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TERI SAS along with Dalmia Cement launched Climate Jamboree
United News of India(Online), 30 July 2018

With a mission to empower youth to take ownership of creating a sustainable future for themselves, Dalmia Cement and the TERI School of Advanced Studies (TERI SAS) have jointly launched a programme 'Climate Jamboree'.

The Programme aims to help youth engaged in different streams of study, and aspiring for diverse careers, to recognise both the common as well as unique opportunities they have to influence more desirable outcomes, a statement from TERI SAS stated.

A medley of diverse 'lead-up' events exposing youth to the diversity of sustainability solutions, culminating in a Finale that would stitch together the various elements in an engaging manner, the Climate Jamboree aims to carry the voice of youth to decision makers and opinion leaders.

With activities designed for students/young professionals of management, law, urban studies, natural and social sciences, media and communications, among many others, this programme also hopes to create communities of action in different geographies networked together for maximum impact, the statement added.

Open to youth across the country and beyond, most of the lead-up events would be undertaken on an online mode but the Finale, scheduled between November 1 3, 2018 at the Thyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi, aims to engage well over 10,000 youth and other relevant stakeholders to learn, innovate and collaborate on sustainability solutions.

At the Finale, Youth will have a chance to interact with national and global experts and express their concerns/ideas via interactive workshops, performing arts, exhibitions, technical sessions, live demonstrations, competitions, exciting innovations and many more outlets.

Our vision is to harness the energy and imagination of youth to initiate a movement towards a more climate friendly and sustainable future. Combining the knowledge of experts with the practicalities of on-the-ground actors and the enthusiasm of youth, the Climate Jamboree also hopes to find reflection in the responses of society at large." said Dr Leena Srivastava, Vice Chancellor, TERI School of Advanced Studies.

"Dalmia Cement, with the lowest carbon footprint in the cement world, has always recognised its responsibilities towards creating a fair and sustainable society. We are proud to announce our partnership with the TERI School of Advanced Studies for creating the capacity amongst India's youth to design a sustainable future, and to facilitate the creation of this transformative movement." said Mr Mahendra Singhi, Group CEO, Dalmia Cement Bharat Ltd.
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Earth set to run out of resources two days sooner this year, says study
Hindustan Times (Online), 24 July 2018

The day is marked as Earth Overshoot Day, illustrating the point at which the consumption of resources such as carbon, food, water and wood exceeds the capacity of nature to regenerate.

August 1 will mark the day humanity’s annual demand for natural resources will exceed what the planet’s ecosystem can provide for the year, a date that has arrived two days sooner than last year.

The day is marked as Earth Overshoot Day, illustrating the point at which the consumption of resources such as carbon, food, water and wood exceeds the capacity of nature to regenerate.

“It is barely eight months into the year and we have already used up the nature’s budget for the entire year. The fact that the overshoot day is constantly moving up the calendar — from late September in 1997 to its earliest yet in 2018 — is symbolic of the unprecedented pressure mankind and human activities are putting on nature and its resources,” said Dr Sejal Worah, conservation director, WWF-India.

The Global Footprint Network, an international think tank that calculates the Earth Overshoot Day by coordinating research, said that at the current rate of consumption and waste production, humanity will need 1.7 earths to satisfy its exploitative needs. “Our economies are running a Ponzi scheme with our planet. We are using the Earth’s future resources to operate in the present and digging ourselves deeper,” said Mathis Wackernagel, chief executive of the Global Footprint Network, in a press release. “Each day this date moves up is a stark reminder of the fact that we are running out of time to reverse the trend,” said Dr Sejal Worah, conservation director, WWF-India.

The rate at which the overshoot date is moving up the calendar, however, has slowed. Over the last five years, on average, the day has moved less than a day a year, compared to three days a year on average since overshoot began in 1970s. Last year, the day came on August 3.

“This is not an absolute date on which natural resources run out but represents a trend that we need to roll back to a date as close to December 31 as possible. The ‘business as usual’ attitude will not help,” said Dr Rajiv Seth, pro vice chancellor at TERI School of Advanced Studies in New Delhi.

The Earth Overshoot Day is calculated by taking into account “biologically productive land and sea area, including forest lands, grazing lands, cropland, fishing grounds, and built-up land”, and comparing their state with a population’s demand for plant-based food and fibre products, livestock and fish products, timber and other forest products, space for urban infrastructure, and forest to absorb its carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels.

The data shows that if everyone in the world lived like the people in the US, we would need five earths to sustain our lifestyles. If everyone lived like Indians, we would need 0.7 earths.


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Scientists develop early flowering transgenic mustard
The Business Line (Online), 7 June 2018

Researchers at Delhi-based TERI School of Advanced Studies have developed an early flowering transgenic variety of mustard.

The work is important as Indian mustard is a major oilseed crop in the country and due to changing climate the number of cold days required for full plant cycle has shrunken.

Scientists have been working on improving crop varieties by modifying plant genes to make them more adaptable changing climate. Early flowering and maturing varieties can help cope with climate change, without compromising on yields.

Researchers led by Dr. Anandita Singh figured out the role of a regulatory gene, called MIR172 belonging to the micro RNA family, that is present in functionally varied forms in Indian mustard (Brassica juncea) and is responsible for a number of traits including timing of flowering. In plants, this microRNA enacts by negatively regulating the expression of some protein-coding genes involved in flowering time.

By increasing the expression of this microRNA, the researchers have developed an early flowering transgenic plant of Indian mustard cultivar Brassica juncea cv. Varuna and shown that by manipulating flowering time, one can develop a plant variety with shorter life cycle and thus help have better yields through reduced exposure to the harsh climatic conditions in the fields.

“Given the diversity in evolutionary lineages of Brassica MIR172 candidates that were discovered in our study, it will be interesting to characterize the entire range of natural variants of Brassica MIR172 by altering, modulating or tinkering the expression levels and pattern of these genes and studying the impact/outcome in the plants,” Dr Singh explained while speaking to India Science Wire. She said “we have good reasons to believe that novel natural alleles of Brassica MIR172 are both a blueprint and a valuable resource of favourable agronomic traits to be transferred into elite crop varieties.”

Apart from MIR172, the research group is studying several genes that affect other traits that might be useful in generating better varieties. “Analysis of transgenics in natural field conditions showed that most Brassica genes govern several dependent and independent agronomic traits. Changing one trait to achieve a favourable out-come may offset another trait. Thus, future studies will involve careful optimization of gene levels for minimizing trait trade-offs,” Dr. Singh added.

Dr. Sunil Mukherjee, NASI Senior Scientist at the Department of Genetics, University of Delhi South Campus, who was not connected with the study, feels the study is important. “Most crop plants are polyploids or having multiple copies of a gene in nature and a longstanding question in biology is how polyploidy influences gene expression. This research is a welcome move in this direction as MIR172 has been used as a probe in Brassica polyploidy and structural variants of MIR172 family have been nicely portrayed. It has also been shown that family members are functionally different and polyploidy affects gene outcomes.”

The research team included S M Shivaraj and Aditi Jain, besides Anandita Singh from TERI School of Advanced Studies. The research results have been published in journal Molecular Genetics and Genomics. This work was supported by the Department of Biotechnology.
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