CSE’s Fortnightly News Bulletin (April 3, 2017)
The last few days have been very significant, both for CSE and the country at large. In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court ordered a ban on the sale and registration of Bharat Stage III (BS-III) vehicles from April 1, 2017. This transition to Bharat Stage IV vehicles means priorotizing public health. The apex court, while giving its order, commented that health of millions of citizens was more important than commercial interests of manufacturers.
Commenting on the Court’s decision, Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, CSE, said: “This is a significant step forward as this gives the message and the lesson that the automobile industry will have to walk the extra mile to address the expansive concern around public health and not weigh down the transition by taking a very narrow technical view.” For more details go to: http://www.downtoearth.org
Internationally, however, Donald Trump’s executive order on “promoting energy independence and economic growth” is set to destroy his former counterpart Barack Obama’s green legacy. Trump’s order, which was signed on Tuesday, literally starts the process of dismantling the Paris Agreement—the landmark international pact adopted in 2015 to fight climate change. The US has clearly signaled its intention of completely fossilising its economy, implying reckless production and consumption of fossil fuels, leading to increased carbon emissions globally.
“This is the beginning of the end of the Paris Agreement…With this executive order, Trump has displayed complete disregard for the global fight against climate change. Now USA should quit the Paris Agreement.” commented Chandra Bhushan, Deputy Director General, CSE. Read about the complete implications of this order on: http://www.downtoearth.org
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HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS FORTNIGHT
– Editorial: Why I won’t advocate Vegetarianism
– DTE Cover Story: 1971 redux – In the 100th year of the Indigo satyagraha, Champaran’s farmers are protesting again – this time for land
– DTE Cover Story in Hindi: ‘Baadhaon beech Narmada – Jaaney anjaaney sangharshon se joojhti ‘saundarya ki nadi’ ‘
– DTE on the Web: Trump’s executive order sounds death knell for Paris climate pact
– DTE Hindi: ‘keetnaashak aur madhumeh – keetnashakon ke zyaada sampark se kisaano mein madhumeh ka khatra’
WHY I WON’T ADVOCATE VEGETARIANISM
RECENTLY AT the release of our book First Food: Culture of Taste, which discusses the link between biodiversity,nutrition and livelihoods, I was asked a question. “Why do you not, as an environmentalist espousing the cause of traditional and local diets that are sustainable, condemn meat eating? After all, meat production is bad for climate—agriculture contributes roughly 15 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions and half of this comes from meat production. It also has a huge footprint in terms of land and water consumption since an estimated 30 per cent of the world’s land not covered with ice is used to grow food, not for humans but for livestock. A 2014 University of Oxford study on British diets found that meat-rich diets—defined as eating more than 100 g of meat per day per person—emitted about 7.2 kg of CO2 per day as compared to 2.9 kg of CO2 emitted by vegan diets. So, figuring out the sustainable diet should be a no-brainer, I was told.
I differed. As an Indian (I underline Indian) environmentalist I would not advocate vegetarianism for the following reasons. One, India is a secular nation and the culture of eating food differs between communities, regions and religions. This idea of India is non-negotiable for me as it reflects our richness and our reality. Two, meat is an important source of protein for a large number of people,hence critical for their nutritional security.
Thirdly, and this is what distinguishes my Indian position from the global, meat eating is not the key issue, it is the amount that is consumed and the manner in which it is produced. A recent global assessment, for instance, finds that Americans on an average eat 122 kg per year per person and Indians 3-5 kg per year per person. This high meat consumption is bad for health and the environment. In fact, the average American consumption of meat is 1.5 times the average protein requirement.
It should not surprise us that the bulk of the 95 million tonnes of beef produced in the world comes from cattle in Latin America, Europe and North America—all produced with extremely high environmental impacts. Meat production in the developing world is very different, says this assessment by the International Livestock Research Institute, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the International Institute for Applied System Analysis. Here livestock subsists largely on grasses and crop residue.
But the most important reason I, as an Indian environmentalist, would not support action against meat is that livestock is the most important economic security of farmers in our world. Indian farmers practise agro-silvo-pastoralism, that is, they use the land for crops and trees as well as for livestock. This is their real insurance system, not the banks. Livestock is also not kept by large meat businesses but by big, small, marginal and landless farmers. It works because the animals have a productive purpose: first, they give milk and manure and then, meat and leather. Take that away and you will take away the base of economic security of millions in the country,greatly impoverishing them.
Let’s get the facts straight. In the past, cattle were kept for draught purposes. In the 1980s, the late N S Ramaswamy, the country’s only expert on animal energy, had calculated that the installed capacity of 90 million work animals was equal to the installed capacity of the electric power in the country. All this changed with mechanisation. By 2000, livestock was primarily kept for milk. This is why the males of cows and buffaloes have drastically reduced in each livestock census. Males are now roughly 28 per cent of the total cattle population. Their main purpose is breeding. But cows and buffaloes give milk for seven-eight years of their 15-20 years of life. Farmers use this productive phase for the birth of calves and for milk sale. Maintaining animals is not cheap. My colleagues have calculated that if the animals are fed properly and looked after well it costs about `70,000 per animal per year. This is why farmers need options to take care of the animals not producing milk. Or they will have no options but to leave the animal stray, to eat the plastic cities throw away and die.
