India air pollution at ‘unbearable levels’, Delhi minister says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

India air pollution at ‘unbearable levels’, Delhi minister says

In the smog, a large crowd of Hindu worshippers entering the River YamunaImage copyright REUTERS
Image caption Worshipers braved the smog to enter the polluted River Yamuna as part of the Hindu religious festival of Chatth Puja

Air pollution in the north of India has “reached unbearable levels,” the capital Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvid Kejriwal says.

In many areas of Delhi air quality deteriorated into the “hazardous” category on Sunday with the potential to cause respiratory illnesses.

Authorities have urged people to stay inside to protect themselves.

Mr Kejriwal called on the central government to provide relief and tackle the toxic pollution.

Schools have been closed, more than 30 flights diverted and construction work halted as the city sits in a thick blanket of smog.

A sign reading "Keep Delhi clean" with a thick smog in the backgroundImage copyright AFP
Image caption Only cars with odd or even number plates can drive on given days in a bid to reduce pollution

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain advised the city’s residents to “avoid outdoor physical activities, especially during morning and late evening hours”.

The advisory also said people should wear anti-pollution masks, avoid polluted areas and keep doors and windows closed.

How bad is the smog?

Levels of dangerous particles in the air – known as PM2.5 – are far higher than recommended and about seven times higher than in the Chinese capital Beijing.

An Indian health ministry official said the city’s pollution monitors did not have enough digits to accurately record pollution levels, which he called a “disaster”.

Presentational white space

Five million masks were handed out in schools on Friday as officials declared a public health emergency and Mr Kejriwal likened the city to a “gas chamber”.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says a third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer and heart disease are due to air pollution.

“This is having an equivalent effect to that of smoking tobacco,” the WHO says on its website.

How are people reacting?

Mr Kejriwal’s most recent comments are unlikely to please government officials, reports the BBC’s South Asia regional editor Jill McGivering. She said Indian politicians were blaming each other for the conditions.

On Sunday young people in Delhi came out to protest and demand action.

“You can obviously see how terrible it is and it’s actually scary you can’t see things in front of you,” said Jaivipra.

A protester holding a sign that says: "Can't decide whether air quality or economy is falling faster"Image copyright AFP
Image caption Angry protesters compared the pollution to India’s sluggish economy

She said she wanted long-term and sustainable anti-pollution measures put in place.

“We are concerned about our futures and about our health but we are also fighting this on behalf of the children and the elderly who bear the biggest brunt of the problem here,” she said.

Some ministers have sparked controversy on social media by suggesting light-hearted measures to stay healthy.

Harsh Vardhan, the union minister for health and family welfare, urged people to eat carrots to protect against “night blindness” and “other pollution-related harm to health”.

Presentational white space

Meanwhile, Prakash Javadekar, the minister of the environment, suggested that you should “start your day with music”, adding a link to a “scintillating thematic composition”.

“Is that the reason you have turned deaf ears to our plight on pollution?” one Twitter user responded. “Seems you are too busy hearing music that you are not able to hear us!”

What’s caused the pollution?

A major factor behind the high pollution levels at this time of year is farmers in neighboring states burning crop stubble to clear their fields.

A row of police wearing facemasks to protect themselves from the toxic smogImage copyright AFP
Image caption Police are wearing face masks to protect themselves from the toxic smog

This creates a lethal cocktail of particulate matter, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide – all worsened by fireworks set off during the Hindu festival Diwali a week ago.

Vehicle fumes, construction and industrial emissions have also contributed to the smog.

Indians are hoping that scattered rainfall over the coming week will wash away the pollutants but this is not due until Thursday.

Media caption Residents have been donning high-grade masks to counter the smog

Brazil: Petrobras President says Northeast leak is biggest environmental aggression in Brazil

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 24/7 NEWS)

 

Petrobras President says Northeast leak is biggest environmental aggression in Brazil

The head of the largest Brazilian state-owned company, Robero Castello Branco, said the spill that hits the northeast coast is “the biggest environmental aggression suffered by the country”. Castello Branco compared environmental impact to British BP disaster in Gulf of Mexico, one of history’s biggest crashes

