportunity.

The hidden connection between air pollution and heat spikes: India’s lethal double bind

India has an extreme air pollution problem, which kills up to 400,000 people every year. This pollution, made up of fine particles called aerosols, also has the effect of cooling the local climate by reflecting or absorbing sunlight before it reaches the ground. It is feasible that India’s pollution problem has been “hiding” extreme heat spikes.

What other cities can learn from Delhi’s experiments with public transport

Sonal Shah writes: Cities have concentrated on bettering vehicle and fuel technologies and building bus rapid transit or metro rail systems. However, they need to focus on managing demand, augmenting their bus transport systems, improving last mile connectivity and enabling compact development. This will shift people towards non-motorised and public transport and avoid motorised trips.

NEWS UPDATE #87

The Guardian reports: According to a new NASA study, the average global surface temperature in February was 1.35C warmer than the average temperature for the month between 1951-1980, a far bigger margin than ever seen before. The unprecedented leap led scientists, usually wary, to label the new record a “shocker” and warn of a “climate emergency”.

NEWS UPDATE #85

Sukumar Muralidharan reports on Catch News: This year’s economic survey is a catalogue of crises. For one thing, it records that the situation in agriculture has been dismal on account of two successive years of poor monsoons. This is only the fourth time in 115 years that such a misfortune has hit the Indian economy.

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