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September 27, 2006 CSE Newsletter

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September 12, 2006 CSE Newsletter

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May 16, 2006 CSE Newsletter

November 24, 2005 CSE Newsletter

September 22, 2005 Newsletter

March 15, 2003 Newsletter




September 27, 2006 CSE Newsletter

An e-bulletin from the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India, to our network of friends and professionals interested in environmental issues.


- Book launch: Agenda Unlimited to be released at the Frankfurt Book Fair
- Jobs: Copy editors needed
- Editorial: Climate change denial must stop
- Cover story: Tracking the chikungunya trail of destruction
- News: Barmer will remain thirsty
- News: Draft EIA notification biased
- Features: All's not well with employment scheme
- Features: The man responsible for Andhra's only pesticide-free village
- Science: Concerns over carbon dioxide sequestering under oceans
- Gobar Times: How forests sustain life on Earth
- Publications: A scholar once said that books are like time bombs. Here's a chance for you own one


Book Launch - Agenda Unlimited


Agenda Unlimited is a compilation of key Down To Earth stories that chronicle the variety of grassroots initiatives undertaken by individuals and communities, both urban and rural, to protect or revive threatened or degraded local environments.

This CSE publication will be launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 4-8, 2006. Please visit us at the book air to see all our publications.

Contact jagdeep@cseindia.org or call +91-9810245353 for more details

For more on the Frankfurt book fair>>


Jobs: Copy editors needed for Down To Earth


Down to Earth, our fortnightly news magazine on science and environment requires resourceful individuals with excellent communication and rewriting skills, a basic understanding or willingness to deal with scientific issues, efficiency at the craft of copy editing and 5 years of experience working in a similar capacity in the publishing industry. Working under high pressure and meeting challenging deadlines will be the norm.

To apply, send your resume to jgupta@cseindia.org


Editorial: Climate change denial must stop


Just imagine: floods in dry Rajasthan; drought in wet Assam. In both cases, devastation has been deadly, with people struggling to cope. But are these natural disasters or human-made disasters - signs of change of the world's climate systems? Or are these simply the result of mismanagement so that people already living on the edge of survival, cannot cope with any variations - small or big - in weather events? In this multiple choice question, all answers are correct. In other words, this is a natural disaster, as monsoons in our region are highly variable, unpredictable and known to cause both floods and droughts. It is also a fact that these natural events are being exacerbated because we have forgotten how to live with nature. So, we build cities without drainage; we build settlements in low-lying areas; we fill up our water bodies, which would store and recharge water for the dry season. We do everything which will make us more vulnerable when disaster strikes. But it is equally true that our climate is changing so that natural variations of weather events are becoming more extreme.

The problem is that the science of climate is not simple. But scientists are beginning to come out of the woodwork to tell us that the future is much more uncertain than we thought. The draft report of the Inter governmental Panel on Climate Change confirms that climate change is a reality and predicts that global average temperatures this century will rise between 2°C and 4.5°C as a result of the doubling of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. The US National Academy of Sciences has said the last few decades of the 20th century were warmer than any comparable period in the last 400 years. NASA says that 2005 was the warmest year ever.

This 'warming' of the climate, scientists predicted, will lead to the melting of glaciers, rise in sea levels, changes in precipitation patterns worldwide and increased intensity of extreme weather events. But what they had not predicted was that all this could happen very fast. For instance, scientists had modelled that it would take over 10,000 years for melting at the surface of ice sheets to penetrate to the bottom. Hence, the pulse of warming would be slow and gradually melt 2-3 km thick ice sheets and slowly raise sea levels. Now, they say the speed could jump, as melting ice would lead to water accumulating in crevasses, which in turn could lubricate and break joints of ice sheets.

The future is here. Greenland, one of the world's biggest repositories of glaciers, is beginning to crack. This summer, gigantic lakes of melted ice formed in Greenland. Scientists found icebergs breaking off and falling into the Atlantic Ocean. There is similar evidence that glaciers in other regions - from Antarctica to the Himalaya - are melting. Scientists have revised their estimation of sea level rise, which they now say could be more imminent and serious. Research also suggests that the warming of oceans could lead to intense hurricanes and storms. The world has already begun to feel their effects.