The Atalaia Waterfront in Aracaju was taken by an oil slick this Friday morning (27);  According to information from the State Administration of the Environment (Adema), the affected area corresponds to 4.5 kilometers of beaches, starting at the Coroa do Meio lighthouse until the bath of Doce Doce;  The recommendation is not to make use of the sea in these places;  Petrobras reported that the spot was found but there was no incident on the oil rigs
The Atalaia Waterfront in Aracaju was taken by an oil slick this Friday morning (27); According to information from the State Administration of the Environment (Adema), the affected area corresponds to 4.5 kilometers of beaches, starting at the Coroa do Meio lighthouse until the bath of Doce; The recommendation is not to make use of the sea in these places; Petrobras reported that the stain was found, but there was no incident on the oil rigs (Photo: Valter Lima)

247 – The head of the largest Brazilian state-owned company, Robero Castello Branco, said that the spill that hits the northeast coast is “the biggest environmental aggression suffered by the country”. Castello Branco compared the environmental impact to the British BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the biggest accidents in history.

The head of Petrobras said: “I would like to refer initially, before starting my talk, to the greatest environmental aggression suffered by our country, I believe that in our history, which appears in the form of oil slicks that have reached the middle environment throughout the Northeast. “

The report by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo points out that “Castello Branco defended Petrobras’ action in the fight against pollution and criticized what he called the political use of the tragedy, rebelling criticism regarding the speed and structure of the emergency response.” has been very politicized, ideologized, with sometimes fake versions, that this or that could have been done, “he said. 

The article also underlines that “according to the president of Petrobras, the company has been providing protective equipment and has already deployed two ships and drones to help with the cleaning work.” Finally, it has worked under the coordination of Ibama [National Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources] incessantly to mitigate the effects of this environmental aggression. “

6 U.S. Cities With the Cleanest Air

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TRAVEL TRIVIA)

 

More from

6 U.S. Cities With the Cleanest Air

The American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report reveals the U.S. cities with the cleanest air. According to data from 2015 to 2017, all of these cities had zero days when ozone and particle pollution reached unhealthy levels. If you want to enjoy some clean, crisp air on your next stateside vacation, consider one of these cities.

Bangor, Maine

Credit: Luboslav Tiles/ Shutterstock

The city of Bangor in south-central Maine ranks 23rd for cleanest U.S. cities for year-round particle pollution and also had no days with unhealthy levels of ozone or short-term pollution.

Bangor’s success, unfortunately, isn’t replicated throughout the state, which has one of the highest rates of asthma in the country — approximately 10% among adults and 11% among children. Experts suspect that a critical factor affecting the state’s pollution levels is contaminants sweeping into the region on ocean and air currents from upstream urban areas.

In Bangor, however, you can breathe freely. Work your lungs with a hike through nearby Acadia National Park or take a more leisurely stroll along the city’s Penobscot River Walkway.

Lincoln–Beatrice, Nebraska

Credit: Katherine Welles/ Shutterstock

Lincoln ties with Bangor at 23rd for year-round pollution with zero days of unhealthy ozone and short-term pollution.

If you find yourself in the Midwest, take advantage by visiting some of its many outdoor attractions. The Sunken Gardens, recognized by National Geographic as one of the 300 best gardens in North America, are full of vibrant year-round flora. Meanwhile, the Pioneers Park Nature Center boasts hiking trails with informative exhibits on the area’s ecology. You’ll also find information on the factors that contribute to the city’s fresh air.

If you’re in Beatrice, you’ll want to visit the pristine Homestead National Monument of America, where you can hike among the prairie grasses and browse the outdoor exhibits depicting the history of American homesteading.

Finally, the Lincoln–Lancaster County Health Department has monitors that provide air quality data to residents so those with respiratory conditions can stay safe and healthy.

Wilmington, North Carolina

Credit: Gary C. Tognoni/ Shutterstock

Wilmington, North Carolina, is another city to be congratulated for its air quality. Known as the Port City, Wilmington is recognized for everything from its nearby beaches to the country’s largest movie studios outside of California. The city is also home to the U.S. Coast Guard’s Diligence vessel.

Wilmington’s residents have benefited from statewide environmental initiatives such as the 2002 North Carolina Clean Smokestacks Act. The city’s air also got a boost when Duke Energy, the regional electricity provider, converted the energy source of its Wilmington–adjacent plant from coal to natural gas.

