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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 27th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

70 years after Hiroshima & Nagasaki, Are we smarter? Are we more human? That was the question!
As reported by Ms.Irith Jawetz, July 27, 2015.

An unusual event took place on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 at the OIIP (Austrian Institute for International Politics. In spite of the unusual high temperatures and a very feeble AC, the room was almost full. I will try to present the essence of that event.

The panel included:

- Ms.Judith Brandner, Since 1984 radio journalist and radio producer for Ö1, but also on DRS2, D-RADIO and SWR2.
- Ambassador Alexander Kmentt; Austria’s Director for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament. Ambassador Kmentt has received the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the “2014 Arms Control Person of the Year.” Nine other worthy candidates were nominated by the staff of the Arms Control Association for their significant achievements and contributions to reducing the threats posed by the world’s most dangerous weapons in the past year.

Ambassador Kmentt, who started his career at the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs in 1994 and has been a leading disarmament diplomat for many years, was recognized for organizing the third International Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, Dec. 8-9, 2014 in Vienna, which drew delegations representing 158 states, the United Nations, and civil society.

- Prof. Heinz Gärtner OIIP, Professor at the University of Vienna, His research priorities include international and European security; US foreign and security policy; Theories of international politics; Developments in world politics; Arms control.

- Hakan Akbulut, Research Assistant at OIIP, Areas of Research: Nuclear proliferation,Turkish foreign and security policy .

The moderator was Fabio Polly, who has been with the Austrian Radio ORF for more than 30 years. He was head of the ORF young journalists training in 1996. Since then, in the radio’s external policy, with temporary interruptions as moderator of various information programs (among others Ö1-journals).

He spent a total of four years as a correspondent in Germany and in the US. Focus of Reporting: international security, disarmament, nuclear weapons and the Middle East; Travel to Afghanistan (Kabul) to Iraq (Baghdad), to South Africa (Johannesburg).

The main concern of all the panelists was that 70 years after the Atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the problem of nuclear weapons has not been solved. Even the reasons for that terrible event have not been completely clear until now, and may never be fully known. Those two cities were totally destroyed, ten thousands of people killed, and the aftermath was immense. Those events emphasized how dangerous those weapons are.

In the arsenal of 9 countries there are now approximately 16,300 nuclear war-heads. Those weapons are part of a deterrent policy, which was developed during the Cold War. The objection to a notion of a world without nuclear power is strong, however there is a second notion now, which stems from a humanitarian point of view that maybe the world is better off without those weapons.

Ms. Brandner talked about her personal experience visiting universities in Japan and interviewing people who have relatives who still remember the Hiroshima & Nagasaki events and still have psychological scars from that day. One student talked about her Grandfather who lived through this nightmare and for years after could not talk about it. He then came to be interviewed, opened up and talked for two hours non stops about the horrors of that day. He spoke about the slow deaths of the people, the stifling heat and the stench, the burning corpses lying on the streets for days. The Grandfather lived to be 88 years old but carried this trauma with him all his life.

One of the topics of the debate was the notion that nuclear weapons are a deterrent. Does it really work? Is it really a deterrent? Can one rely on the fact that the leaders of those countries who possess those weapons will really only refer to them as a deterrent factor and not use them?

Ambassador Kmentt stressed the fact that human error can be the most dangerous factor in having nuclear weapons. He compared it to a pilot in a plane who, if he makes a mistake and pushes the wrong button, the plane goes down and all passengers and crew will die. If a wrong button is pushed or any button is pushed for some reason on a nuclear weapon the consequences are unimaginable. The system has too many risks.

Prof. Gärtner believes a deterrent is only effective if it is believable by both sides that the weapons would be used.
He gave a bit of an historical view on Hiroshima & Nagasaki and said that the United States always contained that it was needed to end the war. Too many U.S. soldiers have died in World War II and it looked as if the Japanese were not ready to surrender. The questions remains, would they have surrendered had they known of the existence of the nuclear bomb? That’s where the deterrent part comes in. Another version for the necessity of ending the war this way was the fear of the U.S. that Russia would march into Japan and take over. Was that reason enough to use the Atom bomb?

Touching on the Iran deal which was signed in Vienna only a few days earlier the speakers agreed that Iran should be given a chance to prove itself worthy of the confidence that the Allies have put into that deal. The Iran deal will define what is for peace and what is for war. On a questions from the audience how can one be certain that technically the weapons are not to be used for war, the answer was that one cannot be 100% sure of it, but one has to trust the Iranians to some extent.

I would like to elaborate a bit on one aspect which was mentioned a few times during the conversation. It was the fact that nine nations — the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea — possess approximately 16,300 nuclear weapons. in total. Under the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (New START), Russia and the United States have reduced their inventories but still account for more than 93% of all operational nuclear warheads. Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970. On 11 May 1995, the Treaty was extended indefinitely. More countries have adhered to the NPT than any other arms limitation and disarmament agreement, a testament to the Treaty’s significance.

A total of 191 states have joined the Treaty, though North Korea, which acceded to the NPT in 1985 but never came into compliance, announced its withdrawal in 2003. Four UN member states have never joined the NPT: India, Israel, Pakistan and South Sudan.

In contrast to those countries, New Zealand is one small country which in 1984 barred nuclear-powered or nuclear-armed ships from using New Zealand ports or entering New Zealand waters. Under the New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act of 1987, territorial sea, land and airspace of New Zealand became nuclear-free zones. This has since remained a part of New Zealand’s foreign policy.

The debate went on for a long time with no clear answer to the topic question: 70 years after: Are we smarter, are we more human? Nuclear weapons are basically only safe if used as a deterrent, but they are extremely dangerous if actually used.

Being a deterrent when two opposing sides are both nuclear armed – the certainty of a second strike becomes in effect an insurance of peace. That was the concept of M.A.D. (Mutually Assured Destruction) that lowered animosity between the two sides in the Cold War. The destruction caused in the two events in Japan – big as they were are nevertheless small compared to what, relatively, the new arms could do. The question is indeed, watching today’s ideological enemies, are they mellow enough to take the M.A.D. idea seriously? Will it always be a Head of State that has the nuclear button, or could it be that a device ends up with a group of insurgents?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

February 17, 2015

Tesla’s Disruptive New Plan to Power Your Home
by Dr. Kent Moors

From a surprising source – Dr. Kent Moors’ Oil & Energy Investor’s site we picked up the following:

February 17, 2015 – but we picked this up only February 25th because Google deemed the posting a “Promotion rather then “Primar
 oilandenergyinvestor.com/2015/02/…

TESLA’s DISRUPTIVE NEW PLAN TO POWER YOUR HOME.
by Dr. Kent Moors

Dear Oil & Energy Investor,

Two eye-opening announcements prove that renewable energy is no longer at the mercy of the price of oil.


Both involve solar power, which I find increasingly attractive in today’s markets.

The first is a major test of a joint project between Tesla Motors Inc. (NasdaqGS: TSLA) and SolarCity Corp. (NasdaqGS: SCTY) involving 500 California homes.

Sources have told me they expect this test to be the final “proof of concept,” followed by wider applications in both residential and commercial uses.

The lynchpin between the two is a family connection.

Tesla’s CEO is Elon Musk, one of the most innovative entrepreneurs of our time, while his cousin Lyndon Rive is the CEO of SolarCity. Musk is also SolarCity’s biggest shareholder.

Now the two are coming together in hopes of solving the industry’s biggest roadblock…

———————————

This was followed by:

Solar Power Comes of Age

Tesla, of course, needs very little introduction. The California-based company has a very visible position in cutting-edge electric cars.

SolarCity, on the other hand, is the market leader in residential solar power installations. In the third quarter of 2014, SolarCity led the pack in this portion of the business by grabbing 39% of the market. Meanwhile, SolarCity’s next-closest competitor came in at 16%.

The two market leaders are now combining some of their operations in a very serious attempt to bring solar power into more consumer areas. In short, SolarCity is working with Tesla to make rooftop panels that are fitted with Tesla batteries.

Now a major test is underway in California that may usher in a new age of residential solar battery use.

The California test will utilize a solar battery with the ability to power a home for two days in the event of a blackout. In everyday use, the unit is expected to allow homeowners to store solar-generated power for use during high-cost periods, giving them the flexibility to use the conventional grid for cheaper, off-peak electricity.

Storing generated power for use at other times – in short, perfecting a new line of cost-effective batteries – has been the industry’s single biggest hurdle.

So the California residential test may well usher in a whole new ballgame. Considering the batteries from the Tesla-SolarCity venture (involving more than the California test) utilize a new generation of silicon batteries, rather than relying on rare earth metals or lithium, is also a plus. This type of approach is already well advanced, and is based on considerable familiarity and history.

It also doesn’t hurt that Tesla is building the biggest battery factory on the planet right now. Dubbed the “Gigafactory,” the plant is expected to have a dramatic effect on the energy storage market, helping to bring battery costs down by as much as half by 2020.

So while the initial price of these installations may come in high, as with any generation-changing new technology, the cost will eventually come down. What’s more, there may be some credits and other inducements provided by the companies to stimulate usage.

This development, combined with the recent decisions by Apple Inc. (NasdaqGS: AAPL) to power its new Pentagon-like headquarters via solar and Google Inc. (NasdaqGS: GOOG) opting for wind power for its San Francisco Bay Area base, show that renewables are now moving into all aspects of electricity end use here in the States.

and the SECOND BIG NEWS OF THE INTRODUCTORY PIECE:

India Breaks Ground on the World’s Largest Solar Plant

The second major development for renewables is unfolding halfway around the world.

India has announced a major push to provide 15% of its electricity needs from renewables with an initial push into solar power, which is unfolding right now. It’s the first high-profile effort to provide concrete plans for a major Asian advance into solar power distribution.

The Times of India reported yesterday that the construction of the world’s largest solar power plant has begun in the central Indian Rewa district, within the state of Madhya Pradesh. The plant, a joint venture between state-run PSU Urja Vikas Nigam and the Solar Energy Corp. of India, will provide 750 megawatt of electricity. Once online, the plant will be 36% bigger than the largest plant currently in operation.

The current world leader is the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight Solar Farm, which just opened in California’s Mojave Desert. Situated on 3,800 acres near Joshua Tree National Park, the plant produces enough energy to power 160,000 homes.

But the Indian push into solar power hardly ends there. The government has plans for two dozen solar farms strategically placed throughout the country.

In all, the State Bank of India has committed resources for the development of 15 gigawatt of solar power by 2020. The objective is to provide a full 15% of the nation’s energy needs from renewable sources within five years.

To be sure, there are some doubts that New Delhi can pull this off. For one thing, the price tag is very debatable. For another, the national electricity distribution grid is in a sorry state, and would require significant, pricey, and (at the moment) an unspecified amount of investment to be able to shoulder the anticipated new power load.

Still, with the Chinese committed to a similar 15 gigawatt goal from solar by 2020, Germany’s decision to end its reliance on nuclear power, and the continued growth pattern in the U.S., one conclusion is already abundantly clear.

The future of solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and other renewables is longer dependent on the price of crude.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 20th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

World Environment News from Reuters

India offers farmers soil tests to boost yields

Date: 20-Feb-15
Author: Ratnajyoti Dutta

India will provide soil testing for farmers to target the correct use of fertilizers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday, to push up yields and cut back on costly misuse.

The service will be available to around 60 percent of its 235 million farmers, Modi said on a visit to the desert state of Rajasthan, stressing the importance of soil health to lift India’s poor farm productivity. Agriculture employs more than half of India’s 1.25 billion people but accounts for only 14 percent of its $2.3 trillion economy.

The finance minister was likely to allocate $32 million for the project in this fiscal year’s budget on Feb. 28, a senor official said.

Smart cards can be issued to 140 million farmers in three years after testing soil for productivity, mineral mix, water capacity and salinity, and can be presented to government fertilizer suppliers.

Sudhir Panwar, president of a farmers’ lobby group, said the card will cut misuse of subsidized fertilizer. This could also help the government trim its fertilizer bill of around $10 billion.

Modi said a farmer with a holding of 1.2 hectares could save 50,000 rupees ($805) per year, if the right amount of nutrients were applied.

Reuters reported last year that Modi, who popularized the program in the state of Gujarat that he ran, was likely to roll it out across the country.

Gujarat’s farm output grew at an annual average of 6 percent over the past three years – about a percentage point higher than the national figure.


Modi has urged agriculture scientists and farmers to usher in India’s second green revolution after the first one in the 1960s that saw India more than treble its annual wheat output in just 15 years
.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 15th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ARCTIC – IS IT POSSIBLE?

Author : Kapil Narula
10 Feb 2015
 www.maritimeindia.org/CommentryVi…

The Arctic is a unique region which plays a very important role in the earth’s ecosystem. It regulates the earth’s climate, influences the ocean currents, has rich biodiversity and is home to a substantial indigenous population. Therefore, sustainability should be a prerequisite condition for development in the Arctic.

‘Sustainability’ is the ability of a system to continue a desired behaviour indefinitely. An example of such a sustainable system is tropical rain forests in which the inherent processes continue in a cyclic manner to support life. On the other hand, ‘development’ is the process of growth. When these two words are conjoined it implies ‘continuous growth’. Hence the word ‘Sustainable Development’ is actually an oxymoron because any kind of growth cannot be indefinite.


While ‘Sustainable Development’ is rightly understood as a multi-dimensional concept, having economic, environmental and social dimensions, an extended definition also includes inter and intra-generational equity as well as inter-species equity, as its fundamental principles. However, people often misunderstand it as simultaneous and continued growth in all three dimensions. This understanding is flawed as these dimensions have competing goals and therefore there has to be a trade-off between these goals. As an example, any kind of economic growth has negative environmental externalities and there may be accompanying social impacts which may lead to collapse of societies. Therefore sustainable development needs to be perceived in a way that explicitly conveys the core idea that the growth of the economy and the society is constrained by environmental limits.


If ‘Sustainable Development’ of the Arctic region is viewed from the above perspective, one is forced to define environmental limits prior to looking at economic opportunities in the region. Further, the impact of development in the region on culture, societies and the traditional way of living of the indigenous people should also be minimal. Hence it is important that any activities which are undertaken in the Arctic region should be carefully examined for the foreseeable impacts which they might have on the region as well as on the ecosystem of the earth.

Let us consider two major issues which are threatening the sustainability of the Arctic region: ‘resources’ and ‘routes’. The scramble between Arctic nations to control both these and the intent of extra regional powers to share the trickledown benefits, have resulted in countries engaging in active geopolitics on the Arctic. While some countries like India are keenly interested in science in order to increase their understanding of climate change, other countries such as South Korea are looking at the economic benefits which they can reap as fallout of increased shipping in the region.

Let’s talk about resources first. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the region contains 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 15 per cent of its oil. These valuable energy resources have been fossilised over millions of years. From the viewpoint of sustainability, the ‘strong sustainability’ condition defines that the ‘economic capital’ (produced capital such as infrastructure, knowledge etc.), and ‘natural capital’ (environmental assets such as fossil fuels, biodiversity and other ecosystem structures) are complimentary, but not interchangeable. This implies that natural capital needs to be preserved sufficiently, as it has to be passed to the next generation and cannot be replaced with economic capital. Hence the amount of fossil fuels and minerals which can be extracted from the Arctic region should be limited to the regeneration rates of these resources. Obviously, this would mean that only miniscule amounts of resources can be extracted and therefore the strong sustainability condition is difficult to meet, in the case of energy and mineral resources. An alternate interpretation for resources can be as follows: the non-renewable resources which are extracted should be replaced by an equivalent amount of substitutes for that resource. This interpretation can however serve as a prerequisite condition for resource extraction, if the Arctic has to be developed sustainably.

The strong sustainability condition is often diluted to a ‘weak sustainability’ condition which allows unconditional substitution between economic and natural capital. This implies that natural resources may be used as long as economic capital is increased. Proponents of this approach claim that the energy which is extracted now, can be used to increase economic capital, so that the total amount of capital for the next generation remains unchanged. However, most often this weak sustainability condition is also violated and the extracted resources are consumed by the existing generation without a thought for the future generations.

On the issue of new shipping routes, the strong sustainability condition in the Arctic region would be met as long as the rates of waste generation from shipping and related activities do not exceed the assimilative capacity of the Arctic eco-system. This condition therefore requires that while the shipping routes may be used, there should be stringent environmental regulations controlling the operation of shipping in the region. Notwithstanding the strict enforcement of rules, the environmental risks remains high due the uncertain nature of floating ice, harsh climatic condition, risk of human or technical failure and the fragile nature of the environment. An oil spill either from offshore drilling or accidents at sea, marine pollution due to leaks and untreated waste disposal at sea are other challenges, which will have an impact on the marine environment in the region. However, as long as the environmental impact on the ecosystem is within the acceptable limits, shipping in the region could be classified as sustainable. But the question is “Do we have enough know-how on the Arctic ecosystem to even attempt defining such limits?” Further, what is the guarantee that there would be no accidents such as those involving the drilling ships, ‘Noble Discoverer’ and the ‘Kulluk’, operated by Shell off the Alaskan coast in 2013 which led to suspension of further drilling in the region. The answers to these questions are not easy and hence prior to allowing navigation of ships through the ice floes infested waters, one must carefully examine the environmental risks which the region is exposed to, if unrestricted shipping is allowed.

