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Ecological News

Trump Admin Stripping Yellowstone Grizzly of ‘Endangered’ Protection, Opening Door for Hunting

Environews.tv - Sat, 06/24/2017 - 16:11

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(EnviroNews Nature) — Washington D.C. — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced June 22, 2017, that it has finalized its plan to rescind Endangered Species Act (ESA) protection for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis), and turn management of the iconic creature over to three western states — Idaho, Wyoming and Montana — all red states legendary for their predator hunts and even “wolf-killing derbies.”

Once implemented, the rule would open the doors for trophy hunting of the iconic predator, despite the fact that grizzlies occupy only two percent of their historic range in the lower 48 states. Environmental groups and conservationists responded with harsh criticism of the federal government, as more wildlife-based lawsuits loom.

In a joint press release titled,”Planned Trophy Hunts Would Fundamentally Undermine Grizzly Recovery,” WildEarth Guardians (Guardians), alongside the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC), blasted USFWS saying, “The Service is derailing the recovery of this iconic species by prematurely stripping the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bears of federal protections. As a result of today’s announcement, Yellowstone’s bears may soon face a trophy hunter firing line once they roam outside the safety of our beloved national parks.”

“The Service’s determination that an isolated population of 700 grizzlies is fully recovered and no longer in need of federal protections is absurd. It’s a purely political decision devoid of any scientific support,” the press release continued.

But Ryan Zinke, Trump’s Secretary of the Interior, says it’s time to call USFWS’s efforts a “success,” and for the federal government to delist the bear and move on. “This achievement stands as one of America’s great conservation successes; the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication on the part of state, tribal, federal and private partners,” Zinke said. “As a Montanan, I am proud of what we’ve achieved together.”

The USFWS news release on the plan stated:

Due to the success of conservation efforts and collaboration among a variety of stakeholders, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced today that the Yellowstone population of the grizzly bear has been recovered to the point where federal protections can be removed and overall management can be returned to the states and tribes. The population has rebounded from as few as 136 bears in 1975 to an estimated 700 today and meets all the criteria for delisting.

USFWS first announced it intended to delist the GYE grizzly on March 3, 2016. At the time, local EnviroNews Wyoming reported the draft plan not only called for delisting of the species, but to actually reduce the population from approximately 700 bears to around 500. Based on Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana’s historical track records, it seems almost certain that hunting will be a part of the state-based “management” and “conservation” strategies.

Still, many groups are happy about the delisting decision. The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC), a group made up of the Forest Service (USFS), Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service (USNPS), the state wildlife agencies of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington, as well as the British Columbia Wildlife Branch, the Alberta Wildlife Branch, and Parks Canada cheers the government’s plan and wrote this in a statement last March when USFWS released its draft plan:

The Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee is encouraged by the announcement by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service that it is beginning the final step in the process to delist the Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear population. According to IGBC Chair and Director of the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife James Unsworth, “It has only been through decades of committed scientific management by IGBC member agencies that the Yellowstone grizzly population has met and exceeded all biological goals set forth in the recovery plan. The goal of the Endangered Species Act is to bring populations back to the point that the states can resume control. In the case of the Yellowstone grizzly we have met that goal.

While government agencies, the states, hunters and ranchers applaud the decision to delist the bear and allow hunts to commence, conservationists fervently disagree, and call the move “a gift to trophy hunting.” One of environmentalists’ main concerns is that the GYE population lacks genetic diversity, and must be allowed to adjoin still unconnected sub-populations — an event they say will only happen if federal ESA protections remain in place.

Kelly Nokes, Carnivore Advocate at WildEarth Guardians, in tandem with Matthew Bishop, an attorney with the Western Environmental Law Center who “represents Guardians in a forthcoming challenge,” are leading the resistance to USFWS’s plan, and explained the need to continue protecting the bear in their press release:

Full grizzly bear recovery includes establishing natural connectivity between the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem sub-population in and around Glacier National Park, and re-establishing a viable population in the Bitterroot Ecosystem. Grizzlies must eventually connect across the six recovery zones, including with the sub-populations of the Selkirk and Cabinet-Yak ecosystems and bears in the North Cascades ecosystem.

Guardians is a prominent environmental non-profit with a track record of high success in suing the federal government for failing to protect endangered species. An epic decade-long legal battle between USFWS and the Center for Biological Diversity and Guardians, culminated in a landmark settlement wherein the USFWS agreed to move forward toward protection of some 800 previously imperiled wildlife species. It now looks as if the future of the great GYE grizzly bear will fall yet again to the courts.

FOR AN IN-DEPTH READ ON THE GOVERNMENT’S MOVE TO DELIST THE YELLOWSTONE GRIZZLY, VISIT THE LONG-READ BY ENVIRONEWS WYOMING BELOW:

Feds Attempting to Strip Yellowstone Grizzly Bear of Endangered Species Act Protection

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Missoula, Montana – In a move that has angered environmentalists and wildlife enthusiasts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed on March 3, 2016, to strip the iconic Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear of its protected status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA),…

MORE ON YELLOWSTONE BEARS FROM ENVIRONEWS WYOMING

No Fairytale Ending for Yellowstone and the Three Bears After Park Shuns Thousands of Comments

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Yellowstone National Park – It was a sobering outcome for social media activists who had been clamoring to #SpareTheBear . Despite the tumult on Twitter and fury on Facebook, Yellowstone Park managers were undeterred. The park announced from the beginning, it would euthanize the…

EnviroNews Wyoming Cameraman Captures Black Bear From Eight Feet Away in Yellowstone Park

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – In what is to serve as the official launch of EnviroNews Wyoming, this awesome video from the archives demonstrates a very young black bear grazing on grass and various plants in a large meadow in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. While taping the episode,…

POLL: Should Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Be Delisted, Hunted and Killed? Yes/No? (Feds Say Yes)

(EnviroNews Polls) – On March 3, 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed a new rule that would delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear, and advocate the hunting and elimination of at least 200 of the region’s approximately 715 specimens. The move fueled…

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Wyoming Wolves Stripped of Endangered Species Act Protection – Shoot-on-Sight Policy Restored

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Gray wolves (Canis lupus) will no longer be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the state of Wyoming. That was the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on March 3, 2017, which also happened to be…

Idaho Wolf-Killing Contest Killed for One More Year – Kind of…

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Facing a lawsuit from conservation groups, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has revoked a permit allowing for a “predator derby” to take place on approximately three million acres of public lands in north-central Idaho near the town of Salmon. The derby originally called…

California the First to Ban Predator Prizes While Idaho Forges Ahead With Wolf-Killing Derby

(EnviroNews California) – Van Nuys, CA – Will not allowing prizes for California wildlife hunting derbies deter such events from taking place? Groups like Project Coyote certainly think so. On December 3, with a 4 to 1 vote, the California Fish and Game Commission passed a motion…

Republicans Lick Chops While Revving Up To Dismantle The Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews Nature) – Washington D.C. – On Feb. 15, 2017, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) held a hearing called, “Oversight: Modernization of the Endangered Species Act.” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Chairman of the EPW, held this two-hour hearing to explore “the need to modernize…

WildEarth Guardians Sues Colorado over Plan to Kill Black Bears, Mountain Lions

(EnviroNews Nature) – Denver, Colorado – The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department (CPW), the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources are being sued by WildEarth Guardians (WEG) for their December approval of two predator-killing programs. Through the Piceance Basin Predator Management…

Five Environmental Groups Sue USDA Over Idaho Wolf-Killing Program

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Boise, Idaho – On June 1, 2016, five prominent environmental organizations filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services for killing over 650 wolves in the state of Idaho over the past decade. Wildlife Services is…

Federal Government Sued For Killing Wolves in Oregon

(EnviroNews Oregon) – Five environmental groups filed a lawsuit on February 3, 2016, in U.S. District Court against the federal agency Wildlife Services, over what they say is the illegitimate killing of wolves in the state of Oregon. WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Predator Defense, and Project…

Federal Judge Orders Stop to Canadian Lynx Trapping in Idaho

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Boise, Idaho – A federal judge has ordered a stop to the haphazard trapping of Canadian Lynx in Idaho. Lynx canadensis, as it is scientifically known, is one of the rarest cats in the United States and has been captured multiple times in Idaho over…

Predator Bloodbath: ‘Secretive’ Federal Agency Wildlife Services Kills 1.6 Million Native Animals in 2016

(EnviroNews Nature) – Wildlife Services (WS), a little-known wildlife-killing program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), killed 2,744,010 animals in 2016, 1,594,595 of which were native to the U.S. The agency shared this death toll in its annual program data…

No Endangered Species Act Protection for Sonoran Desert Tortoise, Interior Announces

(EnviroNews Arizona) – Washington D.C. – The Morafka’s, or Sonoran desert tortoise, or Gopherus morafkai as it is scientifically known, is a slow moving, yet ancient creature that gets its water from eating native plants while spending most of its time in underground insulated burrows that it digs…

Dept. of Interior: No Protection for Greater Sage Grouse Under Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Commerce City, Colorado – On the morning of Tuesday August 22, 2015, Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell announced that Centrocercus urophasianus, a.k.a. greater sage grouse, will not receive protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A decision by U.S. Fish…

WildEarth Guardians: DOI’s Bi-State Sage Grouse ‘Conservation Success’ Is ‘Window Dressing’

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Douglas, Wyoming – On April 21, 2015 Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) Sally Jewell appeared in Reno, Nevada to make a pivotal Bi-State Sage Grouse Announcement: No protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the bi-state distinct population of the greater…

The post Trump Admin Stripping Yellowstone Grizzly of ‘Endangered’ Protection, Opening Door for Hunting appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: ‘I love James Hansen, but he is wrong on [the nuclear power issue]’

Environews.tv - Fri, 06/23/2017 - 19:05

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/062317-robert-f-kennedy-jr-love-james-hansen-wrong-nuclear-power-issue/"; reddit_title = "Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: ‘I love James Hansen, but he is wrong on [the nuclear power issue]’"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — Park City, Utah — Is nuclear power the answer to global warming? Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. doesn’t think so. In this interview with EnviroNews editor-in-chief Emerson Urry, the well-known environmental activist explains his position on the contentious issue.

“I’m all for nuke if they can ever make it economic, but it costs 15 times the amount of solar, so why would you ever do it?” Kennedy asked. “Plus, it’s unsafe.”

There’s disagreement within the environmental community about whether nuclear power can be the carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels. Greenpeace and the Sierra Club oppose it. The Environmental Defense Fund says nuclear power plants are “a prudent step and good for the environment.” Dr. James Hansen, the legendary and outspoken climate scientist, argues in favor of nuclear as part of the solution to climate change.

“I love James Hansen, but he is wrong on this issue; he’s been wrong on nuke for a while,” Kennedy responded when asked. “He doesn’t understand the cost advantage that solar and wind now have over the incumbents, including nukes.”

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, there are 449 nuclear power reactors currently operating in 30 countries, with 60 more under construction. In the U.S., 99 reactors produced 805.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electric power in 2016. The new Watts Bar 2 unit came online last year in Tennessee – a project of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a corporation owned by the federal government. The reactor 2 unit at that plant is already in shutdown due to equipment failures.

Kennedy also questions the industry’s financial viability. “If you remove the subsidies from nuclear power there’s not a single utility in the world who would build a nuclear power plant,” he said.

According to a 2011 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, “Government subsidies to the nuclear power industry over the past fifty years have been so large in proportion to the value of the energy produced that in some cases it would have cost taxpayers less to simply buy kilowatts on the open market and give them away.”

Most of these subsidies work by shifting financial and operational risk from private industry to ratepayers and taxpayers. Utility consumers are often asked to pay rate surcharges before a nuclear power plant even comes online, and pay a federally mandated fee that goes to nuclear waste disposal. Federal loan guarantees enable costly nuclear power plant construction and a special tax depreciation allowance is provided for uranium mining.

The General Mining Act of 1872 allows anyone to extract hardrock minerals from federal lands, including the uranium needed for nuclear plants, without having to pay a royalty to the U.S. Government. That includes foreign corporations. Cameco, a Canadian company, is the largest uranium mining enterprise in the U.S. according to the World Nuclear Association. Energy Fuels Inc., also a Canadian company, with Korea Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) holding a 9.6 percent interest, is the second largest.

Nuclear power comes with other hidden and potentially explosive costs. Japan has estimated the costs related to the 2011 Fukushima disaster at $188 billion, while Belarus has tabbed the Chernobyl costs at $235 billion. But private insurers will only write policies to cover up to $450 million per reactor, which would likely be far short of the costs of a major nuclear accident.

The Price-Anderson Act puts American taxpayers on the line for costs of a nuclear mishap exceeding the amount insurers will pay. Although the government can require reactor companies to pay into a fund, they are not assessed until after an accident occurs. That’s like asking automobile drivers to pay insurance only after somebody rear-ends another car. And that fund is capped at $12.6 billion. If costs exceed the covered amounts, it would require an act of Congress to provide additional monies.

“In order to build a nuclear power plant in this country, Congress had to pass the Price-Anderson Act during a sleazy legislative maneuver in the middle of the night in order to waive liability for the entire nuclear industry,” Kennedy explained.

The costs for a nuclear reactor don’t end when it gets decommissioned or when the operator replenishes its spent fuel rods. Politico estimates that it will cost taxpayers at least $38 billion and perhaps as much as $65 billion just to deal with existing waste from current or previously closed nuclear plants.

“That’s just another subsidy to the nuclear industry,” said Kennedy. “We have to store the stuff at taxpayer expense. You have to store that waste for the next 30,000 years, which is five times the length of recorded human history.”

Even with subsidies, the economics of the industry are troubling. Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy on March 29, 2017, drowning in debt from two nuclear power plants it was building in the U.S. Its parent company, Toshiba, said it would need to absorb losses up to $10 billion. It’s doubtful either facility will be completed. Yet, Georgia Power customers are still paying a surcharge on their electric bill, typically amounting to $100 a year, to finance construction of one of the two plants. In South Carolina, where the other plant is to be built, ratepayers could be on the hook for possible abandonment costs.

“It’s a ridiculous industry,” said Kennedy. “There’s no justification for it and no need for it. Why would you make nuclear power when you can have the same amount of solar power that’s clean and safe for 1/15th the cost?”

WATCH OTHER SEGMENTS FROM THE ENVIRONEWS EXCLUSIVE WITH ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR.

‘An Act of War’: RFK Jr. Puts U.S. Military and CAFOs on Blast for Trashing America’s Waterways

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Park City, Utah – “If a foreign government contaminated our country like the Department of Defense has, it would be considered an act of war.” Those were the words from distinguished environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in an interview with EnviroNews Editor-in-Chief…

Waterkeeper Alliance: How a Movement Was Born – as Recalled by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Park City, Utah – When Robert “Bobby” Kennedy, Jr. was eight years old, he had already banked many memories of outdoor family outings, including kayaking and fishing with his father Bobby Kennedy, in turn developing a love for nature in a vigorous and…

America’s Mercury Crisis: ‘Fish consumption is dangerous now’ – Robert Kennedy Jr. Weighs in

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Park City, Utah – On June 8, 2017, at the Waterkeeper Alliance International Conference in Park City, Utah, EnviroNews Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry sat down with legendary environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to discuss an array of water-related topics, including mercury poisoning. Kennedy…

RFK Jr.: ‘[Waterkeeper is] filing barrages of suits to stop the dismantling of the Clean Water Act’

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Park City, Utah – Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of Waterkeeper Alliance (the Alliance), sat down with EnviroNews Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry to discuss the organization’s response to the Trump Administration, which has been active in upending environmental regulations. The interview took place June…

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Inside Look: Waterkeeper: Patrolling 2.5m Sq-Miles of Watershed, Catching Polluters, Saving H2O

(EnviroNews Utah) – Marc Yaggi, Executive Director for Waterkeeper Alliance, sat down on June 8, 2017, with EnviroNews Utah reporter Michael Orton in Park City, Utah to discuss the organization’s purpose. “Waterkeeper Alliance is an international movement uniting more than 320 locally-based clean water advocacy organizations and focusing…

The post Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: ‘I love James Hansen, but he is wrong on [the nuclear power issue]’ appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Northeast U.S. Seafood Industry in Jeopardy From Climate-Driven Ocean Warming, Acidification

Environews.tv - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 20:54

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/062217-northeast-u-s-seafood-industry-jeopardy-climate-driven-ocean-warming-acidification/"; reddit_title = "Northeast U.S. Seafood Industry in Jeopardy From Climate-Driven Ocean Warming, Acidification"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — A seafood industry that brought nearly 600 million pounds of fish to the table in 2015, put 97,000 people to work and added $4.8 billion to the economy is now at risk due to a changing climate. Warming seas and ocean acidification are placing a traditional way of life and an industry older than the nation in jeopardy.

