Livelihoods, Ecology and Climate Change,18th August 2018

 “The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around.”

“All economic activity is dependent upon that environment and its underlying resource base of forests, water, air, soil, and minerals. When the environment is finally forced to file for bankruptcy because its resource base has been polluted, degraded, dissipated, and irretrievably compromised, the economy goes into bankruptcy with it.”

— Gaylord Nelson (Beyond Earth Day — Fulfilling the Promise, 2002)

South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP)

For information and data on issues such as weekly issue, hydro power, dams, monsoon, flood, drought, inter linking of rivers, interstate river water disputes, irrigation, rivers, sand mining, wetlands, lakes, water bodies, water options, ground water, pollution, urban waters, water, agriculture, energy option, South Asia, South East Asia, China, rest of the world, climate change and environment.

Water scarcity and per capita water consumption

A country is considered to be suffering from water scarcity when availability is less than 10 lakh (1 million) litres per capita per year. Discuss the issue at Global Water Security Conference. Register for Conference – 

Mumbai: Miners drowning for sand despite govt crackdown

Raghunath Bartade watched helplessly as his brother was dragged off the sand-mining boat, his leg tangled in the anchor rope and his arms flailing as he sank into the murky creek near Mumbai.

Moments earlier, Raghunath and Babban Bartade had been dredging sand by hand from the bottom of the creek — an often deadly trade that fuels India’s booming construction industry, and continues despite an official crackdown.

Sikkim is carbon neutral 

Preliminary report of a unique study on climate inventory by the Sikkim govt. has found the state to be carbon-neutral. Sikkim’s forests sequester more carbon than state’s total carbon emissions. But then, the dense coverage of forests in Sikkim is well known. Final report in 6 months.

Sikkim Gets IoT-based real-time Landslide Warning System

After successfully commissioning India’s first real-time landslide warning system in Kerala’s Western Ghats, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham is now readying the second installation in Sikkim to guard against rainfall-induced landslides in the Sikkim-Darjeeling belt. The project is jointly funded by the Ministry of Earth Sciences and Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham for which the Union ministry had granted Rs. 5 crore.

It will monitor a densely populated area spanning 150 acres around the Chandmari village in Sikkim’s Gangtok area. This area has seen landslides in the past, the first one being reported in 1997.

Arunachal Govt to terminate 100 more hydropower projects

ITANAGAR, Aug 16 – Strictly sticking to the slogan ‘perform or perish’, the Arunachal Pradesh Government has decided to terminate 100 more hydroelectric projects allotted to various private developers, days after terminating 15 project with a total generating capacity of 1,586.4 MW of power.

“We have taken a bold decision to terminate those hydropower projects where the performance is very poor. We have decided to hand such projects over to the PSUs as per mutual terms and conditions. Till date we have cancelled 15 hydropower projects and 100 more hydroelectric projects are in the process of termination,” disclosed Chief Minister Pema Khandu, in his Independence Day address at the Indira Gandhi Park here on Wednesday.

Ten years after the catastrophic Koshi embankment breach

 A dammed history of the Kosi in Bihar. 3 part series on the successful/unsuccessful attempts at taming the transboundary river. Whether mindful of natural designs or not is a whole discussion in itself.

Part 2 – While most Nepalese blame the 2008 breach on India, Nepal itself has started to construct a massive amount of embankments throughout the country, these enjoy popularity across various social groups, but it is unclear if they are a lasting good.

Part 3 – The heavy sediment load in the Koshi remains one of its biggest challenges, and while a number of options have been put forward – from check dams to hydropower projects – India and Nepal remain wedded to the idea of embankments

When will farmers achieve economic independence?

 For a country living in a ‘ship-to-mouth’ existence when food came directly from the ship to feed the hungry millions, India’s turnaround in the past 71 years to achieve food self-sufficiency remains the cornerstone of global history. For a country that was born in the backdrop of the Great Bengal Famine in 1943, to be saddled with unmanageable food surpluses – food grains, pulses and milk — in the past two years explains the long strides taken to accomplish what was once considered to be mission impossible…

…The decline in farm incomes explains the reasons behind the growing farm unrest. In the five years period – between 2011-12 and 2015-16 – the average farm incomes had risen by less than half a percent every year, at 0.44 per cent to be exact, says a study by Niti Aayog. According to another report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), farm output prices have remained frozen for two decades. Farmers have been deliberately paid 15 per cent less so as to ensure that the food inflation remain under control. As if this is not enough, Economic Survey 2016 tells us that the average farm family incomes in 17 States of India, or roughly half the country, average to Rs 20,000 a year. This means less than Rs 1,700 a month.

