Urban Wildlife

What can bring back the birds?

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 17, 2007

Blog

What can bring back the birds?

"Better knowledge about the birds, more green in the city and more parks.  If the environment is clean, the birds will be back"


-S.Theodore Baskaran

Environment Awareness

Flooding Rivers in India- Why?

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 13, 2007

Blog

Flooding Rivers in India -Why?

We know that the areas classified as flood-prone-defined as area affected by overflowing rivers (not areas submerged because of heavy rains)-has progressively increased over the past decades. It was 25 million hectares (mha) in 1960, which went up to 40 mha in 1978 and by the mid-1980s an estimated 58 mha was flood affected. But importantly, over these years the area under floods increased each year even though average rainfall levels did not increase. In other words, we were doing something wrong in the way we manage the spate of water so that rivers would overflow each season.

The answer is not difficult to find. In flood-prone areas-from the flood plains of the mighty Himalayan rivers to many other smaller watersheds-the overflow of the river brought fertile silt and recharged groundwater so the next crop was bountiful.

But over the years, we learnt not to live with floods. We built over the wetlands, we filled up the streams that dispersed and then carried the water of the rivers and we built habitations in lowlands which were bound to be inundated. We cut down our forests, which would to some extent have mitigated the intensity of the flood by impeding the flow of water. All in all, we have become more vulnerable to annual floods.

The current floods are all that, and much more. In recent years, the flood fury has intensified because of the changing intensity of rainfall. The deluge comes more frequently because of the sheer fury of incessant rain, which has nowhere to go. Just last week torrential rain in villages of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka killed over 60 people. We know that climate change models had predicted extreme rain events. Is there a connection here?


We know that dam authorities maintain high reservoir levels because of the uncertainty of rains. We also know that when there are intense bursts of rain and levels of water rise to an extent that could endanger the dam, the gates are opened and the water rushes out. If this flow of water is combined with even more rain in the region, then a deluge becomes inevitable. We know that variability in our rainfall is increasing at the sub-regional level. What then will this mean for the management of our reservoirs in the future? The question is do we understand the phenomenon of floods?

We don’t. We have no mechanism to be informed of the changing intensity of rainfall; of the increased inflow into our reservoirs and of the water released by dam authorities. The fact is that today’s floods are a double tragedy: of mismanagement of our land and water combined with mismanagement of science and data.

This mismanagement is criminal. Let’s at least know that.

Source: Editorial by Sunita Narain
http://www.downtoearth.org.in/cover_nl.asp?mode=2

 

General

Human Elephant Conflict

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 12, 2007

Blog


Elephants’ Fear Of Angry Bees Could Help To Protect Them


At a time when encroaching human development in former wildlife areas has compressed African elephants into ever smaller home ranges and increased levels of human-elephant conflict, a study in  Current Biology,  suggests that strategically placed beehives might offer a low-tech elephant deterrent and conservation measure.

The researchers found that a significant majority of African elephants fled immediately after hearing the sound of bees, providing "strong support" for the idea that bees, and perhaps even their buzz alone, might keep elephants at bay. By contrast, the elephants ignored a control recording of natural white-noise, the authors reported.

"We weren’t surprised that they responded to the threatening sound of disturbed bees, as elephants are intelligent animals that are intimately aware of their surroundings, but we were surprised at how quickly they responded to the sounds by running away," said Lucy King of the University of Oxford. "Almost half of our study herds started to move away within 10 seconds of the bee playback." King is also affiliated with Save the Elephants, a Kenya-based organization that aims to secure a future for elephants.

Earlier studies had suggested that elephants prefer to steer clear of bees. For instance, one report showed that elephant damage to acacia trees hosting occupied or empty beehives was significantly less than in trees without hives, the researchers said. In Zimbabwe, scientists have also seen elephants forging new trails in an effort to avoid beehives.

This behavioral discovery suggests that bees might very well be a valuable addition to the toolbox of elephant deterrents used by farmers and conservation managers across Kenya, King said. She added that such innovative approaches are sorely needed "to avoid extreme solutions such as shooting problem animals."

"But if we could use bees to reduce elephant crop raiding and tree destruction while at the same time enhancing local income through the sale of honey, this could be a significant and valuable step towards sustainable human-elephant coexistence."


Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071008130405.htm

 

 

Corporates and Environment

Corporate Example

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 10, 2007

Blog

BP Solar Decathlon

The BP Solar Decathlon is a parntered event by BP that has received 20 selected teams by the U.S. Department of Energy to work on this project. The teams are from various colleges and universities from around the world and will work together as teams competing in a competition to design and build the most energy efficient and aesthetically appealing home powered by solar energy. The event started this month and will be based off of 10 different contests for the overall winner. The homes will ultimately be transported to the national mall in Washington D.C. for viewing. The whole event is a great opportunity to showcase the young bright minds of new clean and renewable technology.

This is a great idea that could inspire many young and aspiring students for the new wave of alternative energy building methods and the new wave of green tech. For one, this is great PR for BP considering it got a lot of negative attention over its Oil Refinery in Whiting, Indiana. Now this could a chance for BP to regain its name as a "green" company that truly cares about the environment.

With BP fully supporting this competition, they have designated an on-site reporter to which the reporter and the teams can all post about the challenges of the event. The whole idea is to have the competition get media coverage through the internet as well as other means.

From an environmentalist point of view, this is a very good move for BP. It shows that it cares about the future of renewable energy and hopefully it convinces the many residents surrounding the Great lakes as well.

