Archive for the category “News”

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.

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.

News update

World will pass crucial 2C global warming limit, experts warn
The Guardian UK
Pledges by nations to cut carbon emissions will fall far short of those needed to prevent global temperatures rising by more than the crucial 2C by the end of the century. This is the stark conclusion of climate experts who have analysed submissions in the runup to the Paris climate talks later this year. A rise of 2C is considered the most the Earth could tolerate without risking catastrophic changes to food production, sea levels, fishing, wildlife, deserts and water reserves. Even if rises are pegged at 2C, scientists say this will still destroy most coral reefs and glaciers and melt significant parts of the Greenland ice cap, bringing major rises in sea levels.

Climate Change “Tipping Points” and the Fate of the Earth
Michael T. Klare, Tom Dispatch
Not so long ago, it was science fiction. Now, it’s hard science and that should frighten us all. The latest reports from the prestigious and sober Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) make increasingly hair-raising reading, suggesting that the planet is approaching possible moments of irreversible damage in a fashion and at a speed that had not been anticipated. Scientists have long worried that climate change will not continue to advance in a “linear” fashion, with the planet getting a little bit hotter most years.  Instead, they fear, humanity could someday experience “non-linear” climate shifts (also known as “singularities” or “tipping points”) after which there would be sudden and irreversible change of a catastrophic nature.

Inadequate attempts by US to combat climate change shifted burden to India: CSE
Livemint.com
Inadequate attempts by the US to combat climate change have shifted the major burden of battling it to countries like India, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said, calling American promises ‘much ado about nothing’. In a report released on Wednesday, CSE, a noted environment think-tank in India, termed US’s Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) as just ‘business-as-usual’. The study said the energy system in the US would remain fossil fuel dependent, with 76% of total primary energy coming from fossil fuels in 2030 while renewables will contribute just 15%, up from the current 11%. (Also read, CSE press release: ‘Capitan America’ and its climate promises: Much ado about nothing)

Southeast Asia’s energy demand to grow by 80 per cent in 2040: IEA
Down to Earth
Southeast Asia’s demand for energy is projected to grow by 80 per cent to just under 1,100 million tonnes of oil in 2040, according to a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The share of fossil fuels in the energy mix of the region is expected to rise from 74 per cent in 2013 to 78 per cent in 2040, the report titled “Southeast Asia Energy Outlook 2015” said.

Elon Musk says the current refugee crisis is just a glimpse of whats to come if world ignores climate change
Tech Insider
Billionaire visionary Elon Musk painted a bleak picture of the future on Wednesday when he said the current refugee crisis is just a glimpse of what we can expect if nothing is done to address climate change. “Today’s refugee problem is perhaps a small indication of what the future will be like if we do not take action with respect to climate change,” Musk said during his opening remarks at a business seminar.

Worlds oceans facing biggest coral die-off in history, scientists warn
The Guardian UK
Scientists have confirmed the third-ever global bleaching of coral reefs is under way and warned it could see the biggest coral die-off in history. Since 2014, a massive underwater heatwave, driven by climate change, has caused corals to lose their brilliance and die in every ocean. By the end of this year 38% of the world’s reefs will have been affected. About 5% will have died forever. But with a very strong El Niño driving record global temperatures and a huge patch of hot water, known as “the Blob”, hanging obstinately in the north-western Pacific, things look far worse again for 2016. (Also read: Coral reefs are not just pretty – they are vital to life)

Oil and the Global Economy
Jan Mueller, Jim Hansen, Stephen P.A. Brown, The Energy Xchange
The remarkable economic expansion of in the United States and other industrial nations over the past century or more has been fueled by a steadily growing supply of low-cost energy—mostly from fossil fuels—oil in particular which accounts for more global energy consumption than any other source.
But there is growing uncertainty whether this trend will continue as it has in the past. How will shifting trends regarding the cost, demand, and supply for oil affect the global economy and the outlook for investment and economic growth?

