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Count the natural debt, too-CSE's Fortnightly Bulletin (Dec 1, 2011)

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    ================================================== CSE s Fortnightly News Bulletin (December 1, 2011) ================================================== The
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2011
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      CSE's Fortnightly News Bulletin (December 1, 2011)
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      The Durban conference began this fortnight. It will be important to track developments there so that we can collectively keep pushing the world to take more effective and just actions on climate change.

      CSE will be doing the following to keep you informed:

      1. A few of us will be at Durban, tracking events there and reporting live. You can find our contacts in durban and our reports at http://cseindia.org/content/durban

      2. The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) and CSE are organising a side event -- 'The imperative of equity for an effective climate agreement'. Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan will be chairing it. For details, kindly visit http://cseindia.org/node/3453. For all our friends in Durban, please do come, we need your support.

      There's more happening at CSE. Our Renewable Energy Portal -- http://re.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in -- is now up and running. In Down To Earth, we bring you a critique of the NREGA programme. And we also have other stories, activities and courses...

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      EDITORIAL: Count the natural debt, too
      by Sunita Narain
      =======================================================
      Now that Europe’s debt crisis is unfolding all around us, shouldn’t we question why the world is determined to live beyond its means and not worry how it sabotages our common future? The debt crisis is a mere symptom of a deeper malaise. The fact is that countries, private companies and individual households can run only if they can borrow against their assets and hope that the debt will grow slower than the value of their asset. Most financial analysts will now tell you that this business is doomed because of the Ponzi scheme nature of the loan business, where borrowing is used to speculate to get more loans and so repayment becomes difficult and over time impossible.

      But this analysis is myopic as it misses the real nature of the problem: economic growth, as we see it, means living beyond one’s means. The cost of development has risen to such an extent that nothing is possible without loans or subsidy. Take agriculture in the debt-strapped rich world. It’s a fact that growing food is now so expensive that it needs huge subsidy from the public exchequer to be feasible (if not profitable). In 2010, the European Union spent some US $70-80 billion (47 per cent of its budget) on direct payments to farmers to keep them in business.

      The story is the same in other parts of the developed world. But what is not explained is that this subsidy is needed because of rising costs of land, labour, other inputs and environmental safeguards. Growing food is expensive indeed.

      Same with education: In the US, student debt has risen sharply—from $80 billion in 1999 to anywhere between $550 and $800 billion by June 2011, according to US Federal Bank estimates. Now as unemployment looms, loan delinquency is on the rise because graduates do not have money to pay back. By June 2011, student loan delinquency was almost as high as the credit card non-repayment rate of 12 per cent. But what is not discussed is why the cost of education, particularly in the for-profit college industry, is increasing and how sustainable is this rise in the long run. The education story holds for other sectors as well. Rising health costs mean higher costs of insurance or lack of medical support for most. The list goes on.

      The fact is that cost of development is high. It makes money for a few but is unaffordable for most, because it is the exchequer that has to subsidise this development. This, in turn, increases public debt to crippling levels.

      What is not even discussed in the context of the current debt crisis is the other debt, which has been accumulated for growth. Each country’s release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere has reduced the cost of its growth. It is a loan from nature for economic development. But the cumulative emissions of a country—one country, the US, has contributed 26 per cent to the stock of emissions between 1950 and 2007—must be added to the cost of growth. In the case of natural debt, economies borrow the assimilative capacity of the environment by releasing waste gases faster than they can be removed naturally. This natural debt is similar to the financial debt of a nation, because it is a loan from nature taken to grow faster and at lower costs.

      The combined cost of growth is evident for all to see. The financial debt is leading banks and economies to collapse, while the natural debt is taking the climate to catastrophe, adding to costs of economic repair and increasing the costs of growth itself.

      This growth model should be on the line when the world meets to discuss climate change. The financial debt crisis is linked to the natural debt crisis and this is the real cost of growth that the world cannot afford.

      Question should also be raised whether the still-emerging world can afford this costly growth model. Remember, the cost of energy is higher today than it was when the now-developed world was building its infrastructure for development. Remember also that infrastructure in the emerging economies has not even been built. Financial loans are crippling the developed world now, when its development infrastructure is more or less in place; when its cost is to maintain this infrastructure or to regenerate or improve its efficiency or environmental performance. Remember also, its population growth is stable or even negative. This does add to costs that have to be paid to ageing segments, but it does mean that it has fewer or equal numbers of people to provide for. But our world needs development that has to reach millions of people—and millions more will be added to its populations in the years to come.

      It is time the world asked some really tough questions and looked for new answers. Can we go ahead with this unaffordable and unsustainable model of growth? Can we not do better than to tinker with the same economic systems that only bring more pain and more systems collapse? It is time we joined the dots—the financial debt and the natural debt—to look for the answers that matter.

      Post your comments on this editorial online at http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/count-natural-debt-too

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      ===========================
      On India Environment Portal
      ===========================
      Renewable energy
      CSE has launched the new renewable energy portal aimed at promoting socially just, environmentally sustainable and independent views on RE policies and practices. So utilise the E-forum for posting questions and exchanging your views at http://cseindia.org/forum/20323

      Read also the latest photo blogs by our reporters

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      You are invited to be our partner and contribute to the RE portal. So, if you come across interesting renewable energy projects, case studies or stories, the RE portal can be a platform to spread the message (through articles, photos, videos, blogs etc.)

      For more details contact Kiran Pandey at kiran@..., kirandwi@...