If you visit Wilmington, you’ll want to take advantage of its nearly two miles of Riverwalk along Cape Fear River. The pedestrian boardwalk also connects to the Sea Bikeway and East Coast Greenway.

Palm Bay–Melbourne–Titusville, Florida

Credit: TDKvisuals/ Shutterstock

Tied with Wilmington for the 13th lowest year-round pollution — and the same zero days of dangerous ozone or short-term pollution — is the metro area of Palm Bay–Melbourne–Titusville in central Florida.

The region is also known as the Space Coast, due to the presence of the John F. Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral. Anyone interested in the history of our solar system will enjoy visiting the Space Center with its interactive tours and exhibits. You’ll breathe easy knowing that all that rocket exhaust hasn’t overwhelmingly increased pollution in the region.

Meanwhile, enjoy more clean air at the renowned Cocoa Beach or browse the wildlife at Brevard Zoo. You can also explore the various downtown districts, each of with its own unique character and the same pollutant-free atmosphere.

Burlington, Vermont

Credit: Sean Pavone/ Shutterstock

With no days of unhealthy ozone or particle pollution levels, the metro area of Burlington–South Burlington ranks 12th overall for year-round particle pollution and is another American city with the cleanest air in the country. As the largest city in the state, Burlington is home to the University of Vermont and is rightfully considered one of the most beautiful college towns in the country.

In 2015, Burlington became the first American city to run entirely on renewable electricity, which has undoubtedly played a role in its clean air success. Along with biomass, solar, and wind power, its largest energy source is hydro, thanks to its use of dams and its location on Lake Champlain.

Burlington also has an ongoing “Great Streets Initiative,” a municipal project aimed at enhancing the city’s sustainability. From a new City Hall Park to improved bike lanes, the various changes make Burlington a vibrant place to visit and explore — with the added bonus of pollutant-free air.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Credit: Izabela23/ Shutterstock

Tied for the lowest year-round particle pollution, in addition to zero days of dangerous ozone or particle pollution levels, Honolulu has some of the cleanest air in the country. While the Hawaiian islands are known for their natural beauty, what is remarkable is that the state has managed to preserve its fresh and vibrant atmosphere even in its urban capital — and largest city — of approximately 350,000 people.

Despite its favorable ranking, however, Honolulu’s air quality has suffered dramatic swings thanks to the existence of “vog,” the island term for volcanic smog. When Kilauea erupted on the Big Island in 2018, winds spread the resulting sulfur dioxide to other islands in the archipelago, including Oahu, on which Honolulu is located. When vog levels are high, residents — and visitors — can experience symptoms ranging from eye/skin irritation to coughing, headaches, and fatigue.

However, when the winds are favorable, the islands do indeed have the best air in the country. The city’s outdoor attractions are also perfect for visitors who prize clean air and pristine environments. From outdoor gems like Waikiki Beach to the Honolulu Botanical Gardens, this beautiful Hawaiian city certainly offers plenty of value for all tourists.

Brazil Amazon: Old enemies unite to save their land

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Brazil Amazon: Old enemies unite to save their land

Kayapó and Panará during the meetingImage copyright LUCAS LANDAU/REDE XINGU+
Image caption Kayapó and Panará, once rivals, have united against the policies of the Brazilian government

While the world’s attention has been focused on the fires raging in the Amazon rain forest in Brazil, indigenous people living there have warned that the policies of President Jair Bolsonaro pose a bigger threat to their existence.

Rival groups have now come together to fight the government’s plans for the region that is their home, as BBC News Brasil’s João Fellet reports from the Amazon village of Kubenkokre.

Dozens of indigenous people gathered in this remote part of northern Brazil last month after travelling for days by bus and boat.

The meeting brought together formerly sworn enemies such as the Kayapó and the Panará.

The two groups were at war for decades, raiding each other’s villages in tit-for-tat attacks. The warring came to a brutal end in 1968, when an attack by the Kayapó, who came armed with guns, left 26 Panará, who only had arrows to defend themselves, dead.

Tensions remained high for years but according to those gathered in Kubenkokre, the two sides have now overcome their animosity for a greater goal.

“Today, we have only one enemy, the government of Brazil, the president of Brazil, and those invading [indigenous territories],” Kayapó leader Mudjire explained.

“We have internal fights but we’ve come together to fight this government.”