The Peak Oil Story We Have Been Told Is Wrong
Gail Tverberg
Most people believe that low oil prices are good for the United States, since the discretionary income of consumers will rise. There is the added benefit that Peak Oil must be far off in the distance, since “Peak Oilers” talked about high oil prices. Thus, low oil prices are an all-round benefit. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. The Peak Oil story we have been told is wrong. The collapse in oil production comes from oil prices that are too low, not too high. If oil prices or prices of other commodities are too low, production will slow and eventually stop. Growth in the world economy will slow, lowering inflation rates as well as economic growth rates.

Anna Swaraj: The only way we can rescue Indian farmers from debt and suicide
Vandana Shiva, Scroll.in
After the crash of the Green Revolution dream, the loss of this season’s cotton is the second big blow to Punjab’s farmers. Stemming from the failure of genetically modified cotton crops, it makes clear again that genetically modified organisms and chemical pesticides are ineffective at pest control. Scientific studies worldwide prove that their use has birthed super weeds and pests – and yet state governments in India continue to promote their excessive use and subsidise them. (Also read: How 18 villages in Haryana kept the whitefly attack on cotton away)

Means of transport to be switched to electric mode in 2 years: Gadkari
Business Standard
In a bid to cut oil import bill and mitigate pollution, the government is working on an ambitious project to switch diesel and petrol-run vehicles across the country to electric mode in two years, Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday. Our scientists have made cost-effective, made-in-India lithium-ion battery (rechargeable) which will be extensively used to convert all means of transport to electric mode, the minister said here at a function organized by the Indian Womens Press Corps (IWPC).

One Scientist’s Hopeful View On How to Repair the Planet
Yale Environment 360
For a researcher who studies how humanity is pushing the earth close to potentially disastrous tipping points, Johan Rockström is surprisingly optimistic. Although he reckons that our species has crossed four of nine “planetary boundaries” — including those on climate change and deforestation — he believes there is still time to pull back from the brink and create a sustainable future based on renewable energy and a “circular” economy that continually reuses resources.

News update

India pledges 33-35% cut in carbon emission intensity by 2030
Livemint.com
India has said it aims to reduce the emissions intensity of its GDP by 33-35% by 2030 from 2005 levels, and achieve 40% of its cumulative electric power of around 350GW installed capacity from non-fossil fuel-based energy resources, mainly renewable power. The statement comes ahead of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to be held in Paris in December 2015, where countries would try to forge a new global climate agreement based on “climate justice” and principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

Our seas are being degraded, fish are dying – but humanity is threatened too
Callum Roberts, The Guardian UK
Last week the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Zoological Society of London issued their most comprehensive look at the state of life in the sea. The report makes uncomfortable reading. Taking in more than 1,000 species worldwide and 5,000 populations of fish, turtles, marine mammals and a host of others, it draws the bleak conclusion that there is only half the amount of wildlife in the sea today as in 1970. Although 1970 is their baseline year and seems long ago, life in the sea has been in decline for much longer. In short, that means the picture is worse than the report suggests.

Are Nomads a Climate-Change Weathervane?
Tom Hart, New Internationalist blog
Urban civilizations have done their best to curtail nomadism. It’s a life that doesn’t fit well with owning vast tracts of land and an ordered, well-administered state. What states have failed to achieve deliberately might be finished by climate change accidently. Ironically, the moment in history when states more or less tolerate nomadism could also be the very moment when the environmental basis for the phenomenon could be undermined.

Emphasizing co-benefits motivates people to take action on climate change
The Guardian UK
A new paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change provides encouragement that people can be motivated to act on climate change. The title of the paper is, “Co-benefits of Addressing Climate Change can Motivate Action Around the World.” Lead author Dr. Paul Bain and his colleagues wanted to know if emphasizing co-benefits when talking about climate change would motivate people to take action. They found that in many cases, the answer is yes.

Why Johnny cant understand climate: functional illiteracy and the rise of unpropaganda
Ugo Bardi
The problem with the literacy scale has to do with the debate on climate change. Here, we see the development of a communication technology that exploits the lack of functional literacy of a large fraction of the public. We may call this technology unpropaganda. Traditional propaganda (literally, what is to be propagated) aims at passing a message by eliminating or hiding all contrasting information. Unpropaganda, instead, aims at stopping a message from propagating by presenting a lot of contrasting information to a public unable to fully evaluate it.

