Saturday, May 30, 2009

Save Earth. Act Now or Perish!!!


"Climate change is silent human crisis”, says Kofi Annan, the former UN head. Yes, look at the grim situation that confronts us. Here are the warnings from the experts.

Death of 300,000 people every year due to climate change, threats in the form of disease, starvation and conflict mainly due to damage to crops and homes that will around $125 billion every year. Further, floods, heat waves and forest fires will cause half-a-million deaths annually by 2030 and cost $300 billion globally. Developing poor countries like Bangladesh and Sudan will suffer more floods and drought. All these potential dangers call for a budget of $25 billion a year as compared to $14.2 billion in 2006. Further $50 billion a year will be needed to help poorer countries adapt to global warming as the poorer nations suffer more due to climate change as compared to fewer people suffering from floods in the rich countries.

Further potential damages? Recent study of Antarctica reveals that a huge ice shelf has become unstable due to global warming. And UK is planning to restrict tourism in the Antarctica. Arctic ice is now thinner than ever. Oceans may not be able to absorb increased greenhouse gases. Sea levels could rise by 10 feet by the end of this century. Migrating birds will have to fly 250 miles more due to global warming. Many animal species could become totally extinct due to rise in global heat. Natural disasters caused by climate change will affect about 400 million people within six years as warned by Oxfam of UK. Nobel Laureates warn the climate change to be as severe as nuclear warfare.

A study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows a 7.4C rise in temperature would result in severe collapse of ecosystem as well as the economic system worldwide. Severe natural resource crunch will be the inevitable consequence causing large-scale migration and water wars.

In spite of all these potential dangers, it is feared that domestic politics in many nations may not allow immediate and effective measures to combat climate change.

According to Professor Steven Chu, the US Energy Secretary, climate change is a "crisis situation" that calls for a wide range of measures. The Obama administration encourages energy efficiency forms of renewable energy such as wind, wave and solar. Painting roofs white to deflect sun’s rays thereby saving substantial energy and money on air-conditioning. The Internet can be effectively employed to pass on the message across the entire world. In his opinion, the US and China should move first and fast in this direction and set example to the poorer nations. China is now a rousing giant of global warming. More fuel-efficient and less carbon-emitting cars and energy-efficient bulbs in the place of frosted lights can do wonders, but many nations do not act with urgency that the situation demands.

Lightening roof and roads in urban areas could effectively and easily offset the warming effect of all the cars all over the globe for 11 long years. The European Union proposes to replace frosted light bulbs and with more energy-efficient bulbs.

Is this thinking not a hope for mankind? Let us al think and act responsibly.

The solution? Rapid and massive steps as well as urgent and significant policy action by the nations.
So let us all wake up to the clarion call by Mr. Annan and keep the temperature rise below 3.6 degrees.

Source: Google
Images: Google

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Visayan Spotted Deer of the Philippines


Classified as endangered, the Visayan Spotted Deer or the Philippine Spotted Deer is a small short-legged deer found in the forests of the west Visayan islands in the Central Philippines, and is one of the rarest mammals in the world. Easily distinguished by its distinctive pattern of buff-colored spots across its dark brown back, this deer is about 125 to 130 cm long, 70 - 80 cm tall and weighs about 25 - 80 kg. Its skull is narrow compared to its length and its face is pointed. A young/baby Visiyan deer is called a ‘fawn or ass”. While the females are called “doe, hind, or cow”, the males are called ‘buck, stag or bull.” A Visayan Spotted Deer group is a “herd”. Its normal habitat is open forest and dense thickets. It is mainly nocturnal usually wandering at dusk to feed on leaves, twigs, and grasses, and usually found in small groups of three to five.

The present estimated population of the Visayan Spotted Deer is less than 300. Hunting is a great threat to this rare and endangered species. Even though some legal protection is now afforded to it, the difficult terrain of its habitat renders this protection a difficult task. However, these are now held in captivity in the Philippines Conservation Center as well as a few zoos in Europe. The poor state of the Philippines economy is a risk factor for the survival of this species.

The Visayan Spotted Deer is also called the Prince Alfred's sambar.