This is why I would not support a ban on meat or leather. By doing this we are literally taking away half the potential income the livestock owner possesses. It is stealing from the poor, nothing less.Just imagine if government entered our homes and took away half our assets or made them valueless. What would we say? Banning meat is cruel demonetisation.
But I also understand that religious sentiments are strong.These demand that cattle (not buffalo) should not be killed. In this case, the answer is to buy back each cow from the farmer, build large gaushalas that can take care of them and find ways of dealing with the remains so that even after death, no product is sold or used.The answer is not militant vegetarianism. The answer is definitely not vandalism and violence.
– Follow Sunita Narain on Twitter: @sunitanar
– To post your comments on this editorial online, please visit:http://www.downtoearth.o
MORE FROM DOWN TO EARTH (DTE) PRINT
What you will find in the March 31st-April 1st issues
– Cover Story: 1971 redux – In the 100th year of the Indigo satyagraha, Champaran’s farmers are protesting again – this time for land
– Health: Can fortification of staple food like rice and wheat end malnutrition in India?
– Agriculture: Organic Trial – Despite earning the ‘100% organic’ tag, Sikkim’s trasition to organic farming is yet to become a success
– Debate: Should Farmers get steady income? The old concept of Payment for Ecosystem Services can be used to ensure guaranteed farm income and make agriculture sustainable in
the face of land degradation and climate change.
– Aavran Katha: Baadhaon Beech Aviral Narmada – Jaaney anjaaney sangharshon se joojhti ‘saundarya ki nadi’
– Khaadya Suraksha: Khaadya Suraksha ki raah mein baadha bani aastha
– Jeevanshaili: Kissa Neend Ka – Neend sambandhi vikaaro ke kaaran shehron mein rehne waaley logon mein 93 feesadi acchi neend nahi le paatey
To subscribe to the magazine, please visit http://www.downtoearth.o
DTE ON THE WEB
– Earthworms are more important than pandas (if you want to save the planet)
– Rajasthan’s fight against drought is showing positive results
– In Depth — Mortal combat: Can life be extended indefinitely? There is a renewed vigour among scientists looking for ways and means to cheat death
– Video: First Food – Celebrating India’s Food Biodiversity
– Arabian Sea is suffocating due to toxic algae bloom, and it is going to get worse
– Interview: Down To Earth spoke to Kebede Worku, Ethiopia’s State Minister for Health, on the turnaround that his country has brought about in the field of sanitation
– Blog: Copying nature is the only way to revive our rivers
ON INDIA ENVIRONMENT PORTAL
– Shrinking source: More than half of the world’s major aquifers, which store groundwater, are depleting faster than they can be replicated
– Too Many concerns, too few commitments: The 2017 Assembly elections across five states-Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur-have brought to the surface the
complexities of problems that exist and the issues that have been wholly or partially ignored. These issues are affecting natural resources, increasing burden of disease and
causing economic stagnation
Featured Reports and Regulations:
– WMO Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2016
– Wild water: the State of the World’s Water 2017
– Human Development Report 2016: human development for everyone
See more studies, documents, reports, regulations at http://bit.ly/1ZdMB4W
Environment in Court:
– Supreme Court bans sale of BS-III vehicles from April 1, 2017
– Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding unregulated groundwater extraction, Nanded, Maharashtra, 28/03/2017
UPDATES FROM OUR PROGRAMME UNITS
– Delhi, September 26-28, 2017: International Conference on continuous emission monitoring system (CEMS)”CEM India” in collaboration with Source Testing Association
(STA), United Kingdom and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), India.
Contact Sanjeev Kanchan at firstname.lastname@example.org for registration, booking for exhibition space and abstract submission
– Launch – CSE’s solar calculator – ‘Solar My Roof’ – The calculator is a single page application specifically designed for domestic houses and takes less than 5
minutes to estimate the cost and size of the rooftop solar plant
Contact Aruna Kumarankandath at email@example.com for more details
LEARNING WITH CSE
– 2016-17: Capacity Building Programmes for Indian Environmental Regulators
THE CSE STORE
New on the shelf
– Environment Reader for Universities
(“Core module syllabus” for Environmental Studies for under-graduate courses)
– Annual State of India’s Environment – SOE 2017
– First Food: Culture of Taste
– 2 children’s books from the Gobar Times series
– The Crow, Honey Hunter, and the Kitchen Garden: An exciting collection of 20 short stories to attract today’s young generation and help them understand
– Bioscope of Piu & Pom: This is CSE’s first collection of 14 topical stories in comic strips format to help you understand serious environmental issues in
a fun and easy way. Recommended equally for students and adults.Pages: 42.
– ANNOUNCEMENT: To celebrate the completion of 25 years of Down To Earth, we are offering a T-Shirt as a gift for all those who subscribe to our Down To Earth Hindi
magazine before April 30th, 2017. Order your copy at: http://www.downtoearth.org
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