Commercial fishing in the cold, rich waters off present-day New England predates the Pilgrims by more than a century. As early as the 1500s, ships from France, Spain and Portugal came to the Grand Banks by the hundreds. In 1607, drawn by the ready supply of seafood, the Plymouth Company established a short-lived settlement in Popham, Maine, and by 1620 – the same year the Plymouth Colony was founded — a permanent fishing station was established at Monhegan Island.

“The U.S. Northeast Shelf accounts for just over a third of the annual value of commercial fish throughout the U.S.,” said Vincent Saba, Fisheries Biologist for the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center. “New Bedford, Massachusetts is the most valuable port across the entire U.S.”

But now, many of New England’s commercially-valuable fish are hard to find in these waters. The once-bountiful harvests of Atlantic cod have disappeared, along with shrimp, skate and whiting.

To better understand what’s been happening, look first to the American lobster (Homarus americanus). This prized shellfish was once harvested throughout New England waters, from Long Island Sound to the Canadian border. First, the good news: Maine set an all-time record in 2016, landing more than 130 million pounds of lobster. But in Southern New England, landings fell from a high of 9,935 metric tons in 1997 to just 1,509 metric tons in 2013 – a shocking decline of 85 percent, according to a 2015 study by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).

The report concluded the fishery was severely depleted because lobsters have been moving northward to find colder waters. “Temperature is the primary driving force as it influences a lobster’s metabolism, spawning, development, and growth,” stated the ASMFC. “The ideal temperature range for lobsters is 12-18 degrees Celsius (54-64 Fahrenheit) and the hatching of eggs typically occurs when surface water temperatures are above 12 degrees Celsius.” The report noted the number of days with water temperature above 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) is increasing in waters south of Cape Cod, while the Gulf of Maine has more days in the ideal temperature range.

Lobster boats at a busy wharf in Portland, Maine — Photo: Dan Zukowski

A 2009 study from the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center found that half of the 36 commercial fish species it examined were migrating to more suitable habitats. “During the last 40 years, many familiar species have been shifting north where ocean waters are cooler, or staying in the same general area but moving into deeper waters than where they traditionally have been found,” said Janet Nye, a postdoctoral researcher at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in a statement from NOAA. “They all seem to be adapting to changing temperatures and finding places where their chances of survival as a population are greater.”

The study noted that sea temperatures have been increasing over the past 50 years, and that the species redistribution they found was consistent with ocean warming. But researchers have found the Gulf of Maine warmed faster than 99 percent of the world’s ocean waters over the last 10 years.

It’s not only the fish and shellfish that are at risk – American jobs are too. Commercial fishing in the five New England States of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island and the Mid-Atlantic Region, which includes Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Virginia, together create 124,000 jobs. Altogether, commercial fishing in those two regions accounts for more than $10 billion in economic activity.

The U.S. now imports 90 percent of the seafood it consumes, according to the 2017 U.S. Seafood Market Report. The cod we find in supermarkets and restaurants likely comes from Norway, Russia or Iceland. Maine fishermen brought in just 170,000 pounds of cod in 2016 — a record low and a precipitous decline from the 21 million pounds landed just 25 years ago. In 1969, Maine alone brought in 24 million pounds of shrimp, according to the state’s Department of Marine Resources. By 2013, landings totaled just over half a million pounds. Today, about 90 percent of the shrimp we eat in the U.S. comes from India and Southeast Asia.

The ocean waters off the northeast coast of the U.S. are busy and heavily industrialized, yet still remain a commercially important fishery. Container ships and oil tankers visit ports all along the coast. Recreational boaters vie for space in busy harbors and marinas. Naval operations are present at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire naval shipyard and New London, Connecticut submarine base, while the new Block Island Wind Farm sits along a high-density shipping lane east of Montauk Point.

Whales also rely on the plankton and small forage fish that are abundant here. Fin, sei and North Atlantic right whales – all of which are listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – visit the waters off the northeast coast from spring until fall. Minke whales and humpbacks are common as well.

But these environmentally sensitive and commercially important waters are vulnerable to changes brought on by climate disruption. A study from the NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center, released May 27, 2017, used new high-resolution climate models to predict future changes. Saba has compared the new model to the difference between looking at an ultra-high definition (UHD) television versus an old, standard-definition screen. NOAA determined that ocean temperatures along America’s Northeast Shelf will rise an additional 6.6 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century — two to three times faster than the global average. “Species concentrated in the Gulf of Maine, where species have shifted to deeper water rather than northward, may be more likely to experience a significant decline in suitable habitat and move out of the region altogether,” said lead author Kristin Kleisner, formerly of the Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s Ecosystems Dynamics and Assessment Branch and now a senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

Warming waters are not the only problem. The world currently depends on seafood for 17 percent of its animal protein, but ocean acidification is taking a toll on shellfish, hampering their ability to build strong shells. Acidic waters also carry less dissolved oxygen, which can stunt the growth of certain fish.

Fish on ice at the Portland Fish Exchange — Photo: Dan Zukowski

To top it all off, another new study has found the fish we eat could become less nutritious. In a paper to be published in the August 2017 edition of the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, researchers from Southern Cross University in Australia subjected whelks, a type of sea snail, to ocean warming and acidification conditions that are expected by 2100. They found the protein content of the gastropod was cut in half. The animals also lost lipid, glycogen and mineral content. The study concluded, “Ocean climate change may compromise its nutritional qualities and reduce sustainable harvests in the future.”

The United States signed the “Call to Action” along with 192 other nations at the conclusion of the first U.N. Ocean Conference, held June 5-9, 2017. The Call to Action states, “We are particularly alarmed by the adverse impacts of climate change on the ocean, including the rise in ocean temperatures, ocean and coastal acidification, deoxygenation, sea-level rise, the decrease in polar ice coverage, coastal erosion and extreme weather events.” However, Reuters reported that Deputy U.S. Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries David Balton reminded the conference participants that President Trump will withdraw “or renegotiate” the nation’s participation in the Paris Climate Agreement (Paris Accord).

President Trump has also ordered a review of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which was created by President Barack Obama on September 15, 2016, to protect sensitive areas off the New England coast. Commercial fishing in the area is limited to lobster and red crabs, but upwelling currents of cold water are rich in forage fish that support whales, seabirds and commercial fish including tuna. The new administration is also set to begin seismic testing along the Atlantic coast, a precursor to offshore drilling and a practice fraught with controversy for its adverse effects on sea life.

New England fishermen are also worried about Trump’s proposal to eliminate NOAA’s Sea Grant program, which has collaborated with the University of Maine since 1971. The cooperation helps educate and train the marine workforce, conducts research critical to coastal and ocean resources and works with local communities. In the last four years, Sea Grant Maine says it has created or sustained 300 businesses and 130 jobs.

Potential federal budget cuts and actions that threaten the protection of these vital Atlantic waters only compound the challenges brought by ocean warming and acidification; even the thriving Maine lobster industry won’t be immune. Saba said, “As the waters are warming, the lobsters are shifting more offshore, where there are deeper, colder waters.” Lobstermen may need to spend more on fuel or find fewer lobsters in their traps. As for coldwater species like cod and haddock, Saba calls them “climate change losers.”

As the waters along the Northeast coast continue to warm, the livelihoods of U.S. fishermen are threatened. “Given the historical changes observed on the Northeast Shelf over the past five decades and confidence in the projection of continued ocean warming in the region, it is likely there will be major changes within this ecosystem,” stated Kleisner in the 2017 NOAA report. Those changes will affect the country’s food supply and economy.

The post Northeast U.S. Seafood Industry in Jeopardy From Climate-Driven Ocean Warming, Acidification appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

‘An Act of War’: RFK Jr. Puts U.S. Military and CAFOs on Blast for Trashing America’s Waterways

Environews.tv - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 17:23

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/062217-act-war-rfk-jr-puts-u-s-military-cafos-blast-trashing-americas-waterways/"; reddit_title = "‘An Act of War’: RFK Jr. Puts U.S. Military and CAFOs on Blast for Trashing America’s Waterways"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — Park City, Utah — “If a foreign government contaminated our country like the Department of Defense has, it would be considered an act of war.” Those were the words from distinguished environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., in an interview with EnviroNews Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry in an exclusive on-camera interview in Park City, Utah on June 8, 2017.

Kennedy, President of Waterkeeper Alliance, was referring to data that shows the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), is a leading federal department regarding the quantities of toxic chemicals released to either waste management facilities or the environment.

An EnviroNews World News report published February 10, 2016, revealed that DOD ranked number three, behind AK Steel Holding Corp. and Tyson Foods Inc. in total chemicals released to water from 2010-2014. The data was compiled and analyzed by Environment America using numbers from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Program.

Figures from the latest 2016 TRI report put DOD at number two in waste management by all federal facilities, having discharged 38 percent of the government’s 181.2 million pounds of toxic waste in 2015. The number one spot is held by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), a federally-owned electric power utility that serves nine million people in seven states. The TVA, which operates eight coal-fired power plants, released 92.4 million pounds of toxic chemicals, or 51 percent of the federal total, in 2015.

It is important to note that these figures include waste sent to treatment facilities, recycled or otherwise disposed of, as well as chemicals released into the air, waterways or the land. The TRI report does not break out disposal methods.

Kennedy acknowledged that “the budgets are limited for the environment” in DOD, but that hasn’t stopped him from taking on the U.S. military. He spoke of an action in 2001 that landed him in a federal penitentiary. Kennedy was among 180 protestors arrested while seeking to halt Navy bombing exercises on Vieques, an island within the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. “I did a civil disobedience and I was in jail for 30 days,” he told Urry. The bombings had killed a civilian in 1999 and were causing extensive environmental damage to the island. Under the direction of President George W. Bush, the Navy halted its operations in 2003 and today much of the island is protected as a National Wildlife Refuge.

But outstripping even the massive federal government’s toxic waste disposals are those of the nation’s factory farms, also known as concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs. “They are barbaric in their cruelty to the animals, they are corrupt, they have to corrupt public officials in order to get away with dumping their waste into our waterways, they destroy family farms, they destroy farm communities, they poison people, they’re emptying our landscape, and they’re destroying democracy,” Kennedy said.

EnviroNews World News reported that Tyson Foods alone released 104 million pounds of toxic waste into waterways from 2010 to 2014. The February 9, 2016 article also listed chicken producers Perdue Farms and Pilgrim Pride among the top 15 polluters.

“We’re the lead group suing CAFOs across the country,” said Kennedy about Waterkeeper Alliance. The group’s “Pure Farms, Pure Waters” campaign targets pollution from factory swine, poultry and dairy farms. According to Waterkeeper Alliance, a large CAFO could hold more than 1,000 cattle, 2,500 hogs or 125,000 chickens.

An April 11, 2017 ruling by the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. ordered the EPA to close a loophole that allowed dangerous levels of air pollution emitted by these operations to go unreported. The ruling came from a lawsuit brought by Waterkeeper Alliance, the Humane Society of the United States, the Sierra Club and the Center for Food Safety and Environmental Integrity Project.

“We are taking action against the most egregious violations, demanding state and federal authorities strengthen and enforce existing prohibitions on the discharge of animal waste into our waterways,” states Waterkeeper Alliance on its website.

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Analysis: Department of Defense, Third Largest Polluter of American Waterways

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Tyson Foods Accused of Dumping More Poison to Waterways Than Exxon, Dow, Koch

(EnviroNews World News) – The environmental advocacy group Environment America has released an analysis that concludes meat manufacturer Tyson Foods is a bigger polluter of American waterways than Exxon, Dow, Koch and pretty much anyone else – with the sole exception of AK Steel Holding Corp (and AK…

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Waterkeeper Alliance: How a Movement Was Born – as Recalled by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Park City, Utah – When Robert “Bobby” Kennedy, Jr. was eight years old, he had already banked many memories of outdoor family outings, including kayaking and fishing with his father Bobby Kennedy, in turn developing a love for nature in a vigorous and…

America’s Mercury Crisis: ‘Fish consumption is dangerous now’ – Robert Kennedy Jr. Weighs in

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Park City, Utah – On June 8, 2017, at the Waterkeeper Alliance International Conference in Park City, Utah, EnviroNews Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry sat down with legendary environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to discuss an array of water-related topics, including mercury poisoning. Kennedy…

RFK Jr.: ‘[Waterkeeper is] filing barrages of suits to stop the dismantling of the Clean Water Act’

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Park City, Utah – Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of Waterkeeper Alliance (the Alliance), sat down with EnviroNews Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry to discuss the organization’s response to the Trump Administration, which has been active in upending environmental regulations. The interview took place June…

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(EnviroNews Utah) – Marc Yaggi, Executive Director for Waterkeeper Alliance, sat down on June 8, 2017, with EnviroNews Utah reporter Michael Orton in Park City, Utah to discuss the organization’s purpose. “Waterkeeper Alliance is an international movement uniting more than 320 locally-based clean water advocacy organizations and focusing…

The post ‘An Act of War’: RFK Jr. Puts U.S. Military and CAFOs on Blast for Trashing America’s Waterways appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

"We have socialism for corporates, and capitalism for farmers": My interview

Ground Reality - Thu, 06/22/2017 - 14:48
Farmer widows in a protest in Punjab. Pic- India Today 
Devinder Sharma warns of agrarian explosion THE CITIZEN BUREAUWednesday, June 14,2017MOHALI: “We have socialism for corporates, and capitalism for the farmers,” summed up agrarian expert Devinder Sharma, worried and distressed about the crisis. As he said, the current spate of protests are just a “trailer, the bigger picture has yet to come as the crisis is very serious, very deeprooted and somehow we just do not want to accept this.”

Sharma who has been writing on the agrarian situation and like all experts including Dr MS Swaminathan knows the distress to be a sign of economic distress in the agricultural sector was not particularly confident of the governments recent efforts to “handle” the situation. In an interview with The Citizen from Mohali, Sharma said the measures being suggested at best temporary, and certainly not a solution for the crisis that has taken hold of the rural areas. He has been warning of this for a while now but successive governments have turned a deaf ear.

Sharma said that the crisis was linked basically to economic deprivation. And for at least 25 years if not more successive governments had decided to keep agriculture “deliberately impoverished.” He said that just the other day he want to the vegetable market and bought 3 kilos of cauliflower for just Rs 10. He said he asked the vegetable seller what then the farmer would be getting out of this absurdly low amount and was astounded to be told that the seller himself was the fourth middleman through whom the produce had passed!

To further illustrate the point that agriculture was deliberate being kept impoverished, Sharma pointed out that Punjab had 98% assurance of irrigation, the highest in the world. The United States had 11.4% irrigation assurance. And yet 3-5 farmers were committing suicide a day in Punjab despite good monsoons and bumper crops as the price of produce was so low that the farmers could not meet the cost of farming.

Criticising the media of which he was himself once a part. Sharma said that the press also joined the governments and the corporates in blocking any possible increase in the price of produce for the farmers, apart from other measures. He said even now when the loan waiver was being discussed by television channels the words used by the anchors were “humongous”. “Look at the disparity,” Sharma said, “when it comes to loan write offs for sectors like Telecom it is part of economic growth and more productivity, but when it comes to waivers for the farmers it is fiscal slippage.”

Sharma said that the protests would escalate now as “for how long can a poor man be pushed against the wall without speaking out.” Asked about voices of protest emerging now from Uttar Pradesh where Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had been the first to announce waiving off loans Sharma explained, “ there are 2.14 crore farmers in UP, of these loans of just about 93 lakhs are being written off. What about the rest? Obviously this is not going to be acceptable?”

Citing recent examples Sharma spoke of the farmer who tied his five year old son to his back and jumped into the canal. Both drowned. In his suicide note the farmer said that he was deep into Rs 10 lakh debt, and he knew his son would spend an entire life trying to repay it, so to prevent this he was taking his son with him.

In another incident a schoolgirl killed herself and in her note said her farmer parents were already deep in debt, impoverished, and yet trying to collect money to get her married. Where will they get it from, it is better I remove myself, she said.

Sharma, however, pointed out that loan waivers in itself was not a solution. It could be a one time concession by the government to give the farmers a fighting chance through the development of an agrarian model where they would get better rates for their produce, and where agriculture through a slew of reforms and measures would be converted into a productive profession. He said it was strange that governments, moving on World Bank proposals, were bent on making agriculture non-remunerative, drive the rural population into the cities, and provide jobs as the solution. “They want to bring 60 crores of farmers into the cities and make them daily wage labourers, is that any solution” he asked.

