Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Where does all that plastic waste go?

There are 500 times more pieces of micro-plastic in the sea than there are stars in our galaxy and by 2050 it is estimated there will be more plastic than fish.

Cheap, capable of being made into any conceivable shape, strong and durable, plastic is something of a wonder material. It has proved so useful to humans that since the 1950s we have produced an estimated 8.3 billion metric tonnes of the stuff. However, the victim of this success appears to be much of  life on Earth. And humans, one day, could find themselves among them.

What would modern life be like without plastic?  According to The World Economic Forum, plastic production has exploded over the last half-century, growing from 16.5 million tons in 1964 to 343 million tons in 2014; it is projected to double by 2036. Even if you live hundreds of miles from the coast, the plastic you throw away could make its way into the sea. Once in the ocean, plastic decomposes very slowly, breaking down in to tiny pieces known as micro plastics that can be incredibly damaging to sea life. 80% of plastic in our oceans is from land sources, but what does that really mean? Where is it coming from? Where does all of the plastic go when we’re done with it?

The concern surrounding plastic waste is its problematic disposal. Plastics can be recycled, also be burned, which has potentially detrimental impacts to the environment. Aside from incineration or recycling, dumping plastic waste in landfills or in nature are the only remaining disposal options for plastic waste.
Of the 6,300 tons of plastic waste that has been created since 2015, only around nine percent has been recycled, 12 percent was incinerated and 79 percent was put in landfills or in nature. If current trends continue, around 12,000 tons of plastic will be in nature or in landfills by 2050.
This has been described as "an uncontrolled experiment on a global scale" by scientists.

How much plastic is in the sea?

With more than eight million tonnes going into the oceans every year, it is estimated there will be more plastic than fish by 2050 and 99 per cent of all the seabirds on the planet will have consumed some. It is thought the sea now contains some 51 trillion microplastic particles – 500 times more than stars in our galaxy.
It is found all over the planet, with 300 billion pieces in the once-pristine Arctic and a remote island in the Pacific, the uninhabited Henderson Island, one of the Pitcairns, believed to have the highest concentration of plastic pollution in the world.

Is it dangerous?

Some plastic is toxic and it can disrupt hormones crucial for a healthy existence. Even when it is not dangerous itself or not known to be, plastic acts like a magnet for a range of other poisons and pollutants we have spilled into the natural world.
To sea turtles, plastic bags in the water can look like jellyfish, floating on the surface plastic can appear to be a tasty snack for a seagull, based on millennia of experience, and to baby perch it appears more appetising than the plankton they are supposed to eat.
Unsurprisingly, gulping down all this indigestible poison instead of food is bad for their health. So far, it is known that marine litter harms more than 600 species amid what some regard as the beginning of the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth.

Why should we worry about pollution in the sea?

Killing off sea creatures is bad for humans because we consume so much of it ourselves. Some 92.6 million tonnes were caught worldwide in 2015, according to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Given plastic degrades to pieces small enough to pass through the stomach into the flesh of fish and other animals, we are already eating some of the plastic we have thrown into the sea.
And, of course, just like other animals that plastic is likely to be finding its way into the tissues of our bodies with potentially harmful consequences.

What's being done about it?

The world is, finally, starting to wake up to the problem.
In February this year, the United Nations announced it had “declared war on ocean plastic”.
Thirty countries have now joined the UN’s CleanSeas campaign, including the UK, Canada, France, Indonesia, Sierra Leone, Brazil, Norway, Italy, Costa Rica, Kenya and Peru. The US, China, Russia and Japan have not.
The UK has banned micro-plastics in "rinse-off" cosmetics, like facial scrubs, but not "leave-on" products like make-up and suntan cream.

What can we do?

Consumers can help fix the problem by making an effort to reduce plastic waste.  
Drinking from a reusable water bottle instead of a disposable one can also be very helpful. 
You can also avoid to-go containers like cups from coffee shops and styrofoam containers for leftovers from restaurants. 
Avoid using plastic straws, even in restaurants.    
After reducing your plastic use as much as possible, recycle everything you can.   
If you’re passionate about decreasing plastic waste and reducing pollution in the environment, you can become an advocate in your community.  
You can also speak to lawmakers or local government members about plastic pollution. 

Plastic pollution has a big impact on the environment, but plastic waste isn’t unavoidable.  

Any other problems we should know about? 

