11 percent of disappearing groundwater used to grow internationally traded food

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center | 31 March, 2017

This Landsat satellite image of Saudi Arabia’s Wadi As-Sirhan Basin was captured on March 12, 2000. The circles are fields irrigated by water from aquifers as much as 1 kilometer under the desert. Credits: NASA/Landsat/Robert Simmon and Jesse Allen

Wheat, rice, sugar, cotton and maize are among the essential internationally traded crops. To produce these crops, many countries rely on irrigated agriculture that accounts for about 70 percent of global freshwater withdrawals, according to the United Nations Water program. One freshwater source is underground aquifers, some of which replenish so slowly that they are essentially a non-renewable resource.

A new study by researchers at the University College London and NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS) shows that 11 percent of the global non-renewable groundwater drawn up for irrigation goes to produce crops that are then traded on the international market. Additionally, two-thirds of the exported crops that depend on non-renewable groundwater are produced in Pakistan (29 percent), the US (27 percent) and India (12 percent). The results were published March 30 in Nature.Read More »

Climate change takes toll from mental health

American Psychological Association | 31 March, 2017

Source: Internet

When people think about climate change, they probably think first about its effects on the environment, and possibly on their physical health. But climate change also takes a significant toll on mental health, finds Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Implications, and Guidance, a new report released by the American Psychological Association and ecoAmerica.

Climate change-induced severe weather and other natural disasters have the most immediate effects on mental health in the form of the trauma and shock due to personal injuries, loss of a loved one, damage to or loss of personal property or even the loss of livelihood, according to the report. Terror, anger, shock and other intense negative emotions that can dominate people’s initial response may eventually subside, only to be replaced by post-traumatic stress disorder.Read More »

Tree trunks: source of methane in upland forests

University of Delaware | 31 March, 2017

Researchers have found that tree trunks are sources of methane in upland forests. Source: Internet

A new study from the University of Delaware is one of the first in the world to show that tree trunks in upland forests actually emit methane rather than store it, representing a new, previously unaccounted source of this powerful greenhouse gas (GHG).

Methane is about 25 times stronger than carbon dioxide, with some estimates as high as 33 times stronger due to its effects when it is in the atmosphere.

Because of methane’s global warming potential, identifying the sources and “sinks” or storehouses of this GHG is critical for measuring and understanding its implications across ecosystems.Read More »

Kendeng Against Cement


MR Online 27 March, 2017

"Cementing Feet" in protest of the "Corporate Governor," Ganjar Pranowo in front of the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, March 13, 2017.

Since March 13, 2017, over 50 local indigenous peasants known as Sedulur Kendeng have been sitting with their feet in cement boxes in protest. This is their second such protest in eleven months.

It is both a symbolic and literal plea to President Joko Widodo, more commonly known as Jokowi, to halt the construction of a cement factory in Rembang, Central Java. They are protesting against the planned mining operation of PT Semen Indonesia—a state owned enterprise. The mega-plan is supported by Ganjar Pranowo, the Central Governor of Java, and Rini Soemarno, the Minister of State-owned Enterprises. Both are politicians from PDIP (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle) who led Jokowi to his presidency back in 2014.Read More »

The great October Revolution Model – Iconic or still a game changer?

(A tribute to the centenary year of the October Revolution)

by Siddhartha Kumar Lahiri*

Frontier | Mar 29, 2017


A poster of Soviet Revolution. Source: Internet

October revolution was perhaps the most systematic orchestration of a fundamental social restructuring of the twentieth century ensuring an undisputedly decisive victory for the labour against the capital, staged inside the weak capitalist Russian territory, first of its kind in the entire history of human civilization where theory and practices complimented each other most organically and at the same time executed with planning of such brilliance that is seen only in the cases of some of the outstanding scientific experimentations. Borrowing Thomas Kuhn’s phrase, it was a watershed mark in the recent history of global capitalism indicating a paradigm shift. The social dynamics before and after this great event were to be read differently by using different sets of laws and compared with different sets of yardsticks. In the present paper, an effort will be made to summarise two different perspectives, one boldly upholding its greatness and the other questioning its greatness. Secondly, we will try to revisit the essential elements of Leninist model of the October Revolution and our third objective will be to investigate some of the general possibilities of application of the model in the Indian context.  Read More »