Category Archives: Nature and environment
How to save the tiger
There are five different kinds or subspecies of tiger alive in the world today. These tigers are called Siberian, South China, Indochinese, Bengal, and Sumatran. Their Latin name is Panthera tigris. Tigers are an endangered species; only about 5,000 to 7,400 tigers are left in the wild. Three tiger subspecies, the Bali, Javan, and Caspian tigers have become extinct in the past 70 years.
Top 10 Environmental Issues Facing Our Planet
Our planet earth has a natural environment, known as ‘Ecosystem’ which includes all humans, plant life, mountains, glaciers, atmosphere, rocks, galaxy, massive oceans and seas. It also includes natural resources such as water, electric charge, fire, magnetism, air and climate.
Engineering developments are resulting in resource depletion and environmental destruction. Modern technologies used in the engineering and manufacturing industry have a major impact on our life in past few years. Due to the rapid changes in the engineering and manufacturing industry have been drastic changes in the environment.
Engineering and manufacturing industry have increased the use of materials like metals, plastic, oil and rubber. These are used in the production of numerous end products which can be associated with different industries such as Car production units, shipping industries, Cotton mills, plastics industries, Coal mining, heavy machineries and etc which are causing numerous arduous effects and are considered to be non-environment friendly.
Crucial environmental issues are no more a blame game. While most of us crib about dirty air, smelly garbage or polluted water, least do we know it is “us” who is responsible for this unfavorable circumstances leading to cautionary environmental issues.
Here are 10 significant current environmental issues, where human beings play an important role in its cause.
1. Pollution: More than half of the human population knows what is pollution, but we are still not ready to face its damaging consequences. Pollution is not only limited to water, soil and noise but has extended to light, visual, point and non-point sources. Human beings and their actions are majorly responsible for causing all types of pollution. Water pollution is essentially cause by oil spills, urban runoff and ocean dumping. Air pollution rises from burning of fossil fuels, hydraulic fracturing and gases emitted by vehicles. Water and soil pollution are majorly cause from industrial waste.
2. Climate Change: Climate change today is less of a natural process. It is rapidly occurring due to the ill effects of human actions responsible for disturbing and harmful out comings such as global warming, greenhouse effect, urban heat, coal industry etc. Climate change is not only changing the overall weather scenario, but has larger and harmful effects. Some of these include: melting of polar regions, occurrence of new diseases and permanent inhibition in growth of certain plants essential for human survival.
3. Global Warming: Global warming is another environmental issue which is increase in earth’s temperature due to effect of greenhouse gases called carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor and other gases. These gases possess heat trapping capacity that are needed to create greenhouse effect so that this planet remains warm for people to survive. Without these gases, this planet would turn be cold for life to exist.
During past several decades, the accumulation of greenhouse gases have grown rapidly, which means more heat gets trapped in the atmosphere and few of these gases escapes back into the space. These gases heat up the earth’s surface and this results in global warming. According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports, the earth’s temperature has increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius over the past century. Global warming is a serious public health and environmental concern. Global warming can have long lasting effects which can result in melting of glaciers, climate change, droughts, diseases and increase in hurricanes frequency.
4. Deforestation: With population growing at a rapid pace, the demand for food, shelter and cloth has almost tripled in last few decades. To overcome growing demand, a direct action that we have come to recognize as “Deforestation” occurs. Deforestation means, clearing of forests or green cover for means of agriculture, industrial or urban use. It involves permanent end of forest cover to make that land available for residential, commercial or industrial purpose.
5. Overpopulation: This is a never-ending human tragedy which is responsible for causing all types of environmental issues. Water pollution, resources crisis, gender imbalance, pollution, land pollution, urban sprawling, deforestation, over production are some common examples of dangerous effects cause by overpopulation. Despite efforts taken by the government in terms of family planning in many countries, over population is difficult to control at international level. This has become more like a subjective concern and no method seems to be 100% efficient to resolve the problem of over population.
