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Friday, August 3, 2012


            Let us not only blame it on EL NINO

From the time in the 1920s SIR GILBERT WALKER recognized the pressure pattern of the giant ocean –atmosphere seesaw circulation which is called the Walker Circulation or southern oscillation there has been  lot of research and renewed interest in the study of this pressure pattern of which EL NINO forms a part.

In fact the word EL NINO means ‘the boy’ in Spanish or perhaps even ‘the child’. It was called as such by the fishermen who observed the arrival of warm water in the ocean ground about Christmas time.

Normally, in December, air pressure is high, over the south east pacific and low over Indonesia. When EL NINO occurs this process is reversed and as a consequence where there should be rains there is draught and where there should be sun shine, there is floods and so on.

Though we are all now well informed about what is EL NINO, when it occurs and also what happens when it occurs etc. still what causes or what the factors that cause EL NINO have not yet been discovered and therefore obviously no remedial measures have been thought out much less worked out.

Labeling away verbally any major ecological degradation or atmospheric change to any single specific factor like EL NINO has become a fashion as the governments feel that they have justified the huge catastrophe that is wrecked with a verbal label with which the media will have a nice time with experts vomiting their varying degrees of ignorance and these fellows, the media anchors, in turn, unfortunately, happen to be the mass opinion molders.

Almost all the possible causes of EL NINO are at best conjectures and wild generalizations spiced with select jargons discernible only to the academicians and parroted by that huge industry which suffers from selective amnesia and collective indifference, you guessed it right, the media houses.

These generalizations and conjectures come in handy as a remote factor on which we find it easy to blame any adverse and unbearable weather conditions and thereby blinker our vision from seeing the damages that are caused by our own misdeeds affecting the environment and directly and indirectly contributing heavily to all these erratic climatic conditions.

Once the climate returns back to normalcy everyone goes into hibernation and wake up only when the same crisis awakes all of us again. Of course the natural cycles are jealous of our jet speed life styles that they stop us to have a look at them and acknowledge that they are very much part of our life and we are all interrelated and inter connected.

The list of our misdeeds contributing to this unbearable weather conditions especially severe heat in summer is rather too long. So, let me take out one major misdeed and delve into it, namely, excessive urbanization leading to concrete jungles and its concomitant catastrophic consequences.

Excessive urbanization is due to lack of amenities and opportunities in the villages. As a result the rural population migrates to urban areas and to provide for space for this population eats into the very little left over farm lands, tress etc in the urban areas and as more and more villagers  migrate the agricultural sector in villages too suffer. There is not corresponding public transport facilities for transporting these huge populations in the urban areas, forcing many to go in for individual vehicles which in turn take more road space from the existing green lands-either agricultural or forest lands. The shelter and fuel requirement of this augmented population requires further felling of trees. The left over small farmers are also pushed away by Mechanization of agriculture which replaces resourceful people with resource- wasting machines.

Lot of greenery is also lost to grazing by cattle which are bred in huge number for export of meat. In fact the State of the Environment Atlas, Penguin 1995, world resources 1992-93, as  JONI Seager mentions that the world is losing 7 million hectares of fertile land each year due to soil degradation of which 35% accounts for over-grazing, 30% for deforestation, 28%mecahnized farming and 7% other causes.

Can these problems ever get solved with next higher posting seeking crisis managing bureaucrats or next election minding politicians or the academic approval and corporate sponsor seeking scientists or  economists who work out theories that would fit into certain set pattern of ideological slots which would get them awards, recognition , sometimes even publication  or the most poisonous institute with nexus with all these and which merely parrots what all these people say and ultimately act as mass opinion molders , the dangerous media houses.

Let us not allow any of these crooks to decide the future of our planet which is a very complex system wherein a slight damage to one part may have catastrophic effect on something else.

Our economist and politicians can only think of the foreign exchange revenue that export of prawn can bring and they are not bothered about the damage to cultivable land; for them forests are  raw materials for furniture  industry , in fact, forests are for rest of the species; these people would go to any extent to harvest the sea for marine products and they see human beings only as labor force.

Each one of us, in our individual capacity, to the extent we can must strive to make the necessary plans and effect the necessary changes to ensure that we bequeath a planet wherein our children can lead a life in harmony with nature. Our environmental ethics as a whole must make the inevitable paradigm shift from human –centered approach to life –centered approach.