It can, therefore, be concluded that there are many challenges to sustainable development of the Arctic region. However, such a possibility exists, provided stringent rules and regulations are followed for shipping and a limited amount of resource extraction is permitted in the region. How would this development unfold, is a question which none can predict, but one can only hope that the Arctic Council adopts some guidelines which imposes certain limits and restriction on shipping and resource exploration activities in the Arctic region.

**************************************************

(*The author is a Research Fellow at the National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Indian Navy or National Maritime Foundation. He can be reached at  kapilnarula at yahoo.com)

Kapil Narula
Cdr (Indian Navy)
Research Fellow
National Maritime Foundation
Airport Road, NH-8
New Delhi- 110 010
Ph:+91-11-26156520 Extn: 112(O)

AND

PhD Research Scholar
Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research
Goregaon (East), Mumbai

ARTICLE WRITTEN “towards the run up to the Indian National Maritime Foundation Annual Conference.”
The National Maritime Foundation is dedicated to “Nurture India’s Maritime Interests.”

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 25th, 2015
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from: Martin Indyk <foreign_policy@brookings.edu>
please reply to:  foreign_policy at brookings.edu

Subject: Brookings Search for a New Energy Security and Climate Initiative Director

THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION – FOREIGN POLICY
 www.brookings.edu/about/employmen….

Please share this job posting with qualified candidates. We appreciate your help in getting the word out to qualified candidates in the energy security and climate policy communities.

Best Regards,

Martin Indyk
Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy
The Brookings Institution

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 23rd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Dr. Vandana Shiva, the environmentalist from India who works for seed integrity against international corporations that are seeking control over every inch of the agricultural process, has joined with Rabbi Michael Lerner of Berkely, California, and became the international chair of the Network of Spiritual Progressives.

Rabbi Lerner is promoting ESRA that stands for – the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – that he and Peter Gabel co-authored and which is being circulated as per salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/525…


(ESRA): The Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution
(As proposed by Rabbi Michael Lerner and Peter Gabel and advanced through the work of The Network of Spiritual Progressives.)

The intent of the framers of this Amendment is to:

a. Protect the planet and its inhabitants from environmentally destructive economic arrangements and behavior, and to increase environmental responsibility on the part of all corporations and government bodies.

b. Increase U.S. citizens’ democratic control over American economic and political institutions and ensure that all people, regardless of income, have the same electoral clout and power to shape policies and programs.

c. Promote the well-being of citizens of the United States by recognizing that our well-being depends on the well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants, which in turn requires an end to poverty, wars, and violence, and the rise of a new global ethic of genuine caring and mutual interdependence.


Article One: The Pro-Democracy Clause

A. The First & Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution shall apply only to human beings, and not corporations, limited liability associations, and other artificial entities created by the laws of the United States.

B. Money or other currency shall not be considered a form of speech within the meaning of the First Amendment to the Constitution, and its expenditure is subject to regulation by the Congress and by the legislatures of the several States.

C. Congress shall regulate the amount of money used to disseminate ideas or shape public opinion in any federal election in order to assure that all major points of view regarding issues and candidates receive equal exposure to the greatest extent possible. Congress shall fund all major candidates for the House, Senate and Presidency in all major elections and in primaries for the nomination for president of major parties (those which have obtained at least 5% of the vote in the last election for president).

D. In the three months prior to any election for a federal position, all media or any other means of mass communication reaching more than 300,000 people shall provide equal time to all major presidential candidates to present their views for at least an hour at least once a week, and equal time once every two weeks for congressional candidates during that media agency’s prime time. The candidates shall determine the form and content of that communication. Print media reaching more than 300,000 people shall provide equal space in the news, editorial, or most frequently read section of the newspaper or magazine or blog site or other means of communications which may be developed in the future. During the three months prior to an election, no candidate, no political party, and no organization seeking to influence public policy may buy time in any media or form of mass communication or any other form of mass advertising including on the Internet. Major candidates shall be defined as:

a. those who have at least 5% of support as judged by the average of at least ten independent polling firms, at least two of which are selected by the candidates deemed “not major,” 3 months before any given election,

b. or any candidate who can collect the signatures of 5% of the number of people who voted in the election for that office the last time that office was contested in an election. These petitions can only be signed by people eligible to vote in the relevant electoral districts. Every state shall develop similar provisions aimed at allowing candidates for the governor and state legislatures to be freed from their dependence on wealthy donors or corporations.


Article Two: Corporate Environmental and Social Responsibility

A. Every citizen of the United States and every organization chartered by the U.S. or any of its several states shall have a responsibility to promote the ethical, environmental, and social well-being of all life on the planet Earth and on any other planet or in Space with which humans come into contact.

This being so, corporations chartered by the Congress and by the several States shall demonstrate the ethical, environmental, and social impact of their proposed activities at the time they seek permission to operate.

In addition, any corporation with gross receipts in excess of $100 million shall obtain a new corporate charter every five years, and this charter shall be granted only if the corporation can prove a satisfactory history of environmental, social, and ethical responsibility to a grand jury of ordinary citizens chosen at random from the voting rolls of the community in which the primary activities of the corporation take place, or, if there is dispute between stakeholders and the corporation on where those primary activities take place, then in Washington, D.C.

Factors to be considered by the grand jury in determining whether a corporation will be granted a charter shall include but not be limited to:

1. The degree to which the products produced or services provided are beneficial rather than destructive to the planet and its oceans, forests, water supplies, land, and air, and the degree to which its decisions help ensure that the resources of the earth are available to future generations.

2. The degree to which it pays a living wage to all its employees and the employees of any contractors with which it does business either in the US or abroad, and arranges its pay scale such that none of its employees or contractors or members of its board of directors or officers of the corporation earn (in direct and indirect benefits combined) more than ten times the wages of its lowest full-time wage earners; the degree to which it provides equal benefits including health care, child care, retirement pensions, sick pay, and vacation time to all employees; and the degree to which its employees enjoy satisfactory safety and health conditions; and the degree to which it regularly adopts and uses indicators of its productivity and success which include factors regarding human well-being, satisfaction and participation in work, and involvement in community service by its employees and members of its top management and board of directors;

3. The degree to which it supports the needs of the communities in which it operates and in which its employees live, including the degree to which it resists the temptation to move assets or jobs to other locations where it can pay workers less or provide weaker environmental and worker protections.
4. The degree to which it encourages significant democratic participation by all its employees in corporate decision making; the degree to which it discloses to its employees and investors and the public its economic situation, the factors shaping its past decisions, and its attempts to influence public discourse, and the degree to which it follows democratic procedures internally

5. The degree to which it treats its employees, its customers, and the people and communities in which it operates with adequate respect and genuine caring for their well-being, and rewards its employees to the extent that they engage in behaviors that manifest genuine caring, respect, kindness, generosity, and ethical and environmentally sensitive practices.

6. The degree to which its investment decisions enhance and promote the economic, social, and ethical welfare and physical & mental health and well-being of the communities in which its products may be produced, sold, or advertised and/or the communities from which it draws raw materials.

7. When assessing the environmental and social responsibility of banks, stock markets, investment firms and other corporations whose activities include the lending or investing of monies, in addition to the issues 1-6 above, the jury should also consider: the degree to which the financial institutions direct the flow of money to socially and/or envrionmentally useful activities, including non-profits serving the most disadvantaged of the society and including the financing of local business cooperatives and local community banks and to support low-income and middle income housing with affordable mortgages, rather than directing the money to speculators in finance, real estate, or other commercial activities; the degree to which it forgives loans previously given to poverty stricken countries; the degree to which it engages in misleading advertising or hides the costs of its services in small print or engages in aggressive marketing of monies for loans or preys on the most economically vulnerable; the degree to which it offers no-interest loans to those with incomes below the mean average income in the society; and the degree to which it seeks to fund directly socially useful projects and small businesses.

In making these determinations, the jury shall solicit testimony from the corporation’s board of directors, from its employees, and from its stakeholders (those whose lives have been impacted by the operations of the corporation) around the US and around the world. The U.S. government shall supply funds to provide adequate means for the jury to do its investigations, to hire staff to do relevant investigations, and to compensate jurors at a level comparable to the mean average of income in the region in which the deliberations of the jury takes place, or at the level of their current income, whichever is higher.

If the grand jury is not satisfied with the level of environmental, social, and ethical responsibility, it may put the corporation on probation and prescribe specific changes needed. If after three more years the jury is not satisfied that those changes have been adequately implemented, the jury may assign control of the board and officers of the corporation to non-management employees of the corporation and/or to its public stakeholders and/or to another group of potential corporate directors and managers who seem most likely to successfully implement the changes required by the jury, but with the condition that this new board must immediately implement the changes called for by the jury within two years time, or else the jury can reassign control of the corporation to another group of potential board members.

B Any government office or project receiving government funds that seeks to engage ln a contract (with any other corporation or limited liability entity) involving the expenditure of over $100,000 (adjusted annually for inflation) shall require that those who apply to fulfill that contract submit an Environmental and Social Responsibility Impact Report to assess the applicant’s corporate behavior in regard to the factors listed above in point A of Article II. Community stakeholders and non-supervisory employees may also submit their own assessment by filling out the Environment and Social Responsibility Impact Report. Contracts shall be rewarded to the applicant with the best record of environmental and social responsibility that can also satisfactorily fulfill the other terms of the contract.


Article Three: The Positive Requirement to Enhance Human Community and Environmental Sustainability

A. Earth being the natural and sacred home of all its peoples, Congress shall develop legislation to enhance the environmental sustainability of human communities and the planet Earth, and shall present a report annually to the American people on progress made during the previous year in ameliorating any conditions deemed by an independent group of scientists to be adverse to the planet’s long-term environmental welfare. The objectives of such legislation shall include but not be limited to alleviating global warming, reducing all forms of pollution, restoring the ecological balance of the oceans, and assuring the well-being of all forests and animal life. The President of the United States shall have the obligation to enforce such legislation and to develop executive policies to assure the carrying out of its objectives.

B. In order to prepare the people of the United States to live as environmentally and socially responsible citizens of the world, and to recognize that our own well being as citizens of the United States depends upon the well being of everyone else on Earth and the well being of this planet itself, every educational institution receiving federal funds whether directly or through the several states, shall provide education in reading, writing and basic arithmetic, and appropriate instruction including at least one required course for all its students per year per grade level from kindergarten through 12th grade, and in any college receiving funding or financial aid or loan guarantees for its students, in:

1. the skills and capacities necessary to develop a caring society manifesting love, generosity, kindness, caring for each other and for the earth, joy, rational and scientific thinking, non-violence, celebration, thanksgiving, forgiveness, humility, compassion, ethical and ecological sensitivity, appreciation of humanity’s rich multicultural heritage as expressed in literature, art, music, religion, and philosophy, non-violence in action and speech, skills for democratic participation including skills in how to change the opinions of fellow citizens or influence their thinking in ways that are respectful of differences and tolerant of disagreements, and how to organize fellow citizens for non-violent political action and engagement in support of causes not-yet-popular; and in

2. the appropriate scientific, ethical, and behavioral knowledge and skills required to assure the long term environmental sustainability of the planet Earth, and to do so in ways that enhance the well being of everyone on the planet.

Congress shall provide funding for such courses in all the educational institutions receiving public funds or loans or loan guarantees for students, and shall provide funding for similar courses to be made available to the non-student populations in each state.

All such courses must teach caring not only for the people and economic, social and environmental well-being of the people of the United States, but also for the economic, social and environmental well-being of all the people on the planet Earth and the well-being of the planet as well!

The measurement of student progress in the areas covered by sections 1 and 2 being, like artistic and musical skills, difficult or impossible to measure by quantitative criteria, educational institutions supported directly or indirectly by public funds shall develop subtle and appropriate qualitative ways of evaluating adequate progress on the part of students in the areas specified, ways that contribute to and not detract from students’ ability to love learning and to enhance their capacities to cooperate rather than compete with their fellow students in the process of intellectual and emotional growth. Teachers shall be funded to learn the skills described in points A and B and the methods of evaluation appropriate to this kind of values-oriented subject matter.


Article Four: Implementation

A. Any corporation which moves or seeks to move its assets outside the U.S. must submit an Environmental and Social Impact report to a grand jury of ordinary citizens, and the jury shall similarly receive testimony from other stakeholders and the employees of the corporation in question to determine the impact of the moving of those assets outside the U.S. The jury shall then determine what part of those assets, up to and including all of the assets of the corporation, shall be held in the U.S. to compensate those made unemployed or otherwise disadvantaged by the corporate move of its resources elsewhere, and or to pay for other forms of environmental or social destruction of the resources or the well-being of the United States or its citizens. Conspiracy to evade this provision shall be a crime punishable by no less than twenty years in prison for all members of the board of such a corporation.

2. Any part of the Constitution or the laws of the U.S., or any of its states, deemed by a court to be in conflict with any part of this ESRA Amendment shall be null and void. Any trade arrangements, treaties, or other international agreements entered into by the United States, its citizens, or its several states, deemed by a court to be in conflict with the provisions or intent of this Amendment are hereby declared null and void.

3. Congress shall take action to provide adequate funding for all parts of this amendment and implementing legislation that seeks to fulfill the intent as stated above.

Please circulate and seek endorsements by your local city council, religious, civic and professional organizations, political parties, and your State Legislature and U.S. Congressional and Senatorial representatives.

And please sign this yourself: by going to
 salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/525…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

With  Interference from Breaking News from the battle fields in the Ukraine and the Muslim World – the US and Russia are at Cold War level; Israel has already 20 dead (two civilians) and dozens wounded – Fareed Zakaria on CNN/Global Public Square did his best this Sunday July 20, 2014, to try to make sense from the present global wars.
I will try to reorganize the material into a neat tableau that can be viewed as a whole.

Fareed’s own introduction was about what happened in recent years is a “democratization of violence” that created an asymmetry like in Al Qaeda’s 9/11 where each of their one dollar generated the need for  7 million dollars to be spent by the US in order to counter-react. Thus, before, it was armies of States that were needed to have a war – now everyone can cause it with a pauper’s means.

Then he continued by saying that this is NOT what happened in Ukraine. There Putin was trying to fake it, by using his resources large State resources to create from former Russian soldiers a “rebel force in the Ukraine.”  The Kremlin is operating the rebels in a situation where the military expenditures by Russia, which are 35 times larger then those of the Ukraine, take care of the expenditures of this war.

But where Vladimir Putin miscalculated – it is that he did not realize that when he takes the ginny of Nationalism out of his dark box, he will never be able to cause it to go back. Putin unleashed both – Russian and Ukrainian Nationalism and it might be that by now he is no boss over the outcome anymore.

Let us face it – G.W. Bush played a similar game in Iraq and Afghanistan and the US will not be  master in the Middle East anymore.
Zbigniew Brzezinski was asked on the program what should Obama do?

He thinks this is a historical defining moment that allows still to Putin to redeem himself. It is for him – rather then somebody else – to call for an International tribunal and allow open investigation by telling the pro-Russians in the Ukraine, whom he supported and provided them with arms, that they crossed the line.  Brzezinski says this is a situation for Europe like it was before WWII.

The issue is that the Europeans are not yet behind the US. London is a Las Vegas for the Russians, France supplies them military goods, it was a German Chancellor before Merkel who made Europe dependent on Rusian gas.
Without being clearly united behind the US, the West will get nowhere.

On the other hand – Russia, seeing the sanctions coming, sees the prospect of becoming a China satellite if sanctions go into effect. Not a great prospect for itself either.

So, the answer is Obama leadership to be backed by the Europeans and Putin making steps to smooth out the situation and redeem himself. This is the only way to save the old order.

Steven Cohen, Professor on Russia at Princeton: The US is in a complicated situation by having backed fully the Ukrainian government.

It is the US that pushed Putin to take his positions. The Ukraine is a divided country and the story is not just a recent development. Putin cannot just walk away from the separatists in the Ukraine – they will not listen to him. The reality in the Ukraine, as per Professor Cohen, is very complex and there are no good guys there – basically just a complex reality that was exploited from the outside.

Christa Freeland, a famous journalist, who is now a Canadian member of Parliament, and traveled many times to the Ukraine, completely disagrees with Cohen and says a US leadership is imperative.

Our feeling is that all this discussion goes on as if it were in a vacuum – the true reality is that in the Globalized World we are far beyond the post WWII configuration that was just Trans-Atlantic with a Eurasian Continental spur going to China and Japan.  What has happened since is the RISE OF THE REST OF THE WORLD – with China, india, Brazil, and even South Africa, telling the West that besides dealing with Russia the West must deal with them as well !!
 The BRICS meeting in Fortaleza (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) where this week they established a $50 Billion alternative to the World Bank and a $100 Billion alternative to the IMF, ought to be part of the negotiation in the US and at the EU Member States  when talking about a post-Ukraine-flare-up World. The timing may have been coincidental – but the build-up was not.