Sharma said that despite announcing various measures the Modi government had been able to create just 6.5 lakh jobs in the three years, when the basic requirement was for the creation of 1.25 crores jobs per year. “This is not even a drop in the situation and they are set on targeting the agrarian economy, and messing around with 60 crores in the villages instead of making agriculture self sufficient,” he pointed out.

Sharma spoke of the low remunerative prices fixed for food. As he said the wages of Professors had increased 200 times over between 1970-2015, of school teachers almost 300 times, but of farmers the increase was just about 19 times. As he pointed out, if the wages of bureaucrats had remained static over these years, as well as of others, they too would have been committing suicide.

The Niti Aayog keeps referring to two desirables, increasing productivity and the lower cost of production. The media repeats this ad nauseum. But this does not resolve the issue for the farmers, for whom increased productivity has spelt a death knell, as it has lowered food prices and made agriculture non-viable. The need is to strengthen agriculture, to bring in reforms, and to make farming a viable venture.

Where do they want the farmers to go, to Timbuctoo, Sharma asked. He said that it was clear that the government was just trying to “handle” the current crisis with some announcements, and was not looking at long term measures to deal with the crisis. He said that even if the stir subsided now, this would only be temporary as the situation will explode.

Source: "We have socialism for corporates, capitalism for farmers" The Citizen. June 17, 2017
http://www.thecitizen.in/index.php/NewsDetail/index/1/11001/We-Have-Socialism-for-Corporates-Capitalism-for-Farmers-Devinder-Sharma-Warns-Of-Agrarian-Explosion
Categories: Ecological News

The entire burden of keeping food prices low is borne by farmers.

Ground Reality - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 16:13




A Chandigarh artist portrays the agrarian crisis. 
Farmers anger is spilling over. The violent farmers’ agitation that erupted in the Malwa belt of Madhya Pradesh, resulting in the death of six farmers from police firing, has now spread to Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. The demand for farm loan waiver accompanied by higher crop prices, is now gaining momentum.

More than 3.18 lakh farmers have committed suicide in past 21 years. Every 41 minutes a farmer commits suicide somewhere in the country. While I agree that farmer suicides is a symptom of bigger malaise that afflicts agriculture, policy makers failed to take the massive death toll as a sign of terrible economic depravity that plagued the rural landscape. How long could we expect farmers to take the hit silently. It had to happen one day, and no one knew what will trigger it. Farmers outburst we see now is simply a trailer.

For nearly three decades, more so after the economic reforms were ushered in, agriculture has been a victim of neglect and apathy. Following the World Bank prescription of moving 400 million people from the rural to the urban areas by the year 2015, successive governments had deliberately created conditions turning farming non-viable thereby forcing an increasing number of farmers to abandon agriculture and migrate to cities. To keep food inflation under control, farmers have been routinely paid less, not even to cover the cost of production, thereby driving them against the wall.

With each passing year, the economic crisis on the farm worsened. The Economic Survey 2016 tells us that the average income of a farming family in 17 states of India, which means roughly half the country, is a mere Rs 20,000 a year or less than Rs 1,700 a month. Such a dismal income, merely enough for subsistence, was the outcome of economic policies over the years. I shudder to think how these farming families must be surviving all these years. After all, it is not even possible to rear a cow in less than Rs 1,700 per month.

But I doubt if such details mean anything to mainline economists and policy makers. With the markets crashing after every harvest, and with the government reluctant to save farmers by ensuring that they get at least the Minimum Support Price (MSP) that has been announced, farmers are pushed deeper and deeper into a never ending cycle of debt. Even the MSP being given is often less than the cost of production. In Maharashtra, for instance, the production cost of tur dal has been worked out at Rs 6,240 per quintal. The MSP announced was Rs 5,050 per quintal, and in reality what the farmers were able to sell tur, and that too after waiting for a week or so in the mandis, was between Rs 3,500 to Rs 4,200 per quintal.

Take another case. A farmer in Haryana toils hard for three months, putting all his labour to reap a bountiful harvest of potato, only to find the prices crashing thereby forcing him to sell 40 quintals of potato for just 9 paise a kg. The shock a farmer gets when prices crash often turns fatal. But the fact remains the government has rarely come to his rescue. Compare this with the fall in stock markets, and the Finance Minister promises to monitor the crisis on an hourly basis, holding a press conference to assuage the investors. Have we ever seen the Finance Minister or the Agriculture Minister monitoring the deplorable condition when farm prices crash?  

Poor farmer has been left to live in indebtedness, which keeps on multiplying with every passing year. The economic crisis farmers are facing is compounded by the denial of a rightful income to farmers for his produce. To keep food inflation under control it is the farmers who have paid the price. In reality, it is the farmers who have been subsidisng the nation all these years. Successive governments have therefore deliberately kept agriculture impoverished. An estimated 58 per cent of the farmers go to bed hungry every night.

After Yogi Adityanath announced a farm loan waiver of Rs 36,359-crore, which will benefit 92 lakh small and marginal farmers when implemented, Maharashtra has announced a loan waiver of Rs 30,500-crore. Punjab is expected to take over at least Rs 30,000-crore of the farm bad loans. Although I am not in favour of loan waivers but in a deplorable situation that agriculture has been pushed into, farm loan waiver is a short-term relief. It is an emergency measure to bail out millions of small and marginal farmers in distress. IndiaSpend estimates a total of Rs 3.1 lakh crore of farm loan that needs to be waived. This is still far less than Rs 4-lakh crore bailout package that the telecom industry alone is seeking. Another Rs 1.7 lakh crore of bad debt is what the steel industry hopes will be written-off.

Loan waiver must be followed by policies that ensure the loans don’t pile up again. A tinkering here and there is not going to address the agrarian crisis. It needs a holistic approach, a paradigm shift in economic thinking. To begin with, the effort should be to make farming economically viable.

1) The Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices, which works out the MSP for crops, should be directed to factor in 4 allowances in the MSP being paid to farmers – House allowance, Medical allowance, Educational allowance and Travel allowance. So far, the MSP only covers the cost of production. Compare with the government employees, thet get a total of 108 allowances.

2) Since MSP benefits only 6 per cent farmers, it needs to be understood that the demand for providing 50 per cent profit over MSP will benefit only these 6 per cent farmers. For the remaining 94 per cent farmers, who are dependent on the exploitative markets, the need is to setup a National Farmers Income Commission, with the mandate to provide a minimum assured monthly income package of Rs 18,000 to a farmer’s family.

3) Public sector investments must come in urgently for constructing APMC mandis, and also for storage godowns. At present, there are only 7,700 APMC mandis. What India needs is to set up 42,000 mandis for every 5 kms radius. And like in Brazil, where it is mandatory for a market yard to procure anything a farmer brings, APMC mandis should be quipped to do the same. #  

Source: Farm protest rages across India. Deccan Herald. June 18, 2017
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/617965/farm-protest-rages-across-india.html

Categories: Ecological News

RFK Jr.: ‘[Waterkeeper is] filing barrages of suits to stop the dismantling of the Clean Water Act’

Environews.tv - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 21:18

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/062017-rfk-jr-waterkeeper-filing-barrages-suits-stop-dismantling-clean-water-act/"; reddit_title = "RFK Jr.: ‘[Waterkeeper is] filing barrages of suits to stop the dismantling of the Clean Water Act’"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — Park City, Utah — Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., President of Waterkeeper Alliance (the Alliance), sat down with EnviroNews Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry to discuss the organization’s response to the Trump Administration, which has been active in upending environmental regulations. The interview took place June 8, 2017 in Park City, Utah at the Waterkeeper Alliance International Conference.

Kennedy began by telling EnviroNews, “We’re filing just barrages of suits to stop the dismantling of the Clean Water Act.” Columbia Riverkeeper, part of the Alliance based in Oregon, fired off the first lawsuit in the U.S. against EPA head Scott Pruitt on February 23, 2017, just 13 days after he was confirmed by the Senate. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court in Seattle and aims to force the EPA to mitigate high water temperatures in the Columbia and Snake Rivers that killed 250,000 adult sockeye salmon in 2015.

The action continued a lengthy record of using the courts to protect the nation’s waterways. Among the highlights cited in the 2016 Waterkeeper Alliance Annual Report are rulings that imposed fines for polluting the Chattahoochee and Potomac Rivers and prevented sand mining in San Francisco Bay. Other actions have resulted in protection for sea otters along the coast of Southern California and defeating the proposed Gateway Pacific coal export terminal in Bellingham, Washington.

Kennedy said the Alliance was also working to prevent the EPA from undoing rules that protect communities and waterways from toxic coal ash waste. The Utility Solid Waste Activities Group, which represents electric generation utilities, has filed a petition that Waterkeeper Alliance says “seeks to do away with most of the EPA’s environmental safeguards for coal ash.” According to Waterkeeper, at least 200 coal ash waste dumps have contaminated local water sources with arsenic, lead, mercury and chromium.

“President Trump and his EPA administrator Pruitt are trying to limit the reach of the Clean Water Act to eliminate rivers in our country and streams and wetlands,” Kennedy said.

The Clean Water Act took effect in 1972, but dates back to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948. Prior to enactment of the Clean Water Act, many rivers had become unhealthy, toxic stews of untreated sewage and industrial pollutants. In 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire and became a symbol for the nascent environmental movement.

Cuyahoga River Ablaze in 1969

Waterkeeper Alliance dates its beginning to 1966. New York’s iconic Hudson River had suffered three decades of having PCBs dumped into it by General Electric (GE) manufacturing plants upriver, contaminating fish and infuriating a community. Local fishermen banded together to launch a full-time patrol of the river, known as the Hudson Riverkeeper. That effort spawned similar citizen watchdog groups along other waterways and eventually led to the founding of the Alliance in 1999.

Today’s threat is the potential unwinding of regulations that have cleaned up the Cuyahoga, Hudson and many other rivers – regulations that put a stop to polluters fouling the nation’s waters. But, as Kennedy points out, “Trump knows better. In [2009] Trump and his children took a full-page ad in the New York Times calling global warming an existential threat.” The ad, which ran on Dec. 6, 2009, as the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen was set to open, urged President Obama “to strengthen and pass United States legislation, and lead the world by example… to ensure meaningful and effective measures to control climate change.” The ad was signed by Donald J. Trump, Donald J. Trump, Jr., Eric F. Trump and Ivanka M. Trump along with a host of other notable business leaders.

WATCH OTHER SEGMENTS FROM THE ENVIRONEWS EXCLUSIVE WITH ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR. BY VISITING THE STORIES BELOW:

Waterkeeper Alliance: How a Movement Was Born – as Recalled by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Park City, Utah – When Robert “Bobby” Kennedy, Jr. was eight years old, he had already banked many memories of outdoor family outings, including kayaking and fishing with his father Bobby Kennedy, in turn developing a love for nature in a vigorous and…

America’s Mercury Crisis: ‘Fish consumption is dangerous now’ – Robert Kennedy Jr. Weighs in

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Park City, Utah – On June 8, 2017, at the Waterkeeper Alliance International Conference in Park City, Utah, EnviroNews Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry sat down with legendary environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to discuss an array of water-related topics, including mercury poisoning. Kennedy…

RELATED:

Inside Look: Waterkeeper: Patrolling 2.5m Sq-Miles of Watershed, Catching Polluters, Saving H2O

(EnviroNews Utah) – Marc Yaggi, Executive Director for Waterkeeper Alliance, sat down on June 8, 2017, with EnviroNews Utah reporter Michael Orton in Park City, Utah to discuss the organization’s purpose. “Waterkeeper Alliance is an international movement uniting more than 320 locally-based clean water advocacy organizations and focusing…

The post RFK Jr.: ‘[Waterkeeper is] filing barrages of suits to stop the dismantling of the Clean Water Act’ appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Inside Look: Waterkeeper: Patrolling 2.5m Sq-Miles of Watershed, Catching Polluters, Saving H2O

Environews.tv - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 16:04

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/062017-inside-look-waterkeeper-patrolling-2-5m-sq-miles-watershed-catching-polluters-saving-h2o/"; reddit_title = "Inside Look: Waterkeeper: Patrolling 2.5m Sq-Miles of Watershed, Catching Polluters, Saving H2O"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Utah) — Marc Yaggi, Executive Director for Waterkeeper Alliance, sat down on June 8, 2017, with EnviroNews Utah reporter Michael Orton in Park City, Utah to discuss the organization’s purpose. “Waterkeeper Alliance is an international movement uniting more than 320 locally-based clean water advocacy organizations and focusing citizen action on issues that affect our waterways, from pollution to climate change,” Yaggi explained.

An attorney by trade, Yaggi previously worked with the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C. and with Riverkeeper, Inc. in New York. He was in Utah for the annual Waterkeeper Alliance International Conference where members came from around the globe for a week of training and education.

“Our world’s water resources are in peril,” said Yaggi. “Every day, about two million tons of pollution is dumped into our world’s waterways and it’s making people sick.”

The organization focuses its efforts around three major campaigns. Its “Clean and Safe Energy” campaign seeks to prevent water pollution coming from fossil fuel extraction and use. Among the top concerns are coal ash waste from mining, threats to aquifers from fracking activities and oil spills from pipelines and rail transport.

Waterkeeper’s “Clean Water Defense” campaign emphasizes legal protections for clean rivers, better public access to waterways and ecosystem protection and restoration. The organization’s “Pure Farms, Pure Waters” effort addresses industrial agriculture and the runoff from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) that enters rivers and lakes, often untreated.

Yaggi said the NGO’s members are on the ground patrolling 2.5 million square miles of watershed around the world. “One of the key things we do is making sure that polluters are complying with laws,” he told EnviroNews Utah.

He urged people who care about clean water to run for office, saying that is the movement’s most important need going forward. He’s also drawn up an ambitious 20-year plan for Waterkeeper Alliance. “We’re looking at how we can, over the next 20 years, significantly invest in the support we provide these local advocates to make sure they are the best and brightest water advocates on the planet,” Yaggi explained — and to “grow our movement strategically so that we can have one of these advocates on every waterway.”

The post Inside Look: Waterkeeper: Patrolling 2.5m Sq-Miles of Watershed, Catching Polluters, Saving H2O appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Waterkeeper Alliance: How a Movement Was Born — as Recalled by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Environews.tv - Mon, 06/19/2017 - 19:45

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/061917-waterkeeper-alliance-movement-born-recalled-robert-f-kennedy-jr/"; reddit_title = "Waterkeeper Alliance: How a Movement Was Born — as Recalled by Robert F. Kennedy Jr."; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — Park City, Utah — When Robert “Bobby” Kennedy, Jr. was eight years old, he had already banked many memories of outdoor family outings, including kayaking and fishing with his father Bobby Kennedy, in turn developing a love for nature in a vigorous and very physical way. Tragically, only a few years later in his young life, opportunities for similar outings with his dad would be stripped away forever. Still, it’s not difficult to understand why the planet’s natural resources, and especially water, “the essence of life,” have become so important to him.

After studying at Harvard as an undergrad, and completing law studies at the University of Virginia and Pace University in the late seventies, Robert Kennedy, Jr. connected with centuries of history in the Hudson River Valley, when at just thirty years old, and as a new attorney in the state of New York, he joined forces with a conservative group of citizens in the town of Crotonville.

The centuries-old fishing grounds near Crotonville predate Dutch colonial times. Those waters were being regularly and indiscriminately poisoned by industry and the locals were tired of it. To them, this was their livelihood and their playground and it was being trashed by industry. They were ready to defy the polluters by any means necessary. “These people were very patriotic and conservative types, not radicals or militants,” Kennedy recalled to EnviroNews. “They were tired of having their backyard ruined.”

Bobby Kennedy Kayaking with Neice Caroline Kennedy

Riverkeeper: The Birth of a Movement

In the early days, a Sports Illustrated writer named Robert H. Boyle became aware of the local opposition to the polluters. After some research, Boyle urged the locals to organize. “We shouldn’t be talking about breaking the law,” Boyle told them, “We should be talking about enforcing the law.” That was because Boyle had uncovered a statute dating back to 1888 that was still on the books. In the case of Crotonville, the law would allow those reporting violations to collect a bounty and force polluters to halt their poisonous discharges into the Hudson.

