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Javed Akhtar says only he can write Sahir Ludhianvi’s biopic

Lyricist and screenwriter Javed Akhtar thinks no one can do a Sahir Ludhianvi biopic justice other than him. “If there is someone who can write a film on him (Ludhianvi), that is me. No one knows him better than me. And the others who knew him aren’t alive,” said Akhtar in a press con recently. Mumbai Mirror reported that the ... Read More »

Virginia ban on uranium mining upheld by U.S. Supreme Court

The largest-known U.S. uranium deposit will remain firmly under ground after the Supreme Court on Monday upheld Virginia’s ban on mining the radioactive metal, rebuffing a challenge backed by President Donald Trump’s administration to the 1982 moratorium. In a 6-3 decision that underscored states’ rights, the justices affirmed a lower court’s ruling that threw out a lawsuit by Virginia Uranium ... Read More »

We Have Five Years To Save Ourselves From Climate Change, Harvard Scientist Says

The level of carbon now in the atmosphere hasn’t been seen in 12 million years, a Harvard scientist said in Chicago Thursday, and this pollution is rapidly pushing the climate back to its state in the Eocene Epoch, more than 33 million years ago, when there was no ice on either pole. “We have exquisite information about what that state ... Read More »

Germany protests call for leadership on climate action

From Berlin to Cologne, protesters have gathered to demand more from the government in the fight against climate change. Greenpeace said Germany must lead, and that means phasing out coal by 2030. Thousands of protesters gathered on Saturday in Berlin and Cologne to demand bolder measures to combat climate change. Some 36,000 people joined the rallies. Organizers said the protest aimed to pressure the government into ending Germany's reliance on coal for its energy needs and instead looking to renewable energies, such as solar energy and wind power. "The point is that Germany must phase out coal by 2030," Jennifer Morgan, who leads Greenpeace International, told the Agence France-Presse news agency. "What happens in high-tech Germany, how quickly the climate-damaging combustion of coal is replaced by solar energy and wind power, is very important, also for other countries." Local to global In Berlin, protesters focused on changing government policy, while the demonstrations in Cologne highlighted the plight of Hambach Forest. The ancient forest has been a site of contention between anti-coal protesters and German energy giant RWE, which wants to clear the area to expand an open coal mine. Environmental activists argue that Germany should be winding down coal consumption, not expanding it. Germany was set to release a report on phasing out coal but later postponed the release until 2019.

From Berlin to Cologne, protesters have gathered to demand more from the government in the fight against climate change. Greenpeace said Germany must lead, and that means phasing out coal by 2030. Thousands of protesters gathered on Saturday in Berlin and Cologne to demand bolder measures to combat climate change. Some 36,000 people joined the rallies. Organizers said the protest ... Read More »

Pollution killing more people than war and violence, says report

Pollution kills more people each year than wars, disasters and hunger, also causing huge economic damage, a study says. Almost half the total deaths occur in just two countries. Environmental pollution is killing more people every year than smoking, hunger or natural disasters, according to a major study released in The Lancet medical journal on Thursday. One in every six of the 9 million premature deaths worldwide in 2015 could be attributed to diseases caused by toxins in air or water, the study says. It says air pollution was the main cause of deaths, responsible for 6.5 million of the fatalities, followed by water pollution, which killed 1.8 million. Read more: Air pollution is 'top health hazard in Europe' The estimate of 9 million premature deaths, considered conservative by the authors, is one and a half times higher than the number of people killed by smoking, and three times the death toll from AIDS, turberculosis and malaria combined. It is also 15 times the number of people killed in war or other forms of violence. Ninety-two percent of pollution-related deaths occurred in low- or middle-income developing countries, with India topping the list at 2.5 million, followed by China at 1.8 million. Economic costs The report also attributed massive costs to pollution-related death, sickness and welfare, estimating the costs at some $4.6 trillion (€3.89 trillion) in annual losses — or about 6.2 percent of the global economy. "What people don't realize is that pollution does damage to economies. People who are sick or dead cannot contribute to the economy. They need to looked after," said one of the study's authors, Richard Fuller, who is head of the global pollution watchdog Pure Earth. Read more: Five ways to improve air quality in our cities "There is this myth that finance ministers still live by: that you have to let industry pollute or else you won't develop. It just isn't true," he said. According to the study, the financial burden also hits poorer countries hardest, with low-income countries paying 8.3 percent of their GNP to tackle the harm caused by pollution, as compared with 4.5 percent in richer countries. 'Worrying developments in US' The Lancet editors Pamela Das and Richard Horton said the report came at a "worrisome time, when the US government's Environmental Protection Agency, headed by Scott Pruitt, is undermining established environmental regulations." Pruitt announced this month that the US, a major producer of air pollution and greenhouse gases, would be pulling out of former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan. The plan, which aimed to cut carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production, was expected by the EPA to also reduce smog and soot in the air by 25 percent and thus avoid thousands of premature deaths through asthma and other lung conditions. Das and Horton said the latest findings should serve as a "call to action." "Pollution is a winnable battle ... Current and future generations deserve a pollution-free world," they said.