Plastic may also be contaminating the air we breathe. Plastic micro-particles from cosmetics and microfibers from synthetic clothes are washed into the sewage system. While many pass through treatment plants and end up in the sea, others particles are caught up in sewage used to fertilise farmers’ fields. After it dries out, it may get picked up by the wind and blown about. Professor Frank Kelly, an expert in environmental health from King’s College London, told a committee of MPs last year: “There’s a real possibility that some of those micro-particles will be entrained into the air and they will be carried around and we will end up breathing them.”

How bad is it?

Perhaps not Earth-shattering, but definitely Earth-trashing. Plastic may end up being one of the defining characteristics of a new epoch in the planet’s historyEventually, the layer of plastic spread around the world from the 1950s onwards will form a noticeable line in the sedimentary rocks of the future.

And that is one reason – along with radioactive fallout from nuclear bomb tests, pollution, climate change effects such as higher sea levels, and the extinction of many animal species – that geologists are considering declaring the end of the Holocene and the beginning of the Anthropocene or the ‘Epoch of the Humans’.

In a few decades, a blink of an eye in Earth's 4.5-billion-year history, plastic has not only changed the fabric of life but the very rocks.

UN warns of growing threat of plastic pollution to human health

Plastic starts to smell like food to fish after it has been in the sea, according to research that sheds new light on how the artificial, toxic substance is getting into the food chain.
Concern is growing that plastic is accumulating in the tissues of marine life as it gradually breaks down in the sea until it is small enough to pass through the gut wall into the bloodstream and even muscle tissue.

More than 50 species of fish are known to eat plastic and 700 marine species are exposed to it.The scientists tested the responses of wild-caught fish to odour solutions made from plastic that had been left for three weeks in the sea compared to “clean plastic”.
The biofouled, but not the clean, plastic was found to stimulate a behavioural response consistent with foraging in captive anchovy schools. This is the first behavioural evidence that plastic debris may be chemically attractive to marine consumers.These chemical cues may lure consumers, such as anchovy, into regions of high plastic density and activate foraging behaviours, thus making it difficult to ignore or reject plastic items as potential prey.

Given plastic’s attractiveness to marine life eaten by humans, there is concern that it could also start to become a problem for our species. The researchers recommended further research into the negative effects of plastic in the marine food chain, such as increased risk of predation.

“Humans are at the top of these food chains; therefore, results of such future studies may have important consequences for human health,” they said.
In addition to attracting smells associated with food, plastic also accumulates toxic chemicals in the natural environment. Other scientists have concluded this effect is so pronounced that plastic itself should be treated as a toxic substance once it gets into the environment.

Concern over plastic waste has been growing, partly because it can contain hazardous chemicals but also because it attracts and concentrates other chemicals.
The same properties that make plastics so versatile in innumerable applications like durability and resistance to degradation,  make these materials difficult or impossible for nature to assimilate.

Thus, without a well-designed and tailor-made management strategy for end-of-life plastics, humans are conducting a singular uncontrolled experiment on a global scale, in which billions of metric tons of material will accumulate across all major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on the planet.

Plastic waste is seen as one of the signs that the Earth has entered a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene after humans as it will eventually show up in the rocks of the future, creating a dividing line between a ‘natural’ world and one dominated by our species.

There are three main ways the plastic we use every day ends up in the oceans.

Throwing plastic in the bin when it could be recycled

Plastic you put in the bin ends up in landfill. When rubbish is being transported to landfill, plastic is often blown away because it’s so lightweight. From there, it can eventually clutter around drains and enter rivers and the sea this way.


Litter dropped on the street doesn’t stay there. Rainwater and wind carries plastic waste into streams and rivers, and through drains. Drains lead to the ocean!
Careless and improper waste disposal is also a big contributor – illegal dumping of waste adds greatly to the plastic surge in our seas.

Products that go down the drain

Many of the products we use daily are flushed down toilets, including wet wipes, cotton buds and sanitary products. Micro-fibres are even released into waterways when we wash our clothes in the washing machine. They are too small to be filtered out by waste water plants and end up being consumed by small marine species, eventually even ending up in our food chain.
How does plastic get into the ocean? The bottom line is us. Whether we mean to litter or not, there's always a chance the plastic we throw away could make it into the sea, and from there who knows? Maybe as far as the Arctic. 

Big changes start with small steps and we all have the power to make a difference. What will you do to start cutting the plastic in your life?

