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Showing posts from February 10, 2017

Poaching, climate change cause sharp decline in reindeer population in Siberia (downtoearth,)

Krasnoyarsk Krai region in northern Siberia is one-fourth the size of Canada. Cruelty against reindeer in the north of Krasnoyarsk region is becoming more evident with each passing day as poachers adopt novel methods to kill. Going by the statistics, the current population of wild reindeer has come down to anywhere between 400,000 and 500,000, which is a stark decline from one million in the year 2000.

The reindeer population in Taimyr Peninsula (administrative part of Krasnoyarsk region) is the largest wild herd in the world, but a new projection stokes fear of a further decline in population to as low as 150,000 in 2020.

Poachers, reportedly, shoot reindeer in the head from boats when they cross rivers on a seasonal migration from Evenkia to the Taimyr Peninsula. The corpses are then dumped along the Khatanga River. The poachers also chase reindeer on snowmobiles. Pregnant females carrying embryos weighing 3-4 kg often suffer miscarriages. Mass abortion has been reported by veterin…

Droughts, flooding rains already more likely as climate change plays havoc with Pacific weather (downtoearth)

Global warming has already increased the risk of major disruptions to Pacific rainfall, according to our research published today in Nature Communications. The risk will continue to rise over coming decades, even if global warming during the 21st century is restricted to 2℃ as agreed by the international community under the Paris Agreement.

In recent times, major disruptions have occurred in 1997-98, when severe drought struck Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands, and in 2010-11, when rainfall caused widespread flooding in eastern Australia and severe flooding in Samoa, and drought triggered a national emergency in Tuvalu.

These rainfall disruptions are primarily driven by the El Niño/La Niña cycle, a naturally occurring phenomenon centred on the tropical Pacific. This climate variability can profoundly change rainfall patterns and intensity over the Pacific Ocean from year to year.

Rainfall belts can move hundreds and sometimes thousands of kilometres from their normal po…

Water-sensitive innovations to transform health of slums and environment (downtoearth,)

Polluted water and inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene cause around 80% of diseases and one in four deaths in developing countries. The world is recognising that existing strategies simply aren’t working.

We are starting a five-year project early this year to implement an innovative water-sensitive approach to revitalise 24 informal settlements in Fiji and Indonesia.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the project aims to turn informal settlements into independent sites that:

recycle their own wastewater;

harvest rainwater;

create green space for water cleansing and food cultivation; and

restore natural waterways to encourage diversity and deal with flooding.

Working with local slum communities, the project will design and deliver modular and multi-functional water infrastructure. This will be tailored to their settlements. Providing secure and reliable water and sanitation services and flood management should improve public health and create more resilient communities.

This pr…

Bowing down to patriarchy (Hindu.)

One of the success stories of affirmative action in India has been the implementation of reservation of seats in local body elections for women, to the order of 33% or more. The importance of democratising the public sphere by inclusive participation of women in a largely male-dominated society cannot be stressed enough. In rural areas the quota has helped improve local governance, enhancing outcomes in delivery of civic services related to drinking water supply, sanitation and irrigation, among others. In urban local bodies, the visible impact has been more quantitative in terms of representation rather than qualitative, with success being linked to emphasis on gender sensitisation by civil society and political parties. It is therefore unfortunate that the Nagaland government, after initial steadfastness to hold the long-delayed urban local body polls on February 1, declared the elections as “null and void” after some tribal bodies, opposed to reservations for women, sought to disr…

Prudence amid uncertainty (Hindu)

For the first time in six meetings this fiscal, the Reserve Bank of India has shifted its policy poise, moving to ‘neutral’ from an ‘accommodative’ stance. The central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee has opted to sit pat on rates and choose to give itself time to “assess how the transitory effects of demonetisation on inflation and the output gap play out”. The decision came just a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Parliament that the government’s move to withdraw high-value currency notes had been undergirded by the premise that the economy was “doing well and thus our decision was taken at the right time”. The RBI’s emphasis on caution suggests that not only has the economy suffered short-run disruptions — as the central bank said in December — but that the long-term impact may be far more enduring and hard to predict than anticipated. The policy statement issued by the six-member MPC also projected the second successive downward revision in economic growth as measured b…