Pollution kills more people each year than wars, disasters and hunger, also causing huge economic damage, a study says. Almost half the total deaths occur in just two countries. Environmental pollution is killing more people every year than smoking, hunger or natural disasters, according to a major study released in The Lancet medical journal on Thursday. One in every six ... Read More »

Al Gore holds ‘productive’ meeting on climate change with Trump

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate said he had "an extremely interesting conversation" with the US president-elect. Donald Trump has described climate change as a "hoax" invented by China to undermine American industry. Former US Vice President Al Gore, known for championing the fight against climate change, on Monday described his meeting with President-elect Donald Trump as a "productive" session "It was a sincere search for areas of common ground," said Gore, who shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for his efforts to curb climate change. "I found it an extremely interesting conversation and, to be continued," Gore added. Trump, who threatened to upend the 2015 Paris accord during his campaign, has vehemently denied the existence of climate change, describing it as a foreign "hoax." "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive," Trump said in a tweet. "Let's continue to destroy the competiveness of our factories and manufacturing so we can fight mythical global warming. China is so happy," he said in another tweet. Since his electoral victory in November, Trump has eased his tone on climate change, saying he has an "open mind" towards the relationship between human activity and climate change. "I think there is some connectivity. Some, something. It depends on how much," Trump said during a post-election interview with "The New York Times." The meeting comes as Trump works to fill his cabinet, with an expected announcement on his state secretary, the US' top diplomatic role, this week.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate said he had “an extremely interesting conversation” with the US president-elect. Donald Trump has described climate change as a “hoax” invented by China to undermine American industry. Former US Vice President Al Gore, known for championing the fight against climate change, on Monday described his meeting with President-elect Donald Trump as a “productive” session “It ... Read More »

A star-studded Paris summit makes far-fetched promises

World leaders kicking off the UN climate conference in Paris have talked a lot about a moral duty to save the planet. Now, negotiators have to work out how that translates into a global climate treaty. It is not unusual that climate conferences start off with resounding speeches and fervent appeals. But what set this first day of the climate conference in Paris apart from other such events was the fact that these appeals were delivered not by environment ministers, but by some 150 heads of state and government. "It is on your shoulders that the hopes of all humanity rest," French President Francois Hollande told his counterparts from around the world. And US President Barack Obama urged fellow world leaders to "rise to the moment." Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in general less emotional, said that concluding a universal climate change agreement in Paris was "a question of the future of humanity." Merkel's statement The chancellor also said there was a need for "far-reaching" decarbonization of the global economy - a statement climate activists said should be taken with a grain of salt. "When chancellor Merkel says we must decarbonize and get off coal, oil and gas, we support that," said Kumi Naidoo, head of Greenpeace International. "But the detail that we want to hear is that we can get to that point by 2050," Naidoo added. Merkel spoke of decarbonization "by the end of the century." She also called for a climate agreement that was "ambitious, fair and binding." "I found it interesting that Merkel said she wants to see a review of national pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before 2020," said Christoph Bals of the NGO Germanwatch. "The position of the European Union has been that the first review should take place only in 2023. By calling for an earlier date, Merkel is putting pressure on the EU to improve on its climate targets for the decade starting in 2020." A different view from China? For his part, Chinese President Xi Jinping said it was "imperative" to respect the differences among countries and that developing nations should not be denied their "legitimate needs" to grow. But Xi also talked about "win-win situations" in following low-carbon growth paths. Germanwatch's Bals interpreted this as a positive change from the rhetoric used in past climate conferences. "China used to say that fighting climate change is a burden that others should bear," Bals said. "Saying that through technology transfer it can be turned into an opportunity means putting a whole new spin on things." "At the climate conference in Copenhagen in 2009, China said emissions would continue throughout the century," Greenpeace's Naidoo said. "Now they have made a commitment that emissions will peak by 2030 at the latest - and that is a pretty big shift." 'Let's get to work' President Obama reaffirmed the US's commitment to help developing nations embark on low-carbon growth paths, and pledged $50 million (47 million euros) to a fund supporting the world's poorest countries. "We embrace our responsibility," Obama said, acknowledging the US's role in climate changes as the world's second largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and ending his statement with an appeal to negotiators to "get to work." Overall, Bals said, "there was little of substance in Obama's speech." Concepts to speed up negotiations The getting to work that Obama called for was facilitated by a move of the French presidency to get procedural questions addressed prior to the event's formal opening, enabling true negotiations to start right away. Bals called this an "innovative" approach that might prevent negotiators from spending "two or three days" on tactical maneuvering. The longtime observer of climate conferences added that, though many of Monday's statements might not have contained many surprising or specific elements, they should not be seen as mere "showcase speeches." "The delegations will be held to what their leaders have said," Bals said, "and if a delegate says something contradictory, the presiding chair can refuse this position for backtracking on a leader's statement." The aim is to present a consolidated text on Thursday. But many take this as an ambitious goal, and a lot of obstacles have to be overcome to achieve it.