Monday, 22 July 2019

Veganism is NOT just a diet

"People eat meat and think they will become as strong as an ox, forgetting the ox eats grass." - Pino Caruso

When people usually hear the word VEGANISM, they shudder away and think of people breaking into farms to rescue animals, or that they're "dirty hippies", or that they have a "holier than thou" complex. But that's not true for the majority of us.

Animals and their rights are harmed in many ways other than just killing them for meat or rearing them for milk and eggs. Animals not only have the right to live but also to live without pain. So food, even vegetarian food that is obtained with the assistance of animals such as animal-based agriculture, is to be eschewed. To take the philosophy a step further, veganism is also a personal commitment to non-violence in daily aspects of one's life, in a way that creates the least harmful impact on one's natural environment.

It’s a whole lifestyle, relating to what a person wears, what personal care products he uses (testing on animals, use of animal products in the ingredients, etc.), the hobbies that he indulges in, and the sort of job that the person has. Since ethical veganism ideally pervades every facet of a person's life, it also colours one's relationships, political beliefs and social attitudes. People who eat no dairy or honey are simply vegetarians and not vegans and true veganism goes beyond just this. Our entire civilization at present is based on the exploitation of animals, in much the same way that past civilizations were based on the exploitation of other human beings in the form of slavery, bonded labour, and so on.

We don’t have to hurt others to survive. Human beings have proved that through centuries of living on this earth; the fact that we still exist despite the innumerable ways in which we could destroy each other is proof positive of our destiny to live peaceably.
"People are the only animals that drink the milk of the mother of another species. All the other animals stop drinking milk altogether after weaning. It is unnatural for a dog to nurse from a giraffe; it is just as unnatural for a human being to drink the milk of a cow."- Michael Klaper  
Despite political and social divisiveness, we’re still a social species. Humanity has only survived because of our ability to care for one another, whether that means staying awake at night to make sure a predator doesn’t ravage our village or shouting a warning to a stranger who’s about to step in front of a moving car.

This doesn't mean, however, that we should just not harm our fellow humans. We also have to realize that harming animals and the environment leaves just as obvious a stain.

We’re also wired to bond with other animals. We domesticated dogs before any other creature, and for centuries, we’ve worked alongside canines in mutually beneficial relationships. Dogs enjoy working with humans, just as horses and many cats do because we care for each other.

The problem, though, is that many people pick and choose. If you embrace the belief that you should not harm another sentient creature, it's impossible to separate dogs and cats from cows and chickens and fish.

The Vegan Society’s definition of veganism is “way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practicable – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals”. So what about when you’re beginning on your vegan journey and you try to seek advice online in different Facebook chat groups, or other online forums? More likely than not, unless you’re in a specific beginners group you’ll be met with the “Vegan Police” who instead of helping and educating you, will berate you for not being “vegan enough”. All you have to do is read the back of the product you are buying.

There are a shocking number of animal products in most cosmetics including makeup, shampoo, body washes, soaps – there’s even pork fat in a well-known brand of toothpaste in the US – and animal testing is still widely used.
Look out for the leaping bunny sign on the packaging to indicate the product is cruelty-free. If a product has the V symbol on it, it's vegan.
Some common animal products found in cosmetics to look out for include:

  • Squalene: This is derived from shark liver.
  • Tallow: This is another name for animal fat.
  • Caprylic acid/caprylic triglyceride: Made from cow and goat milk.
  • Hyaluronic acid: Derived from rooster combs (the bit on top of their heads)
  • Beeswax, honey, propolis, and royal jelly: often found in lip balms, so watch out.
  • Keratin: It's found naturally in your hair and nails, but in cosmetics, it comes from hooves, quills and animal hair.
  • Silk powder: Silkworms get dissolved in boiling water to create silk fibres.
I'm sure everyone has gone shopping at some point and saw a pair of shoes or a jacket, or top they the fell in love with, and before beginning your vegan journey you didn’t think too much about what materials were used to make them.
Some common materials to look out for include:

