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India freezes Greenpeace accounts

India has been a defining country of the "third world" and even though nowadays, we praise it not just as a cradle of civilization but also as an emerging market, a BRIC member, the home of Bollywood, many call centers, numerous excellent string theorists, and even a future second ITER-like fusion reactor, there is some sense in which India remains a canonical third-world country.

Unlike the communist-party-based regime in China, India is a democracy. One should be annoyed by the fact that a democracy such as India has GDP per capita about $5,000 while the adjacent non-democracy of China has over $10,000. Why is it so? There may be various reasons but I am afraid that at some level of development, some non-democratic control over the affairs may be beneficial.

Various harmful organizations such as ecoterrorist NGOs – and Greenpeace is the most famous one – have been freely doing their job and it didn't help India's economy, either.

There seems to be one attitude in which India is apparently ahead of us. The right-wing pro-market BJP government of Narendra Modi has suspended the registration of Greenpeace in the country and they froze the bank accounts that provided Greenpeace India with foreign funding. TIME, Guardian, more.

I am obviously no expert in the Indian law and traditions – even though I have known many excellent Indian folks. So I don't know whether it's generally viewed as legally kosher and constitutional to go after such an NGO's neck. But what I know is that it is a matter of common sense. Greenpeace is trying to sabotage vital interests of the country – to prevent India from developing by torpedoing power plants and factory projects, among other things – and it's a duty of a responsible Indian government to deal with this sabotage.

Many people over there are still really poor and many of those want and deserve more prospering lives.

Capitalism doesn't have to erase the national identity. Škoda Rapid, built by the thoughtful LOL.

Moreover, this conflict between India and Greenpeace has a "spy game" aspect. The ministry of home affairs in India claims that the Indian Greenpeace folks were invited by the British Parliament to "testify against India". In spite of the British climate skeptics' patriotism, the U.K. is full of unhinged environmentalist and warmist fanatics who won't hesitate to sacrifice your and other nations' well-being (if not life) for their "ideas".

If these witnesses were Indian citizens, they were planning to commit a form of treason. One may always think about such conflicts from both sides. Opposition within a country is often right. Well, I don't think it's the case of the ecoterrorists in India. That's why it's so right for India to go after Greenpeace's neck and I wish those politicians good luck.

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reader MikeNov said...

India is behind because they have socialism written right into the Constitution, as a secular socialist democratic republic. Then they had the Nehru family implementing this socialism with 90%+ tax rates, allowing the country to be surpassed by Japan, South Korea, and others. I would expect much higher growth rates for India going forward, though the per capita will take a long time to catch up, as India will have higher population than China within a few decades.

reader psychopomp said...

I am one of the Indians who totally agrees with this (and the current Government's) viewpoint on Greenpeace. To comment on "I am obviously no expert in the Indian law and traditions – even though I
have known many excellent Indian folks. So I don't know whether it's
generally viewed as legally kosher and constitutional to go after such
an NGO's neck.", I would say that in terms of electoral politics and garnering public support, the Govt would not be affected much by going after Greenpeace. Most ordinary citizens of India don't really care about these large NGOs, because the actual good work is done by smaller, underfunded ones which actually give a damn about the people and progress.
Greenpeace is trying to kick up a storm on social media, which is the only place where they have some substantial backing, but legally they seem to have a very weak foothold, concerning allegations of misreporting funds and hiding money. Here's hoping that, if they indeed have broken the law, they can be made to shut shop.

reader psychopomp said...

Absolutely. The current government is all about reforms, and moving away from that socialism (though it is hard since its deeply ingrained in the bureaucracy and attitude), and early signs are positive.

reader Luboš Motl said...

So much common sense.

Greenpeace and similar NGOs have become big international corporations of a sort. Their officials are getting very decent salaries and when it comes to the environment and pressures upon its important members, it doesn't differ much from the corporations.

