Tag: India

Are we awake!

Returning to Earth with a bang!

My posts of the last few days have been in the ‘cuddly, cosy’ vein of life and, as many would say, a long way from the reality of this 21st century.

The reality is tough and scary and many, including me, favour running away from scary places. I’m sure that the urge to flee and hide is a survival behaviour from long time ago. BUT!! But the only hope for us humans is to face the facts full on.

Take, for example, the Ganges River. We have all heard of this famous river (my emphasis below):

The Ganges  is a trans-boundary river of Asia which flows through the nations of India and Bangladesh. The 2,525 km (1,569 mi) river rises in the eastern Himalayas in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, and flows south and east through the Gangetic Plain of North India into Bangladesh, where it empties into the Bay of Bengal. It is the third largest river in the world by discharge.

The source of the Ganges is the Gangotri glacier. Here it is:

Gaumukh, snout of the Gangotri glacier,surrounded by the Bhagirathi peaks of Garhwal Himalayas, at an altitude of over 4,000 metres. Photo: Vidya Venkat.

The photograph was taken from this article; from which I offer:

Scientists say dwindling snowfall affects volume of water fed to the Bhagirathi, the main source of the Ganga

After a four-hour-long trek from Bhojwasa, the final camping spot in Gangotri, when a brown, fractured pile of rocks finally came into view it was hard to believe that this was the mouth of the glacier from which the ‘holy’ Ganga emerged.

Gaumukh, the snout of the Gangotri glacier, named after its shape like the mouth of a cow, has retreated by over 3 kilometres since 1817, says glaciologist Milap Chand Sharma of Jawaharlal Nehru University.

It was nearly two centuries ago that the retreat of the glacier was first documented by John Hodgson, a Survey of India geologist.

With 10 Indian States reeling under drought and the country facing a severe water crisis after two weak monsoons, the story of retreating freshwater sources such as the Himalayan glaciers is worrying. And though a three-kilometre retreat over a period of two centuries might seem insignificant at first glance, data shows that the rate of retreat has increased sharply since 1971. The rate of retreat is 22 metres per year.

Twenty-two metres or seventy-two feet a year!

Wringing our hands is no good. All of us who care for our Living Planet have to shout out just what is going on. As George Monbiot continues to do. Take his latest essay, for example, that is republished here in full with GM’s very kind permission.

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Insectageddon

The scale and speed of environmental collapse is beyond imagination.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 20th October 2017

Which of these would you name as the world’s most pressing environmental issue? Climate breakdown, air pollution, water loss, plastic waste or urban expansion? My answer is none of the above. Almost incredibly, I believe that climate breakdown takes third place, behind two issues that receive only a fraction of the attention.

This is not to downgrade the danger presented by global heating – on the contrary, it presents an existential threat. It is simply that I have come to realise that two other issues have such huge and immediate impacts that they push even this great predicament into third place.

One is industrial fishing, which, all over the blue planet, is now causing systemic ecological collapse. The other is the erasure of non-human life from the land by farming.

And perhaps not only non-human life. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, at current rates of soil loss, driven largely by poor farming practice, we have just 60 years of harvests left. And this is before the Global Land Outlook report, published in September, found that productivity is already declining on 20% of the world’s cropland.

The impact on wildlife of changes in farming practice (and the expansion of the farmed area) is so rapid and severe that it is hard to get your head round the scale of what is happening. A study published this week in the journal Plos One reveals that flying insects surveyed on nature reserves in Germany have declined by 76% in 27 years. The most likely cause of this Insectageddon is that the land surrounding those reserves has become hostile to them: the volume of pesticides and the destruction of habitat have turned farmland into a wildlife desert.

It is remarkable that we need to rely on a study in Germany to see what is likely to have been happening worldwide: long-term surveys of this kind simply do not exist elsewhere. This failure reflects distorted priorities in the funding of science. There is no end of grants for research on how to kill insects, but hardly any money for discovering what the impacts of this killing might be. Instead, the work has been left – as in the German case – to recordings by amateur naturalists.

But anyone of my generation (ie in the second bloom of youth) can see and feel the change. We remember the “moth snowstorm” that filled the headlight beams of our parents’ cars on summer nights (memorialised in Michael McCarthy’s lovely book of that name). Every year I collected dozens of species of caterpillars and watched them grow and pupate and hatch. This year I tried to find some caterpillars for my children to raise. I spent the whole summer looking and, aside from the cabbage whites on our broccoli plants, found nothing in the wild but one garden tiger larva. Yes, one caterpillar in one year. I could scarcely believe what I was seeing – or rather, not seeing.

