Worryingly, such weather events may not remain unusual
Heatwaves bring problems, especially in the developing world. Crops are ravaged, food spoils and workers become less productive. Studies have linked rising temperatures to violent crime and civil strife. And heat can kill on its own. In 2003 more than 70,000 Europeans may have died as a direct result of an infernal summer.
That was seen as a once-a-millennium heatwave at the time. By comparison, notes Geert Jan van Oldenborgh of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, outside of northern Europe the summer of 2018 looks unremarkable, so far, in terms of temperature. The Netherlands, for instance, can expect scorchers every couple of years. Except, he adds, a century ago that might have been once every 20 years. A few years back, a team led by Peter Stott of Britain’s Met Office calculated that, by 2012, summers like the one in 2003 would be expected to occur not every 1,000 years but every 127.
Decades ago, synthetic polymers became popular because they were cheap and durable. Now, scientists are creating material that self-destructs or breaks down for reuse on command.
The environmental effects of plastic buildup and the declining popularity of plastics have helped to spur chemists on a quest to make new materials with two conflicting requirements: They must be durable, but degradable on command. In short, scientists are in search of polymers or plastics with a built-in self-destruct mechanism.
The Eastern monarch is in trouble, and this is the time to help (no science degree needed).
As a species, the Eastern monarch — an iconic butterfly that migrates 3,000 miles every year — is in serious trouble. A changing climate is part of the problem, imperiling the monarch’s Mexican wintering grounds and spawning extreme weather events that can destroy millions of migrating butterflies. And pesticide drift can poison caterpillars even when they aren’t the targeted pest.
Monarch caterpillars are never targeted, in fact, because monarchs are important pollinators that don’t eat crops or damage gardens. Their caterpillars eat only milkweed, which was once ubiquitous along American roadsides and in the margins between fields on small farms. The biggest danger to the monarch butterfly is the disappearance of milkweed because of habitat destruction and the widespread use of herbicides, like Roundup, by both commercial farms and state highway departments.
Once a leader in protecting the region’s vast forests, Brazil is now moving in the opposite direction.
If the government’s retrenchment on environmental protection continues, there may soon be nothing to stop the chain saws on the Amazonian frontier, where the rule of law can be weak and land is frequently seized and cleared illegally. This has implications beyond Brazil. The Amazon’s lush forests make up the largest reserve of carbon dioxide on the surface of the earth. This potent greenhouse gas is released when forests are burned or bulldozed and left to decay.
A plague of tiny beetles is tearing into our trees and killing them. The unprecedented crisis has led to towns, cities, companies and universities scrambling to find an urgent solution.
The innocuous-looking villain is the 2mm-long shot hole borer. An invasive alien species from Asia, the borer burrows deep into trees to create a nest for its eggs.
It then secretes a fungus (Fusarium euwallacea) to feed its larvae.
The fungus feeds on the capillaries of its unwilling host and starves the tree of water and nutrition.
High CO2 levels cause plants to thicken their leaves, could worsen climate change effects
Plant scientists have observed that when levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rise, most plants do something unusual: They thicken their leaves.
And since human activity is raising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, thick-leafed plants appear to be in our future.
But the consequences of this physiological response go far beyond heftier leaves on many plants. Two University of Washington scientists have discovered that plants with thicker leaves may exacerbate the effects of climate change because they would be less efficient in sequestering atmospheric carbon, a fact that climate change models to date have not taken into account.
Denying climate change doesn’t stop its devastating effects.
As Hurricane Michael rips through homes and communities, we send our sympathies to all those in its path, but let’s also review what some leading Florida residents have said about climate change.
“One of the most preposterous hoaxes in the history of the planet,” scoffed Rush Limbaugh of Palm Beach. Gov. Rick Scott’s administration went so far as to bar some agencies from even using the term “climate change,” according to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (Scott denied this).
Myopic Floridians have plenty of company. President Trump dismissed climate change as a hoax “created by and for the Chinese.” Senator James Inhofe, a Republican of Oklahoma, “disproved” climate change by taking a snowball onto the Senate floor and noting that it was chilly outside; using similarly rigorous scientific methods, he wrote a book about climate change called “The Greatest Hoax.”
Alas, denying climate change doesn’t actually prevent it. North Carolina passed a law in 2012 prohibiting the use of climate science in certain state planning, yet that didn’t intimidate Hurricane Florence last month. And banning the words “climate change” isn’t helping Florida now.
An organization on the coast of Kenya tries to persuade local residents to help return the trapped reptiles to the ocean, rather than sell their meat and shells for a living.
WATAMU, Kenya — The young hawksbill turtle was accidentally caught in a net in the Indian Ocean off Kenya’s coast.
The fisherman called Local Ocean Conservation, a nonprofit based in the town of Watamu that is the only turtle rescue and rehabilitation center on the East African seaboard. The hawksbill, critically endangered in this region, was a mere seven pounds; adults can weigh up to 160 pounds.
