How come Andhra is left out of the mining loot story ? It is good for the nation if we learn to keep environmental and...
The UN environment report states that Ganga would disappear by 2030.There would be no need to train engineers or even Ganga...
A report published in the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology suggests that babies of...
Bananas at risk in Africa
Two banana diseases spreading fast across central and southern Africa threaten 30 million people who depend on the fruit for food and income. vTo check the diseases, agriculture scientists at an emergency meeting in Tanzania with policymakers from across the continent recommended drastic measures: excavating entire banana fields, treating them with pesticides and burning the plants. There is no cure for the diseases that have established themselves in half of the bananagrowing regions of Africa, said the scientists. Both the diseases--bacterial wilt and bunchy top viral disease--are spread by insects; very few banana varieties are resistant to them. Bacterial wilt causes the fruit to ripen prematurely, ruining 90 per cent of the yield, while bunchy top stunts plant growth and spreads in epidemic proportions.
China seeks organ donation
China has launched a voluntary organ donation scheme which it hopes would curb illegal trafficking in organs. According to government estimates, 1.5 million Chinese patients need organ transplants every year, but only 10,000 operations take place because of shortage of organ donors. Two-thirds of the transplanted organs are sourced from executed prisoners.
The authorities are also following on reports that some institutions are illegally performing organ transplants for foreigners. China banned transplant tourism in 2007.
Swine flu to surge in winter
Doctors are reporting a severe form of swine flu with symptoms of serious lung infection and acute respiratory distress in otherwise healthy young people, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. It has warned countries to be prepared for increased pressure on intensive care units by winter when a sudden surge in such severe cases is expected.
The H1N1 virus has infected 210,000 people across the world since April and has killed more than 2,180; 40 per cent of the fatalities were young people in good health. WHO director general Margaret Chan said the worrying fact is that H1N1 virus is spreading four times faster than other viruses; in six weeks it travels a distance that other viruses take six months to cover. Chan also said it could be months before enough vaccines are available to combat the pandemic. At present, she said, the world production capacity is 900 million doses a year for a global population of 6.8 billion.
Up in arms to guard forest
|Penan tribals block a road in Sarawak state as logging trucks approach|
Ten indigenous communities in the Indonesian island of Sumatra rejected a government permit to a pulp and paper company to grow acacia plantations on 45,000 hectares of peat swamp forest. In a letter to the government as well as the company, the communities said they have customary rights over the peat swamp forest in Kampar peninsula because they "have inhabited and utilized the area in a wise and traditional way since long before Indonesia's independence." The company, Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd, plans to start clearing the forest by December.
Penan tribals in the neighbouring Malaysian Borneo island have, meanwhile, erected blockades on roads developed by logging companies to enter the forests. Armed with blowpipes and spears, the Penans aim to stop plantation projects in Sarawak state. The government has granted licences to companies for clearing the rainforest for oil palm, acacia and eucalyptus plantations.
GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS
Climate costs underrated
With barely 100 days left for a global deal to limit greenhouse gas emissions in Copenhagen in December, a group of scientists said the negotiations are based on substantial underestimates of how much it will cost to adapt to climate change. The real costs are two to three times greater than the estimates for 2030 made by UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2007, said the group led by former co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Martin Parry. The UNFCCC estimates of US $40-170 billion each year did not include sectors such as energy, manufacturing, retail, mining, tourism and ecosystems, said Parry. Several other sectors were also partially considered. Parry warned this underestimate would weaken the outcome of the climate change talks.
From the Pacific garbage patch
After an expedition to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, scientists from University of California returned with piles of plastic debris pulled out of the ocean. The patch is spread over 700,000 sq km in the North Pacific Ocean near Hawaii. Though known for years, the patch is larger than expected and is strewn with plastic, said the scientists. They will analyze samples to learn about the garbage patch's toxicity and how it affects ocean life and food webs (see 'It's a tough one', p30). The scientists are working with Environmental Cleanup Coalition, that aims to clean up the garbage patch.
Germany's nuke vault dead
Germany's pilot plant for long-term storage of highly radioactive nuclear waste is unsafe and needs to be closed, said environment minister Sigmar Gabriel. His comments came a day after it emerged that the government of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl had brushed aside a report that stated the naturally occurring salt dome in Gorleben, in Lower Saxony state, was not suitable for long-term storage of nuclear waste. The dome was chosen in the 1970s to be developed as the final repository for nuclear waste by 2030.
NO2 is no laughing matter Laughing gas nitrous oxide (NO2) has become the leading threat to the ozone layer, said scientists from the US would have offered tax relief to farmers in drought-affected regions. The farmers are also disgruntled over a 35 per cent export tax on soybean, the country's top crop. Fernandez has repeatedly refused to reduce the tax as it is a key source of state revenue. Farmers say they have lost 60 per cent of the crop due to prevailing drought, the worst in 40 years.
California dry and burning
As cooler temperatures allowed firefighters to gain control over the wildfires that ravaged central and southern California for three weeks, fire officials said the blaze was unusual. Despite the absence of high winds that are typically responsible for the quick spread of wildfires, the blazes have spread furiously. A combination of high temperatures and extremely dry vegetation owing to three years of drought has fuelled the fires, they said. Met officials say it could be the largest wildfire in the state's history.