Insects, of course, are critical to the survival of the rest of the living world. Knowing what we now know, there is nothing surprising about the calamitous decline of insect-eating birds. Those flying insects – not just bees and hoverflies but species of many different families – are the pollinators without which a vast tract of the plant kingdom, both wild and cultivated, cannot survive. The wonders of the living planet are vanishing before our eyes.

Well, I hear you say, we have to feed the world. Yes, but not this way. As a UN report published in March explained, the notion that pesticide use is essential for feeding a growing population is a myth. A recent study in Nature Plants reveals that most farms would increase production if they cut their use of pesticides. A study in the journal Arthropod-Plant Interactions shows that the more neonicotinoid pesticides were used to treat rapeseed crops, the more their yield declines. Why? Because the pesticides harm or kill the pollinators on which the crop depends.

Farmers and governments have been comprehensively conned by the global pesticide industry. It has ensured its products should not be properly regulated or even, in real-world conditions, properly assessed. A massive media onslaught by this industry has bamboozled us all about its utility and its impacts on the health of both human beings and the natural world.

The profits of these companies depend on ecocide. Do we allow them to hold the world to ransom, or do we acknowledge that the survival of the living world is more important than returns to their shareholders? At the moment, shareholder value comes first. And it will count for nothing when we have lost the living systems on which our survival depends.

To save ourselves and the rest of the living world, here’s what we need to do:

  1. We need a global treaty to regulate pesticides, and put the manufacturers back in their box.
  2. We need environmental impact assessments for the farming and fishing industries. It is amazing that, while these sectors present the greatest threats to the living world, they are, uniquely in many nations, not subject to such oversight.
  3. We need firm rules based on the outcomes of these assessments, obliging those who use the land to protect and restore the ecosystems on which we all depend.
  4. We need to reduce the amount of land used by farming, while sustaining the production of food. The most obvious way is greatly to reduce our use of livestock: many of the crops we grow and all of the grazing land we use are deployed to feed them. One study in Britain suggests that, if we stopped using animal products, everyone in Britain could be fed on just 3m of our 18.5m hectares of current farmland (or on 7m hectares if all our farming were organic). This would allow us to create huge wildlife and soil refuges: an investment against a terrifying future.
  5. We should stop using land that should be growing food for people to grow maize for biogas and fuel for cars.

Then, at least, nature and people would have some respite from the global onslaught. And, I hope, a chance of getting through the century.

http://www.monbiot.com

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Please do share this as widely as you can. Please do inform others. Please do make whatever changes, however small, you can within your own lives.

Bhagirathi Peaks from the Gangotri Glacier

And, please, please, listen to our Living Planet that is screaming out to us that this cannot go on!

Incredible beyond words

Please watch this video!

The video was posted on the website of Animal Aid Unlimited,  from where one reads:

We found Kalu lying in a hole at a construction site in Udaipur on October 7, 2015. His face looked like a bomb had exploded between his forehead. The horrific gaping hole was infested with maggots that were literally eating him alive. As soon as our rescuers Ganpat and Kalu Singh brought him back to Animal Aid we decided that euthanizing him would be the best decision. But as Kalu stood there on the examining table, something in his spirit stopped us in our tracks and we knew we had to give him a chance.

So we began treatment on the most heartbreaking wound we had ever before seen.

We put a powder into the wound that kills the maggots and gave him IV fluids while we waited for the powder to do it’s job.

A few hours later we put Kalu under sedation and began to remove the dead maggots, debride and clean the wound.

Over the course of the next 3 months, Kalu astounded us with him strength of will, his incredible healing and all the love he had to give.

 

Click here to sponsor Kalu’s life-long sanctuary at Animal Aid. 

If you would like to make a donation then the charity’s home page is here.

Animal Aid is a vital rescue center, hospital and sanctuary for injured and ill street animals in Udaipur, Rajasthan, India. We rescue thousands of hurt and sick animals each year and provide sanctuary to those who need life-long care.

According to YouTube that video has already been watched over 6.6 million times.

Aren’t our precious dogs amazing!

People, people, everywhere!

What on earth is going to happen?