6. Industrial and Household Waste: At present, tons of garbage is produced by each household each year. Items that can be recycled are sent to local recycling unit while other items become a part of the landfills or sent to third world countries. Due to increase in demand for food, shelter and house, more goods are produced. This resulted in creation of more waste that needs to be disposed of. Most waste is buried underground in landfill sites. The presence of huge landfills sites across the city pose serious environmental concerns. It affects human health, degrades soil quality, effects wildlife, cause air pollution and results in climate change.
7. Acid Rain: Acid rain simply means rain that is acidic in nature due to the presence of certain pollutants in the atmosphere. These pollutants come in the atmosphere due to car or industrial processes. Acid rain can occur in form of rain, snow, fog or dry material that settle to earth. Acid rain may cause due to erupting volcanoes, rotting vegetation and sea sprays that produce sulfur dioxide and fires, bacterial decomposition and lightening generate nitrogen dioxide.
Acid rain can also be caused due to man-made sources which include combustion of fossil fuels which release sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere. Acid rain can have devastating effects on aquatic life, forests, public health and architecture and buildings.
8. Ozone Layer Depletion: Ozone layer is a layer of gas that sits 25-30 km above earth’s surface. It mainly contains contain ozone which is a naturally occurring molecule containing three oxygen atoms. This layer is present in the stratosphere and prevents too many harmful UV (ultra violet) radiations from entering the earth. Ozone layer is capable of absorbing 97-99% of the harmful ultraviolet radiations that are emitted by sun.
However, during last several decades, human and industrial activity has contributed a lot which has resulted in considerable reduction in the ozone layer of the atmosphere. The main cause of depletion of ozone layer is determined as excessive release of chlorine and bromine from man-made compounds such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons), halons, CH3CCl3 (Methyl chloroform), CCl4 (Carbon tetrachloride), HCFCs (hydro-chlorofluorocarbons), hydrobromofluorocarbons and methyl bromide are found to have direct impact on the depletion of the ozone layer.
9. Genetic Engineering: Genetic modification of food, human and animal organs seems like the gem of science and technology but this has major harmful effects. Biotechnology is an impressive technology but limiting is use is the need of the hour. Genetic engineering is a controversial subject and has seen more ill impacts than the benefits it brings to mankind. Genetic pollution and alteration of food produce not only have harmful effects on human beings, but are responsible for crucial concern known s as ‘genetic modification’.
10. Urban Sprawl: Not only India and China are classic examples of over population and urban sprawl leading to land degradation. Today almost all countries are using the land irresponsibly to meet the ever-growing demand of the greedy human wishes. The expansion of industrial areas has not only led to land degradation and soil pollution, but the habitat destruction is a terrible misery. Natural environment consisting of flora and fauna is indiscriminately destructed and lost completely instead of being replaced. This in the long run has harmful impact for human survival and cause serious environmental issue.
Ways to Survive an Earthquake
What Causes an Earthquake?
Earthquakes are one of the most dangerous natural disasters on Earth. This is because they strike with little or no warning, and can cause catastrophic damage. All that shaking comes from deep underground, but as you know, the surface shakes a lot too, which is where all the damage occurs. Buildings fall down, roads and bridges collapse, and land and mud come sliding down from hillsides.
But what causes all that shaking in the first place? Earthquakes happen deep underground along tectonic plate boundaries. Tectonic plates are what make up the earth’s crust, its outermost layer. These plates fit together like puzzle pieces but they don’t stay in one place. They’re always moving because the part of the earth underneath them is like a fluid. And because the plates are sitting on top of this fluid like ice on top of a pond, they are not locked in place and are sort of floating about.
However, each plate is lined up pretty well with the other plates around it. So as they move, they create tension and pressure as they slide past and bump into each other, sometimes even sticking together. And though the plate boundary is stuck, the plate itself keeps moving and pulling the rest of the plate with it. Eventually, the pulling becomes too much and the plates suddenly break free from each other, causing an earthquake.
I am hereby putting forward 15 important ways by which one can survive an earthquake
1.) Look around your house for things that could fall or move.