These days there is the celebration of 70 years (1–22 July 1944) of the establishing of the Bretton Woods agreements system that created the old institutions that can be changed only with the help of US Congress – something that just will not happen. Those are the World Bank and the IMF – but In the meantime China has become the World’s largest economy and they still have less voting power at the World Bank then the three BENELUX countries.
The BRICS do not accept anymore the domination of the US dollar over their economies. If nothing else they want a seat at the table, and detest the fact that three out of five are not even at the UN Security Council.

So, the New World Order will have to account for this Rise of the Rest having had the old order based just on the West.

   Further on today’s program, Paul Krugman a very wise man, a Nobel Prize holder in Economics, was brought in to show  a quick take on the economy. He made it clear that there is an improvement but it is by far not enough.

It is more half empty then half full because by now it should have been better. But he stressed that despite the interference, Obamacare works better and ahead of expectations. Even premiums rise slower then before.

Yes, there are some losers, but this is a narrow group of young and healthy, but people that were supposed to be helped are helped.

On energy – yes – renewable costs are lower then expected.

Obama’s grade? Over all B or B-, but on what he endured from the opposition A-. Yes, we can trust Obama to decide the correct moves – and on International and Foreign Policy the White House has freer hands then in Internal, National, policy. His presidency is the most consequential since Ronald Reagan – whatever we think of Reagan – but in Obama’s case, he will leave behind  a legacy of the country having been involved in less disasters, but leaving behind more achievements – be those in health-care, environment, finances, energy, migration, etc. then any President of the last 40 years. But where does this leave him in relation to the Rest of the World?

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on July 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program – as reported by Irith Jawetz who participated at the UN in Vienna Compound July 15th Meeting .

 

The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) and Search for Common Ground  invited us to attend a panel discussion titled “A Win-Win Solution for the Negotiations over Iran’s Nuclear Program,” which was held on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 13:00 at the Vienna Center for Disarmament & Non Proliferation (VCDNP).

 
As P5+1 and Iran are meeting in Vienna at Foreign Ministers level to resolve the outstanding issues preventing a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program before the 20 July deadline, a group of renown experts on the technical and political aspects of the negotiations have met at VCDNP to discuss and identify possible compromises.

 

Panelists: 
 
Dr. Frank von Hippel, Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security 
 
Mr. Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association. Previously he was the Executive Director of the Coalition to reduce Nuclear Dangers, and the Director of Security Programs for Physicians for Social Responsibility.
 
Ambassador (ret.) William G. Miller, Senior Advisor for the US-Iran Program, Search for Common GroupHe is a Senior Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Institute of Strategic Studies, and the Middle East Institute. He is the co-Chairman of the Kyiv Mohyla Foundation of America and a Director of The Andrei Sakharov Foundation. He has also been a senior consultant for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

This was a very timely event, as the Foreign Ministers of the P5+1 group of Nations – the U.S., U.K., France. Germany, China, and Russia – spent the weekend in Vienna  discussing follow ups to the interim agreement reached between them and Iran in advance of this July 20th deadline.


At the start of the Panel discussion, it was announced that at that very moment Secretary of State John Kerry is giving his Press Conference before flying back to Washington to report to President Obama about the negotiations. He is willing to come back next weekend for the July 20-th continuation of the discussions.

———–

Ambassador Miller was the first speaker, and he gave a rather optimistic view of the situation. His presentation had more of a political nature.  In his presentation he said that the basic principles of the negotiations is to assure that Iran has no nuclear weapons . Iran has the capability, brain, expertise and knowhow but has no strategic moral or ethical reason to develop nuclear weapons to be used as weapons of mass destruction.
It is a fact, though, that the Iranians insist on use of peaceful nuclear energy – to what extent it is peaceful and how can the rest of the world be sure that it will be peaceful, this is why the negotiations have to succeed. Ambassador Miller is hopeful that, after 35 years of the current regime in Iran, those negotiations will result in a positive answer.
Ambassador Miller commended all the participating teams, the Press and Academia. First he mentioned the top quality Iranian team at the negotiations, many of the participants he knows personally. They were able, motivated, and anxious to find a solution. The US team, led by Secretary Kerry did a  remarkably good job, as did the rest of the teams. He commended the Press who were persistent – fully covered the negotiations and were very professional – and academia who helped with background information.
—————

Mr. Daryl G.Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association talked about a solution for the Iranian Uranium-Enrichment Puzzle. In his presentation he stressed that “Solutions that prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, lower the risk of yet another major conflict in the region, and still provide Iran with the means to pursue a realistic, peaceful nuclear program are within reach” – he said.
Progress has already been achieved on several key issues – stregthening International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections and oversight at existing and undeclared sites.  …   Iran has agreed to modify its Arak heavy-water reactor to drastically cut its plutonium output, and a general framework has been developed to waive, and eventually lift, sanctions against Iran.   …  Nevertheless, the two sides have more work to do to bridge differences on the most difficult issue: limiting Iran’s uranium-enrichment capacity.As part of a comprehensive deal, Iran and the P5+1 have to agree on several steps to constrain Iran: limit uranium enrichment to levels of less than 5% – keep stocks of its enriched uranium near zero – and halt production-scale work at the smaller Fordow enrichment plant and convert it to research-only facility.

He shares Ambassador Miller’s hope and positive outlook that the negotiations will succeed. Anything less than success will be a catastrophe.

—————-
The last speaker was Dr. Frank von Hippel who is a Senior Research Physicist and Professor of Public and International Affairs Emeritus at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security.Dr. von Hippel gave a very technical presentation about the Possible elements of a compromise on Iran’s Nuclear Program.

Potential sources of fissile material from Iran’s nuclear energy program are:

1. Plutonium presence in reactor fuel (current issue is Arak reactor)

2. Iran’s centrifuge enrichment complex.

There are two stages in rationalizing the Current situartion:

Stage I

Iran currently has installed 18,000 IR-1 centrifuges  – the compromise would be:

1) to retire IR-1  and replace it with already installed IR-2ms to support research-reactor LEU needs.

2) Continued transparency for Iran’s centrifuge production – possibly as a template for enhanced transparency for centrifuge production worldwide.

3) Continued minimization of stocks of low enriched UF6.

Stage 1 will provide time to cool down an inflamed situation and would provide Iran and the West an opportunity for a cooler assessment of the costs and benefits of diferent possible paths.

In stage II, negotiations might agree on a solution currently beyond reach and also lay a base for a new global regime for enrichment.

Stage II

 

National or Multi-National enrichment? A global Issue.

National – Every  state has the right to enrich fuel for power reactor fuel. However today only Brazil, China, Iran, Japan and Russia have completely independent national civilian enrichment programs.

Multinational – Urenco (Germany, Netherland, UK) . Today Urenco owns the only operating U.S,. civilian enrichment plant.

Building in Flexibility for Iran:

1. Iran should have access to nuclear reactor and fuel vendors worldwide – to ensure that it is getting a good price and reliable delivery.

2. Iran could build up stockpile of fabricated fuel for Bushehr. That would take care of Iran’s fuel security concerns and make it easier for Iran to postpone a large domestic enrichment capacity or depend on a multinational enrichment plant – perhape equiped with Iranian centrifuges in another country in the Middle East.

Dr. von Hippel COPLIMENTED his theory with  charts.

The consensus at the end of the discussion was that the negotiations seem to go well, and all panelists, as well as some members of the audience expressed their hope that they will indeed succeed. Ambassador Miller even went as far as to state that Iran at the moment is the most stable nation in the region, and we have to take advantage of it, make sure the negotiation succeed,  and bring Iran back to the International community.

In the news today it was reported that Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Washington to brief President Obama on the negotiations – rather then on a prior advertised new effort in the Israel-Palestine arena. He was hopeful, but also said there are still some points which need to be clarified.

==========================
Further last comment by SustainabiliTank editor – we add – taken from a Thom Friedman article about a different issue:
We accept that in the future the World true powers of today – The US, China, India, Russia, Japan and the EU – and we like to add Brazil as well – will have to meet their minds and harmonize what ought to be a global leadership for a safe future planet. Just ad hoc chaperoning specific issues will be proven to be not enough.

The way to find a solution to the issue of a nuclear Iran shows that in the globalized world of today there must be an international guiding force. But on this much more has to be written for the sake of Sustainability.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Will India’s new PM Modi be a climate change champion?

If India’s new BJP leader puts India on the path of sustainable development, he could help save the planet

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/19/will-indi…

Will India’s new PM Modi be a climate change champion?

If India’s new BJP leader puts India on the path of sustainable development, he could help save the planet

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/19/will-indi…

Will India’s new PM Modi be a climate change champion?

Last updated on 19 May 2014, 7:40 am

If India’s new BJP leader puts India on the path of sustainable development, he could help save the planet

 

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

India, the world’s third largest polluter, has just elected a new leader.

This makes Narendra Modi, the dynamic chief of India’s now ruling BJP party, one of the most powerful players in fight against climate change.

Dubbed the “Development Man” during his mammoth election campaign, Modi pushed a vision of prosperity to India: more power, electrified cities, and wealthier citizens. How he chooses to deliver on such a promise has profound implications for the planet over years to come.

A country’s ability to develop largely depends on its energy supply. In the BJP’s election manifesto, its slogan concerning energy is “Generate More, Use Rationally, Waste Less”.

Whether he depends on fossil fuels or renewables to top up electricity supplies in India – a country where around a third of people are still not connected to the national grid – could determine the planet’s chance staying within safe limits of global warming.

“The question is what won’t they do as much as what will they do,” says Nitin Pandit, managing director of World Resources Institute India, one of many observers eager to see if Modi will, for example, move India away from polluting coal as a primary energy source.

But as Modi seeks to push a ferocious agenda of national development, he may find it difficult to reject development proposals that looks “wonderful on paper”, says Pandit, even if it doesn’t strictly adhere to his manifesto pledge to “put sustainability at the centre of our thoughts and actions” – a suitably vague notion that has left experts pondering how much they can expect from India’s new leader.

Development

Delve deeper into the BJP manifesto, and Modi’s climate policies remain mysterious. The focus is not how, but how much energy they are going to be able to produce.

Following in the footsteps of the US, India looks ready to adopt an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to energy: the manifesto promises to “maximize the potential of oil, gas, hydel power, ocean, wind, coal and nuclear”. This includes exploring for and producing more coal, at the same time as advancing India’s solar mission.

A diverse supply of energy is not without benefits – it creates security of energy supply, and decreases vulnerability to changeable markets – but, says Pandit, “I don’t think the thinking is about diversity per se. It is just being about being able to get more supply, no matter which way.”

Some are optimistic that Modi and his pro-business attitude mean that he will be a force for good in pushing India’s rapidly developing renewables market.

“Modi absolutely believes, and he has publicly stated many times, that he wants to embrace the clean energy model,” says Krishnan Pallassana, executive director of The Climate Group India. “With Modi as prime minister we expect there will be a huge boost to this sector, because he not only talks, he also walks the walk.”

Congress, he adds, whom Modi beat in a landslide victory, had good intentions, but their more “welfare-centric, subsidy-centric” approach failed to deliver the promised results.

An agenda centred around development could indeed be a boon for the planet, if the government succeeds in linking this up to a complementary climate agenda.

While the economy and anti-corruption measures have provided the rallying cry of this election, when the fever has died down, these are the sort of links that the new government could start to make, according to Suruchi Bhadwal, Associate Director of Earth Science and Climate Change at the Energy and Resources Institute in India.

“It may not draw immediate attention, but maybe in a year or two may tap into adaptation mitigation,” she says. And there are parts of the “Modi intelligentsia” who are already beginning to make the link, adds Pandit.

The presidential-style candidate, dominated by Modi’s own dynamism, has also added to hopes that he stands ready to take advantage of renewable energy opportunities if they will spur further development in India. “Given the personality of the person, if there are opportunities to tap into in any area, I think he’s the kind of person who will jump into it hands on,” says Bhadwal.

Gujarat experience

Modi’s stint as chief minister in the Indian state of Gujarat provides something of a backstory to what can be expected from him now that he has the whole of India in his hands.

Under his governance, Gujarat became India’s leader in solar energy, pre-empting the national government by releasing its own solar policy in 2009, a year before the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was issued.

Of the 1000+ MW installed in the country over the period 2010-2012, over 70% of this belonged to Gujarat. Modi also launched Asia’s first ever government department dedicated to climate change, and even followed in the footsteps of Al Gore, becoming the second politician to pen a book on global warming.

But from thereon, the tale loses some of its glory. Local reports from last year suggest that the climate change department has all but collapsed, and as other states have caught up on Gujarat’s solar revolution, its share of India’s total solar capacity has fallen to around 40%.

This has raised some doubts about his ability to replicate his success in one state across all 29. “I feel there are quite some challenges for him, but he may succeed in some parts. Not all states are at the same level of development, and there are very different institutional capacities across the country,” comments Bhadwal.

International

Modi will also have to familiarise himself with the international politics of climate change – his tenure will overlap with the UN’s attempt in 2015 to sign of a global, legally binding climate deal.

India’s stance at the talks so far has been less than conciliatory, with many issues still remained to be smoothed out between them and other big emitters such as the EU and US.

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

The outspoken party is unlikely to change this approach any time soon, and while adaptation is likely to remain a priority, it is unlikely they are going to be pressured into taking on mitigation actions equal to those of developed countries any time soon.

“I don’t see why they would feel the need to suddenly start accepting international demands on what must happen to the climate,” says Pandit.

“The belief there is the largest per capita contributors to the problem have been the developed countries, and frankly until they make a dent in their emissions the issue is not going to be resolved. That opinion is shared quite commonly among a large spectrum of Indians, and there’s no reason why the Modi government will differ from that.”

But it is ultimately the priorities of electorate that determines the content of the parties’ manifestos, as each attempts to score political points over the other. The continued lack of awareness means this will go down as just one more exercise in democracy where climate change was forced into the back seat.

Yet there is something of a disconnect in this, considering the other dominant concern in India at the moment: the oncoming rains.

“What matters to the common man is what the rains are going to be like this season and whether the bread baskets are going to be full. No matter what happens in the elections the monsoons will show us the way,” says Pandit.

“The impact of climate change on the weather is not an easy subject, but more emphasis could be put on it to raise awareness of people, so they can hopefully vote accordingly.”

—————————————————–

Newly-elected Modi aims to bring solar to every Indian home by 2019
BusinessGreen 
India plans to produce enough solar energy to power a lightbulb in every home in the country by 2019, a party official has said.     jlne.ws/1to1AJJ

 

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/19/will-indias-new-pm-modi-be-a-climate-change-champion/#sthash.dlTvP58z.dpuf

Will India’s new PM Modi be a climate change champion?

If India’s new BJP leader puts India on the path of sustainable development, he could help save the planet

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

By Sophie Yeo

India, the world’s third largest polluter, has just elected a new leader.

This makes Narendra Modi, the dynamic chief of India’s now ruling BJP party, one of the most powerful players in fight against climate change.

Dubbed the “Development Man” during his mammoth election campaign, Modi pushed a vision of prosperity to India: more power, electrified cities, and wealthier citizens. How he chooses to deliver on such a promise has profound implications for the planet over years to come.

A country’s ability to develop largely depends on its energy supply. In the BJP’s election manifesto, its slogan concerning energy is “Generate More, Use Rationally, Waste Less”.

Whether he depends on fossil fuels or renewables to top up electricity supplies in India – a country where around a third of people are still not connected to the national grid – could determine the planet’s chance staying within safe limits of global warming.

“The question is what won’t they do as much as what will they do,” says Nitin Pandit, managing director of World Resources Institute India, one of many observers eager to see if Modi will, for example, move India away from polluting coal as a primary energy source.

But as Modi seeks to push a ferocious agenda of national development, he may find it difficult to reject development proposals that looks “wonderful on paper”, says Pandit, even if it doesn’t strictly adhere to his manifesto pledge to “put sustainability at the centre of our thoughts and actions” – a suitably vague notion that has left experts pondering how much they can expect from India’s new leader.

Development

Delve deeper into the BJP manifesto, and Modi’s climate policies remain mysterious. The focus is not how, but how much energy they are going to be able to produce.

Following in the footsteps of the US, India looks ready to adopt an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to energy: the manifesto promises to “maximize the potential of oil, gas, hydel power, ocean, wind, coal and nuclear”. This includes exploring for and producing more coal, at the same time as advancing India’s solar mission.

Narendra Modi and his competition Rahul Gandhi (Pic: Global Panorama/Flickr)

Narendra Modi and his competition Rahul Gandhi (Pic: Global Panorama/Flickr)

A diverse supply of energy is not without benefits – it creates security of energy supply, and decreases vulnerability to changeable markets – but, says Pandit, “I don’t think the thinking is about diversity per se. It is just being about being able to get more supply, no matter which way.”

Some are optimistic that Modi and his pro-business attitude mean that he will be a force for good in pushing India’s rapidly developing renewables market.

“Modi absolutely believes, and he has publicly stated many times, that he wants to embrace the clean energy model,” says Krishnan Pallassana, executive director of The Climate Group India. “With Modi as prime minister we expect there will be a huge boost to this sector, because he not only talks, he also walks the walk.”