Global Extinction Rates: Why Do Estimates Vary So Wildly?
Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360
Most ecologists believe that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction. Humanity’s impact on nature, they say, is now comparable to the five previous catastrophic events over the past 600 million years, during which up to 95 percent of the planet’s species disappeared. We may very well be. But recent studies have cited extinction rates that are extremely fuzzy and vary wildly.

Forget developing poor countries, its time to de-develop rich countries
Jason Hickel, The Guardian UK
Orthodox economists insist that all we need is yet more growth. More progressive types tell us that we need to shift some of the yields of growth from the richer segments of the population to the poorer ones, evening things out a bit. Neither approach is adequate. Why? Because even at current levels of average global consumption, we’re overshooting our planet’s bio-capacity by more than 50% each year.

Whatever Happened to Peak Oil?
Jan Mueller, Jeremy Gilbert, John Kingston, Steve Andrews The Energy Exchange
Whatever happened to “peak oil” – the assertion that the rate at which oil is extracted from the Earth is nearing a maximum or peak level? With falling oil and gasoline prices and a boom of new oil development in the United States and elsewhere, concern about global oil supplies have faded from public view. But have concerns about peak oil really disappeared? What key factors have changed in the oil industry, and what challenges remain? Are we entering a new era of “abundance” or are the risks of the world’s dependence on oil rising?

Backyard Carbon Sequestration Is Something Nearly Everyone Can Do
Ecological Gardening
Anyone who owns or rents a little land on which plants grow can, him or herself, sequester carbon, and may even be doing so at this very moment without even realizing it. It’s not hard. Healthy soil does this naturally. All we have to do is help nature along. And as we do so, we can help improve ecosystems, improve soil fertility, and even help endangered species survive.

Special: Questioning the UNs Sustainable Development Goals

Sustainable Development Goals: Can we pull them off?
Catch News
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The new set has 169 targets. Critics believe these are well-intentioned, but range from grandiose (end hunger) to peripheral (promote sustainable tourism) to flat-out impossible (full and productive employment and decent work for all). Nevertheless, India is committing to some tough goals. Heres a quick reckoner of what they are and a reality check on where we stand.

The Sustainable Development Goals: A Siren and Lullaby for Our Times
Thomas Pogge & Alnoor Ladha, Occupy.com
The SDGs inequality goal (target 10.1) allows current trends of income concentration to continually increase until 2029 before they start to decline. This totally ignores the structure of our economic system which creates inequality in the very rules that enforce and articulate the current distribution of wealth.

What if everything the SDGs are premised on is just wrong?
Martin Kirk, African Arguments
At the upcoming UN General Assembly, we are all about to be told some stories as part of a big of the “world’s largest advertising campaign” by the UN, NGOs, governments and large corporations to sell us on the new global plan to tackle poverty. It’s up to each of us to determine whether these stories are full of hope we can believe in or just a big serving of marketing and spin.

The UNs Sustainability Plan Is Doomed, According to Linguistic Analysis
Nafeez Ahmed
A report circulated to UN officials argues that the entire SDG process has been fundamentally compromised by powerful corporations with an interest in sustaining business as usual. Commissioned by Washington DC-based nonprofit TheRules.org, a global activist network campaigning to address the root causes of poverty, the report is based on frame analysis—a scientific method examining linguistic and conceptual patterns to reveal how people define, construct, and process information.

Sustained economic growth: United Nations mistake the poison for the cure
Samuel Alexander, The Conversation
The defining flaw in the United Nations’ agenda is the naïve assumption that “sustained economic growth” is the most direct path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This faith in the god of growth is fundamentally misplaced. It has been shown, for example, that for every $100 in global growth merely $0.60 is directed toward resolving global poverty. Not only is this an incredibly inefficient pathway to poverty alleviation, it is environmentally unsupportable.

Five reasons to think twice about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
Jason Hickel, London School of Economics
People aren’t getting excited about the SDGs because they know that business as usual isn’t going to deliver the new economy we so desperately need. In this sense, the goals are not only a missed opportunity, they are actively dangerous: they lock in the global development agenda for the next 15 years around a failing economic model that requires urgent and deep structural changes, and they kick the hard challenge of real transformation down the road for the next generation to deal with – by which time it may be too late.