Ask yourself what may happen if your cupboard doors fly open during a quake, allowing dishes or God-knows-what to fall across the floor. Is the TV and stereo fastened down and are shelves fastened to walls? Do you have hanging plants or light fixtures that might fall? Is there a heavy picture or mirror on the wall over your bed?
2.) Know the danger spots.
Secure all tall and heavy furniture that could topple over, such as bookcases, china cabinets or wall units. Hang heavy pictures and mirrors away from beds, couches, and anywhere people sit. Keep breakables or heavy objects on bottom shelves.
3.) Stay clear of windows, fireplaces, or appliances if a quake hits
As a top priority, stay out of the kitchen — it’s a dangerous place, with large appliances that could fall over or be pushed violently from walls and floors; knife sets that could be knocked from counters and natural gas lines (if your appliances are powered by natural gas) that could suddenly sprout leaks and fill your kitchen with explosive gas fumes (if a spark occurs, your kitchen would be the first place to erupt in flames and the possible ground zero of an explosion that levels your home.)
4.) Stay away from anything that could conceivably fall on you.
Don’t run downstairs or rush outside while the building is shaking, or while there is a danger of falling or being hit by falling glass or debris.
5.) Secure a water heater by strapping it to wall studs and bolting it to the floor.
6.) Before and after a quake, repair any deep cracks in ceilings, chimneys, or foundations.
Get expert advice if there are signs of structural defects. Unnoticed damage could cause a fire – or worse.
7.) Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections.
These are potential fire risks.
8.) Keep batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors fresh.
At the least, make sure you have a properly installed and working smoke detector in your home/apartment.
9.) Secure all chemicals, fuel, and bleach.
Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products securely in closed cabinets with latches and on bottom shelves.
10.) Keep food and water supplies on hand.
You should be prepared to take care of yourself and loved ones for a period of 72 hours (and possibly longer, depending on the severity of the earthquake). 72 hours under normal circumstances is how long it is estimated for help to arrive, as they have to deal with the same predicaments as you.
11.) Create a family disaster plan.
Discuss with your family the types of disasters that could occur. Explain to your kids how to prepare and respond to each type of disaster. Print the plan for everyone.
12.) Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone.
13.) Learn first aid and CPR.
14.) Teach all family members how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
15.) Learn how to help kids cope with disaster.
Do your best to maintain calm and to respond with a plan of action. Your calm confidence can help your kids respond in the same way or simply help minimize the trauma they would otherwise feel. If they see you panicking, they are more likely to panic as well.
Freak heatwave pushes winter North Pole above freezing
Temperatures at the North Pole rose above freezing point Wednesday, 20 degrees Celsius above the mid-winter norm and the latest abnormality in a season of extreme weather events. Canadian weather authorities blamed the temperature spike on the freak depression which has already brought record Christmas temperatures to North America and lashed Britain with winds and floods. The deep low pressure area is currently looming over Iceland and churning up hurricane force 75-knot winds and 30-foot waves in the north Atlantic while dragging warm air northwards.
US scientists from the North Pole Environmental Observatory told AFP that the temperatures had climbed suddenly. An Arctic monitoring point 180 miles (300 kilometers) from the Pole that had been recording minus 37 degrees on Monday had shot up to minus eight by Wednesday, said senior researcher James Morison.
The polar region is the area of the world that has seen the most profound effects of climate change in recent decades. Average year-round temperatures in the Arctic are three degrees Celsius higher than they were in the pre-industrial era, snowfall is heavier, winds are stronger and the ice sheet has been shrinking for 30 years.It would be too hasty, however, to pin this week`s extreme weather directly on the man-made climate change phenomenon, rather than on a discreet anomaly.
After tormenting the North Atlantic, the depression is expected to head towards Russia`s Siberia, where the inhabitants can expect a heatwave of sorts. In Canada, the capital of the Nunavut territory of the native Inuit, Iqaluit, celebrated a relatively balmy Christmas when temperatures rose to minus 4.6 degrees — up from an average of minus 21.
