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Planet Earth’s invite – Danse Macabre


Bernt Notke: Surmatants(Totentanz) in St. Nich...

Bernt Notke: Surmatants(Totentanz) in St. Nicholas’ Church, Tallinn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dance of Death, also variously called Danse Macabre (French),is an artistic genre of late-medieval allegory on the universality of death: no matter one’s station in life, the Dance of Death unites all.

HFor the first time in human history, the concentration of climate-warming carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has passed the milestone level of 400 parts per million (ppm). The last time so much greenhouse gas was in the air was several million years ago, when the Arctic was ice-free, savannah spread across the Sahara desert and sea level was up to 40 metres higher than today. These conditions are expected to return in time, with devastating consequences for civilisation, unless emissions of CO2 from the burning of coal, gas and oil are rapidly curtailed. But despite increasingly severe warnings from scientists and a major economic recession, global emissions have continued to soar unchecked. (read more)

Geneva, Switzerland – The global disaster conference (UNISDR) brought together more than 3,500 delegates from 171 countries to discuss reducing the risk of natural disasters in the years ahead.

Natural disasters are increasing around the world as the climate changes, costing lives and billions of dollars in damage, and governments need to act to minimise the effects, a conference on natural calamity mitigation heard last month. Parliamentarians, mayors and community leaders met with scientists, NGOs, international agencies and businesses to give input and to question why recent attempts to manage disaster risks haven’t slowed the rising tide of destruction.

The UN has estimated the direct economic cost of disasters since 2000 is roughly $1.4tn, cautioning that the total price tag on people’s livelihoods and the wider economy are never fully counted.

As the thermometer rises, so does the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported last year that droughts and heat waves are growing harsher and longer in many regions, causing deaths, fires and crop failure. When rain does come, it is often more intense, causing flooding and landslides. Meanwhile, rising sea levels increase the height and damage potential of storm surges in coastal areas. (read more)

January 10: Storm caused Flooding, Mudslides across Mississippi and Louisiana
Live blog: Trees down county-wide, with several mudslides reported in Adams County, MS and LA.

February 8: Wildfire in Big Thompson Canyon area, Colorado
A 3-acre wildfire is burning in Big Thompson Canyon area near Alexander Mountain.

March 25: Strong earthquake in Guatemala city
M 6.2 strong earthquake shakes Guatemala city today, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

April 10: Tornadoes across Arkansas
Tornado in Botkinburg, Arkansas today has injured three people and damaged more than a dozen structures.

May 5: Hail storm in Franklin, Tennessee
Hail storm hit around Decherd and downtown Winchester and covered streets and lawns with hail stones.

June 6: Tropical storm Andrea
A tropical storm warning has been issued along the west coast of Florida from Boca Grande to Ochlocknee River.

While one can read on 80 more in Natural Disasters In United States 2013.  Crossing the Continents we look at some of the 37 Indian Natural Disasters 2013

January 31: Hailstorm in Andhra Pradesh, India
Hailstorm killed at least 9 people in Chevella, Moinabad and Shankarpally area of India.

February 6: Hailstorms in Madhya Pradesh, India
Hailstorms have killed one and damaged crops in 80 villages of Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur of Madhya Pradesh, India.

March 6: Forest fire in Mumbai, India
A huge forest fire has affected the area of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and a part of Film City (Bollywood) in Mumbai.

April 15: Dust storm in Chhattisgarh, India
Dust storm in Chhattisgarh region of India has claimed lives of at least six people.

May 1: Strong earthquake in Kashmir today
Get update report on this Kashmir earthquake.

June 5: Bihar lightning strikes
Lightning strikes in Bihar, India have claimed lives of at least 27 people including women and children, Disaster Management Department said.

I wonder where would I find such meticulous data for say Burkina Fasso and found this report

Even though previous reports have already highlighted evidence of a relationship between exposure to natural disasters and urban poverty, the complex processes underlying this association still remain poorly studied in West Africa, with little individual empirical data. The objective of this communication is to analyze factors associated with the status of “natural disaster victim” in Ouagadougou, the capital-city of Burkina Faso. On September 1st, 2009, this city experienced torrential rainfall leading to immense water runoffs and floods. Over 150,000 people were severely affected and 50,000 completely lost their homes. It is these people that this study undertakes to examine, defining here “natural disaster victim” as a household that completely lost their home. Modeling data from the Ouagadougou Health and Demographic Surveillance System with logistic regressions, the preliminary results suggest that the migrant status and gender play an interesting role in addition to the poverty index and level of education.

I’m sure of the 150 Nations who read my articles there would be many who would have to reach out to their Google Maps to find this African Nation. But that does not ease the pain of 150,000 people.

HThere are many Nations and Peoples whose carbon-foot print is negligible and have hardly contributed any GHG to suffer the Wrath of Mother Earth. And there are many such Nations in this planet, whom we can’t point out in the Map instantaneously  but  for their annihilation our life styles has  become directly responsible.

