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Showing posts with label thirst. Show all posts
Showing posts with label thirst. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Climate change and its impacts on a religious epicenter!

The Ganges – the magnificent symbol of culture, fertility, prosperity and civilization, on whose banks has much of India grown, developed and prospered. This 2500 kilometer long river has the water that is considered sacred by the nearly 800 million Hindus that live around the world. Its origins: the largest glacier in the Himalayas – the gangothri.

The Gangothri glacier in the form of the Ganges forms the lifeline of Nepal, much of North India and entire Bangladesh. This mammoth river apart from being the lifeline of this region is an important constituent of India’s rich mythological history and culture. Now it’s a well-known and a much ignored fact that the Ganges today is polluted beyond repair. Let’s not get into that. But what we will discuss is the much bigger problem that may eventually shut down the entire Ganges! Can you imagine such a scenario? Scary isn't it?

The ever increasing global temperatures due to global warming have begun to take a toll on this holy glacier. Scientists from around the world first started studying this glacier and its behavior in the mid nineteenth century. Around the year 1960 it was observed that the glacier was shrinking at an alarming rate of 26 meters a year! But what shocked the scientific community is what came next – by the year 2006, the shrinkage rate was 800 meters a year!
Throughout the Himalayas more such glaciers are continuously melting. While this may have some short term benefits like an increase in the fresh water flow in the rivers, the long term impacts are often disastrous. For example, the continuous melting of the Himalayan glaciers has resulted in the formation of numerous small lakes. We are aware of the fact that climate change is increasing the global precipitation rates. Imagine a cloud burst on these small lakes.  Would we be seeing at an Uttarakhand part two?

The Himalayan glaciers and the Ganges are important religious and cultural centers of India. The Amaranth Yaatra which nearly 700,000 pilgrims undertake to witness and pray to Lord Shiva in the form of an Ice Shivalinga speaks marvels of the importance attached to these holy mountains and their ice.  However, the as per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report 2007, Himalayan glaciers are at risk of disappearing by the year 2035 if the Earth continues to warm at its current rate!
Imagine these glaciers disappear by 2035? Will there be an Amaranth Yaatra left? What about the Ganges and the fertile plains that it nourished all these years? What about the billion people depended on this water?

Wake up earthizen. Time is running out! Lord Shiva may have come down from the heavens to save us then! But why would he? We destroyed and ruined the very place where he explained the meaning of eternity? And that very place would cause our doom! What an irony!
True isn't it?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Your health and climate change

There is a lot of noise these days about global warming and how it threatens to annihilate the human race. There are also numerous versions and theories both supporting and discrediting this. Before this catastrophic event occurs, there would exist a very long process of human suffering and torture at the hands of a merciless nature. If I may ask – what is the one thing that you wish to have till the end? While wealth would definitely be a priority, health would be the most important one. Good health brings happiness and happiness is the healthiest of human emotions. So before climate change wipes out our race, what suffering has it got at stake for us?

Global warming as the term suggests is causing an increase in the average surface temperature of the earth. Warmer surface temperatures would result in a variety of ill effects affecting people of all ages alike. A prolonged spell of hot weather, with high relative humidity and less cooler nights would induce severe heat related stress on elderly people, leading to death. 
Warmer surface temperatures would also cause an increase in the breeding rates of rodents and pests – which are disease carriers. There would be a decrease in the overall quality of water, as the microorganisms purifying this water would reduce their functioning as a result of a warmer climate. This would lead to an increase in water borne diseases. Warmer atmospheric conditions would result in an increase in ozone production. Ozone in the lower levels of the atmosphere is a pollutant and together with pollen would lead to deadly cases of respiratory diseases amongst the new born and the elderly.
Climate change is also going to influence our health through a number of indirect factors. Topping this list is – natural disasters. Climate change would result in numerous natural calamities often with devastating effects. Changing precipitation patterns coupled with a warmer atmosphere would result in longer dry spells with sudden heavy downpour causing annual flash floods. People living along the coasts would be forced to migrate due to rising sea levels and non-availability of fresh drinking water. People would also be force to relocate due to adverse weather conditions, land slides, earthquakes, increased volcanic activity and food availability. This mass relocation of people would instantly lead to a rise in the number of diseased population.
The second factor is the reduction in the quality of available fresh water. The United Nations Organization estimates that about one third of the world population would be deprived of quality drinking water by 2050. This would result in an increase in the spread of water related diseases. 
Another important factor is food scarcity. Changing soil patterns, failing monsoons, annual flash floods and increase in surface temperatures would result in large-scale crop failure. Lack of adequate food intake would result in further aggravation of the spread of diseases. Finally, scientists claim that there would be a hundred per cent rise in the occurrences of new incurable diseases, many of which (MERS, SARS, H1N5 etc.) are already causing wide spread panic.

