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International satellite to track sea level rise completes testing

Once in orbit, each satellite will collect sea level measurements down to the centimeter for 90 per cent of the world”s oceans.

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sea level rise

Washington, June 14 : An international satellite that will collect the most accurate data yet on sea levels around the world, a key indicator of how Earth”s warming climate is affecting the oceans, weather and coastlines, has completed all the tests ahead of its scheduled launch in November.

The tests for the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft — which is being built in Germany –began in November 2019 and they finished at the end of May this year, NASA said.

“The tests are complete and the preliminary results look good,” said John Oswald, the mission”s Deputy Project Manager at NASA”s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

Team members will spend the next several weeks completing the analysis of the test results and then preparing the satellite for shipment to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for launch this autumn.

The Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich spacecraft is a part of the Copernicus Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission, a joint US-European effort in which two identical satellites will be launched five years apart.

The spacecraft will join the Copernicus constellation of satellites that constitutes the European Union”s Earth Observation Programme.

Once in orbit, each satellite will collect sea level measurements down to the centimeter for 90 per cent of the world”s oceans.

The data will add to almost 30 years of information gathered by an uninterrupted series of joint US-European satellites, creating an unprecedented — and unbroken — 40-year sea level dataset.

The spacecraft will also measure the temperature and humidity of Earth”s atmosphere, which can be used to help improve weather forecasts and hurricane predictions.

These measurements are important because the oceans and atmosphere are tightly connected.

“We”re changing our climate, and the clearest signal of that is the rising oceans,” said Josh Willis, the mission”s project scientist at JPL.

“More than 90 per cent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases is going into the ocean.”

That heat causes seawater to expand, accounting for about one-third of the global average of modern-day sea level rise.

Meltwater from glaciers and ice sheets account for the rest.

“For climate science, what we need to know is not just sea level today, but sea level compared to 20 years ago. We need long records to do climate science,” said Willis.

Six scientific instruments are key to that task. Two of them will work in concert to measure the distance from the satellite to the ocean”s surface.

India

Govt must stop dismantling India’s environmental regulations, says Rahul Gandhi

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, Aug 13 : Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused the government of dismantling India’s environment rules and demanded that the draft EIA 2020 be withdrawn immediately.

The draft environment impact assessment (EIA) notification, 2020, which involves the procedure of issuing environmental clearances to various projects, was issued by the Environment Ministry in March this year and has received thousands of suggestions from the public.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has said the EIA 2020 is only a draft and not a final notification and the ministry has received thousands of suggestions from the public which will be considered before a final draft.

In an article, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has said that the government has a social obligation to protect the environment and must withdraw the EIA.

“Simply put, the government must stop dismantling India’s environmental regulations. An essential first step is to withdraw the Draft EIA 2020 Notification. What is essential is widespread public consultation to shape a national agenda that will place India at the forefront of the battle against global warming and pandemics, she said in the article.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also shared the article on Twitter saying, “Nature protects, if she is protected.”

“Government of India must stop dismantling India’s environmental regulations. Essential first step is to withdraw the Draft EIA 2020 notification,” he said.

Noting that the origins and spread of the global novel coronavirus pandemic and its catastrophic impact are a warning to the entire world, Sonia Gandhi said the protection of the environment must go hand in hand with promoting public health and access to dignified livelihoods for all.

She said India, with its rich biodiversity and widespread inequality, must especially pay heed now.

“Our nation has all too often sacrificed the environment and the rights of our people while chasing the chimera of unbridled economic growth,” she said.

“Of course, progress requires trade-offs, but there must always be boundaries that cannot be transgressed, she said, alleging that the government has eroded our environmental protection framework in the last six years.

The pandemic should have made the government reflect and reconsider its environmental and public health governance. Instead, the Ministry is handing out clearances during the lockdown without proper public consultations. The announcement of coal auctions by the Prime Minister in previously declared ‘no go’ areas, signals that the government is in no mood to course-correct,” she said.

“The disastrous Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), 2020 Notification, which among other provisions, gives a clean chit to polluters violating environmental regulations through ex-post facto approvals, will unleash unprecedented devastation on our environment, she maintained.

“We have an incredible opportunity to reset our economy and demonstrate leadership to the world with a growth strategy that transforms India into a green manufacturing hub, she said, adding that the erstwhile Planning Commission’s expert group report on low carbon growth strategy and the many suggestions in the 2019 Congress Manifesto can be a starting point.

The Congress chief also alleged that the government has sought to project an image of ‘Ease of Doing Business’ to the world, mindless of the consequences.

It formed multiple committees, diluted laws and regulations across the board, and opened up vast tracts of forest land to a select few in the private sector, she alleged.

She also suggested that in times of mass reverse migration, environment protection through public works programmes including afforestation and watershed development, can be turned into a grass-roots movement involving youth, women, communities, gram sabhas and non-governmental organisations.

Rahul Gandhi on Sunday urged people to protest the EIA 2020 draft, saying it was “dangerous” and if notified, the long term consequences will be “catastrophic”.

