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Tag: Environment

Picture Of The Day: Uncontacted Tribe In Brazil

A tribe living in the jungles of Brazil which has no contact with the outside world or the mainstream society was photographed recently by Brazilian government and was released by Survival International group on Jan 31st.  There are supposedly about 100 such uncontacted tribes all around the world. “Uncontacted” doesn’t mean that these tribes were lost or no one knew about their existence.

It’s extremely unlikely there are any tribes whose existence is totally unknown to anyone else. The uncontacted tribe in these photos has been monitored by the Brazilian government for 20 years, and lives in a reserve set up to protect uncontacted tribes…. The Brazilian authorities have been monitoring this group of uncontacted Indians for years from the air. Over-flights are used to gather evidence of invasions of their land…. They will have seen many planes over the years from commercial jets to light aircraft belonging to missionaries, prospectors, and government authorities… [Survival International]

The above picture was taken in western Brazil, very close to Peruvian border. If you look at the picture very closely, you can see various fruits– papaya, bananas, plantains, cassava or manioc. Also can be seen are metal pans and machete/knife which were supposedly obtained by inter-tribal tradings. This tribe including other uncontacted tribes all over the world are in danger and are fighting for their survival due to encroachment by the outside world. For more information and pictures about these tribes you can visit Survival International website.

Updates: For video footage click here.

Picture credit: Survival International:

1 Comment February 2, 2011

Global Warming Trend

Global Warming deniers should look at this plot depicting warming trends measured by four different institutes. Different agencies, independent measurements but the result remains the same– our earth is warming. 2010 has been declared to be the hottest year on record tied with 2005 by NASA GISS and NOAA. Japanese Meteorological Agency’s preliminary data shows that 2010 is the second hottest year. Absolute surface temperature is difficult to calculate, instead relative temperature is measured which is here referred to as temperature anomaly. Average temperature of a particular location is compared with average long term temperature (base temp) and the difference is termed as temperature anomaly. Different agencies use different base temperature, e.g. NASA GISS uses average temperature from 1951-1980 as the base temperature while Japanese Agency uses 1971-2000 as the base temperature. This may lead to some differences in the measurement by different agencies. Also, the way data is processed can lead to some differences in the temperature reported. This sometimes canlead to confusion in public as why the temperatures reported by different agencies are different and can give an impression that the temperatures reported are not accurate. If you look at the plot closely, you can see slight differences in the values, but the overall trend remains the same. Global temperatures are meaningful only when observed over a span of time rather than just for an year or two and you can clearly see the trend– the earth is warming.

Image and info credit: NASA Earth Observatory/Robert Simmon

1 Comment January 13, 2011

Climate Change Debate Visualized

David McCandless from Information is Beautiful has again come up with an awesome visualization, this time about climate change debate: believers vs deniers. It’s very informative sans any technical jargon which will be beneficial to people without much knowledge about climate science. You can click on the image to see the image in full size, which will make reading much easier.

Leave a Comment September 30, 2010

Devastating Floods In Pakistan

The flood situation in Pakistan is getting bad to worse day by day and the image above shows what is left behind in most parts of north-western Pakistan, broken homes, lost lives, livelihood, spread of diseases, lack of basic amenities and total chaos. It’s one of the worst flood disaster that has happened in recent times, caused due to incessant month long monsoon rains. Currently 1/5th of Pakistan is under floods and it can get even worse in coming days.Blame it on Global warming or anything else, but the event is bizarre and has costed lives of so many people. While this single isolated event can’t be taken as proof of Global warming, but if you take into accounts all the climate extremities we have been observing in recent time, freezing cold winters, extreme hot and prolonged summers, prolonged rains such as these and earlier in other parts of India– it all points towards global warming as one of its cause. Indian Ocean has warmed up by 2 degree F since 1970. Warm oceans means more evaporation of water, it also heats up the air making it capable of holding more moisture: results- air can contain more moisture which then move into land where they trigger storms and bizarre rainfall patterns.

These images above shows the situation in Pakistan before and after the floods. The picture above was taken in 2009, while picture below was taken by satellite on Aug 19, 2010. Swollen Indus river can be clearly seen and the water is heading towards Kotri barrage before it flows into the sea. Barrage is still holding the water, but the level is rising and if it does overflow,  it will wreak havoc in the city of Hyderabad with a population of more than 1.5 million people.

