Archive for the month “October, 2015”

News update

5 reasons why Tibets melting ice is a disaster for India, Europe and US
Nihar Gokhale, Catch News
Did you know that rivers originating in Tibets glaciers supply water to 1.3 billion people? Thats equivalent to the entire population of India. But these glaciers are fast disappearing due to global warming. Tibets sustainability is crucial for sustenance of the world, but this fact is not commonly known. The glaciers are just the tip of the iceberg.

The Gulf will soon be too hot for human beings – literally
Scroll.in
A study by Jeremy S Pal and Elfatih AB Eltahir of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology finds that human beings will not be able to survive in the Gulf just 65 years from now. Our results expose a specific regional hot spot where climate change, in the absence of significant mitigation, is likely to severely impact human habitability in the future, the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, said.

World set to use more energy for cooling than heating
The Guardian UK
The world faces a looming and potentially calamitous “cold crunch”, with demand for air conditioning and refrigeration growing so fast that it threatens to smash pledges and targets for global warming. Worldwide power consumption for air conditioning alone is forecast to surge 33-fold by 2100 as developing world incomes rise and urbanisation advances. Already, the US uses as much electricity to keep buildings cool as the whole of Africa uses on everything; China and India are fast catching up. By mid-century people will use more energy for cooling than heating (Also read: How America became addicted to air conditioning).

The Rapid and Startling Decline Of World’s Vast Boreal Forests
Jim Robbins, Yale Environment 360
Scientists are becoming increasingly concerned about the fate of the huge boreal forest that spans from Scandinavia to northern Canada. Unprecedented warming in the region is jeopardizing the future of a critical ecosystem that makes up nearly a third of the earth’s forest cover. (Also read: Why have thousands of trees dropped dead in New South Wales?)

How our energy problem leads to a debt collapse problem
Gail Tverberg
Usually, we don’t stop to think about how the whole economy works together. A major reason is that we have been lacking data to see long-term relationships. In this post, I show some longer-term time series relating to energy growth, GDP growth, and debt growth–going back to 1820 in some cases–that help us understand our situation better.

What happened to peak oil? The cycle of a meme and of its
Ugo Bardi
Unlike Nibiru or the E-Cat, peak oil is a serious concept, backed up by a lot of research. However, it didnt really get viral enough to become a mainstream meme. The main problem, here, may have been the choice of the term: peak oil conjures a specific moment in time when something exceptional should happen, even though it is not clear what. When people saw that nothing special was happening, they lost interest. The decline of the peak oil meme was helped by the anti-memetic system that created effective antimemes such as they have been predicting peak oil already for 30 years ago.

Money Cannot Manufacture Resources (Podcast)
Kurt Cobb
As any fourth grader will tell you, a finite system will not yield unlimited resources. But that perspective is not shared by those controlling the printing presses. And so they print and print and print, yet remain flummoxed when supply (and increasingly, demand for that matter) does not increase the way they expect.

The Passing of Bhaskar Save: What The ‘Green Revolution’ Did for India
Colin Todhunter, Countercurrents.org
Masanobu Fukuoka, the legendary Japanese organic farmer once described Bhaskar Hiraji Saves farm as “the best in the world, even better than my own!” By using traditional methods, he demonstrated on his farm that yield is superior to any farm using chemicals in terms of overall quantity, nutritional quality, taste, biological diversity, ecological sustainability, water conservation, energy efficiency and economic profitability. Bhaskar Save died on 24 October 2015 at age 93.

Call for Papers: Indian Society for Ecological Economics

CALL FOR PAPERS

The 8th Biennial Conference of the Indian Society for Ecological Economics (INSEE)

On

URBANIZATION AND THE ENVIRONMENT

Hosted by

Department of Management Studies, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

During

4 – 6 January 2016

Rapid urbanization and industrialization-led economic growth are the quintessential features of developing country landscapes, particularly in South Asia. Urbanization brings about dramatic changes in local environments, occupying land and water bodies, creating air pollution and heat island effects. It places demands on regional resources such as water and agriculture. Urban areas and industry dump their solid waste and effluents onto peri-urban areas, remote islands or deep beneath the oceans. The growth of industry, which promises and at times provides more jobs, legitimizes this demand for resources, the creation of new slums and gentrified spaces, different gender relationships, lifestyle changes and health impacts. Urban lifestyles also set the benchmark to which others aspire, and therefore the ecological footprint they will generate.

INSEE, an association of professionals interested in issues at the interface of ecology, economy, and society, invites submissions of original papers and panels of papers addressing these concerns at its 8th Biennial Conference, which focuses on“Urbanization and the Environment”.