What will global warming do to the lifeline - the true finance minister of South Asia, the monsoons? We know that the monsoons are perhaps the world's least understood natural phenomena. They are already variable and unpredictable. It also seems apparent that something is changing. The monsoons are becoming more freakish - more cloudbursts like Mumbai's extraordinary rain in 2005 or Barmer's devastating showers in 2006 - eem to be happening. We also can sense that the rains are much more variable - some places drown while others thirst even as rainfall stays within normal average ranges. In other words, the variations are becoming more unnatural, with the intensity of rains increasing, but the number of rainy days decreasing.

I say all this with extreme caution. The simple fact also is that we do not know if any of this is happening in our part of the world. We do not know, because our met department refuses to entertain the possibility that things could be changing. Its refrain is that these freak weather events are in the range of normal variations. This, they tell you, is not the result of climatic change. In support, they pull out from the records instances when such events occurred. "Nothing unusual," they say. "Nothing to worry about," they mean.

But worry we must. This is not time for complacency and bad science. Something is happening to our lifeline. A recent paper, which modelled the impact of global climate change on the Indian summer monsoons, says that it is being destabilised. On the one hand, aerosols - particles in the atmosphere because of fossil fuel and biomass burning - could well lead to cooling and reduced rain. On the other hand, global warming could lead to changes in the moisture and heat regimes which keep the monsoon circulatory patterns active. In other words, this could lead to increased variations in rainfall patterns, increased incidence of droughts and increased intensity of floods. But our scientists refuse to move with the times.

The fact of the matter is that if climate science is not simple, it is also not neutral. This science, when it establishes the effects of changes in global climate patterns, will also indict the world's richest countries for creating the problem that threatens the survival of millions. It is about victims and villains.

This is why this science, must belong to all - the rich and the poor. This is why our scientists must be engaged in this investigation. Their climate change denial game must stop. They must get out of their ostrich mentality so that they can tell us with more certainty if the signs we are reading are as ominous as they seem. They must tell us, so that not only can we be prepared but we can fight to substantially reduce pollution by the rich. Science must be the tool to drive the cleaner tomorrow.

- Sunita Narain



Cover story: Tracking the chikungunya trail of destruction


Chikungunya, a viral disease borne by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, has crippled its victims in Karnataka -- the state with the maximum number of cases -- both physically and economically. Now, even as the disease spreads and wreaks havoc in other parts of India, systems to monitor it and infrastructure for its prevention, control and cure remain a distant dream.

Read online (subscription required)>>


More in Down To Earth magazine


News: Barmer will remain thirsty

Perennially parched Barmer in Rajasthan was deluged in 750 mm rainfall in the last week of August. But there's little to cheer about as the rain has claimed hundreds of lives, destroyed the area's rainwater harvesting structures and washed away crops worth crores. To top it all, residents now face the threat of epidemics.


News: Draft EIA notification biased

The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has amended the draft environment impact assessment (EIA) notification without consulting green bodies. Therefore, NGOs and people's organisations are now trying to garner support against the draft, which overtly favours the industry by including controversial clauses on public hearing and decentralisation of the clearance procedure.

Read online>>


Features: All's not well with employment scheme

Six months after the launch of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, the government and civil society organisations are warring over the "success" of the scheme. While the government claims that jobs have been provided to a majority of the people, NGOs say implementation of the scheme is marred by crucial faults.


Feature: The man responsible for Andhra's only pesticide-free village

Farmers in Andhra Pradesh's Penta Srirampuram village grow paddy and sugarcane but do not use pesticides and chemical fertilisers during cultivation. Yet, every year the yield is good. Their secret: Vijaya Kumar, the man who realised that the village's soil was high on organic matter and was home to friendly insects that feed on pests.


Science: Concerns over carbon dioxide sequestering under oceans

British and Norwegian oil companies say they will bury carbon dioxide under the bed of the North Sea in a bid to stop climate change. Experts fear this is a guise for increased oil and gas exploration, and will endanger the marine ecosystem.