 


Source: http://www.theenvironmentalblog.org/atom.xml
   

Wildlife

Endangered Vultures in Gujarat

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 09, 2007

Blog

There are close to 300 windmills in Kutch area of Gujarat, India.  Bird watchers attribute the decline in number of vultures found in this area (from 70 to 15) to the windmills. 

Dr Vibhu Prakash, Principal Scientist, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) and in charge of the vulture breeding programme says, “Windmills do create problems for birds, especially for large birds like the raptors. They can get sucked into the windmills and get injured. "

Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Vultures-grounded-by-windmills/218522/

 

Corporates and Environment

Corporate Revenge?

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 09, 2007

Blog

Corporate Revenge?


At the June 2007 annual meeting of the World Wildlife Fund in Bejing, soft drinks giant Coca Cola launched a multi-year partnership with WWF to conserve and protect fresh water resources.

The partnership will focus on " measurably conserving" China’s Yangtze, South East Asia’s Mekong, the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo of South West US and Mexico, the rivers nad streams of the Southern US, the water basins of the Mesoamerican Caribbean Reef, the East Africa basin of Lake Malawi and Europe’s Danube River. 

The $20 million plan skipped India, where Coca -Cola faces protests for allegedly depleting ground water.

Source: Times Of India  6Th June 2007

 

Engineers and Environment

Retired Civil Engineer Norphel

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 09, 2007

Blog

For 15 years, Chewang Norphel, a retired civil engineer of Ladakh, has been building "artificial glaciers" to make life a little easier for the hard working but poverty-stricken farmers of Ladakh.  He uses a network of pipes to capture and channel precious snowmelt that would otherwise be wasted.  First, water from an existing stream is diverted through iron pipes to a shady area of the valley.  From there, the water flows out to a sloping hill at regular intervals along the mountain slope.  Small stone embsnkments impede the flow of water, creating shallow pools.  During the winter, as temperatures drop, the water in these pools freezes.  Once this cycle has been repeated over many weeks, a thick sheet of ice forms, resembling a glacier. 

Norphel says an artificial glacier scores over a natural one in many ways. " It is closer to the village and at a comparatively lower altitude. "

Norphel can be contacted at Tel: 01982-252151

Climate change and Global Warmimg

Artificial glaciers-Ladakh

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 07, 2007

Blog

For 15 years, Chewang Norphel, a retired civil engineer of Ladakh, has been building "artificial glaciers" to make life a little easier for the hard working but poverty-stricken farmers of Ladakh.  He uses a network of pipes to capture and channel precious snowmelt that would otherwise be wasted.  First, water from an existing stream is diverted through iron pipes to a shady area of the valley.  From there, the water flows out to a sloping hill at regular intervals along the mountain slope.  Small stone embsnkments impede the flow of water, creating shallow pools.  During the winter, as temperatures drop, the water in these pools freezes.  Once this cycle has been repeated over many weeks, a thick sheet of ice forms, resembling a glacier. 

Norphel says an artificial glacier scores over a natural one in many ways. " It is closer to the village and at a comparatively lower altitude. "

Norphel can be contacted at Tel: 01982-252151

nature/wildlife films

Visual medium to educate about the impact of coal fired thermal projet

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 06, 2007

Blog

 

Activists making use of various visual mediums

to create awareness on the project’s impact -Mysore

 With Minister for Energy H.D. Revanna asserting that the
Government has no option but to go ahead with its decision to set up
the 1,000-mw coal-fired thermal power plant at Chamalapura to meet the
increasing demand for power in the State, the movement opposing the
decision is being intensified in the urban and rural parts of Mysore.

Chamalapura Ushna Vidyut Sthavara Virodhi Horata Samanvaya Samithi is
making use of various visual mediums to educate farmers and people on
the impact of the project. While environmental organisations such as
the Mysore Amateur Naturalists is engaged in giving power point
presentations on how the project would affect flora and fauna in the
area, besides the life of poor farmers, students of Chamarajendra
Academy of Visual Arts (CAVA) are engaged in preparing publicity
material for the agitation.

A CAVA student has made use of an old building in Kukkarahalli village
to project the impact of the project. "Nirantara", a cultural
organisation, has produced "Baduki-Badukalu Bidi", a mini-documentary,
and is screening it in schools and colleges.

Farmers themselves have arranged the screening of "Matad Matadu
Mallige" which dwells on the plight of flower-growing farmers and how
they succeed in their fight. "Power V/S People: Struggle of
Chamalapura farmers", a documentary produced by Chandrashekar
Ramenahalli, is making waves in Chamalapura and surrounding villages.
As part of the campaign to create awareness among farmers,
Chandrashekar Ramenahalli, who has worked with Medha Patkar in the
Narmada Bachao Andolan, has produced the film with support from the
Chamalapura Anti-Thermal Plant Struggle Committee.

Chandrashekar Ramenahalli, a student of sociology, produced the
documentary in 15 days. The 35-minute documentary, which records the
opinions of farmers and energy experts, also throws light on the lush
green fields in the 12 villages where farmers harvest up to three
crops a year. 
 

Source:

http://www.thehindu.com/2007/09/26/stories/2007092656091000.htm

Reuse and Recycle

E-waste

Posted by Susan Sharma on October 05, 2007

Blog

 

One tonne of scrap from discarded computers contains more gold than can be produced from 17 tonne of gold ore.  Mumbai alone throws away 19,00 tonne of electronic waste a year, excluding the large e-waste imports from developed nations through its port. 


The projected growth for the e-waste generation for India is about 34% year on year. 

India already has a few small scale regional recycling programs-’Eparisara’ and’Trishyiraya’ are two such outfits. 

 
Source:Times of India, 8June, 2007




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