Category Archives: Environment

Guest Blog – Conservation needs your Attention Now!

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Be it the forests of Wayanad in Kerala or the Mahan forests, housing the oldest Sal trees, our jungles are fast diminishing. A greedy bunch of people want to take control of these forests in the name of development and commercialization. Many real estate companies have also contributed to deforestation. Other causes are expansion of land for agricultural purposes, timber harvesting, mining etc.

Now add to this climate change – one can only assume what the result would be. Loss of a major source of oxygen, global warming, loss of wild life, loss of habitat and source of food for many.

Nevertheless, I have to ask just a simple question. How long do you think the cool breeze will sustain, if trees are continuously, felled like this?

A bit of research will reveal that as long as 8,000 years ago, the world’s forests covered about 15 billion acres. But, over the years, the global forest areas have gone down by almost 40%. One can only wonder about the grim condition of Indian forests. It is believed that deforestation in India came to being when Thomas Munro, the then elected governor, in the year 1823 tried to bring in Industrialization as a mode of increasing the economy. It was much later in the year 1878 that the government chose to protect our forests.

As per the U.N. FAO, almost 23% of India is covered with forests, that amounts to 68,434,000 ha, consisting of 22.9% primary forests. At the same time, we find from reports that between the years 1990 to 2010, India on an average has lost about 224,750 ha or 0.35% of forest cover, each year.

When it comes to Mahan, located in Singrauli district, forged signatures paved the way for the Gram sabha resolution in favor of the coal mining project by Essar and Hindalco leading to deforestation of our oldest Sal forests.

Enter Greenpeace! Greenpeace is fighting to save nature and protect our forests. It is a non-profit organization, with its presence in 40 countries all over Europe, US, Asia and the Pacific. It has established its presence in India since 2001, working on various issues related to the environment. The main campaigns that it works on includes climate change, sustainable agriculture, preserving the oceans and preventing another nuclear destruction. I am an online volunteer for Greenpeace India. I actively promoted the #Save Mahan campaign that has garnered support from all over India and parts of the foreign countries, via the solidarity event on National Day of Action on 18th May.

Online campaigning is the way to support Greenpeace campaigns. You can also promote or inform public about events and activities of Greenpeace, via social networking sites. Apart from this, Van satyagrahas and peaceful protests are common occurrences at Mahan. The one silver lining in this fight for justice and to save Mahan forests is the decision that there would be no felling of trees, at least till this October. If only the decision were to be made permanent. The people of Mahan are awaiting proper justice. Now, with the new government all set to take over in our country I’ll conclude my blog with the hope that things would get better and people of Mahan would not lose their livelihood and our forests will be better protected. I am in no way against development, but I hope that at least the new government would realize that in no way should development be at the cost of nature or our jungles. Here’s also hoping that more people would realize that nature is not to be just appreciated but one should also strive hard to protect it. I call out to the people of India and around the world to come join in the fight to save our forests.

Resources for facts and figures

http://deforestation-facts.blogspot.in/2011/04/current-trends-deforestation-in-india.html

http://rainforests.mongabay.com/deforestation/2000/India.htm#01-cover

 

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Vidya has 7 years of experience as an online content editor and writer. Her passion for writing drove her to study Literature in college and pursue a Masters in Journalism and Communication. Currently she works as a freelance content writer and social media manager for NeaArts Media based in Calicut, Kerala. Blogging is what she does to express her views and ideas on certain issues prevailing in our society.  She is also an online volunteer with Greenpeace India and believes that nature needs to be conserved. Vidya is passionate about educating  people to better protect our environment and natural resources.

Our Mother

I have spoken of collective consciousness, oneness and a shared divinity before. But has it ever occurred to you that we all are children of the same mother. She is not human and she is not exactly a Divine Mother. She is made up of the same elements that make up our bodies. She is here in the physical world and very real. We walk all over her and our demands on her are never ending. Just because she doesn’t have a human face and body we think she doesn’t really exist. Or we categorize her wholeness into its multiple parts. And we seek to balance one or save one without saving the other. We do this in a detached sort of way as if she were different from us. After we have sucked her dry, do we have other mothers waiting whose arms we could run into when we are hungry?