What the SDGs Could Learn from Indigenous Peoples
Fionuala Cregan, Common Dreams
Across the world, Indigenous Peoples are at the forefront of struggles to defend the Earth’s remaining habitats from the relentless advance of extractive industries, from open air mining, to oil driling to and single crop industrial agriculture. Unfortunately, the new SDGs offer them little by way of support.

News update

Burning all fossil fuels will melt entire Antarctic ice-sheet, study shows
The Guardian, UK
Burning all the world’s coal, oil and gas would melt the entire Antarctic ice-sheet and cause the oceans to rise by over 50m, a transformation unprecedented in human history. The conclusion of a new scientific study shows that, over the course of centuries, land currently inhabited by a billion people would be lost below water. “For the first time we have shown there is sufficient fossil fuel to melt all of Antarctica,” said Ricarda Winkelmann, at the Postdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany, who led the research published in the journal Science Advances.

Sooty South Asian air and global warming
Nalaka Gunawardene, Scidev.net
Carbon dioxide is not the only greenhouse gas capable of causing global warming and is not the worst culprit. Black carbon, methane, hydrofluorocarbons and ground level ozone need to be controlled. In South Asia black carbon from cooking stoves and fuels like diesel, coal and wood are problematic.

Indian govt to allow private sector to manage 40% of forests
Hindustan Times
The government is set to throw open the management of up to 40% of Indian forests to the private sector to revive degraded forests but experts warn it may destroy complex ecosystems and deprive local communities of a livelihood. The environment ministry issued guidelines to the states last month, where it argued it didn’t have the resources to manage forests well and laid down the procedure to lease out degraded forests to private companies, who would “carry out afforestation and extract timber”.

Cleaning coal instead of wishing it away
Rahul Tongia, The Hindu
So called “clean coal” is under development worldwide. But carbon capture and sequestration is some years away from commercialisation, let alone competitive commercialisation. Thus, “cleaner coal” — in the form of more efficient coal plants — requires innovation to work well with Indian (high-ash) coal. Such efforts need support, ranging from technology, to policy support and financing.

Coal mining sector running out of time, says Citigroup
The Guardian, UK
US banking giant Citigroup says the global coal industry is set for further pain, predicting an acceleration of mine closures, liquidations and bankruptcies. The value of listed coal companies monitored by Citi has shrunk from $50bn (£32bn) in 2012 to $18bn in 2015, a trend it believes will continue. “On the demand side we think thermal coal is cyclically and structurally challenged and that current market conditions are likely to persist,” it says in a report.

Coal prices hit 12-year low as demand from China, India down
Kseboa.org
Coal futures have fallen to 12-year lows, hit by soaring production and a slowdown in global buying, including from India and China which until recently have been pillars of strong demand. Benchmark API2 2016 coal futures last settled at $52.85 a tonne, a level not seen since November 2003. The contract is now over 75 percent below its 2008 all-time peak and more than 60 percent below its most recent high following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan

$250 billion opportunity to invest in renewables: Piyush Goyal
Live Mint
India has a $250 billion investment opportunity in the renewable energy space, said Piyush Goyal, minister of power, coal and renewable energy, at Mint’s fifth energy conclave in New Delhi on Friday. This includes the peripheral transmission and generation segments as well. India plans to have 100,000 megawatts (MW) of solar energy capacity by 2022. The government has also set a target of generating 60,000MW from wind power by then.

Is This The Breakthrough Fusion Researchers Have Been Waiting For?
Michael McDonald, Oilprice.com
Fusion power may have just had the long-awaited breakthrough its backers have been waiting years for. A small secretive company in California called Tri Alpha Energy has been working on fusion power for years. It has built a machine that forms a high temperature ball of superheated gas and holds it together for 5 milliseconds without decay. That tiny timeframe is enough to get backers of the technology excited as it represents a huge leap forward in comparison with other techniques tried in the past.

The choir that sings out of tune
Nimesh Ved, The Hindu
A friend asked me on Facebook if we consider the impact of travel, especially air travel, on our ecological footprint. Surprisingly, many justified it as a ‘positive’ action. How can anyone justify flying in and out repeatedly for conferences? Doesn’t going for a study tour, for example, leave its own ecological footprint? We cannot do without travel and its resulting ecological footprint, but can we at least be conscious of the issue, discuss it and look at our own actions critically?