Moreover, the "product" that such global NGOs are doing are all about some global ideology or global P.R. so they don't help the local things sensitively and people with common sense may see it. Every local is their potential enemy and they collect their "political capital" to oppose all the local people from some diluted minorities that however contains lots of people when they're cherry-picked in the whole world.

There could have been times when Greenpeace would have helped to clean a creek or something like that. It's a long time ago.

I am afraid that such an honest attitude to Greenpeace - like to any entity that may be in trouble - wouldn't be possible in Western Europe. An aspect of the "civic society" some people are so proud about is that certain NGOs stand above the law.

reader BMWA1 said...

Dear Lubos,

SLightly OT (for you Odessa File UA), video posted by friend in Odessa, the crowd from the city of the recent massacre does not seem entirely welcoming to Poroshenko in their chant. Interesting also is that the security forces (SBU, and also Pravy Sector thuggocract) have allowed the demonstration to happen, which is actually unseal. UA AF are disbanding PS battalions (in actuality, these are mostly only company sized) presently. As to to the vid:

reader Luboš Motl said...

Thanks for the update. Two hours ago, I watched the Crosstalk on the intra-Kiev tensions and possibly looming purge.

reader psychopomp said...

Yes, definitely. They engage in political lobbying, media control and other subversive activities that one expects from a 'typical' multinational corporation. (Also the other thing you mentioned: getting Indian citizens to testify against the government in international committees)

However, on that last count, there are some startling facts about Greenpeace in Netherlands and other European countries (this is all information I learnt in the last few days, because Greenpeace has been in the limelight. There are many who support the Govt's endeavour):

If this chart is true, it explains a few things, like why they have been focussing greater attention to countries like India, where (until now, because of the previous left-of-centre government) they have had free rein to pump money in and expand.

Incidentally, there are a few excellent articles by the same tweeter above, which may be relevant here (and even outside of an Indian context):

reader RAF III said...


reader John Archer said...


"I am obviously no expert in the Indian law and traditions – even though I have known many excellent Indian folks. So I don't know whether it's generally viewed as legally kosher and constitutional to go after such an NGO's neck. But what I know is that it is a matter of common sense."

Dear Luboš,

You're talking about India here, but you raise a general point not confined only to that country, namely the distinction between legality and constitutionality on the one hand, and legitimacy (for wont of a better word) on the other. I see, implicitly at least, that the distinction is clear to to you. It is to me too.

Nevertheless professional moralists—and other similar shit-faced leftard human detritus—just love the former, and indeed go to the extent of pushing the idea that these are the sole constituents of the latter. But nothing could be further from the truth. The 'legitimacy' of deeply unwanted mass turd-world immigration to Western nations expressly* against the wishes of their peoples, such as here in England, is a prime example.

Any country which pursues such a policy can never call itself a democracy.

Just saying.

By the way, I say there is no basis for morality outside the deals one makes with others: there is no 'Platonic' universe of moral discourse. People confuse their emotions about things, and some even have the gall to call this cerebral oozing their 'morality' as if to lift it onto a higher plane, or some such. Fuck! Emotions surely come into the deal making but that's all they are, not some external and eternal truth.

Again, just saying.

P.S. Eliminate all government-funded NGOs. None can be trusted nor should they be. They don't even pretend to be accountable.

reader Luboš Motl said...

LOL, we may agree about most of the issues you mention but you may still be overstating how much I agree with your new general point. ;-)

I actually think that in a properly functioning country - one with the rule of law, whether it is democratic or not, the written law always stands above the current opinions of a majority.

The majority may change it but it must follow some rules. Vote your party to power, allow it to have a constitutional majority, and so on.

The main problem of giving the "majority" or "ad hoc majorities" universal power is that the questions may be asked in many different ways and this freedom creates majorities for different answers. Moreover, no one can really measure these majorities in the real time.