Without doubt, President Obama’s recent speech on climate change was very welcome.  I fervently hope this is a genuine commitment to change the course of the biggest and most powerful nation on our planet.  Abandoning the Keystone XL pipeline would be the proof to my mind.  UPDATE: But read this!

But the runaway, exponential growth in CO2 has a brother; huge growth in the world’s population.

I’m going to ‘smack you in the face‘ with this population chart.

worldpop

To put that into context from a personal perspective, when I was born in 1944 the global population was 2.5 billion persons.  Some 4.7 billion fewer people than today!

But that prediction from the U.S Census Bureau in June, 2011 is already out of date!

Just a couple of weeks ago, the UN released this update:

13 June 2013 – The current world population of 7.2 billion is projected to increase by 1 billion over the next 12 years and reach 9.6 billion by 2050, according to a United Nations report launched today, which points out that growth will be mainly in developing countries, with more than half in Africa.

Now please humour me for a few moments. If the world population is presently 7.2 billion people and by 2050 the prediction is 9.2 billion people, that is an increase of 2,400,000,000 persons.

The end of 2050 is 438 months away. Now do the maths. That growth in population in that time period is the equivalent of an increase in population of 5,479,000 persons every single month!

Need to find a darkened room – I feel a headache coming on!

Mid-week break.

Just ran out of time yesterday, so enjoy the following:

(Sent to me by Dan Gomez.)

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The beautiful strange-eyed kitten, taken in  Lovech, Bulgaria in the summer of 2009 by Bobby Pfeiffer.

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Zakynthos Island in Greece. The water is so clear, it looks like the boat is floating in the air.

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This is what ocean sand looks like when it’s magnified 250 times.

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California Red-Sided Garter Snake.

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Zanjeer, The Golden Labrador Who Saved Thousands Of Lives.

In March 1993, a series of 12 bombs went off across Mumbai, India. The serial blasts left 257 dead and 713 injured. But in the aftermath, an unlikely hero emerged. According to Reuters, a golden labrador named Zanjeer worked with the bomb squad and saved thousands of lives by detecting “more than 3,329 kgs of the explosive RDX, 600 detonators, 249 hand grenades and 6,406 rounds of live ammunition.” He helped avert three more bombs in the days following the blasts.

The dog died of bone cancer in 2000. He was eight years old.

In the photo, a senior police officer lays a wreath of flowers on Zanjeer as he was buried with full police honors at a widely-attended ceremony.

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The love of a woman for her horse!

The incredible story of one woman’s loyalty to her horse – she spent three hours holding its head above the tide after it got stuck in the mud on a beach in Australia.  His owner, Nicole Graham, who was enjoying an afternoon ride, stayed with him as rescuers struggled for three hours to pull him out. With moments to spare, the 500kg horse, named Astro, was freed with the help of a tractor and harness at Avalon Beach in Geelong, Victoria, Australia .

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Just another very special dog.

Trip back memory lane to the days of Zanjeer.

I had completely forgotten about the story of Zanjeer.  But thanks to a recent email from John Lewis, friend from previous Devon days, it seemed fitting for today’s post.

Zanjeer was a Labrador Retriever who served as a detection dog with the Mumbai Police. During the time of the 1993 Mumbai bombings, Zanjeer detected arms and ammunition, including 3,329 kg of RDX explosives.

Here’s how Zanjeer’s death was reported back in November, 2000.

Police dog Zanjeer dead

Date:  2000-11-17

Police sniffer dog Zanjeer, who detected arms and ammunition used in 1993 serial explosions, died at a veterinary hospital at Parel last night, Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad sources said.

The nine-year-old Labrador was admitted to the hospital last month after it developed swellings in the lungs and paws.

Among the eight dogs with the squad, Zanjeer was regarded as a hero. It had two handlers, Ganesh Andale and V G Rajput. Zanjeer had detected 3,329 kgs of RDX, nine sticks of gelatine, five kg of other explosives, 18 AK-56 rounds, five pistol rounds and 6,406 other rounds during the blast investigations.

Zanjeer was born on January 7, 1992, and was inducted into the squad on December 29, 1992. It was trained at the Dog Training Centre of the Criminal Investigation Department at Shivaji Nagar in Pune.

WikiPedia has an entry that opens thus:

Zanjeer (7 January 1992 – 16 November 2000) was a Labrador Retriever who served as a detection dog with the Mumbai Police. During the time of the 1993 Mumbai bombings, Zanjeer detected arms and ammunition, including 3,329 kg of RDX explosives.

