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Showing posts from June 11, 2017

2016 was a great year for renewable energy, especially for power generation: REN21 (downtoearth)

The Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21), a global renewable energy multi-stakeholder policy network, published its Renewables 2017 Global Status Report (GSR) in Beijing, China this week. This yearly publication provides comprehensive overview of the renewable energy (RE) sector and market covering power, heating and cooling and transportation sectors.

RE contributed to an estimated 19.3 per cent of global energy consumption. Most of the new RE capacity was installed in developing countries, mostly in China. In fact, China has been the largest developer of RE in power and heat sector over the past eight years. However, the share of bio-energy in total primary energy consumption has remained more or less the same as 2005, despite a 21 per cent rise in overall energy demand over the last 10 years.

Power sector

RE installed capacity saw its largest annual increase (161 gigawatts) in 2016 of. Compared to 2015, the global capacity increased by almost 9 per cent to …

Earth's rain belts may shift farther north, claims study (downtoearth)

here’s a possibility of the Earth’s rain belts and dry zones shifting more towards northern hemisphere, claims Aaron Putnam and Wallace Broecker—researchers with the University of Maine and Columbia University.

They have conducted a study of the past to make predictions about rainfall patterns in coming years.

The duo studied a period during which the planet was warming after a cool spell to learn more about future rainfall distribution. The northern hemisphere has a lot more land mass than the Southern Hemisphere, which means more heat and subsequently more rainfall.

The researchers studied Paleoclimatology data from different parts of the planet such as closed lake basins and ice core samples. They also looked at materials that have been carbon dated to ascertain where rainfall patterns changed during a time of similar warming approximately 14,600 years ago.

The research highlighted three observations. Firstly, tropical rainfall will increase. Secondly, the Earth’s rain belts and d…

Rain-bearing low cloud cover decreased significantly in last 50 years: study (downtoearth)

There was a decrease in low cloud cover over most regions in India between 1961 and 201, says a study published in the Indian Meteorological Department journal Mausam.

The annual mean low cloud cover, which is responsible for most of the rainfall, shows significant decreasing trend of - 0.45 per cent per decade. The decline is particularly evident in monsoon season, with the cloud cover reducing by 1.22 per cent per decade. Monsoon is responsible for 70 per cent of India’s rainfall and snowfall.

The study also shows a decline in the number of rainy days in the monsoon season at a rate of 0.23 days every decade, which means that India has lost approximately one rainy day in the last 50 years. This is going by the IMD definition of a rainy day: when total precipitation is 2.5 mm or more.

The paper argues that the trend is a cause of “worry” and finds that while the number of rainy days are reducing, the total amount of rainfall does not show much change. This indicates shorter, heavier…

A bastion of women nawabs (hindu )

The erstwhile princely state of Bhopal has many distinctions

As the Mughal Empire started disintegrating after the death of Aurangzeb, many local chiefs and governors declared independence. Many others, finding the empire weakened, seized land and carved an empire for themselves. One of these was an Afghan-origin soldier named Dost Mohammad Khan who captured the Gond kingdom of Jagdishpur and established his hold over it. His new capital, near present-day Bhopal, was called Islamnagar, and he set about fortifying it. The foundation of a fort named Fatehgarh was laid in 1723 on the northern bank of the Upper Lake. Dost Mohammad Khan named it after his wife Fateh Bibi.

It is said that the idea of this fort was conceived by both of them during a shikar (hunting) expedition, and Dost Mohammad selected the site on that very moonlit night. Remains of the fortification wall can be seen from a neighbourhood mosque. Despite fierce attacks by enemies inside and outside, Bhopal managed to hold …

Clouded coherence (hindu)

Given India’s recent foreign policy fluidity, the sustainability of its SCO membership is in doubt

The phrase “Where you stand depends on where you sit”, also called ‘Miles’s Law’, was coined by Rufus Miles, an American bureaucrat who served as Assistant Secretary to three U.S. Presidents (Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson), essentially to describe how one’s policy changes according to one’s location and the company one keeps.

As India takes its place as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) in Astana, many are wondering just ‘where’ Indian foreign policy stands on the basis of where Prime Minister Narendra Modi is sitting, along with Russia, China, Central Asian states and Pakistan (which is also being admitted this year).

An SCO membership has many obvious advantages: being a part of a major security coalition in Asia, with easy access to the energy-rich ‘stans’, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. It is an important forum on counter-terrorism co…

Getting back on the growth track (hindu )

A big push on private investment is needed. But social harmony is also a prerequisite for faster growth

The National Income numbers for 2016-17 have been released. What do they convey? What do they hold for the immediate future? Briefly, this is the picture. Recent revisions in the Index of Industrial Production and Wholesale Price Index do not alter the annual growth rates for the recent years.

The differences are in one or two decimal points. The growth rate for 2015-16 is estimated at 8%. The growth rate for 2016-17 is 7.1%, which is the same as forecast a few months ago.

Impact of demonetisation

It is the numbers for the fourth quarter of 2016-17, that is, for the quarter January-March 2017, which has attracted much attention. The numbers are being scanned with a critical eye to know what impact demonetisation had on the economy. The overall growth rate of GDP is 6.1%, which is nearly 1% below the growth rate for the previous quarter at 7%. The year-on-year decline is, however, s…

The arc to Tokyo (hindu )

The India-Japan nuclear deal is today less significant than it would have once been

Seven years of rollercoaster negotiations over an India-Japan civil nuclear energy deal came to fruition on Wednesday when Japan’s Parliament, the Diet, approved the pact. Opposition parties voiced protest against the deal, highlighting concerns that India has provided insufficient guarantees for Japan’s right to terminate the agreement in the event of New Delhi conducting a nuclear test. Nonetheless, the ruling coalition pushed the accord through with a majority vote. The agreement is set to take effect in early July.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe believes that nuclear exports are key to kick-starting a Japanese economy stuck in a holding pattern for more than two decades. For India, the deal represents hope that the 2008 waiver it received from the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group might finally begin paying off given that so far it has had limited tangible benefits for the country’s power industry. The…

Proper protocol: On WHO’s antibiotics classification (hindu)

The revision of antibiotics classes by the WHO is a welcome step to prevent drug resistance

The revision of antibiotics classes by the World Health Organisation in its list of essential medicines is a welcome step in the global initiative to push back against antimicrobial resistance, the phenomenon of bacteria becoming resistant even to the most potent drugs. With a graded approach to the use of antibiotics, under which some medicines are reserved for the most resistant microbes, the WHO list can stop their misuse as broad-spectrum treatments. The Indian Council of Medical Research issued a warning two years ago, based on studies conducted in hospitals, that resistance to antibiotics was found in 50% of patients. A large number of infants were dying due to infections that did not respond to treatment. Antibiotics have had great success, extending the frontiers of medicine for over 70 years. But Alexander Fleming, who discovered the first antibiotic, himself foresaw the danger of rel…