I wasn't suggesting that India should abandon the rule of law. I was only saying that I morally agree with what they are doing - which I can because I am not really constrained by the Indian law. My "opinions" what is right and what is not don't have to be correlated with the Indian law. But my opinions don't really matter in India, anyway.

I still realize that if a government in India or another country started to behave in illegal ways, whether it would support this behavior by majorities or not, it would be bad for the country - even if the action were "good" from some independent viewpoint. The respect for the agreed upon rules of the game is at least comparably important to the protection of an economy from harmful effects of foreign NGOs.

reader Rehbock said...

Isnt it also constitutionally required? Are you saying that the beaurocracy is beginning to ignore that Constitution and people are not objecting? I don't understand India law either. Why is it a positive to have a government move away from what a Constitution requires.

reader kashyap vasavada said...

Yes Lubos. I pretty much agree with you. Although overall, democracy is a good thing and someone should keep an eye on govt. actions, one has to draw a line somewhere to do what is good for the whole country and give up some rights. The problem has been in India since independence (1947) that a small group can fight and put decades of delays in building dams and highways and other developments, giving reasons that this would hurt poor people. The court system, although reasonably fair, is very slow. So we are watching what would happen to actions against Greenpeace in the court system. Most Indians have high hopes for the present Modi government for future developments. Socialism is not written in the Indian constitution! It was Pandit Nehru's interpretation. His party "congress party" won independence for India with very little bloodshed but they were very poor economists.

reader MikeNov said...

The Constitution is a huge document, and it is the preamble that declares socialism. There is nothing preventing the reforms,

reader MikeNov said...

Perhaps the Indians should join forces with Peru and seek revenge for the Nazca incident by sinking some ships.

reader MikeNov said...

You're talking about a country that in response to Muslim aggression like in Jerusalem, had a rightwing party send the cops away and send a mob to burn down a mosque that was placed at the site of a famous temple.

reader Fer137 said...

These link seems about radium-226.
There are some amazing journalistic claims:

"The Marcellus is full of radium-226, which has a half-life of 1,600 years. This means it can stay radioactive for anywhere from 1,600 to 3,200 years." :)

reader Christopher Polis said...

Chinese and Indians are different, so their nations performance will differ, both with strengths and weaknesses.

Narendra Modi seems to be doing a lot of good things there, within the limitations that democracy allows. The western notion that democracy is an ideal form of government could do with a substantial degree of critical reconsideration. At a glance, it appears to allow greater economic growth at the expense of consuming cultural greatness; something to be adopted as necessary to meet externalities, but poor in the long run.

reader Rehbock said...


reader Kolajo Afolabi said...

Does income correlate more strongly to system of government or average IQ of a nation?

reader Tony said...

reader Luboš Motl said...

1-x is a good approximation of exp(-x), sometimes not only for a journalist. ;-)

And radium-226 is only dangerous once its nuclei alpha-decay to radon-222. ;-)

Radioactivity is always the same thing when it acts on human tissues - different isotopes only get and damage *different* tissues.

reader CentralCharge15 said...

The "secular, socialist" words were added into the preamble illegally by a populist government in the 1970s, so it's best to remove them now.

Anyway, the preamble isn't something "required" of the nation, rather a description. If China could push so many reforms with "communist" in it's self-description, I can't see why India should care about the word "socialist".

reader CentralCharge15 said...

Nah, the government's actions are legally justified, because Greenpeace (and a number of other NGOs) were found to be sponsored by certain governments overseas, which was banned last year by the same government:

reader CentralCharge15 said...

Regarding the difference between Chinese and Indian development, the Chinese started moving towards economic reforms in the 1970s, while India started 20 years later, and the reforms were largely reversed between 2004 and 2014.

Ironically, the reversal of reforms was doneby the same party that brought the economic reforms - it's actually a left-wing party, but elected a right-wing leader in the 1990s because they had no choice, with the Indian economy crumbling after the fall of the USSR, which accounted for almost all of India's foreign trade)

reader CentralCharge15 said...