His words were echoed by Panará leader Sinku: “We’ve killed the Kayapó and the Kayapó have killed us, we’ve reconciled and will no longer fight.”

“We’ve got a shared interest to stand together so the non-indigenous people don’t kill all of us,” he said, referring to the threats posed by the arrival of miners and loggers carrying out illegal activities in their area.

‘69,000 football fields lost’

More than 800,000 indigenous people live in 450 demarcated indigenous territories across Brazil, about 12% of Brazil’s total territory. Most are located in the Amazon region and some groups still live completely isolated and without outside contact.

President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in January, has repeatedly questioned whether these demarcated territories – which are enshrined in Brazil’s constitution – should continue to exist, arguing that their size is disproportionate to the number of indigenous people living there.

His plans to open up these territories for mining, logging and agriculture are controversial, and any change to their status would need to be passed by the Brazilian Congress.

Encontro no XinguImage copyright LUCAS LANDAU/REDE XINGU+
Image caption Indigenous groups performed traditional dances and songs during the meeting

But it is something that worries the indigenous leaders gathered in Kubenkokre. “Other presidents had more concern for our land. [Mr Bolsonaro] isn’t concerned about this, he wants to put an end to what our people have and to how we live,” explains Panará leader Sinku.

“That’s why I have a heavy heart and that’s why we’re here talking to each other.”

In some demarcated areas, loggers and miners are already at work after some local indigenous leaders granted them permission.

Indigenous leader Bepto Xikrin told the gathering how some 400 miners and loggers had illegally entered the Bacajá territory since the start of the year. He said that members of his indigenous group were scared and did not know what to do.

And according to a network of 24 environmental and indigenous groups, Rede Xingu+, an area equivalent to 69,000 football fields was destroyed between January and June of this year alone in the Xingu river region.

Doto TakakireImage copyright LUCAS LANDAU/REDE XINGU+
Image caption Kayapó leader Doto Takakire shows some of the destroyed areas in the Xingu basin

Heavy machinery has caused major damage and the Fresco and Branco rivers that run through the region have been contaminated with mercury.

Kayapó leader Doto Takakire said illegal mining had been further encouraged by the fact that it often goes unpunished.

Analysis by BBC Brasil shows the number of fines handed out by the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) for environmental violations has dropped significantly since President Bolsonaro took office on 1 January.

Presentational white space
A graph showing the number of fines handed out since 2009
Presentational white space

Mr Bolsonaro has in the past pledged to limit the fines imposed for damaging the Amazon and many blame the president for Ibama’s current weak position.

‘We won’t repeat the past’

At the meeting – which was held in both Portuguese and Kayapó – participants discussed projects for their region’s economic developments which do not contribute to deforestation, such as handicrafts and the processing of native fruits.

“[I’m concerned] about the trees, water, fish, the non-indigenous people who want to enter our land,” explained Sinku. “I don’t want to contaminate the water with [toxic products from] mining… That’s why I’m here.”

Indigenous groups which have allowed miners on to their land were not invited, an omission which some of those attending described as a missed opportunity.

“There’s no-one here who wants agribusiness or mining in their villages, so are we just going to talk amongst ourselves?” Kayapó leader Oé asked.

Media caption   Why the Amazon rain forest helps fight climate change

The fires which have been burning across the Amazon were not a big topic of debate at the gathering, in part because they have mainly happened outside protected indigenous reserves but also because those gathered consider illegal mining and logging as more pressing threats.

“We won’t repeat the past,” Kayapó leader Kadkure concluded. “From now on, we’ll be united.”

China: People Mourn Martyrs Who Died Fighting Forest Fire

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

People mourn for martyrs who died while fighting forest fire in Sichuan

Xinhua

Xinhua

A ceremony is held to receive the bone ashes of fireman Zhang Chengpeng, who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, at Jinan international airport in Jinan, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019. The ashes of fireman Zhang Chengpeng returned to his hometown of Zouping in Shandong Province on Friday.

