Archive for the category “Pollution”

Is renewable energy really environmentally friendly?

Robin Delobel writes: The issue is rarely raised, but renewable energies have a heavy environmental impact when the total production chain and overall product life-cycle is taken into account– particularly, the stage of mining the metals needed in their production. In addition, chemical products used in the mining operations often lead to severe long-term pollution.

Renewable energy sources may have low CO2 emissions at the point of use, but the mines that make the technology possible are often environmentally destructive
Read more…

Was Fukushima the worst environmental disaster in human history?

Whitney Webb reports: Fukushima continues to leak an astounding 300 tons of radioactive waste into the Pacific every day. It will continue do so indefinitely as the leak’s source is inaccessible to both humans and robots due to extremely high temperatures. In other words, Fukushima has contaminated the entire Pacific Ocean in just five years.
Read more…

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

The Centres 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 governments intent.
Read more…

News update

Global Harming: Indias rich have a bigger ecological footprint than the world average
Nihar Gokhale, Catch News
It is no secret that theres a growth in luxury goods in India. A 10-minute walk in any big city would attest to this. Over the last few generations, lifestyles have changed significantly, and a culture of consumerism is setting in at a fast pace. It is mind-boggling then, that environment minister Prakash Javadekar declared last week that Indians believe only in need-based consumption and shun extravagant consumption, thanks to their value systems.

Incidence of dengue higher due to erratic rainfall this year
Down to Earth
The rapid progression of the disease has taken many by surprise as the high incidence is unseasonal compared to earlier trends. The dengue virus usually strikes the city only after the end of the monsoons in October. The reason for the temporal shift, say experts, is the erratic weather and rainfall that the country has witnessed this year. Many scientific studies in the recent past have drawn connections between weather variables and the incidence of dengue. Many scientists are in agreement that a combination of higher mean temperature in a region and high humidity fosters higher rates of dengue transmission and incidence. (Also read: Climate change and vector-borne diseases go hand in hand)

Delhi will record worlds largest number of premature deaths due to air pollution
The Times of India
In another 10 years, Delhi will record the worlds largest number of premature deaths due to air pollution among all mega cities in the world. By 2025, nearly 32,000 people in Delhi will die solely due to inhaling polluted air. Kolkata will see its number of premature deaths spike between 2025 and 2050 and will record 54,800 deaths due to air pollution more than Delhi which will record 52,000 deaths and Mumbai with 33100 deaths during the same year. (Also read: More people die from air pollution than Malaria and HIV/Aids, new study shows)

Worlds first smog filtering tower goes on tour
The Guardian UK
The Dutch city of Rotterdam has opened the world’s first smog-free tower. Co-designed by Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde, the seven-metre high tower sucks in dirty air like a giant vacuum cleaner. Ion technology then filters it, before returning bubbles of smog-free air through the tower’s vents. It is able to clean 30,000 cubic metres of air an hour, according to Roosegaarde.

Scientists predict huge sea level rise even if we limit climate change
The Guardian UK
Even if world manages to limit global warming to 2C — the target number for current climate negotiations — sea levels may still rise at least 6 meters (20 ft) above their current heights, radically reshaping the world’s coastline and affecting millions in the process. That finding comes from a new paper published in Science that shows how high sea levels rose the last time carbon dioxide levels were this high. That was about 3m years ago, when the globe was about 3-5F warmer on average, the Arctic 14.4F warmer, megasharks swam the oceans, and sea levels stood at least 20 ft above their current heights.

Will the Paris Climate Talks Be Too Little and Too Late?
Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360
At the upcoming U.N. climate conference, most of the world’s major nations will pledge to make significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. But serious doubts remain as to whether these promised cuts will be nearly enough to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change.

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.

Syria peak oil weakened government’s finances ahead of Arab Spring in 2011
Matt Mushalik, Crude Oil Peak
While the attention of the world is on the refugee crisis we need to look at the causes of this mass exodus. In this article we analyse to which extent peak oil contributed to a fiscal deterioration so that the Syrian government was forced to introduce unpopular policies (tax increases, removal of fuel subsidies, increasing cost of cement etc) which contributed to the unrest.

Peak Oil Has More To Do With Oil Prices Than You May Think
Robert Rapier, Oilprice.com
We should really talk about peak oil as a function of oil prices. In that case, we can say with a pretty high degree of certainty “The world has passed peak $20 oil.” If we could magically freeze the price of oil at $20, we would see the sort of peak that the imminent peakers projected. That doesn’t mean that oil prices will never again fall to $20, as supply/demand imbalances do wildly swing prices at times. It just means that $20 isn’t a sustainable price for meeting current global demand. That also means that the average price of oil in the future will be much greater than $20, which is why I downplay those predictions of very low oil prices.