Read more…

Credit Suisse: Richest 1% own 53% of India’s wealth

According to Credit Suisse, India’s wealth increased by $2.284 trillion between 2000 and 2015. Of this rise, the richest 1% has hogged 61%

Manas Chakravarty, Live Mint Graphic by Prajakta Patil/Mint

The richest 1% of Indians own 53% of the country’s wealth, according to the latest data on global wealth from Credit Suisse. The richest 5% own 68.6% of the country’s wealth, while the top 10% have 76.3%. At the other end of the pyramid, the poorer half of our countrymen jostles for 4.1% of the nation’s wealth. As Deng Xiaoping put it so pithily, “It is glorious to be rich.”

What’s more, things are getting more and more glorious for the rich. Data from Credit Suisse show that India’s richest 1% owned just 36.8% of the country’s wealth in 2000, while the share of the top 10% was 65.9%. Since then the richest have managed to steadily increase their share of the pie, as the chart shows. This happened during the years of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government from 2000-04, during the first United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government backed by the Left, during the second UPA tenure and now in the first year of the Modi government; the share of the top 1% has now crossed 50%. The colour of the government has been no impediment to the steady rise in the riches of the wealthy.

The chart shows that the difference between the share of the top 1% and that of the top 10% was 29.1 percentage points in 2000, but is down to 23.3 percentage points in 2015. In other words, the top 1% is eating into the share of the next 9%. The richest are growing at the expense of the relatively well-off. Between 2010 and 2015, the share of the poorer half of the population shrank from 5.3% to 4.1%.

According to Credit Suisse, India’s wealth increased by $2.284 trillion between 2000 and 2015. Of this rise, the richest 1% has hogged 61%, while the top 10% bagged 81%. The other 90% got the leftovers.

The share of India’s richest 1% is far ahead than that of top 1% of the US, who own a mere 37.3% of the total US wealth. But India’s finest still have a long way to go before they match Russia, where the top 1% own a stupendous 70.3% of the country’s wealth.

View original article
Download Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook 2015 

Sagar Dhara: The climate challenge is deeper than technology

DEVELOPMENT AND DISARMAMENT ROUNDTABLE

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Technologys role in a climate solution
If the world is to avoid severe, widespread, and irreversible [climate] impacts, carbon emissions must decrease quickly—and achieving such cuts, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, depends in part on the availability of key technologies. But arguments abound against faith in technological solutions to the climate problem. Electricity grids may be ill equipped to accommodate renewable energy produced on a massive scale. Many technological innovations touted in the past have failed to achieve practical success. Even successful technologies will do little good if they mature too late to help avert climate disaster. Below, experts from India, the United States, and Bangladesh address the following questions: To what extent can the world depend on technological innovation to address climate change? And what promising technologies—in generating, storing, and saving energy, and in storing greenhouse gases or removing them from the atmosphere—show most potential to help the world come to terms with global warming? Read more…

E-book: Water warriors – Stories on people and their relationship with water

The stories in this yearbook highlight efforts by rural and urban communities across India to take back ownership of their water resources.

India Water Portal

Prayers on the bank of the Kshipra

Prayers on the bank of the Kshipra

Water sustains lives and livelihoods. It is a precious and finite resource that, in future years, is likely to become the main bone of contention between peoples, states and nations. Water – like every other finite resource – needs sustainable and equitable management, with equal focus on reducing demand, recycling and finding alternatives, as well as the usual emphasis on supply solutions.

While alarms are regularly raised over its increasing scarcity, water is largely seen as a matter of state regulation and governance, and is affected by large-scale issues such as privatisation, industrial and human pollution, and corruption.

Water warriors – Stories on people and their relationship with water presents the issue of water from the perspective of local communities, based on the premise that water is a very local issue that affects the lives of people everywhere, every day. The stories in this yearbook highlight efforts by rural and urban communities across India – in as far off regions as Umananda island in Assam, Amatikra in Chhattisgarh, Bengaluru in Karnataka, and Dhanukshkodi in Tamil Nadu – to take back ownership of their water resources.

These stories first appeared on the India Water Portal in English, Hindi and Kannada. This book showcases the best content from the Portal since its inception.

Download a copy of the book 

Series: INDCs and the road to Paris 1

(Note: Indias Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), its eagerly awaited promise of action to counter climate change ahead of the Paris climate talks this year, was released earlier this month. Starting with this one, we present a series of posts that look at whether Indias pledge is all its claimed to be. In this post, we present some of the initial coverage of the pledge that summarises its contents and a guide to understanding the importance of INDCs, apart from Indias INDC document itself)

Full text of Indias INDC

A concise summary of Indias INDCs: India Announces New Climate Targets

A primer on INDCs and what they imply, read: Adding up INDCs: what country commitments could mean for climate change

ANALYSES

India’s INDC is fair, and its renewable energy and forestry targets are ambitious, says CSE
CSE India
India’s INDC reflects its development challenges, aspirations and the realities of climate change. India’s renewable energy target is more ambitious than that of the US. India’s emission intensity target is exactly similar to that of China’s. About 85 per cent of countries have submitted their INDCs. Their collective pledges are not in line with keeping the world within the safe 2°C temperature rise target.