In 1973, a judgment of $200,000 against Anaconda Wire and Cable allowed the first Riverkeepers to purchase their own boat called the “Riverkeeper” to patrol the Hudson in search of polluters using the river as a dumping ground. In time, the effect of using the law to make corporate polluters stop their ways would give Kennedy a strengthened identity as an environmentalist and conservationist – and a movement was born.

Robert Kennedy Jr. Practicing Falconry

Waterkeeper Alliance Goes Global

Since joining Riverkeeper in the mid eighties, Kennedy says he has been involved in over 500 legal actions resulting in $5.5 billion in payouts and penalties on his multidimensional mission of ecosystem protection. “There was once a time when the Hudson kept changing color depending on what truck color was most popular at the GM plant in Terrytown,” Kennedy recalled on EnviroNews. These days, the fish breeding stocks are rebounding there.

The Waterkeeper Alliance, with Kennedy at the helm, has over 320 chapters in 30 countries and patrols millions of miles of waterways. Their annual conference was held during the weekend of June 8, 2017, at Deer Valley in Park City, Utah.
More segments from this exclusive with Robert Kennedy Jr. and Emerson Urry, Editor-in-Chief of EnviroNews USA, can be viewed in the video players below:

America’s Mercury Crisis: ‘Fish consumption is dangerous now’ — Robert Kennedy Jr. Weighs in

The post Waterkeeper Alliance: How a Movement Was Born — as Recalled by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

America’s Mercury Crisis: ‘Fish consumption is dangerous now’ — Robert Kennedy Jr. Weighs in

Environews.tv - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 19:41

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/061617-science-fiction-nightmare-robert-kennedy-jr-americas-mercury-loaded-fish-crisis/"; reddit_title = "America’s Mercury Crisis: ‘Fish consumption is dangerous now’ — Robert Kennedy Jr. Weighs in"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — Park City, Utah — On June 8, 2017, at the Waterkeeper Alliance International Conference in Park City, Utah, EnviroNews Editor-in-Chief Emerson Urry sat down with legendary environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to discuss an array of water-related topics, including mercury poisoning. Kennedy shared his own personal experience with this issue as well as his views on the broader related environmental and human health ramifications.

Urry asked Kennedy whether, in his opinion, it is “even safe to eat seafood, with all the contamination that’s been accumulating in the waterways over the years.” Kennedy replied:

Our fish consumption is dangerous now… In my view, we’re living in a science fiction nightmare… Where my children and the children of most Americans can now no longer engage in a seminal primal activity of American youth, which is to go fishing with their father or mother in the local fishing hole and then come home and safely eat the fish.

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that can be harmful to living beings when it accumulates. The generation of coal-fired electricity and the incineration of waste are two of the main activities that release mercury into the environment. In 2010, two-thirds of U.S. airborne mercury pollution came from coal-fired power plants.

Airborne mercury permeates the water system, builds up in marine life and bioaccumulates, particularly in larger predators. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that mercury falling from the air becomes methylmercury in the water – a substance the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) describes as “a powerful neurotoxin.” The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) explains mercury “poisons the kidneys and nervous system.” Mercury poisoning can also cause reproductive issues and neurological disorders and the EPA reports it is especially a concern for young children, women of childbearing age and pregnant and breastfeeding women.

“Mercury is dangerous and I did have very dangerous levels of mercury… I was starting to have word retrieval and memory problems that I’d never had before… that was very disturbing to me,” Kennedy said of his past exposure. One doctor found that he had built up “enormous level of mercury” in his body from eating fish. “I am a fisherman and I fish freshwater fish, which it turns out are very heavily loaded,” he continued. Kennedy also had mercury in his mouth within dental amalgams, which he had removed. “The dentists aren’t allowed to talk about it but the science on it is really, really clear.”

According to the EPA, possible symptoms of methylmercury poisoning include “loss of peripheral vision; ‘pins and needles’ feelings, usually in the hands, feet and around the mouth; lack of coordination of movements; impairment of speech, hearing and walking; and muscle weakness.” Infants and children may experience negative impacts to memory, cognitive thinking, language, attention, fine motor skills and visual spatial skills.

Kennedy cautions that blood and hair mercury tests are not always sufficient, though hair is preferable. He recommends a urine dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) challenge test. Kennedy underwent a treatment for mercury poisoning known as chelation therapy, which can alleviate heavy metal poisoning from mercury, lead, arsenic and even radioactive isotopes. Chelators are complex negatively charged ions with many bonding sites. The molecules bind to positively charged metals in blood and tissue, whereafter both are eliminated in the urine. Kennedy said the chelators had to be taken “with a lot of minerals and vitamins because they tend to deplete other good minerals in your body that you want to keep.”

A 2009 EPA mercury study collected fish from 500 randomly selected U.S. lakes and reservoirs. Mercury, as well as Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), were detected in every fish sample from all 500 lakes and reservoirs. Forty-nine percent of the samples had mercury concentrations exceeding the EPA’s human health screening value (SV) of 0.3 ppm (parts-per-million). A human health SV is a level above which concern for health risks exist.

The EPA has also arrived at a reference dose (RfD) level for methylmercury, which is their “estimate of the maximum acceptable daily exposure to humans that is not likely to cause harmful effects during a lifetime.” The 2001 and current RfD for methylmercury is 0.1 ug (micrograms) per kg (kilogram) of body weight daily, which is equal to 0.01 ppm. The Joint Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UNFAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) also publish mercury guidelines. The current JEFCA provisional tolerable weekly intake (PTWI) is 1.6 µg/kg/week, which equals about 0.23 µg/kg/day — more than twice the U.S. RfD.

However, environmental and public health watchdog groups find the EPA and JECFA mercury limits insufficient to protect human health. For example, a 2009 report from the Zero Mercury Working Group, the European Environmental Bureau and the European Commission calls for a lower definition of tolerable mercury exposure. This publication evaluates and summarizes “epidemiological research on the effects of methylmercury on the developing brain” dating back to the 1950s, and finds “the RfD and the PTWI for methylmercury are no longer valid definitions of ‘safe’ exposure.” In summary, the paper recommends new international guidelines of 0.025 µg/kg/day – 25 percent of the current US RfD and about 11 percent of the JECFA daily limit.

Dr. Brian Moench, Founder of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment, a group of over 500 medical doctors, weighed in on the EPA mercury limits with EnviroNews. He said he doesn’t trust EPA standards for these two reasons:

First, in general, those standards are almost always heavily influenced by politics and industry pressure, and that has been true under both Republican and Democratic administrations. Second, historically, those kinds of standards have also looked at primarily the toxicology literature, not the medical literature. There is a growing gap between what the medical literature says is safe and what the toxicology literature says.

He expounded his point of view by comparing mercury and lead, which has now been universally acknowledged as unsafe in any amount:

Mercury is recognized as being much more neurotoxic than lead, perhaps as much as 1,000 times more toxic than lead. So, how can there be a ‘safe’ dose of mercury? There isn’t. Instead of the EPA recommending a limit on fish consumption, they should say, ‘Just as there is no safe amount of lead exposure, even more so, there is no safe amount of mercury exposure.’

For those who want to become more informed about mercury levels in fish and learn more about how the seafood they eat affects the planet, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) runs a “Seafood Selector” site. It offers information on mercury levels in fish and gives eco-ratings as well. For example, “Eco-Best Choices include fish from healthy, well-managed populations, and the fishing or farming methods used to catch or raise the fish cause little harm to the environment.” The FDA lists shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish as fish with particularly high levels of mercury. Also, the EPA provides an interactive U.S. map that allows users to search for local fish advisories.

In 2011, the EPA issued the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) to regulate coal and oil-fired power plant pollution emissions, with a compliance date in 2015. The Agency claims MATS has led to power plant updates and prevent an estimated “11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks and 130,000 asthma attacks every year beginning in 2016.” But in April 2017, the EPA under Scott Pruitt announced it was going to reconsider whether or not to defend MATS against a coalition of utility and mining companies and State Attorneys General seeking to repeal the rule.

In a letter to President Barack Obama, dated December 13, 2011, 22 of the Nation’s top mercury researchers and the Executive Director for Physicians for Social Responsibility expressed their belief “that there should be no change in the MATS.” The communication stated:

Mercury has no biologically beneficial function; indeed, each atom that ends up in the body can be toxic to all types of cells. Mercury is such a potent toxin because it bonds very strongly to functionally important sites of proteins including enzymes, antibodies and nerve growth-cones that keep cells alive, ‘intelligent’ and safe. Target enzymes, organs, or metabolic pathways vulnerable to mercury poisoning may change from cell to cell, person to person and in the same individual over time. Regardless, minimizing all mercury exposure is essential to improving human, wildlife and ecosystem health because exposure to mercury in any form places a heavy burden on the biochemical machinery within cells of all living organisms.

RELATED NEWS FROM ENVIRONEWS:

Editorial: Media Should Discuss EDTA and Other Chelation Therapies For Children of Flint

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – EDITORIAL: As the largely minority, impoverished population of Flint, Michigan continues to reel from Governor Rick Snyder’s lead-poisoning scandal (yes Snyder needs to own it fully), we, at EnviroNews, have heard over and over in the beltway media, slogans uttered again and again…

The post America’s Mercury Crisis: ‘Fish consumption is dangerous now’ — Robert Kennedy Jr. Weighs in appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

कृषि संकट : आर्थिक कुप्रबंधन की देन है. My interview (in Hindi)

Ground Reality - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 11:14


देश में खेती की निर्भरता का सच क्या है? जीडीपी में योगदान का वास्तविक आंकड़ा कितना है?सच ये है कि हर प्रधानमंत्री देश को कृषि प्रधान बताता है। मगर बजट पेश करने वाला हर वित्त मंत्री बजट में एग्रीकल्चर बाटम पर व उद्योग टाप पर रखता है। लोगों को विश्वास दिलाने को कहता है कि देश कृषि प्रधान है। हम खेती को ऐसा मंच नहीं बना पाये कि खेती देश के लिये लाभकारी साबित हो सके। वास्तव में कुल 52 फीसदी लोग कृषि पर प्रत्यक्ष व अप्रत्यक्ष तौर पर निर्भर हैं। यानी  कुल 60 करोड़ लोग खेती पर निर्भर हैं। पिछली जनगणना में यह तथ्य सामने आया कि खेती पर निर्भर जनसंख्या कम होती जा रही है। अब  भूमिहीन काश्तकार का आंकड़ा बड़ा है। हम मानकर चलें कि करीब 35 करोड़ किसान भूमिहीन हैं और करीब कुल 25 करोड़ किसान खेत वाले हैं।
सकल घरेलू उत्पाद में खेती का योगदान लगातार घटा है?
जहां तक जीडीपी  का सवाल है तो यह कुल योगदान का 14 प्रतिशत है। यह धारणा फैलायी जा रही है कि खेती का सकल घरेलू उत्पाद में योगदान कम हो रहा है। जब हम किसानों को दाम का हक नही देंगे तो स्वाभाविक रूप खेती का जीडीपी में शेयर कम होगा। सीधी सी बात है कि यदि इनकम कम होगी तो उसकी हिस्सेदारी भी कम होगी। ये इरादतन कम किया गया है।
आरोप लगते रहे हैं कि सरकार कॉरपोरेट को श्रमिक उपलब्ध कराने के लिये किसानों को खेती से बेदखल कर रही है?देविंदर शर्मापहले  सरकार की नीतियों को समझना जरूरी है। वास्तव में ये नीतियां क्या हैं। वर्ष  1996 में मुझे एमएस स्वामीनाथन फाउंडेशन के चेन्नई सम्मेलन में भाग लेने का मौका मिला। वहां विश्व बैंक के एक वाइस प्रेजीडेंट ने एक आंकड़ा प्रस्तुत किया। विश्व बैंक के अधिकारी ने कहा था कि 2015 तक भारत में गांव से शहर जाने वाले किसानों की संख्या इंग्ालैड, फ्रांस व जर्मनी की जनसंख्या से दोगुनी होगी। उस समय तीनों देशों की जनसंख्या बीस करोड़ थी यानी कि 40 करोड़ शिफ्ट होंगे। तब मैंने सोचा कि विश्व बैंक हमें सचेत कर रहा है। मगर जब मैंने 2008 में विश्व बैंक की रिपोर्ट देखी तो उसने सरकार को उलाहना दिया कि अब तक ये किसान कृषि से निकाले क्यों नहीं जा सके। डेवलेपमेंट रिपोर्ट में कहा गया कि जमीन अयोग्य लोगों के हाथों में है, जमीनों का अधिग्रहण तेज किया जाये। जो लोग खेती के अलावा कुछ नहीं जानते, उन्हें कृषि से हटाया जाये। जो युवा लोग खेती से जुड़े हैं, उन्हें ट्रेंिनग इंस्टीट्यूटों में, उद्योगों में काम करने का प्रशिक्षण दिलाया जाये। इसके ठीक एक साल बाद मैंने पाया कि 2009 में तत्कालीन वित्तमंत्री पी. चिंदबरम ने तत्काल 1000 आईटीआई खोलने की मंजूरी दे दी। यह सब सोची-समझी रणनीति के तरह लोगों को खेती से हटाने का उपक्रम है। ऐसे तौर-तरीकों से विकास नहीं होता। हम ये बात अब भी नहीं समझते कि यूरोप व अमेरिका में हुए बदलावों और भारत की स्थितियों में फर्क है। इससे आने वाले वर्षों में सोशो-इकोनॉमी चुनौती से देश में भयावह परिदृश्य उत्पन्न होगा।
क्या असली मुद्दा किसान की लागत न निकल पाना है?
दरअसल, किसान की लागत और मुनाफे की तो बात ही नहीं होती। जब हमारी व्यवस्था का मकसद ही खेतिहर लोगों को खदेड़ना है तो फिर क्या कहा जाये। दरअसल, हमने आधा अधूरा अमेरिकी माडल अपनाया है। पब्लिक सेक्टर में निवेश किया ही नहीं। कोशिश की कृषि उत्पादों की कीमत कम रखिये, जिससे मजबूर होकर किसान खेती छोड़कर मजदूर बन जाये। सही मायनो में हमने वाजिब दाम दिये ही नहीं। हमने कभी किसान की लागत को वर्क आउट किया ही नहीं। आंकड़ों पर नजर डालें तो जो गेहूं 1970 में 76 रुपये कंुतल था वह 2015 में 1450 रुपये कुंतल था  यानी 45 साल में उसमें सिर्फ 19 गुना ही वृद्धि हुई। इस अवधि में यदि हम सरकारी कर्मचारियों के वेतन में वृद्धि देखें तो बेसिक पे व डीए में करीब 120 से 150 गुना, कालेज टीचर के वेतन में 120 से 150 गुना और प्राइमरी टीचर के वेतन में 280  से 300 गुना तक वृद्धि हुई है। कर्मचारियों के कुल 108 तरह के भत्ते शामिल हैं, जबकि किसान को एक भी भत्ता नहीं मिलता। यानी किसान के खिलाफ मैच फिक्स है। वह खाद्यान्न की नहीं बल्कि दुखों की खेती करता है।
क्या किसान आंदोलन  नोटबंदी के परिणामों और विपक्ष की राजनीतिक हताशा की शह से उपजा है?
मैं  आंदोलन को इस तरह से नहीं देखता। किसानों के दिल में भयंकर  गुब्बार  है। ये  गुस्सा  तो फूटना  ही था। मौजूदा आंदोलन का अभी जो आप समापन  देख रहे हैं, उसे किसी तरह हैंडल कर लिया गया। यदि हालात इसी तरह चलते रहे तो यह गुस्सा भयंकर ढंग से फूटेगा। खेती की अनदेखी की जा रही है, जानबूझकर किसान को खेती से बेदखल किया जा रहा है। ये तो अभी  ट्रेलर है, असली फिल्म अभी बाकी है।
किसानों की समस्या की असली जड़ कहा है?
मूलत: कृषि समस्या आर्थिक कुप्रबंधन की समस्या है। इसके मूल में आर्थिक असुरक्षा है। साल-दर-साल किसान पिस रहा है। सरकार की कोशिश होती है कि किसी तरह से मुद्रास्फीति को नियंत्रण में किया जाये। ठीक है लोगों को सस्ता अनाज मिल रहा है, मध्य वर्ग खुश हो जाता है। मगर सवाल यह है कि जो अन्नदाता उपज पैदा कर रहे हैं, उसे आप क्या दे रहे हैं? उसे खेती से बेदखल किया जा रहा है। उससे हम पैसा ले तो रहे हैं मगर  दे नहीं रहे हैं।
ऐसा क्यों है कि किसान की आत्महत्या की खबरें संपन्न इलाकों पंजाब, महाराष्ट्र आदि से आ रही हैं? 
ऐसा नहीं है। इस समस्या के दो पहलू हैं। एक तो जो आत्महत्याएं हो रही हैं, उसकी सही तस्वीर सामने नहीं आ रही है। महत्वपूर्ण कारण यह है कि जहां किसान का फसल के साथ रिस्क जुड़ा है, वहां से आ रही हैं। जहां कैश क्रॉप के रूप में अंगूर, कपास आदि हैं, वहां से ज्यादा आत्महत्या की खबरें हैं। कुल 70 प्रतिशत कपास का क्षेत्र संवदेनशील है। दूसरे आत्महत्या के आंकड़ों की हकीकत सामने नहीं आ रही है। विदर्भ के इलाके में स्वयंसेवी संस्था से जुड़े किशोर तिवारी ने आत्महत्या का डाटा एकत्र कर देना शुरू किया। जब यह आंकड़ा निकलकर एनजीओ व मीडिया के पास आया तो  देश को  विदर्भ की हकीकत का पता चला। यदि ये सारे देश में होता तो वास्तविकता उभरकर सामने  आती। बुंदेलखंड से  भी आत्महत्याओं की खबरें आ रही हैं। अब लोग जागरूक हो रहे हैं। मैं चार साल पहले दिल्ली से चंडीगढ़ आया। प्रिंट मीडिया से मिली आत्महत्या की जानकारी को मैंने हर रोज ट्वीट करना शुरू किया। पंजाब हॉटस्पाट के बारे में लोगों को पता चला। दरअसल, सूचना बंटेगी तो पता चलेगा। उड़ीसा में भयंकर सुसाइड के मामले सामने  आ रहे हैं। देश में क्रेश क्रॉप की इनपुट कास्ट बढ़ी है।
आने वाले वक्त में खाद्य जरूरतें कितनी बड़ी चुनौती है?
ये बात कोई समझने की कोशिश नहीं कर रहा है। वर्ष 1965 में पहली बार खाद्यान्न का आयात किया गया। वर्ष 1967 में  सबसे ज्यादा 11 मिलियन टन अनाज आयात किया गया। तब इसे हम शिप टू माउथ कहते थे। यानी जहाजों से उतरा  और सीधे खाद्यान्न के रूप में इस्तेमाल हुआ। देश में हरित क्रांति आई, इम्पोर्ट बंद हुआ। मगर आज हम उन्हीं नीतियों पर जा रहे हैं। इतने बड़े देश को फीड करना आसान नहीं होगा। जब भारत मार्केट में उतरता है तो कीमतें बढ़ती हैं। वहीं जब हम बेचने जाते हैं तो कीमतें गिर जाती हैं। भारत विश्व बाजार में बड़ा देश है तो उथलपुथल होगी। इतने बड़े देश को आयात करके खिलाना संभव नहीं है। हमें यह नहीं भूलना चाहिए कि हमारी नेशनल सिक्योरिटी खाद्य सिक्योरिटी से जुड़ी है। हम जय जवान, मर किसान का नारा नहीं लगा सकते। वर्ष 2007-08 में जब खाद्यान्न संकट हुआ तो 37 देशों में खाद्यान्न को लेकर दंगे हुए। मगर भारत की स्वतंत्र व्यवस्था के चलते हम इससे  प्रभावित नहीं हुए। भारत में खाना न हो तो क्या हो।
क्या परंपरागत फसलों की पैदावार खत्म होने व पानी वाली फसलों के प्रचलन से समस्या बढ़ी है?
असली समस्या तो लागत की है। हरेक चीज रिलेटिव  है। हरित क्रांति से पहले भारतीय परंपरागत फसलों के हालात एेसे नहीं थे कि हम पूरे देश का पेट भर सकें। हरित क्रांति के बाद दो महत्वपूर्ण कदम उठाये गये। एक तो फसलों के न्यूनतम समर्थन मूल्य का निर्धारण, जिससे किसानों का व्यवस्था पर भरोसा बढ़ा। दूसरा एफसीआई का गठन । इतने बड़े देश में खाद्यान्न को हेंडल करना व  डिस्िट्रब्यूट करना आसान नहीं था। माना कि भ्रष्टाचार  बड़ी समस्या है मगर इसे डिस्मेंटल करना आत्मघाती कदम होगा। हम फिर शिप टू माउथ की स्थिति में पहंुच जायेंगे। हमें कास्ट आफ प्राडक्शन भी देखनी है। किसान को न्यायसंगत दाम तो मिलें। यदि किसान को मुद्रास्फीति के हिसाब से मौजूदा दर पर अनाज की कीमत मिले तो शहर गये लोग गांव आना शुरू कर देंगे। अनाज का बाजार मूल्य दें और बाकी लागत उसके जन धन खाते में स्थानांतरित कर दें।
देश में अथाह गरीबी  है। कीमतें बढ़ाने से बढ़ी महंगाई से सामाजिक असमानता नहीं बढ़ेगी?
बिल्कुल नहीं। दुनिया में असमानता हर देश में है।  कुल टॉप एक प्रतिशत लोगों को मोटा पैसा मिलता है। मिडिल क्लास को छोड़ दें तो देश में 60 करोड़ लोग खेती से जुड़े हैं। देश के आधे यानी 17 प्रदेशों में किसान की मासिक आय 1700  रुपये से कम प्रतिमाह है। इतने में तो हम गाय नहीं पाल सकते। आज जब मिनिमम लिविंग वेज की बात होती है तो किसान को भी तो यह मिलना चाहिए। हमारे देश में किसान उत्पाद भी है और उपभोक्ता भी है। यदि हम किसान को खर्च के बराबर पैसा देते हैं तो हमारी सात-आठ फीसदी  के आसपास रहने वाली जीडीपी 15 तक पहुंच सकती है। तभी तो सबका साथ, सबका विकास होगा।
न्यू्नतम समर्थन मूल्य किसान के हित में कितना कारगर है?
मैं सीआईआई व फिक्की की बैठक में शामिल था तो खाद्य मंत्री ने पूछा कि एमएसपी के दायरे में कितने किसान हैं? अंदाजे से मैंने तीस फीसदी बताया। अधिकारी जबाव न दे पाये। एफसीआई को पता नहीं था, अगली मीटिंग में खुलासा हुआ कि छह प्रतिशत। यानी कुल 94 फीसदी किसान को कोई सुरक्षा कवच नहीं ।  ऐसे में किसान आत्महत्या नहीं करेगा तो क्या करेगा? कैसे जीयेगा किसान?
Source: कृषि संकट: आर्थिक कुप्रबंधन की देन है Dainik Tribune. June 16, 2017. http://bit.ly/2t8ijHb
Categories: Ecological News