Actually, it's not Nehru's interpretation, but rather it was his daughter Indira Gandhi who illegally added the word to the preamble during an emergency.

reader Gene Day said...

The below notes from Les Johnson are entirely correct. Any radon released by fracking would have to come to the surface along with the product oil or gas or else with the recovered fracking fluids. Diffusion through the overburden would take hundreds of millions of years just as it does for natural gas. That’s why the gas is still there. Johnson is also correct in asserting that the crayon production rate in shale is very low.
Unless you were to actually drink the fracking fluids the short radon half life assures total radiation safety of these fluids.
There is a small (actually negligible) chance that your supply of natural gas could contain significant radon but this, except for stovetop cooking, is safely vented. A careful analysis would show that the danger from carbon monoxide produced on the stovetop is vastly greater. The 3.8 day half-life provides total protection.
There is zero probability that fracking can pose a significant radon hazard.

reader W.A. Zajc said...

It can be causal:

reader Luboš Motl said...

It sounds almost completely sensible or airtight, Gene, except that the observation that the oil/gas stayed there for hundreds of millions of years does *not* imply that it will continue to stay there, does it? If one changes something to make the layers more penetrable, a sponge, it's pretty reasonable that it will be easier for the natural gas (and similarly radon) to escape, won't it?

reader Rehbock said...


reader Gene Day said...

Yes, of course fracking can release radon but the release zone is the same as the fracking zone. A little radon may accompany the natural gas but any that is vented at the wellhead is dissipated into the atmosphere and soon decays. As I pointed out, the radon accompanying the delivered product will be minuscule and almost all of that will be vented as well.
Fracking may cause problems but radon exposure is not one of them.
Actually, fracking is the safest and most environmentally innocuous of all hydrocarbon recovery technologies.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Gene, thanks for your explanations. How large are the fracking zones?

Is that realistic to assume that if one can get the natural gas from the distance X around the well, then also there may be a risk of extra release of gases including radon at the same distance X on the surface?

reader cynholt said...

My problem with fracking has little to do with the environment because as long as it is done to industry standards there is little to worry about. The problem is economic because shale oil and gas producers cannot make a profit if they have to write off the well costs using a depreciation schedule that is suggested by the depletion curves shown in the production data. Geologists can assume a hyperbolic decline rate but that is not what the actual data is showing. While it may be good for the shale areas for now, I do not think that investing one to two billion a month just to increase production by 20 thousand barrels a month does not seem a good idea giving the steep depletion rates and the short lives of wells.

I'd say we're fracked.

reader cynholt said...

The funny thing about fracking is that it has been around so long but only really took off when the free money spigot opened wide up.

Is it a malinvestment? We will find out when rates finally go up and/or these bugs that are gorging on debt just to maintain production levels finally find a windshield.

But this will happen only after TPTB totally trash coal, driving it into bankruptcy, and then pick it up for cheap (without the legacy liabilities). Then, fracking will go tits up, natural gas will go to the moon, and all those shiny new gas electric plants and factories will panic back into coal.

reader Mandobob said...

Lubos - Biased (political?, ideological ?) scientific reporting, as you well know, is rampant. That radon as a dominant factor in lung cancer occurrence rates is a proven fact and only disputed by the ignorant, or malicious.

There can be risks of radon exposure from drilling and completion activities, although those risks are measurably low. There can also be a, possibly greater risk (although still low) from post drilling and completion actions, such as waste disposal and production. The Commenwealth of Pennsylvania earlier the year released a very comprehensive evaluation of radiological issues with the entire oil & gas drilling and production cycle. The report (+6 million $ US) results are available and the attached link is for the announcement with a further link to the actual report

The State of Colorado also recently released a much more limited study looking at drilling waste handling and rediological exposure (, which can be found under the LIBRARY, Denver Julesberg Basin Reports and Data, "Analysis of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material..."