X-rays showed that the reptile’s intestinal tract was clogged with plastic. Hogaar, as Local Ocean named her, floated and couldn’t dive. Gas had built up in her innards after she had eaten small pieces of plastic mistaken for food such as jellyfish. Local Ocean staff members placed Hogaar in a rehab pool and gave her laxatives. She passed feces laced with shreds of packaging and had little appetite. After more than four months at Local Ocean, Hogaar died. A necropsy revealed her gut was also full of sharp shards of white, blue and pink plastic and tangles of blue and gray string.
Microplastics Find Their Way Into Your Gut, a Pilot Study Finds
Researchers looked for microplastics in stool samples of people from eight countries. “The results were astonishing,” they said.
In the next 60 seconds, people around the world will purchase one million plastic bottles and two million plastic bags. By the end of the year, we will produce enough bubble wrap to encircle the Equator 10 times.
Though it will take more than 1,000 years for most of these items to degrade, many will soon break apart into tiny shards known as microplastics, trillions of which have been showing up in the oceans, fish, tap water and even table salt.
Now, we can add one more microplastic repository to the list: the human gut.
In a pilot study with a small sample size, researchers looked for microplastics in stool samples of eight people from Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and Austria. To their surprise, every single sample tested positive for the presence of a variety of microplastics.
The biggest crime scene on the planet is the planet. We know the earth is warming, but who or what is causing it?
When this is all put together, the conclusions are inescapable: Without human activities the planet would not have warmed over the past century. When scientists include all of the effects that humans have had on the climate system, they can match them with these many independent and varied observations. Our best assessment is therefore that humans, at least the ones responsible for the bulk of carbon dioxide emissions, have been responsible for all of the recent trends in global temperatures.
Ismailis and World Leaders Attend Global Climate Action Summit
“By becoming engaged, by informing itself of the challenge we face and collective actions that can make a difference. The AKDN is particularly well placed to assist at various levels; through the common actions of the diaspora, high-level scientific work in the academic centers of AKDN and population based actions on sustainable development in the geographies in which AKDN works.”
Dr Zulfiqar Bhutta, Aga Khan University, a speaker at the Global Climate Action Summit, reflecting on the significance of the event.
The Moscone Center in San Francisco was thriving with influential personalities as the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS), hosted by California Governor Jerry Brown, brought together governors, mayors, and business leaders from across the world to not only celebrate the achievements of climate action, but to demonstrate that cities and businesses, by going green in their own backyard, can inspire others to follow suit.
Just as momentum on global climate action seemed to falter following the withdrawal of the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement, the GCAS re-engaged and re-energized international leaders, and further positioned California as leading the charge on positive climate action. Taking place between the 2015 and 2020 Paris climate discussions, the GCAS provided a platform for leaders to demonstrate that positive climate can be feasible as well as practical and economical.
An announcement was made at the summit of 26 cities including Medellin, Oxford, Rotterdam, Seoul, Tokyo, and Warsaw - representing more than 140 million urban citizens - have committed to deliver a zero emission mobility future. Organizations and philanthropists from around the world committed four billion dollars over five years that would support a number of projects promoting sustainable communities, health energy systems, and various other projects promoting positive climate action.
California has witnessed firsthand the increase in the severity of droughts and wildfires and approaches climate action with greater urgency and determination. Prior to the summit, Governor Brown passed legislation directing California to phase out fossil fuels for electricity by 2045 and operate entirely on renewable energy.
Commenting on the impact of conferences such as the Summit, Dr. Zulfiqar Bhutta of the Aga Khan University, Karachi, an Ismaili physician specializing in pediatrics and child health, said that “These events are important for advocacy and also galvanizing the communities (public health, civic society, and academia) for evidence-informed action. I certainly learned a lot and was able to share what the global pediatric community could do to assist in this common good for generations to come.”
In Pakistan, an ambitious effort to plant 10 billion trees takes root
HARIPUR, Pakistan — When Mohammed Riasat, a government forest service officer, peers up at the majestic ridges around him, he sees small miracles others might miss: a few dozen pine seedlings that have sprouted in rocky, near-vertical cliffs or a grove of healthy young eucalyptus trees, planted on a patch of terrain that had been eroding after years of illegal use.
“When I see a grown tree cut down, I feel like a close relative has died,” said Riasat, who has spent three decades working with limited funds and staff to protect Pakistan’s beleaguered forests here in the verdant hills of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. “When I see a new one appear, I feel attached to it.”
Two years ago, that struggling effort got a huge boost. Imran Khan, then a politician whose party governed the province, launched a program dubbed the “Billion Tree Tsunami.” Eventually, hundreds of thousands of trees were planted across the region, timber smuggling was virtually wiped out, and a cottage industry of backyard nurseries flourished.