One needs to actually ponder at Natural Disasters List April 30, 2013 Which has more or less spanned the entire World and makes the SREX report 2012 almost feel like the  Nostradamus predictions for 2013 come true.

Japan’s earthquake and tsunami of 2011 was probably the most costly natural disaster in history, causing losses of hundreds of billions of dollars. Last October’s Superstorm Sandy cost the United States more than $50bn, while also devastating Cuba, Haiti, and other Caribbean nations. Record wildfires last year in Russia and the US burned through millions of acres, following another unprecedented Russian summer in 2010 when heat waves claimed 55,000 lives.

The world indeed is a global village and both the good and the bad events affects Nations which in another date and era would have thought as an event far away from home and not to be worried about.

That however is fiction- April 27 2013: Japan Tsunami debris hits California:Japanese fishing boat washed by 2011 tsunami has been confirmed as the first piece of debris to reach the coast of California.

In 2005, the Hyogo Framework for Action was adopted to encourage countries to become more resilient in the face of natural disasters. But the Global Assessment Report released at the conference reveals that efforts have had limited success so far.

Global warming

Global warming (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One-hundred twenty-one countries have passed legislation for reducing disaster risks since 2005, and more than half of the governments have made substantial progress in assessing and monitoring the risks their people face. But this has had no discernible affect on disaster losses, which continue to stack up around the world.

Each of the last three years has brought direct economic losses of more than $100bn because of earthquakes, storms, floods, droughts, and other catastrophes. These range from mega-disasters such as the Japan earthquake and tsunami and Superstorm Sandy, down to smaller floods and landslides that strike vulnerable communities, somewhere in the world, on a daily basis.

The Global Assessment Report highlighted that many people suffering the worst effects of climate disasters are not the ones contributing to them. Other than climate change, reckless urban development, the exploitation of groundwater, and deforestation are increasing the likelihood of disasters large and small, and weaken the resilience of communities to withstand them.

Listening  to this IPCC video should  change the minds of even the most callous of Businessmen. Simply because it is going to impact their Business directly much sooner than they think.

Source Courtesy: Al Jazeera; UNISDR; disaster-report.com;guardian.co.uk;reliefweb.int
 

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World Environment Day – the don’t practice but preach day!


AHow many times does it happen to almost all of us that we listen to a captivating lecture or a documentary or even a film and connect to it completely ? While walking out of the hall, you almost bond with complete strangers and some have animated discussions on the subject while reaching the exit gate, exchange contact details and as the vehicle you sit in moves, start the process of completely forgetting about the episode and focus on the day ahead ?

This is what happens to all of us especially those who have taken upon themselves to do public good….that is become a Politician. Everyday most of them think how they can do some good for the public, especially in India. And the World Environment Day is no different.

One can not fault any person and especially those who have taken upon themselves to do public good be focused in doing good in one sector alone. They need to focus in all areas lest they be seen as partial. Therefore in a prelude to the Environment Day our thoughtful leaders did think of doing some more good. And as an observer of the good our leaders bestow upon ourselves,this article would try and record them with a perspective.

CMumbai, is a city which is situated in the western coast of India, and very close to the famed Western Ghats, which the UN incidentally has declared as a very fragile and varied ecosystem which needs to be protected. And our thought full leaders both at the Centre & State who’s heart beats for the äam aadmi,(common man)  always eager to eliminate poverty, can not but come up with gem of ideas to improve the lot of the people, even at the cost of throwing away all the recommendations which the Ministry of Environment and Forest ( MoEF ) may have put.

It was mooted sometime ago that the city of Mumbai must become World class and some even wanted it to be better in comparison to Shanghai in China. As to why a city from China was chosen as an example instead of EIU’s 1st ranked Melbourne Australia, which is still considered to be the top most when we rank it in the liveability index simply beats me.

DThe Economist Intelligence Unit Liveability Survey liveability index rates each city on a scale of 0-100 based on 30 indicators, grouped in five categories.  Weights ranging from 10 to 25 percent are assigned to each category to determine the overall rating.  The EIU’s categories, weights and indicators are as follows:

  • Category 1: Stability (25%) (prevalence of petty and violent crime; threat of terror, military conflict and civil unrest/conflict)
  • Category 2: Healthcare (20%) (availability and quality of private and public healthcare; OTC drug availability; general health indicators adapted from the World Bank)
  • Category 3: Culture & Environment (25%) (climate; corruption; social/religious restrictions; censorship; sports/culture availability; food and drink; consumer goods and services)
  • Category 4: Education (10%) (availability and quality of private education; public education indicators adapted from the World Bank)
  • Category 5: Infrastructure (20%) (quality of road network, public transport and international links; availability of good quality housing; quality of energy and water provision; quality of telecommunications)

The overall Liveability Index 2012 is an integration of categories such as demographic, education, health and medical standards, safety, housing option, socio-cultural-natural environment, economic environment, and planned environment. It identifies those areas where progress is being made or maintained and areas where we need to be vigilant and allocate resources in order enhance its prosperity levels. In addition, it has taken a holistic approach in order to gauge the status of liveable cities in India by taking into consideration both, urban and rural factors. A city is termed as liveable if it provides a favourable living environment to its residents and indirectly benefits the people who visit it. The favourable environment comprises of various measurable factors such as, presence of quality education and health institutions, planned environment, appropriate infrastructure, safety of the people, strong administration etc. It has to do with answering questions like ‘can I live here happily with my family’? This goes beyond quality of life which is merely a single construct and a part of liveability. Similarly, for corporates who require well-connected roads, regular supply of power, skilled employees etc. for their business processes.