The upshot of both - very little potential for exposure to the general public. That is not to say that all areas of the earth are the same. For instance in Colorado (and much of the US west) , indoor radon exposure rates can be high, where as eastern US areas can have low exposure potential ( Radon exposure reflect the underlying geology and in many cases the surface and shallow sub-surface conditions. Oil & gas geology (much deeper) is significantly different, reflecting environmental conditions millions of years in the past. To directly link radon exposure to such activities is a reach, unless tightly constrained.

reader Gene Day said...

Oil that is under enough pressure to come to the surface on its own is more hazardous; witness BP's Gulf oil spill. The environmental damage of this spill has been greatly exaggerated but the risks are real.
Coal is another issue but I think that any coal recovery method involves some environmental degradation, even if minor. If properly managed, fracking is quite harmless.

reader Luboš Motl said...

I see, Gene, that's what you meant by the environmental advantage, it makes sense.

reader tomandersen said...

Luboš' statement "Natural radiation is all around us. It is increasing the rate of cancer by something like 50% -..." is absurd, and easily falsifiable by looking at cancer rates vs background radiation levels.

If there exists a single place on earth with 10 times the background radiation rates, we ought to see something like 5x the number of cancers - but that is not true as any cursory tour of the literature will show.

Luboš also believes in the LNT theory, which is widely accepted as scientifically wrong, but bureaucratically useful - its easy to deal with. LNT is highly unlikely given the wildly non linear way that the human body can repair itself on the the cell level. Experiments are fairly linear - right to the point where there is about 100x the background levels (or more) that we live with on this planet. etc.

reader tomandersen said...

"The best fit of this linear spline model to these data predicted a shift from a positive to a negative slope in the log-odds of lung cancer at a radon concentration of 70 Bq m−3. A statistically significant decrease in cancer risk with increased exposure was found for values ≤ 157 Bq m−3 normalized to the reference exposure of 4.4 Bq m−3, the lowest radon concentration measured(adjusted odds ratio (AOR) [95% CI] = 0.42 [0.180, 1.00], p = 0.049). This result is consistent with those reported elsewhere..."

...Furthermore, this model predicts an AOR that is numerically less than 1.0 for radon exposures up to 545 Bq m−3 versus the above baseline, reference exposure.

So the problems with LNT occur when people compare data to theory. It simply falls over. LNT is a nice story for those that require linear solutions to everything, though!

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Tom, I am an idiot. I meant 50% increase due to *any* environment-related stresses.

Only 1% of people develop cancer sometime in their life due to background radiation, and because 13% of people die of cancer, it is something like 7% of cancers due to background radiation.

reader Ralph Hartley said...

"For example, if the porous shale is adjacent to ground water, the ground water gets contaminated by radon and the gas can get up through water almost instantly, cannot it?"
How? I guess that would be possible if water wells went all the way down to near the fracking region, but they are always shallower by at least an order of magnitude. So even if naturally porous rock filled with ground water extended all the way down to the shale (which it usually does not), radon would have to diffuse upwards through the ground water for thousands of meters. You know the diffusion equation, you calculate how long that would take. It's going to be years or decades, not weeks or days.
Radon diffuses a couple of meters through soil during its lifetime. Even if it diffused 10 times faster in ground water, it still couldn't reach well water.
"Do you have some actual evidence or coherence picture indicating that e.g. stories like this one ... are not happening due to the radon fracking?"
Seriously? A sensational anecdote in the press as evidence? How much weight would you give that article if it was about physics? Even if true, how is it even relevant? The article was about methane and heavy metals, both of which last forever, not 4 days.

reader Richard Warren said...

In a democracy the people can vote for people and policies that are inimical to economic growth. (Alas.)

I wonder how much of China's growth is due to democracy in the United States.

reader John Archer said...

Dear Luboš,

I thought I'd leave it be at that but it's still itching a little so I've got to scratch it.