Xinhua

People mourn for Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as their remains are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

The remains of Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

The remains of Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People mourn for Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as their remains are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People attend a mourning ceremony for fireman Zhang Chengpeng, who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, in Dachen Village, Zouping, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

The remains of Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People mourn for Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as their remains are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

A ceremony is held to receive the bone ashes of fireman Zhang Chengpeng, who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, at Jinan international airport in Jinan, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People mourn for Yang Ruilun, a martyr who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as his remains are taken back to his hometown in Majiang County, Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture of Qiandongnan, southwest China’s Guizhou Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People mourn for Yang Ruilun, a martyr who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as his remains are taken back to his hometown in Majiang County, Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture of Qiandongnan, southwest China’s Guizhou Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

The remains of Xu Penglong, Zhao Yongyi, Zhang Shuai and Kang Rongzhen, martyrs who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, are taken back to their hometown in Linyi, east China’s Shandong Province, April 5, 2019.

Xinhua

People mourn for Yang Ruilun, a martyr who died while fighting a forest fire in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, as his remains are taken back to his hometown in Majiang County, Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture of Qiandongnan, southwest China’s Guizhou Province, April 5, 2019.

China officials ‘faked water tests with bottled water’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

China officials ‘faked water tests with bottled water’

A row of unbranded plastic water bottlesImage copyright GETTY CREATIVE
Image captionThe officials reportedly faked the data by using bottled water instead of river water

China is sending investigators to Hunan province after local officials were accused of faking data at a water monitoring station, state media report.

The officials are alleged to have placed sensors intended to measure the water quality of Lujiang River inside bottles of mineral water instead.

The river, in Zhuzhou, is badly polluted by sewage water, reports say.

There is widespread suspicion that some local officials and companies in China ignore environmental policies.

The environment ministry says it is investigating in Zhuzhou and “will seriously punish” any “violations”.

One monitoring sensor was even placed in a cup of tea instead of the Lujiang River, Xinhua news agency says.

Water monitoring currently takes place at 2,050 sites in the country, China Daily reports.

The Chinese government has vowed to improve its efforts to monitor and combat pollution – but there continues to be concern about air and water quality in China.

In 2016, one government report said more than 80% of rural wells in the north-east contained water unsafe for drinking.

Meanwhile, a separate 2017 government survey found more than 13,000 companies in China failed to meet environmental standards.

India: Kerala floods: death toll rises above 324 as rescue effort intensifies

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS AGENCY)

 

Kerala floods: death toll rises above 324 as rescue effort intensifies

220,000 people left homeless in southern Indian state after unusually heavy rain

Play Video
1:35
 ‘Please pray for us’: Kerala experiences worst monsoon in nearly a century – video report

More than 324 people have died in the worst flooding in nearly a century in the south Indian state of Kerala.

Roads are damaged, mobile phone networks are down, an international airport has been closed and more than 220,000 people have been left homeless after unusually heavy rain in the past nine days.

Officials repeatedly revised the death toll upwards from 86 people on Friday morning to more than 300 by the evening as a massive rescue operation reached more flood-hit regions. “Around 100 people died in the last 36 hours alone,” a state official said.

Casualty numbers are expected to increase further, with thousands more people still stranded and less intense though still heavy rain forecast for at least the next 24 hours. Many have died from being buried in hundreds of landslides set off by the flooding.

https://interactive.guim.co.uk/uploader/embed/2018/08/kerala_floods/giv-3902lxSDbOfGLgX2/

The Kerala chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan, said the state was experiencing an “extremely grave” crisis, with the highest flood warning in place in 12 of its 14 regions.

“We’re witnessing something that has never happened before in the history of Kerala,” he told reporters.

The Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, was on his way to Kerala on Friday evening “to take stock of the flood situation in the state”, he said.

Kerala, famed for its tea plantations, beaches and tranquil backwaters, is frequently saturated during the annual monsoon. But this year’s deluge has swamped at least 20,000 homes and forced people into more than 1,500 relief camps.

People are airlifted to safety in Kerala floods, India.
Pinterest
 People are airlifted to safety. Photograph: Sivaram V/Reuters

The toll in Kerala contributed to more than 900 deaths recorded by the Indian home ministry this monsoon season from landslides, flooding and rain.

Rescue workers and members of India’s armed forces have been deployed across the state with fleets of ships and aircraft brought in to save the thousands of people still stranded, many sheltering on their roofs signalling to helicopters for help.