Picture credit: photo

Satellite Image and info : NASA/ESO

Leave a Comment August 24, 2010

BP Spill: Disaster Nearing An End

One of the worst environmental disaster in US history is nearing it’s end, after more than 100 days when Transocean Deepwater Horizon rig exploded on April 20th killing 11 people and spewing out more than 200 million gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. BP today reported that it has been successful in it’s “Static Kill” operation where they pumped drilling mud into the well through the temporary cap. The pressure from the mud is balancing the pressure from the oil and preventing it from coming out. Now engineers are deliberating whether to pour down cement and kill the well completely or wait for relief wells to be completed and then kill the well completely in the process named by BP as “bottom kill” (too many fancy names, remember top hat, top kill, junk shot etc..). But the good news is that the end is near, but it’s also the beginning of cleaning and rehabilitation process of the ecosystem as well as the people who lost their jobs and earnings. Reports suggest that almost 75% of oil has disappeared from the ocean which has been attributed to skimming and burning of oil, microbial activities and evaporation. Skeptics believe that most of the oil has been broken down by dispersant and is still present deep beneath the ocean or present in marshlands or under the sand in some form or the other. Up to 50 percent of the spilled oil could still be in the water in some form, and while it’s gradually being eaten by microbes, nobody can tell how fast that’s happening, Richard Harris from NPR said.

Picture: Two brown pelicans and a flock of seagulls rest on the shore of Ship Island as a boom line floats just offshore in Gulfport, Miss. Picture taken on April 29 by William Colgin/AP Photo/The Sun Herald/

Leave a Comment August 4, 2010

Indian Media on Asbestos

In one of my recent post, I mentioned about a new report on asbestos danger in India. The report was a collaborative effort by international Consortium of Investigative Journalists and BBC. Tehelka from India was also involved in this investigative report. India has become one of the major consumers of asbestos in the world even after numerous convincing scientific reports about dangerous health affects of asbestos. Now you will expect that Indian mainstream media will atleast mention about this report or about asbestos in general. But, sadly asbestos news has no glamor quotient and that’s why it has been neglected completely. I searched for asbestos related news on CNN-IBN, Times of India, The Hindu and Tehelka and barring Tehelka (which was part of the investigation), none of them had any news about this particular report. Even general asbestos related news over the years were negligible. Here is the number of news articles I found on their websites while searching “asbestos”

Times of India: 4 (2010), 2 (2009), 1 (2006), 1 (2004)

CNN IBN: No article about Asbestos mining or consumption in general.

The Hindu: 2 (2009)

Tehelka: 2 (2010), 2 (2009), 2 (2008)

These numbers are ridiculous!! While you can find never ending news about Cricket or Bollywood, real news is missing most of the times, forget about in-depth analysis. Unless there is some glamor, sensation attached to the news item, Indian news media continue to ignore major issues troubling India. Tehelka was the only one which had detailed news coverage about this issue. While Times of India did cover asbestos related news from Jaipur, but it was mostly hidden inside city section and lacked detailed analysis. It’s pathetic!

Picture credit: Flickr user noneck | Used under Creative Commons License

Leave a Comment August 2, 2010

Earth Is Warming: Past Decade The Hottest

Well, the title says it all and it’s no news- Earth is warming. This past decade our earth has been the warmest and the temperature has been undoubtedly rising- says new report on climate published by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) today. 37 indicators of global warming were studied while detailed focus was on 10 key indicators of global warming namely- land surface air temperature, sea-surface temperature, marine air temperature, sea level, tropospheric temperature, ocean heat content, specific humidity, snow cover, sea-ice extent, and glacier mass. Of these 10 indicators, first seven of them are expected to increase in a warming world while rest of them (snow- cover, sea-ice extent and glacier mass) are expected to decrease. And all these indicators are following the trend of warming world confirming that Global Warming is real.

“For the first time, and in a single compelling comparison, the analysis brings together multiple observational records from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the ocean,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The records come from many institutions worldwide. They use data collected from diverse sources, including satellites, weather balloons, weather stations, ships, buoys and field surveys. These independently produced lines of evidence all point to the same conclusion: our planet is warming,” [NOAA]

It’s important to note that climate phenomena has to be studied for long period of time to get some real sense of data. Periodic heating and cooling happens due to various phenomena such as Solar maximum/minimum, ElNino, La Nina etc, but looking at the data for many years and looking at average temperature anomalies (averaged over a decade) compared to a baseline average temperature can give clear picture of changing temperature pattern of the earth. In past 50 years global temperature has increased by 1 degree F and this figure shows the temperature rise pattern.