 5 Key Takeaways from India’s New Climate Plan
World Resources Institute
As the world’s third-largest emitter and a country that’s highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, it is encouraging to witness India invest in actions to tackle climate change while addressing critical issues such as poverty, food security and access to healthcare and education.

Indias climate pledge: keeping promises will be a tall order
Nihar Gokhale, Catch News
While it is true that much of the climate action plan depends on getting money and technology from abroad, some of the activities are urgent. Of the total cost, about $206 billion will be needed for just dealing with the adverse impacts of climate change, known in climate jargon as adaptation. Whether or not India actually spends on renewable energy, this is a cost it must bear. This includes saving its people from vagaries of rainfall, sudden and extreme events like cyclones, and in maintaining water security amidst a warming world.

Indias first step towards climate solution is good, but it has miles to go on a complex road
Rohini Mohan, The Economic Media
International climate change watchers have praised Indias INDC for being superior to many other countries, even though it only contributed to 4 per cent of historical emissions. They are not legally binding, but the sustainability language and low carbon targets show a major leap in Indias recent willingness to act against climate change. The domestic strategies to meet the targets, however, tell a more complex story. Even as India talks of low-emissions plans, it continues high-emission growth, and is unlikely to stop soon. Whether or not technological solutions and renewables achieve total emission cuts in the long run, without a core shift in approach, India will be chasing a moving goal.

News update

Capitalism is Mother Earths Cancer: World Peoples Summit Issues 12 Demands
Common Dreams
Decrying capitalism as a threat to life, an estimated 7,000 environmentalists, farmers, and Indigenous activists from 40 countries convened in the Bolivian town of Tiquipaya for this weekends World Peoples Conference on Climate Change, aiming to elevate the demands of social movements and developing countries in the lead-up to upcoming United Nations-led climate talks. Capitalism is Mother Earths cancer, Bolivian President Evo Morales told the crowd, which also heard over the course of the three-day conference from United Nations Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon as well as other Latin American leaders.

Why Earth’s future will depend on how we build our cities
Chris Mooney, The Washington Post
It may be the most important number on Earth: 1,000 gigatons. That’s roughly how much carbon dioxide humanity has left to emit, scientists say, in order to have a two-thirds chance of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius above the temperature in pre-industrial times — and thus, staying within what has often been deemed a “safe” climate threshold. A new report, though, finds that if we don’t build cities more wisely, using much greener infrastructure, then they could be a crucial factor that tips the planet over the 1,000 gigaton line — and indeed, that they could play this role in just five years time.

Europes greenhouse gas emissions fall to record low
The Guardian UK
Greenhouse gas emissions in Europe have plunged to the lowest level ever recorded after the EU’s member states reported an estimated 23% drop in emissions between 1990 and 2014. The bloc has now overshot its target for 2020 of cutting emissions by one-fifth – at the same time that its economy grew by 46%, according to the EU’s climate chief, Miguel Arias Canete .

Integrated Energy Policy Formulated To Boost The Energy Sector
Mondaq.com
In order to provide a collective policy covering all sources of energy including renewable energy sources, the Government of India has formulated an Integrated Energy Policy. The said policy outlines a roadmap to develop energy supply options and increased exploitation of renewable energy sources. The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy aims at a capacity addition of about 30,000 MW power during the 12th Five Year Plan from the various renewable energy sources available in the country.

16 commercial building spaces can save 8,960 Mwh/year: TERI Study
The Economic Times
Sixteen commercial building spaces, including that of Wipro, Tata ChemicalsBSE 0.57 % and Genpact, have the potential to save 8,960 megawatt hours a year, which is sufficient to power 2,400 rural homes, says a study. Energy saving in 100 such buildings can power more than 12,000 rural homes, stated a energy audit report of 16 commercial buildings across the country by The TERI Centre of Excellence, launched by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and United Technologies Corp (UTC) in 2014.

Indias coal-fueled economy taking a toll on environment and rural villagers
LA Times
In central Indias coal-rich Singrauli district, recently labeled one of the countrys most polluted areas, residents and activists have long complained that abuses by energy companies go unpunished. Each and every company is violating environmental norms, including Sasan, said Ashwani Kumar Dubey, a Singrauli resident and lawyer who has challenged the coal industry in Indias Supreme Court. But nothing happens because these companies run the economy of the country.

Indias climate tech revolution is starting in its villages
The Guardian UK
Solar panels drive a water pump that irrigates the fields of farmer Raman Bhai Parmar, 65, who grows bananas, rice and wheat on seven acres of land. Parmar’s solar energy pump is one of the technologies being promoted by a new project designed to help rural Indians adapt to climate change. The project, run by the international NGO, aims to create 1,000 so-called climate smart villages across six Indian states including Haryana, Punjab and Gujarat.

