Common Dreams reports: A new analysis, published in Science Advances journal, reveals that global water scarcity is a far greater problem than previously thought, affecting 4 billion people—two-thirds of the world’s population. Previous analyses looked at water scarcity at an annual scale, and had found that water scarcity affected between 1.7 and 3.1 billion people.

Siachen avalanche due to climate change
Athar Parvaiz, India Climate Dialogue
A former researcher in the Snow and Avalanche Studies Establishment (SASE) of India’s defence ministry said the frequency of avalanches had been going up steadily since 1984, when Indian troops were first deployed on the Siachen glacier and scientists started studying the area. Speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media, the scientist said both minimum and maximum winter temperatures on the glacier were showing steadily upward trends. “That may sound like very good news to soldiers forced to live and patrol in temperatures that can go down to minus 40 (degrees Celsius). But these upward trends are not uniform; they fluctuate a lot. That cracks the ice and makes an avalanche more likely.”

Pesticides suspected to be carcinogenic escape govt ban list
Kumar Sambhav Shrivastava, Hindustan Times
A clutch of pesticides that could be carcinogenic and banned in many countries will continue their run in India, though a government panel has recently decided to ban 18 insect killers hazardous to human health and prohibited abroad. This is the first time a decision to ban such a big number of pesticides was taken. There are 261 pesticides registered in India but only 28 had been banned so far. It followed an agriculture ministry expert committee’s findings that 19 of 66 pesticides, most of which are used in India for the past four decades but banned in foreign nations, are “likely/probable carcinogenic in nature”. The results were based on studies conducted worldwide.

Crop insurance 2.0: More of the same old wine
Charu Kartikeya, Catch News
What happens now is that a farmer becomes eligible for insurance claim only if a crop fails for the whole area (gram panchayat/mandal/hobli/circle/phirka/block/taluka) in which he lives. This problem has not been addressed in the new scheme. The scheme talks about direct transfer of funds into the bank accounts of the farmers. But less than 20% of the country’s farmers have bank accounts.

Drought blamed for negative farm growth
Business Standard
India’s agriculture growth, measured in terms of gross value added at constant prices, slipped into negative territory in the October-December quarter (first time in FY16) because of a low kharif harvest. However, on full-year basis, the government estimates gross value added in agriculture and allied activities would rise 1.1 per cent, from negative 0.2 per cent in 2014-15, on account of good performance of livestock, horticulture, fisheries and dairy sector.

National Green Tribunal clears decks for Hubli-Ankola railway line in Karnataka
The Economic Times
Decks have been cleared for the controversial Hubli-Ankola railway line, cutting across the eco-sensitive Western Ghats in Karnataka, with the National Green Tribunal giving its nod to Railways to approach the state government. The order assumes significance as Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) last year had disapproved the 168-km rail link project, conceived in 1998 primarily to transport iron ore from the Bellary-Hospet mines, and said that it would have “huge and irreparable” ecological impact on the forests, wildlife and biodiversity of the Western Ghats.

India’s climate action plan promotes ecologically destructive nuclear power & incineration based waste to energy
Gopal Krishna, Toxics Watch
While it is true that “both in terms of cumulative global emissions (only 3%) and per capita emission (1.56 tCO 2 e in 2010), India’s contribution to the problem of climate change is limited”, the fact is that ‘Make in India’ kind of initiative paves the for transfer of hazardous and polluting industries to India. In the aftermath of Fukushima nuclear disaster, while countries are moving away from nuclear energy, India’s INDC shows that it is “promoting Nuclear Power as a safe, environmentally benign and economically viable source to meet the increasing electricity needs of the country.”

Power for 1.68 crore households remained unsold in January
The Economic Times
Some 2,457 million units of power remained unsold at the India Energy Exchange in January due to lack of demand. Had it been bought by utilities it could have powered at least 1.68 crore households. According to a statement made by the exchange, in January generators offered to supply some 5,368 million units of power and utilities offered to buy about 3,449 million units. Buyers and sellers agreed to buy power for about 2,929 million units, leaving 2,457 units unsold. (Also read: Rent your rooftop and get solar power at a cheaper rate)

Auto Expo shows car industry is riding high on diesel and hard-selling diesel car models
Centre for Science and Environment
A rapid review of the car models on display in the recently concluded Auto Expo in the National Capital Region shows more than half of all new cars on display use diesel and more diesel models in both big and small car segments. This is in complete disregard of the raging public health concerns around toxic diesel emissions that has led the Supreme Court to crack down on diesel emissions from luxury diesel cars, diesel taxis and trucks and phasing in of environment compensation charge.

South Asia’s air pollutants are going global and could weaken the monsoon
T.V. Padma,
The cocktail of pollutants blanketing South Asia has far-reaching consequences. Longer-lived pollutants can drift higher up into the atmosphere and diffuse globally. Moreover, the pollutants have the potential to weaken the South Asia monsoon. Air pollution has risen in Asia in the last few decades, especially in areas of high population density, according to Vanisa Surapipith, atmospheric modeller at the Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development. (Also read: Now, Chinese buying fresh air from Britain)

4 Billion People at Risk as ‘Water Table Dropping All Over the World’
Common Dreams
A new analysis reveals that global water scarcity is a far greater problem than previously thought, affecting 4 billion people—two-thirds of the world’s population—and will be “one of the most difficult and important challenges of this century.” Previous analyses looked at water scarcity at an annual scale, and had found that water scarcity affected between 1.7 and 3.1 billion people. The new study, published Friday in the journal Science Advances, assessed water scarcity on a monthly basis, more fully capturing the specific times of year when it could be an issue. (Read analysis of Indian scenario, from The Hindu: Inching towards a crisis, drop by drop)

El Niño and Climate Change: Wild Weather May Get Wilder
Fred Pearce, Yale Environment 360
Climatologists are still calculating whether this is the biggest El Niño on record. What they do agree on is that there have now been three “super-El Niños” in the space of just over three decades — in 1982-83, 1997-98, and now 2015-16. This unusual recurrence gives weight to a forecast made by Wenju Cai of Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, two years ago that headline-grabbing “super El Niños” were in the process of upgrading from once every 20 years to once every ten years.