World leaders kicking off the UN climate conference in Paris have talked a lot about a moral duty to save the planet. Now, negotiators have to work out how that translates into a global climate treaty. It is not unusual that climate conferences start off with resounding speeches and fervent appeals. But what set this first day of the climate ... Read More »

Global leaders attend climate conference in wake of Paris terror attacks

World leaders from US President Barack Obama to India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Germany's Angela Merkel are set to address the UN climate conference opening in Paris. It is the first time ever that heads of state and government have opened a UN climate conference with speeches. Hopes are high that their statements will send positive signals that a global climate agreement can be achieved in Paris. Some 150 leaders from around the world are due to speak from 12 noon onwards on Monday with statements to be delivered simultaneously in two meeting rooms, due to the number of leaders attending. "This is the greatest diplomatic event France has ever hosted," a French diplomat told DW, "and it has been a huge endeavor both in terms of diplomacy and in terms of security." The French capital is still reeling from the devastating terrorist attacks of November 13, which killed 130 people. The government has deployed more than 6,000 security officers for the climate conference's opening day. Observers hope for strong signals The last time that world leaders personally involved themselves in climate negotiations at the conference in Copenhagen in 2009, it turned out to be a failure. The countries attending agreed merely on an "accord" which did not contain commitments to emission reductions. Observers agree it was a smart move by the conference's French hosts to invite heads of state and government for the event's opening day rather than involve them in last-hour negotiations. "Politically speaking, the fact that heads of state and government are here to kick off the conference is extremely important," Jan Kowalzig, a senior climate change advisor with Oxfam told DW. "We expect these statements to reinforce the political momentum that has been building up towards concluding an agreement," Kowalzig said. "We also expect that leaders will outline when they expect global greenhouse gas emissions to peak and by when they expect zero greenhouse gas emissions." Aim: To reach global climate agreement The task of the two-week-long conference is to come to an accord in which all countries commit to curbing global greenhouse gas emissions in order to prevent the world from warming by more than two degrees by the end of the century, compared to pre-industrial levels. But while more than 170 countries submitted national reduction pledges ahead of the Paris conference, it is clear that even if all pledges were implemented unconditionally, the world would still warm by around three degrees. Germany and EU calling for review "That means that we need a review process to follow up on this issue," said Germany's chancellor Angela Merkel in her weekly video podcast. "The agreement must be fit for purpose," EU climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said in Brussels last week, "and that means that it cannot be static." Disagreement on finance The question of whether there should be a global stocktaking of the implementation of pledges and the trend of greenhouse gas emissions, and if so, when such a review should first take place, is one of the issues observers expect to be contentious. Other issues include financial support to help developing nations embark on a low-carbon growth path and adapt to the impact of climate change, such as rising sea levels. Pressure to compromise But on Sunday evening, the French foreign minister put pressure on parties to cut out political manouevering and demonstrate a willingness to compromise. At a meeting of negotiators involved in reworking a draft Paris agreement, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he understood that some participants had a tendency to leave others to take the first step. But nobody should wait for any miracles during the conference's final day and night, Fabius added. "We have to make progress here every day," Fabius said.