"... you may still be overstating how much I agree with your new general point. ;) "

I made no such claim nor would I be so presumptuous. I merely observed that you implicitly recognised a particular distinction, as far as I could tell anyway. The rest of what I wrote was just my take on things with no implication that you, or anyone else, were in agreement with it.

OK, scratched — itch gone!

By the way, it's nice to know you appear to agree with at least some of what I wrote. :)

Now for what you say. Again, I mostly agree with all of it and certainly the general thrust.

However, this is the kind of topic one could hack over for hours, splitting hairs and thinking up special cases and exceptions etc so I'll make no attempt even to start on it. I suspect from what I know about your take on things, however, that any differences between us would probably be quite minor and actually far fewer than I have with many of my friends.

But I will give you an actual example where I suspect you and I might disagree. Indeed, I strongly suspect we would.

Cabinet papers released reveal that politicians lied to us badly in the 1975 referendum—Britain's first and only referendum ever—about our membership of the then 'Common Market' as it was called here, by them. (The lying propaganda and manipulation was also vastly skewed towards the 'pro' camp, but that's another matter — it is sufficient in itself to invalidate result but I don't need to call on it.)

As far as I am concerned then, I do not regard our membership of the 'Common Market'/ EEC/ EU as in anyway legitimate. Indeed I regard it as an act of treason and those who persist with it as traitors. Now that has clear implications for my attitude to the law, or rather certain laws.

There is one other notable area where I hold the same view too, where the laws are wholly illegitimate, and there are some lesser ones.

You see, it's not just up to the people to play by the rules. The politicos have to too. If they don't all bets are off.

"The respect for the agreed upon rules of the game is at least comparably important to ..."

I'd put it higher than that. It's a sine qua non for legitimacy. A little bending in time of war would be the only exception.

What's to be done about correcting these things is of course highly dependent on practicalities. But that's a completely different topic.

Cromwell disbanded Parliament only three and a half centuries ago. It could happen again. I know whose side I'd be on.

It's more than just galling to here politician's talking utter bollocks about the "supremacy of Parliament" when they've done their level best to turn it into an empty shell. They can all go to hell.

reader RAF III said...

And the same goes for the U.S.A.!

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear John, you will always be unhappy about the U.K.'s EU membership, but many (many more?) other Britons are arguably happy. That's what often happens.

There need to be some mechanisms and expectations whose opinions win - but whatever the mechanisms are, you may always end up being in the dissatisfied group. This universal fact has nothing to do with the respect to the law, and it's irrational to turn it as an argument against the rule of law.

reader mnnnmmn said...

The global warming evil cult is trying to take over the world. We should better increase our Co2 emissions before its too late.

reader mmmnnnmnn said...

We should actually promote organizations and movements that try to make people aware of the issue of global warming. These organizations oppose the false pseudoscientific anti-global warming propaganda financed by the fossil fuel industry.

reader mmmnnnmnn said...

reader mmmnnnmnn said...

The fact is ome physicists and scientists are funded by the fossil fuel industry to be completely dishonest and antiscientific and spread lies like the solar physics guy who claimed that sun heats the earth up who was revealed later to have ties with the fossil fuel industry.

reader mmmnnnmnn said...

So shut up and stop spreading lies.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Be sure that the Sun heats the Earth up and every intelligent kid in the kindergarten knows that.

Also, be aware that what you write about Dr Willie Soon is a disgusting libel which is a crime in the country where this blog and your comment is officially located. And if I were asked to help the authorities to prosecute nasty green criminals like you, I will do everything I can in the effort to practically terminate your life.

reader mmmnnnnm said...

Just shut the fuckk up and stop spreading the propaganda of the fossil fuel industry. You threaten to kill me because I think that you and the likes of you are completely dishonest. This is actually a crime.

reader mmmnnnnm said...

I think that it is actually a crime to be nice to the likes of you trying to spread ridiculous pseudoscience to benefit certain parties.