threegenerationsleft

human activity and the destruction of the planet


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Australia is burning: is this a portent of what is to come?

As our hearts go out to the people of Australia, as they battle with unprecedented and devastating fires across the country, with lives lost, as well as homes and a billion of their unique marsupial and other wildlife species being burnt to death, I have to ask the question:

Is this one of the first of many such events that we are going to witness over the next decades?  Is this going to be the face of the effects of climate change in the future?  Are we going to witness even more harrowing events and deaths across the world?

AustralianBushfire

koala

Photographs from Australia during the fires in recent weeks

wombat after fire

Animals that survive the fires, like this wombat pictured in New South Wales, will struggle to find food and shelter

How much more dreadful is it going to become globally, as we see multiple fires, floods, hurricanes, monsoons, high temperatures, coastal erosion and mass loss of species? Ecologists are already saying that they fear two rare species (found only on Kangaroo Island, to the south of Australia), may have been wiped out in the recent fires.  These include a small mouse-like marsupial, called a dunnart, and glossy black cockatoos. See:

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/empowering-the-planet/australia-wildfires-entire-species-may-have-been-wiped-out-by-inferno-conservationists-say/ar-BBYDoQk?ocid=spartandhp

dunnart2

The endangered marsupial: Kangaroo Island Dunnart

See also: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/04/ecologists-warn-silent-death-australia-bushfires-endangered-species-extinction

An article in Nature, by an Australian ecologist Michael Clarke, describes the aftermath of such terrible fires.  He says,

“It is deathly silent when you go into a forest after a fire. Apart from the ‘undertakers’ — the carrion eaters like currawongs, ravens and shrike-thrushes — picking off the dead bodies, there’s nothing much left in the forest. It’s a chilling experience.

For survivors, it’s a perilous existence in the months that follow. Any animal that manages to make it through the fire uninjured faces three major challenges. One is finding shelter from climatic extremes — places they can hide from bad weather, like a hollow tree or a hole in the ground. The second is the risk of starvation. And third, they’ve got to avoid predators like feral cats and foxes. They’re exposed; there’s nowhere to hide in a barren landscape.

Even if an animal makes it to an unburnt patch, the density of organisms trying to eke out a living will be way beyond the area’s carrying capacity. After fires in 2007, one unburnt patch I visited in the Mallee [a region in the far north of Victoria] was literally crawling with birds, all chasing one another, trying to work out who owned the last little bit of turf. It was clearly insufficient to sustain them all.

Animals like koalas that live above ground in small, isolated populations and that have a limited capacity to flee or discover unburnt patches of forest are in all sorts of trouble. During past fires, we’ve seen some really surprising creative behaviours, like lyrebirds and wallabies going down wombat burrows to escape fire. But a large majority of animals are simply incinerated. Even really big, fast-flying birds like falcons and crimson rosellas can succumb to fire.

Some animals are more resilient to fire than others. The best adapted are those that can get underground. Termite colonies happily hum along underneath these all-consuming fires. Burrow-dwelling lizards are similar.”

See: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00043-2

michaelClarke

Professor Michael Clarke



 

Australia is not alone in facing wildfires. In 2018, a similar thing happened in California.  The 2018 wildfire season was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire season ever recorded in California, with a total of 8,527 fires burning an area of 1,893,913 acres (766,439 ha), the largest area of burned acreage recorded in a fire season, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) and the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), as of December 21. Through to the end of August 2018, Cal Fire alone spent $432 million on operations. As of May 2019, insurance claims related to this fire season had reached $12 billion, most related to the Camp Fire, in Butte County (see Wikipedia). And wildfires happened in Europe too.

In India, from June to September 2019, the country received the highest amount of monsoonal rain in the past 25 years. According to the India Meteorological Department, those rains are not expected to retreat until at least October 10th, which would be the latest withdrawal of the monsoon in the country’s recorded history.

indian monsoon floods

2019 monsoon flooding in India

According to Wikepedia, climate change in China is having major effects on the economy, society and the environment. The energy structure and human activities caused global warming and climate change, and China suffered from negative effects of global warming in agriculture, forestry and water resources.