Play Video
0:23
 Aerial view shows scale of monsoon flooding in Kerala, India – video

Officials estimated about 6,000 miles (10,000km) of roads had been submerged or buried by landslides and a major international airport in Cochin has been shut until 26 August. Communications networks were also faltering, officials said, making rescue efforts harder to coordinate.

Residents of the state used social media to post desperate appeals for help, sometimes including their GPS coordinates to help guide rescuers.

“My family and neighbouring families are in trouble with flood in Pandanad nakkada area in Alappuzha,” Ajo Varghese said in a viral Facebook post. “No water and food. Not able to communicate from afternoon. Mobile phones are not reachable and switch off. Please help … No rescue is available.”

Another man in the central town of Chengannur posted a video of himself neck-deep in water in his home. “It looks like water is rising to the second floor,” he says. “I hope you can see this. Please pray for us.”

Play Video
0:39
 Kerala floods: man, neck-deep in water, appeals for help from inside his house – video

The fate of the man was still unclear on Friday. The state finance minister, Thomas Isaac, tweeted in the afternoon that the last road to Chengannur had washed away before his eyes and the town was cut off.

The water has claimed parts of Cochin, the state’s commercial capital, and was still rising in some areas of the city on Friday, with residents urged to evacuate and guide ropes strung across roads inundated by fast-moving currents.

Soldiers evacuate local residents in Ernakulam.
Pinterest
 Soldiers evacuate local residents in Ernakulam. Photograph: -/AFP/Getty Images

Meteorologists said Kerala had received an average 37.5% more rainfall than usual. The hardest-hit districts such as Idukki in the north received 83.5% excess rain. More than 80 dams across the state had opened their gates to try to ease the crisis, the chief minister said.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too.

The Guardian is editorially independent, meaning we set our own agenda. Our journalism is free from commercial bias and not influenced by billionaire owners, politicians or shareholders. No one edits our Editor. No one steers our opinion. This is important because it enables us to give a voice to the voiceless, challenge the powerful and hold them to account. It’s what makes us different to so many others in the media, at a time when factual, honest reporting is critical.

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as $1, you can support the Guardian – and it only takes a minute. Thank you.

Did cruise ship guards have to kill polar bear?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS AND FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

 

Did cruise ship guards have to kill polar bear? Experts say maybe — but blame climate change

by Kalhan Rosenblatt / 
Image: TOPSHOT-NORWAY-ARCTIC-ANIMALS-POLAR-BEAR

A dead polar bear lies on the beach in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago on July 28, 2018. Norwegian authorities said the polar bear was shot after it attacked and injured a polar guard who was protecting a group of tourists from a cruise ship.Gustav Busch Arntsen / Scanpix via AFP – Getty Images

A German cruise line has received a wave of backlash after its crew members shot and killed a polar bear that had attacked a guard whose job it was to spot and prevent interactions with the animal.

The cruise, a Hapag-Lloyd ship called the MS Bremen, was traveling near the northernmost island of the Svalbard archipelago, between mainland Norway and the North Pole, had intended to show the bears off to a group of tourists — and it appears guards on the vessel attempted to scare the bear off before resorting to lethal force, officials said.

Police spokesman Ole Jakob Malmo told the Associated Press that two members of the Bremen’s 12-man crew that set out ahead of tourists on Saturday first tried to ward off the bear “by shouting and making loud noises as well as firing a signal pistol, but to no effect.”

In a statement, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises had said the attack happened when a four-person bear guard team, went on land ahead of the tour.

“One of the guards was unexpectedly attacked by a polar bear that had not been spotted and he was unable to react himself. As the attempts of the other guards to evict the animal, unfortunately, were not successful, there had to be intervention for reasons of self-defense and to protect the life of the attacked person,” the statement said. The guard who was injured is in stable condition, according to Hapag-Lloyd Cruises spokesman Moritz Krause.

Experts warn that, as climate change continues to shrink the polar bear’s habitat, the animals are finding themselves face-to-face with humans more often.

“With climate change there’s a lot less sea ice and bears have to spend a lot more time on land. There is definitely more chance of interaction between people and bears,” said Sybille Klenzendorf, senior biologist and senior species expert for the World Wildlife Fund.

“And this is not just for tourism. This is for communities, this is for industry, anybody operating and living in the Arctic has this chance of higher encounters so we have to be prepared in a preventive and proactive manner to prevent conflict with polar bears,” she noted.