      South Asia
      Sub-portal on South Asia and Sustainable Development: Provides in-depth information through news, reports, analysis, opinions and events, linked to other
      key institutions and websites etc. Please do contribute studies, reports, court orders etc, especially from our neighbouring countries in the South Asian
      region. http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/indepth/south-asia

      India Environment Portal is now on Facebook and Twitter. Do follow us, share, comment, and discuss and stay in constant touch with us on
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      For any assistance, please contact kiran@..., kirandw@...

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      LEARNING WITH CSE
      Courses offered by Anil Agarwal Green College
      =============================================
      One Month Training Programme on Environment Impact Assessment and Social Impact Assessment
      To provide practical exposure to participants with specific reference to Mining, Hydropower, Highways and Industrial and Power Projects.

      Date: 16th January – 16th February, 2012
      Last Date of Application: 3rd January, 2012

      Course Modules:
      - Environmental and social impacts of development projects
      - Environmental and social laws and regulations
      - All aspects of EIA/SIA, from theory to practices
      - Use of GIS and remote sensing in environment planning and management
      - Reviewing EIA reports, identifying strengths and weaknesses
      - Post-EIA monitoring

      Course contact: SWATI SINGH SAMBYAL
      Research Associate- Industry & Environment Unit
      Centre for Science and Environment
      41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi-110062
      Ph: 91-11-2995 5124 / 6110 (Ext. 281); Fax: 91-11-2995 5879
      Mobile: 9910496283 Email: swati@...
      ------------------------------------------------

      Training programme on Social Impact Assessment
      Capacity building and creating awareness among regulators, developers, NGOs and academicians

      Date: December 15-17, 2011

      Course Modules:
      - Exposure to aspects of SIA, from theory to applications
      - Integrated approach for addressing SIA and EIA process - from scoping, data collection to impact assessment as well as the role of public consultations
      - Knowledge on review of SIA reports and identification of strengths and weaknesses
      - Post SIA monitoring
      - Procedure for institutional strengthening and capacity building
      - Experience sharing on national and international best practices adopted in SIA

      Course details: http://www.cseindia.org/content/cse%E2%80%99s-short-term-training-programme-social-impact-assessment

      Course contact: Sujit Kumar Singh
      Industry & Environment Unit
      Centre for Science and Environment
      41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi-110062
      Ph: 91-11-2995 5124 / 6110 (Ext. 281); Fax: 91-11-2995 5879
      Mobile: 9899676027
      --------------------------------------------------

      Training programme on Domestic Wastewater Treatment and Reuse
      A certificate training programme to review the existing wastewater treatment practices and promote decentralised wastewater treatment systems particularly in un-sewered areas to facilitate recycling and reuse of wastewater.

      Date: Date:January 18-21,2012
      Last date for applying: January 10, 2012

      Course Modules:
      - Water management and status of sewage generation and treatment in India
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      - Economics of decentralized wastewater treatment systems
      - Planning, designing, implementation and monitoring of localized treatment systems

      For more information visit : http://cseindia.org/node/2772

      Some fellowships for participants from South Asia available.

      Course contact: Deblina Dwivedi
      Senior Research Associate – Urban Water Programme
      Centre for Science and Environment
      41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area, New Delhi - 110062
      Phone: +91 (011) 29955124/125 , Fax: +91 (011) 29955879
      Mob: 9899596661 Email: deblina@...

      ================================
      UPDATES FROM OUR PROGRAMME UNITS
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      CSE's Green Sense Survey

      Test your Green Sense here. It takes hardly 2 minutes, only 10 objective questions, and you get your Green Report card immediately.

      http://www.cseindia.org/content/cses-green-sense-survey
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      CSE is organising a one-day national conference on lake conservation in the last week of January.The objective of the workshop is to set up a network of researchers, NGOs, legal advocates and regulators from India involved in the conservation of urban lakes.

      We invite abstracts (not more than 250 words) from researchers, NGOs, faculties, law practicioners, in the areas relevant to lake conservation (and/or threats).

      Abstract submission deadline: December 17, 2011
      Submissions should be sent to Sushmita at sushmita@...

      For further details, please visit http://www.cseindia.org/content/churning-still-water
      ---------------------------------------------------------------

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      Date: February 2012
      Abstract submission deadline: January 14, 2012

      Please send you submissions to Deblina at deblina@...

      Fore more details, kindly visit http://www.cseindia.org/node/3276
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      For details, please get in touch with Vivek at vivek@...
      -----------------------------------------------------------------

      RainWater Harvesting Technical Support

      Every Friday between 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm, CSE provides detailed technical guidance to interested individuals, RWAs and institutions to implement rainwater harvesting. The technical assistance will be provided at CSE’s office at 41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area.

      For details, see
      http://www.cseindia.org/content/catch-rainwater-solve-your-water-problems
      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      Technical advice: Decentralised wastewater treatment systems

      Every second and fourth Friday, meet our experts at CSE, 41, Tughlaqabad Institutional Area for guidance on
      planning and designing these systems.

      For details, contact Deblina at deblina@... or call her on 9899596661.

      ====================================
      >From our stores
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      Books from CSE that you might have missed:

      Climate Change and Natural Resources -- A book of activities for environmental education
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      (Pages 156) PB: Rs.690 / US $39

      To order please visit: www.csestore.cse.org.in

      Coming soon: Excreta Matters
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      About this e-mail
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      CSE is an independent, public interest organization that was established in 1982 by Anil Agarwal, a pioneer of India's environmental movement. CSE's mandate is to research, communicate and promote sustainable development with equity, participation and democracy.











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