Picturing the End of Fossil Fuels
Bill McKibben
In the energy world, though, I’m willing to bet that these images are poison to the fossil fuel industry. It’s not just because of their sheer inhuman oversized ugliness, but because they manage to look somehow so antique. Or rather, so modern in a postmodern world. Even without understanding the science of climate change—the horror that the carbon from that digger and that drill rig is driving—you have a visceral sense that they’re in the wrong moment, the wrong mood.

 

News update

NASA: World Locked Into at Least 3 Feet of Sea Level Rise
Common Dreams
New research underway indicates that at least three feet of global sea level rise is near certain, NASA scientists have warned. Thats the higher range of the 1 to 3 feet level of rise the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gave in its 2013 assessment. Sea levels have already risen 3 inches on average since 1992, with some areas experiencing as much as a 9-inch rise.

Climate change will alter ocean bacteria crucial to food chain – study
The Guardian UK
Climate change will have irreversible and unprecedented impacts on crucial ocean microorganisms that could trigger dramatic effects further up the food chain, according to scientists. The bacteria trichodesmium is known for surviving in nutrient-poor parts of the ocean, where it converts nitrogen gas into a material that can be used by other forms of life – from plankton to whales – which all require it to grow.

Coal Ash Is More Radioactive than Nuclear Waste
Scientifc American
the waste produced by coal plants is actually more radioactive than that generated by their nuclear counterparts. In fact, the fly ash emitted by a power plant—a by-product from burning coal for electricity—carries into the surrounding environment 100 times more radiation than a nuclear power plant producing the same amount of energy.

India prone to vector-borne diseases, heatwaves due to climate change
Down to Earth
Indias extreme vulnerability to climate change will have a direct impact on the health of its population, experts said at a seminar on Friday. The World Health Organization has predicted in a report that between 2030-50, climate change will cause 250,000 additional deaths. The Himalayan region is prone to vector-borne diseases, especially malaria and dengue, Ramesh Dhiman of the National Institute of Malaria Research, said at a seminar on “Climate Change and Health Risks”.

Organic farming to get a big boost in Maharashtra
The Indian Express
The Maharashtra government is drawing up a comprehensive plan to promote organic farming in a phased manner as an alternative to chemical fertilisers. The Ministry of Agriculture is preparing the draft and special allocations will be made to meet the target. The stress on organic farming reflects the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s view that chemical fertilisers should be done away with and organic manure should replace it.

WTO rules against India in solar panels dispute with the US
Live Mint
A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel has ruled against India in a dispute raised by the US over the country’s solar power programme, requiring the government to offer a level playing field to both foreign and domestic manufacturers of solar panels. India is likely to appeal against the dispute settlement panel’s ruling, which could give it a two-year breather to implement the programme.

India to face power surplus, 300 million people may not be able to afford
The Economic Times
India may be heading for a huge surplus of generation capacity because the 300 million people who dont have access to electricity also dont have the means to buy power from new plants that are being set up to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modis vision of power for all, experts said.

The Guardian UK
Local governments in China have submitted plans to relocate or upgrade almost 1,000 chemical plants in the wake of the massive explosions in Tianjin earlier this month that killed 147 people. The blast at a warehouse storing toxic chemicals was China’s worst industrial accident in recent years. There has been criticism it was located too close to densely populated residential areas. China’s industry minister, Miao Wei, said local governments were finally moving ahead to implement plans to relocate and upgrade chemical plants.

Answering Resistance From All Sides, Germany Moves to Ban GMO Crops
Common Dreams
Germany became the latest country in the European Union to take a stand against genetically modified (GMO) crops in its food supply. German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt told government officials that he will seek to implement the European Unions opt-out rule to stop GMO crop cultivation in the country, including those varieties which may be approved by the EU, according to documents seen by Reuters this week.