  • Leather: Usually made from the hides of cows.
  • Suede: Usually made from the underside of the skin from lambs, calves, goats, and sometimes deer.
  • Silk: Made from boiling silkworms until they dissolve to create fibres.
  • Wool: Once again, it's an animal product so it's not vegan.
  • Feathers: You may think that birds lose their feathers regularly, but most are plucked bare for their feathers.
  • Cashmere: Usually made from the soft undercoat of cashmere goats.
  • Shearling: Not the same as wool, it's a sheep's skin tanned with the wool attached. Shearling refers to a sheep that has been shorn just once, so usually a lamb at one-year-old.
  • Angora: Have you ever Googled an angora rabbit? You might want to. These beautiful creatures are skinned – usually alive – for their wool.
  • Fur: Fur is the animal's coat still attached to their skin. Some common furs include bears, beavers, cats, foxes, chinchillas, minks, rabbits, raccoons, even dogs among others.
  • Glue: Yep, you may not have thought of this one, but what about the glue that holds your shoes together? Glues derived from animal products are most commonly used.
Ever seen a pair of earrings, a necklace, or a purse that you just had to have? Have you looked at what its made from though? Animal products have found their way into every part of our lives.
Some common things to look out for include:

  • Pearls: natural pearls are made by oysters, mussels, or clams when an irritant, usually a piece of dirt, gets trapped inside their shell. They cover it with a fluid which hardens. Commercially, the irritant is put inside the crustacean forcibly, and then they are cracked open when the pearl is ready.
  • Exotic skins: Snake, alligators, crocodiles, kangaroos, even cats, and dogs are all killed for their "exotic"-looking skins and made into handbags, shoes and other items.
  • Down duvets, pillows, blankets: These items are filled with the soft down feathers of ducks and geese. These feathers are the ones that are found under their breast bones and don't fall out.

When we hear about the horrors of industrial livestock farming, the pollution, the waste, the miserable lives of billions of animals, it is hard not to feel a twinge of guilt and conclude that we should eat less meat.

Yet most of us probably won't. Instead, we will mumble something about meat being tasty, that "everyone" eats it, and that we only buy "grass-fed" beef.

Over the next year, more than 50 billion land animals will be raised and slaughtered for food around the world. Most of them will be reared in conditions that cause them to suffer unnecessarily while also harming people and the environment in significant ways. Consuming no or less animal-based products can help with some of the major climate related issues faced by our planet today.

Lesser Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The impact of animal agriculture on greenhouse gas emissions goes a lot further than just cows producing methane gas. Meat production requires vast amounts of energy. Not only do you have to grow the crops to feed the animals, but fossil fuels are also burnt in the raising, slaughtering and transportation of animals. Livestock and their by-products account for 51% of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. So if you choose to eat meat, your greenhouse emissions can be twice that of someone on a plant-based diet.

Alongside this, we need to remember that livestock consumes much more protein, water and calories than they produce, as most of the energy taken in by animals is used for their bodily functions and not converted to meat, eggs or milk. As Cornell University found, producing one calorie of food energy from beef requires 40 calories of fossil fuel energy, whilst producing one calorie of human-edible grain takes only 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy!

Preserving Habitats and Species
Eating animals is the largest contributing factor in habitat loss and extinction. First, producing meat requires large amounts of land to raise animals. Every second, an area of rainforest equivalent to a football field is cleared to rear and graze animals! It is estimated that 1lb of beef is equivalent to 200 square feet of destroyed rainforest. And overall, it's estimated that eating meat requires three times more land than is needed for a vegan diet.

Second, poorly managed animal waste products from the meat industry are polluting our environment and destroying habitats. Many pollutant waste products get washed into our water systems, the nitrogen and phosphorus found in this waste cause algae to grow on the water and starves the fish of oxygen. This process leads to the creation of ‘dead zones', places where few species can survive. As of 2011, 530 marine areas were identified as dead zones.

Meat production is highly inefficient, this is particularly true when it comes to red meat. To produce one kilogram of beef requires 25 kilograms of grain to feed the animal and roughly 15,000 litres of water. Pork is a little less intensive and chicken-less still. The scale of the problem can also be seen in land use: around 30% of the earth's land surface is currently used for livestock farming. Since food, water and land are scarce in many parts of the world, this represents an inefficient use of resources.

Conserving Water
Whilst it may seem that water is plentiful, especially on very rainy days, fresh water is a very scarce resource. Only 2.5% of all water on our planet is freshwater, and only 30% of that is available to us and not frozen as ice. Water scarcity is a very real issue, with over a billion people living without sufficient access to clean water.