Beijing-Smog

Photograph taken in Beijing, China, where smog pollution reaches 24 times the WHO recommended safe level and children are kept from attending school as a result.

I have chosen to mention these three countries – Australia, India and China – because they were exempted from the UN Kyoto Protocol agreement, because at that time, they pleaded that they were only just beginning to industrialise and needed to be given a chance to compete with industrialised countries. This chance was given and, now, they have become amongst the highest polluting countries in the world, with China in the lead, despite its intentions to tackle climate change.  Ironic, isn’t it?

It’s easy to criticise with hindsight but I believe the UNFCCC should have had the confidence to stand firm over the Kyoto Protocol.  Because of this, many countries (including the USA – another high polluter) did not ratify it.

I came across an interesting graph a few months ago, which shows that carbon emissions have continued to climb, despite UN efforts and agreements: Rio, Kyoto and Paris and beyond.  The dates of these initiatives is marked on an ever-upwardly climbing graph of global carbon emissions.

cemissionsgraph

As I’ve watched the events of this summer unfolding, I’ve found myself wondering whether the Earth system has now breached a tipping point, an irreversible shift in the stability of the planetary system.

There may now be so much heat trapped in the system that we may have already triggered a domino effect that could unleash a cascade of abrupt changes that will continue to play out in the years and decades to come.

Rapid climate change has the potential to reconfigure life on the planet as we know it.

 

However, I believe that global warming and climate change will have multiple effects across the world; some of it will be related to food scarcity but the other effects will be more random: fires, floods, hurricanes, heat stroke, coastal erosion and the loss of islands, as well as land in low-lying countries. And, of course, the disappearance of many iconic species of wildlife. And, as a Biologist and an animal lover, I feel enormous grief over this devastating loss – and I know that I am not the only one.

Unless huge co-operative efforts are made to limit the burning of fossil fuels, the future looks bleak for all of us, including some of the wonderful and unique species with whom we share this planet. If we are seeing these effects with just 1 degree of global warming, what will it be like at 1.5 degrees, 2 degrees or even higher?  Three degrees and above are predicted if carbon emissions do not start to fall in the very near future.



 


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Hundreds of thousands evacuated as monsoon rains lash India

This event has hardly been reported in the UK’s mainstream media, apart from the report below, written by Alessio Perrone for The Independent on 12 August 2019:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-floods-death-toll-latest-kerala-karnataka-monsoon-climate-change-a9054586.html

At least 157 people died after the monsoon caused flooding and landslides in the Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra, according to state authorities.

The water inundated more than a thousand villages and parts of a world heritage site, destroying bridges and causing dams to reach their full capacity.

Authorities cancelled train services in several flood-hit areas, while key highways and roads were damaged or cut off by the flood.
An aerial view shows a flooded residential area after heavy rains in Ahmedabad, India on 10 August 2019.

The monsoon, or summer rainy season, hits India, China and southeast Asia every year between June and September, affecting the lives of over a third of the world’s population.

In India, it accounts for nearly 80 per cent of the year’s rainfall, providing a lifeline for agriculture and drinking water stocks but also routinely bringing death and devastation.

“Mean rainfall is decreasing, but extreme events are becoming more intense,” said Kieran Hunt, Research Scientist in Tropical Meteorology at the University of Reading.

“This is because as the climate warms, the atmosphere is able to hold more moisture,” he said.

Mr Hunt cited the Kerala floods as an example: “The three worst floods in Kerala occurred in 1924, 2018, and 2019,” he said. “In other words, a 1-in-100 years flood has occurred two years in a row.”

“Irregular monsoon has become the new norm for India,” Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, told The Independent.

“This year, the monsoon was severely deficit (35 per cent) during June, which was followed by heavy rain events in July and August.

“This is an emerging pattern for India’s monsoon: increasing droughts intermittent with heavy rainfall events.”

Mr Koll said that extreme rainfall events in India have tripled between 1950 and 2018, with many resulting in devastating floods. He put the damages at about US $3 billion (£2.5bn) per year.

While Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra have been the worst hit this year, several other states including Gujarat, Assam and Bihar have also seen heavy damage due to floods.


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Devinder Sharma writes about droughts in India

This is taken from a piece written by Devinder for Ground Reality on 13th June 2019:

Drought getting more pronounced in India, while cities in drought affected regions remain like an oasis.

