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Showing posts from October 10, 2017

Trump must confront climate challenge, but will he? (downtoearth,)

Donald Trump’s entry into the White House must not lead to the triumph of climate change denial. That’s the prayer on everyone’s lips as the 45th President of the United States takes the Oath of Office just ten weeks after stunning the world by winning the US election.  As the US has already started witnessing climate refugees and a broad scientific consensus seems to emerge on how human activity is the primary cause of global warming, the Donald Trump’s presidential administration has lot to learn and unlearn.

From freakishly warm Arctic winter to coral bleaching in Great Barrier Reef and Japan, the signs of global warming are getting more and more evident.

The President, who wants to ‘Make America Great Again’, cannot ignore the fact that the US has suffered climate-related losses worth $27 billion in 2016. As the global temperature is expected to rise by 2.9°C to 3.4°C by this century, the climate change believers must turn up the heat on Trump so that he doesn’t water down Obama&…

Marrakech climate talks produced defiance towards Trump, but little else (downtoearth)

In many ways, the Marrakech climate summit was entirely ordinary. As is usually the case, the first week was spent drowning in technical detail while most of the second was dedicated to photo opportunities and political speeches. And as always the negotiations ran over time, finishing early on Saturday morning.

But while this latest “Conference of the Parties” (COP) was intended to be an “action COP”, aimed at getting down to the business of implementing the Paris Climate Agreement reached last year, it will mainly be remembered as the “Trump COP”. It was a summit held under the spectre of renewed US climate recalcitrance in the wake of the surprise election result, which dropped like a bombshell on the summit’s third day.

The main topic of debate in the first week was the creation of a “Paris Rulebook”, set to be finalised by the end of 2018. The Paris Agreement sets up a loose skeleton for a pledge-and-review system of deepening emissions-reduction targets over the coming decades. …

Notable agriculture initiatives discussed at COP (downtoearth)

Agriculture is part of the solution in the fight against climate change—this was the sentiment echoed by various stakeholders gathered at COP 22 in Marrakech.

This is established by their respective climate action plans or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions. Almost 95 per cent of countries covered agriculture, and 89 per cent discussed water management in their plans. Most of the countries have considered agriculture among their adaptation or mitigation priorities to help limit global temperature rise, in line with the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Working towards sustainable agriculture also addresses other global challenges: fighting hunger and malnutrition and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems. However, the progress made at COP 22 related on agriculture was very slow and the issues related to agriculture will now be discussed in May 2017.

Three new initiatives discussed at COP 22 highlight the potential in agricultural adaptation: Adaptation of…

Three-fold increase in extreme rain events over central India: study (downtoearth)

The Indian summer monsoon has changed. Successively unpredictable and volatile monsoons have ratcheted up the spectre of a “new normal” in monsoons- an alternating assault of extreme rain and absolutely none. However, evidence for this change that is underway and its pathways is still being put together. Research published today in Nature Communications goes some way in explaining the newfound extreme nature of our monsoons. The study finds that widespread extreme rain events over central India have increased three-fold in the 66-year period between 1950 and 2015. The study notes a 10-30 per cent increase in rainfall events over the region where more than 150 mm of rain is registered in a day has been occurring despite a general weakening of monsoon circulation.

According to the paper, while monsoon rainfall over central India from June-September has decreased by about 10 per cent during the study period, the frequency of extreme rain events has increased by a staggering 75 per cent,…

US provides more than $20-billion subsidy to fossil fuel industry each year (downtoearth)

While the world is gearing up to address climate change, events taking place in the US are in stark contradictions to the global trend. A report, titled Dirty Energy Dominance: Dependent on Denial, reveals how the US fossil fuel industry depends heavily on federal and state governments’ subsidies to grow and thrive.

According to the report, released by the Oil Change International, a Washington-based non-profit organisation, the US federal and state governments gave away $20.5 billion a year in 2015 and 2016 in production subsidies to the oil, gas, and coal industries to support exploration, development and production of fossil fuels. This includes $14.7 billion in federal subsidies and $5.8 billion through state-level incentives. Every dollar spent subsidising this industry takes the global community away from achieving accepted long-term emissions reduction goals and preventing further heating up of the earth.

The report highlights that the cost of federal subsidies to the fossil f…

Conflict and climate change lead to a rise in global hunger (.downtoearth )

Last year about 11 per cent of the total human population (approximately 850 million people on the planet) suffered from daily hunger, according to a recent United Nations report on the state of food security and nutrition in the world.

This is a tragedy no matter how you look at it. The numbers show a 4.5 per cent increase — or 38 million more hungry people — from the previous year. This rise in hunger is especially significant because it is the first rise in global hunger we have seen in more than a decade.