Food choices can have a big impact on water demand. Unlike the majority of plant-based foods, raising animals requires vast amounts of water. This is because animals need water to drink, wash, clean their living spaces and cool themselves during hot periods. A study comparing the water footprint of different foods found that whilst a soy burger has a water footprint of 158 litres, a beef burger has a water footprint of 2,350 litres, which is over 14 times as big! This situation begs the question: if so many people are living in areas without access to freshwater, why are we wasting so much of it producing animal products when we can get all the nutrients we need from plant-based foods?

Helping the global poor
A lot of the food that's grown in the world isn't being eaten by humans. Globally, 83% of farmland is set aside to raise animals. It's estimated that 700 million tons of food that could be consumed by humans goes to livestock each year.
While meat is more calorically dense than plants, more aggregate calories (and more diverse nutrient profiles) could be produced if that land was dedicated to various plants.  
Plus, all the deforestation, overfishing and pollution caused by meat and fish industries limit the overall capacity of the Earth to produce food.

If more farmland was used to grow crops for humans, then more people could be fed at less of an expense to the planet. 
This understanding is becoming more urgent as the global population is expected to hit or surpass 9.1 billion by 2050. There's simply not enough land on the planet to raise enough meat to feed everyone the average American diet. Nor can Earth cope with the pollution this would cause.

Feeding grain to livestock increases global demand and drives up grain prices, making it harder for the world’s poor to feed themselves. Grain could instead be used to feed people, and water used to irrigate crops.
If all grain were fed to humans instead of animals, we could feed an extra 3.5 billion people. In short, industrial livestock farming is not only inefficient but also not equitable.

The production of plant-based foods is a more efficient use of our resources, as it requires less energy from fossil fuels as well as less land and water. By removing animal products from our diet we can play our part in reducing humanity’s damaging impact on our environment. We’re alive during the most critical moment in the history of humanity, and it’s our responsibility to stop irreversible damage being done to our planet. We cannot afford to wait for politicians or industries to save us, we must act urgently.
As you can see, veganism is so much more than just a diet, it's a lifestyle dedicated to trying to cause as little harm as possible to animals and the planet. Hopefully, this little guide will help you on your vegan journey and give you the motivation and understanding you need to continue.
"If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we'd all be vegetarians."- Paul McCartney

Friday, 5 July 2019

How inhumane can humans get? - Animal cruelty in india

For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love. - Pythagorus 

While growing up I have always been a person excessively emotionally attached to dogs. As I grew up, I realized it’s a cruel world out there. Humans don’t care about humans; forget other species. I saw pets getting abused, I saw street dogs and animals getting maimed around me and on social media; for no reason at all. The web is filled with videos of people abusing street dogs, beating them, teasing them just for amusement and mere views. One of the most common forms of animal cruelty is the abandonment of pets and domestic animals. As pet owners fail to understand and control the behaviour of their pets when they go around chewing shoes and furniture, barking or urinating in the wrong places. They give up hope and abandon them.

Well, it is our responsibility to spend some time with them and train them. It will take some patience and a lot of love. But remember, just like we learn as we grow old, animals also learn as they grow.  Apart from pet abuse, every day, countless cats, dogs and other animals suffer and die at the hands of the very people who are supposed to care for and protect them. Physical violence, emotional abuse and life-threatening neglect are daily realities for many animals. Their only hope is that a kind person will speak up before it’s too late.

People who abuse animals are cowards, they take their issues out on the most defenceless victims available and their cruelty often crosses species lines. Research in psychology and criminology shows that animal abusers tend to repeat their crimes as well as commit similar offences against members of their own species. This phenomenon is known to law-enforcement and humane professionals as "the link". People who hurt animals don’t stop with animals. There is an established link between cruelty to animals and violence towards humans. Studies have shown that violent and aggressive criminals are more likely to have abused animals as children than criminals who are considered non-aggressive. A survey of psychiatric patients who had repeatedly tortured dogs and cats found that all of them had high levels of aggression toward people as well.

The shocking number of animal cruelty cases reported every day is just the tip of the iceberg. Most cases are never reported. Unlike violent crimes against people, cases of animal abuse are not compiled by state or central agencies, making it difficult to calculate just how common they are. There’s no question that social media has benefited animal advocacy in remarkable ways over the last decade. Activists and sometimes people like us are using platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to organize protests, promote veganism, distribute online petitions, announce campaign updates, post news about animals ready for adoption, share animal rights documentaries, and much more.