The struggle for getting water
pic courtesy Livemint
As drought looms large in many parts of the country, more than 50,000 farmers from Ahmednagar district in Maharashtra have moved to nearly 500 makeshift cattle camps that the district administrated has built across eight talukas. “This has been our home since March this year. Problems galore at these cattle camps but we have little choice,” Dagru, a farmer told the media. They cook their meals at the camp and during the day go out looking for job.
At present, there are 1,501 cattle camps across Maharashtra.
As parts of Maharashtra faces its worst drought since 1972, another news report warns of fodder supplies running out for an estimated 10 lakh cattle housed in these camps. While the state government is thinking of setting up more cattle camps, this time for sheep and goats as well, I shudder to think how the farming families are surviving in these cattle camps. And yet I marvel the sensitivity and compassion some well know economic writers have demonstrated by saying there is no visible farm crisis !
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devender Fadnavis has allocated Rs 1,300-crore for these cattle camps. With the prices of cattle feed soaring, the government has raised the daily allowance for cattle contractors to Rs 100 per cattle per day and Rs 50 for each calf. The cattle are milked twice daily, but over the weeks the milk yield is coming down. Obviously, with the fodder supplies getting scarce in a worsening drought situation is beginning to take its toll. Water is supplied regularly by tankers.
Writing in The Wire, journalist Sukanya Shantha brings out the pain and agony that hapless families, including women who carry their children along, are undergoing: “What can we do, anyway? We would also like for our children to continue going to school but there is no one to feed them in the village right now,” Lalitabai Jhimmal was quoted. Her three children, in Classes VII, V and III, have been squatting at the camp along with her, intermittently attending their school. “There is no water in the village. Here, at least, we have water to drink,” says the eldest one.
With the houses locked, many nearby villages have become empty as the villagers have moved along with their cattle to the cattle camps. This is despite the fact Maharashtra had vowed to become drought free by 2019.  Instead, with 72 per cent Maharashtra hit by drought, and approximately 43.4 per cent of the country reeling under drought, an estimated 600 million people have been hit hard by an acute water crisis in the country. As crop land become parched, most of the land lying fallow, crops wither and fail, the soaring temperature has made life difficult in the drought-affected villages.
But the biggest tragedy is the appalling disconnect that such a devastating drought has with the city dwellers. People living in Ahmednagar in Maharashtra, which has 500 cattle camps in the district, are by and large oblivious of the severity of the drought only a few kilometres outside the city premises. Life goes on as usual, as if everything is normal in the rest of the district. Not only in Ahmednagar, every time I go to Bangalore I have never even remotely felt that people in the city even realise that Karnataka too has been reeling under a severe drought. In 2017, a severe drought prevailed, and as many as 139 of the 176 taluks were declared drought hit. And this year too, nearly 82 per cent of Karnataka is reeling under a drought. But go to Bangalore, you will not even get a hint of a terrible human suffering that continues to be inflicted year after year. Karnataka has suffered drought for 12 out of the past 18 years. But life in Bangalore has never been affected.
Such is the disconnect that life in any mega city does not even give an inkling of a severe drought prevailing just 10 kms away. I find it too strange. After all, have you ever pondered why is it that while drought hits the region as a whole it is only people living in the villages who bear the brunt? Why is that drought rarely, if at all, strikes the cities and towns? For instance, I travel to Bangalore very often, at least four times a year, and never have I returned with a feel of an acute water-stress that the people are faced with.
But how long will the cities continue to be like an oasis in an otherwise dry and parched landscape? That’s a big question. But a recent report by Niti Aayog warns that 21 cities – including the four metropolis Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi — will run out of ground water by 2020, just a year away. Since ground water provides for 40 per cent of the water needs, about 100 million people are expected to be hit. I am not sure whether water availability will be down to a trickle in these cities, but for sure the emphasis will shift to farmers advising them not to waste water.
Farmers have always been a soft target. I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire blame shifts to farmers. In Punjab, free power and water guzzling crop like paddy have always been the target. They are now being advised to go in for drip irrigation for which the government is being asked to provide 80 per cent subsidy. But a fact no one wants to acknowledge is that the consumption of water in the cities is no less a culprit. At a price of about 4 paise a kg, water supply is almost free for the urban consumers. While the farmers are being asked to go in for drip irrigation to reduce water wastage when was the last time you heard urban consumers being asked to do away with showers in their bathroom?