Source: Google
Images: Google

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Petronas Twin Towers and the Kuala Lumpur City Centre


Designed by the Argentinean-American architect Cesar Pelli and completed in 1997, the 1483-feet 88-storey twin-tower built on the erstwhile Selangor Turf Club grounds together with the Kuala Lumpur City Center or KLCC in short is an awe-inspiring sight revealing a beautiful blend of modern architecture and Islamic culture. A public park and gardens with wading pool are major attractions here. The towers are tapering connected by a sky bridge. The towers were opened on August 28, 1999. The identical towers are linked by a bridge at the 41st floor, creating a dramatic gateway to the city. The towers provide office spaces in each floor ranging from 14,000 to 22,000 sq. ft. Major attractions of the twin towers are a curtain wall of glass and stainless steel sun shades for efficient lighting, a double-decker elevator system with a sky lobby transfer point on the 41st floor that can accommodate the huge crowd that visits the towers daily. A shopping center of about 70 acres of public parks and plazas is another attraction here. Presently, this tower houses Malayasia’s government-owned oil company and numerous multinational companies. It is interesting to note that this tower stands at the end of the projected high-tech business zone or the Malayasia Multimedia Supercorridor. A concert hall and a business reference library function here.

Supporting the fight against global warming, this Twin Tower switched off its lighting for one hour on March 28, 2009 in support of the Earth Hour. All avoidable decorative lights and non-essential lamps are being switched off frequently.

Source: Google
Image: Google

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Kaziranga National Park and the great one-horned Indian rhino


Kaziranga in the North-East India is the homeland and shelter for the famous one-horned Indian rhinoceros as well as other wild lives. Lying across the mighty Brahmaputra river and covering an area of 430, the Park is already a World Heritage Site since 1985. The one-horned Indian rhinoceros that roamed the north Indian plains in the wetlands of the Indus, Ganges and the Brahmaputra centuries ago now survives only in the north-eastern Assam and in the neighboring Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.

Rhinos are of five kinds. The white rhino and the black rhino are seen in Africa while the Indian rhino, and Sumatran rhinos are Asian rhinos found in North Pakistan, north-east Indian State of Assam, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh. Weighing about 2000 kg, the Indian rhino has only one horn while the African rhino has two. Also the skin of the Indian rhino falls into deep folds at the joints as though it is a coat of armour. While the rhinos are vegetarians, the Indian rhinos mostly eat grass, fruits, leaves, and crop. Tall elephant grass available in the Park is its favorite food. Its thick lip helps it to reach the tall grass and to pull out the aquatic plants by the root. They roam about usually in the mornings and evenings avoiding the heat of the day. They live for about 40 years. Two-thirds of the world’s one-horned rhinos are hosted here.

In addition, this park is the home for large breeding populations of elephants, wild water buffalo, and the swamp deer as well as an important bird area recognized by the Birdlife International. The Kaziranga National Park is a birding paradise too. A children’s park is an added attraction here. Suitable accommodation is available for the tourists here.

The credit for the development of this park goes to Mary Victoria Leiter Curzon, wife of the Viceroy of India in 1905 whose initial efforts culminated into a great national park today. It is quite interesting to note that the centenary anniversary of this Park was attended by the descendants of the Baroness and Lord Curzon in 2005.

Guides accompany the tourists inside the park. Elephant as well as jeep drives are available for the travelers. The Park is accessible by road, rail, and air. A day’s outing is enough to see the variety of other species like the wild buffalo and the wild boar, the crested Serpant, the fishing eagle, a variety of water-birds like the parridges, geese, the Bengal Florican, storks, and pelicans.

Source: Google
Images: Google

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tabo Buddhist Monastery, India


Also called the Ajanta of the Himalayas, this Monastery of international repute from an altitude of 3280 meters in the Tabo village of the Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh, India offers wonderful sights. It is one of India’s national historic treasures. Built by the scholar Richen Zangpo in 960 AD, this monastery was an institution for advanced learning. Numerous ancient murals from the 11th century adorning this monastery are indicate substantial growth in the Tibetan art between 11th and 12th century AD. Clay statues of Buddha in Kashmiri painting are also seen here.