Congress, he adds, whom Modi beat in a landslide victory, had good intentions, but their more “welfare-centric, subsidy-centric” approach failed to deliver the promised results.

An agenda centred around development could indeed be a boon for the planet, if the government succeeds in linking this up to a complementary climate agenda.

While the economy and anti-corruption measures have provided the rallying cry of this election, when the fever has died down, these are the sort of links that the new government could start to make, according to Suruchi Bhadwal, Associate Director of Earth Science and Climate Change at the Energy and Resources Institute in India.

“It may not draw immediate attention, but maybe in a year or two may tap into adaptation mitigation,” she says. And there are parts of the “Modi intelligentsia” who are already beginning to make the link, adds Pandit.

The presidential-style candidate, dominated by Modi’s own dynamism, has also added to hopes that he stands ready to take advantage of renewable energy opportunities if they will spur further development in India. “Given the personality of the person, if there are opportunities to tap into in any area, I think he’s the kind of person who will jump into it hands on,” says Bhadwal.

Gujarat experience

Modi’s stint as chief minister in the Indian state of Gujarat provides something of a backstory to what can be expected from him now that he has the whole of India in his hands.

Under his governance, Gujarat became India’s leader in solar energy, pre-empting the national government by releasing its own solar policy in 2009, a year before the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was issued.

Of the 1000+ MW installed in the country over the period 2010-2012, over 70% of this belonged to Gujarat. Modi also launched Asia’s first ever government department dedicated to climate change, and even followed in the footsteps of Al Gore, becoming the second politician to pen a book on global warming.

But from thereon, the tale loses some of its glory. Local reports from last year suggest that the climate change department has all but collapsed, and as other states have caught up on Gujarat’s solar revolution, its share of India’s total solar capacity has fallen to around 40%.

This has raised some doubts about his ability to replicate his success in one state across all 29. “I feel there are quite some challenges for him, but he may succeed in some parts. Not all states are at the same level of development, and there are very different institutional capacities across the country,” comments Bhadwal.

International

Modi will also have to familiarise himself with the international politics of climate change – his tenure will overlap with the UN’s attempt in 2015 to sign of a global, legally binding climate deal.

India’s stance at the talks so far has been less than conciliatory, with many issues still remained to be smoothed out between them and other big emitters such as the EU and US.

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

The outspoken party is unlikely to change this approach any time soon, and while adaptation is likely to remain a priority, it is unlikely they are going to be pressured into taking on mitigation actions equal to those of developed countries any time soon.

“I don’t see why they would feel the need to suddenly start accepting international demands on what must happen to the climate,” says Pandit.

“The belief there is the largest per capita contributors to the problem have been the developed countries, and frankly until they make a dent in their emissions the issue is not going to be resolved. That opinion is shared quite commonly among a large spectrum of Indians, and there’s no reason why the Modi government will differ from that.”

But it is ultimately the priorities of electorate that determines the content of the parties’ manifestos, as each attempts to score political points over the other. The continued lack of awareness means this will go down as just one more exercise in democracy where climate change was forced into the back seat.

Yet there is something of a disconnect in this, considering the other dominant concern in India at the moment: the oncoming rains.

“What matters to the common man is what the rains are going to be like this season and whether the bread baskets are going to be full. No matter what happens in the elections the monsoons will show us the way,” says Pandit.

“The impact of climate change on the weather is not an easy subject, but more emphasis could be put on it to raise awareness of people, so they can hopefully vote accordingly.”

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/19/will-indi…

Will India’s new PM Modi be a climate change champion?

If India’s new BJP leader puts India on the path of sustainable development, he could help save the planet

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

Pic: Narendra Modi/Flickr

By Sophie Yeo

India, the world’s third largest polluter, has just elected a new leader.

This makes Narendra Modi, the dynamic chief of India’s now ruling BJP party, one of the most powerful players in fight against climate change.

Dubbed the “Development Man” during his mammoth election campaign, Modi pushed a vision of prosperity to India: more power, electrified cities, and wealthier citizens. How he chooses to deliver on such a promise has profound implications for the planet over years to come.

A country’s ability to develop largely depends on its energy supply. In the BJP’s election manifesto, its slogan concerning energy is “Generate More, Use Rationally, Waste Less”.

Whether he depends on fossil fuels or renewables to top up electricity supplies in India – a country where around a third of people are still not connected to the national grid – could determine the planet’s chance staying within safe limits of global warming.

“The question is what won’t they do as much as what will they do,” says Nitin Pandit, managing director of World Resources Institute India, one of many observers eager to see if Modi will, for example, move India away from polluting coal as a primary energy source.

But as Modi seeks to push a ferocious agenda of national development, he may find it difficult to reject development proposals that looks “wonderful on paper”, says Pandit, even if it doesn’t strictly adhere to his manifesto pledge to “put sustainability at the centre of our thoughts and actions” – a suitably vague notion that has left experts pondering how much they can expect from India’s new leader.

Development

Delve deeper into the BJP manifesto, and Modi’s climate policies remain mysterious. The focus is not how, but how much energy they are going to be able to produce.

Following in the footsteps of the US, India looks ready to adopt an “all of the above” strategy when it comes to energy: the manifesto promises to “maximize the potential of oil, gas, hydel power, ocean, wind, coal and nuclear”. This includes exploring for and producing more coal, at the same time as advancing India’s solar mission.

Narendra Modi and his competition Rahul Gandhi (Pic: Global Panorama/Flickr)

Narendra Modi and his competition Rahul Gandhi (Pic: Global Panorama/Flickr)

A diverse supply of energy is not without benefits – it creates security of energy supply, and decreases vulnerability to changeable markets – but, says Pandit, “I don’t think the thinking is about diversity per se. It is just being about being able to get more supply, no matter which way.”

Some are optimistic that Modi and his pro-business attitude mean that he will be a force for good in pushing India’s rapidly developing renewables market.

“Modi absolutely believes, and he has publicly stated many times, that he wants to embrace the clean energy model,” says Krishnan Pallassana, executive director of The Climate Group India. “With Modi as prime minister we expect there will be a huge boost to this sector, because he not only talks, he also walks the walk.”

Congress, he adds, whom Modi beat in a landslide victory, had good intentions, but their more “welfare-centric, subsidy-centric” approach failed to deliver the promised results.

An agenda centred around development could indeed be a boon for the planet, if the government succeeds in linking this up to a complementary climate agenda.

While the economy and anti-corruption measures have provided the rallying cry of this election, when the fever has died down, these are the sort of links that the new government could start to make, according to Suruchi Bhadwal, Associate Director of Earth Science and Climate Change at the Energy and Resources Institute in India.

“It may not draw immediate attention, but maybe in a year or two may tap into adaptation mitigation,” she says. And there are parts of the “Modi intelligentsia” who are already beginning to make the link, adds Pandit.

The presidential-style candidate, dominated by Modi’s own dynamism, has also added to hopes that he stands ready to take advantage of renewable energy opportunities if they will spur further development in India. “Given the personality of the person, if there are opportunities to tap into in any area, I think he’s the kind of person who will jump into it hands on,” says Bhadwal.

Gujarat experience

Modi’s stint as chief minister in the Indian state of Gujarat provides something of a backstory to what can be expected from him now that he has the whole of India in his hands.

Under his governance, Gujarat became India’s leader in solar energy, pre-empting the national government by releasing its own solar policy in 2009, a year before the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was issued.

Of the 1000+ MW installed in the country over the period 2010-2012, over 70% of this belonged to Gujarat. Modi also launched Asia’s first ever government department dedicated to climate change, and even followed in the footsteps of Al Gore, becoming the second politician to pen a book on global warming.

But from thereon, the tale loses some of its glory. Local reports from last year suggest that the climate change department has all but collapsed, and as other states have caught up on Gujarat’s solar revolution, its share of India’s total solar capacity has fallen to around 40%.

This has raised some doubts about his ability to replicate his success in one state across all 29. “I feel there are quite some challenges for him, but he may succeed in some parts. Not all states are at the same level of development, and there are very different institutional capacities across the country,” comments Bhadwal.

International

Modi will also have to familiarise himself with the international politics of climate change – his tenure will overlap with the UN’s attempt in 2015 to sign of a global, legally binding climate deal.

India’s stance at the talks so far has been less than conciliatory, with many issues still remained to be smoothed out between them and other big emitters such as the EU and US.

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

Indian Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan at the UNFCCC talks in Durban. (Pic: UNFCCC/Mark Garten)

The outspoken party is unlikely to change this approach any time soon, and while adaptation is likely to remain a priority, it is unlikely they are going to be pressured into taking on mitigation actions equal to those of developed countries any time soon.

“I don’t see why they would feel the need to suddenly start accepting international demands on what must happen to the climate,” says Pandit.

“The belief there is the largest per capita contributors to the problem have been the developed countries, and frankly until they make a dent in their emissions the issue is not going to be resolved. That opinion is shared quite commonly among a large spectrum of Indians, and there’s no reason why the Modi government will differ from that.”

But it is ultimately the priorities of electorate that determines the content of the parties’ manifestos, as each attempts to score political points over the other. The continued lack of awareness means this will go down as just one more exercise in democracy where climate change was forced into the back seat.

Yet there is something of a disconnect in this, considering the other dominant concern in India at the moment: the oncoming rains.

“What matters to the common man is what the rains are going to be like this season and whether the bread baskets are going to be full. No matter what happens in the elections the monsoons will show us the way,” says Pandit.

“The impact of climate change on the weather is not an easy subject, but more emphasis could be put on it to raise awareness of people, so they can hopefully vote accordingly.”

- See more at: www.rtcc.org/2014/05/19/will-indi…

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Narendra Modi

Narendra Modi

Narendra Damodardas Modi (born 17 September 1950) is a politician who is the Prime Minister designate of India, after leading the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to a decisive victory in the 2014 Indian general elections. He is a member of the 16th Lok Sabha (House of the People – is the lower house of the Parliament of India. Parliament of India consists of two houses: The Lok Sabha or House of the People and the Rajya Sabha or Council of States. Lok means “people” and Sabha means “assembly” in Sanskrit) - having been elected from the constituencies of Varanasi and Vadodara.
Modi is also the 14th and current Chief Minister of Gujarat – a State of 60 million people - and is expected to resign when taking up to the office of Prime Minister with the seat in New Delhi.
He helped his father sell tea at Vadnagar railway station – a “Chai Wallah” – when a child, and as a teenager he ran a tea stall with his brother near a bus terminus. He completed his schooling in Vadnagar, where a teacher described him as being an average student, but a keen debater who had an interest in theatre     that interest has influenced how he now projects himself in politics.
He is described as a Hindu nationalist by media, scholars and himself. Whoever has been to Varanasi, a place where tourists flock to see what they think is the real image of old India – human body parts floating on the Holy river as funeral pyre left-overs,  will vouch that this must be the most Conservative Hindu location of India – so this is no news. He has been praised for his economic policies, which are credited with creating an environment for a high rate of economic growth in Gujarat – and this is the news Americans and others will be flocking to. Also, despite the immense injustice to him by the G. W. Bush Administration that seemingly loved everything Muslim as they loved oil, it is now a reality that the Muslims of Gujarat voted for him in large numbers as well.
Will the US finally descend from its Pakistani hobby-horse? That is something for Washington to decide if the US will want to attempt new policies for the South Asia // the Indian Sub-Continent that holds one fifth of humanity.
Furthermore, India is by far the largest democracy in the world and it would be foolish to try to teach them the American way of Democracy for Capitalists. So, let the press hold their horses and allow the man to take his own reins in hand.
We found that the Washington Post understands this and their columnist was very outspoken. We hope the political world of Washington read those articles we picked up on the internet – like:Fareed Zakaria: U.S. policy on India, and Modi, needs to change

Mr. Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party won a historic mandate in the country’s general election on Friday, emerging with 282 of 543 parliamentary seats, more than enough to form a government without having to broker a post-election coalition. More then 500 million people voted for him – which was 66% of the actual votes – in a country of 1.2 billion people – that in our calculation says it was 62% of the population which must be closer to 85% or 90% of the electorate. Just compare this with the upcoming May 25, 2014 elections to the European Parliament where the voting is expected not to exceed 40% of the electorate. Now think of democracy please!

For months, Mr. Modi’s advisers had focused on crossing the threshold of 50% which they regarded as a signal that the country was behind an agenda of radical change and they got this!

The nature of that change has never been clear, though. Voters are seeking immediate economic opportunities. The party has proposed pro-business legislation like the easing of labor and land-acquisition laws. Mr. Modi is drawn to large-scale building and infrastructure projects, which he pursues with a single-minded — critics say dictatorial  style.

Addressing a euphoric crowd Friday afternoon, Narendra Modi rallied the public to join him in taking on challenges of a vast scale. He has floated the idea of building “a hundred new cities,” of extending a high-speed rail network across the subcontinent and undertaking the herculean task of cleaning the Ganges River.

He has been inspired by China’s model of high-growth, top-down development. But the country he will govern is India: messy, diffuse and definitely democratic.

“He has a fairly clear idea of what he wants to accomplish, and he does not look for ratification from the market,” said Eswar S. Prasad, a Cornell University economist who has consulted informally with Mr. Modi’s economic team. “
One could argue that in a country where there are far more words than actions thrown around, that this is far more preferable: a man who acts.”

The reality is that ten years ago India was being mentioned as an upward mobile giant like China, but the Gandhi dinasty and the elites that worked with them were full of corruption and managed to enrich some and impoverish the middle classes. India did not reach its promise and the people came out to vote for change. This was a vote to unseat the Congress Party.

As Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi’s ideas of governance revolved around privatisation and small government, which stood at odds with what political commentator Aditi Phadnis has described as the “anti-privatisation, anti-globalisation position” of the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) an ideological organization whose fortunes have ebbed and flowed for decades with the influence of Hindu nationalists in New Delhi. RSS is an organization of which Modi was a member since he was 21. The RSS campaigned for him now by bringing out the vote. The group’s leaders describe the current voter-turnout drive as the biggest mobilization since 1977, when RSS workers went door to door encouraging people to vote against Indira Gandhi.
In effect the RSS is the World’s largest NGO – now with some 5 million members, and with a track record of activism and community work dating back to before India’s partition and the fights with Pakistan and China. They ran over 3,000 camps for refugees from Pakistan. Yes, they can be described as Hindu Nationalists, but they are now Indian Nationalists and even Muslims that care for the economy are backing them.
The RSS was founded in 1925 as an educational group to train Hindu men by character-building to unite the Hindu community to counter British colonialism in India and suppress Muslim separatism. Since its foundation it has espoused that nationalist agenda. The group drew inspiration from European right-wing groups during WWII. RSS volunteers participated in various political and social movements including the Indian independence movement. Anti-Colonialism is not a synonym for fascism, though some would like to see it this way for their own reasons.
Photo

A member of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh handed out fliers in the village of Baburi earlier this month for Mr. Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. Credit Kuni Takahashi for The New York Times

These activists count Mr. Modi as one of their own and see in him a chance to move long-cherished goals to the top of the national agenda. For years, they have sought a rollback of laws and programs tailored to India’s Muslims, the opening of Kashmiri property to buyers from other parts of India, and the redrafting of public school textbooks, among other goals.

As a candidate, Mr. Modi has made economic growth and development his central theme, building a vast electoral base that includes moderates and minority groups. He has pushed traditional Hindu-right projects to the margins of his campaign, and canvassers from the R.S.S. and its affiliates have avoided controversial subjects, limiting themselves mainly to exhortations to vote.

But in interviews, many expressed certainty that, with the election over, Mr. Modi would take action on a religious and cultural agenda. Will this be the case? We doubt it based on the Gujarat experience.

True, Mr. Modi in his private life is a non-corrupt Hindu ascetic. He does not drink or smoke. He does not eat meat, lives by himself and is separated from a wife that was imposed on him by his parents in a traditional children’s wedding. He does Yoga and sleeps only 5 hours a day. Will Mr. Modi be the Deng Xiaopeng of India or its Vladi­mir Putin?

Mr. Modi has practical reasons to distance himself from the Hindu right wing. His campaign, which has won the support of large corporations, has focused on a pledge to attract investment and manufacturing, a goal that demands domestic stability and collides with the R.S.S.’s protectionist tradition. He is known as an independent decision-maker who, in 12 years as leader of the state of Gujarat, regularly resisted attempts by RSS leaders to influence him, journalists who covered his tenure say so.

For decades, the Congress party’s trademark initiatives have been redistributive, and the party introduced a package of major subsidies for the poor before the election. Voters, however, proved to be more captivated by Mr. Modi’s promise to create manufacturing jobs, which he has done quite successfully in Gujarat, the state he has governed since 2001.

The Indian government banned the R.S.S. for 17 months in 1948 after a man associated with the group assassinated Mohandas Gandhi, and for brief periods in the 1970s and 1990s. Its opponents say it fuels religious conflict. For many years, the group has maintained that it has no involvement in Indian politics, saying its mission is focused on character-building. But many of its members have gone on to become candidates for the Bharatiya Janata Party, whose spokeswoman recently referred to the R.S.S. as the party’s “ideological fountainhead.”

the R.S.S. has provided many of the same electoral advantages for the B.J.P. as megachurches in the American heartland do for candidates: a highly disciplined and structured canvassing force, and village-level networks of contacts.