Here are some cases shared on social media, where people didn't even consider animals to be living beings.
- A pregnant goat was gang-raped by 8 men in Haryana.
29 July 2018: A pregnant goat that went missing and was later found dead by the owner was stolen and abused by the accused at a deserted house, following which the animal died. One of the accused even met the owner of the goat and admitted that he had raped her and said that he had a nice time.
- A female street dog was raped by a man inside his home in Kolkata.
17 July 2018: A 35-year-old man was arrested for allegedly having sex with a dog. The accused lured the dog into his house and tied its mouth with a rope. A couple of men passing by saw the accused luring the dog and sensed something wrong. After following him to his house, they broke open a window and caught the man having sex with the dog.
- A man had unnatural sex with three cows in Vadodara.
17 January 2018: A man in Vadodara who worked as a labourer at a cow shed allegedly indulged in unnatural sex with three cows. Later in the morning, the owner found that the legs of three cows were tied with rope and one was lying dead.
- Eleven langurs were brutally killed and dumped near a highway in Rajasthan.
12 January 2018: Eleven monkeys were found killed near the National Highway-8, about 66 km from Jaipur, in Rajasthan. Forest officials said they were beaten with sticks and then splashed with an abrasive chemical, probably an acid.
- A cow was run over by a police vehicle in Chhattisgarh.
26 July 2018: A police patrol vehicle crushed a cow that was crossing the road. According to the eyewitnesses, the cow's leg got stuck under its wheel. People gathered to save her but the cops seemed determined to kill her. They ran over her again and again.
- A street dog was left to die when workers poured hot tar on it while it was sleeping.
15 June 2018: A street dog was sleeping on the road when the construction workers poured hot burning tar on it while they were fixing the Fatehabad road at Phool Sayed crossing in Agra. It caused half of its body to be buried alive and was then left to die.
- Telangana municipality allegedly poisoned 100 street dogs.
24 June 2019: In Siddipet, Telangana, reportedly about 100 dogs were killed by poisoning over two days, some found dumped in a landfill. The act was allegedly carried out on the orders of Siddipet municipality to bring the growing population of street dogs under control.

Some steps taken in the right direction
-    The Indian Government is also considering a proposal to enhance the penalty structure under the Prevention to Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 in a bid to revamp the animal welfare laws. The Indian Government may direct its environment ministry, a ministry currently overlooking animal welfare and prevention of cruelty to animals, to prepare a draft amendment to the 1960 Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act with a provision to increase the current penalty set at mere Rs 50 (less than a dollar) to inflation-adjusted amounts up to Rs 6,000 ($84).
According to the current provisions, the Section 11 of the Act states that a penalty of up to Rs 50 is to be levied against any person or group of persons engaging in any act of cruelty to animals. The definition of cruelty includes animal beating, torturing, mutilating, kicking or starving. Activists believe that the up to Rs 6000 penalty in the offing will serve as a credible deterrent against acts of cruelty meted to animals by humans.
-    A German circus has stopped using real-life animals in its performances and changed to holograms instead. Circus Roncalli, which was founded in 1976, uses 3D holographic images to fill the whole arena which is 32 meters (105ft) wide and 5 meters (16ft) deep. Clever special effects produced by 11 different projectors mean the whole audience can see elephants, horses and even a goldfish. The circus started out using real animals but gradually phased them out, replacing them with the futuristic technology instead. Founder Bernhard Paul, invested more than £400,000 to perfect the light show. The decision to do so has been widely praised on social media.

Animals and birds have legal rights, just as humans, declared the Punjab and Haryana High Court in an exceptional judgement. It further declared citizens as the “guardians of the animal kingdom” with a duty to ensure their welfare and protection. Justice Rajiv Sharma, in his order, said, “All the animals have honour and dignity. Every species has an inherent right to live and is required to be protected by law. The rights and privacy of animals are to be respected and protected from unlawful attacks. The Corporations, Hindu idols, holy scriptures, rivers have been declared legal entities, and thus, to protect and promote greater welfare of animals including avian and aquatic, animals are required to be conferred with the status of legal entity/legal person. The animals should be healthy, comfortable, well-nourished, safe, able to express innate behaviour without pain, fear and distress. They are entitled to justice. The animals cannot be treated as objects or property.”

Communities must recognize that abuse to any living being is unacceptable and endangers everyone. Teaching children to empathize with other living beings from an early age, both in schools and by leading through example, is hugely important. Kind parents who go out of their way to help animals in need can inspire future generations to make compassionate choices, and educational establishments also play an important role.