The question we need to ask ourselves today is – where are we headed? Is this the future you want to live in? Is the future you want your children to grow up in?

It’s high time we make a choice and chose our alliances. Climate change and its catastrophic effects can be mitigated. A deep thought provoking approach must be initiated by every local and national government for this cause. People must be educated and enlightened. Governments must have a plan for its citizens. If we still chose to be ignorant and consider living foolishly, then we would simply suffer and die a painful death and our children would curse us for the gifts we have given them.

We can change the world! Let’s join together and act! Wake up!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Gifting your child a thirsty future?

As the famous English saying goes – “3 minutes without oxygen, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food”, water without a doubt is the fuel that drives life. From the beginning of time, water has been accorded a very special status by mankind and is considered holy in almost every religion on the face of this earth. But man has changed, so has his attitude. At a time when governments are spending millions searching for water on outer space (thus accepting the fact that water is a giver of life!), we humans along with our governments are simply destroying quality water on earth.

We all learnt in school that water covers most of the surface of the earth, but only a mere 2% of which is potable. Out of this nearly 60% is locked up as ice in mountain glaciers and polar icecaps. The ever increasing global temperatures are forcing these icecaps to fast melt and thus converting even this scarce source of fresh water into salt water. So where are we headed? Is the future going to be thirsty? And who is to blame?
Most of us live in cities and have access to potable water – good quality or not. Most of us are ignorant about the need to intake quality water. Lack of water purification facilities and rampant pollution of underground water (mainly due to poor sewage systems) is adding to these woos. And then there is the problem of unplanned, unethical, selfish and mindless drilling of bore wells. In Bangalore (India’s IT Capital), the depth of the bore wells have increased by nearly 500 feet in the past 5 years alone! The question is how deep can we go? And is there enough water down there?

Did you know that out of the 7 billion people inhabiting the earth, 783 million do not have access of good quality water? Did you know that about 3.4 million people die every year of water related diseases? Did you know that every 21 seconds a child dies due to lack of access of water?

So how is climate change going to worsen the situation? Well for starters, global warming induced sea level rise will reduce the availability of fresh water along the coasts by as much as 50%! (PS: 40% of the world’s population lives along the coasts). Changes in precipitation patterns will further aggravate the situation. Fast receding glaciers and ever decreasing mountain snow-pack would reduce the annual feed of perennial rivers. Failure of monsoons would lead to drought like situations even in areas considered water-rich. Scientists estimate that by 2050 nearly a third of the world’s population would be deprived of quality drinking water. Will I be on that list? Will our children be on that list?

Where are we headed folks? It’s a selfish world we live in and it is high time we wake up do something about it. 
The first question that you need to ask yourself – “Am I gifting my child a thirsty future?” No? Then please join hands and together we can ensure that our kids drink good water. Change begins at home. Be conscious about the use of water and encourage your neighbours to follow suit. But this is not enough. In developing countries like India, the poor sewage systems and lack of water recycling plants are fast reducing the quality of available ground water by mixing of sewage in it. Therefore the need of the hour is to pressurize the government servants and elected representatives into ensuring the purity of the already scarce ground water. Every parent must come together and ensure that the water bodies in their localities are devoid of pollution. Elected representatives must be put to task and questioned when they come begging for votes during the elections. What we need is a revolution like the Arab spring to secure the quality drinking water.
It’s a selfish world we live in, but if we truly love our children, then we cannot afford to be selfish. Change begins at home. Wake up!