But Friday’s enormous victory will give Mr. Modi “a much freer hand than the typical leader of such a large democracy,” Mr. Prasad said.

The reasons Mr. Modi’s party succeeded in defeating the Indian National Congress, which has controlled India’s government for nearly all of its postcolonial history, will be studied for years. But they clearly reflect a rapid change in Indian society as urbanization and economic growth break down old voting patterns.

A cultural conservative, he is no admirer of the liberal intellectuals who traditionally support the Congress party. Swapan Dasgupta, a journalist who supports Mr. Modi, said Delhi elites were worried — justifiably — that the space for their work would shrink when the new government settles in.

“I cannot say what the contours of the future political elite or political class will look like,” he said. “He has brought in lots of people who have risen from local politics, less of those people who are traditional dynasts. A new sort of people, perhaps a little technocratic. People not from the Anglophone elite, maybe.”

The mood at Congress headquarters on Friday was funereal. Top officials had prepared for a loss, but not for the crushing defeat they faced; according to final results from the Election Commission, the party had secured only 44 seats, a surprisingly low number for the party that was integral to India’s founding narrative.

The president of the Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, and her son, Rahul, made a brief appearance at the headquarters late in the afternoon, when celebratory firecrackers could be heard from B.J.P. headquarters nearby. Mr. Gandhi, who has never appeared comfortable in his role as the party’s standard-bearer, kept an odd, fixed smile on his face, acknowledging that the party had “done pretty badly.” His mother, who reinvigorated the party after her husband, Rajiv, was killed by a suicide bomber in 1991, conceded defeat without mentioning Mr. Modi or the B.J.P.

“We believe that in a democracy winning and losing is part of the game,” Mrs. Gandhi said. “This time the mandate is clearly against us. I accept the mandate with humility. I hope that the incoming government will not compromise with the interests of society.”

A Congress-led coalition won a solid majority of seats in 2009 parliamentary elections, but the term was tarnished by corruption scandals and a slowing economy. Party workers, dully flipping through television news channels in a room with portraits of four generations of Nehru-Gandhi politicians on Friday, complained that the party’s grass-roots workers no longer had contact with Mr. Gandhi and his advisers, and had failed to identify shifts among young voters.

Rajendra Pal Singh, a clerk with the party for more than 30 years, sadly recalled a time when the party faithful streamed in and out of the party’s bungalow as if it were “a place of worship.”

“Gone are the days of the Gandhis,” Mr. Singh said. “We have not seen people coming here to hug Rahul for the past decade on any of those festivals. That culture is dead and long gone, like the Congress party now.”

Addressing a euphoric throng in the city of Vadodara after votes were counted on Friday, Mr. Modi was forced to pause repeatedly as he waited for the audience to stop chanting his name. Mr. Modi, normally an intensely solitary man, draws visible pleasure from his interactions with crowds, and he seemed on Friday to enlist their support for vast undertakings.

“Brothers and sisters, you have faith in me, and I have faith in you,” Mr. Modi said. “This is the strength of our confidence — that we have the capacity to fulfill the common man’s aspirations. The citizens of this country have done three centuries of work today.”

His supporters celebrated. Drummers, stilt-walkers and women in colorful saris converged at B.J.P. headquarters in New Delhi, where party workers had laid out 100,000 laddoos, the ball-shaped sweets that are ubiquitous at Indian celebrations. Among the revelers was Surinder Singh Tiwana, 40, a lawyer.

“I can equate my jubilation today, probably, to my mother’s on the day I was born,” Mr. Tiwana said. “This is a huge change for our country, a change of guard. A billion plus people have announced their mandate in no uncertain terms.”

—————-

My intent in posting this is to point out that a SUSTAINABLE INDIA is possible now. An India that does not suggest the introduction of petroleum products to answer the needs for energy in the villages. An India that develops technologies for the use of its people and that helps clear up the environment without selling out to international corporate interests. Yes – it is possible – and it is imperative if India does indeed move up to its place of destiny – the third largest economy in the world and a population that recognizes progress when it becomes possible when headed by honest government.

Our website’s India page has many links and past postings on India and we are not worried by Mr. Modi’s connections to his Hindu background. We are rather worried by the Washington powers of Globalization that might find it – at their own peril – inconvenient to face an independently minded evolving superpower.

In February this year, The decision by the United States to have its ambassador to India, Nancy Powell, meet Narendra Modi, a star of the country’s Bharatiya Janata opposition party, reversed the long estrangement. It was a pragmatic step in engaging with India and the controversial and troubling politician who could well become the next prime minister after elections in May. A bit late – but nevertheless a token of things that will have to come.

In 2005, the United States imposed a visa ban on Mr. Modi, who was the chief minister of the state of Gujarat, over questions about his role in the savage riots there in 2002 that left nearly 1,000 people dead, most of them part of the Muslim minority. Many Indians felt that Mr. Modi should have done more to stop the violence; some even said he was complicit.

Mr. Modi has denied any wrongdoing, and in 2012 a Supreme Court investigative team declined to bring charges, saying there wasn’t enough evidence. In December, a court in Gujarat drew a similar conclusion. The Obama administration this week said the visa status remains the same, but it seems likely that it could change, especially as now Mr. Modi will become the prime minister. Why did the US never apply such measures against all those oil potentates it brings to Washington in full regalia?

We are sure that Mr. Modi will not bring up bygones, but do not expect from him any bowing as in Yes your Sir!
After all – his culture does not just pre-date the US, but even the British that inspired the US and were the supressors of India.

————–


Indische Parlamentswahl 2014 Parteien .png

Results of the National and Regional parties by alliances.

The 16th Lok Sabha

Prime Minister before election
Manmohan Singh
UPA
Prime Minister designate
Narendra Modi
BJP

 

Lok Sabha is composed of representatives of the people from 543 constituencies, chosen by direct election on the basis of adult suffrage. A total of 131 seats (18.42%) are reserved for representatives of Scheduled Castes(84) and Scheduled Tribes(47) only. The maximum strength of the House envisaged by the Constitution of India is 552, which is made up by election of up to 530 members to represent the States, up to 20 members to represent the Union Territories and not more than two members of the Anglo-Indian Community to be nominated by the President of India, if, in his/her opinion, that community is not adequately represented in the House. The total elective membership is distributed among the States in such a way that the ratio between the number of seats allotted to each State and the population of the State is, so far as practicable, the same for all States.

Lok Sabha, unless sooner dissolved, continues for five years from the date appointed for its first meeting and the expiration of the period of five years operates as dissolution of the House.

Currently elected members of 16th Lok Sabha by their political party:

Party Won
Bharatiya Janata Party 282
Communist Party of India 1
Communist Party of India (Marxist) 9
Indian National Congress 44
Nationalist Congress Party 6
Aam Aadmi Party 4
All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam 37
All India N.R. Congress 1
All India Trinamool Congress 34
All India United Democratic Front 3
Biju Janata Dal 20
Indian National Lok Dal 2
Indian Union Muslim League 2
Jammu & Kashmir Peoples Democratic Party 3
Janata Dal (Secular) 2
Janata Dal (United) 2
Jharkhand Mukti Morcha 2
Kerala Congress (M) 1
Lok Jan Shakti Party 6
Naga Peoples Front 1
National Peoples Party 1
Pattali Makkal Katchi 1
Rashtriya Janata Dal 4
Revolutionary Socialist Party 1
Samajwadi Party 5
Shiromani Akali Dal 4
Shivsena 18
Sikkim Democratic Front 1
Telangana Rashtra Samithi 11
Telugu Desam 16
All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen 1
Apna Dal 2
Rashtriya Lok Samta Party 3
Swabhimani Paksha 1
Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party 9
Independent 3
Nominated Seats 2
Total 545

List of constituencies by States/Union Territories

State/Union Territory Number of Parliamentary seats
Andhra Pradesh 42
Arunachal Pradesh 2
Assam 14
Bihar 40
Chhattisgarh 11
Goa 2
Gujarat 26
Haryana 10
Himachal Pradesh 4
Jammu and Kashmir 6
Jharkhand 14
Karnataka 28
Kerala 20
Madhya Pradesh 29
Maharashtra 48
Manipur 2
Meghalaya 2
Mizoram 1
Nagaland 1
Odisha 21
Punjab 13
Rajasthan 25
Sikkim 1
Tamil Nadu 39
Tripura 2
Uttar Pradesh 80
Uttarakhand 5
West Bengal 42
Andaman and Nicobar Islands 1
Chandigarh 1
Dadra and Nagar Haveli 1
Daman and Diu 1
Lakshadweep 1
NCT of Delhi 7
Puducherry 1

 

—————————————

Before the final results were in we picked up the following:

FORTUNE – As India’s national election reaches the finish line, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi, appears the front-runner. Should the BJP win, Modi, a once-highly polarizing figure, on whose watch Hindu-Muslim riots in 2002 claimed about 1000 lives in the Western state of Gujarat, will almost certainly become prime minister of one of the world’s biggest economies.

Modi’s past presents challenges for the United States. Many worry that the denial of a visa to him in 2005 over questions about his responsibility for the riots will derail U.S.-India relations. Due to changed legal circumstances, the visa issue will likely recede (the U.S. denies entry to few, if any, heads of government). What’s more, America’s relationship overall with India has too many components, and there’s too much in the future at stake for both countries to get locked up in the past.

Final results of India’s elections are expected Friday. Modi’s election could certainly mark a new chapter for India. From a U.S. perspective, concerns about the health of Indian secularism will not simply disappear, but they should not derail America’s relationship with the country. If Modi keeps his word and focuses on the economy, and if Washington seizes the opportunity, the United States and India will find a way to continue partnering productively.

But to keep things on track with one of Washington’s most important partners in Asia, the U.S. ought to focus on Modi’s top campaign issue: trade and economics. After all, India is the world’s largest democracy, and on track to become the third largest economy in the world by 2025, and a rising power.

This is not to suggest that Modi’s past doesn’t matter at all. It will undoubtedly discomfit some Americans, making it harder to herald shared values of democratic pluralism and diversity as the ideational core of the U.S.-India bond. Some have also speculated on the other side that Modi may resent the United States for the visa denial, leading to a chilling of bilateral ties. But this only strengthens the argument to place economics and business at the heart of U.S.-India relations.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 19th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Our Planet’s Future Is in the Hands of 58 People
 
By Roberto Savio*
 
ROME, April 19  2014 (IPS)   –   In case you missed it, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the third and final part of a report on Apr. 13 in which it says bluntly that we only have 15 years left to avoid exceeding the “safe” threshold of a 2°C increase in global temperatures, beyond which the consequences will be dramatic.
 
And only the most myopic are unaware of what these are – from an increase in sea level, through more frequent hurricanes and storms (increasingly in previously unaffected areas), to an adverse impact on food production.
 
Now, in a normal and participatory world, in which at least 83 percent of those living today will still be alive in 15 years, this report would have created a dramatic reaction. Instead, there has not been a single comment by any of the leaders of the 196 countries in which the planet’s 7.5 billion “consumers” reside.
It’s just been business as usual.
 
Anthropologists, who study human beings’ similarity to and divergence from other animals, concluded a long time ago that humans are not superior in every aspect. For instance, human beings are less adaptable than many animals to survive in, for example, earthquakes, hurricanes and any other type of natural disaster.
You can be sure that, by now, other animals would be showing signs of alertness and uneasiness.
 
The first part of the report, released in September 2013 in Stockholm, declared with a 95 percent or greater certainty that humans are the main cause of global warming, while the second part, released in Yokohama at the end of March, reported that “in recent decades, changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans”.
 
The IPCC is made up of over 2,000 scientists, and this is the first time that it has come to firm and final conclusions since its creation in 1988 by the United Nations.
 
The main conclusion of the report is that to slow the race to a point of no return, global emissions must be cut by 40 to 70 percent by 2050, and that “only major institutional and technological changes will give a better than even chance” that global warming will not go beyond the safety threshold and that these must start at the latest in 15 years, and be completed in 35 years.
 
It is worth noting that roughly half of the world’s population is under the age of 30, and it is largely the young who will have to bear the enormous costs of fighting climate change.
 
The IPCC’s main recommendation is very simple: major economies should place a tax on carbon pollution, raising the cost of fossil fuels and thus pushing the market toward clean sources such as wind, solar or nuclear energy. It is here that “major institutional changes” are required.
 
Ten countries are responsible for 70 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas pollution, with the United States and China accounting for over 55 percent of that share. Both countries are taking serious steps to fight pollution.
 
U.S. President Barack Obama tried in vain to obtain Senate support, and has used his authority under the 1970 Clean Air Act to cut carbon pollution from vehicles and industrial plants and encourage clean technologies. 
But he cannot do anything more without backing from the Senate.
 
The all-powerful new president of China, Xi Jinping, has made the environment a priority, also because official sources put the number of deaths in China each year from pollution at five million.
 
But China needs coal for its growth, and Xi’s position is: “Why should we slow down our development when it was you rich countries that created the problem by achieving your growth?” And that gives rise to a vicious circle. The countries of the South want the rich countries to finance their costs for reducing pollution, and the countries of the North want them to stop polluting.
 
As a result, the report’s executive summary, which is intended for political leaders, has been stripped of
charts which could have been read as showing the need for the South to do more, while the rich countries
put pressure on avoiding any language that could have been interpreted as the need for them to assume any financial obligations.
 
This should {and we say rather that the word is should - ST.info editor} make it easier to reach an agreement at the next Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in Lima, where a new global agreement should be reached (remember the disaster at the climate talks in Copenhagen in 2009? {that we really did not call a disaster as thanks to President Obama – it was in Copenhagen that China came first time on board - ST.info editor }).
 
The key to any agreement is in the hands of the United States. The U.S. Congress has blocked any initiative on climate control, providing an easy escape for China, India and other polluters: why should we make commitments and sacrifices if the U.S. does not participate?
 
The problem is that the Republicans have made climate change denial one of their points of identity.
 
They have mocked and denied climate change and attacked Democrats who support carbon taxing as waging a war on coal. The American energy industry financially supports the Republican Party and it is considered political suicide to talk about climate change.
 
The last time a carbon tax was proposed in 2009, after a positive vote by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, the Republican-dominated Senate shot it down.
 
And in the 2010 elections, a number of politicians who voted for the carbon tax lost their seats, contributing to the Republican takeover of the House. The hope now for those who want a change is to wait for the 2016 elections, and hope that the new president will be able to change the situation – which is a good example of why the ancient Greeks said that Hope is the last Goddess.
 
And this brings us to a very simple reality. The U.S. Senate is made up of 100 members, and this means that you need 51 votes to kill any bill for a fossil fuels tax. In China, the situation is different, but decisions are taken, in the best of hypotheses, not by the president alone, but by the seven-member Standing Committee of the Central Committee, which holds the real power in the Communist Party.
 
In other words, the future of our planet is decided by 58 persons. With the current global population standing at close to 7.7 billion people, so much for a democratic world!
*Roberto Savio, founder and  president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Photo

A worker at a hydraulic fracturing operation in Rifle, Colo. Natural gas production releases methane, which contributes to greenhouse gas pollution. Credit Brennan Linsley/Associated Press

 

 

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday announced a strategy to start slashing emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas released by landfills, cattle, and leaks from oil and natural gas production.

The methane strategy is the latest step in a series of White House actions aimed at addressing climate change without legislation from Congress. Individually, most of the steps will not be enough to drastically reduce the United States’ contribution to global warming. But the Obama administration hopes that collectively they will build political support for more substantive domestic actions while signaling to other countries that the United States is serious about tackling global warming.

 

In a 2009 United Nations climate change accord, President Obama pledged that by 2020 the United States would lower its greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels. “This methane strategy is one component, one set of actions to get there,” Dan Utech, the president’s special assistant for energy and climate change, said on Friday in a phone call with reporters.

Environmental advocates have long urged the Obama administration to target methane emissions. Most of the planet-warming greenhouse gas pollution in the United States comes from carbon dioxide, which is produced by burning coal, oil and natural gas. Methane accounts for just 9 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas pollution — but the gas is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, so even small amounts of it can have a big impact on future global warming.

And methane emissions are projected to increase in the United States, as the nation enjoys a boom in oil and natural gas production, thanks to breakthroughs in hydraulic fracturing technology. A study published in the journal Science last month found that methane is leaking from oil and natural gas drilling sites and pipelines at rates 50 percent higher than previously thought. As he works to tackle climate change, Mr. Obama has generally supported the natural gas production boom, since natural gas, when burned for electricity, produces just half the greenhouse gas pollution of coal-fired electricity.

Environmental groups like the Sierra Club have campaigned against the boom in natural gas production, warning that it could lead to dangerous levels of methane pollution, undercutting the climate benefits of gas. The oil and gas industry has resisted pushes to regulate methane leaks from production, saying it could slow that down.

