Saturday, 11 January 2020

Hidden Elegance

Some days back, I had the pleasure of seeing this glorious animal called- Indian Wild Ass. It's shiny fur and elegant walk enthralled me. When I realized that Little Rann of Kutch and adjoining area is the only place to boast this animal, it left me disheartened.
First census of the wild ass was done in 1940, when there were an estimated 3,500 wild asses. But, by the year 1960, this figure fell to just 362, it was then classified as a highly endangered species. In the years 1973 & 1976, Rann of Kutch and adjoining districts were taken up as the area for conservation for this sub-species also known as Khur. 
In 1998, the wild ass population was estimated at 2,940, by the year 2004 it has increased to an estimated 3,863. A recent census conducted by forest department in 2009 has revealed that the population of wild ass in the state was estimated to about 4,038, an increase of 4.53% as compared to 2004. Recently in 2015, the current census of the Indian wild ass population has increased to more than 4,800 individuals in and outside of the Indian Wild Ass Sanctuary.
Currently the Wild Ass is listed as Nearly Threatened in Endangered species list. Hopefully the efforts of the forest department continue to succeed and the wild ass population continue to grow

Friday, 10 January 2020

Seed you sow

"You will reap what you sow" , we learn this saying at a very young age. Many languages I think would have their own version of this saying, at least I know the languages I know have. But that still doesn't mean we have learnt anything.

What we are doing to earth, will sooner or later come back to haunt us, sadly it seems to be sooner than later. Natural disasters caused economic losses up to $225 billion across the world in 2018.

It is the third consecutive year when losses due to natural catastrophes crossed the $200 billion threshold and the 10th time this happened since 2000, says the Weather, Climate & Catastrophe Insight: 2018 Annual Report. The report estimates that 95 per cent of the total loss, amounting to $215 billion, was due to weather-related disasters.

There are many countries in this world who don't have the budget of this magnitude that we are losing due to our own actions. Many times the argument for environment abuse is the need for growth but no one talks about the cost of growth. It is high time that we start looking at the cost and benefit of these "developments".

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Australian Wildfire 3

Fire season in Australia is always dangerous --But conditions have been unusually severe this year, fanning the flames and making firefighting conditions particularly difficult. Australia is experiencing one of its worst droughts in decades -- the country's Bureau of Meteorology said in December that last spring was the driest on record. Meanwhile, a heatwave in December broke the record for highest nationwide average temperature, with some places sweltering under temperatures well above 40 degrees Celsius (about 113-120 degrees Fahrenheit). Strong winds have also made the fires and smoke spread more rapidly, and have led to fatalities.
Experts say climate change has worsened the scope and impact of natural disasters like fires and floods -- weather conditions are growing more extreme, and for years, the fires have been starting earlier in the season and spreading with greater intensity.
Unfortunately, Australia is only just entering its summer season. Normally, temperatures peak in January and February, meaning the country could be months away from finding relief.
The fires are unlikely to end entirely since they are an annually occurring event -- and may even get worse if recent years are a guide.
P.S - Environmental concerns have reached more places than we have. The picture doesn't show fracking. Picture shows fresh water sources that are critical to our existence.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Australian Wildfire 2

The bushfires ravaging Australia are generating so much heat that they are creating their own weather systems including dry lighting storms and fire tornadoes. The weather conditions are the results of the formation of pyrocumulonimbus clouds. The pyrocumulonimbus clouds are essentially a thunderstorm that forms from the smoke plume of a fire as intense heat from the fire causes air to rise rapidly, drawing in cooler air, according to information from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.

As the cloud climbs and then cools in the low temperatures of the upper atmosphere, the collisions of ice particles in the higher parts of the cloud build up an electrical charge, which can be released as lightning.
These can cause dangerous and unpredictable changes in fire behaviour, making them harder to fight as well as causing lightning strikes that could ignite new fires.

The rising air also spurs intense updrafts that suck in so much air that strong winds develop, causing a fire to burn hotter and spread further.

P.S - Environmental concerns have reached more places than we have. The picture doesn't show fracking. Picture shows fresh water sources that are critical to our existence.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Australian Wildfire 1

The early and devastating start to Australia’s summer wildfires has already burned about 12.35 million acres of land and destroyed more than 1,500 homes. The fire danger increased as temperatures rose to record levels across Australia, surpassing 42 degree Celsius in the capital Canberra and 48 in Penrith, in Sydney's western suburbs.
There have been fires in every Australian state, but New South Wales has been hardest hit. More than 130 fires were burning in New South Wales and at least half of those were out of control. Temperatures in parts of the state are expected to soar to about 45 degrees amid strong winds and low humidity. A total of 48 fires were burning across almost 791,000 acres in Victoria state and conditions were expected to worsen with a southerly wind change.
Over 20 people across Australia have died this fire season, including several volunteer firefighters. There has also been extensive damage to wildlife and the environment. Almost a third of koalas in NSW may have been killed in the fires, and a third of their habitat has been destroyed, said Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley.
P.S - Environmental concerns have reached more places than we have. The picture doesn't show fracking. Picture shows fresh water sources that are critical to our existence.

Monday, 6 January 2020

Sources of Knowledge 2

Many would love to do just like migratory birds: live an eternal summer. But migration is not much fun: it is a real challenge. Many dangers threaten the birds during the journey: storms, predators, disappearance of their usual stopover places where they are used to find rest and food, etc.

But how do the birds know where to go? Birds can use the sun, for example, which means that they permanently "know" what time it is, in order to know the right direction on the basis of the sun's position. They are also sensible to the ultraviolet rays which penetrate the clouds but are invisible for human beings. Even the nocturnal birds use the position of the sun at sunset to know their position.
Nocturnal birds also use the stars. This has been proved by letting birds fly in a planetarium and changing the stars' position.

Another tool is the earth's magnetic field (earth's north and south magnetic poles). Some birds, like pigeons, have a small zone in their brain made of magnetite (magnetic mineral), just like a small compass. But other scientists think it's rather in their eyes that some birds have a system which indicates them where the magnetic north is.
Of course, birds also use their knowledge of the landscape: they follow rivers, valleys or roads, or locate themselves with particular mountain peaks.

Now with global warming, the migratory birds are facing bigger issues day by day and their survival rate during migratory period is slowing down.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Sources of Knowledge

More than 2000 years ago, Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) had already discovered that some birds, like the cranes, were migrating in autumn. Birds fly in a regular, recurrent and seasonal movement from their wintering ranges to breeding areas: nearly 40 % of the bird species living in Europe and Asia are migratory birds, which means that, in autumn, 3 to 4 thousand million birds are leaving Eurasia for warmer places, while other birds arrive from cooler countries.

Birds migrate mainly to search for food. But how do they know it's time to go?

For sure, it's not the lack of food that pushes them to leave, because they leave long before the food comes to miss. In fact, it seems that it's the length of the daytime and the temperature that influence the birds' hormones. That's how, in springtime, the birds "feel" it's time to leave. They then get ready for the migration: they stock "fuel" in order to have enough energy through the whole journey. In fact, during two weeks, they are going to eat a lot more than usual and, thanks to the hormone changes, their body is going to stock these reserves very quickly, gaining mainly grease.

How astonishing are the birds and their body's ability.