So where is the heat sink? Measurements show that more than 90% of heat is going to the oceans which partly explains rising sea-level due to expanding Ocean body. Warming of Ocean can have other serious implications. One such report is published in this week’s Nature  where scientists have shown that warm Oceans can be one of the major reason for depletion of phytoplankton, the microscopic organism which accounts for half of the photosynthetic activity on earth and releases 50% of the global Oxygen. As Ocean warms up surface water stays atop and prevents colder nutrient rich water to come up, thereby hindering phytoplankton’s photosynthesis process. Depletion of phytoplanktons implies decrease in number of fish and other species and then you can just imagine the disruption in food chain moving up.

It’s time to rise above petty politics and take some concrete steps in controlling Global Warming. The issue is bigger than any political ideology, any culture any nationality and the world has to reach to a consensus as soon as possible to tackle it. You can read the full report “State of Climate in 2009” and other supplementary documents here.

Picture credit: Flickr user johhlegear | Used under Creative Commons License

Global Warming plots credit: NOAA/ Arndt, D. S., M. O. Baringer, and M. R. Johnson, Eds., 2010: State of the Climate in 2009. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 91 (6), S1-S224.

Leave a Comment July 29, 2010

BPA- Another Toxin in Our Foodchain

BisPhenol A or BPA is a controversial organic molecule which is extensively being used in our day to day life in a variety of products and many studies including recent FDA report has shown safety and health concerns. BPA has been in use since 1936, when it was used as synthetic hormone, but now it’s extensively used for making transparent plastic products such as baby bottles, water bottles, dental fillings, lining inside the canned food containers etc. BPA is used as a building block in many of these plastics and linings, which can decompose under certain temperatures or in presence of acids and thus can leech in to the food and enter your food cycle. Even though BPA is not much of hazard in the environment, but when inside the body it can be very harmful, especially to babies, due to it’s hormones mimicking properties. It can cause developmental problems in babies, neurological disorders, reproductive disorders, cancer related risks, diabetes and heart related disorders. There is lot of debate going on about the use of BPA and how to regulate it. Current regulations states that low doses of BPA is not toxic and of course much of the scientific studies backed by the industry says the same. But independent scientific studies reveal opposite results and number of these results have been growing. Recent study showed that even the receipts from grocery stores, ATM machines contain BPA and which can be retained on the skin or even can get absorbed in the skin and can have potential negative health effects. So try not to let these receipts interact with the open food items in your grocery bag and ofcourse wash your hands!

While, more research needs to be done as well as alternatives need to be found out for replacing BPA from our food cycle, we can take our own measures to safeguard ourselves and our loved ones. Since kids and babies are most affected, we should give more attention to what baby products we are using. Look out for BPA free products in ToysRus  and other places including toys, baby bottles, baby formula containers etc. But again, BPA free products might be just a marketing gimmick by the companies as well, so be cautious. For grownups, reduce canned food diets which is not that healthy anyway and that can reduce your exposure to BPA as well.  Here are some of the recommendations from NIH/CDC regarding preventing exposure to BPA:

• Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from repeated use at high temperatures.
• Avoid plastic containers with the #7 on the bottom
• Don’t wash polycarbonate plastic containers in the dishwasher with harsh detergents.
• Reduce your use of canned foods. Eat fresh or frozen foods.
• When possible, opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.
• Use infant formula bottles that are BPA free and look for toys that are labeled BPA-free.

Since, I am not an expert on BPA nor have read many detailed peer-reviewed research articles, it’s suggested that people who are concerned about this, should read more reports and make their own decisions about how to reduce BPA intake. I will provide here few of the links which can help.

  1. FDA report on BPA in Food
  2. Environmental Working group: Detailed report
  3. Environment Califronia
  4. BiPhenolA Wikipedia
  5. NIH/CDC BPA Factsheet
  6. BPA in store Receipts

Picture credit: Flickr user gozalewis | Used under Creative Commons License

Leave a Comment July 28, 2010

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