A nomads’ legend keeps the Indian wolf alive: An unconventional conservation story
Scroll.in
Unlike local farmers and herders, the nomads never chased, hunted or hurt the wolves. The filmmakers soon uncovered a legend of three brothers, one of whom is cheated out of his share by the other two. He leaves but not before bestowing a curse that he would come back to claim his due. The tribesmen consider the wolf to be that brother, returning to take what’s rightfully his. It’s possible that this fraternal feeling between tribe and wolf saved Bent Ear and his family.

Workshop: Introduction to Permaculture and Forest Farming, Bangalore, Oct 28-30

Permaculture Patashala

When: 28-30th (Wed-Fri) Oct 2015

Where: Bhoomi Campus (Sarjapur Road) & Bhoomi Gurukul Farm, Bengaluru.
Instructor: Shri. Narsanna Koppula, Aranya Agricultural Alternatives, Telangana.
Course Fees: INR 3000 to be paid to Bhoomi College.
To register: Drop a mail to aeea.m OR call at +91-9449051027 (limited seats).

Read more…

National Geographic Special Issue on Climate Change

Fresh Hope for Combating Climate Change (Introductory article)

If a climate disaster is to be averted, we’ll have to move forward without relying as much on fossil fuels. It can be done.

Robert Kunzig, National Geographic

01-intro-2048THIS YEAR COULD BE THE TURNING POINT. Laurence Tubiana thinks so. She’s a small, elegant, white-haired woman of 63. At a press briefing in a noisy restaurant near Washington’s Capitol Hill, she apologized for being incapable of raising her voice—which in a diplomat is no doubt an excellent quality. Tubiana is no ordinary diplomat: She’s France’s “climate ambassador,” charged with the greatest cat-herding project in history. For the past year and a half she has been traveling the world, meeting with negotiators from 195 countries, trying to ensure that the global climate confab in Paris this December will be a success—a watershed in the struggle against climate change. “This notion of a turning point—that’s super important,” Tubiana says.

There are at least 20 reasons to fear she will fail. Since 1992, when the world’s nations agreed at Rio de Janeiro to avoid “dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system,” they’ve met 20 times without moving the needle on carbon emissions. In that interval we’ve added almost as much carbon to the atmosphere as we did in the previous century. Last year and the past decade were the warmest since temperature records began. Record-breaking heat waves are now five times as likely as they once were. A large part of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, scientists reported last year, is doomed to collapse—meaning that in the coming centuries sea level will rise at least four feet and probably much more. We’re already redrawing the map of the planet, especially of the zones where animals, plants, and people can live.

And yet there’s also an unmistakable trace of hope in the air. A lot of it is still just talk. China and the United States, the two largest carbon emitters, have announced a deal to reduce emissions. Six European oil companies say they’d welcome a carbon tax. A giant Norwegian pension fund has pledged to stop investing in coal. And the pope has brought his immense spiritual authority to bear on the problem. Read more…

Report on food security and climate change adaptation

Scaling Success: Lessons from Adaptation Pilots in the Rainfed Regions of India

wriNations around the world have recognized that the adverse effects of climate variations and change have a significant bearing on the food, water and livelihood security of millions of people. Greatest risks persist in economically less developed countries, where people’s lives and livelihoods are highly vulnerable to stressors such as erratic rainfall, droughts, floods or cyclones. The poor communities are most disadvantaged, having little capacity to cope with changing climatic conditions, due to limited financial and often also technical means. The impact of climate change will presumably be particularly severe in rainfed areas, which constitute about 80 per cent of the cultivated land, producing about 65 to 70 percent of staple foods worldwide despite unsecure water availability.

In response to such climate change related challenges, many remarkable adaptation projects are being implemented, generating widespread interest among practitioners, policy makers and development agencies. Despite the growing interest in these experiences, they often remain individual, stand-alone initiatives. The need to rapidly scale up effective climate change adaptation interventions, through favorable policy frameworks and concrete action, is widely recognized. However, the challenge that we face is in identifying the elements that are necessary for successful scaling up of adaptation interventions.

As the climate continues to change, the capacity to iteratively adjust and learn – both at the policy level and in the course of implementation will be central to adaptation success. In this context, SDC is collaborating with the World Resources Institute (WRI) and the Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR) for an initiative on ‘Scaling up Good Adaptation Practices’ (SUGAP) in India.

This initiative was borne out of a need to understand the relevance of adaptation and resilience in the semi-arid context in India through focused case study research. The study Scaling Success: Lessons from Adaptation Pilots in the Rainfed Regions of India provides a synthesis of good practices and hands-on recommendations to practitioners, policy makers and funding agencies for identifying and scaling up effective adaptation interventions.

Download report: Scaling Success (pdf)

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