We have no idea about the stellar battles she wages every day to keep us safe. The sun, our very own life-giving sun flares up every now and then and its coronal mass ejections can burn everyone of us and everything to a crisp, dry every last drop of the ocean and leave our planet uninhabitable. But our mother in her infinite mercy and compassion uses her magnetic shield to repel these solar winds. The particles that escape one force field have to contend with another one. The particles get pushed to the poles where they react with the atmosphere to create the beautiful aurora borealis or the northern lights.

Imagine she was really a living and breathing entity with a voice. Would she be proud of us, her children? What would she say? Like any Mom she’d first ask us to clean up and take out the garbage – only there’s no waste management company in outer space. Maybe you need to stop creating so much garbage and dumping it in the ocean. Guess what? The garbage island you created is visible from outer space. What a shame if we ever have visitors!

Don’t be such big bullies! The animals and forests also look to me as their mom. They are intimately connected to me and I sustain them. They never cut their cords while you have not only cut the cord but severed all connections with me and your distant cousins. Yes, they don’t look like you but they have equal rights. But you who see differences within your very own species and kill for no good reason cannot fathom this truth. Nor can you see the divinity in a blade of grass and the wing of a damsel fly.

It’s funny how you separate yourselves into little countries and point fingers at each other in the name of environmentalism. You fail to realize that every action affects everyone of you and has far reaching consequences beyond this planet. Wake up and try, try very hard to look beyond your own little noses and your own little planet.

I’m reminded of this story where a demon carries Mother Earth to the depths of the ocean. Mother Earth begs the Gods to come rescue her and eventually one of the Gods kills the demon and lifts Mother Earth from the bowels of the ocean. We all know that the sea levels are rising and several cities and islands may go under water. No God is going to come rescue us from our foolishness. We need to wake up and take charge and clean up our act.

Hollywood has been churning out movies like World War Z and After Earth. Have we given up on our Mother – the only perfect home we know? Are we ready to go destroy another planet? Seriously! Who put us in charge of the universe?

The prayers of all the human mothers who want a better life for their children has brought us to this point of awareness. Let your legacy be a beautiful flourishing planet where your children can raise their families. For no money in the world can buy us another Mother.

 

A Place to Call Home…

Where is this elusive place called home? It seems like I’ve been searching for it all my life. Growing up, I had two homes. I spent the early part of my childhood with my grandma, missing the company of my brother and hoping to live with my parents. My teenage years I spent with my parents and for the most part it felt like home. But I always knew I couldn’t live there forever. Marriage loomed large and I couldn’t shake off the uncertainty that came with it. Would I still live in Chennai or would I move to a different city in India? Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d move to another country. A country so far away that you had to take two planes and travel across many time zones to get there!

That’s when the sickness began. This homesickness. But I think it was always there. This feeling of not belonging and wanting to be somewhere else. In the hope that ‘somewhere else’ would fill the gaping hole in my heart. But it never did. Some people can make a home anywhere and be happy anywhere. I do envy them. One friend said to me, “Where ever I am is home.” Wish I could say that!

Sometimes I think this whole alien conspiracy theory is true. Maybe I’m actually an alien from another planet who got left behind during a mission. They must have scrambled my memory because I have no idea who I am! There are days when people and the world makes no sense to me. I’m completely spaced out so to speak.

Then again maybe I have a memory of another lifetime when things were simple. When people mattered more than things or money. When mother earth was not taken for granted and everyone shared her bountiful resources. Maybe that’s the thing I’m missing. Maybe home no longer feels like home – a safe haven where you can be yourself and nurture yourself.  Everything seems to have changed since I last visited. Much like the city I grew up in – Chennai. Every time I go there something has changed – new buildings, 10,000 new cars, people everywhere. So much so that the very vibe of the city has changed and it doesn’t feel like the place I grew up.

Going home, for me,  is just a matter of booking tickets and boarding the right plane. Many others face the grim reality of never being able to go home or fearing for their safety when they travel to their homeland. One friend booked her tickets two weeks prior to the turmoil that erupted in her country. Now she fears for her family and would lose a lot of money if she cancels her tickets. My heart goes out to her. She just wants what I want – to spend the holidays with her family. I do hope and pray she can make it there safely and back.