Experts told NBC News that in most cases guards have and are able to use a host of methods to deescalate bear encounters before resorting to killing the animal.

“Deterrent methods are extremely successful,” said Brian Horner, the founder and director of LTR Training Solutions in Anchorage, Alaska, which includes bear-guard instruction.

Horner said there are several steps guards can take before killing the animal. A guard who sees a bear can first try to shoot a projectile firework that will cause a bang and scare the animal off, although this requires a precise shot in order to scare the bear backwards rather than forward. Guards also must take care not to start a fire with the flare, Horner said.

Guards can also use a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with blank rounds.

“All it does is make the shotgun make a really big bang. We like those, but our clients don’t like them because it’s 161 decibels, and if you’re not ready, you’re going to have an ear ache,” Horner said.

The next line of defense is rubber bullets before a final non-lethal option: bean bag projectiles. But they can be risky.

“When you’re using bean bags, you’re so close that if it decides it doesn’t like the bean bag, it’s going to run toward you,” Horner said of polar bears.

Klenzendorf said that there are specific rules of engagement that cruise lines are supposed to follow in the region where the killing happened over the weekend, and that polar bear guards are required to limit the chance of interaction between humans and bears. But even to the trained eye, in the Arctic, it’s not an easy task.

“It’s very hard sometimes in the arctic environment to actually see them,” Klenzendorf said of polar bears.

Horner agreed that it can be a challenge for bear guards to spot the animals.

“Polar bears are smart. They’re really smart … and they have to hunt a lot. Polar bears go from curious to interested quickly,” Horner said, adding that “polar bears are sneaky” and likely crept up on the guards.

Fortunately, Klenzendorf said, polar bear guards don’t often end up having fatal interactions with the animals.

“Given that it’s only been the second bear in 20 years of the cruising industry in Svalbard that has been killed, it shows there must be high standards that are being followed for interactions,” she said.

Air Pollution Contributes Significantly to Diabetes Worldwide

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Study: Air Pollution Contributes Significantly to Diabetes Worldwide

Saturday, 30 June, 2018 – 07:15
via GETTY IMAGES
Asharq Al-Awsat
A study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis suggested that there are strong links between outdoor air pollution and an increased risk of diabetes worldwide.

According to the study, air pollution caused one in seven new cases of diabetes in 2016, adding that even low levels raised the chances of developing the chronic disease.

The study estimated that pollution contributed to 3.2 million new diabetes cases globally in 2016 — or around 14 percent of all new diabetes cases globally that year, AFP reported.

“Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally,” said Ziyad Al-Aly, the study’s senior author.

Pollution is believed to affect the production of insulin in the body, “preventing the body from converting blood glucose into energy that the body needs to maintain health,” the research elaborated.

Al-Aly said the research, published in the Lancet Planetary Health, proved a higher risk even with levels of air pollution currently considered safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“This is important because many industry lobbying groups argue that current levels are too stringent and should be relaxed. Evidence shows that current levels are still not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened,” he added.

According to AFP, diabetes affects more than 420 million people globally and is one of the world’s fastest growing diseases.

China’s premier calls for ecological efforts

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI NEWS PAPER ‘SHINE’)

 

China’s premier calls for ecological efforts

Xinhua

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday called for efforts in greening and prevention and control of forest fires, floods and droughts to ensure socio-economic growth and the building of an “ecological civilization.”

Li made the remarks in a written instruction to a teleconference on national work in land greening and prevention and control of forest fires, floods and drought held in Beijing on Tuesday.

He instructed governments at all levels to carry out solid work in greening as well as disaster prevention and control, which are pivotal for sustainable development and the security of lives and property.

Extensive land greening programs should be carried out to build a green shield, meeting the annual goal of adding 100 million mu (about 6.7 million hectares) of forests, Li said.

Work in forest fire prevention should be done in a scientific way, while strictly following procedures and preventive measures.

He also called for efforts to enhance preparation for flood and drought by improving water infrastructure and disaster prevention and control abilities.

Vice Premier Hu Chunhua said at the meeting that green resources should be increased via multiple channels, including key forestry projects, and called for efforts to improve ecological protection and develop green industries.

Hu also called for intensified safety supervision and monitoring, urging improvements in emergency planning for disaster prevention and control.