Saturday, 26 October 2019

One of many Natural Miracles

We all have conducted tests where 2 glass jars were connected by a thin pipe, we fill one jar with water above the level of that pipe and the other jar will start filling due to gravitational force. It's a normal phenomenon and we probably don't even think much of it even if this property of liquid and gas is essential for a number of life sustaining processes.

But today we will talk about another fascinating property that sustains life on earth. The capillary action.

Ever wondered how trees pull water from the soil and send it up, may be several feet up, to every part of their body? It's capillary action. Water molecules are sticky. They stick themselves to other objects such as cotton, soil etc. They also attract each other. So the moment trees use up some of the water in their body, a vacuum gets created and water molecules, due to their mutual attractions, fill that vacuum and move up.

It has always fascinated me to think how perfect nature is. Even the seemingly simple properties that we so easily take for granted, could be the difference between life and no life on earth. Without this property, trees wouldn't have survived, and without trees, we never would have existed. 

Friday, 25 October 2019

Nature's Control Mechanism

I thought only bad people should be punished by God and die, not good people. As a kid, I asked this question to the elders, 'why do people die?' Elders around me could not give me convincing answer. Perhaps they found it difficult to explain death to a child.

As I grew up, I realized why people die, at least the science behind it. The physiological, anatomical reasons. But after I started learning about the environment, I got to know the natural reason as well.

Death is nature's own recycle strategy, a risk mitigation policy and a control mechanism, an evolutionary necessity. Not only death recycles finite natural resources from one organism to the other in the infinite circle of life, it also shields the planet from risk of stagnation. It's a necessary evolutionary mechanism which is needed to keep life going through complex inter species interactions.

Death is also nature's very own control mechanism. When one species grows upper hand and starts abusing its surroundings, death and total extinction is nature's way of restoring balance.

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Butchering Aarey

Save Aarey has been one of the hot topic in the social media in last few days. A lot of citizens are coming forward asking for respect towards the trees and ecosystem of Aarey.

The speed and brutality of tree cutting at the midnight hour and the imposition of section 144 on Aarey was a shock to all of us. It is a sad day to be living in a democratic country where the due process was hindered taking advantage of Supreme Court holiday.

And I know, we feel as if a lot of us have failed, I feel the same way. But this is not the time to stop, this was never the first battle and it will certainly won't be last. At least now we know we have support and certainly, we have opposition. And it is just the beginning of this war, the war for survival, sooner or later, even the people in the opposition will realise this (hopefully before it is too late).

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

The Rootcause

India has been contemplating plastic ban for some time now, there was going to be a ban in effect on single use plastic on 2nd Oct but at the end, govt has backed out.

A lot of times, I feel that the burden of this implementation comes on the buyer. The issue becomes that the seller doesn't have or refuses to use the alternative to plastic. What is important is to take out the single use plastic production rather than removing it from use.

In a haphazardly planned ban, all the single use plastic currently in circulation will be thrown out and go into the waste system unable to manage the volume even currently. The idea shouldn't be to remove the plastic from use, rather that helps to keep the plastic from being in the oceans or land fills, the idea should be to limit the production of plastic.

In a Make-In-India, we need to make plastic alternative rather than making a ban. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Food choices

We are currently struggling to provide food for all living things, with that interdependence actually causing imbalance in food chain. And now with the ever increasing human population, we more than ever need to be considerate on what kind of food choices we make.

Loss of wild areas to agriculture is the leading cause of the current mass Extinction of wildlife. The new research shows that without meat and dairy consumption, global farmland use could be reduced by more than 75%.
Our current practices of producing, consuming and wasting food is unsustainable from a planetary perspective. One of the most important thing we can do is being conscious of what we eat and how it impacts the environment. It is important to know that the lowest impact meat and dairy products still cause much more environmental harm than the least sustainable vegetable and cereal growing. The answer is not for everyone to turn vegan but for everyone to be conscious and slowly but steadily make a lifestyle change to choose more sustainable food.

Monday, 21 October 2019

Our Connection With Nature

Indian mythology is filled with reference to nature. Krishna was a cowherd boy, Ram was worshipped by Hanuman (monkey God), Ganesha had an elephant face. These are some of the big ones we all know, but there are some short stories giving ode to nature and our Gods and Godesses.

In the Indian state of Kerala, royal poinciana is called kaalvarippoo which means "the flower of Calvary". There is a popular belief among Saint Thomas Christians of Kerala that when Jesus was crucified, there was a small royal poinciana tree nearby his Cross. It is believed that the blood of Jesus Christ was shed over the flowers of the tree and this is how the flowers of royal poinciana got a sharp red color.

There are flowers in parts of Maharashtra called Sita Aasave (meaning tears of Sita). It is believed that when Raavana captured Sita, they traveled to Lanka from this route and when Sita's tears landed on the earth, the Earth (mother of Sita) blossomed these flowers cherishing even the tears of her daughter.

Such beautiful stories which bind our emotions to the nature.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

Glimmer of Hope

If you are well versed with the research on climate change, all of it seems hopeless. Human interference, in the last century has driven 1 million species to extinction or near extinction. We have already killed 60% of the planet's wildlife.

The planet is already 1 degree celsius hotter than late 19th century. And the temperature is rapidly rising. Most of the warming happened in the last 49 years or so. Scientists say by 2050 the arctic regions are estimated to be largely free of ice in the summer, leading to rise in sea level creating many tsunamis and mayhem.

How are we to stop all this damage, forget reversing the damage already caused? But I see a glimmering hope at the end of this dark tunnel. In the recent times, Six million people have participated in the climate strike organized by Greta Thunberg and FridaysForFuture group. The strike was to demand urgent action on the escalating ecological emergency. It was the biggest ever climate mobilization till date.

Canada has created an Arctic zone almost as big as Germany to protect its sea birds, polar bears and whales. Ethiopia has planted 2.6 billion trees in just over two months. Egypt is building Africa's first "Vertical Forest" with 14,000 plants and 350 trees. Costa Rica plans to be the first plastic free and carbon free country by 2021.

Not just countries but even individuals are making great progress to help the environment. Fionn Ferreira made an invention to remove microplastics from water. Scientists have created biodegradable plastic from cactus juice and even orange peel. A blind man and his double amputee friend have worked for 10 years to plant over 10,000 trees. Jadav Payeng (forest man of India) has built a forest of 550 hectares, leading to return of wildlife.

All of these actions give me a glimmer of hope, to keep fighting, to keep talking, to keep changing one habit, one person at a time.