HBO documentary key driver of opposition to fracking, study finds
The Guardian UK
An Oscar-nominated HBO documentary that showed American homeowners near hydraulic fracturing sites setting fire to their tap water may have been the main trigger for a surge in public opposition to the oil and gas production technique, according to a study to be published next month. Gasland, produced by the film-maker Josh Fox in 2010, sparked a rise in online searches, social media chatter, news coverage, and environmental activism surrounding fracking that may have led to a series of local attempts to ban the industry in the years that followed, according to the paper which will be published in the American Sociology Review’s October edition.

News update

Doomsday in 10 years: India may run out of water by 2025
Nihar Gokhale, Catch News
We know quite well that water is scarce. Many even imagine that a Third World War will be fought over water. Nonetheless, the thought of taps running dry doesnt come naturally. But maybe it is time to wake up doomsday is likely just 10 years from now. This alarming figure was emphasised in the last Parliament session. In the Question Hour, Sanwar Lal Jat, the junior minister for water resources, quoted a study by a private consulting firm that said India wont have enough water for its people by 2025.

How India Can Cut Short-term Carbon Emissions 70%
Darryl DMonte, IndiaSpend
As India works on its voluntary commitments to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, Indian experts have explained how the country could cut its carbon emissions from short-lived climate pollutants by nearly three-fourths using low-cost methods and, in the process, transform the lives of the poor. The US, EU and China are among the major countries which have declared their commitments; the global community is waiting to see what India does.

The Latest Science on Global Warming (by James Hansen & others)
Eric Zuesse, Countercurrents.org
Previous estimates of the coastal cities that will be flooded out of existence have been overly optimistic. The situation will likely be worse than has been projected. But measures can be taken that will probably succeed at preventing the outcome from being even worse than that.

July 2015 was warmest month ever recorded for the globe
Science Daily
The July average temperature across global land and ocean surfaces was 1.46°F (0.81°C) above the 20th century average. As July is climatologically the warmest month for the year, this was also the all-time highest monthly temperature in the 1880-2015 record, at 61.86°F (16.61°C), surpassing the previous record set in 1998 by 0.14°F (0.08°C).

Plan for Paris: looking beyond emission cuts
Sujatha Byravan and Sudhir Chella Rajan, South Asia Monitor
In the lead up to the Paris Climate Summit — Conference of Parties (CoP) 21 — an important buzzword in international climate circles is INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) that each country needs to commit itself to as its climate policy. Much of this is tacitly expected to mean a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions rather than adaptation, which would be about transforming or changing systems and institutions to enable us live in a warmer world. While we eventually have to reduce emissions to zero in order not to completely destroy the earth’s ecosystems, we also need to learn how to live on a planet that is on average at least about 2-3 degrees Celsius warmer than in pre-industrial times.

Entering the Mega-Drought Era in America
William deBuyes, Tom Dispatch
On the U.S. Drought Monitor’s current map, a large purple bruise spreads across the core of California, covering almost half the state. Purple indicates “exceptional drought,” the direst category, the one that tops both “severe” and “extreme.” If you combine all three, 95% of the state is covered. In other words, California is hurting.

Why an Oil Glut May Lead to a New World of Energy
Michael T. Klare, Tom Dispatch
Major producers continue to pump out record levels of crude and world demand remains essentially flat. The result: a global oil glut that is again driving prices toward the energy subbasement.  While most oil-company executives continue to insist that a turnaround is sure to occur in the near future, some analysts are beginning to wonder if what’s underway doesn’t actually signal a fundamental transformation of the industry.

Wind Energy Could Blow U.S. Coal Industry Away
Oilprice.com
Though solar energy has become the poster child for renewable energy generally, the strongest player in the game, for now, is wind. Wind leads solar energy in capacity installed as well as output (world solar capacity passed 200 GW this year); and other than a few welcome cases (so far) where PV comes in under 5 cents per kWh, wind is generally cheaper.

Germany Struggles With Too Much Renewable Energy
Gaurav Agnihotri, Oilprice.com
Germany and its neighbors are now facing an unusual problem. With the dramatic increase in green energy usage, Germany is generating so much electricity from renewables that it is finding it hard to handle it. The excess electricity that is generated is being spilled over to its neighboring countries, thereby increasing the threat of a power blackout should there be a sudden supply disruption.

India is now a make-or-break nation for climate change – and the planet’s future

Indias coal dependence has led to rising emissions. Now, even the Chief Economic Advisor has acknowledged that India needs to cut down on them.

