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Recently John Byrne, Nobel laureate and director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, University of Delaware, was in India to study the Indian perspective on developments in environment and energy sectors. After meeting Jaitapur locals in Mumbai on January 23, he said that concerns and fears of the people regarding the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant have not been addressed properly.
He also stated that all nuclear projects must analyse and take into account all possible risks, including those that have not yet been considered. He cited the example that the scientists at Fukushima or the Three Mile Island were some of the best in the world, but even they could not foresee the future risks of the nuclear plant.
He also said that accidents and risks associated with nuclear energy and economic considerations are making several countries reconsider their nuclear power aspirations. He advised India to use sustainable energy and focus more on solar power and exploit its abundant solar energy resources.
The Sundarbans and the Royal Bengal Tiger under threat
Sadly coal mining is not the only threat to the tiger, but one of many. The endangered Royal Bengal Tiger’s fate in the Sundarbans hangs in the balance as these mangrove forests are rapidly disappearing. According to zoologists upto 200 meters of the coast has been retreating annually in the Sunderbans.
The Sunderbans are the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forests in the world and native to nearly 500 species of reptile, fish, bird and mammal species including the Royal Bengal Tiger. Global warming , dilapidation of natural protection from cyclones and tidal waves and thriving human development is resulting in a grave threat to the species of this richly bio-diverse region.
The Sundarbans are a critical tiger habitat and one of the few remaining natural forests huge enough to support a large number of tigers. They are also very effective carbon sinks and absorb and retain huge amounts of carbon, acting as an important barrier against climate change. To lose these beautiful forests to unplanned human development would be a sheer tragedy.
Andean glaciers fast disappearing
The journal Cryosphere has published a study which says that Andean glaciers have shrunk between 30 and 50 percent since the 1970’s due to climate change. The study further warns that many of the Andean glaciers could completely disappear in the coming years and they are retreating at their fastest rates in more than 300 years.
In the last 30 years the glacier retreat has been unprecedented and future global warming could totally wipe out the smaller glaciers found at lower altitudes that store and release fresh water. These glaciers are a vital source of fresh water for millions of South Americans.
Ignatius Thekaekara is Online Media Officer with Greenpeace.