Every time someone uses the shower for about eight minutes roughly 65 litres of water goes down the drain. A typical bathtub, of the size 30 inches wide and 60 inches long, can contain 300 litres of water. If a luxury hotel has on an average 100 rooms, imagine 30,000 litres of water being drained simply for bathing every day. This is not fair. We can’t force the poor farmers alone to make sacrifices while we allow the rich to bathe in luxury.

 



And another piece in The Tribune by Devinder Sharma:

https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/comment/india-is-drying-up-fast/789376.html

India is drying up, fast

Devinder Sharma

Devinder Sharma, Food and Agriculture Specialist

Traditional water bodies and harvesting systems need urgent revival

“Congratulations to all… we have achieved 50 degree temperature this year. Let’s cut more trees to achieve 60 degrees the next year,’ a sarcastic tweet the other day came as a jolt. It was, however, hard to tell whether the quiet sarcasm was lost on a majority of the readers who are following Twitter or had made more and more people sit up and think.

Whatever had been the impact, the fact remains that while 2018 was the fourth hottest year on record in the past 140 years since the world began to keep a track on temperatures, NASA expects 2019 to be still hotter. The heat is therefore on. In India, a 22 per cent deficit has been recorded in pre-monsoon showers in the months of March, April and May — the second lowest in the past 65 years — and with monsoons delayed by a fortnight or so, daily temperatures have been sizzling. Churu in Rajasthan has already crossed 50°C thrice this season, and even Delhi burnt at an all-time high of 48°C.

With nearly 43 per cent of the country engulfed in a drought, an estimated 600 million people are reeling under its fury. With temperatures soaring, water sources going dry, parched lands staring as far as one can see, ‘hundreds of villages have been evacuated as historic drought forces families to abandon their homes in search of water’, reports The Guardian. In Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar district, such is the wrath of a continuing drought that over 50,000 farmers have shifted to 500 camps meant for cattle. There are 1,501 cattle camps in Maharashtra, where 72 per cent of the area is faced with a drought. Reports say village after village around the capital city of Mumbai has been deserted. More than 88 per cent of Karnataka is somehow surviving under a severe drought. With 156 of the 176 talukas declared drought hit, Karnataka has faced 12 years of drought in the past 18 years. 

Karnataka’s economic survey for 2018-19 projects a growth rate of minus 4.8 per cent in agriculture.  Therefore, while drought has taken a heavy toll on standing crops and also crippled the farming-led economic activity, not only in Karnataka, but also in nearly half the country, adequate attention is finally coming to the declining groundwater levels. With the conundrums of water conflicts between states, between communities within a state, and as well as individuals standing in queues increasing over the years, policy makers are now realising the importance of conservation. Already the alarm has been raised with a recent report by Niti Aayog warning that 21 cities — including the four metropolises — Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi — will run out of groundwater by 2020. Since groundwater provides for 40 per cent of the water needs, about 600 million people may be hit.
 

But the problem of groundwater depletion is not only confined to the cities. In fact, it is because of the unbridled exploitation of groundwater that even a short dry spell turns into a more destructive drought. At most places across the country the rate of depletion exceeds 0.5 metre a year and often touches 1 metre. Add to it the reduced availability of water from shrinking rivers; the resulting water crisis has reached worrying levels. Reports say the water availability from the mighty Narmada has declined, from 30.84 million-acre ft in 2007-18 to 14.80 million-acre ft in 2017-18. The Ministry of Water Resources estimates water levels in 91 reservoirs falling to 18 per cent of their capacity. Moreover, water from numerous dams is being diverted from agriculture to meet the needs of the urban areas, including drinking water. This has added to farmer protests, leading to rural-urban conflicts.  