Today, Khan is Pakistan’s prime minister, and his new government is aiming to replicate that success nationwide, this time with a “10 Billion Tree Tsunami.” Officials said they hope the initiative, launched last month, will foster environmental awareness in their impoverished, drought-plagued country, where both greed and necessity have left forests stripped; they now cover only 2 percent of all land, according to the World Bank.
The plan is one of dozens that Khan has proposed in his wide-ranging agenda to fashion a “new” Pakistan. Some have met with skepticism, such as persuading wealthy overseas Pakistanis to finance the construction of dams and vowing to end entrenched official corruption.
Philosophers have been talking about skepticism for a long time. Some of those insights can shed light on our public discourse regarding climate change.
One way to counter the effects of skepticism is to stop talking about “knowledge” and switch to talking about probabilities. Instead of saying that you don’t know some claim, try to estimate the probability that it is true. As hedge fund managers, economists, policy researchers, doctors and bookmakers have long been aware, the way to make decisions while managing risk is through probabilities. Once we switch to this perspective, claims to “not know,” like those made by Trump, lose their force and we are pushed to think more carefully about the existing data and engage in cost-benefit analyses.
Environmental awareness highlighted through tree-planting events around the world
In Islamic tradition, society is encouraged to leave behind a wholesome and sustainable natural environment for those who will inherit the Earth. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) is believed to have said "Even if the end of time is upon you and you have a seedling in your hand, plant it."
In recent months, institutions in India, Pakistan, and Canada have held tree-planting events as part of their programming.
Trees contribute to our ecosystem by providing oxygen, improving air quality and ocean health, and supporting local wildlife. Planting trees is an important part of environmental stewardship, one that contributes to the mitigation of climate change.
As Mawlana Hazar Imam said during the inauguration of the Aga Khan Garden, Alberta on 16 October 2018: “For a central part of the garden tradition is the high calling of human stewardship, our responsibility to honour, to protect, and to share the gifts of the natural world.”
If you look at a forest through a Darwinian lens, you’ll see individual trees battling each other for finite resources like water, nutrients and sunlight. The winners take what they can and live long enough to reproduce, while the losers end up struggling to survive.
In recent years, though, this “survival of the fittest” view of forests is giving way to something altogether different. Research shows that trees have much more complex relationships. They cooperate, share resources, warn each other of danger, nurture younger trees and work together to create a vibrant, healthy community — some might say like a family or old friends.
While some scientists would prefer a less poetic — and less anthropomorphic — way of describing the interrelationships of trees, there’s little doubt that our former view of trees as loners battling for individual supremacy is no longer valid.
Peter Wohlleben, a German forester and author of The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate, is one of the biggest proponents of this shift in how we talk about trees.
In an interview with Smithsonian, he refers to certain pairs of trees as “old friends,” which might bring to mind the tree-like Ents in the Lord of the Rings. But this description is less Tolkienesque than it seems. Wohlleben is referring to the close connection between pairs of trees. Sometimes it is so close, he said, that if one tree dies, its partner usually dies soon afterward.
Trees have many ways of communicating with each other. An important one is through underground fungal networks, also known as mycorrhizal networks. Fungal filaments join with the hairlike root tips of trees, forming a network that connects trees in what some have dubbed the “wood wide web,” said Wohlleben.
John Kerry: Forget Trump. We All Must Act on Climate Change.
If we fail, it won’t be just the president’s fault.
But the test is not whether the nation’s cities and states can make up for Mr. Trump’s rejection of reality. They can. The test is whether the nations of the world will pull out of the mutual suicide pact that we’ve all passively joined through an inadequate response to this crisis.
Talk to leaders who are gathered in Poland. They acknowledge that we aren’t close to getting the job done in reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that warm the planet. People are dying today because of climate change, and many more will die and trillions of dollars of damage to property will occur unless America gets back in the fight.
The evidence is hard to miss. Fifteen of the biggest fires in California history have occurred in the past 18 years. We roll our eyes when the president suggests “raking” the forest is the answer. But clever internet memes don’t help when the stakes are this high.
Hurricanes Maria, Harvey and Irma cost the United States some $265 billion in damages. Historic droughts are matched by historic floods. Heat waves stole 153 billion hours of labor globally last year. Infectious diseases are moving into new areas and higher altitudes. Crop yields are down in more than two dozen countries, and by 2050 the Midwestern United States could see agricultural productivity drop to its lowest level in decades. But this is a mere preview of what’s to come.
Our species possesses inherent value, but we are devastating the earth and causing unimaginable animal suffering.
There are stirrings of discussion these days in philosophical circles about the prospect of human extinction. This should not be surprising, given the increasingly threatening predations of climate change. In reflecting on this question, I want to suggest an answer to a single question, one that hardly covers the whole philosophical territory but is an important aspect of it. Would human extinction be a tragedy?