Why is it that corporate never protest on streets to seek loan waivers?

Ground Reality - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 15:12

Farmers protested in Madhya Pradesh/Maharashtra by cutting off supplies of milk and vegetables to cities. 
Just think about it. Why is that to seek loan waiver, farmers have to take to streets, block the highways, hold protest marches, face tear gas and sometime face bullets? Why is that I have never seen the corporate bigwigs sitting at a dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi demanding loan waiver? 
After the agitation in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, which left sic farmers dead in police farming, Maharashtra has finally agreed to waive Rs 30,500-crore of bad loans of farmers. Earlier, Uttar Pradesh had announced striking out Rs 36, 359-crore of unpaid loans of small and marginal farmers. Farmers’ protests are now spreading to Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Such is the deplorable condition of farmers that at a farmers protest in Moga in Punjab, one farmer committed suicide unable to wait to live with the promise of a loan waiver.
Already dharnas have begun with farmers demanding debt waiver. Farmer unions have also given a call for three-hour rail roko and rasta roko agitation throughout the northern regions on June 16, demanding farm loan waiver. But why is that farmers have to launch a series of protests to highlight the plight and suffering of the farming community to drive home the point that farmers desperately need loan waivers? Don’t the policy makers already know that farmers are dying all across the country? Agriculture is in an emergency situation.
In the past 21 years, more than 3.18 lakh farmers have committed suicide. Every 41 minutes, one farmer ends his life somewhere in the country. Majority of these deaths are because farmers are unable to pay back loans. They are in reality buried under piles of credit taken from multiple sources. The Union Minister of State for Agriculture in November 2016 had acknowledged in Parliament that farmers are reeling under outstanding debt of Rs 12.60 lakh crore every year, so writing-off of farm loans not only makes good politics but also good economics.
But before we see how the loan waiver policy discriminates farmers, I fail to understand why do farmers have to undergo all the trouble while the corporate quietly get the loan waiver? They don’t even have to step out of their cars what to talk of organizing a protest. The question that needs to be asked is why do industrialists get a preferential treatment whereas farmers have to take to streets and face bullets? After all, both farmers as well as the industrialists draw loans from the same bank, and I see no reason why the banks should be treating industry defaulters with kid gloves and put the farmers to undergo the trouble of protesting on the streets?
Soon after Yogi Adityanath announced the farm loan waiver in Uttar Pradesh, the State Bank of India chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya remarked that farm loan waiver leaders to disruption of credit discipline. A few weeks later, she wrote a letter to the Finance Minister pleading to provide a bail out to the telecom industry which is reeling under an ‘unsustainable’ stressed loan of Rs 4.85-lakh crore. What I fail to understand is that why did the SBI chairperson seek a bailout package on behalf of the defaulting telecom companies? Why couldn’t the top honchos of telecom companies be made to sit on a dharna in New Delhi like the way the farmers normally do to seek a write-off?
This is how the banking system discriminates the poor borrowers, and frowns when farmers use the same clean-up mechanism that has been reserved for corporate balance sheet.
The discrimination doesn’t end here. While the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has made it clear that the states will have to find resources to write-off farm loans, an inter-ministerial panel led by a senior official in the telecom ministry has been constituted to examine the possibility of bailout for debt-ridden telecom companies. Earlier, the Business Standard (Mar 23) had reported that the Prime Minister’s office (PMO) was likely to step in to resolve steel companies bad debt issue. Accordingly, the PMO, along with the Finance Ministry, was working on a fresh package for top steel companies and also for the top 40 accounts that were under stress. The total debt of these companies stands at Rs 1.5-lakh crore.
The bias against the farm sector does not end here. Ever since Maharashtra announced the farm loan waiver I find many TV channels are devoting time to misguide the people by claiming that the farm loan waiver will hit the national economy, raise inflation, raise home loan EMIs etc. Farmers are being deliberately painted as culprits whereas these points are never highlighted when corporate get the bail out. In fact, the corporate bailout is projected as essential for economic growth whereas farm loan waiver is blamed for fiscal slippage.
According to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report, roughly Rs 2.57 lakh crore of farmers’ loans, or 2 per cent of India’s GDP, is expected to be waived-off in the run-up to the 2019 general elections. But again, Merrill Lynch never told us how the humongous write-off of corporate loans affects the economy. I agree Rs 2.57 lakh crore of farm loan waiver in the next two years is a big bailout package for farmers but why doesn’t Merrill Lynch ever talk about the proposed Rs 4-lakh crore bailout to the telecom industry? By painting the farmers in bad light, Merrill Lynch is essentially trying to defend the huge corporate defaults that are routinely undertaken.
This is how the banks play the game. This is not only a moral hazard but is completely unethical. The rules of the banking system should not discriminate against the poor. #
Categories: Ecological News

‘Enough is Enough’: 12 Conservation Orgs Petition USDA to Ban ‘Cruel’ Cyanide Bombs in Wyoming

Environews.tv - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 18:20

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/061417-enough-enough-conservation-orgs-petition-usda-ban-cruel-cyanide-bombs-wyoming/"; reddit_title = "‘Enough is Enough’: 12 Conservation Orgs Petition USDA to Ban ‘Cruel’ Cyanide Bombs in Wyoming"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Wyoming) On June 13, 2017, a coalition of conservation groups petitioned Wildlife Services (WS) and the Wyoming Department of Agriculture (WDA), calling for the ban and removal of all M-44 cyanide devices in Wyoming. WS, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), is a highly controversial wildlife-killing program, which terminated 1.6 million native U.S. animals in 2016 alone. M-44s are cyanide bombs that cause painful deaths. The devices are installed by WS for predator management, but are easily triggered by any living creature.

“We’re not at war with native wildlife, and it is irresponsible to allow poison landmines to be sown anywhere in Wyoming,” said Erik Molvar, Executive Director of Western Watersheds Project, in a press release. Other organizations behind the petition are the Animal Welfare Institute, Animal Legal Defense Fund, Center for Biological Diversity, Happy Endings Animal Rescue, PAWS of Jackson Hole, Predator Defense, Project Coyote, Trap Free Montana Public Lands, Inc., Wyoming Untrapped, and Wyoming Wildlife Advocates. The petition specifically calls on WS to:

    1. Cease all use and authorization by all parties of M-44 explosive cyanide devices, also known as “coyote getters” or “cyanide bombs,” on all lands in Wyoming, and
    2. Immediately remove any and all M-44s currently deployed on all lands in Wyoming.

Between 2000 and 2016, M-44s killed almost 6,000 target animals in Wyoming, 112 non-target animals including eight dogs, and 447 unclassified animals. Already in 2017, two dogs have been killed in this excruciating manner in Wyoming, and in Idaho, 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield was sprayed and hospitalized and his dog killed by an unmarked M-44 near his home. Following this incident, a coalition of environmental groups petitioned M-44s be removed and banned in Idaho and WS acceded. “Wildlife Services got rid of M-44s in Idaho, and they should do the same in Wyoming before more pets, and even people, get hurt or killed,” said Molvar.

“These incidents display the extremely dangerous and indiscriminate nature of M-44 cyanide bombs and Wildlife Services negligence,” said Michelle Lute, Wildlife Coexistence Campaigner for WildEarth Guardians.

“Cyanide bombs are indiscriminate killers that must be banned,” said Andrea Santarsiere, a Center for Biological Diversity Senior Attorney, pointing out that, “Any animal that might pull on the baited trigger is at risk, including endangered wildlife like grizzlies, as well as people and pets… Enough is enough.”

Earlier in June, Mansfield and his family were in D.C. lobbying for House Bill 1817, known as the Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2017 or “Canyon’s Law,” which was introduced by Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) in March. This bill seeks to make cyanide bombs as well as Compound 1080, another poison used by WS, illegal on all U.S. lands.

OTHER ENVIRONEWS REPORTS ON CYANIDE BOMBS, COMPOUND 1080 AND WILDLIFE SERVICES

USDA Caves to Public Pressure, Agrees to Remove All Coyote/Wolf Cyanide Bombs in Idaho

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) – Hailey, Idaho – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS), which kills millions of wild animals in the U.S. each year, agreed April 10, 2017, to temporarily halt the use of M-44 cyanide bombs for predator control initiatives in Idaho….