The historical significance of this monastery is its role in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism. A sleepy village, Tabo was catapulted into prominence in 1996 with His Holiness Dalai Lama’s teachings here and the Kalachakra initiation. Even since, he has been a frequent visitor to the monastery. His next visit is in July 2009 to consecrate the new Kalachakra pillar. Presently 45 monks residing here continue to study and practice Buddhism. Interestingly, the youngest is 6 years old. By tradition of the Spiti valley, the second son becomes a monk.

The nearest airport is Kulu Manali at a distance of 250 km from Tabo. Simla and Pathankot are the nearest railheads. Access by road is also available. For more information, one can visit their official web site

Source: Google
Images: Google

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Substitute for aviation fuel


Global warming is assuming dangerous proportions necessitating quicker remedial measures by various nations and the alarm bell is ringing, but there is hope. Research by a Michigan Tech University-based team highlights a whopping 84% reduction in carbon emission can be achieved by the use of Jet fuel from camelina seeds from the Mediterranean , which provides an ideal alternative to quickly reduce carbon emission by aviation with no loss of fuel performance. This was once used as industrial oil after the industrial revolution. The camelina seeds naturally contain a high quality edible oil content and low saturated fat. Also this plant requires very little water and less fertilizer and is a good rotation crop with wheat. Jatropha is another alternative crop in this direction. The State of Montana expects to provide its entire crop of 2009 for aviation fuel. Algae and switchgrass are already being considered as biofuel crops.
Source: Google
Image: Google

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Reduce carbon emission now and save Mother Earth


Yes, the climate change is the greatest threat now. The threat from carbon emissions is assuming greater proportions due to unmindful activities by man. It is estimated that an average citizen in the industrialized nations creates an alarming 50,000 lbs of carbon per year by lighting and driving. Let us understand that the carbon emitted by us continues to linger in the atmosphere for long without breaking down, and it is this carbon that warms up the atmosphere. The carbon accumulated so far since the beginning of the industrial era is the deciding factor to judge how long we are safe and how fast we have to take remedial steps as this has now become an urgent issue.

The developed countries have by their inventions and discoveries generated more carbon emission and hence are more accountable to arrest the trend faster. The limited resources of the emission controlling agencies are being exhausted mostly by the developed nations that create more damage to the earth leaving very little resources for the developing nations. Apart from reducing their carbon emissions drastically, the developed nations owe a moral responsibility to assist the developing nations in their task of fighting their deadly carbon emissions by providing funds and relevant technology. A modest estimate of the funds required by India, China, and other G77 nations alone is about $150-300 billion. But remember man’s survival is now directly linked to controlling the emissions. Though south-east Asian nations are more vulnerable to global warming, it could benefit much by lower carbon emissions by implementing immediate remedial measures to halt this danger of global warming. By the end of this century temperatures in south-east Asia will rise significantly resulting in water shortages, decline in rice production, and disappearance of forests. Further, rising sea levels will drive out millions of island dwellers and coastal communities, and there will be a surge in dengue, malaria and other diseases.

Australia has an energy-intensive industry structure, a coal-based electricity generation industry and coal and gas as export mainstays. It proposes to cut its 2000 level emissions by between 5% and 15% by 2020 and go still further if there is a global agreement on limiting the carbon levels. The government will provide AUD 50 million to establish a climate fund. But political considerations seem to override the urgency of emission control measures. These are just examples of some nations. More exhaustive study of all the nations around the world will be quite shocking and alarming.

Hence, various nations have to decide whether their priority is to improve their sagging economies first by infusing trillions of dollars or to spend so much money on global warming.

Warnings have now been issued by the experts. Restrict the carbon emissions to 190 giga tonnes by 2050 in order to escape irreparable consequences. There is no scope for any reduction in this estimate. If we can achieve this, there is hope to avoid the average world temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial era. Last year the world emitted 9 giga tonnes of carbon by burning fossil fuels. The rate of emission is going up by 3% every year. The clear warning here is that at this rate, the entire carbon budget available to us now will be exhausted by 2029. And the truth is uncontrolled emissions drastically reduce the chances of survival of mankind. The urgency is assuming greater importance now due to uncontrolled and unrestricted carbon emissions.