To get a bead on this question, let me distinguish it from a couple of other related questions. I’m not asking whether the experience of humans coming to an end would be a bad thing. (In these pages, Samuel Scheffler has given us an important reason to think that it would be.) I am also not asking whether human beings as a species deserve to die out. That is an important question, but would involve different considerations. Those questions, and others like them, need to be addressed if we are to come to a full moral assessment of the prospect of our demise. Yet what I am asking here is simply whether it would be a tragedy if the planet no longer contained human beings. And the answer I am going to give might seem puzzling at first. I want to suggest, at least tentatively, both that it would be a tragedy and that it might just be a good thing.
Power lines and electrified fences are killing birds, monkeys, pangolins and even elephants in surprising numbers.
South Africa is not the only country struggling with the problem, and it’s not just fences that kill. Power lines are being strung haphazardly across poor countries; these, too, electrocute animals, and collisions alone often prove fatal for birds.
“There are studies from all over the world that have documented this as an issue,” said Scott Loss, an ecologist at Oklahoma State University.
Electrocution affects a diverse variety of species; in some, it is so common that it jeopardizes the survival of species. In southern African countries, electrocution is considered a leading threat to endangered Cape vultures and critically endangered white-backed vultures.
In Central Asia, electrocution kills an estimated 4,000 endangered Saker falcons each year. In the United States, Dr. Loss and his colleagues have estimated that tens of millions of birds are killed by power lines each year.
Scientists aren’t yet sure how great a threat electrocution poses to many of the affected species. “Birds of conservation concern, like red-tailed hawks and golden eagles, are dying from electrocution, but we don’t have a good handle on how that mortality source is contributing to changes in populations of these species, if at all,” Dr. Loss said.
Hunza Girl Guides win National Award for pioneering environmental project
The Hunza Girl Guides recently achieved national recognition from the Pakistan Girl Guides Association for their work to protect the natural environment. The Hunza Girl Guides focused on the mess left behind by tourists visiting the beautiful region, cleaning making and maintaining dustbins to encourage tourists to properly dispose of rubbish. This hugely successful project won the "Begum G.A. Khan" National Shield at the Pakistan Girl Guides Association's Annual National Awards. Fiza Sadruddin of the Karimabad Girl Guides, Karachi and Maliha Shah of the Durkhan Girl Guides, Hunza also won the Presidential Gold Medal while other Ismaili Guide companies won various other awards.
Hunza is one of the most breath-taking beautiful places in Pakistan. Situated in Gilgit-Baltistan, the region features lush valleys and awe-inspiring snow-capped mountains. It is an area popular with tourists and adventure-seekers, drawn by the purity and natural beauty of the region. Unfortunately, the influx of visitors tends to leave the area in a terrible condition. During the tourist season, popular sites become littered with wrappers, plastic bags, discarded water bottles, and drinks cans.
The Hunza Girl Guides decided to tackle the pollution to their environment with a pioneering clean-up project. The project involved clearing up the litter, educating the local populace and making and maintaining dustbins to encourage tourists to properly dispose of the litter.
Wearing masks and gloves, the guides worked hard in Karimabad and Aliabad to pick up the scattered biscuit wrappers and crisp packets, the discarded soft drink cans, water bottles, and other assorted rubbish. They also raked fallen leaves and cleaned the flash flood streams of Altit. The next step was to make and place dustbins in key spots so that visitors had somewhere to deposit their rubbish.
The Girl Guides chose a bright blue shade for the dustbins to make them easily visible and painted them with slogans encouraging environmental respect and civic responsibility. Shopkeepers in busy commercial spots took the responsibility of emptying the bins in their areas while groups of guides volunteered to manage bins close to their homes.
The Girl Guides raised funds for their project by making and selling handicrafts and home-cooked treats. Ms. Gulfam Ali, the District Commissioner for Hunza Girl Guides, supervised the project, which involved girl guides of all ages from the region. The project also included activities such as a rally on the environmental issues and information sessions on water conservation and the effects of environmental pollution on human health. Doctors from the Aga Khan Health Service, Pakistan in Aliabad discussed the topic on the radio to make local people aware of environmental hazards related to their health. The guides also celebrated a plantation day with the Gilgit-Baltistan Girls High School, Karimabad Hunza.
This multi-faceted approach to environmental pollution engaged the whole community but it was the lead that the guides took with their iconic blue dustbins that really inspired both the community and the wider region. Instead of simply talking about littering, the guides made their own efforts to clean their area and keep it looking beautiful, which in turn inspired others to respect the environment more.
As of now, about 70 dustbins have been placed in different tourist areas of Hunza, mainly Altit and Karimabad. The Girl Guides plan to place more dustbins at the Paso Glacier, the Khunjerab Pass and in Duiker and Aliabad Bazaars. They were very pleased by the response of the local community and being recognised with a National Shield at the Pakistan Girl Guides Association National Awards was the icing on the cake. For the very first time in the history of Ismaili Guides Gilgit-Baltistan, this shield was awarded to Ismaili Hunza Guides.