Environment for beginners: Gobar Times


How forests sustain life on Earth Long time ago, forests were worshipped by everyone. They were of immense value as they sustained life on the planet. Later, there was a change in attitude. The easiest way to place a value on forests was to look upon them in monetary terms as timber producing factories. This selfishness led people to destroy forests without realising the real worth of this valuable resource.




Leapfrog Factor

The continent dodders as the automobile industry hardsells cars as the key to a lifestyle of wealth and freedom. Asia can survive only if it reinvents the idea of mobility. Builds cities based on public transport. Leapfrogs vehicle technology and fuel quality to cut exposure to killer fumes. Finds its own unique way out of the haze. Presents the complex Asian challenge and ten years of action, learning and impacts.


Body Burden

Down To Earth's work on health and environment have been brought together as a comprehensive book "Body Burden", which talks about eight key issues that affect the developing world - infectious diseases, air pollution, water pollution, toxins, lifestyle diseases, regulations and a special report on the industrial disaster in Bhopal.


CSE is an independent, public interest organisation that was established in 1982 by Anil Agarwal, a pioneer of India's environmental movement. CSE's mandate is to research, communicate and promote sustainable development with equity, participation and democracy.

Address: 41 Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi - 110062

Tell us if you know a colleague or friend who might enjoy this newsletter

© Centre for Science and Environment


Front Page, Week Of:

4/16/05: Spectre to Introduce U.S. Asbestos Bill This Week

5/22/05: Individuals Injured by Asbestos Exposure Oppose Specter's Trust Fund Legislation

10/16/05: Victim's Organizations Form Asbestos Victims Coalition in Opposition to Asbestos Trust Fund Legislation

11/17/05: White Lung Mourns Jose Jesus Pessora

12/18/05: Frist Introducing Asbestos Bill in January

12/04/06: Asbestos Watch Newsletter: Help Celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the WHITE LUNG ASSOCIATION

Jim Fite's Alerts:

Asbestos Victim's Superfund Compensation Program

Asbestos Watch March 14, 2005 (Maryland chapter of the White Lung Association meetings)

Directorate of Safety, Health, and Environment (open letter)


Joe Oliver's Alerts:

Joe Oliver, National Board Member and former President of the White Lung Association, has issued a call to all persons to help gather evidence on the conspiracy by asbestos trade organizations to suppress the knowledge about the hazards of asbestos exposure.

If you know anything about this horrific history or have documents which can be used to further prove their heinous crimes, please contact Joe Oliver, WLA, POB 1483, Balt. MD 21203.

Leonard Makowski's Alerts:

The White Lung Association stands in opposition to The Specter Bill (S.852)

WLA Alerts & News

S.1115: Bill to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act to reduce the health risks posed by asbestos-containing products - This bill is supported by the WLA.

Meet Mr. Asbestos

Proceedings of the Asbestos Symposium for the Asian Countries - now available for purchase.

Australia Bans Asbestos!



Senator Specter Breaks Promise to Mesothelioma Patient and Research Community

Senate Judiciary Committee returns to Mark-Up on May 11th: Proposed asbestos trust fund legislation will further penalize victims of asbestos-caused diseases


World Trade Center Health:

British Asbestos Newsletter:

The latest issue is Spring 2005


News from India:

The latest issue is January 4, 2007



December 17, 2000 is Asbestos Hazard Awareness Day


Current Projects:

Asbestos Museum


Articles & Publications:

Occupational Respiratory Diseases: Asbestos Associated Disease -- Reprinted from: Maxcy-Rosenau Public Health and Preventative Medicine 11th ed. (John M. Last, Ed.) 1980, Appleton-Century-Crofts

Asbestos Victims Deserve Compensation Not Betrayal: position release by the Board of Directors, White Lung Association



In Memoria:

Paul Safchuck May 21, 2003

Dr. William Nicholson Dies at 70

Ray Sentes Brave Fighter For Asbestos Victims

For more information please contact info whitelung org.