A White House official said on Friday that this spring, the Environmental Protection Agency would assess several potentially significant sources of methane and other emissions from the oil and gas sector, and that by this fall the agency “will determine how best to pursue further methane reductions from these sources.” If the E.P.A. decides to develop additional regulations, it would complete them by the end of 2016 — just before Mr. Obama leaves office.

 

Among the steps the administration announced on Friday to address methane pollution:

-  The Interior Department will propose updated standards to reduce venting and flaring of methane from oil and gas production on public lands.

-  In April, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management will begin to gather public comment on the development of a program for the capture and sale of methane produced by coal mines on lands leased by the ederal government.

-  This summer, the E.P.A. will propose updated standards to reduce methane emissions from new landfills and take public comment on whether to update standards for existing landfills.

-  In June, the Agriculture Department, the Energy Department and the E.P.A. will release a joint “biogas road map” aimed at accelerating adoption of methane digesters, machines that reduce methane emissions from cattle, in order to cut dairy-sector greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020.

Advocates of climate action generally praised the plan. “Cutting methane emissions will be especially critical to climate protection as the U.S. develops its huge shale gas reserves, gaining the full greenhouse gas benefit from the switch away from coal,” said Paul Bledsoe, a former White House climate change aide under President Bill Clinton, now with the German Marshall Fund.

Howard J. Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs for the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for oil and gas companies, said he hoped the steps would not lead to new regulations on his industry. “We think regulation is not necessary at this time,” he said. “People are using a lot more natural gas in the country, and that’s reducing greenhouse gas.”

Since cattle flatulence and manure are a significant source of methane, farmers have long been worried that a federal methane control strategy could place a burden on them. But Andrew Walmsley, director of congressional relations for the American Farm Bureau Federation, said that his group was pleased that, for now, the administration’s proposals to reduce methane from cattle were voluntary.

“All indications are that it’s voluntary,” he said, “but we do see increased potential for scrutiny for us down the line, which would cause concern.”

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Related Coverage:

slideshow

Photographs: Rising Seas,

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Asia Pacific

Borrowed Time on Disappearing Land:

Facing Rising Seas, Bangladesh Confronts the Consequences of Climate Change

Bangladesh, with its low elevation and severe tropical storms, is among the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, though it has contributed little to the emissions that are driving it. Credit Kadir van Lohuizen for The New York Times

DAKOPE, Bangladesh — When a powerful storm destroyed her riverside home in 2009, Jahanara Khatun lost more than the modest roof over her head. In the aftermath, her husband died and she became so destitute that she sold her son and daughter into bonded servitude. And she may lose yet more.

Ms. Khatun now lives in a bamboo shack that sits below sea level about 50 yards from a sagging berm. She spends her days collecting cow dung for fuel and struggling to grow vegetables in soil poisoned by salt water. Climate scientists predict that this area will be inundated as sea levels rise and storm surges increase, and a cyclone or another disaster could easily wipe away her rebuilt life. But Ms. Khatun is trying to hold out at least for a while — one of millions living on borrowed time in this vast landscape of river islands, bamboo huts, heartbreaking choices and impossible hopes.

Play Video
Video|0:35

Home in the Delta — Like many of her neighbors, Nasrin Khatun, unrelated to Jahanara Khatun, navigates daily life in a disappearing landscape.

As the world’s top scientists meet in Yokohama, Japan, this week, at the top of the agenda is the prediction that global sea levels could rise as much as three feet by 2100. Higher seas and warmer weather will cause profound changes.

Climate scientists have concluded that widespread burning of fossil fuels is releasing heat-trapping gases that are warming the planet. While this will produce a host of effects, the most worrisome may be the melting of much of the earth’s ice, which is likely to raise sea levels and flood coastal regions.

Such a rise will be uneven because of gravitational effects and human intervention, so predicting its outcome in any one place is difficult. But island nations like the Maldives, Kiribati and Fiji may lose much of their land area, and millions of Bangladeshis will be displaced.

“There are a lot of places in the world at risk from rising sea levels, but Bangladesh is at the top of everybody’s list,” said Rafael Reuveny, a professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University at Bloomington. “And the world is not ready to cope with the problems.”

The effects of climate change have led to a growing sense of outrage in developing nations, many of which have contributed little to the pollution that is linked to rising temperatures and sea levels but will suffer the most from the consequences.

A woman stood where her house was before Cyclone Aila destroyed it in 2009. Scientists expect rising sea levels to submerge 17 percent of Bangladesh’s land and displace 18 million people in the next 40 years. Credit Kadir van Lohuizen for The New York Times

At a climate conference in Warsaw in November, there was an emotional outpouring from countries that face existential threats, among them Bangladesh, which produces just 0.3 percent of the emissions driving climate change. Some leaders have demanded that rich countries compensate poor countries for polluting the atmosphere. A few have even said that developed countries should open their borders to climate migrants.

“It’s a matter of global justice,” said Atiq Rahman, executive director of the Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies and the nation’s leading climate scientist. “These migrants should have the right to move to the countries from which all these greenhouse gases are coming. Millions should be able to go to the United States.”

River deltas around the globe are particularly vulnerable to the effects of rising seas, and wealthier cities like London, Venice and New Orleans also face uncertain futures. But it is the poorest countries with the biggest populations that will be hit hardest, and none more so than Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated nations in the world. In this delta, made up of 230 major rivers and streams, 160 million people live in a place one-fifth the size of France and as flat as chapati, the bread served at almost every meal.

A Perilous Position

Though Bangladesh has contributed little to industrial air pollution, other kinds of environmental degradation have left it especially vulnerable.

Bangladesh relies almost entirely on groundwater for drinking supplies because the rivers are so polluted. The resultant pumping causes the land to settle. So as sea levels are rising, Bangladesh’s cities are sinking, increasing the risks of flooding. Poorly constructed sea walls compound the problem.

The country’s climate scientists and politicians have come to agree that by 2050, rising sea levels will inundate some 17 percent of the land and displace about 18 million people, Dr. Rahman said.

Bangladeshis have already started to move away from the lowest-lying villages in the river deltas of the Bay of Bengal, scientists in Bangladesh say. People move for many reasons, and urbanization is increasing across South Asia, but rising tides are a big factor. Dr. Rahman’s research group has made a rough estimate from small surveys that as many as 1.5 million of the five million slum inhabitants in Dhaka, the capital, moved from villages near the Bay of Bengal.

The slums that greet them in Dhaka are also built on low-lying land, making them almost as vulnerable to being inundated as the land villagers left behind.

Ms. Khatun and her neighbors have lived through deadly cyclones — a synonym here for hurricane — and have seen the salty rivers chew through villages and poison fields. Rising seas are increasingly intruding into rivers, turning fresh water brackish. Even routine flooding then leaves behind salt deposits that can render land barren.

Making matters worse, much of what the Bangladeshi government is doing to stave off the coming deluge — raising levees, dredging canals, pumping water — deepens the threat of inundation in the long term, said John Pethick, a former professor of coastal science at Newcastle University in England who has spent much of his retirement studying Bangladesh’s predicament. Rich nations are not the only ones to blame, he said.

In an analysis of decades of tidal records published in October, Dr. Pethick found that high tides in Bangladesh were rising 10 times faster than the global average. He predicted that seas in Bangladesh could rise as much as 13 feet by 2100, four times the global average. In an area where land is often a thin brown line between sky and river — nearly a quarter of Bangladesh is less than seven feet above sea level — such an increase would have dire consequences, Dr. Pethick said.

“The reaction among Bangladeshi government officials has been to tell me that I must be wrong,” he said. “That’s completely understandable, but it also means they have no hope of preparing themselves.”

Dr. Rahman said that he did not disagree with Mr. Pethick’s findings, but that no estimate was definitive. Other scientists have predicted more modest rises. For example, Robert E. Kopp, an associate director of the Rutgers Energy Institute at Rutgers University, said that data from nearby Kolkata, India, suggested that seas in the region could rise five to six feet by 2100.

“There is no doubt that preparations within Bangladesh have been utterly inadequate, but any such preparations are bound to fail because the problem is far too big for any single government,” said Tariq A. Karim, Bangladesh’s ambassador to India. “We need a regional and, better yet, a global solution. And if we don’t get one soon, the Bangladeshi people will soon become the world’s problem, because we will not be able to keep them.”

Mr. Karim estimated that as many as 50 million Bangladeshis would flee the country by 2050 if sea levels rose as expected.

Continue reading the main story
Disappearing Land

Losing Everything

Already, signs of erosion are everywhere in the Ganges Delta — the world’s largest delta, which empties much of the water coming from the Himalayas. There are brick foundations torn in half, palm trees growing out of rivers and rangy cattle grazing on island pastures the size of putting greens. Fields are dusted white with salt.

Even without climate change, Bangladesh is among the most vulnerable places in the world to bad weather: The V-shaped Bay of Bengal funnels cyclones straight into the country’s fan-shaped coastline.

Some scientists believe that rising temperatures will lead to more extreme weather worldwide, including stronger and more frequent cyclones in the Bay of Bengal. And rising seas will make any storm more dangerous because flooding will become more likely.

Bangladesh has done much to protect its population by creating an early-warning system and building at least 2,500 concrete storm shelters. The result has been a vast reduction in storm-related deaths. While Cyclone Bhola in 1970 killed as many as 550,000 people, Cyclone Aila in 2009 killed 300. The deadliest part of the storm was the nearly 10-foot wall of water that roared through villages in the middle of the afternoon.

The poverty of people like Ms. Khatun makes them particularly vulnerable to storms. When Aila hit, Ms. Khatun was home with her husband, parents and four children. A nearby berm collapsed, and their mud and bamboo hut washed away in minutes. Unable to save her belongings, Ms. Khatun put her youngest child on her back and, with her husband, fought through surging waters to a high road. Her parents were swept away.

“After about a kilometer, I managed to grab a tree,” said Abddus Satter, Ms. Khatun’s father. “And I was able to help my wife grab on as well. We stayed on that tree for hours.”

The couple eventually shifted to the roof of a nearby hut. The family reunited on the road the next day after the children spent a harrowing night avoiding snakes that had sought higher ground, too. They drank rainwater until rescuers arrived a day or two later with bottled water, food and other supplies.

The ordeal took a severe toll on Ms. Khatun’s husband, whose health soon deteriorated. To pay for his treatment and the cost of rebuilding their hut, the family borrowed money from a loan shark. In return, Ms. Khatun and her three older children, then 10, 12 and 15, promised to work for seven months in a nearby brickmaking factory. She later sold her 11- and 13-year-old children to the owner of another brick factory, this one in Dhaka, for $450 to pay more debts. Her husband died four years after the storm.

In an interview, one of her sons, Mamun Sardar, now 14, said he worked from dawn to dusk carrying newly made bricks to the factory oven.

He said he missed his mother, “but she lives far away.”


Play Video
Video|0:35

A Day’s Work:  At a brickmaking factory in Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, Mamun Sardar works long hours to pay his family’s debts.

Impossible Hopes

Discussions about the effects of climate change in the Ganges Delta often become community events. In the village of Choto Jaliakhali, where Ms. Khatun lives, dozens of people said they could see that the river was rising. Several said they had been impoverished by erosion, which has cost many villagers their land.

Muhammad Moktar Ali said he could not think about the next storm because all he had in the world was his hut and village. “We don’t know how to support ourselves if we lost this,” he said, gesturing to his gathered neighbors. “It is God who will help us survive.”

Surveys show that residents of the delta do not want to migrate, Dr. Rahman said. Moving to slums in already-crowded cities is their least preferred option.

But cities have become the center of Bangladesh’s textile industry, which is now the source of 80 percent of the country’s exports, 45 percent of its industrial employment and 15 percent of its gross domestic product.

Photographs

Rising Seas

Some areas of the globe are especially vulnerable to rising sea levels and inhabitants are being forced to make stark changes in their lives.

OPEN Photographs

In the weeks after the storm, the women of Dakope found firewood by wading into the raging river and pushing their toes into the muddy bottom. They walked hours to buy drinking water. After rebuilding the village’s berm and their own hut, Shirin Aktar and her husband, Bablu Gazi, managed to get just enough of a harvest to survive from their land, which has become increasingly infertile from salt water. Some plots that once sustained three harvests can now support just one; others are entirely barren.

After two hungry years, the couple gave up on farming and moved to the Chittagong, Bangladesh’s second-largest city, leaving their two children behind with Mr. Gazi’s mother.

Mr. Gazi found work immediately as a day laborer, mostly digging foundations. Ms. Aktar searched for a job as a seamstress, but headaches and other slum-induced health problems have so incapacitated her that the couple is desperate to return to Dakope.

“I don’t want to stay here for too long,” Mr. Gazi said. “If we can save some money, then we’ll go back. I’ll work on a piece of land and try to make it fertile again.”

But the chances of finding fertile land in his home village, where the salty rivers have eaten away acre upon acre, are almost zero.

Dozens of people gathered in the narrow mud alley outside Mr. Gazi’s room as he spoke. Some told similar stories of storms, loss and hope, and many nodded as Mr. Gazi spoke of his dreams of returning to his doomed village.

“All of us came here because of erosions and cyclones,” said Noakhali, a hollow-eyed 30-year-old with a single name who was wearing the traditional skirt of the delta. “Not one of us actually wants to live here.”

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Produced by Catherine Spangler, David Furst, Hannah Fairfield, Jacqueline Myint, Jeremy White and Shreeya Sinha.

A version of this article appears in print on March 29, 2014, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: As Seas Rise, Millions Cling to Borrowed Time and Dying Land.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Yingli And SolarAid Light Up African School

 

 

by Energy Matters of February 7, 2014

Yingli - SolarAid
Yingli Green Energy and SolarAid joined forces to help Mayukwayukwa High School in Kaoma, Zambia harness the power of the sun.
  
Donated by Yingli Solar and its partners through SolarAid, the system is large enough to meet the lighting requirements of the 600 student school; plus provides cell phone charging for the entire community.
   
“The solar lighting lengthens learning hours, improves education quality and reduces dependence on expensive and toxic kerosene lamps,” said Richard Turner, Chief Fundraiser at SolarAid.
  
The new high school is located in one of Africa’s oldest refugee camps – the Mayukwayukwa Settlement – and was constructed under a UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) program.
  
Less than 10% of rural sub-Saharan Africans have access to electricity and families can spend up to a quarter of their income on kerosene for lighting. Kerosene lamps are carbon intensive and are also known to cause respiratory disease in households where they are heavily used. Africans spend billions a year on kerosene and while the fossil fuel may provide light, it also reinforces poverty.
   
“Bringing clean safe light to communities in Africa helps create brighter and better futures for students and families currently living without electricity,” said Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy; the world’s largest manufacturer of solar panels.
  
SolarAid has set a goal of ridding the continent of kerosene lamps by 2020 and replacing them with clean power sources; improving the health, education and wealth of Africa’s 110 million households currently living without access to electricity.
  
SolarAid’s focus is the distribution of solar lights that cost as little as $10, pay for themselves after 12 weeks and last for five years.
  
“Quality, compact solar lights increase people’s income by an average of 20% per month,” states the SolarAid web site.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

from:  english@other-news.info
date:  Mon, Feb 17, 2014

[]

Syrian rebels or international terrorists?
 
Vijay Prashad* – The Hindu
*Vijay Prashad is the Edward Said Chair at the American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.
 
With Bashar Assad arguing that this is a war against terrorism, and the rebels arguing that this is a war against authoritarianism, no agreement can come of the peace talks on Syria.
Geneva 2’s mood mirrored the sound of mortar and despair on the ground in Syria. Not much of substance came of the former, as the U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi tiredly indicated that diplomacy continued despite the lack of a breakthrough. He hoped that the United States and the Russians would pressure their clients to remain at the table, from where, for three weeks, little of value has emerged. No agreement can come of these peace talks for at least two reasons. First, the government of Bashar Assad and the rebel coalition do not agree on the interpretation of the conflict. Mr. Assad argues that this is a war against terrorism (Al-Qaeda), while the rebels argue that this is a war against authoritarianism (the Assad government). Second, the rebels themselves are deeply fractured, with the Islamists in Syria who are doing the brunt of the fighting indisposed to any peace talks.
 
Mr. Brahimi hoped that humanitarian relief would be the glue to hold the two sides together. Residents in the old city of Homs and in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Yarmouk in Damascus have been under siege for two years. It was hoped that safe passage could be provided for food and medicine, but this was not accomplished. U.N. and Islamic Red Cross workers bravely avoided snipers and shells to transport food and medicines to the Syrians; children among them stared at fresh fruit, unsure of what to do with it. Absent momentum from Geneva, the options for a regional solution are back on the table.
 
Role for India, China?
 
In 2012, Egypt convened the Syria Contact Group that comprised Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — unlikely partners. Pressure from the U.S. and Russia at that time closed down the Group. Today, the regional partners seek an exit from their exaggerated postures over Syria, but there is no diplomatic space for them to act. It falls to powers that are untainted by the war, perhaps China and India, to call for a meeting — a Beijing or New Delhi summit — to craft a serious agenda to pressure all sides to a ceasefire and a credible political process.
 