Javadekar has brushed aside Congress leaders’ criticism and termed it as “premature”. He also accused protesting Congress leaders of taking big decisions without consultations during their regime.

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India

Sonia Gandhi calls for a stop to dismantling of environment rules

The government has a social obligation to protect the environment; it must withdraw the Draft EIA 2020 Notification

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Sonia Gandhi

The Sanskrit words, ‘Prakriti Rakshati Rakshita’, greet visitors at the Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, the home of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, (MoEF&CC). They mean ‘nature protects, if she is protected’. This ancient Indic wisdom inspired Indira Gandhi throughout her life, as referenced in many of her letters and files. She shared a deep kinship with nature. She was also cognisant that the environment cannot be protected without eradicating poverty. The origins and spread of the global novel coronavirus pandemic and its catastrophic impact are a warning to the entire world. The protection of the environment must go hand in hand with promoting public health and access to dignified livelihoods for all.

Erosion of the framework

India with its rich biodiversity and widespread inequality must especially pay heed now. Our nation has all too often sacrificed the environment and the rights of our people while chasing the chimera of unbridled economic growth. Of course, progress requires trade-offs, but there must always be boundaries that cannot be transgressed. But over the past six years, the government has thoughtlessly — or worse, with intent — eroded our environmental protection framework. The biennial global Environmental Performance Index report has consistently put India at the bottom of its rankings. We were an alarming 177th out of 180 countries in 2018, faring badly on virtually all indicators — environmental health policy, biodiversity and habitat, air and water pollution and climate change.

The pandemic should have made the government reflect and reconsider its environmental and public health governance. Instead, the Ministry is handing out clearances during the lockdown without proper public consultations. The announcement of coal auctions by the Prime Minister in previously declared ‘no go’ areas, signals that the government is in no mood to course-correct. The disastrous Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), 2020 Notification, which among other provisions, gives a clean chit to polluters violating environmental regulations through ex-post facto approvals, will unleash unprecedented devastation on our environment.

Opaque reviews

It was apparent that a Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government would be destructive to India’s environment going by Mr. Modi’s track record in Gujarat as Chief Minister. During the 2014 election campaign, Mr. Modi slandered the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and the Environment Ministry for being an impediment to the nation’s growth. From the very start, the government has desperately sought to project an image of ‘Ease of Doing Business’ to the world, mindless of consequences. It formed multiple committees, diluted laws and regulations across the board, and opened up vast tracts of forest land to a select few in the private sector.

In 2014, the T.S.R. Subramanian Committee was set up to review six major environmental laws. Another committee was formed to amend the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), 2011 Notification. Both faced immense criticism for opacity and not consulting a wide range of stakeholders. The TSR Committee Report was never released, but some of its recommendations were surreptitiously implemented. On similar lines, the 2018 CRZ Notification was rejected by the National Fishworkers Forum and other stakeholders, for threatening the livelihoods of fishing communities and destroying coastal ecology along India’s 7,500-km long coastline. These communities contribute more than ₹50,000 crore annually to the Indian economy. They are severely impacted by climate change and natural disasters and are left to fend for themselves by the government. Likewise, the National Board for Wildlife, the Forest Advisory Committee and Expert Appraisal Committees are approving projects in and around protected wildlife areas without following due process.

The North Indian plains and the National Capital Region are engulfed in a debilitating smog year after year. According to a study in the British journal, The Lancet, 12.4 lakh deaths i.e. 12.5% of all deaths in India in 2017, could be attributed to air pollution. Yet, there has been no concerted action to address this public health emergency. Instead of stringent measures to control emissions from thermal power plants, the government extended deadlines for compliance and has made a U-turn on clean coal.

Attack on Adivasis

The government’s greatest assault has been reserved for the land and the rights of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers. The historic Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 was passed by the UPA government to undo centuries of injustice. Our deep cultural traditions as well as experience from all over the world have demonstrated that well-defined land rights to forest dwellers are beneficial for both marginalised populations and the environment. The twisted interpretation and shoddy implementation of the FRA, 2006, has led to Adivasis and forest-dwelling communities being harassed by the Forest Department. Their legal claims to land are buried in bureaucracy. The FRA link to project approvals has been abandoned in practice, and the curtailment or elimination of public hearings means that civil society and independent or concerned voices are muzzled.

Indira Gandhi had once said that forest development corporations had become forest destruction corporations. The veracity of her observation is borne out by several proposals or actions that militate against the interests of forest dwellers. For example, there is a proposal to overhaul the colonial Indian Forest Act, 1927 to give enhanced policing and quasi-judicial powers of the forest officials. It gives forest officials powers to use firearms with unjustified levels of immunity from prosecution. Earlier, the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016 was passed by the government in both Houses of Parliament, ignoring the Opposition which pointed out that it bypasses the FRA, 2006, and disempowers Adivasis, forest dwellers and gram sabhas.

Promote public health

In the name of reforms, the government rolled out the red carpet for crony capitalists, systematically disenfranchised the marginalised and vulnerable populations, and abandoned its responsibility to both domestic and international commitments on climate change and environmental protection. This is a completely wrong way to go about things.