Zanjeer was trained at the Dog Training Centre of the Criminal Investigation Department at Shivaji Nagar in Pune, India. He joined the Mumbai Police Bomb Detection and Disposal Squad on 29 December 1992 and was handled by Ganesh Andale and V G Rajput.

The name Zanjeer comes from the 1973 Hindi film Zanjeer but he was also called “Ginger” because of his coat colour.

Not including his contributions during the 1993 attacks, Zanjeer helped to recover 11 military bombs, 57 country-made bombs, 175 petrol bombs, and 600 detonators.

Some special dog!

Finally, from the First Post website comes this:

zanjeer

Zanjeer, the labrador: Unlikely hero of 1993 Mumbai blasts

A senior police officer lays a floral wreath on Mumbai’s most famous dog Zanjeer, who worked with the Bomb Squad, following his death from bone cancer in the city, November 17, 2000.Zanjeer, a golden labrador, saved thousands of lives during the serial bomb blasts in the city in March 1993 by detecting more than 3,329 kgs of the explosive RDX, 600 detonators, 249 hand grenades and 6406 rounds of live ammunition. He was buried with full honours during a ceremony attended by senior police officials. Reuters

Twenty years ago!  My, how the years slip by!. Thanks John.

Future of the car?

The mistake we all make is to look behind us and think the future will be the same.

Let me start with something that is not really news.  Not news in the sense that it has been very widely reported.  I’m speaking of the probability, the high probability, that this year’s summer ice area in the Arctic will be a record low, with all the implications that this carries.  Let me refer to a recent BBC news item that included a stunningly powerful chart.

Scientists at the US National Snow and Ice Data Center said data showed that the sea ice extent was tracking below the previous record low, set in 2007.

Latest figures show that on 13 August ice extent was 483,000 sq km (186,000 sq miles) below the previous record low for the same date five years ago.

The ice is expected to continue melting until mid- to late September.

“A new daily record… would be likely by the end of August,” the centre’s lead scientist, Ted Scambos, told Reuters.

“Chances are it will cross the previous record while we are still in ice retreat.”

The US National Snow and Ice Data Center may be found here.

So to the piece that generated the title of this post, the future of the car.

On the 17th August, I wrote an article highlighting the fact that the U.S. leads the world in cutting CO2 emissions.  That was endorsed by an item published on the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) website, that said,

U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions resulting from energy use during the first quarter of 2012 were the lowest in two decades for any January-March period. Normally, CO2 emissions during the year are highest in the first quarter because of strong demand for heat produced by fossil fuels. However, CO2 emissions during January-March 2012 were low due to a combination of three factors:

  • A mild winter that reduced household heating demand and therefore energy use
  • A decline in coal-fired electricity generation, due largely to historically low natural gas prices
  • Reduced gasoline demand

It was the last item that caught my eye.  Because it resonated with an article on Chris Martensen’s Peak Prosperity blog just over a week ago.  That article, written by Gregor Macdonald, was called The Demise of the Car.

About a third of the way into the article, Gregor writes,

But it’s not just India that has incorrectly invested in automobile transport. The other giant of Asia, China, has also placed large resources into auto-highway infrastructure.

It appears that at least a decade ago, the developing world made the same assumption about future oil prices as was made in Western countries. The now infamous 1999 Economist cover, Drowning in Oil, reflected the pervasive, status-quo view that the global adoption of the car could continue indefinitely. A decade later, however, we find that after oil’s extraordinary price revolution, the global automobile industry is now starved for growth.

Then a little further down in this interesting article there is this,

More broadly, however, global governments are captured by sunk-cost decision making as the past 60-70 years of highway infrastructure investment is now a legacy just too painful to leave behind. Interestingly, whether citizens and governments want to face this reality or not, features of the oil economy are already going away as infrastructure is increasingly stranded. Moreover, there are cultural shifts now coming into play as young people are no longer buying cars – in the first instance because they can’t afford them, and in the second instance because it’s increasingly no longer necessary to own a car to be part of one’s group. See this piece from Atlantic Cities:

Young People Aren’t Buying Cars Because They’re Buying Smart Phones Instead

Youth culture was once car culture. Teens cruised their Thunderbirds to the local drive-in, Springsteen fantasized about racing down Thunder Road, and Ferris Bueller staged a jailbreak from the ‘burbs in a red Ferrari. Cars were Friday night. Cars were Hollywood. Yet these days, they can’t even compete with an iPhone – or so car makers, and the people who analyze them for a living, seem to fear. As Bloomberg reported this morning, many in the auto industry “are concerned that financially pressed young people who connect online instead of in person could hold down peak demand by 2 million units each year.” In other words, Generation Y may be happy to give up their wheels as long as they have the web. And in the long term, that could mean Americans will buy just 15 million cars and trucks each year, instead of around 17 million.