The war is now fought less on the ground and more over its interpretation. Expectations of a hasty collapse of the government withdraw as the Syrian Army takes Jarajir, along the Lebanon border. Islamists groups continue to fight against each other in the north, weakening their firepower as the Syrian army watches from the sidelines. The emboldened Syrian government has now stepped up its rhetoric about this war being essentially one against terrorists with affiliation to al-Qaeda. Ears that once rejected this narrative in the West and Turkey are now increasingly sympathetic to it. As the Islamists suffocate the rebellion, it becomes hard to champion them against the government. Focus has moved away from the prisons and barrel bombs of the government to the executions and social policies of the Islamists.
 
A year ago, the West and Turkey would have scoffed at talk of terrorism as the fantasy of the Assad government. The West and the Gulf Arabs had opened their coffers to the rebels, knowing full well that they were incubating the growth of the Islamist factions at the expense of the secular opposition. Turkey’s government of Recep Tayyip Erdog?an micromanaged the opposition, provided bases in Turkey and allowed well-armed fighters to slip across the border into Syria. By early 2012, it had become a common sight to see well-armed Islamist fighters in the streets of Antakya and in the refugee camps in Hatay Province. The seeds of what was to come — the entry of al-Qaeda into Syria — was set by an opportunistic and poorly conceived policy by Erdog?an’s government. It did not help that his otherwise well-spoken and highly-regarded Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutog?lu began to refer to Syria’s Alawites (Mr. Assad’s community) as Nusayri, a derogatory sectarian term. Turkey joined U.S., Europe and Gulf Arab calls for Mr. Assad’s departure well before the numbers of those dead climbed above the thousands. Nervousness about the spread of al-Qaeda to Syria has made the rebels’ patrons edge closer to the Damascus narrative. The U.S. government wishes to arm the Iraqi government with Hellfire missiles and drones to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq’s Anbar Province. Britain has said that any fighter who comes back from Syria will be arrested (last week, a Sussex man — Abu Suleiman al-Britani — conducted a suicide operation in Aleppo). The Saudi Royal Court decreed that any Saudi found to have waged jihad abroad could spend up to 20 years in prison.
 
General Mansour al-Turki of the Saudi Interior Ministry said: “We are trying to stop everyone who wants to go to Syria, but we can’t stop leaks.” The Turkish Armed Forces fired on an ISIS convoy on January 28 inside Syria, and told the government in a report prepared jointly with the Turkish National Intelligence agency that al-Qaeda had made credible threats on Turkey.
Mr. Erdog?an hastened to Tehran to meet the new Iranian leadership — their public comments were on trade, but their private meetings were all on Syria and the need to combat the rise of terrorism. What Mr. Assad had warned about in 2012 came to pass — for whatever reason — and led to a loss of confidence among the rebels’ patrons for their future. Even al-Qaeda’s putative leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has sought to distance himself from ISIS. These signs indicate that on Syria, the “terrorism narrative” has come to dominate over the “authoritarian regime narrative.”
 
Islamic Front:
 
The fractious Syrian opposition that came to Geneva does not represent the main columns of rebel fighters on the ground. These are mainly Islamists — with the al-Qaeda wing represented by ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, and the rest represented by the Islamic Front. They have no appetite for negotiation. Mr. Abu Omar of the Islamic Front said that Syria’s future would be created “here on the ground of heroism, and signed with blood on the frontlines, not in hollow conferences attended by those who don’t even represent themselves.” A U.S. intelligence official told me that when the U.S. went into Afghanistan in 2001, “We smashed the mercury and watched it spread out slowly in the area.” Al-Qaeda was not demolished in Kandahar and Tora Bora. Its hardened cadre slipped across to Pakistan and then onwards to their homelands. There they regrouped, reviving the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, al-Qaeda in Yemen, Ansar al-Sharia, Ansar Dine, and ISIS. The latter slipped into Syria from an Iraq broken by the U.S. occupation and the sectarian governance of the current government. There they worked with Jabhat al-Nusra and fought alongside other Islamist currents such as Ahrar ash-Sham. It was inevitable that these battle-tested Islamists would overrun the peaceful protesters and the defectors from the Syrian Army — the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — who scattered to the wind in 2012.
 
The FSA troops either joined up with the Islamists, continued to fight in small detachments, or linger precariously as twice defectors who are now homeless. The barbarism of the ISIS pushed other Islamists — with Gulf Arab support — to form the Islamic Front. The hope was that this group would run ISIS back to Iraq and remove the stigma of “al-Qaeda” from the Syrian rebellion. The problem is that one of the constituents of the Islamic Front — Jabhat al-Nusra, arguably the most effective of its fighting forces — sees itself as the Syrian franchise of al-Qaeda and has largely abjured the fight against ISIS. Another problem is that the in-fighting on the ground seems to have tapered off — one of the Islamist groups, Suqour al-Sham signed a truce with ISIS and pledged to work together.
 
By early 2014, these groups found their supply lines cut off.  Iraq’s attack on ISIS began to seal the porous border that runs through the Great Syrian Desert.  Jordan had already tried to close its border since early 2013, having arrested over a hundred fighters who have tried to cross into Syria.  Lebanon’s border has become almost inaccessible for the rebels as the Syrian Army takes the roadway that runs along the boundary line.  Last year, Turkey closed the Azaz crossing once it was taken over by the radical Islamists.
 
On January 20, the rebels attacked the Turkish post at Cilvegözü-Bab al-Hawa, killing 16.  This is what spurred the Turkish Army to attack the ISIS convoy a week later.
 
As the Islamists saw their supply lines closed off, the U.S. announced that it would restart its aid to the rebel fighters.  On February 5, the Syrian Coalition chief Ahmad Jabra told Future TV that his rebels would get “advanced weapons” — likely from the U.S.  The FSA announced the formation of the Southern Front – with assistance from the West — to revive the dormant fight in Syria’s south-west.  All this took place during Geneva 2, signalling confusion in U.S. policy.       Does Washington still want to overthrow the Syrian government?  Would it live with an Islamist government on Israel’s borders?  Or, perhaps, the U.S. is eager for a stalemate, as pointed out by former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel, “The rebels lack the organization and weapons to defeat Assad.  The regime lacks the loyal manpower to suppress the rebellion.  Both sides’ external allies are ready to supply enough money and arms to fuel the stalemate for the foreseeable future.”  This is a cruel strategy.
It offers no hope of peace for the Syrian people.
 
Road ahead for Syria group:
 
A senior military official in West Asia told me that one of the most overlooked aspects of West Asia and North Africa is that the military leaderships of each country maintain close contacts with each other. During Turkey’s war against the Kurdish rebellion in its eastern provinces, the military coordinated their operations with the Syrian armed forces. These links have been maintained. When it became clear that Mr. Erdog?an’s exaggerated hopes for Syria failed, and with the growth of the Islamists on Turkey’s borders and the Kurds in Syria having declared their independence, the Turkish military exerted its views. The Iraqi armed forces had already begun their operations against ISIS. Additionally, Egypt’s new Field Marshal Sisi overthrew the government of Mohamed Morsi when the latter encouraged jihadis to go to Syria. This was anathema to the Egyptian military who acted for this and other reasons to depose Mr. Morsi. The military view of the political situation leans naturally toward the terrorism narrative.
 
It appears now that the regional states are no longer agreed that their primary mission is the removal of Mr. Assad.This view — shared by the militaries — is evident in the political leadership in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.With Egypt, these three states would be the core of a rejuvenated Syria Contact Group.

The 2012 group also had Saudi Arabia, which might be enjoined to come back to the table if they see that their outside allies — notably the U.S. — are averse to a policy that would mean Jabhat al-Nusra in power in Damascus.

Without Saudi Arabia, and perhaps even Qatar, the Syria Contact Group would be less effective.

 
If the Syria Contact Group is to re-emerge, it would need to be incubated by pressure from China and India, two countries that are sympathetic to multipolar regionalism.
 
Thus far, neither China nor India has taken an active role in the Syrian conflict, content to work within the United Nations and to make statements as part of the BRICS group.
But the failure of the U.S. and Russia and the paralysis of the U.N. alongside the continued brutality in Syria require an alternative path to be opened up.
Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have indicated willingness for a dialogue — China and India need to offer them the table.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

On Sri Lanka, Tamils “Shame Ban Ki-moon” at UN As Pillay Report Leaks.

 

By Matthew Russell Lee (Inner City Press) from the UN Headquarters in New York.

 

Photo: Tamil demonstration in front of Feb 12, 2014, they chant “shame on

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UNITED NATIONS, February 15 — As the Sri Lanka resolution at the UN Human Rights Council in March grows closer, the Sunday Times has excerpted High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay’s report, see below.  Meanwhile on February 12 Tamils protested in front of the UN in New York, chanting “Ban Ki-moon, shame on you,” under the watchful eye of a Sinhalese UN Security officer known to report to the Sri Lanka mission to the UN (he asked a photograph for his photos of the protest — he refused). This is the UN.

 

   The same United Nations Correspondents Association (UNCA) which screened the Rajapaksa government’s denial of war crimes, “Lies Agreed To” complete with speech by Shavendra Silva (here recounted in Italian along with Reuters’ censorship) is set for another in its propaganda film series.

 

  Now, however, after UNCA tried to get Inner City Press thrown out of the UN, it is confronted by the new Free UN Coalition of Access (FUNCA), of which “the photographer who refused” is a member.

 

 

  The Sunday Times quotes Pillay:

 

“new evidence — including witness testimony, video and photographic material — continues to emerge on what took place in the final stages of the armed conflict. Human remains also continue to be discovered, for instance in Matale in November 2012 and Mannar in December 2013. As the emblematic cases highlighted above show, national mechanisms have consistently failed to establish the truth and achieve justice. The High Commissioner believes this can no longer be explained as a function of time or technical capacity, but that it is fundamentally a question of political will… The High Commissioner remains convinced that an independent, international inquiry would play a positive role in eliciting new information and establishing the truth where domestic inquiry mechanisms have failed. In the absence of a credible national process, she believes the international community has a duty to take further steps which will advance the right to truth for all in Sri Lanka and create further opportunities for justice, accountability and redress. The High Commissioner reiterates concern about the continuing trend of attacks on freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, particularly against human rights defenders, journalists and families of victims; the rising levels of religious intolerance; and continued militarization which continues to undermine the environment where accountability and reconciliation can be achieved. She therefore reiterates and updates the recommendations made in her previous report to the Human Rights Council, most of which remain unimplemented.”

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 15th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Green Prophet Headlines – BrightSource’s Ivanpah, the world’s largest solar thermal project, is live

Link to Green Prophet

BrightSource’s Ivanpah, the world’s largest solar thermal project, is live

Posted: 14 Feb 2014

BrightSource, Ivanpah, California, Mojave Desert, US Solar Projects, clean tech, concentrating solar energy, ISEGS, world's largest solar thermal plant, PG&E, NRG Solar, Google, Southern California Edison, renewable energy,

It has been a long, controversial and expensive road for BrightSource Energy, but their 392 megawatt concentrating solar plant is now finally delivering renewable energy to the California grid and it is the largest plant of its kind in the world.

Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System (ISEGS), which is comprised of 350,000 garage door-sized mirrors that reflect sunlight onto boilers atop 40 foot towers, is jointly owned by NRG Solar, Google and BrightSource Energy
a company that started out at Luz International in Israel.

BrightSource, Ivanpah, California, Mojave Desert, US Solar Projects, clean tech, concentrating solar energy, ISEGS, world's largest solar thermal plant, PG&E, NRG Solar, Google, Southern California Edison, renewable energy,

In addition to offsetting roughly 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions every year, the massive solar facility located roughly 50 miles northwest of Needles, California, will deliver solar power to roughly 140,000 homes via California utility companies PG&E and Southern California Edison.

Despite this enormous boost for solar energy, BrightSource Energy has taken a lot of heat from environmentalists and social activists for their five square mile solar project in the Mojave desert.

BrightSource, Ivanpah, California, Mojave Desert, US Solar Projects, clean tech, concentrating solar energy, ISEGS, world's largest solar thermal plant, PG&E, NRG Solar, Google, Southern California Edison, renewable energy,

It took months to resolve the issue of relocating desert tortoises that call the desert home, to make way for thousands of concentrating mirrors, and Native Americans complained that the project destroys sites that are sacred to them.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the towers, which reach temperatures of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, have scorched an astonishing number of birds.

The paper also notes that the energy produced at Ivanpah will cost four times as much as natural gas and boasts a smaller generation capacity to land ratio than conventional plants. In other words, CSP projects like ISEGS require more land than fossil fuel plants.

BrightSource, Ivanpah, California, Mojave Desert, US Solar Projects, clean tech, concentrating solar energy, ISEGS, world's largest solar thermal plant, PG&E, NRG Solar, Google, Southern California Edison, renewable energy,

Despite these downsides, the $2.2 billion plant will produce one third of all solar thermal energy in the United States, and potentially pave the way for similar projects to take flight as well.

:: WSJ

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Goa Carnival expects to attract more than 250,000 visitors this year.

GOA was a Potuguese Colony that was ceded to India. The people are mainly christian and still carry Portuguese culture.

Published on : Friday, February 14, 2014

Goa Carnival           West India Goa’s state annual Goa Carnival is expected to attract more than 250,000 visitors this year, Press Trsut of India (PTI) reported.

The non-stop festival will be held from March 1 to 5 in the main cities of the coastal state beginning with a float parade in state capital Panaji.

“Tourists are expected to arrive in droves to witness colourful parades scheduled in various cities,” said State Tourism Department director Nikhil Desai.

          “Occupancy in several hotels across the state is high. People have booked their tickets to participate in the festival,” Nikhil said.

           A float parade organised by the Tourism Department will be led by     King Momo, a ceremonial figure who proclaims the decree of eating, drinking and merry making during the carnival.

          The Goa Carnival is celebrated throughout Goa and ends days before the season of Lent that precedes Easter.

 

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THE MOST BRAZILIAN OF ALL SPANISH CARNIVALS.

 

Carnival

The Greatest event is THE FUNERAL OF THE SARDINE OF TENERIFE.

Actually – the climax comes on Carnival Tuesday with “el Coso”, a spectacular parade which will amaze everyone who sees it. The next day the Burial of the Sardine marks the end of the festivities: the spirit of Carnival, symbolised by the sardine, is carried through the streets on a funeral bier, and is then set on fire and consumed by the flames to the despair of the entourage of inconsolable and “grief-stricken” widows, widowers and mourners. The final ending, however, is really the celebration of the “Piñata Chica” at the weekend, with shows, dances and parades. If you are planning to come to the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival you should make your arrangements well in advance. This already popular destination, with its year-round attraction of sun and beautiful beaches, is in even greater demand at this time.

 

Practical information:

Date:   From Feb 28, 2014 to Mar 9, 2014
Place:  Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Tenerife. Canary Islands)
CARNIVAL in SANTA CRUZ  and PUERTO DE LA CRUZ
YEAR   DATES PARADE Santa Cruz FUNERAL of the Sardine PARADE Puerto de la Cruz
2012 12/02-26/02 21/02 22/02 25/02
2013 03/02-17/02 12/02 13/02 16/02
2014 23/02-09/03 04/03 05/03 08/03
2015 08/02-22/02 17/02 18/02 21/02
2016 31/01-14/02 09/02 10/02 13/02

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Science presents a new verdict:

Camels Had No Business in Genesis.

 
The annual camel race in the desert of Wadi Rum, Jordan, in 2007. Radiocarbon dating was used to pinpoint the earliest known domesticated camels in Israel to the 10th century B.C.— decades after the kingdom of David, according to the Bible.     Salah Malkawi/Getty Images

There are too many camels in the Bible, out of time and out of place.

Camels probably had little or no role in the lives of such early Jewish patriarchs as Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, who lived in the first half of the second millennium B.C., and yet stories about them mention these domesticated pack animals more than 20 times. Genesis 24, for example, tells of Abraham’s servant going by camel on a mission to find a wife for Isaac.

These anachronisms are telling evidence that the Bible was written or edited long after the events it narrates and is not always reliable as verifiable history. These camel stories “do not encapsulate memories from the second millennium,” said Noam Mizrahi, an Israeli biblical scholar, “but should be viewed as back-projections from a much later period.”

Dr. Mizrahi likened the practice to a historical account of medieval events that veers off to a description of “how people in the Middle Ages used semitrailers in order to transport goods from one European kingdom to another.”

For two archaeologists at Tel Aviv University, the anachronisms were motivation to dig for camel bones at an ancient copper smelting camp in the Aravah Valley in Israel and in Wadi Finan in Jordan. They sought evidence of when domesticated camels were first introduced into the land of Israel and the surrounding region.

The archaeologists, Erez Ben-Yosef and Lidar Sapir-Hen, used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint the earliest known domesticated camels in Israel to the last third of the 10th century B.C. — centuries after the patriarchs lived and decades after the kingdom of David, according to the Bible. Some bones in deeper sediments, they said, probably belonged to wild camels that people hunted for their meat. Dr. Sapir-Hen could identify a domesticated animal by signs in leg bones that it had carried heavy loads.