The 2015 El Nino is regarded as perhaps the most powerful in a century and, combined with the effects of climate change, it has generated storms, flood and droughts in Central America and beyond. Dozens of Americans were killed in rare, late season tornados in the southern United States before Christmas, and then the hot El Nino air was dragged north along the Atlantic coast bringing T-shirt weather to normally frigid cities.
Aurora:What causes the aurora borealis or northern lights?
People at high northern latitudes sometimes experience an ethereal display of colored lights shimmering across the night sky – the aurora borealis or northern lights. What causes them?
Those who live at or visit high latitudes might at times experience colored lights shimmering across the night sky. Some Inuit believed that the spirits of their ancestors could be seen dancing in the flickering aurora. In Norse mythology, the aurora was a fire bridge to the sky built by the gods. This ethereal display – the aurora borealis or aurora australis, the northern or southern lights – is beautiful. What causes these lights to appear?
Our sun is 93 million miles away. But its effects extend far beyond its visible surface. Great storms on the sun send gusts of charged solar particles hurtling across space. If Earth is in the path of the particle stream, our planet’s magnetic field and atmosphere react.
When the charged particles from the sun strike atoms and molecules in Earth’s atmosphere, theyexcite those atoms, causing them to light up.
What does it mean for an atom to be excited? Atoms consist of a central nucleus and a surrounding cloud of electrons encircling the nucleus in an orbit. When charged particles from the sun strike atoms in Earth’s atmosphere, electrons move to higher-energy orbits, further away from the nucleus. Then when an electron moves back to a lower-energy orbit, it releases a particle of light or photon.
What happens in an aurora is similar to what happens in the neon lights we see on many business signs. Electricity is used to excite the atoms in the neon gas within the glass tubes of a neon sign. That’s why these signs give off their brilliant colors. The aurora works on the same principle – but at a far more vast scale.
The aurora often appears as curtains of lights, but they can also be arcs or spirals, often following lines of force in Earth’s magnetic field. Most are green in color but sometimes you’ll see a hint of pink, and strong displays might also have red, violet and white colors. The lights typically are seen in the far north – the nations bordering the Arctic Ocean – Canada and Alaska, Scandinavian countries, Iceland, Greenland and Russia. But strong displays of the lights can extend down into more southerly latitudes in the United States. And of course, the lights have a counterpart at Earth’s south polar regions.
The colors in the aurora were also a source of mystery throughout human history. But science says that different gases in Earth’s atmosphere give off different colors when they are excited. Oxygen gives off the green color of the aurora, for example. Nitrogen causes blue or red colors.
So today the mystery of the aurora is not so mysterious as it used to be. Yet people still travel thousands of miles to see the brilliant natural light shows in Earth’s atmosphere. And even though we know the scientific reason for the aurora, the dazzling natural light show can still fire our imaginations to visualize fire bridges, gods or dancing ghosts.
Red alerts for smog issued for 1st time by more Chinese cities
More Chinese cities are issuing their first red alerts for pollution in response to forecasts of heavy smog, after the capital, Beijing, issued two this month following criticism for not releasing them earlier.
Shandong province in eastern China issued alerts in four cities after warning that the density of particulate matter in the air would exceed high levels for more than 24 hours. The Shandong environmental protection bureau said the alerts started Thursday morning and that kindergarten, primary and middle schools should close and construction of buildings and roads, and demolition work, should stop.
China’s air pollution is notorious after three decades of breakneck economic growth. In recent years, the government has said it is trying to address the problem as citizens have become increasingly aware of the dangers.
Meteorological authorities in Hebei, a province which neighbours Beijing and is regarded as China’s most polluted, issued its first red alert for smog on Tuesday. Cities in Hebei took response measures. Xingtai and Handan instigated traffic control measures to take half the vehicles off the road on a given day, according to Hebei’s environmental protection bureau.
The first red alert in the port city of Tianjin, which is also close to Beijing, ended Thursday morning after three days.