The team leaders thanked everyone involved in the fund-raising, the cleanup and in the preparation, placing and maintenance of the dustbins. They also thanked the entire community for the support and encouragement that they had received for the project.
The planet is getting warmer in catastrophic ways. And fear may be the only thing that saves us.
The age of climate panic is here. Last summer, a heat wave baked the entire Northern Hemisphere, killing dozens from Quebec to Japan. Some of the most destructive wildfires in California history turned more than a million acres to ash, along the way melting the tires and the sneakers of those trying to escape the flames. Pacific hurricanes forced three million people in China to flee and wiped away almost all of Hawaii’s East Island.
We are living today in a world that has warmed by just one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 1800s, when records began on a global scale. We are adding planet-warming carbon dioxide to the atmosphere at a rate faster than at any point in human history since the beginning of industrialization.
In October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released what has become known as its “Doomsday” report — “a deafening, piercing smoke alarm going off in the kitchen,” as one United Nations official described it — detailing climate effects at 1.5 and two degrees Celsius of warming (2.7 and 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). At the opening of a major United Nations conference two months later, David Attenborough, the mellifluous voice of the BBC’s “Planet Earth” and now an environmental conscience for the English-speaking world, put it even more bleakly: “If we don’t take action,” he said, “the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”
Young climate ambassadors - Scouts and Guides learn about safeguarding our planet
The Jamati Scouts, Guides and volunteers engaged with the Aga Khan School Kampala on Sunday, 10 February 2019 to plant trees at the school grounds.
This activity was chosen as a powerful and affordable way to make a difference forthe environment. As we know, trees improve air quality by producing oxygen,they moderate the effects of sun and wind, and they clean the air by trapping dust, pollen, and other pollutants.
Uganda is a country blessed by the presence of many amazing trees and for this initiative, the tree species selected were Ashoka and Hibiscus.
President Minaz Jamal commented that “The National Council's (Youth and Sports portfolio's) collaboration with the Aga Khan Education Service is meaningful and an important initiative for our young. It fosters a sense of ownership, respect, and leadership and encourages a connection to place. We are all vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, regardless of which continent we live on and the young should understand that the responsibility of reducing emissions will ultimately fall on their shoulders."
As a precursorto the exciting day, the Scouts and Guides watched the short film about communities residing in Northern Pakistan entitled “Close to Home,” written, directed, and voicedby Prince Aly Muhammad.
In October 2017, Prince Aly Aga Khan visited the north of Pakistan to learn more about the effects of natural disasters. During his seven-day trip to the region, Prince Aly met with numerous families whose quality of life has been enhanced by the AKDN. The film is his personal account of his discussions with the communities in the region and how the AKDN is partnering with them to find solutions to the problems caused by natural disasters. The Scouts and Guides found the film educational and inspiring and also enjoyed participating in tree planting.
It is our hope that this activity will inspire more youth to acquire environmentally-friendly attitudes and values to act as powerful and effective transformative change agents for a better world.
Many of us notice air pollution when it is visible in the form of smog. This is often seen in mountainous areas when weather conditions trap this combination of smoke and sulfur dioxide close to the ground. Around the world, air pollution is caused by numerous factors and can occur not only outdoors, but in the air we breathe indoors.
The World Health Organization has developed guidelines for what concentration of fine particulate matter (PM) is considered acceptable in the air we breathe, citing evidence that PM can cause chronic illness such as respiratory infections, lung cancer, and cardiovascular disease. These guidelines stipulate that PM with a diameter of 2.5 microns (PM2.5) not exceed a 10 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) annual mean.
Stacker has compiled a ranking of the top 50 (out of 194) nations where people have the highest exposures to these dangerous materials—both in rural and urban areas—according to WHO data as of May 2018. We’ve indicated how far above the guidelines PM measures, and also indicated the number of deaths attributed to ambient air pollution in each ranked nation. Finally, we’ve provided a bit of information about each nation’s history, geography, and current political climate; these factors often influence the ways leaders approach the serious threat to daily life and future prosperity that ambient air pollution represents. Continue reading to discover which regions have been impacted the most.
If we could celebrate the festival of Diwali without crackers, and yet enjoy as much, wouldn't that be great? This year, Garden Society in Kompally, Secunderabad celebrated Diwali with joy, laughter, some great food and music. Green Diwali, an eco friendly celebration, was enjoyed by the Jamat, with so much fun and frolic, that the absence of firecrackers went unnoticed.
Na Dhoom Na Dhamaka, Is Diwali Fir Se No Patakha
(No noise No sound…This Diwali again no crackers)
Green Diwali @ Garden Housing Society, Kompally, Secunderabad.