Over the years, the emphasis shifted from water conservation, water harvesting and groundwater recharge. Revival of traditional water bodies, which could have played a major role in drought-proofing, received lip service. Restoration of ponds and measures for recharging groundwater remained incomplete, abandoned or preceded at a slow pace. There still exist close to 2 lakh traditional water bodies, ponds and tanks across the country which need to be revived. In Punjab, where 110 of the 138 blocks are in the ‘dark zone’ (over exploited), the revival of the 15,000 ponds and traditional water bodies could not only help in recharging groundwater, but also providing irrigation. So far, only 54 such ponds have been rejuvenated. Strangely, even in Rajasthan, instead of reviving the excellent water conservation structures perfected over the ages, the emphasis is on drip irrigation. Not even a drop of rainwater was allowed to go waste in these baoris. In Karnataka, an estimated 39,000 traditional ponds and tanks existed. While nearly three-quarters of them have dried up, encroached upon or turned into sewage dumps, there is still a sizeable number that can be revived. Meanwhile, Karnataka has launched a jalamrutha scheme under which the traditional water bodies would be rejuvenated. But the pace needs to be hastened.

Although Karnataka is trying to preserve the kalyanis, and Odisha has the kutta and munda water systems, the traditional wisdom association with water harvesting has been more or less lost. Several years back, travelling to Texas A&M University, I was surprised to see the traditional water harvesting structures of Tamil Nadu being followed. The Centre for Science and Environment had published a book, Dying Wisdom, listing all traditional harvesting systems.

In the age of borewells, the emphasis has to revert to traditional harvesting. Recharging the depleting groundwater in a sustainable manner is urgently required. But this cannot be in isolation. Destroying forests, water bodies, catchment areas in the name of development must cease. Otherwise, crossing the Rubicon may turn out to be catastrophic.”



 


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Glaciers in the Alps, Himalayas and Andes are set to disappear by 2050

An article in today’s Guardian reports that glaciologists at ETH Zurich have been studying glaciers in the European Alps and they predict that to thirds of the ice in these glaciers will have melted by 2100, as climate change forces up temperatures.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/uknews/two-thirds-of-glacier-ice-in-the-alps-will-melt-by-2100/ar-BBVLhlO?ocid=spartandhp

The researchers said the loss of the glaciers would have a big impact on water availability for farming and hydroelectricity, especially during droughts, and affect nature and tourism.

Another study on the ice fields in the Himalayas found that these also will melt, with serious consequences for almost 2 billion people in the valleys below.  In addition, to the glacier concern, Nepal is sending a group of expert climbers to remeasure the height of Mount Everest amid concerns that the devastating 2015 earthquake in the country caused the peak to shrink. It is the first time the country has sent its own government-appointed team to conduct a survey of the world’s highest mountain. Officially, Everest stands at 29,029ft – but this figure was calculated by an Indian team back in 1954. Since then its actual height has been widely debated.

Another study reported in 2009, showed that Switzerland’s glaciers had reduced by 12% of their volume in the previous 10 years. Switzerland’s glaciers equate to about two thirds of the volume of Lake Geneva. Similar reports come from researchers studying glaciers in the Andes.

Swiss glacier

A Swiss glacier

See:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090622064813.htm

The Himalayan glaciers may have an even more important function, as they are reducing at a similar rate to those in the European Alps, despite being higher and therefore colder. More than 700 million people in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan get their water from rivers that come from the Himalayan glaciers. India has been ranked the most vulnerable country to climate change by risk analysis company Verisk Maplecroft. 113 million people in the country are vulnerable to dangerous levels of flooding. More than 300 million are vulnerable to drought and more than 700 million to extreme local storms.  The melting glaciers just compound all these issues.

https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/content/why-the-indian-himalayan-glaciers-may-be-the-most/

Glaciers are unique because they are reservoirs of fresh water, have sheer mass and their ability to move, as they flow like very slow rivers.