Though global hunger was at 14 per cent of the world’s population in 2005, each year since then, between 2005 and 2016, the number of hungry people on the planet dropped. Development officials were cautiously optimistic that we were on our way to eradicating hunger.

Conflict and climate change are the culprits behind this year’s rise in numbers.

According to the United Nations, food security worsened across major parts of sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and Western Asia. For …

Nearly three-fold rise in dengue cases this year (.hindu)

Rainfall in last few months and lack of preparedness led to spurt: experts

There has been nearly a three-fold increase in dengue cases reported in Puducherry this year. Intermittent rainfall over the last couple of months and lack of preparedness have led to the spread of cases across the Union Territory.

According to sources in the government General Hospital, the number of confirmed dengue cases in the Union Territory between January and September was around 1,800, with Puducherry accounting for about 1,400 cases. It was 490 in 2016, 803 in 2015, 1,408 in 2013, 1,063 in 2013, 871 in 2012, 232 in 2011 and 45 in 2010.

Vector Control Research Centre (VCRC) director P. Jambulingam said there was an increase in the cases due to the intermittent rainfall as the temperature had become conducive to facilitate breeding of mosquitoes carrying dengue virus. As many as 800 cases were reported in August this year.

“We should be prepared once we get the first few showers. If we do not prevent th…

At Bonn, stay the course (.hindu)

Renegotiation of the Paris Agreement on climate change is not a viable option

Between November 6 and 17 this year, world leaders, delegates from various countries and others from business, along with media and other representatives of civil society will gather at Bonn for the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP-23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The meeting will primarily concentrate on various aspects associated with the implementation of the Paris Agreement (PA), which was negotiated at COP-21 and entered into force, or became legally binding, on November 4, 2016.

COP-23 will be presided by Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji. It is fitting that a Pacific island nation chairs this year’s COP as the very existence of low-lying islands is threatened by sea level rise due to climate change. The meetings in Bonn will cover a wide range of issues, including adjusting to living in a warmer world with the associated impacts, known as adaptation to…

Fixing the steel frame (hindu)

It is not as difficult as it sounds

When we attained Independence in 1947, like British dominions such as Canada and Australia and colonies such as Malaya and Kenya, we continued to adopt the civil service system inherited from the British. The first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was aware that the colonial civil service system was unsuitable for a politically free, socially feudal and economically poor country such as ours. Lord Mountbatten, the “last Viceroy of India”, did little about it. Yes, we renamed our civil services, calling them the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the Indian Audit and Accounts Service (IAAS), etc, but there has been only little change in practice. The IAS has continued to be deeply hierarchical and rule-bound rather than being driven by domain knowledge. Seniority is the basic criterion. We set up a brand new National Academy of Administration at Mussoorie, later to be called the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration. It was me…

Who is Fridtjof Nansen, the subject of today’s Google Doodle? (.hindu )

This 1922 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate led one of the most interesting lives in the 19th-20th centuries.

Fridtjof Nansen (pronounced FRID-choff NAN-sən) wore many caps during his lifetime — scientist, explorer, adventurer, trekker, zoologist, humanitarian, diplomat, a champion skiier who could ski fifty miles a day.

This 1922 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate led one of the most interesting lives in the 19th-20th centuries. He studied the polar ice caps, dabbled in oceanography, repatriated prisoners of war, rescued refugees and was part of a group that was the first to cross Greenland.

Today’s Google Doodle, in honour of his 156th birthday, features a neat gif of the adventurer skiing across the frozen tundras of the North. The doodle also features the legendary ‘Nansen passport’.

Nansen was born on October 10, 1861 near Oslo. Even as a child, Nansen had a finger in several pies — swimming, skiing, the sciences and, oddly enough, drawing as well. According to the Nobel Foundation, it was his…

Biocon gets complete response letter from US drug authority for anti-cancer drug (.hindu)

Biotechnology firm Biocon on Tuesday said the United States health regulator has issued complete response letter (CRL) for proposed biosimilar Pegfilgrastim, indicated for use in cancer treatment.

The company, however said it does not expect this CRL to impact the commercial launch timing of biosimilar Pegfilgrastim in the U.S. This product is a part of the biosimilars portfolio being developed jointly by Biocon and Mylan.

“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration [USFDA] has issued a complete response letter for Mylan’s Biologics License Application (BLA) for MYL-1401H, a proposed biosimilar pegfilgrastim,” Biocon said in a regulatory filing.

It said:

“The CRL relates to the pending update of the BLA with certain CMC [Chemistry and Manufacturing Control ] data from facility requalification activities post recent plant modifications. The CRL did not raise any questions on biosimilarity, pharmacokinetic/ pharmacodynamic data, clinical data or immunogenicity.

“We do not expect this CRL to…