The government should recognise it has a social obligation to protect the environment and promote public health. India’s environmental protection framework is not a regulatory burden and the government must incentivise industry to shift its mindset from clearances to compliance. The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector must be subsidised to follow green norms. Nobody denies that India needs a modern EIA framework. But it must be based on best available scientific knowledge, enhanced public participation and regular social audits. The concept of cumulative impacts of projects in a region or ecology — on the Ganga, for example, must be adopted. You cannot have ‘Nirmal Ganga’ without ‘Aviral Ganga’.

India as a green hub

Simply put, the government must stop dismantling India’s environmental regulations. An essential first step is to withdraw the Draft EIA 2020 Notification. What is essential is widespread public consultation to shape a national agenda that will place India at the forefront of the battle against global warming and pandemics. We have an incredible opportunity to reset our economy and demonstrate leadership to the world with a growth strategy that transforms India into a green manufacturing hub. The erstwhile Planning Commission’s expert group report on low carbon growth strategy and the many suggestions in the 2019 Congress Manifesto can be a starting point. In times of mass reverse migration, environment protection through public works programmes including afforestation and watershed development, can be turned into a grass-roots movement involving youth, women, communities, gram sabhas and non-governmental organisations. Indira Gandhi was the first major world leader to recognise the environmental crisis confronting the world in Stockholm in June 1972. Can India once again rise to the greatest challenges of the 21st century?

Sonia Gandhi is the President of the Indian National Congress

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Lifestyle

World Breastfeeding Week 2020: 10 essential nutrition tips for mothers

Calcium is vital for lactating mothers as they lose up to 15 percent of their own body calcium and about 3-5 percent of their bone mass while nursing their baby.

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Breastfeeding

New Delhi: For women who have recently become mothers, a healthy and nutritious diet is essential to boost lactation, just as much as its essential for a newborn to get its share of required nutrition. This makes it mandatory for the mother to consume food that will benefit her physical health and give her enough energy to combat post-pregnancy pressures, especially with the pandemic disrupting our daily lives.

This World Breastfeeding Week, Rohit Shelatkar, VP at Meyer Vitabiotics and Fitness and Nutrition Expert shares ten essential nutrients tips for new mothers :

Calcium: Babies need to develop their bone structure, and calcium is the best aid for that. It plays a crucial role in development of the new born baby’s teeth, and thus needs to be included in the diet for lactating mothers. Milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu and nuts are some of the foods that are rich in calcium and must be consumed. Calcium is vital for lactating mothers as they lose up to 15 percent of their own body calcium and about 3-5 percent of their bone mass while nursing their baby.

Protein: Inclusion of protein is crucial because it serves as the tissue’s building blocks and fosters growth. The new-born baby needs these nutrients and so the new mother must incorporate eggs, lean meat, fish, peanut butter and beans to her diet.

Omega 3: A crucial source of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), Omega 3 fatty acids offer a host of benefits including aiding the development of the baby’s eyes and brain, reducing risk of chronic diseases, decreasing effects of ADHD, and more. The best source for Omega 3 fatty acids is fish like salmon and trout and alternatively, for vegetarian mothers, flaxseed, soy, walnuts and pumpkin seeds are good sources for Omega 3.

Probiotics: Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria that helps fight ‘bad’ bacteria that cause infections. This is important for the new born, as during this time their immune system is still weak. Yogurt, paneer, green peas, kimchi, pickles, idli and buttermilk are excellent sources of probiotics that should be incorporated during meal time.

Iron: Iron aids in the development of the brain and blood cells for the baby and should be a part of the new mother’s diet. Lentils, beans, tofu, spinach and cashews are natural sources of iron and must be incorporated into their meal plan. Iron is also an essential nutrient for new mothers because there is loss of blood during the delivery, followed by tiredness and long nights with the infant and iron consumption helps cope with that.

Moderating caffeine intake: After nine months of avoiding caffeine, new mothers can finally enjoy a cup of coffee again, but in moderation, as excess intake of caffeine can leak into the mother’s breast milk and reach the baby’s system.

Consider Supplements: It is recommended to consume a daily vitamin B-12 supplement. Vitamin B-12 is found mostly in animal products, so it’s difficult to get enough in vegetarian diets. Additionally, Vitamin D supplements help absorb calcium and phosphorus. New mothers should consider adding these to their daily diet.

Be Moderately Active: It is perfectly fine to perform physical activity for new mothers while breastfeeding and that won’t affect the baby’s growth or milk supply. Moderate intensity activities like brisk walking or riding a bike on a level surface about three or four times a week can help reduce stress levels, improve energy levels and build bone strength.

Avoiding empty calories: The first few days after delivery are very hectic, and it is extremely tempting for the new mother to turn to comfort food or junk food. These types of food contain a number of empty calories that can affect insulin levels in the body which can lead to obesity.

Avoid Smoking or Drinking Alcohol: This is a big ‘no’ for breast-feeding mothers as the harmful toxins transfer to the baby via the milk. Additionally, it is important not to use any medication that is not approved by the doctor.

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