It’s easy to feel despair when we hear about people who deliberately maim, torture or kill animals. But just as cruelty and cowardice are the causes of such behaviour, so courage and kindness are needed to combat it. It takes courage to speak out if you suspect that an animal is being harmed. If you believe an animal is in imminent danger, please contact your local police and/or immediately. When the police are investigating incidents of cruelty, PETA often offers a reward to encourage people to come forward with information.

One of the ways we can help and lend our voices to good causes is by signing petitions. Such petitions are sent to people in powerful positions that can make a change, especially when they see just how many people stand behind the cause. We can demand change, justice, and stop tragedies by speaking up and doing our part. I would like to end this blog with the message next time you think about mistreating an animal, remember animals can’t even communicate with us to complain. Don’t keep the animals forcefully captive.
                                                            Love them and they will love us back. 

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

India's water crisis are real: What's coming with the year 2020?

"Thousands have lived without love, not one without water" -W.h. Auden

India being the world's oldest civilization which grew around the Indus and Ganges is now withering. Post-independence, due importance was given to harnessing the power of water by way of controlling and storing of water through large Dams. That was the need of the hour. However, our cities and towns have subsequently grown without planning for water need vs water availability. As many as one billion people today in India live in areas of physical water scarcity, of which 600 million are in areas of high to extreme water stress. In 1951, the per capita water availability was about 5177 m3. This has now reduced to about 1400 m3 now (Source: Water Resources Division, TERI).

What we are calling a seasonal drought, is in fact, a full-blown water crisis, accentuated by poor management of resources, lack of government attention, increased privatization, industrial and human waste and corruption. Recently, a number of events have shaken up the high-profile political circles. The flood situation in Mumbai, severe water scarcity in Shimla, Chennai and Bengaluru, and the release of the Composite Water Management Index by the NITI Aayog have all put ‘water’ on the front page of many newspaper and websites.

The index prepared by the NITI Aayog claims that, by 2020, as many as 21 major cities of India will run out of the water and face ‘day zero’—a term that got popular after the major water crisis in Cape Town in South Africa.

According to an another Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report released by the Niti Aayog in 2018, 21 major cities (Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and others) are racing to reach zero groundwater levels by 2020, affecting access for 100 million people. However, 12 per cent of India’s population is already living the 'Day Zero' scenario, thanks to excessive groundwater pumping, an inefficient and wasteful water management system and years of deficient rains. The CWMI report also states that by 2030, the country's water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people and an eventual six per cent loss in the country's GDP. If the present situation continues, there will be a 6 percent loss to the country’s GDP by 2050. The combination of rapidly declining groundwater levels and limited policy action is likely to be a significant food security risk for the country, says the report.

Water is a top priority, the BJP said in its manifesto ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections. So, as it stormed back to power on 23 May, the Modi 2.0 government while renaming the water resources ministry as Jal Shakti Mantralaya (a new nomenclature that clubs Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation) promised that it would ensure potable, piped drinking water to every home by 2024. On 5 June, the BJP’s official handle tweeted that the PM had fulfilled the promise of creating the Jal Shakti ministry. The target, the tweet read, is to provide drinking water to every household by 2024, link the rivers, and improve irrigation to farms. The question is, How?
Providing water for drinking and irrigation is the responsibility of the state, so unless water becomes a union subject, these plans will remain mere plans.

One of the recent incidents came across while the country is experiencing one of its worst water crisis, those who are at the helm of the affairs are nowhere to be seen. A photo shared by a Twitter handle ‘Maadhyam’ shows how scarcely the Rajya Sabha was occupied when a debate on water crisis was taking place on June 26.
The photo of the number of members of parliament present while the debate is going on shows how non-serious the lawmakers are at a time when the country is going through severe water crisis and people are fleeing homes in search of water, as groundwater depletes and taps run dry.