BREAKING: Wildlife Groups Sue Trump Admin. Over USDA’s Poisoning of Endangered Species, Kids, Pets

(EnviroNews Nature) – Washington D.C. – On April 4, 2017, four wildlife and conservation groups filed suit against the Trump Administration in an effort to regulate lethal poisons used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS). Wildlife Services uses the two poisons in question, Compound…

Rep. Peter DeFazio is out to Stop USDA’s Cruel Wolf and Coyote Poison Bombs for Good

(EnviroNews Oregon) – Washington D.C. – On March 30, 2017, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR) introduced the Chemical Poisons Reduction Act of 2017 (H.R. 1817), which seeks to ban the use of two deadly poisons, Compound 1080 and sodium cyanide, for predator control efforts throughout the United States. These…

20 Environmental Groups Jointly Demand Wildlife Services Ban M-44 Cyanide Bombs in Idaho

(EnviroNews Idaho) – On March 28, 2017, a coalition of wildlife and conservation groups petitioned the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to immediately ban M-44 devices in Idaho. M-44s are cyanide bombs used by WS to kill…

USDA’s ‘Cruel,’ ‘Illegal’ Cyanide Bombs for Wolves and Coyotes Killing Dogs, Hospitalizing Kids

(EnviroNews Headline News Desk) – Bannock County, Idaho – On March 16, 2017, 14-year-old Canyon Mansfield was playing fetch with his dog Kasey, in Bannock County, Idaho, when an M-44 cyanide bomb sprayed him and killed his dog. The lethal device was placed by the U.S. Department of…

Bill Allowing Slaughter of Alaskan Bear Cubs, Wolf Pups, Sails Through Senate to Trump’s Desk

(EnviroNews Alaska) – Washington D.C. – On March 21, 2017, in a 52-47 vote, the Senate passed House Joint Resolution 69 (HJR 69), a Congressional Review Act resolution to rescind the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule (Refuge Rule), which has been in…

Predator Bloodbath: ‘Secretive’ Federal Agency Wildlife Services Kills 1.6 Million Native Animals in 2016

(EnviroNews Nature) – Wildlife Services (WS), a little-known wildlife-killing program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), killed 2,744,010 animals in 2016, 1,594,595 of which were native to the U.S. The agency shared this death toll in its annual program data…

After a Century, ‘Landmark Settlement’ Puts Brakes on Federal Government’s ‘Rogue’ Wildlife-Killing Program

(EnviroNews Nature) – Missoula, Montana – Well, it only took a century, but it has happened at last: Something finally put the brakes on Wildlife Services (WS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) “secretive,” “rogue,” “cruel” wildlife-killing agency – and that “something” is the environmental non-profit organization WildEarth…

‘Secret’ Federal Agency Admits Killing 3.2 Million Wild Animals in U.S. Last Year Alone

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Washington D.C. – The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services (WS) admitted in its annual Program Data Report to having killed at least 3.2 million wild animals in 2015 alone – many of which were large predators. 1,681,283 of that total…

Lions and Tigers and… Sage Grouse? Oh My! – The Granddaddy Endangered Species Battle of Them All

(EnviroNews Nature) – On March 3, 2017, EnviroNews Nature released one of the largest and most expansive documentaries ever published on a wildlife species in peril – the greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). The academic yet entertaining film spans a plethora of topics and includes intersecting interviews, viewpoints…

Wyoming Wolves Stripped of Endangered Species Act Protection – Shoot-on-Sight Policy Restored

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Gray wolves (Canis lupus) will no longer be protected under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in the state of Wyoming. That was the ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, on March 3, 2017, which also happened to be…

Republicans Lick Chops While Revving Up To Dismantle The Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews Nature) – Washington D.C. – On Feb. 15, 2017, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) held a hearing called, “Oversight: Modernization of the Endangered Species Act.” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Chairman of the EPW, held this two-hour hearing to explore “the need to modernize…

300 NGO and Environmental Orgs Demand via Joint Letter Ntl. Guvs Assoc. Protect Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews Headline News Desk) – Washington D.C. – On Feb. 23, 2017, a coalition of almost 300 NGO, environment, conservation and social justice groups concerned with the now uncertain future of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) sent a letter to the National Governors Association (NGA). The letter was…

WildEarth Guardians Sues Colorado over Plan to Kill Black Bears, Mountain Lions

(EnviroNews Nature) – Denver, Colorado – The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department (CPW), the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission (Commission) and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources are being sued by WildEarth Guardians (WEG) for their December approval of two predator-killing programs. Through the Piceance Basin Predator Management…

Report: 86% of North America’s Bird Species Struggling or in Crisis – 33% Facing Extinction

(EnviroNews Nature) – One in three North American bird species are of “high concern” to conservationists with an additional 50% struggling badly, according to the North American Bird Conservation Initiative (NABCI). The group’s annual report The State of North America’s Birds 2016 makes for grim reading by suggesting…

POLL CLOSED: Should USDA’s Secretive Wildlife Killing Program Be Abolished? Yes/No – VIEW RESULTS

(EnviroNews Polls) – 3.2 million animals. That is the amount of critters and creatures brutally eradicated by Wildlife Services (WS) in America last year alone, by way of traps, snares, bullets and poisons – all with your tax dollars of course (at least if you are a U.S….

Five Environmental Groups Sue USDA Over Idaho Wolf-Killing Program

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Boise, Idaho – On June 1, 2016, five prominent environmental organizations filed a lawsuit in federal district court against the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Wildlife Services for killing over 650 wolves in the state of Idaho over the past decade. Wildlife Services is…

Federal Government Sued For Killing Wolves in Oregon

(EnviroNews Oregon) – Five environmental groups filed a lawsuit on February 3, 2016, in U.S. District Court against the federal agency Wildlife Services, over what they say is the illegitimate killing of wolves in the state of Oregon. WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Predator Defense, and Project…

Federal Judge Orders Stop to Canadian Lynx Trapping in Idaho

(EnviroNews Idaho) – Boise, Idaho – A federal judge has ordered a stop to the haphazard trapping of Canadian Lynx in Idaho. Lynx canadensis, as it is scientifically known, is one of the rarest cats in the United States and has been captured multiple times in Idaho over…

Feds Attempting to Strip Yellowstone Grizzly Bear of Endangered Species Act Protection

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Missoula, Montana – In a move that has angered environmentalists and wildlife enthusiasts, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed on March 3, 2016, to strip the iconic Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear of its protected status under the Endangered Species Act (ESA),…

Poll Closed: Should U.S. Government Maintain a Wolf-Killing Program? Yes or No? – View Results

(EnviroNews Polls) – In December of 2015, several environmental groups, spearheaded by WildEarth Guardians, won a pivotal lawsuit against Wildlife Services, a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agency, for its wolf-killing program in Washington State. On February 3, 2016, WildEarth Guardians, in concert with four other groups, filed…

No Endangered Species Act Protection for Sonoran Desert Tortoise, Interior Announces

(EnviroNews Arizona) – Washington D.C. – The Morafka’s, or Sonoran desert tortoise, or Gopherus morafkai as it is scientifically known, is a slow moving, yet ancient creature that gets its water from eating native plants while spending most of its time in underground insulated burrows that it digs…

POLL: Should Yellowstone Grizzly Bear Be Delisted, Hunted and Killed? Yes/No? (Feds Say Yes)

(EnviroNews Polls) – On March 3, 2016, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed a new rule that would delist the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) grizzly bear, and advocate the hunting and elimination of at least 200 of the region’s approximately 715 specimens. The move fueled…

Will Redrawing Core Sage Grouse Areas in Wyoming Help Save the Bird From Extinction?

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Douglas, Wyoming – In late April a gloomy report was issued by Pew Charitable Trusts that claims there is a 98.7 percent chance greater sage grouse will go extinct in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin in 30 years if the current course continues. The Powder River…

Dept. of Interior: No Protection for Greater Sage Grouse Under Endangered Species Act

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Commerce City, Colorado – On the morning of Tuesday August 22, 2015, Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell announced that Centrocercus urophasianus, a.k.a. greater sage grouse, will not receive protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). A decision by U.S. Fish…

ALERT: GOP Attempting to Kill Environmental Regs Across The Board With Sneaky Budget Riders

(EnviroNews World News) – Washington, DC – It seems like we, at EnviroNews, have been reporting on this type of thing all year. That is, sketchy environmental riders being attached to totally unrelated appropriations bills in backdoor efforts to kill environmental and wildlife protections. Yes, this year’s spending…

Obama Administration Comes Out Against NDAA Sage Grouse Rider

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) – Washington DC – In a surprising environmentally-friendly move today following the Department of the Interior’s green light for Shell Oil Company’s arctic drilling ambitions yesterday, the Obama Administration came out against a controversial rider in the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that…

Sec. Sally Jewell Announces DOI Will Not List Bi-State Sage Grouse as Endangered

(EnviroNews Nevada) – Reno, Nevada – To the dismay and disappointment of environmentalists, conservationists and biologist alike, Department of the Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell announced on April 21, 2015 (which also happened to be Earth Day) that the bi-state sage grouse will not be making its way…

WA State Stops Bloodshed After Massacring Profanity Peak Wolf Pack To Appease Cattle Ranchers

(EnviroNews Washington) – Olympia, Washington – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced October 19, 2016, that it would spare the remaining four members of the now demolished Profanity Peak Wolf Pack, after already having killed seven of its wolves (Canis lupus) to appease cattle ranchers….

WildEarth Guardians: DOI’s Bi-State Sage Grouse ‘Conservation Success’ Is ‘Window Dressing’

(EnviroNews Wyoming) – Douglas, Wyoming – On April 21, 2015 Secretary of the Department of the Interior (DOI) Sally Jewell appeared in Reno, Nevada to make a pivotal Bi-State Sage Grouse Announcement: No protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the bi-state distinct population of the greater…

The post ‘Enough is Enough’: 12 Conservation Orgs Petition USDA to Ban ‘Cruel’ Cyanide Bombs in Wyoming appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Climate Destabilization Causing Thousands of New Species Migrations: Plant, Animal, Insect, Bird

Environews.tv - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 14:41

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/061117-climate-destabilization-causing-thousands-new-species-migrations-plant-animal-insect-bird/"; reddit_title = "Climate Destabilization Causing Thousands of New Species Migrations: Plant, Animal, Insect, Bird"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews DC News Bureau) — A spate of new research studies has confirmed a disturbing pattern: climate disruption is confusing migratory birds, causing trees to relocate and allowing tropical diseases to spread northward. “Human society has yet to appreciate the implications of unprecedented species redistribution for life on Earth, including for human lives,” states a study, “Divergence of Species Responses to Climate Change,” published May 17, 2017, in Science Advances.

Imagine if you had to travel thousands of miles and arrive at a specific time each year, but you had no way of knowing the precise time you needed to get there. That’s what it’s like for many songbirds that migrate from Central and South America each spring to breeding grounds in the U.S. and Canada. If they were to arrive too early, they wouldn’t find food and could freeze to death. If they arrive late, the best nesting sites may be taken and there will be fewer opportunities to find a mate.

For countless generations, these birds have been able to rely on seasonal signals such as the length of daylight. That hasn’t changed of course, but now, due to a rapidly changing climate, the conditions at their summer homes may not be what they’ve come to expect, according to another study published May 15 in Scientific Reports.

“We’re seeing spring-like conditions well before birds arrive,” said lead author Stephen Mayor, a postdoctoral researcher with the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, in a press release. “The growing mismatch means fewer birds are likely to survive, reproduce and return the following year.”

This groundbreaking study combined 12 years of NASA satellite imagery tracking the arrival of spring greenery, with citizen-collected science data extracted from eBird, which records more than 60 million observations a year. An online tool used by amateur and professional bird watchers, eBird is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society.

“It’s powerful. Whether they know it or not, birders are helping scientists do their work, and they could end up helping birds in the process,” stated study co-author Rob Guralnick, Associate Curator of Bioinformatics at the Florida Museum.

The researchers looked at 48 species of songbirds and found that the average gap between the onset of spring and the arrival of these birds has lengthened by half a day per year, or five days per decade. Nine of these species fell further behind, losing a full day or more per year. Those struggling most were great crested flycatchers (Myiarchus crinitus), indigo buntings (Passerina cyanea), scarlet tanagers (Piranga olivacea), rose-breasted grosbeaks (Pheucticus ludovicianus), eastern wood pewees (Contopus virens), yellow-billed cuckoos (Coccyzus americanus), northern parulas (Setophaga americana), blue-winged warblers (Vermivora cyanoptera) and Townsend’s warblers (Setophaga townsendi).

“If anything could adapt to climate change, you’d think that birds that migrate thousands of miles could,” Mayor said. And that may happen, but it will take many generations, as evolution selects for earlier-arriving birds. Adding to the complexity, these scientists also found that greening is beginning earlier in eastern forests and later in western forests in the U.S.

All this is happening while forest trees themselves are moving in response to a disrupted climate. Yet another corroborating study, led by Purdue University and published May 17, 2017, in Science Advances, looked at 86 species of trees in the U.S. over three decades. Researchers found that 73 percent shifted westward and 62 percent shifted northward, including some species that moved simultaneously in both directions. Of course, the trees themselves don’t move, but over time, the highest concentration for each species has been notably shifting.

The movement has thus far been greater in the westerly direction, equaling 50 feet per decade. Northward movement was measured at 36 feet per decade. The shifts are attributed to changes in precipitation and temperature — both outcomes of climate destabilization.

Another study on vegetation migration was carried out by scientists at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UT), published May 8, 2017, in Science Daily. That research, like Purdue’s analysis, found trees in the Rocky Mountains moving northward. “One general expectation is that tree ranges will gradually move toward higher elevations as mountain habitats get hotter,” said Michael Van Nuland, the project’s lead researcher and a doctoral student in UT’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. “It is easy to see the evidence with photographs that compare current and historical tree lines on mountainsides around the world. Most document that tree lines have ascended in the past century.”

In Europe, 34 percent of timber forests will be suitable only for Mediterranean vegetation by 2100, according to the Purdue University study. Looking at the redistribution of species under climate disruption, the authors found many other changes coming. “For marine, freshwater, and terrestrial species alike, the first response to changing climate is often a shift in location, to stay within preferred environmental conditions,” they wrote.

Of more than 4,000 species studied around the world, half are relocating, says National Geographic. In the Arctic, brown bears (Ursus arctos) are expanding their range northward, in some cases competing with and even mating with polar bears (Ursus maritimus). Beavers (Castor canadensis) have been found as far north as the coast of the Beaufort Sea. The list includes mammals, amphibians, fish and insects.

“Movement of mosquitoes in response to global warming is a threat to health in many countries through predicted increases in the number of known and potentially new diseases,” states an additional report titled “Biodiversity Redistribution Under Climate Change: Impacts on Ecosystems and Human Well-Being,” from an international team of 41 scientists, published March 31, 2017, in Science. The World Health Organization (WHO) counted 212 million new cases of malaria in 2015, primarily in Africa, Southeast Asia and the eastern Mediterranean. But climate change will allow the disease to spread to new areas, according to the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Center for Science Education.

That will be a problem for health officials. “Climate-related transmission of malaria can result in epidemics due to lack of immunity among local residents and will challenge health systems at national and international scales, diverting public and private-sector resources from other uses,” state the authors of the UCAR report.

Other insect-borne diseases are on the rise due to climate change as well. Of the approximately 3,500 species of mosquito around the world, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only a hand-full carry and transmit the dreaded West Nile virus, dengue fever and the lesser-known Chikungunya. West Nile claimed 146 lives in the U.S. in 2015 while an island-wide epidemic in Puerto Rico in 2007 tallied 10,000 cases. Black-legged ticks (Ixodes scapularis), which carry Lyme disease as well as other deadly pathogens, have spread to 41 states as the blood-sucking bugs enjoy warmer, shorter winters.

“The natural world is very complex,” said the University of Florida’s Stephen Mayor. “When you kick it with a big change by altering the climate, different parts of that natural world respond in different ways. We’re just beginning to understand the consequences of this grand unnatural experiment.”

Atop Maine’s Bradbury Mountain, for the past 11 years, a lone volunteer spends his or her days from March 15 to May 15, scanning the skies for birds. It is often cold and windy into late April, sometimes requiring snowshoes to ascend the summit. From the rounded granite top of the mountain, the view extends outward to the ocean. It’s the site of the northernmost hawk watch in the Eastern Flyway – one of the major north-south routes for migratory birds in North America. Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus), bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and broad-winged hawks (Buteo platypterus) can be seen and counted, soaring above the tall white pines and iconic sugar maple trees.

“It has not escaped our attention that they are recording increasing numbers of raptors while the more southern hawk watches are showing an opposite trend,” stated the 2016 spring Eastern Flyway Report, published by the Hawk Migration Association of North America (HMANA). “This coupled with the dramatic decrease in more northern migrants such as the northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis), which are at 32 percent of historical values for the Eastern Flyway this year, leads us to consider if climate change is a potential factor.”

On a positive note, citizen science is increasingly coupling with academics, scientists and government researchers from around the world to document the disruption to wildlife wrought by human-caused destabilization of the climate. These volunteers help to create a more scientifically complete picture of what is happening in the natural world. “It’s like ‘Silent Spring,’ but with a more elusive culprit,” added Mayor. “These are birds people are used to seeing and hearing in their backyards. They’re part of the American landscape, part of our psyche. To imagine a future where they’re much less common would be a real loss.”

The post Climate Destabilization Causing Thousands of New Species Migrations: Plant, Animal, Insect, Bird appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Farmers don’t only cultivate a crop, they actually cultivates losses

Ground Reality - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 09:56


Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to give farmers 50 per cent more profit over the cost of production if voted to power. They voted him to power with a thumping majority. But he doesn’t talk about his promise any more. In fact, the NDA government has in an affidavit before the Supreme Court clearly ruled out the possibility of raising the minimum support price (MSP).

Before he became the Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis while leading a farmers rally had demanded the price of soyabean to be raised from the then prevailing market price of Rs 3,800 to Rs 6,000 per quintal, and that of cotton from Rs 4,000 to Rs 7,000 per quintal. But ever since he became the CM he doesn’t talk any more about raising farm prices. In fact, Maharashtra failed to even provide this year the minimum support price of Rs 5,050 per quintal for tur dal at that too at a time when production increased manifold. Farmers had waited for weeks together in the mandis to finally sell the crop at a distress price of not more than Rs 3,500 per quintal.