20.6.19

Financial Times report states that glaciers have been melting twice as fast as they were during 1975-2000.  This was taken from a report on 19th June 2019 in Science Advances:

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/5/6/eaav7266

entitled “Acceleration of ice loss across the Himalayas over the past 40 years” by J.M. Maurer, J.M. Schaefer, S. Rupper and A. Corley.  The abstract for the article states:

“Himalayan glaciers supply meltwater to densely populated catchments in South Asia, and regional observations of glacier change over multiple decades are needed to understand climate drivers and assess resulting impacts on glacier-fed rivers. Here, we quantify changes in ice thickness during the intervals 1975–2000 and 2000–2016 across the Himalayas, using a set of digital elevation models derived from cold war–era spy satellite film and modern stereo satellite imagery. We observe consistent ice loss along the entire 2000-km transect for both intervals and find a doubling of the average loss rate during 2000–2016 [−0.43 ± 0.14 m w.e. year−1 (meters of water equivalent per year)] compared to 1975–2000 (−0.22 ± 0.13 m w.e. year−1). The similar magnitude and acceleration of ice loss across the Himalayas suggests a regionally coherent climate forcing, consistent with atmospheric warming and associated energy fluxes as the dominant drivers of glacier change.”

glacierHimlayas

Imja Tso, a glacial lake in the Mt. Everest region, did not exist on trekking maps 30 years ago. Today it is 2 kilometers long and the region continues to warm. Credit: Kunda Dixit/Nepali Times



14.8.19

A Guardian report from Iceland about the loss of a glacier there, written by Andri Snaer Magnason, about how they are mourning the loss of the OK glacier.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/14/glaciers-iceland-country-loss-plaque-climate-crisis?CMP=share_btn_link

A plaque has been developed to remember the OK glacier, which has now lost its status as a glacier:

Iceland plaque

According to current trends, all glaciers in Iceland will disappear in the next 200 years. So the plaque for Ok could be the first of 400 in Iceland alone. The glacier Snæfellsjökull, where Jules Verne began his Journey to the Centre of the Earth, is likely to be gone in the next 30 years and that will be a significant loss. This glacier is for Iceland what Fuji is for Japan.



 


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Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE) in India starts an urban afforestation project

cere-header-2

CERE’s Urban Afforestation Project (UAP) is increasing the green cover in Indian cities by helping companies, organisations, and individuals to reduce their carbon footprint.

CERE calculates the amount of carbon sequestered at each plantation site, taking into consideration species type, age of saplings and projected growth rates. Sequestration values are calculated as projections over 5, 10, or 15 years. Carbon Sequestration Certification is an integral part of the program and clients are provided with a CERE Offset Certificate at the end of the plantation and assessment.

See the locations at which plantation drives have been held and added information on this new website.

cere-team

Katy, Rashneh and colleagues – full list here

CERE’s Rain Water Harvesting programme has proved to control floods and our Carbon Map and Cap project is also growing from strength to strength, helping major companies to go green by mapping their carbon emissions and determining their carbon footprint and thereafter, helping achieve reduction targets to cap their carbon emissions.

Their Schools for Solar programme started this year with three institutions being solarised and the project will expand further next year to cover many more schools and colleges. CERE’s educational books, posters and e-learning courses are being used by various stakeholders.

As they say, most parts of India receive a high amount of solar radiation for 250 to 300 days in a year which-eventually adds up to a potential of producing 6,000 million GWh of energy per year. All will hope that – as soon as possible – the country will tap this resource to generate electricity on a large scale.

With acknowledgements to:  https://notthembutus.wordpress.com/2019/02/23/news-about-the-work-of-cere/



 


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India: new contract for 500 megawatt Bhadla solar park in Rajasthan

The Financial Times has outlined details of this project, which went up for auction in May.  The companies which won the bid have said that they can build the project for 2.44 rupees ($0.04) for every unit of electricity eventually generated. The article was written by Kiran Stacey from New Delhi and published on 1st November 2017.  See:

https://www.ft.com/content/4dca7f72-b31d-11e7-a398-73d59db9e3299?accessToken=zwAAAV-azb9Akc9Nyn9ysx0R59OjmHPVnbnjmQ.MEQCID3mnYDb7NVXzpn9wAPEMb7C6IwZUIHs5MHMvp8lsZK8AiBs5deHUvR6sQJI9vkbwoRdq_62CK-xxB3Zy7cuLTijAQ&sharetype=gift

This detailed and interesting article provides a number of facts about India’s place in the renewable energy field.