If future car sales in the US will be limited by the loss of 2 million purchases just from young people alone, then the US can hardly expect to return to even 15 million car and truck sales per year. US sales have only recovered to 14 million. (And that looks very much like the peak for the reflationary 2009-2012 period)

Indeed, the migration from suburbs back to the cities, the resurrection of rail, and the fact that oil will never be cheap again puts economies – and culture – on a newly defined path to other forms of transport and other ways of working.

It’s a long and interesting article that demonstrates an old truth, no better put than in this quotation reputed to have been said by John F. Kennedy,

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.

Your call is so, so important to us!

A delightful trawl by Neil Kelly through the call centre industry.

Picture by Neil Kelly

Are there any more annoying phrases in the English language than “your call is important to us“, or “we are experiencing particularly high call volumes“?

In 2007 companies worldwide spent some $280 billion on outsourced call-centre services, according to NASSCOM, a call-centre trade group in Delhi. Much of India’s call-centre industry, which employs roughly 300,000 agents, is located outside the ring road that encircles Bangalore, in a string of smart new business parks with tidy lawns and private security. Were it not for the stray dogs, a visitor could be forgiven for mistaking the area for Silicon Valley.

Meanwhile in Australia …

Meanwhile …… back in Wales in the United Kingdom … listen to this call centre handling a complaint from an ASDA customer – listen right to the end!

Thanks to David from neatorama.com I was able to put together a medley of hold music and without resorting to The Four Seasons!  Hope to have The Top Twenty Hold Music Songs out in time for Christmas.

Click on this link hold music medley to listen to that medley.

Finally, you may be interested in reading Your Call Is Important to Us: The Truth about Bullshit by Laura Penny which is available as a free eBook here.

Peter Russell

Life is such a learning experience!

A good friend of Jeannie and me in Payson is John H.  John has stimulated much wonderful thinking and reflection through conversation and the sharing of books and DVDs.  It was John H. who introduced us to Joseph Campbell about whom I wrote on the 14th February.

Well the other day, John handed us a DVD of Peter Russell giving three talks.  We watched it on Sunday evening. An amazing and inspiring experience.  But first some information about Peter Russell from, of course, his own website!  Peter describes himself as follows:

 

Peter Russell

Peter Russell is a fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, of The World Business Academy and of The Findhorn Foundation, and an Honorary Member of The Club of Budapest

At Cambridge University (UK), he studied mathematics and theoretical physics. Then, as he became increasingly fascinated by the mysteries of the human mind he changed to experimental psychology. Pursuing this interest, he traveled to India to study meditation and eastern philosophy, and on his return took up the first research post ever offered in Britain on the psychology of meditation.

His principal interest is the deeper, spiritual significance of the times we are passing through. He has written several books in this area — The TM TechniqueThe UpanishadsThe Brain BookThe Global Brain AwakensThe Creative ManagerThe Consciousness RevolutionWaking Up in Time, and From Science to God.

As one of the more revolutionary futurists Peter Russell has been a keynote speaker at many international conferences, in Europe, Japan and the USA. His multi-image shows and videos, The Global Brain and The White Hole in Time have won praise and prizes from around the world. In 1993 the environmental magazine Buzzworm voted Peter Russell “Eco-Philosopher Extraordinaire” of the year.

Now in terms of the video that we watched, it contained three films: The Global Brain; The White Whole in Time; From Science to God.  In a very generous act the talk entitled The Global Brain is available to watch online – just click here. (Haven’t been over the website in detail but I suspect more of Peter’s material is available online.)  That online version is the full talk of 35 minutes but you will get lost in time as you watch it!

But if, for now, you want a feel for Peter’s approach then here are a couple of YouTube videos.  But a health warning, you may never look at the world around you in quite the same way!

and here are the first two parts of Waking up in Time (just over 6 minutes in total)