El Niño would be a disaster for the world’s coral reefs
The Guardian
A growing number of scientists are predicting a major El Niño weather event this year, which could wreak havoc across South America and Asia as droughts, floods and other extreme weather events hit industry and farming. But the impacts on the world’s coral reefs could be even more disastrous. The last big El Niño in 1997/98 caused the worst coral bleaching in recorded history. In total, 16% of the world’s coral was lost and some countries like the Maldives lost up to 90% of their reef coverage. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology suggests there’s a 70% chance of an El Niño occurring this year – and all the signs are that it will rival the ’98 event.

Measuring ocean heating is key to tracking global warming
The Guardian
The most compelling evidence we have that global warming is happening is that we can measure how much extra heat comes in to the Earth’s climate system each year. The Earth is warming because the energy is increasing. We know this because the heat shows up in our measurements, mainly in the oceans. Indeed the oceans take up more than 92% of the extra heat. The rest goes into melting Arctic sea ice, land ice, and warming the land and atmosphere. Accordingly, to measure global warming, we have to measure ocean warming. (Also read: Temperature Rise in Water In Indian Ocean Effects Fishermen, ‘Phytoplankton’ Food For Fish Was Reduced By 20 Percent)

Act Now, Urges Study, or Planet Faces 10,000+ Years of Climate Doom
Common Dreams
The actions that policymakers take in the next couple of years will have “profound impacts on global climate, ecosystems and human societies” for the next 10,000 years and beyond, warns a new report that examines the long-term consequences of the so called “fossil fuel era.” The agreement hashed out at the COP21 Paris climate talks “leaves a lot of leeway” for countries to postpone making critical cuts to their emission outputs—”more than the climate system allows,” said report co-author Patrik Pfister from the Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research at the University of Bern. (Also read: Bernie Sanders Singles Out Climate Change in Victory Speech)

IEA in Davos 2016 Warns of Higher Oil Prices in a Few Years’ Time
According to the International Energy Agency’s chief economist Fatih Birol, “these low oil prices and the unprecedented low investments mean we are having a fertile ground in the future for strong rebound in the prices. Second, topic of our discussion, transformation of energy, low oil prices are complicating the transformation. So we have to put this also in the context and therefore a need for governments to be very awake in the presence of low oil prices if they are serious about Paris”. (Also read: The Hidden Agenda Behind Saudi Arabia’s Market Share Strategy)

Air into fuel: Scientists convert CO2 directly into methanol for fuel cells and more
Tree Hugger
There have been quite a few ideas about what to do with all of that extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is fueling climate change. Carbon capture and storage schemes have been around for years as well as technologies to take the CO2 and make something useful out of it. Some technologies have created things like carbon nanofibers from the gas or even diesel fuel. A new breakthrough from scientists at the University of Southern California takes CO2 and turns it directly into methanol (its combustible cousin), which can be used in fuel cells, as a clean-burning fuel for internal combustion engines or to make things that normally require petrochemicals in their manufacturing.

China overtakes EU to become global wind power leader
The Guardian
China installed half of all new wind capacity worldwide last year, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). The country added an “astonishing” 30.5 gigawatts (GW) to boost installations to 145.1GW, the Brussels-based industry group said on Wednesday. It overtook the EU total for the first time, which added a record 6GW to increase its capacity to 141.6GW. (Also read: Another Green Victory: The City of Copenhagen Set to Divest from All Fossil Fuels)

George Soros Sees Crisis in Global Markets That Echoes 2008
Global markets are facing a crisis and investors need to be very cautious, billionaire George Soros told an economic forum in Sri Lanka. China is struggling to find a new growth model and its currency devaluation is transferring problems to the rest of the world, Soros said in Colombo. A return to positive interest rates is a challenge for the developing world, he said, adding that the current environment has similarities to 2008.

Most threats to humans come from science and technology, warns Stephen Hawking
The Guardian
The human race faces one its most dangerous centuries yet as progress in science and technology becomes an ever greater threat to our existence, Stephen Hawking warns. The chances of disaster on planet Earth will rise to a near certainty in the next one to ten thousand years, the eminent cosmologist said, but it will take more than a century to set up colonies in space where human beings could live on among the stars.

UN agency proposes greenhouse-gas standard for aircraft
A United Nations panel has proposed the first global greenhouse-gas emissions standard for aircraft. The draft rule, released by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on 8 February, applies to most commercial and business aircraft, including designs already in production. It would require minimal changes to aviation design over the next 12 years, and many environmentalists say that the proposal is inadequate to combat climate change. The plan — which would take full effect in 2028 — could decrease fuel consumption by new aircraft at cruising speed by an average of 4% compared with the current level, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.

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