Sustainable Development: Something New or More of the Same?
Charles Eisenstein
The new U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) convey real concern and care for the environment. Yet at the same time they are wedded to the ideology of economic growth more GDP, more industrial infrastructure, roads, ports, etc. without considering whether other forms of development could better meet their goals of poverty elimination and ecological sustainability.

 

 

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.

The IMF’s “shocking” estimate of fossil fuel costs: There’s more to the story

Sajai Jose

Credit: CGP Grey/Flickr, CC-BY 2.0
Credit: CGP Grey/FlickrCC-BY 2.0

Recently, when an International Monetary Fund research paper revealed that the actual cost of fossil fuel usage for 2015 was a staggering US$ 5.3 trillion (approx. 340 lakh crore rupees), it made headlines worldwide, though it went largely unreported in India.

What accounts for the bulk of this figure are the hidden costs of fossil fuel use – referred to as ‘externalities’ in economics calculated in monetary value. Most of it consists of damages inflicted by fossil fuel use on public health (for eg. deaths from air pollution) and the environment (global warming). Read more…

Video: Lord Man Parable

This video uses images and text from the book Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot which speaks to how man once lived peacefully with all of the Earths beauty but has quickly taken-for-granted all the resources and animals causing great environmental and sustainability issues.

Hieronymus Bosch’s ghastly depictions of hell meet their match in many of the real-life images collected in this sobering new book edited by conservationist Tom Butler and published by San Francisco’s Goff Books in collaboration with the Population Media Center and the Population Institute, the book showcases more than 200 photographs that are as bleak as they are beautiful, highlighting the alarming consequences of growth and consumption around the world.

The book’s photographs, writes William Ryerson in the introduction, are “emotionally jarring. The thoughts expressed herein are not reassuring; they are deeply provocative. But that is the nature of wake-up calls. The way that human numbers and behavior are transforming the Earth, undermining its ability to support the human family and the rest of life, is apparent for all to see. The reality of this urgent moment calls us to think, to care, and to act.”

Read William Ryersons introduction to Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

Video: Under the Dome – Investigating China’s Smog

Abby Zimet, Common Dreams

Giving new breadth to the term viral, last weekend up to 200 million people in China watched Under the Dome, a new, deeply personal, meticulously researched, self-funded for just $160,000 documentary about Chinas calamitous pollution problem, which on its worst airpocalypse days is said to resemble an airport smoking lounge. The film by former news anchor and environmental journalist Chai Jing has been called “one of the most important pieces of public awareness of all time for China, and in its potential impact has been compared to Rachel Carsons Silent Spring in this country and, later, Al Gores An Inconvenient Truth. It was released on the eve of Chinas annual meeting of the National Peoples Congress in Beijing, which will set government policies on a range of issues.

Jing, 39, began working on the film for personal reasons: She was pregnant with her first child, who was found to have a tumor. Though she had never before been afraid of the pollution around her in smog-blanketed Beijing or her native coal-choked region, she says, when you carry a life in you, you feel the fear.” She went on to do extensive research, assembling statistics on the estimated 600 million people suffering from asthma, heart disease, strokes and other ailments likely caused by environmental factors, travelling around the country to interview experts, workers, doctors filming, at one point, the removal of a cancerous lung and visiting particularly polluted sites like the northeastern city of Harbin, with pollutant levels many times those considered hazardous. Jing found, and hopes to capitalize on what she calls a basic social consensus that we all need air. This, she says hopefully, is how history will be made. To date, Chinas famously restrictive state media has been startlingly supportive of her message; experts say their openness may or may not last. You can watch the film in Mandarin with English sub-titles here, or watch its dramatic start and final call to action, with middle portions summarized, here.

Read the article      Watch the film

Workshop: Conservation, Environmental Protection and Equity (Vizag, 28-29 March)

Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, 28-29 March 2015

A one and a half day workshop titled Ecological Resources Conservation, Environmental Protection and Equity Movements will be held on 2829 March as part of the XXXVIII Indian Social Science Congress to be held in Andhra University, Visakhapatnam between 29 March and 2 April 2015. The focal theme of the congress is Knowledge systems, scientific temper and the Indian people.

Objectives
The object of this workshop is to explore the possibility of finding common ground for the three types of people’s movements to dialogue and work together and to understand the practical linkages between local issues on which movements take place and their global causes.

Participants
The workshop is largely for activists from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana and will be conducted in Telugu. The activists should have participated in struggles against inequality or destructive development projects, or participated in conservation movements. Interested activists from other states may attend. The organizers will assist them to have whisper translation done. Read more…

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