When in opposition, all political leaders speak loudly in favour of farmers. They promise the moon, but the moment they come into power, farmers disappear from their list of economic priorities. For 70 years, irrespective of the party, the same pattern has prevailed. Meanwhile, over the years farmers continue to be driven to the wall. Economic Survey 2016 tells us that the average income of a farming family in 17 States of India, roughly half the country, is less than Rs 20,000 a year. You can’t even raise a cow in Rs 20,000 a year; and knowing this income level is even less than a subsistence allowance I shudder to think how these farming families must be surviving.

The decimation of agriculture is all too apparent. The design is obvious. Chairperson of the State Bank of India, Arundhati Bhattacharya, has made it abundantly clear how deviously the economic policies are designed to hit agriculture. She had expressed resentment at Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s decision to waive Rs 36,359-crore farm loan waiver saying that it leads to credit indiscipline, but on the other hand did not even bat an eyelid when she pleaded to bail out the telecom companies which had accumulated Rs 4-lakh crore of highly unsustainable debt. Doesn’t this smack of double standards?

To keep food inflation under check, farmers are being denied the rightful price. In fact, farmers are actually being penalized to grow food. Let me explain. Between 1970 and 2015, wheat procurement price had increased only by 19 times whereas the basic income of government employees in the same 45-year period was raised by 120 to 150 times; of college teachers/professors by 150 to 170 times; and of school teachers by 280 to 320 times. In addition, the employees get in all 108 allowances put together. Farmers don’t even get a single allowance. The match therefore is fixed against farmers. What the farmer doesn’t realize is that he doesn’t only cultivate a crop, he actually cultivates losses.
Despite the economists and agricultural scientists blaming low crop productivity for the agrarian crisis, farmers know where the show pinches. As debt continued to mount, the spate of farmer suicides grew. In the past 21 years, over 3.18 lakh farmers have committed suicide; one farmer ending his life every 41 minutes. The tragic serial death dance was considered to be a sign of weakness, but in reality was a farmer’s unique way of making a political statement. Every death on the farm infuriated the farmers, their families. The simmering discontent had turned into outright anger. But political leaders have always failed to ignore the warning. Not realizing that the day farmers wake up, Indian politics will change forever.

In just three days the blockade of vegetables and milk to the cities in Maharashtra brought the farmers anger to the national headlines. Breaking away from the traditional approaches of blocking highways and squatting on railtracks, the umbrella organization which led the campaign in Maharashtra –Kisan Kranti-- moved to instead stopping the flow of milk and vegetables to the cities. Disrupting the food lifeline to the cities is the right way to get attention, and this worked. In Madhya Pradesh, another group of young and educated farmers led by Aam Kisan Union, and supported by a little known faction of Bharti Kisan Union, too managed to evoke a strong response.

For the past 30 years now, I have watched with dismay how farm movements disintegrate after the launch of any big protest. Individual egos, ideologies, and political leanings have led to clashes among farmer leaders. Politics takes over. This was perhaps summed up best by what the former Chief Minister of Punjab, Prakash Singh Badal, is known to have told a delegation of farm union which went to meet him. He asked the farmer leaders did they know why no political parties treat them as a vote bank, and answered by saying because farmers are a divided lot. They either vote as a jat or a sikh or a Maratha but never as a kisan. Whether farmers are 52 or 60 per cent of the population, the fact remains they have never voted as Kisan.

I am therefore happy to see the emergence of a young and educated farm leadership. This is happening across the country. They have to ensure they don’t fall in the same trap as the old guard. Farmers are looking desperately for a new leader on whom they can have faith.Back to issues, farm loan waiver is definitely justified. When SBI is willing to provide a bailout of Rs 4-lakh crore to Telecom companies, I see no reason why banks cannot be directed to write-of the same amount of outstanding loans to millions of farmers. In addition, the demand should include:

1)  State Governments should factor in 4 allowances in the MSP paid to farmers -- House Allowance, Medical Allowance, Educational Allowance and Travel Allowance. So far, the MSP only covers the cost of production.

2)  Since MSP benefits only 6 per cent farmers as per the Shanta Kumar Committee report, a State Farmers Income Commission should be set up with the mandate to provide a minimum assured monthly income package of Rs 18,000 to a farmer family.

3)  It should be mandatory for the State governments to buy all the 24 crops for which MSP is announced. At present, only two crops – wheat and rice – are officially procured.  A loan waiver should be accompanied by a series of steps that should ensure that loans again do not pile up. #

Farmers don’t only cultivate a crop, they actually cultivates losses. Newslaundry, June 8, 2017
https://www.newslaundry.com/2017/06/08/only-a-unified-kisan-identity-will-make-politicians-take-notice-of-the-agrarian-crisis

Categories: Ecological News

Lawsuit Demands Trump Admin Cough up Records of Closed-Door Meetings With Polluters

Environews.tv - Sat, 06/03/2017 - 21:17

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/060317-lawsuit-demands-trump-admin-cough-records-closed-door-meetings-polluters/"; reddit_title = "Lawsuit Demands Trump Admin Cough up Records of Closed-Door Meetings With Polluters"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Headline News Desk) — The Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) filed suit against the federal government in the U.S. District Court for Washington, D.C. on June 1, 2017, seeking the release of documents related to closed-door meetings between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state and industry groups in connection with Executive Order 13778, which the Center said will gut protections for American wetlands.

The order, signed by Trump on February 28, 2017, calls for a review of the “Waters of the United States” rule, which defines the bodies of water that could be regulated under the Clean Water Act based on 1,200 peer-reviewed scientific studies. The rule has been attacked by farmers, golf-course owners and the oil and chemical industries. It was the subject of a 2016 lawsuit against the EPA by 31 states, including Oklahoma, while current EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was serving as Attorney General. The Center’s lawsuit also seeks records relating to Pruitt’s involvement in the EPA’s review of the water rule, which it says could be a violation of his ethics agreement.

“The Clean Water Act is our most important safeguard for the health of the nation’s waters and wetlands, so the public has a right to know why Trump’s EPA is doing the bidding of special-interest polluters,” said Brett Hartl, Government Affairs Director at the Center. The 2011 National Wetland Condition Assessment by the EPA found that 52 percent of U.S. wetlands were in fair or poor condition.

Wetlands include fresh and saltwater marshes, swamps, mangrove forests, shallow ponds and bogs. They are found in every state. Along the coasts, these bodies of water help absorb storm surges, while inland wetlands hold floodwaters at bay and provide habitat for wildlife. More than one-third of federally-listed endangered species rely on wetlands for their survival. Coastal wetlands also excel at storing carbon, according to researchers from the University of Maryland in a study released February 1, 2017.

The Center says that the future of these essential ecosystems is being decided behind closed doors. “Scott Pruitt is rapidly turning the EPA into the least transparent, least accountable agency in the federal government, just so he can protect the secrecy of special interests that are calling the shots,” Hartl said in a press statement.

In a related action, the Center recently filed suit to make Pruitt’s emails and schedule public. The conservation organization has also turned to the courts to obtain records relating to alleged administration censorship of government employees in connection with climate change communication, and to seek information on the dismissal of science advisors at the EPA.

The post Lawsuit Demands Trump Admin Cough up Records of Closed-Door Meetings With Polluters appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Lawrence Livermore/MIT Scientists Publish Study Shooting Down Pruitt’s Climate Denial Positions

Environews.tv - Thu, 06/01/2017 - 15:24

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/060117-lawrence-livermoremit-scientists-publish-study-shooting-pruitts-climate-denial-positions/"; reddit_title = "Lawrence Livermore/MIT Scientists Publish Study Shooting Down Pruitt’s Climate Denial Positions"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews USA Headline News Desk) — A study titled, Tropospheric Warming Over The Past Two Decades, was published May 24, 2017, in Nature Scientific Reports. The paper specifically refutes Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s post-confirmation climate change denials and singles him out by name. In January after his confirmation hearing, Pruitt wrote Senate comments reading, “Over the past two decades, satellite data indicates there has been a leveling off of warming.” In response, the study’s authors write, “We test this claim here.”

The research is comprised of evaluations of satellite data from 1979 to 2016. Three data sets were used, bringing together observations from the Center for Satellite Applications and Research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the University of Alabama at Huntsville and Remote Sensing Systems – a research company that processes satellite data.

The scientists compared 20-year periods of data with climate simulations that excluded human-produced greenhouse gas emissions. They assert this allowed them to determine that global temperatures are increasing much more than would be predicted solely from natural causes.

Ultimately, the researchers found the global warming trend continues and is significantly anthropogenic — meaning caused by humans. “Tropospheric warming trends over recent 20-year periods are always significantly larger (at the 10 percent level or better) than model estimates of 20-year trends arising from natural internal variability,” the authors write in the abstract. In other words, the warming trends observed are significantly larger than they would be if human activities weren’t a factor in the equation.

“In my opinion, when incorrect science is elevated to the level of formal congressional testimony and makes its way into the official Congressional Record, climate scientists have some responsibility to test specific claims that were made, determine whether those claims are correct or not, and publish their results,” Lead Author Benjamin Santer of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory told The Washington Post.

Santer and three of the paper’s co-authors are affiliated with the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. The other co-authors are from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Remote Sensing Systems and the University of Washington’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences.

Pruitt’s January statement is just one example of his many climate-denying and anti-science activities. He was the attorney general (AG) in Oklahoma, a top oil and gas producer, from 2010 until 2017. In this role, he sued the EPA he now runs at least 13 times, in some cases, attempting to overturn air and water pollution regulations.

As of June 1, 2017, his LinkedIn profile still describes him as the AG and, “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” On May 5, at the behest of Pruitt, the EPA began abruptly dismissing science advisors from its Board of Scientific Counselors (BSC). In response, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on May 8 for documents related to the non-renewal of the scientists’ terms at the EPA.

While the authors of the climate analysis acknowledge there has been less climate warming over the last two decades, they attribute this to natural climate variations. Santer said the researchers still “judge the most recent warming to be statistically significant.”

For example, the El Niño events of 1997 and 1998 caused notable temporary increases in warmth at the start of the most recent twenty-year period. Temperatures often drop following such weather events. The Los Angeles Times reports, “Short-term ocean dynamics patterns, such as those of El Niño, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, move and store heat in ways that lead to surface temperature fluctuations that can last years or even decades.”

Gavin Schmidt, head of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA, stated in an email to the Washington Post, “The trends over the whole period are clear. This doesn’t however imply that a) there aren’t still issues with the satellite retrievals (there may well be), and b) that models did a perfect job over this time period.”

Finally, the research summary asserts, “When examined over the full period of record, long-term tropospheric warming far exceeds current estimates of natural internal climate variability. Our results support and strengthen previous findings of a large human-caused contribution to warming.”

As scientists struggle to make their research findings heard, President Trump will likely keep his promise to pull out of the Paris Accord, despite widespread support for the international environmental agreement, according to senior US officials. Trump announced that he will share his decision at 3 p.m. on June 1.

The Trump Administration is also accused of blatantly engaging in climate change censorship within government agencies. In 2012, Trump famously tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing noncompetitive.”

The post Lawrence Livermore/MIT Scientists Publish Study Shooting Down Pruitt’s Climate Denial Positions appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

By all scientific norms, GM Mustard variety should have been confined to the dustbin.

Ground Reality - Wed, 05/31/2017 - 17:02
The news has still not sunk in. The nation has still not been able to understand the serious ramifications of allowing commercial cultivation of GM (genetically modified) food crops. The regulatory approval granted to is actually aimed at opening the flood gates for GM foods. India is, in reality, is getting ready to be the world’s biggest dustbin for a risky, unwanted and harmful technology. 

As continues to stand firmly against GM crops, so much so that after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s firm opposition, the incumbent French President has now made it abundantly clear that he will not allow GM crops, all eyes were on India. Why India? Simply because even China, despite the communist regime, has remained wary of the risky technology. Where else could the GM industry turn to in these difficult times? 

There is no denying that science and technology will lead the world into the next century. But if in the name of technological innovation, a junk genetically mustard variety — DMH-11 — has to be given a nod for commercial cultivation, it only shows how unscientific the entire process of scientific regulations has turned out to be. I have never doubted the ability of The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) to be a rubber stamp for the GM industry but the shoddy way the approval has been granted to breaks all scientific norms. It is a scientific fraud. If the has to fall over backwards to simply be in the affirmation of Niti Aayog’s recommendation to usher in GM technology to address the continuing agrarian crisis there is something terribly wrong with policy makers understanding of what has led to the prevailing farm crisis. 

Nevertheless, let’s look first at an absurd claim that has been hyped by most newspapers in the editorial columns. It is often said that repeat a lie a hundred times, and it becomes the truth. The claim that yields 30 per cent higher and therefore would be India’s best bet to reduce the Rs 76,000-crore edible oil import bill, simply falls in that category. It is a lie that has been spoken a hundred times, and since it is now generally accepted that will help cut down on imports, I find it is actually the that has been prompting it. The absurdity of the fake claim lies in the fine print. The devil is in the detail. DMH-11, the variety that has been approved, is not a high yielding variety. Its productivity is less than three other non-GM varieties that exist. DMH-11 is therefore actually a junk variety. By all scientific norms, it should have been confined to the dustbin. 

In a presentation made by a scientist of the Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants, University of Delhi South Campus (see the attached chart) it has been conclusively shown that there already exist four mustard varieties with higher productivity. Three of the varieties are in the same DMH series and in fact DMH-4, which is a traditional variety, provides 14.7 per cent higher yield than  Two more varieties, produced by Pioneer and Advanta, too give higher or almost equal yield than the variety for which the media has falsely gone to the town saying it gives 30 per cent high yield. I therefore don’t understand how does India plan to cut down on edible oil imports by cultivating a low-yielding variety? Are public policy decisions taken by just what is planted in the media? 

In 2016-17, India had a record mustard harvest. A bumper production and the prices crashed. Reports coming from the mustard growing areas show how farmers had to resort to distress sale. Prices on an average fell by Rs 400-600 per quintal for farmers. Cultivated in nearly 65 lakh hectares, mustard has never been faced with problems associated with low productivity. The biggest problems farmers face is the failure to realise a remunerative price, matching at least the minimum support price (MSP) that the government announces. Not even remotely making an effort to provide farmers with an assured price, the has been deliberately diverting attention from the dire need to provide a higher income to as if productivity is the main problem. Neither the government not the consumers will benefit from its questionable wisdom.

I remember it was in 1985, the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi decided to reduce the current account deficit by cutting down on edible oil imports. At one stage he had asked me whether I thought raising domestic production was a better way than to go on with edible oil imports, which were the third largest import at that time. He launched an Oilseed Technology Mission, and by 1993-94 India became almost self-sufficient in edible oil imports. As much as 97 per cent of the edible oil requirement was met domestically and only 3 per cent was imported. 

The “Yellow Revolution” as it was called simply didn’t last long. Successive governments went on slashing the import duties. Against the bound rate of 300 per cent import tariffs that India could impose, the import duties were subsequently brought down to almost zero. Cheaper imports, and that too predominantly of palm oil, began to flood the domestic markets. From just 3 per cent imports, India now imports more than 60 per cent of its edible oil requirement. This forced oilseed farmers, mostly cultivating in the harsh drylands of the country, to shift to other unremunerative crops, and the domestic edible oil industry too brought down its shutters. So much so that some Indian companies had even moved to Sri Lanka, setting up processing plants and then exporting processed edible oil to India. 

If cutting down the edible oil import bill is the objective, what is required is to first provide the same enabling environment. Unless the import tariffs are raised to level that can turn imports uneconomical, any talk of reducing the import bill is meaningless. The knows this. It is aware that India will have to walk down the “Yellow Revolution” pathway if the intentions are to increase domestic production of edible oil. But cutting down on import bill is not the intention. The objective is to push in GM crops through the back door using a flawed argument of the need to raise production simply to justify the risks any GM technology brings along. 

The has also denied that the is actually a herbicide-tolerant crop in disguise. It was shocking to know that some members had even told a group of civil society representatives that they know DMH-11 will push in herbicides but since the chemicals are expensive they expect farmers will refrain from purchasing the herbicides. If this is a scientific explanation, please tell me what is unscientific.