Sajai Jose

A new global report has revealed that India’s carbon dioxide emissions growth in 2014 was not only the largest in terms of volume in its own history, but for the first time the country has become the biggest contributor to global emissions growth.

In 2014, the world added an extra 187 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere over 2013 levels, amounting to a 0.5% increase in the sum total of CO2 emissions.  In contrast, India’s emissions from fossil fuel use grew by a startling 8.1% in the same period, amounting to 157 million tons of CO2 more than the previous year’s emissions.

In other words, India has bucked a worldwide trend of slowing carbon emissions to become the fastest-growing major polluter in the world. This marks a significant shift in carbon emissions trends that holds serious implications for climate change.

The first sign that the Indian establishment has taken note of this emerged on Wednesday with a report in the Business Standard stating that Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian has written to the Prime Minister, recommending that India change its strategy on climate change. He has advised that India stop focusing on adaptation to meet the inevitable threats of climate change on the poor and, instead, do more to reduce its own emission, the newspaper said. Read more…

News update

Parliamentary Standing Committee rejects TSR Subramanian report on environmental laws
Down to Earth
A Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) rejected a high-level committee (HLC) report that reviewed various Acts administered by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). The committee precisely noted that some of the essential recommendations made by the HLC “would result in an unacceptable dilution of the existing legal and policy architecture established to protect our environment”.

Over 450 projects being considered for environmental clearance: Government
The Economic Times
More than 450 projects in various sectors are presently being considered by the government for environmental clearance while more than 200 are awaiting forest clearance, Lok Sabha was informed. The number of projects under consideration for environmental clearance in the Ministry (of Environment) are 475 and for approval under Forest (Conservation) Act 1980 are 240, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said in a written reply.

Drop demand for finance from rich countries: Arvind Subramanian
Business Standard
Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian has suggested Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to radically alter Indias climate-change policy and negotiation strategy before the new global climate-change agreement, to be finalised in Paris by December this year. In a note to the two ministers which has been reviewed by Business Standard Subramanian has recommended that India should stop insisting that the developed countries provide financing for poor countries to fight climate change, as they are required to under the UN climate convention.

Cochin Airport goes solar
Catch News
The Cochin Airport (CIAL) is now the first in the world to be fully powered by solar energy. No small feat, but one which they managed to accomplish in just six months. Thats exactly how long it took for them to install 46,000 solar panels across 45 acres of land, to achieve a 12MW plant. (Watch video) (Also read: Defunct Indraprastha power station to be converted into solar plant)

India’s war on Greenpeace
Samanth Subramanian, The Guardian UK
A simmering suspicion of foreign influences is written deep into the BJP’s nationalist DNA, and it plays marvellously with its most loyal voters – many of whom proclaim their belief, loudly and often, that western powers are eager to throttle India’s rise. In particular, Modi – who steers his government with stifling control – has never hidden his distaste for NGOs and their “five-star activists”, as he once labelled them.

Four charts that show how India and the world are living beyond their ecological means
Nayantara Narayanan, Scroll.in 
As of Thursday, August 13, 2015, we have used up all the ecological resources that the earth could generate through the entire year, according to calculations by sustainability think tank Global Footprint Network. In other words, from this day – called the Earth Overshoot Day – on we will be overdrawing from our global annual budget of natural resources. (Also read: Earth Overshoot Day: a reminder that our world is dying and we are killing it)

The future isnt what it used to be
Kurt Cobb
The Mad Max franchise survives not because people take its prognostications seriously, but because it is good entertainment. Most moviegoers unconsciously project their apocalyptic fears onto these films to obtain a catharsis. This allows them to put aside any serious concerns about the future as mere fantasy.

How Economic Growth Fails
Gail Tverberg
The economy operates within a finite world, so at some point, a problem of diminishing returns develops. In other words, it takes more and more effort (human labor and use of resources) to produce a given quantity of oil or food, or fresh water, or other desirable products. The problem of slowing economic growth is very closely related to the question: How can the limits we are reaching be expected to play out in a finite world? Many people imagine that we will “run out” of some necessary resource, such as oil, but I see the situation differently.

 

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