Speaking on the crisis, water conservationist and environmentalist, The Waterman of India and Magsaysay award-winner, Rajendra Singh, has repeatedly warned that interlinking of rivers as in the BJP’s 2019 election manifesto, is a bad idea. In September 2017, addressing a press conference in Vijayawada, Singh said,
“Governments should work not to interlink the rivers, but to link the hearts and minds of the people with the rivers. Only then would the rivers become healthy. A river is not like a road. It has its own rights."
 Rajendra Singh also added, 
“This is the most severe crisis in the history of the country. Earlier, there used to be a crisis of food and other things, but today, we are struggling for water. As many as 256 districts in 17 states are in the red zone."
He added,
“We humans are so focused towards development that we have not even given rivers a right to flow. Water bodies such as lakes, ponds and tanks have never been on the radar of policymakers. These water bodies had a role in recharging groundwater and in preventing floods by absorbing excess rainwater. Earlier, there were 30 lakh such water bodies across the country, while today, there are just 10 lakh of them. In Delhi alone, 800 such bodies existed, and today, the number is 380 and that too, just on paper. We have encroached on them to construct buildings, bus stops, etc. Floods and droughts are inevitable if this continues.”
Speaking on how sowing patterns have worsened matters, Rajendra Singh said, 
"Earlier, farmers would sow crops when it rained. But now, with the uncertain monsoons, everything from the sowing of crops to irrigating the land, is done with groundwater.Producing food with groundwater will hit the country in the long run.” 

                                                                                                     Sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik spreads awareness through his sand art  

How are we wasting water every day and why should we stop immediately? 

  •  The bathroom singing water waster 
    Showering for even five minutes can consume up to 37 litres of water. While you can use low-flow showers, or just fill up a bucket to serve the same purpose and cut down on your water consumption, you choose to be a bathroom singer who bathes under it in luxury.
  • The Sunday morning cleaning spree 
    A Sunday morning calls for cleaning the lawn, backyard, porch, basement or staircase-- doesn't it? So you draw out the hose pipe and start flooding the area in the high hopes that your mom would be proud. No, she wouldn't. Instead, make her proud by sweeping the same areas instead of wasting up to 570 litres of water.
  • The sleepy brushing session 
    Brushing your teeth is probably the most common occurrence in your life. Be considerate to not waste that 15 litres of precious water by letting the water run the whole time you're brushing and secretly checking your sleepy face out. It isn't that difficult to close the tap when you don't need to rinse your mouth.
  • 18 litres for every toilet visit
    Flushing your toilet every time you use it means flushing up to 18 litres of water per flush, which means about a 300 litres a week. Let us make this simpler: if it's just urine, half-flush your toilet or use a small amount of bucket water to replace the flush. Also, your flush is a cranky little thing that leaks up to 3500 litres of water into the toilet every month. Don't ignore a leaky toilet. Fix it.
  • Keeping the kitchen tap open for 'cleaner' veggies
    Washing your daily dose of fruits and vegetables in running water will not get them any cleaner than washing them in a pan filled with water. If you're obsessed with hygiene, and only feel better when you wash them under running water, then at least collect that water and use it to water your plants. Cooking also uses a lot of water, especially when you boil or steam vegetables. Reuse that water when making a curry or soup. You'll even get valuable nutrients while saving water.
  • Playing Holi the filmy style
    The fact that you even have these provisions of celebrating these festivals makes you a luxuriously rich human being, with half the world running out of the scarce life source. Hold on to it as much as you can, teach toddlers not to splash around with water meaninglessly, tell them that isn't the idea of fun, educate them, and yourselves about the shortage, and understand that you have a lot of other things to play with than water.
  • 2.1 billion people live without safe water at home.
  • One in four primary schools has no drinking water service, with pupils using unprotected sources or going thirsty.
  • More than 700 children under five years of age die every day from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water and poor sanitation.
  • Globally, 80 per cent of the people who have to use unsafe and unprotected water sources live in rural areas.
  • Women and girls are responsible for water collection in eight out of ten households with water off-premises.
  • For the 68.5 million people who have been forced to flee their homes, accessing safe water services is highly problematic.
  • Around 159 million people collect their drinking water from surface water, such as ponds and streams.
  • Around four billion people, nearly two-thirds of the world's population, experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year.
  • Over 800 women die every day from complications in pregnancy and childbirth.
  • 700 million people worldwide could be displaced by intense water scarcity by 2030.
    Fixing India’s water crisis will need saner policies, meticulous strategy and a massive amount of public participation. Besides this, there is a need to generate awareness among the common masses about the current condition of water scarcity in the country. The common man holds a lot of power and, in many cases, it has been seen that people have taken up the matter in their own hands and changed the overall scenario with the help of social media and that too without any external help from any government agency. To solve the problem of water scarcity in India, we have to overcome the diversification in our own motives and stand up as a united front.
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