India gearing up to be the biggest dustbin for risky, harmful technology. Business Standard, May 16, 2017. http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/gm-mustard-india-gearing-up-to-be-biggest-dustbin-for-risky-harmful-tech-117051600321_1.html
Categories: Ecological News

The Splendor of Utah’s Sage Hen Hollow — One of America’s Last Bustling Sage Grouse Leks

Environews.tv - Sun, 05/28/2017 - 22:18

reddit_url = "http://www.environews.tv/052817-splendor-utahs-sage-hen-hollow-one-americas-last-bustling-sage-grouse-leks/"; reddit_title = "The Splendor of Utah’s Sage Hen Hollow — One of America’s Last Bustling Sage Grouse Leks"; reddit_newwindow="1"

(EnviroNews Nature) — The following is an excerpt from the EnviroNews Nature full feature documentary Lions and Tigers and… Sage Grouse? Oh My! — The Granddaddy Endangered Species Battle of Them All. That film may be seen in its entirety on EnviroNews. The transcript reads as follows:

Urry (narrating): While the bi-state and greater sage grouse showdowns could get pretty ugly, in another place in Utah, visited by EnviroNews a couple weeks before Jewell’s announcement, birds were lekking hard, in what is referred to as the “hub” of sage grouse in the Beehive State — Sage Hen Hollow.

One of the most unique, and quite frankly, coolest things about Sage Hen Hollow, is its close proximity to Bryce Canyon National Park — unarguably one of America’s great treasures. Bryce provides what [are] surely some of the most breathtaking and unusual landscapes on the face of the planet.

As many as 160 flamboyant male birds have been counted here in a single morning session, and this year was no different, as dozens of displaying male birds were seen strutting thief stuff in the bustling lek, just outside Utah’s infamous park — and when we say the bird struts, we really mean it.

The lek is basically like a bar for birds. Males drop in by the hoards with one thing, and one thing only on their minds — impressing the ladies of course! The term “barhopping” has been used to describe the adventurous human that jumps around from club to club looking for a great time, but in recent years it’s been discovered that, just like people, grouse actually “lek hop” if they’re not finding what they’re looking for in a particular scene.

Nicki Frey to Urry: The majority of these locations are within the last year, and we have roughly 7,000 locations.

Urry: And you were saying too, that birds actually; they go barhopping. Maybe we should call it “lek-hopping.” There we go.

Frey: Lek-hopping. They’re lek-hopping. So, this great app called “Track Analyst” actually will say where the birds move from one location to the next. Because we have the time information and the date information on these satellite transmissions, we can actually say that: at 6 a.m. was here, and at 12 noon, the bird was over here.

Urry: So basically, he partied all night here, and he didn’t get lucky, he got tiered of the scene…

Frey: He’s going to go somewhere else.

Urry (narrating): Nicki Frey is a specialist in human-wildlife conflicts with the Utah State University Land Extension Program, and has been part of an ongoing study wherein birds are trapped, radio-collared and tracked in an effort to understand their movements, patterns and behaviors.

Frey to Urry: So, here you can see Sage Hen Hollow where we were, and you can see every color is a different bird, and you can see how the birds lekked at Sage Hen Hollow, and then moved down here to what we call “Hatch,” and then here is a new lek called, “Hatch Bench,” that we didn’t confirm until we got these locations.

Urry: New meaning it actually is a new lek, or new meaning that it’s newly discovered?

Frey: Newly discovered by us. So, the [Utah] Division [of Wildlife Resources] is now counting it as a lek where it wasn’t five years ago.

Urry (narrating): Frey took an EnviroNews 4K night-shot camera along for the ride on one of her outings – allowing us an inside look at one of the countless efforts underway on the ground – programs aimed at saving a species.

Frey for EnviroNews: We are back at Sage Hen Hollow. We’re going to do some sage grouse trapping tonight. So, we’ve got an ATV; we’ve got some nets over here; and we’ve got some spotlighters, and we’re basically going to walk along the trails until we find sage grouse.

Frey to Team Member: No, we’ll get the male.

Team Member: Do you want to take it?

Frey: Yeah. All right. We’ve got a male, and we’re going to put the transmitter on it. So, what I want you to do is put its head against you like that.

Team Member: Okay.

Urry (narrating): Frey and her team are ahead of the curve compared to other research groups we’ve observed – at least when it comes to the technology they deploy. For example, the tiny backpack-style GPS collars seen here are on the cutting edge and offer an alternative to the old-school, around-the-neck-style systems. These collars create less bother for birds, while reducing the risk of them getting hung up, and possibly killed, by the collar itself.

Frey to Team Members: [I] found your knee joint, so thank you. I would check to see if he’s an adult male, but I’m guessing by his size he’s an adult male. Almost done buddy, hang in there. Hang in there. You can stop recording. We got the transmitter on. All right, there’s your bird. Okay, you can just go ahead and put him down in the brush, and then we’ll let him do his thing. And there he goes!

Team Member: Thanks.

Urry (narrating): The data is collected and analyzed through a sophisticated, real-time, interactive, multi-filtered software that gives Frey’s team up-to-the-minute information on their collared birds.

Frey to Urry: And then the software… then each company that deals with the satellites has what’s called parsing software, so it makes the satellite transmissions readable to our GIS. So, I have an Excel spreadsheet with all these locations and I can upload it directly into the software package. And so, then from here, I can figure out distance; I can figure out habitat; I can figure out the home-range sizes. So, here’s the distribution of all the birds. You know, here’s one lek area, and then, this would be one lek, you can tell ‘cause there’s a cluster of locations. And then we go all the way down to South of Alton into a little place called Ft. Pasture.

Urry: And what happens with this data that you’re gathering? I know you put trackers on some of the birds, correct, and follow those?

Frey: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Urry: But in general, what happens with it? Is it used on these environmental impact reports?

Frey: Absolutely. Yeah. So, our data, the data that I’m collecting down here, is really the only data we have in the southern region of Utah on sage grouse. So, all the data that I have, before I even publish it or anything else, once I quality control it and I analyze it, I send it to the BLM and the Division of Wildlife Resources.

Urry (narrating): In Sage Hen Hollow, birds start lekking as early as February, and competition can be fierce. Unlike many avian species who are monogamous and mate for life, oftentimes on a large and contentious lek like Sage Hen Hollow, one or two dominant males will breed all the females, leaving youngsters and birds with less mojo to wonder about things that might have been.

What we were filming here in April is known as the “round of second chances.” Most females are bred early in the lekking season and wonder off in the brush to make their nests on the ground — sitting and incubating their precious eggs almost around-the-clock. But life in the Sagebrush Sea can be rough for a nesting grouse. With much less ground cover than in decades past, often females must abandon their nests after they are raided by predators, trampled by cattle, or run over by vehicles.

YOU MAY VIEW THE ENTIRE DOCUMENTARY ‘LIONS AND TIGERS AND SAGE GROUSE…? OH MY!’ JUST BELOW:

Lions and Tigers and… Sage Grouse? Oh My! – The Granddaddy Endangered Species Battle of Them All

(EnviroNews Nature) – On World Wildlife Day, March 3, 2017, EnviroNews Nature released one of the largest and most expansive documentaries ever published on a wildlife species in peril – the greater sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus). The academic yet entertaining film spans a plethora of topics and includes…

The post The Splendor of Utah’s Sage Hen Hollow — One of America’s Last Bustling Sage Grouse Leks appeared first on EnviroNews | The Environmental News Specialists.

Categories: Ecological News

Whether mainline economists like it or not, the time has come for setting up a farmers income commission. There is no other way out.

Ground Reality - Sun, 05/28/2017 - 10:23


“The Indian Meteorology Department (IMD) has forecast a normal monsoon for this year. If the monsoon is good, I am confident that foodgrain output will be a record again and boost growth rate to more than 4.4 per cent achieved in 2016-17,” stating this, the Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh shared with the media the government’s achievements in the farm sector in last three years.
A bountiful monsoon always brings cheers to the economy, and I am sure every Indian would pray for normal rains in the years ahead. This is perhaps the reason a former Agriculture Minister, the late Chauranan Mishra often used to say: “The real agriculture minister is Mr Monsoon. If the monsoon is good, agricultural production will be good and vice versa.” No wonder, food production has been at an all time high of 273.38 million tonnes this year.
After two years of back-to- back drought, in 2014-15 and 2015-16, agriculture production has looked up. The agricultural growth rate has gone up, which in turn is expected to drive up the country’s economic growth rate. But behind the statistical configurations that provide the much needed feel good factor, agriculture continues to be in the throes of a terrible distress. The dark rural underbelly has been gasping for breath for long, but has for reasons that remain largely unexplained agriculture continue to be a victim of apathy and neglect. There is hardly a day when reports of farmers committing suicides, a reflection of the grave tragedy prevailing on the farm, do not appear in newspapers in some or the other parts of the country.
In recent years, there has been a spurt in farmer suicides. Much worse, even Punjab, the food bowl of the country has now turned into a hot spot of farmer suicides.
This week, a news report highlights the pitiable condition of onion farmers in Madhya Pradesh. After a bumper crop of potato, which forced farmers to resort to distress sale, hundreds of farmers in Indore have been forced to burn the standing crop or feed it to animals. In Indore, onion was fetching a price ranging between 50 paise to Rs 3 a kg. Earlier, onion farmers in Maharashtra had to dump their crop on to the streets when they couldn’t realize a better price. Not only onion, irate farmers had been throwing tomato crop on the highways in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. During the peak season, model price for tomato in some of the Andhra mandis had prevailed at 30 paise a kg to Rs 2 per kg. The slump in market prices is often shrugged off as a seasonal phenomenon, I shudder to think of the economic blow it causes to the livelihood security of farmers who had toiled hard and yet when the time comes to reap the harvest, markets fail.
Take the case of pulses. After a stupendous rise in retail prices of pulses, the government adopted a twin approach to raise availability of pulses. On the one hand it signed a memorandum with Mozambique to cultivate and procure pulses, to be shipped to India and on the other provided an additional bonus over the minimum support price to encourage domestic production. But when pulses production, including that of tur, increased to 22 million tonnes, and the market prices crashed, it just procured enough to meet its buffer stocks requirement, and left majority farmers to face the cruelty of markets.
The food mismanagement continues. If you think 2017 was a particularly bad year for tomato farmers when over-production led to an unprecedented glut, you are mistaken. The story remained the same in 2016, 2015 and 2014. Even prior to that, farmers had suffered in 2013, 2012 and 2011. Just do a Google search and you will find the same pattern of bumper crops and dejected farmers. Search beyond tomato, and you will find the story of tomato is repeated in other crops – onions, potato, pulses, cauliflower, mustard, soyabean, cotton, chili, castor, and even in wheat and paddy in most parts of the country. And invariably, the state has failed to come to the rescue of beleaguered farming community 
Now compare this with the stock markets crash in August 2015. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had swung into action within a few hours of the crash, holding a press conference to assure the investors saying that the government was keeping a close tab. A war room was set up to monitor the developments. Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian was on his toes throughout the day. But when it comes to farmers, facing an unprecedented price crash, which results in destroying livelihoods of millions of small and marginal farmers, I haven’t ever seen even a fraction of the kind of alertness exhibited at the time of stock markets crash. The disparity therefore is clearly visible.
The disparities don’t end here. Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitaraman said the other day: “Roughly about 7,000 big, small, medium, and nano measures have been taken on ease of doing business. As a result of which, we feel that states have realized that ease of doing business is a major agenda and they also see the benefit on going on that route.” In addition, the Chief Economic Advisor has already gone on record saying that writing-off of bad loans of the corporate sector makes economic sense. “This is how capitalism works.”
But when it comes to agriculture, there are not more than a dozen public sector investment programmes that can be easily counted on finger tips – Doubling Farmers Income in next five years, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojna (PMSKY), e- National Agricultural Market (e-NAM) Soil Health Cards, Neem Quoted Urea, More Crop Per Drop to name a few. Besides the flagship programmes, there are a number of other initiatives like direct benefit transfer of fertilizer subsidy, market intervention programmes etc. Put together, I bet if the government can list more than 50 big or small initiatives (including some of the re-casted programmes/projects) in agriculture.
Writing-off farm loans too continues to receive flak. While India Ratings estimates that roughly Rs 4-lakh crore of stressed corporate credit is expected to be struck down, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has made it abundantly clear that it is not in favour of disclosing the names of even the willful defaulters. (see my article: https://thewire.in/119889/banking-system-farmers-loans/) Just 6,857 companies have willfully defaulted on loans of Rs 94,649-crores. RBI has already announced that it is not in favour of Rs 36,359-crore of farm loan, expected to benefit 92 lakh farmers, that has been written-off in Uttar Pradesh, thereby sending a strong message to other states under pressure to write-off farm loans to apply restraint. The honest credit culture that RBI harps on is undermined only when farmers don’t repay back. The privilege of bad debt being struck down is only meant for the corporate. This is how capitalism works, we have been told.
While the debate around doubling farmers income in the next five years has itself doubled in the past few months, I don’t see any focused attempt being made to pull out farmers from the crisis they have been pushed deeper and deeper into with every passing year. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has presented three budgets. Except for repeating the promise of doubling farmers’ income, there is no clear map laid out. To say that enhancing the farm credit limit by Rs 1-lakh crore to reach a peak of Rs 10- lakh crore is aimed at providing credit support to a sector faced with continuing distress is a clever way of diverting attention from the failure to implement its own promise of providing 50 per cent profit over cost of production.
I have always maintained that let us move to measures that can prop up farmers income, give him a little respite from the economic crisis that he has been pushed into year after year. The urgent need for instance is to withdraw the Rs 1-lakh crore addition farm credit and instead start with 50 per cent more profit as way of farm price. This is what Prime Minister Narendra Modi had himself promised before the general elections, and this is where the government has gone back, giving a written affidavit in Supreme Court saying it is not possible.
Leaving the majority farmers behind – nearly 83 per cent farmers own less than 2 hectares of land – the government policies are instead moving rapidly away from subsistence farming to promote corporate agriculture. The e-NAM initiative, which proposes to link 585 regulated wholesale markets, is in reality integral to commodity trading. A model law on contract farming has already been circulated to states, and adequate legal framework on land leasing and land acquisitions are already in offing. Seen in conjunction with a policy framework already laid out under the National Skill Development Council (NCDC), which aims to reduce the farming population from the existing 58 per cent to 38 per cent by the year 2022, the shift to corporate farming becomes obvious.
At a time when IndiaSpend tells us that on an average 2.13 lakh jobs have been created every year on an average in past three years, pushing farmers out of agriculture to join the growing army of jobless youth does not make any economic sense. Three years is quite a significant milestone for any government, to sit back, take stock and make appropriate policy corrections aimed at Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikaas. The first and foremost policy correction is to stop viewing record grain production as an indicator of all is well in farming. It is time to move away from policy obsession with agricultural growth rates and instead focus on farmer’s welfare, beginning with a substantial rise in farm incomes.
Economic Survey 2016 categorically states that the average income of a farm household in 17 states of India, or roughly half the country, stands at a paltry Rs 20,000 per year. This is less than the annual mobile bill of an average upward mobile citizen living in the cities. Unfortunately, Niti Aayog, as well as the Prime Minister’s Office, continues to prescribe the same faulty prescription that have led to the present crisis. Raising crop productivity, reducing the cost of production and allowing markets to discover farm prices is actually part of the same flawed decision making that has pushed agriculture into a deeper quagmire. It has invariably helped input providers, and that is how a dominant narrative is created.
Punjab has already reached the efficiency level that Niti Aayog wants the rest of the country to achieve. With 98 per cent assured irrigation (no country in the world is any way near) and with highest productivity among cereal crops in the world, I see no reason why Punjab farmers should be dying. Ignoring Punjab’s debacle and instead forcing other States to also follow the same path clearly shows that there is something terribly wrong in policy panning. It is not farmers who have failed; it is the economists and policy makers who have failed farmers.
During these depressing times, only agriculture has the potential to reboot the economy. Redrawing the economic road ahead can only happen if the government decides to discard the pathway shown by Credit Rating agencies. It is possible provided the government builds up the political courage to make agriculture the pivot of growth and sustainable development. Whether mainline economists like it or not, the time has come for setting up a farmers income commission, with the mandate to ensure that every farm household gets an assured monthly income package of Rs 18,000. The minimum income package should be linked to production and to the geographical location of the farm. That's true Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas. 
Farm Output May Have Increased in Three Years But Farmer's Welfare has Not. The Wire, May 26, 2017. https://thewire.in/140464/modi-three-years-farmers-agriculture/
Categories: Ecological News
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