Beijing issued its first two red alerts in December under a four-tier warning system that has been in place for two years. It had earlier experienced more hazardous levels of pollution, but environmental authorities said that their forecasting model must predict three or more days of smog at particular levels on the city’s air quality index.
Air pollution in cities is emerging as the major reason behind the rise in eye allergies and conjunctivitis in people of all ages, doctors say.
They say that the problem was serious, because if conjunctivitis and allergies are not treated in time they can lead to cornea problems affecting vision.
“Almost all age groups are being affected by air pollution. Majority of patients are young children, middle aged and senior citizens. Air pollution affects them badly and results in eye irritation and sometimes in redness, and watery eyes,” said Kamal B. Kapur, an opthalmologist at city-based Sharp Sight Centre.
Kapur said the major reasons behind allergic conjunctivitis were substances like pollen or mold spores or chemical substances in the air.
According to doctors, the high levels of pollutants like nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide in the air make the tear film of the eyes more acidic.
Tears are a mixture of water, fatty oil, proteins, and bacteria fighting substances that maintain the lubrication of eyes.
Talking about the ways to prevent eye allergies, eye care expert Samir Sud said: “One should not rub eyes directly even if fine particulates enter, rather wash eyes with water. After that they should apply a cool compress to help reduce inflammation.”
“Whenever there is direct contact with the allergen, an allergic reaction happens in the eye. Mostly this happens when there is dryness in the air. Once the infection is detected, chances are that the person will get it again and again,” said Sud.
According to a recent study, over 30,000 people in Delhi were detected with cornea infection last year caused by the deteriorating air quality and increasing particulates.
“In more troublesome cases, you will need to see an eye doctor who might recommend oral antihistamines or anti-inflammatory eye drops or in severe cases, steroid eye drops may be prescribed to get relief,” Sud added.
Harbingers of winter
Year after year, flocks of rosy starlings (pastor roseus) migrate from Eastern Europe across Sothern Asia to the south. The bird is definitely a strong migrant — to be able to take that distant travel in winter to India. The starling is a winter visitor in Sri Lanka and India, including the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and the rest of Andhra.
“Rosy starlings have already arrived in the city in certain locations,” says Joiston Pereira. “These pretty birds are often the harbingers of the yearly migration of birds to our southern shores, wintering here before going back,” shares avid birder Deepa Mohan. “These birds, also called as rosy pastors, are a delightful sight as flocks of them flutter in the air, settling like pinkish leaves, on trees.”
According to Wiki, these birds belong to the starling family and the adult of this species is highly distinctive, with its pink body, pale orange legs and bill. It has a glossy black head, wings and tail. Males in the breeding season have foppish head feathers, which form a wispy crest that is fluffed and more prominent when the bird gets excited. In fact, the floppy hair style of some of our male celebrities and models, seem to have been copied off the bird! Their song, says Wiki, is a typical mixture of squeaks and rattles, given with much wing trembling.
“Generally seen in large groups, it is a pleasure to watch the huge flock doing what is known as murmuration. Having migrated in millions to spend their winters here, these birds put up quite a show, especially at dawn and dusk. Researchers and scientists aren’t sure why murmurations happen but they have theories that suggest that this chaotic, yet graceful motion might be to confuse and ward off predators,” says Bopanna Pattada. While Swaroop Bharadwaj says, “Thousands gather and form a bird cloud which looks like a flock of honey bees travelling, from a distance.”
Their numbers are so large and because they move around in flocks, they often appear to outnumber the local starlings and mynas in the city.
“Recently, I saw both rosy starlings and chestnut tailed starlings at Hoskote around 8.30 a.m.,” says Mohit Aggarwal. In China, a research conducted on these birds in the 80s found that they primarily feed on flightless locusts. This practice helped in the elimination of locusts in fields where they were the main crop pests, thereby reducing dependence on chemical insecticide which is harmful for humans. By the end of the 20 Century, application of insecticide to the crops was decreased to a great extent, says the study.
Migration of rosy starlings has been going on for centuries and it’s a great feeling to welcome our winter visitors year after year, say Bengaluru bird lovers.