Carbon emission can well be controlled by simple methods like developing clean energy like wind, solar and biomass and reducing the current use of coal, oil, and natural gas. Reforestation is another effective method. So let us all adopt the motto “Reduce what you can, Offset what you can’t” as advocated by which is engaged in the task of saving the earth. Please visit the site Very simple suggestions are made for us to follow. Let us not at least destroy the EARTH that we did not create.

Source: Google
Images: Google
Images: Google

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ajanata and Ellora Caves of India


Ajanta Caves (Photo, left)

The Ajanta caves located in the hills in Aurangabad, India and dating back to 200 AD to 650 AD are cave shrines cut out of rock by hand, outstanding examples of ancient Indian architectural heritage. There are 29 caves at here, which were accidentally discovered by a British Army officer John Smith in 1819. Five caves were temples and the remaining 24 caves served as retreats for about 200 Buddhist monks and artisans, who carved out impressive figures on the walls of the caves depicting ancient stories. Several human and animal figures are carved out of the rock. As the caves were forgotten for over 1200 years and remained isolated, not much damage to the architecture has been caused by man. This site is now a World Heritage Site recognized by UNESCO.

Ellora Caves (Photo, right)

The Ellora caves or structures are located about 30 km from the Indian city of Aurangabad and they represent the epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture. Out of nearly 100 caves dug side by side in the wall of a cliff, 34 cave monasteries and temples are the favored tourist attractions. The Ellora caves exhibit excellent specimens of cave-temple architecture carved during 350 AD to 700 AD. A clear assimilation of Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism is quite apparent. The 12 caves to the south are dedicated to Buddhism, 17 in the center to Hinduism, and the remaining 5 to the north to Jainism. The interiors are exquisitely adorned. The Buddhist caves display the nobility, grace, and serenity of Buddha. Dwarfs sporting colorful pageants dancing and singing are carved in the Vishwavakarma cave here. The Ellora caves were in proximity to the trade route and so were never lost to oblivion. A planned tour of the caves must include caves #10 16, 21, 32, and 34 to get a glimpse of the three religions.

Both the Ajanta and Ellora caves are maintained by the Archeological Survey of India.

Source: Google
Images: Google

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fuji-San (Mount Fuji), Japan


Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest mountain at 3776 feet high. It is a dormant stratovolcano currently classified as active with a low risk of eruption that last erupted since 1707. It lies on the border between Yamanashi and Shizouka. The Japanese worship as a sacred mountain. A visit to the base of the Mount Fuji can be done on a one-day trip from Tokyo. . When the sky is clear, it is visible from Tokyo. There is the Fuji Five Lake located at 1000 meters roughly above the sea level and is an ideal place to see the Mount Fuji. Its symmetrical cone is a well known symbol of Japan. Numerous writers have written about Mount Fuji and numerous paintings are available. It is very cold and the cone is mostly covered by snow for several months of the year. The highest temperature is 17.8°C. Around 200,000 tourists climb this mountain each year mostly in July and August via numerous routes. This is relatively a young volcano having attained its present shape 5000 years ago due to volcanic activities.

Image: Google
Source: Google

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, China


Also known as the Porcelain Pagoda and the Temple of Gratitude, this tower was one of the Seven Wonders of the Medieval Ages and one of the tallest buildings in China at that time. Designed by the Chinese emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty during the 15h century as a Buddhist place of worship, this tower lost the top three stories in 1801 due to lightning, but was restored in 1834. Again in the 1850s, the Taiping Rebellion smashed the Buddhist images as well as the inner staircase, which had served as an observation post. Reportedly nine stories high, this tower was decorated with images of humans, dragons, lions, and other entities. Numerous Buddhist images also decorated the tower. The top of the roof had a golden sphere. Originally, its base was 97 feet in diameter octagonal in shape with a height of 260 with 136 spiral steps to climb. The porcelain bricks of the tower used to reflect the sun’s rays during the day to keep it cool. Reportedly many lamps were hung to illuminate the tower at night.

Granville Gower Loch has mentioned elaborately about this Tower in his book “The Closing Events of the Campaign in China” as it existed in the 1840s. Emperor Yongle had originally planned a tower of 13 stories with a height of 330 feet. It is interesting to note that this tower is under reconstruction now.

Source: Google
Images: Wikipedia



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