While none of our cities figure in the World top ten, by comparing our cites internally….

Liveability Index 2012

Highlights

  • New Delhi losses out by scoring high on the crime parameter.
  • Chennai grabs the numero uno position by beating Delhi, which was stable with its 1st rank for the last two years
  • Hyderabad is spotted at 2nd position and gained two positions
  • Other two top metros, Mumbai and Kolkata slide down from their previous ranks and are placed at 3rd and 7th position respectively
  • Kolkata arises as the city with the best supporting infrastructure in terms of residence, drinking water, source of lighting etc.
  • Major positive as well negative shifts are noted in the ranks of few cities such as Vijayawada, Gurgaon, Kozhikode, Varanasi, Ludhiana, and Puducherry etc.
  • The index provides insight into the quality of life available to people and provides evidence on the future state of the city in terms of its liveability.

South Indian cities dominate the top ten cities slot as Nagpur, Pune, Nashik, Madurai and Bengaluru exhibited a lot of improvement and have significantly risen from their previous low ranks. (more).

EWhile New Delhi could be considered as the King of Indian cities,where I schooled from and Mumbai the Queen where I found my livelihood, seeing the lopsided development which has no direction makes one wonder as had it not been for the people of this city and some very concerned and able people especially those who are connected to the Advanced Locality Management created by Mr. Verien Merchant in 1996 and supported by many around the city. This beautiful city would have sunk.The ALM Warriors (read more) as they are called are the need of the hour and not only in saving this city from filth but also in the process save the environment from degrading further.

The onslaught on Mumbai by vested interest is ceaseless. Plans to usurp an open space (The Royal turf club)  in guise of developing it into an world class park for the public is nothing but a sham. Because, it is but obvious that there would be some commercial activities planned around it which would be controlled and captured by those who are in power. One needs to look into the history of encroachment and the Builder-Mafia-Politician nexus to believe otherwise.

FNo urban planning is Eco-friendly because we have the unflinching ability to pour concrete in every square-foot of open space we get in our hands in the name of development. Preservation of eco-system which has been undisturbed for the last hundred year since the development of the city as important as preserving the lively hood of more than many poor labourers who maintain the said open space presently. While none can be against a proper approach to development; evidence show that the administration can not be trusted to safe-guard what belongs to the Planet first, its people later and to the rulers never!   An open green patch of land!

Read The Green Roots of Turkey’s Urban Unrest.- The street protests that spread from Istanbul to some 60 cities around Turkey in recent days have focused on a broad range of grievances, particularly what some see as the unresponsive nature of the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. But the initial spark was a government plan to uproot hundreds of trees and turn a park abutting Istanbul’s Taksim Square (interactive panoramic view) into a shopping mall.

The most important factor is that open spaces allow percolation of water & growth of trees which provides us with the much needed oxygen and controls the much dreaded carbon. And without ground water & air their can not be life.

The tragedy is we have set goals such as Environment Day, Earth Hour which starts and stops within the 24 hours of its arrival for most. And for our administrators it is but just a notation in their day planner, wherein a short half-hour or half-day function suffices with a meaningless gesture amongst equally hollow sound of applause.G

But that applause would soon be met with a deafening silence. As the elixir of life – Water ! becomes more dearer by the day due to the short sighted polices of those who are meant to govern.

One must pause to understand that civilization rose to its pinnacle on the fundamentals of  FOOD – CLOTHING – SHELTER. That is the basis of modern economics. In  Hindi we say – Roti (food); Kapada (cloth) aur (and) Maakan (shelter)

{Roti denotes sustenance without which life is impossible; Kapada denotes clothing but also captures the essence of the service and manufacturing industry while Maakan takes care of the infrastructure sector}

But human greed wants to mirror this datum into SHELTER – CLOTHING – FOOD.

Somewhere in the development of modern humans the mental make-up took a turn for the worse where developmental agenda started focusing less on sustenance and sustainable practices and more on self aggrandizement. The hoarding of riches outstripped the need to preserve wealth.

Environment is about sustainability and the planet we call Earth became sustainable to support life in a long-drawn continuous process. The next time we should declare the beginning of the Earth & Environment Year ! And follow it through till each city-town-village of our Country and the World can safely vouch that the day of a better Environment has begun.


 

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