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TRINet Newsletter August 2011

Friends,

This month we have a feature on the global status of renewable energy; links to some of the finest news stories on the environment in India; a book review:India's Environment History; about seismic wallpaper; a recycled school; videos of dragonflies that cross oceans; the melting glaciers of Bhutan; a rainwater harvesting miracle in India and much more.

Renewable Energy -- developing nations rising to the challenge



In 2010, according to a Global Status Report by The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century, renewable energy supplied an estimated 16% of global final energy consumption and delivered close to 20% of global electricity production. Renewable capacity now comprises about a quarter of total global power-generating capacity. Including the estimated 30 GW of hydro power added in 2010, RE accounted for approximately 50% of total added power generating capacity in 2010.
more

Conservation through democratic governance by Shiba Desor, Ashish Kothari, Nitin Rai 


Can an adivasi community save the forests and wildlife they live amidst? According to the sentiments echoed by about 160 Soliga adivasis, the answer is a resounding yes. The occasion that brought them together from far flung podus (settlements) was a workshop organized inside the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple (BRT) Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka on 12-13th July. The workshop, facilitated by some civil society groups, focused upon framing a community based plan for forest management and wildlife conservation. 

 

India plans to set up an environmental regulator to review investment projects for clearance. The panel would free the government from making sometimes-unpopular choices between protecting ecology or spurring development.

Plans afoot to divide India into green zones 

 

India is set to get a new environment protection framework wherein national institutions will frame and monitor zonal disaster management plans to be implemented by the state governments. The new framework is aimed at reducing burden of district magistrates in environmental regulation and has an effective system to prevent ecological degradation.

 
On June 29, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh met with editors of a few newspapers. When asked about whether he had been putting pressure on the Environment Ministry to approve environmentally destructive projects, he said "yes", and justified that by quoting Indira Gandhi: "Poverty is the biggest polluter, we need to have a balance".
 
On a regular school day, four-year-old Kush Bhattacharya can leave his mathematics class to run barefoot on grass, hide from his friends in a cave made of cow dung and return to recite nursery rhymes in a red bus that doubles up as a classroom.
 
 
India's forest cover has been increasing, says the government. But the government might just be fudging the figures. According to a research paper called 'Cryptic Destruction of India's Native Forests', written by two Indian scientists and a colleague from Australia, the exact opposite has been happening — our forest cover has been decreasing.


Japan Nuclear Scare Triggers Run For Radiation Checks 
Japanese private research labs with radiation testing gear have been flooded with orders for checks on food and soil samples after shipments of contaminated beef deepened public anxiety over radiation leaks from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
 
Indian scientists are calling for an office of research integrity that could detect, investigate and punish proven scientific misconduct in the country like the report on BT brinjal.

What Jairam did and didn't do as green minister
Jairam Ramesh's tenure as Minister of Environment and Forests cannot be assessed in a hurry; there are lots of positives there, but also many question marks, says Himanshu Thakkar

MoEF extends date to identify CRZ violations 

The union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has extended the time period to all state and union territories' coastal zone management authorities to identify and initiate action against violations of CRZ notification 1991, with more than three authorities issued the directions under Section 5 of The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. All the authorities have to identify the violations by October 31, 2011.

Niyamgiri again 

Why bother complying with regulations if a committee can decide that it didn't matter much that the law was bypassed? MoEF finds itself on the backfoot, after its experts look away from the law. Kanchi Kohli reports. 

Singrauli singed by coal and power

The Singrauli region, India's energy capital, spreads across Uttar Pradesh (Sonebhadra district) and Madhya Pradesh (Sidhi and Singrauli districts). The connection between coal and thermal power is stronger here than anywhere else in India. With its vast supply of coal, it was a natural home to many thermal power plants.

National Centre for Marine Biodiversity

National Centre for Marine Biodiversity (NCMB) is coming up at Jamnagar for safeguarding the biodiversity of the coastal areas. This is country’s first research institute established in public private partnership (PPP) mode in the country.
Disaster Management:
 
 

‘Seismic wallpaper’ may help houses through quakes

Researchers in Germany are working on a material that can keep walls from collapsing during earthquakes - and even detect them before they happen. 
 
Union Home Minister Shri P. Chidambaram released the book on Disaster Management in India prepared by Disaster Management Division in the Ministry of Home Affairs, here today. Speaking on the occasion, Shri Chidambaram urged the stakeholders to come together by contributing their knowledge and experience in mitigating disaster in the country.
 

Book review:

 
MAHESH RANGARAJAN AND 
K. SIVARAMAKRISHNAN, EDITORS
Price: Rs.1,850.00
PP: 1096

Environmental history in India has generated a rich literature on forests, wildlife, human–animal conflict, tribal rights and commercial degradation, displacement and development, pastoralism and desertification, famine and disease, sedentarism and mobility, wildness and civility, and the ecology versus equity debate. This reader brings together some of the best and most interesting writing on India’s ecological pasts. It looks at a variety of the country’s regions, landscapes, and arenas as settings for strife or harmony, as topography and ecological fabric, in the process covering a vast historical terrain. 

 

TED/YouTube:

Bhutan and its Melting Glaciers
Nature reporter Anjali Nayar hiked for 21 days in Northern Bhutan to find out how this tiny Himalayan nation is dealing with rapidly melting glaciers.

Miracle Water Village in India

Lying in one of the worst drought-prone regions of India, the village of Hiware Bazar battled many decades of sparse rain and failed crops. However, 20 years ago, the entire village came together to script a silent revolution by designing a rainwater-harvesting model that saved every drop of the scanty rain they received. Today, the village is literally an oasis in the middle of the desert, boasting of bumper harvests, dairy co-operatives, millionaire families and visionary farmers. 
 

Charles Anderson discovers dragonflies that cross oceans 

While living and working as a marine biologist in Maldives, Charles Anderson noticed sudden explosions of dragonflies at certain times of year. He explains how he carefully tracked the path of a plain, little dragonfly called the globe skimmer, only to discover that it had the longest migratory journey of any insect in the world.
 
TRINet DeBunk:
 
Vaccine-autism claims, "Frankenfood" bans, the herbal cure craze: All point to the public's growing fear (and, often, outright denial) of science and reason, says Michael Specter. He warns the trend spells disaster for human progress.
 
 
A musical celebration of humanity, its origins, and achievements, contrasted with a somber look at our environmentally destructive tendencies and deep similarities with other primates. Featuring Jacob Bronowski, Alice Roberts, Carolyn Porco, Jane Goodall, Robert Sapolsky, Neil deGrasse Tyson and David Attenborough. "Children of Africa" is the tenth installment in the ongoing Symphony of Science music video series.

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