Climate change multiplies harmful marine heatwaves

The number of days marked by potentially destructive ocean heatwaves has doubled in 35 years, and will multiply another five-fold at current rates of climate change.

…Coral reefs — which cover less than 1% of the ocean’s surface but support a quarter of marine species — are especially vulnerable to warming waters.

…Apart from destroying Marine heatwave may also affect the ocean’s ability to soak up greenhouse gases.

To date, oceans have absorbed more than 90% of the extra heat generated by manmade climate change. Without that sea-water sponge, air temperatures would be tens of degrees Celsius higher.

It is already known that global warming slows the transport of the carbon absorbed by microorganisms at the ocean surface to the ocean floor, where it can safely remain for millennia.

Marine heatwaves do not affect that “carbon cycle” process, but could make things worse by damaging shallow-water ecosystems that also store CO2.

“That damage can lead to the release of the carbon,” said Frolicher.

Weather extremes and climate change

A full media briefing video, transcript, and multiple fact sheets to help one cover wildfires, weather extremes, and climate change in appropriate scientific context.

FAO report on forests and climate change

Forests are more than just trees. When managed sustainably they stablilise our climate.

Judge dismisses youth climate change lawsuit in Washington state

In his ruling, the judge made clear that “anthropogenic climate change caused by increased greenhouse gas emissions poses severe threats.” However, the state’s constitution doesn’t include a right to a clean environment, he wrote.

The state judge wrote that climate change poses urgent threats, but that it should be solved by the executive and legislative branches, not the courts.

What is FAO fish’s Global Record?

What is FAO fish’s Global Record is a repository of vessels involved in fishing operations. What does it do? Makes data public to help fight Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing. What do we need? States’ commitment to share comprehensive and up-to-date information.

Science alone won’t save the Earth. People have to do that.

We need to start talking about what kind of planet we want to live on. “Let’s start talking about the better future we want, and less about the future we don’t.”

Towards building resilient communities and ecosystems

On the occasion of World Honeybee Day, celebrated every year on the third Saturday of August, it is significant to note that India is the world’s sixth largest producer of honey. Over 2.5 lakh farmers in India are involved in beekeeping or ‘apiculture’ as a business, as per the data of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).

…In fact, experts like Dr. Shantanu Jha, Professor, Agricultural Entomology, of the Bidhan Chandra Krishi Vishwavidyalaya in West Bengal say that India has potential to maintain least 20 crore (200 million) bee colonies, which could provide employment to 215 lakh people. However, the current reality of the beekeeping or apiculture industry in India is a far cry from this. According to the data of the KVIC, India at present has only 25 lakh (2. 5 million) bee colonies. So far, only 1.25 per cent of the potential has been realised.

Challenges of apiculture

The reason for the divergence between potential and reality is rooted in several challenges that apiculture faces in India. As the majority of those involved in beekeeping are small and marginal farmers they lack the capacity to invest in marketing infrastructure. Second, the beekeepers often lack training in managing their bees. Third, beekeepers in rural areas find it difficult to reach consumers beyond their village.

Watershed Organisation Trust (WOTR), in light of the above potential and the challenges, has taken steps in Jharkhand to promote apiculture and thereby boost livelihoods and incomes of the local community.

One such beneficiary under the programme is Sudarshan Besra (35), who practices beekeeping in Sidhu Karanjtoli village in Jharkhand’s Murhu block. He narrates his story to us:

He says “My father practiced beekeeping as a profession and I too continued this tradition, but I had only 20 boxes and lacked know-how in the technical aspects of beekeeping. The boxes are used for breeding bees. Four years ago in 2014, I received some training in beekeeping from a Ranchi-based non-governmental organisation. This inspired me to expand my beekeeping business. However, for this I needed more boxes so that I could breed more bees.   In February 2018, when I came to know that WOTR provided assistance to farmers who wished to take up apiculture, I requested assistance in this regard. It was a great help when WOTR gave me 103 boxes to help in this regard. Each box costs around Rs. 2,500 of which I had to contribute Rs. 250 per box. Besides, one of my sisters also received training from WOTR in making candles from bees wax.”

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