(Joint Initiative by Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, Scouts & Guides, Care Committee & Garden Housing Society, Kompally, Secunderabad, Southern India)
Diwali, the festival of lights, celebrates victory of good over evil. One of the most popular festivals in India, its bright lights and little joys are enjoyed by all. Diwali is traditionally celebrated with diyas, rangolis, sweets, by illuminating homes, by meeting friends and family and of course by the deafening sound of crackers which leads to noise, air pollution and suffocating smoke all over, thereby polluting the environment. We all know the hazards that accompany firecrackers. Every hour of fireworks increases pollution by 50%. Crackers create 140 decibels of noise which are a nightmare for pets, cause skin hazards, and add so much to global warming.
The sparkles from the little fireworks that we may light may last a few seconds, but the air pollution can linger in our cities for days. Delhi for instance, was battling with smog for the longest time, where air pollution hit new highs in the couple of weeks following Diwali. Pollution levels in the area were 20 times over the safe limit.
Garden Society in Kompally, Secunderabad has been a cracker free zone for the past two years. In 2017, an initiative by the Jamati institutions and the Garden Maintenance Committee led to Green Diwali celebrations where the ethic of charity was emphasized. Various art pieces were displayed along with a donation box. The jamat was encouraged to donate for a good cause, the money, that they would have otherwise spent on buying crackers. There were also fun filled cultural activities held later in the day.
Last year's Green Diwali celebrations were in the form of a 'Diwali Mela'. A joint initiative by the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat, Scouts and Guides Kompally, Care committee and Garden Society Maintenance Committee, Diwali celebrations involved pledge taking by the residents of the society for a cracker free Diwali.
An awareness rally on saving the environment was held in the neighbourhood followed by a night full of entertainment. The Diwali Mela also included food stalls of various cuisines, entertainment stalls, games & fun stalls for children, a stand up comedy performance and our most favourite, Raas and garba.
Thus in place of deafening noises and garbage from fireworks left all over, there was laughter, great food, some desi music and bright smiles. Only possible, due to the support of the institutions and people who created this awareness. Residents of Garden Society in their own little way contributed to the betterment of the environment.
Let us pledge to fill our homes with lights and flowers and not noise and fumes every year on Diwali by celebrating a Green Diwali thereby adding to happiness, contentment, peace, hope, good health and clean environment.
It seemed to me that most, if not all, of the problems from scaling up solar and wind energies could be solved through more technological innovation.
But, as the years went by, the problems persisted and in some cases grew worse. For example, California is a world leader when it comes to renewables but we haven’t converted our dams into batteries, partly for geographic reasons. You need the right kind of dam and reservoirs, and even then it’s an expensive retrofit.
A bigger problem is that there are many other uses for the water that accumulates behind dams, namely irrigation and cities. And because the water in our rivers and reservoirs is scarce and unreliable, the water from dams for those other purposes is becoming ever-more precious.
Without large-scale ways to back-up solar energy California has had to block electricity coming from solar farms when it’s extremely sunny, or pay neighboring states to take it from us so we can avoid blowing-out our grid.
Despite what you’ve heard, there is no “battery revolution” on the way, for well-understood technical and economic reasons.
As for house cats, they don’t kill big, rare, threatened birds. What house cats kill are small, common birds, like sparrows, robins and jays. What kills big, threatened, and endangered birds—birds that could go extinct—like hawks, eagles, owls, and condors, are wind turbines.
In fact, wind turbines are the most serious new threat to important bird species to emerge in decades. The rapidly spinning turbines act like an apex predator which big birds never evolved to deal with.
Solar farms have similarly large ecological impacts. Building a solar farm is a lot like building any other kind of farm. You have to clear the whole area of wildlife.
In order to build one of the biggest solar farms in California the developers hired biologists to pull threatened desert tortoises from their burrows, put them on the back of pickup trucks, transport them, and cage them in pens where many ended up dying.
As we were learning of these impacts, it gradually dawned on me that there was no amount of technological innovation that could solve the fundamental problem with renewables.
As Costs Skyrocket, More U.S. Cities Stop Recycling
With China no longer accepting used plastic and paper, communities are facing steep collection bills, forcing them to end their programs or burn or bury more waste.
Recycling, for decades an almost reflexive effort by American households and businesses to reduce waste and help the environment, is collapsing in many parts of the country.
Philadelphia is now burning about half of its 1.5 million residents’ recycling material in an incinerator that converts waste to energy. In Memphis, the international airport still has recycling bins around the terminals, but every collected can, bottle and newspaper is sent to a landfill. And last month, officials in the central Florida city of Deltona faced the reality that, despite their best efforts to recycle, their curbside program was not working and suspended it.
Those are just three of the hundreds of towns and cities across the country that have canceled recycling programs, limited the types of material they accepted or agreed to huge price increases.
“We are in a crisis moment in the recycling movement right now,” said Fiona Ma, the treasurer of California, where recycling costs have increased in some cities.