For us going to India involves tackling visa issues, traffic, mosquitoes and the heat (in the summer). Our lives are not threatened nor our freedoms compromised. I did call this place home but over the years all the changes in me and in India make it feel less like home. The sad truth is no other place I’ve lived in feels even close to what Chennai felt like.

When I close my eyes and let my imagination fly, I can see that place. That place I would delight in calling home. The land is green. The people are smiling. Food is abundant. The smell of fresh earth mingles with the aroma of fresh vegetables stewing on a stove top. Children laugh and play. People come together and celebrate life everyday. They share and love and grow. Learn and teach. Worry and fear are alien emotions. Lack and disease, unheard of. Maybe I’m dreaming of Utopia. Maybe Utopia is the home I’m yearning for. And my quest continues…

Return to Innocence…

It’s September already and we are fast approaching the end of the year and some think the end of the world. Now enough has been said about the apocalypse and the Mayan calendar and aliens annihilating our earth. So I will not delve into that. By the looks of it we sure seem to be headed toward total death and destruction. War in Syria. Drought in various parts of the world. Wild fires and hurricanes galore. And don’t even get me started on the pandemics that are breaking out everywhere! Yes, it does seem like the end is near. But wait and take a closer look. Look at it from another perspective.

Have you ever looked inside a compost pit? It looks disgusting and the smell can make you faint but after a while (a month or a year) it will be the best thing that you can put in your garden to help it flourish. That very thing that transforms garbage into garden gold is happening to the earth and to us. We have to facilitate this transformation. We have to purge ourselves of all the trash before we can shine and shimmer the way diamonds catch the light. We have to confront the shadows before we return to innocence. Innocence that was lost when we let the ego shroud our hearts and our minds with fear.

It could also be Mother Nature screaming out at us for help. Asking us to wake up and stop mindlessly polluting the air and water and filling landfills with garbage or cutting down trees in  the name of development. If she had a voice she would say – “Return to the innocence of the Native Americans who held the humble belief that they belonged to the land and not the other way around. Who treated every creature with respect, never wasted resources and had immense gratitude for all that the earth provided them. Relinquish greed and selfishness for gentler ways that nourish you and the planet. They were not the savages – you are!”

We can no longer pawn off all responsibility to others and let others take care of it. It’s much too late for that! We can no longer use apathy as a shield and excuses as a veil that keeps us from doing whatever little we can. There is still hope and ultimately light will break through the darkness but we cannot see the light if we keep our eyes closed. What I’m saying is this. We are very much a part of this transformation. The world will evolve with or without us. But we can hasten it by being actively involved in the transformation. Going back to the example of composting. You can help the organic matter decompose faster by adding earthworms and moving the material around every once in a while. Those two steps will give you compost in a month as opposed to a year if you let nature take its course! So let us be the earthworms of the world and digest and break down the stinky stuff so we can all enjoy the Golden Age!

So what can you do today? Do you recycle like there is no tomorrow? I do and now I’ve taken to cleaning up the beach as well. I heard about the 10 foot garbage island we have created in the ocean and that really got to me. Use less plastic, less paper. Detoxify your diet and your cleaning supplies. Drink more water and less soda, alcohol and caffeine. Eat fresh food and less fast food and processed food. Ditch the antibacterial soap and phospates in your cleaning supplies. Pray for peace and pray for our planet. Be an activist for peace and for the environment. Not all of us can hold up banners and go on protest marches or demonstrations. But you can write a petition. If you can’t write a petition, then sign a petition. If you can’t sign a petition then put a thumb impression on it…you get my drift! No excuses. No time to waste. No time to pass the buck.

Also no time to let the ego take over your mind and run with it. It will tell you the end is near and show you the worst-case scenario. But remember the world or universe does not have a built-in code for destruction. It has a built-in code for survival. We are a unique species. We are the sickness and the remedy. Give up your old ways and embrace a wholesome new way of life. It’s time to pause, breathe, roll up your sleeves and clean up your act.