The findings were published recently in the journal Tel Aviv and in a news release from Tel Aviv University. The archaeologists said that the origin of the domesticated camel was probably in the Arabian Peninsula, which borders the Aravah Valley. Egyptians exploited the copper resources there and probably had a hand in introducing the camels. Earlier, people in the region relied on mules and donkeys as their beasts of burden.

“The introduction of the camel to our region was a very important economic and social development,” Dr. Ben-Yosef said in a telephone interview. “The camel enabled long-distance trade for the first time, all the way to India, and perfume trade with Arabia. It’s unlikely that mules and donkeys could have traversed the distance from one desert oasis to the next.”

Dr. Mizrahi, a professor of Hebrew culture studies at Tel Aviv University who was not directly involved in the research, said that by the seventh century B.C. camels had become widely employed in trade and travel in Israel and through the Middle East, from Africa as far as India. The camel’s influence on biblical research was profound, if confusing, for that happened to be the time that the patriarchal stories were committed to writing and eventually canonized as part of the Hebrew Bible.

“One should be careful not to rush to the conclusion that the new archaeological findings automatically deny any historical value from the biblical stories,” Dr. Mizrahi said in an email. “Rather, they established that these traditions were indeed reformulated in relatively late periods after camels had been integrated into the Near Eastern economic system. But this does not mean that these very traditions cannot capture other details that have an older historical background.”

Moreover, for anyone who grew up with Sunday school images of the Three Wise Men from the East arriving astride camels at the manger in Bethlehem, whatever uncertainties there may be of that story, at least one thing is clear: By then the camel in the service of human life was no longer an anachronism.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 1st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Kerala bags an United Nations award for sustainable tourism initiatives.

Published on : Friday, January 24, 2014

Kerala Backwaters      Kerala, God’s own country is recognized for its sustainable tourism policies by the United Nations. Kerala tourism is awarded by the United Nations for creating innovative initiatives in sustainable tourism.

This is the first ever UN award for any state in India.

The coveted award from the United Nations was mostly influenced by the sustainable  development initiative in the world famous backwater resort of Kumarakom. According to a press release from the Kerala tourism, they received the award at the UNWTO Awards for Excellence and Innovation in Tourism held in Madrid, Spain.

 

 

Kerala won the UNWTO Ulysses Award for Innovation in Public Policy and Governance, the highest honour given to the government bodies for shaping global tourism policies through innovative initiatives.

Kerala Tourism was chosen for the honour for its path-breaking ‘Responsible Tourism’ project in Kumarakom, which has successfully linked the local community with the Hospitality industry and government departments, thereby creating a model for empowerment and development of the people in the area while sustaining eco-friendly tourism.

The Kumarakom initiative had earlier won the National Award for Best Rural Tourism Project in March last year and also the PATA Grand Award for Environment.

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Dr. Tej Vir Singh awarded the UNWTO Ulysses Prize for the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge.

Dr. Tej Vir Singh, professor and Founding Director of the Centre for Tourism Research & Development (CTRD) in India, has been named winner of the 2013 UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge. The Award honors outstanding members of the academia for their significant contribution to the development of tourism education and research.

Dr. Singh, the Founding Editor of Tourism Recreation Research, the oldest and highly respected, international tourism journal in Asia, is a pioneer in introducing extensive tourism research in the region. A specialist in Himalayan tourism, Dr. Singh has produced several books on tourism and many papers on tourism development and its impacts.

“I would like to commend Dr. Singh´s lifelong dedication to tourism research and his pioneering the concept and practice of sustainability in the field of tourism. His work has inspired many other academicians to develop their own research in the field, contributing greatly to the advancement of tourism education and of the tourism sector as a whole,” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai.

As the Founding Director of the Institute of Himalayan Studies and Regional Development at the University of Garhwal, Dr. Singh started the first Himalayan tourism training course. In 1976, he established the CTRD, a non-government organization devoted to the cause of tourism academics and research, with a special focus on India. Under his leadership, the Centre started an outreach programme that included education, training, research guidance, consultancy, curriculum design, and tourism programme initiation to several Indian universities, management institutions and colleges. Today, the CTRD is recognized for the generation and publication of valuable research on recreation and tourism, and is well-known as a leading organization for developing and disseminating scholarships in tourism in India.

The UNWTO Ulysses Prize for Excellence in the Creation and Dissemination of Knowledge will be presented during the UNWTO Awards Ceremony to be held on 22 January 2014, within the framework of the International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) in Madrid, Spain.

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Volatile Bangkok turns out positive for Indian tourism.

Published on : Thursday, January 23, 2014

bangkok-shutdown        While Bangkok faces a tourism fall due to the ongoing political crisis, Indian tourism reaps the dividends. Thailand government’s decision to impose emergency in Bangkok is supposed to cause a loss of almost B10 billion for the Thailand tourism industry. On the contrary, foreign tourists are preferring to book a holiday in India.
According to the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO), the volatile political condition in Bangkok has spurred a huge interest of international travelers seeking holiday escapades in Indian. Political volatility has been on the rise in Bangkok, especially in the past few days. A couple of bomb blasts took place in the capital amidst wide protests. Protesters have been trying for more than two months to bring down the government. The Indian embassy in Thailand too is continuously tracking the situation and coming up with updates.
The global tourism industry has seen such shift of choices due to political and violent condition in a particular destination. To site an example, Spain tourism had a major share of international travelers last year owing to the political strife in Egypt. While Bangkok is one of the most popular destinations in Asia, India enjoys the advantage of volatile currency and a plethora of destination choices. In fact, domestic tourism also got a boost as many Indians are also going for home holidays rather than opting for Bangkok as every year about 500,000 Indians visit Bangkok.

 

 

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Tourism can foster sustainable development in Central America – UN General Assembly.

 

Published on : Friday, January 24, 2014

 

unwto GNSustainable tourism is an ally of poverty eradication in Central America and the three dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic and environmental – as reflected in the UN resolution on “Sustainable tourism and sustainable development in Central America”.

The 193-member UN General Assembly adopted the resolution unanimously during its 68th session. This represents an important step towards mainstreaming sustainable tourism in the international development agenda and the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (New York, USA, 22 December 2013).

 

Emphasizing that sustainable tourism in Central America is a cross-cutting activity with close linkages to other sectors and thus generating trade opportunities, the UN General Assembly recognizes tourism as a fundamental pillar of regional integration and an engine of social and economic development, income, investment and hard currency in the region. The resolution further “encourages giving appropriate consideration to the issue of sustainable tourism in the elaboration of the post-2015 development agenda”, which will follow the deadline of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Against this backdrop, the UN General Assembly invites States and other stakeholders, as well as the World Tourism Organization, to continue to support the activities undertaken by the Central American countries for the promotion of responsible and sustainable tourism and extend the benefits of tourism to all sectors of society, in particular the most vulnerable and marginalized groups of the population.

 

International tourism in Central America grew significantly in recent years. In 2012, Central America received almost 9 million international tourists who generated US$ 8 billion in revenues, up from, respectively, 4.3 million arrivals and US$ 3 billion in 2000. Today, international tourism accounts for as much as 17% of all Central American exports.

 

The UN resolution was sponsored by 51 Member States: Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Canada, Cape Vert, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, United States of America, Ukraine and Uruguay.

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Central America poised for tourism growth: SITCA

Published on : Sunday, September 15, 2013

centeral America          The Secretariat of Central American Tourism Integration (SITCA), along with the tourism authorities of the seven Central American countries – Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvado r, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama – have conducted a study on the evolution of the tourism sector in the region over the past 12 years and found a positive forecast of expected 6.1 per cent growth for this year.

       In the period between 2000 and 2012, tourism to Central America has grown by 122.8 per cent from 4.23 million visitors in 2000 to 9.39 visitors in 2012, an annual increase of seven per cent on average stated the study.


Domestic tourism from within the region accounts for 40 per cent while North America accounts for between 35 per cent and 40 per cent of visitors.
Costa Rica and Guatemala received the highest number of visitors, but Nicaragua and Panama have registered the biggest growth in the period covered by the study, moving from fifth and sixth position (in terms of the total number of visitors received) to fourth and third respectively.


The average spend by tourists has also grown considerably over the last 12 years, thanks to an increase in the amount of products consumed, moving from an average spend per person of US$700 in 2000 to US$1,016 in 2012.
Based on the results of the study, it is expected that the number of visitors will increase by 6.1 per cent this year compared to last year, with an expected total of 9.96 million visitors.


For 2013, the average spend per tourist is expected to reach US$1,016.63, compared to US$1,016.18 in 2012. Revenue from tourism revenue is expected to be highest in Panama and lowest in Nicaragua.
The data presented by SITCA shows that the tourism sector in Central America is becoming the main source of revenue for all seven countries and a true driver for the economic growth of the region.

 

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International tourism exceeds expectations with arrivals up by 52 million in 2013.

 

International tourist arrivals grew by 5% in 2013, reaching a record 1,087 million arrivals, according to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. Despite global economic challenges, international tourism results were well above expectations, with an additional 52 million international tourists travelling the world in 2013. For 2014, UNWTO forecasts 4% to 4.5% growth – again, above the long term projections.

Demand for international tourism was strongest for destinations in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), Africa (+6%) and Europe (+5%). The leading sub-regions were South-East Asia (+10%), Central and Eastern Europe (+7%), Southern and Mediterranean Europe (+6%) and North Africa (+6%).

“2013 was an excellent year for international tourism” said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “The tourism sector has shown a remarkable capacity to adjust to the changing market conditions, fuelling growth and job creation around the world, despite the lingering economic and geopolitical challenges. Indeed, tourism has been among the few sectors generating positive news for many economies”, he added.

UNWTO forecasts international arrivals to increase by 4% to 4.5% in 2014, again above its long-term forecast of +3.8% per year between 2010 and 2020. The UNWTO Confidence Index, based on the feedback from over 300 experts worldwide, confirms this outlook with prospects for 2014 higher than in previous years

“The positive results of 2013, and the expected global economic improvement in 2014, set the scene for another positive year for international tourism. Against this backdrop, UNWTO calls upon national governments to increasingly set up national strategies that support the sector and to deliver on their commitment to fair and sustainable growth”, added Mr Rifai.

2014 regional prospects are strongest for Asia and the Pacific (+5% to +6%) and Africa (+4% to +6%), followed by Europe and the Americas (both +3% to +4%). In the Middle East (0% to +5%) prospects are positive yet volatile.

 

Europe welcomes most of the new arrivals

Europe led growth in absolute terms, welcoming an additional 29 million international tourist arrivals in 2013, raising the total to 563 million. Growth (+5%) exceeded the forecast for 2013 and is double the region’s average for the period 2005-2012 (+2.5% a year). This is particularly remarkable in view of the regional economic situation and as it follows an already robust 2011 and 2012. By sub-region, Central and Eastern Europe (+7%) and Southern Mediterranean Europe (+6%) experienced the best results.

In relative terms, growth was strongest in Asia and the Pacific (+6%), where the number of international tourists grew by 14 million to reach 248 million. South-East Asia (+10%) was the best performing sub-region, while growth was comparatively more moderate in South Asia (+5%), Oceania and North-East Asia (+4% each).

The Americas (+4%) saw an increase of six million arrivals, reaching a total of 169 million. Leading growth were destinations in North and Central America (+4% each), while South America (+2%) and the Caribbean (+1%) showed some slowdown as compared to 2012.

Africa (+6%) attracted three million additional arrivals, reaching a new record of 56 million, reflecting the on-going rebound in North Africa (+6%) and the sustained growth of Sub-Saharan destinations (+5%). Results in the Middle East (+0% at 52 million) were rather mixed and volatile.

 

Russia and China – leading in growth in 2013

Among the ten most important source markets in the world, Russia and China clearly stand out. China, which became the largest outbound market in 2012 with an expenditure of US$ 102 billion, saw an increase in expenditure of 28% in the first three quarters of 2013. The Russian Federation, the 5th largest outbound market, reported 26% growth through September.

The performance of key advanced economy source markets was comparatively more modest. France (+6%) recovered from a weak 2012 and the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia all grew at 3%. In contrast, Germany, Japan and Italy reported declines in outbound expenditure.

Emerging markets with substantial growth in outbound expenditure were Turkey (+24%), Qatar (+18%), Philippines (+18%), Kuwait (+15%), Indonesia (+15%), Ukraine (+15%) and Brazil (+14%).

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Source: PATA

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 27th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

EU and India join hands to facilitate Offshore Wind

 

Facilitating India’s transition towards low carbon development by supporting implementation of national policies and programs for offshore wind power

 

27th January 2014, New Delhi – The Global Wind Energy Council and partners announced today the launch of a four year project to develop a roadmap for offshore wind development in India, with a focus the states of Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. Supported by a &#8364 4 million contribution through the European Union’s Indo-European Cooperation on Renewable Energy programme, the project will work in close cooperation with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, State governments and other relevant offices of the Indian government to look at the challenges and opportunities presented by offshore wind.

 

“The Offshore Wind Power Development project supported by European Union’s Indo-European Cooperation on Renewable Energy programme falls perfectly in line with the vision of the Government of India for development of offshore wind power in the country. The project is being launched when the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy is also working towards the introduction of National Offshore Wind Energy Policy in India”, said Alok Srivastava, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of New & Renewable Energy.

 

“We in Europe are committed towards reducing emissions and moving towards sustainable forms of energy, thereby lowering the dependency on fossil fuels and working towards a cleaner climate. This project on Wind energy in partnership with our Indian counterparts is driven by the same philosophy – secure, affordable and clean energy for all,” said Dr. João Cravinho, Ambassador of the European Union.

 

Globally, although onshore wind is now a mature, competitive and mainstream energy generation source, offshore wind is still in a relatively early stage of development. Most of the 6 GW of capacity installed is in the North Sea, Baltic and Irish Seas. The only other substantial market is in China, although there are exciting developments in Japan, Korea, Taiwan as well as early movement in the United States.

As with all new technologies, the capital costs are high, and there is still a great deal of technical and management learning required to bring costs down to competitive levels. One of the goals of the project will be to learn as much as possible from the European experience to ensure that when India ventures offshore it does so in the most effective way possible.

 

“We look forward to working with our Indian and European partners to help fuel India’s development with clean renewable energy. We believe that with careful analysis and thorough preparation drawing on our global network, offshore wind can make a significant contribution to ensuring that clean energy plays the dominant role in supplying India’s growing energy needs,” said Steve Sawyer, GWEC Secretary General.

 

The partners bring a wealth of experience to the project: The World Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE), based in Pune, will host the project management unit, and focus on the state of Gujarat; The Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP), based in Bangalore will focus on the State of Tamil Nadu; DNV-GL, the world’s largest renewable energy consultancy, will, through its Bangalore based subsidiary, provide it’s long expertise in the offshore industry, as well as its experience in technology assessment, project design, due diligence and other areas; and we are pleased to have the support and participation of the Gujarat Power Corporation Limited.

 

The specific objectives of the project are to create an enabling environment for offshore wind through through resource mapping, policy guidance and capacity building measures, and to assess the inrastructure base and identify improvements required. In addition, the project will seek to build partnerships at a technical, policy and research level both within India and between India and EU companies, research groups and institutions, with a final goal of developing an Offshore Wind Outlook and development pathway for India up to 2032.

 

For more information, please contact:

Lauha Fried, Communications Director, GWEC lauha.fried@gwec.net +32 477 364 251
Shruti Shukla, Sr. Policy Advisor, GWEC shruti.shukla@gwec.net +91 96959 77666

 

EU and India join hands to facilitate Offshore Wind

 


 

About the project partners:

Global Wind Energy Council is the international trade association for the wind power industry. The members of GWEC represent over 1,500 companies, organisations and institutions in more than 70 countries, including manufacturers, developers, component suppliers, research institutes, national wind and renewables associations, electricity providers, finance and insurance companies. www.gwec.net

Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy is one of the largest think tanks in South-East Asia; its vision is to enrich the nation with technology-enabled policy options for equitable growth. CSTEP is a multi-disciplinary policy research organisation working in the areas of Energy, Infrastructure, Materials, Climate Adaptation and Security Studies. www.cstep.in

DNV GL now forms the world’s largest ship and offshore classification society, and a leading expert for the energy value chain including renewables and energy efficiency. It has also taken a position as one of the top three-certification bodies in the world. Operating in more than 100 countries, its 16,000 professionals are dedicated to helping customers make the world safer, smarter and greener. www.dnvgl.com

Gujarat Power Corporation Limited has been playing the role of developer and catalyser in the energy sector in the state of Gujarat. GPCL is increasing its involvement in power projects in renewable sector, as the State of Gujarat is concerned about the issues of pollution and global warming. Gujarat has over 3GW of installed onshore wind capacity currently. www.gpclindia.com

World Institute of Sustainable Energy is a not-for-profit institute committed to the cause of promoting sustainable energy and sustainable development, with specific emphasis on issues related to renewable energy, energy security, and climate change. Since its inception in 2004, WISE has pioneered many important initiatives in the above areas. www.wisein.org

Funded by EU

 

This project is funded by the European Union

 

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