Prompting this nationwide reckoning is China, which until January 2018 had been a big buyer of recyclable material collected in the United States. That stopped when Chinese officials determined that too much trash was mixed in with recyclable materials like cardboard and certain plastics. After that, Thailand and India started to accept more imported scrap, but even they are imposing new restrictions.
The turmoil in the global scrap markets began affecting American communities last year, and the problems have only deepened.
I got lost when I went looking for W.S. Merwin. The Peahi Valley is not easy to find. I drove the Hana Highway at dawn, back and forth along the windward coast of Maui. On one side was the electric-blue ocean; on the other an emerald curtain of jungle. I forgot about my destination, and began searching for a way to never leave. Hours later, I found the turnoff and followed a dirt road until the clotted mud stopped my car, then I got out and walked. I saw the waving fronds of a thousand palm trees and I knew that I had arrived.
Mr. Merwin, who died last week at age 91, and his wife Paula, transformed the valley. They built the Merwin Conservancy: 19 protected acres, an island within an island. The land was a dumping ground in 1977, little more than a rash of grassy boils festering in the exhausted soil. That same year, Mr. Merwin planted a sapling in the blight, then got up the next day and planted another one. The day after he did the same, and the day after that also. His trees made soil, and the soil made more trees. He planted a tree every day on that land for years, until his friends took over the planting under his direction.
When I visited those 19 acres in 2017, it was a verdant throng: 400 different species of tropical trees all springing from the same sumptuous soil. A crew of gardeners and botanists assisted the professors and students who had come to study this man-made natural wonder. I had researched forests for years, but always at mid-latitudes, where trees spend their spring preparing for summer, and their fall preparing for winter. I was dying to see the fantastic palms of the tropics, where the sun always shines, the rain always falls, and the summer never ends.
The trees of the Merwin Conservancy are almost all palm trees: endemic, indigenous, introduced — and everything in between. There is a longstanding scientific debate as to whether palms qualify as trees, since their trunks are made of cork, which is technically not wood. Across the last four decades of academic infighting, the Merwins grew an entire forest of palms and by doing so protected and preserved the most critically endangered of species.
Dead Whale Found With 88 Pounds of Plastic Inside Body in the Philippines
A beached whale found in the Philippines on Saturday died with 88 pounds of plastic trash inside its body, an unusually large amount even by the grim standards of what is a common threat to marine wildlife.
The 1,100-pound whale, measuring 15 feet long, was found in the town of Mabini with and a variety of other disposable plastic products inside its stomach. Darrell Blatchley, owner of the D’Bone Collector Museum in Davao City, attended a necropsy on the whale and called it the worst collection of plastic inside an animal he had ever seen.
“The plastic in some areas was so compact it was almost becoming calcified, almost like a solid brick,” said Mr. Blatchley, who has seen other marine mammal post-mortems. “It had been there for so long it had started to compact.”
Introducing Project EcoSoap: The World’s First Zero-Waste, Big Impact Soap!
Sign up for updates at projectecosoap.org for a chance to win a year’s supply of free soap!
It’s official! We’re thrilled to unveil Project EcoSoap, a soap bar for the truly eco-friendly and socially conscious.
Project EcoSoap is a high-quality, zero-waste soap product created by international nonprofit organization Eco-Soap Bank. Every bar is 100% recycled, handcrafted by women in developing countries, scented with exotic essential oils, and shipped in zero-waste packaging.
And for every bar you buy, we’re able to donate a hundred bars to children and families in need, worldwide.
Every Project EcoSoap purchase goes beyond the bathroom to clean landfills, create fair-wage jobs for women, and provide 100 lifesaving soap bars to those who need it most.
On May 1, 2019, we’re launching a crowdfunding campaign to kick off Project EcoSoap and hire 45 more women to scale up our production. Until then, we need your help to spread the word! Tell your friends and family to head to projectecosoap.org to sign up for updates on the campaign—and if you think you’ve got what it takes to be a true Project EcoSoap ambassador, drop us a line at email@example.com to become a member of Team EcoSoap!
We believe hygiene is a fundamental human right—not a luxury. Together, we can create a cleaner, healthier world.
More updates to come!
❤️️ The Project EcoSoap Team
Expanding the technology is the fastest way to slash greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonize the economy.
As young people rightly demand real solutions to climate change, the question is not what to do — eliminate fossil fuels by 2050 — but how. Beyond decarbonizing today’s electric grid, we must use clean electricity to replace fossil fuels in transportation, industry and heating. We must provide for the fast-growing energy needs of poorer countries and extend the grid to a billion people who now lack electricity. And still more electricity will be needed to remove excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by midcentury.
Where will this gargantuan amount of carbon-free energy come from? The popular answer is renewables alone, but this is a fantasy. Wind and solar power are becoming cheaper, but they are not available around the clock, rain or shine, and batteries that could power entire cities for days or weeks show no sign of materializing any time soon. Today, renewables work only with fossil-fuel backup.