As a first step, we must come out with a detailed environmental atlas, something like the e the Atlas of environmental and sustainability indicators for Latin America and Caribbean released by Manuel Winograd [ the architect of this computerized Atlas and an Environmental Scientist at C.I.A.T]. It allows users to easily pull together and visually compare in a single way many kinds of data, variety of reputable but separate sources such as C.I.A.T, THE EUROPEAN SPACE AGENCY, N.A.S.A, THE GLOBAL RESOURCE INFORMATION DATABASE OF UNEP, THE WWF and THE WORLD CONSERVATION MONITORING CENTER.

As this type of Atlas gives avid readers, learners, knowledge seekers, students, sincere policy makers etc all the best possible data to monitor environmental impact. The sincere policy makers need to have information on crops, forest covers, climate, land and water uses and abuses, topography, temperature zones [India has more than any other country], road locations, how much of forest cover has been converted to create tea plantations, population distribution, explosion of vehicular traffic etc . This will definitely help us from differentiating between facts and false claims.

Once these comprehensive information from various sources are made available , we can learn what it is to adopt to ‘frugal technology’ in certain areas of life where it is necessitated to harmonize with the ‘new scarcity’ of Earth, “ the 4.5 x 10^9 year –old near spherical Cornucopia” as N.L.Falcon, the great Geologist calls it, in a worthy and habitable condition for future generations.

Primarily at any cost we must create opportunities and facilities in our villages. And avoid too much urbanization.

As per the “An Urbanising World”, Global Report on human settlements, 1996, U.N. Center for Human Settlements [ habitat] Report, “The average size of the world’s largest 100 cities have grown from 2,00,000 in 1800 to 5.1 Million in 1990. Asia counts 3/5ths of world’s population and 44.5% of worlds’ urban population” and the States of Disarray [UNRISD] report gives world’s ten largest urban conglomerations in the year 2000 with population in Millions and two Indian cities figure in this: Calcutta with 15.7 Millions and Mumbai:15.4 Millions.[would like to remind you that these states are for 2000]

Dr.Jeff Luvall who along with Dr. Dale Quattrochi is leading  the Urban Heat Island pilot Project , says,  “The artificial material store much of the sun’s energy and remain hot for long after sun set”  and “ in extreme cases these heat pockets can push city temperatures 10 degrees higher than surrounding rural areas”. He also says, “The hotter the city more quickly the ground level Ozone forms”.

So growing urbanization and creation of concrete jungles can increase heat and make it unbearable even late in the evening whether there is EL NINO or Ni Siquiera eso [ not even that].

Finally I would like all concerned citizens to ponder over the following

Which was drafted by the UK council for posterity initially by a gentleman called Professor Scorer and a group of other concerned people like ecologist Herbie Girardet, Tanya Schwarz of the Forest Peoples’ Support Group, Guy Dauncey environmental consultant and Nicolas Albery of the Institute of Social Inventions.

(DRAFT, JULY 1989)

Whereas our descendants’ generations, although likely to prove far more numerous than ourselves, have no voice or vote in any of our political systems, we therefore declare that all the generations yet to come, for as far into the future as human life survives on this planet, are entitled by natural justice to the following rights, which those alive today have a duty to respect and uphold:

1. The right to inherit a planet that has been treated by its human occupants with the utmost respect. And more particularly:

2. The right to inherit a planet with oceans, lakes and atmosphere undamaged by human activity, with safeguards for planet’s climate, such as rainforests, still intact.

3. The right to inherit a planet with an undiminished diversity of species.

4. The right to inherit adequately maintained reserves of fossil fuel and other mineral resources.

5. The right to be born into world of human-scale societies, unravaged by population excess.

6. The right to inherit a world unmarred by nuclear or chemical wars, incidents or wastes.

7. The right to expect that previous generations will have cleaned up their pollution, repaired their damaged environments, on land, sea and in the air ( including outer space), and protected places of natural beauty.

8. The right to inherit political, legal, technological and social systems that respect individual human dignity, such as those laid out in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

9. The right to inherit the full uncensored cultural heritage bequeathed by former generations, as expressed, for instance, in their art, history, literature, libraries and museums.

10.The right of future generations to have their interests considered and, where appropriate, represented by a competent advocate, in any present day tribunal or assembly that is deciding courses of action that might have harmful log-term consequences.

   So, let us do something more than blaming it on EL NINO.

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