Matters concerned with Environment

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

National Elephant Conservation Authority shot down

The Times of India on Mobile
NEW DELHI: The Prime Minister's Office has shot down a proposal to set up a National Elephant Conservation Authority along the lines of one existing for tigers.

The environment ministry had recommended an amendment to the Wildlife Protection Act creating a powerful autonomous authority for the pachyderm. The authority was intended to create a network of elephant reserves which could be kept free of mining and other harmful industrial activities.

The move had been made based on recommendations of an expert Elephant Task Force set up by the environment ministry to study the threats to the animal and advise on how to conserve it.

But the proposal has been shot down at the highest level even before it could reach the cabinet.

The habitat of the animal that environment minister Jairam Ramesh has said is facing ‘a story of attrition' is especially threatened by mining in Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand. In the recent past, the ministry has had to contend with several controversial proposals that deal a body blow to elephant conservation. But it's been constrained by the lack of legal teeth to protect the animal or a single official authority that can steer conservation needs for the animal.

With mining proposals pouring in from the two states and the tussle between environment ministry and coal and power ministries on to open up more forest areas for mining the move to scrap the proposal for the elephant authority is bound to weigh in favour of the mining industry.

Elephant reserves exist even today but they are only a demarcation on the map to provide funds under Project Elephant, just as it happened earlier for tiger reserves. The reserves have no legal validity and this makes it difficult to protect the elephant-bearing forests and lands against changes that would harm the pachyderm. The existing networks of national parks and sanctuaries do not serve to protect the elephant as the animal migrates and travels over long distances cutting across inhabited areas as well as forests.

The authority was expected to demarcate areas – including forests – that are important for elephant conservation and become a single window for advising on changes on these land patches just as the National Tiger Conservation Authority does for tiger reserves at the moment.

On Jaitapur and Alphonso

Unrest in Alphonso land | GroundReport

mainly in the narrow strip of land between the Western Ghats and the
Arabian Sea in the scenic Konkan region of India, the Alphonso mangoes
are considered king among the several varieties that flood the market
during the mango season. Known for their delectable flavour, richness of
meaty texture and sweetness they are coveted all over the world. In
2007, the US traded off the restrictions for its imports against export
of Harley Davidsons to the burgeoning Indian market. It is this Alphonso
land that is seemingly is today in a state of war...........................


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Air powered vehicles ??

Soon, pull fuel for your car out of thin air!

Powering your car with the air you
breathe may sound supernatural, but Joel Rosenthal, a chemist at the
University of Delaware, is actually working to transform carbon dioxide
(CO2), a greenhouse gas in the atmosphere, into gas for your car and
clean-energy future fuels.

Such a feat could
help reduce the rising CO2 levels implicated in global warming and also
offer a new method of renewable energy production.

Rosenthal and his
team are designing electrocatalysts from metals such as nickel and
palladium that will freely give away electrons when they react with
carbon dioxide, thus chemically reducing this greenhouse gas into
energy-rich carbon monoxide or methanol.

Besides its use in
making plastics, solvents, carpet and other products, methanol fuels
race cars in the United States and currently is being researched as a
hydrogen carrier for fuel cell vehicles.

Carbon monoxide is an important
precursor to liquid hydrocarbons in the energy arena, in addition to its
applications as an industrial chemical for producing plastics to
detergents to the acetic acid used in food preservation, drug
manufacturing and other fields.

“The catalytic
reduction of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide is an important
transformation that would allow for the mitigation of atmospheric CO2
levels, while producing an energy-rich substrate that forms a basis for
fuels production,” Rosenthal says.

“The chemistry we’re
doing is energetically uphill—it’s an energy-storing process rather
than a downhill, energy-liberating process.

“And our goal is to make liquid fuel renewably from wind and solar sources, not from typical fossil fuel bases,” he added.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reform the PhD system or close it down

Reform the PhD system or close it down : Nature News
There are too many doctoral programmes, producing too
many PhDs for the job market. Shut some and change the rest, says Mark
C. Taylor.


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