  1.  India’s solar power tariffs have reduced from over 8Rs/Kwh to 2.44Rs in the last six years.
  2. Solar power in India has grown at double digit rates over the last six years.
  3. There are plans to increase India’s solar capacity by 76% more in 2017 than in 2016, which will make India the third largest solar market globally. An interesting graph is included in the FT article, which shows that China is by far the leading solar industry around the world.  In second place is the USA, though their additional capacity has dropped in the last year.  The capacity of Japan and Germany is also dropping, which has enabled India to soar into third place.
  4. The price of Chinese-made solar panels has tumbled in recent years, due to over-production.
  5. At present, 60% of India’s energy is coal-powered, so there is still a long way to go, though the reducing price of solar panels makes the solar industry much more competitive.

The FT article mainly focuses on the economical effects of these changes and the risks associated with them.

However, it makes sense for this to happen, in view of the rising temperatures experienced in India in the last few years.

India_heat_wave_large-1-678x381

Map of India showing high temperature areas during recent heat wave

And now, further details of the new solar development in Rajasthan have come to me, as follows:

The winning bid for the third and fourth phase development at Bhadla solar park in Rajasthan – a500-megawatt solar farm – was one of the lowest prices for solar power ever seen anywhere in the world. The companies — Acme Solar, an Indian developer, and SBG Cleantech, a joint venture whose shareholders include SoftBank of Japan — said they would build the project for a guaranteed price of just Rs2.44 ($0.04) for every unit of electricity they eventually sold – substantially cheaper than coal

The Bhadla auction confirmed that the country is undergoing a generational shift from coal-fuelled power to solar and wind and placed India at the centre of a global renewables revolution that is driving down the cost of green energy and which represents one of the biggest threats to fossil fuels.

As India is already the world’s third-biggest carbon emitter and plans to electrify even its most remote villages within two years, a rapid expansion in the country’s renewables sector would prove a huge boost for attempts to keep global temperature rises below 2C — the target set by the 2015 Paris climate accords. 

Further details can be found at:

https://chssachetan.wordpress.com/2017/12/30/indias-development-of-solar-energy-1/


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Predictions: climate refugees to reach 50 million by 2050

From the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/climate-refugees-rising-seas_uk_59b7d86fe4b027c149e2564e?

It has been predicted that by 2050, the number of climate refugees could rise to 50 million.

The global sea level rose about eight inches in the last century. The rate in the last twenty years, however, is nearly double that of the last century.

Sea level rise is caused primarily by two factors related to global warming: the added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of sea water as it warms. The current NASA estimation is that by 2100 the sea levels will rise by up to four feet – depending on how quickly land-based glaciers melt.

Small island nations and cities built on water will be affected the most.

50 million people will be displaced from their homes due to sea level rise.  That is 10 times the number of Syrian refugees.

The question is – where will they go?

The full 32-minute video, covering an expedition to Antarctica, can be seen here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/end-of-the-earth-watch-huffpost-uks-first-documentary-here_uk_59bbe848e4b0edff971b86eb?

It has been made to look at the issue of climate change from a different perspective, though I find that the style of  presentation and editing, though not meant, tends to trivialise the whole issue.  However, it includes some important footage of Trump and other climate change deniers, as well as interviews and footage from people from a variety of countries across the globe, including the Marshall Islands and India.

November 2017:  A new approach to the issue of climate refugees is being pioneered by New Zealand.  See the full report at:

https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-11-03/new-zealand-considers-climate-migration-visa-pacific-islanders-fight-stay

New Zealand could become the first country in the world to recognize climate change as a valid reason to be granted residency, according to an interview with a government minister on Tuesday.

The nation’s newly elected government is considering creating a new visa category for Pacific Islanders displaced by climate change. If implemented, New Zealand’s proposal would offer up to 100 humanitarian visas per year as an experimental — and unprecedented — trial.

The 1951 Refugee Convention does not cover people displaced across borders due to climate change. Though Fiji had previously committed to providing future climate refuge to Pacific neighbours, the New Zealand proposal marks the first time a developed country has considered addressing the international legal protection gap with a regional visa agreement.

Further discussion of this offer, with especial reference to Kiribati, can be found in the blog entitled The Effects of Sea Level Rise on Island Nations.

woman_kiribatiA woman swimming at high tide near her house in Kiribati 2017