World leaders from US President Barack Obama to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Germany’s Angela Merkel are set to address the UN climate conference opening in Paris. It is the first time ever that heads of state and government have opened a UN climate conference with speeches. Hopes are high that their statements will send positive signals that a ... Read More »

India unveils ambitious environmental targets

India has unveiled its climate targets ahead of December's United Nations climate conference in Paris. Its environmental targets include reducing its carbon intensity by 35 percent by 2030. Ahead of a major United Nations environmental conference in Paris, India pledged to generate 40 percent of its electricity from renewable sources within 15 years. "We are confident we will achieve the 35 percent (target) by 2030," said Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar. He added that "it is a huge jump for India, therefore it is a very ambitious target.” However, India vowed to continue expanding its use of coal - it plans to double coal production to one billion tons by 2020. It said that was vital to meet the needs of its expanding economy, which grew seven percent last quarter. "India is not part of the problem, but we want to be part of the solution," said Javadekar. India has resisted rigid carbon reduction targets with the argument that developing countries cannot forego their right to development. He has called on developing countries "to walk the talk" while also arguing that industrialized countries have a "historical responsibility" in curbing climate change. "The developed world has polluted the Earth and we are suffering. Still, we want to become part of the solution and give results," Saaid Javadekar. The goals are knows as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and were submitted to the UN ahead of the COP21 meeting in Paris in November, which will seek to forge a global agreement on curbing Earth-warming emissions. Reactions are mixed Environmental groups have welcomed India's announcement and several experts praised New Delhi's announcement on Friday, and it as positive given the country's developmental challenges. "From all angles, India's INDC is as good as China's and better than the US's considering that both these countries have higher emissions than India," said Chandra Bhushan of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment. Rhea Suh, president of the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council said, "India now has positioned itself as a global leader in clean energy, and is poised to play an active and influential role in the international climate negotiations this December." Yet, some environmental campaigners criticized the failure to curb coal use, and said it would hurt green efforts and increase air pollution, water scarcity and forest destruction. "India's continued commitment to expand coal power capacity is baffling," said Pujarini Sen, a senior Greenpeace India campaigner. "Further expansion of coal power will hamper India's development prospects." While India did not promise any absolute cuts in emissions, it vowed to slash carbon intensity - the amount of pollution per dollar of GDP. On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel begins a three day visit to India with stops in Bangalore and in New Delhi to meet Indian President Pranab Mukherjee.

India has unveiled its climate targets ahead of December’s United Nations climate conference in Paris. Its environmental targets include reducing its carbon intensity by 35 percent by 2030. Ahead of a major United Nations environmental conference in Paris, India pledged to generate 40 percent of its electricity from renewable sources within 15 years. “We are confident we will achieve the ... Read More »

Study: aluminium contamination may be behind bee dementia and decline

A new study from universities in the south of England has suggested bees may be declining due to dementia caused by aluminium contamination. Bees rely on their brains to navigate to flowers. Biologists at Keele University and the University of Sussex in the UK have found aluminium contamination in bumblebee pupae at levels that would cause brain damage in humans. In the study published in the journal Public Library of Science One, bees were found not to avoid flowers contaminated with aluminium when foraging for nectar. The scientists discovered that the pupae contained levels of between 13 and 200 parts per million (ppm) when just 3 ppm would be "considered as potentially pathological in human brain tissue." Researchers at the University of Sussex on the south coast of England collected pupae from bee colonies and sent them to Keele where the aluminium content was assessed. The recent, significant decline in bee numbers has been blamed on pesticide residues but this study suggests that aluminium is also contributing to the decline. "Aluminium is a known neurotoxin affecting behaviour in animal models of aluminium intoxication," Professor Chris Exley of Keele University said. "Are we looking at bees with Alzheimer's disease?"

A new study from universities in the south of England has suggested bees may be declining due to dementia caused by aluminium contamination. Bees rely on their brains to navigate to flowers. Biologists at Keele University and the University of Sussex in the UK have found aluminium contamination in bumblebee pupae at levels that would cause brain damage in humans. ... Read More »

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