Germany, which went all-in for renewables, has seen little reduction in carbon emissions, and, according to our calculations, at Germany’s rate of adding clean energy relative to gross domestic product, it would take the world more than a century to decarbonize, even if the country wasn’t also retiring nuclear plants early. A few lucky countries with abundant hydroelectricity, like Norway and New Zealand, have decarbonized their electric grids, but their success cannot be scaled up elsewhere: The world’s best hydro sites are already dammed.
Small wonder that a growing response to these intimidating facts is, “We’re cooked.”
But we actually have proven models for rapid decarbonization with economic and energy growth: France and Sweden. They decarbonized their grids decades ago and now emit less than a tenth of the world average of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour. They remain among the world’s most pleasant places to live and enjoy much cheaper electricity than Germany to boot.
They did this with nuclear power. And they did it fast, taking advantage of nuclear power’s intense concentration of energy per pound of fuel. France replaced almost all of its fossil-fueled electricity with nuclear power nationwide in just 15 years; Sweden, in about 20 years. In fact, most of the fastest additions of clean electricity historically are countries rolling out nuclear power.
Scientists once ridiculed the idea of a living planet. Not anymore.
Trees, algae and other photosynthetic organisms produce most of the world’s breathable oxygen, helping maintain it at a level high enough to support complex life, but not so high that Earth would erupt in flames at the slightest spark. Ocean plankton drive chemical cycles on which all other life depends and emit gases that increase cloud cover, altering global climate. Seaweed, coral reefs and shellfish store huge amounts of carbon, balance the ocean’s chemistry and defend shorelines from severe weather. And animals as diverse as elephants, prairie dogs and termites continually reconstruct the planet’s crust, altering the flow of water, air and nutrients and improving the prospects of millions of species.
Humans are the most extreme example of a creature transforming Earth. By spewing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we have drastically altered the planet’s response to solar radiation, spiking global temperatures, raising sea levels and intensifying storms.
One of the many obstacles to reckoning with global warming is the stubborn notion that humans are not powerful enough to affect the entire planet. “I don’t believe it,” President Trump said in response to one of his administration’s reports on anthropogenic climate change. In truth, we are far from the only creatures with such power, nor are we the first species to devastate the global ecosystem. The history of life on Earth is the history of life remaking Earth.
Faced with this preponderance of evidence, it is time to revive an idea that was once roundly mocked: the Gaia hypothesis. Conceived by the British chemist James Lovelock in the early 1970s and later developed with the American biologist Lynn Margulis, the Gaia hypothesis proposes that all the living and nonliving elements of Earth are “parts and partners of a vast being who in her entirety has the power to maintain our planet as a fit and comfortable habitat for life.”
Although this bold idea found an enthusiastic audience among the general public, many scientists criticized and ridiculed it. “I would prefer that the Gaia hypothesis be restricted to its natural habitat of station bookstalls, rather than polluting works of serious scholarship,” the evolutionary biologist Graham Bell wrote in 1987. The microbiologist John Postgate was especially vehement: “Gaia — the Great Earth Mother! The planetary organism!” he wrote in New Scientist. “Am I the only biologist to suffer a nasty twitch, a feeling of unreality, when the media invite me yet again to take it seriously?”
Over time, however, scientific opposition to Gaia waned. In his early writing, Dr. Lovelock occasionally granted Gaia too much agency, which encouraged the misperception that the living Earth was yearning for some optimal state. But the essence of his hypothesis — the idea that life transforms and in many cases regulates the planet — proved prescient and profoundly true. We and all living creatures are not just inhabitants of Earth, we are Earth — an outgrowth of its physical structure and an engine of its global cycles. Although some scientists still recoil at the mention of Gaia, these truths have become part of mainstream science.
Humans Are Speeding Extinction and Altering the Natural World at an ‘Unprecedented’ Pace
WASHINGTON — Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.
The 1,500-page report, compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies, is the most exhaustive look yet at the decline in biodiversity across the globe and the dangers that creates for human civilization. A summary of its findings, which was approved by representatives from the United States and 131 other countries, was released Monday in Paris. The full report is set to be published this year.
Its conclusions are stark. In most major land habitats, from the savannas of Africa to the rain forests of South America, the average abundance of native plant and animal life has fallen by 20 percent or more, mainly over the past century. With the human population passing 7 billion, activities like farming, logging, poaching, fishing and mining are altering the natural world at a rate “unprecedented in human history.”
At the same time, a new threat has emerged: Global warming has become a major driver of wildlife decline, the assessment found, by shifting or shrinking the local climates that many mammals, birds, insects, fish and plants evolved to survive in. When combined with the other ways humans are damaging the environment, climate change is now pushing a growing number of species, such as the Bengal tiger, closer to extinction.
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