Watchful eyes, thoughtful mind

Earth and us ….. past, present and future ….. connected?

This time, DON’T vote for “change” October 15, 2009

Filed under: earth,ecology,future,history,human interference — Radiance @ 10:00 AM

Climate change is real … and climate change effects are long term. I want to focus on these two aspects of climate change today. In the past I’ve written about global warming, the tipping points of weather patterns to look out for, importance of replanting the rainforests and many other subjects relating to changing ecology of this planet … changing for worse.

I hope that I do not need to harp too much on the first aspect that the climate change is real. I believe, whether you openly accept it or not, each one of us have realised this by now through our own experiences. There is a debate over whether it is caused by humans or nature. I think the point is moot. Whatever the reason, as the most intelligent and technologically advanced Earthlings, we humans CAN and need to do something about it. If it is caused by us, we definitely need to negate the effects of our deeds on the planet and fellow Earthlings. And for a second if we believe it is natural, as Earthizens (technologically and socially advanced Earthlings) we bear the responsibility of changing the course of this natural phenomenon. After all, it is not going to be the first for us, is it?

The second aspect, however, needs more voice given to it. I do not think enough people realise that climate change is not instantaneous. The results of whatever substances released in the ecosystem that cause these changes are evident only decades later. I believe common people and policy makers alike do not understand this very well. Or the policy makers can mislead common Earthizens due to their ignorance of this fact. The “funny weather” we all are experiencing globally now is caused by emissions 25-30 years ago. And if we cut the emissions now, the effects will show a couple decades later. So we need to be patient and not short-sighted. By the way, ‘emissions’ don’t only mean gases (Green house gases have become synonymous with climate change) but also the liquid and solid forms which are sometimes more detrimental. This is another point on which the general public of the Earth needs to be educated.

To end this post I would say this. We need to do something about climate change because it is real. Whatever the cause the Earthizens have to try their best to slow and possibly revert it, either because we’re responsible for it or because we’re the only ones capable of doing so on Earth. The masses need to be educated about the long term effects of climate change and the power to act lies in their hands rather than a few policy makers.

Take action: http://www.blogactionday.org/en/takeaction

Related articles by Zemanta

CO2 is not the only cause of climate change (guardian.co.uk)

Climate Study: Human Beings Pushing Earth’s ‘Boundaries’ (time.com)

Life Style and Global Warming (slideshare.net)

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

 

Sunday Spotlight: The Age of Stupid September 13, 2009

Filed under: earth,extinction,future,sunday spotlight,technology — Radiance @ 1:34 PM

Age-of-StupidThe Age of Stupid: Promote and win!

“’The Age of Stupid’ is the new cinema documentary from the Director of ‘McLibel‘ and the Producer of the Oscar-winning ‘One Day in September’. This enormously ambitious drama-documentary-animation hybrid stars Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite as an old man living in the devastated world of 2055, watching ‘archive’ footage from 2008 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change while we had the chance?”, says the synopsis of the film on its official website.

“The Age of Stupid is a 90-minute film about climate change, set in the future, which had its world premiere in London on March 15th 2009 and was released in UK cinemas on March 20th 2009. The film will be released in Australia & New Zealand on August 19th, the global premiere will be live from New York to 45 countries on September 21st 2009.
Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father, Brassed Off) stars as a man living alone in the devasted world of 2055, looking back at archive footage from 2007 and asking: why didnt we stop climate change when we had the chance?”, says the YouTube channel of Spanner Films that is responsible for making of this documentary.

As you would have read above, the documentary is being premiered globally on the 21st (in US) and 22nd (in rest of the world) September, 2009. That’s next Monday/Tuesday. Hence I thought this was an appropriate time for me to focus the spotlight on it. Even though the documentary has been premiered in Australia in August, I haven’t yet gotten a chance to see it. I’m hoping to catch the live online broadcast from NY during the global premier. However, from the trailers I’ve watched and reviews I’ve read it seems like a very different take on the climate change issue. It weaves together 6 stories recorded in present day to make a fabric of human psyche. These are real people and not actors posing as someone. Fernand Pareau, 82-year old French mountain guide; Jeh Wadia, starting a low-cost airline in India; Alvin DuVernay, Shell oil man who rescued 100 people after Hurricane Katrina; Layefa Malemi, living in Shell’s most profitable oil region in Nigeria; Jamila and Adnan Bayyoud, two Iraqi refugee kids trying to find their brother and Piers Guy, a windfarm developer fighting the anti windfarm lobby in England … all show us different aspects of human mentality. The documentary does not set out to show us what we’ve already done to the planet because the assumption is we already know that. It, however, gives us a peak into the future that will be if we continue on our merry (?) way.

Another difference of this documentary from many others is that £450,000 of its budget was raised by “crowd-funding” – selling shares to individuals and groups. Film is therefore completely independent. The people’s contribution does not stop here. Even for the global premier people from various participating countries have organised their own “Indie screenings” to make it truly global. So for me this documentary also serves as a great example of how one can make a difference on a shoestring budget with support of other people who’re probably living on a shoestring budget themselves. I would strongly recommend all my readers to spread the word about The age of stupid and try to get as many people as you can to watch it. You can do your bit in many ways, organising your own screening, spread the word on social media, write a blog or at least watch it yourself.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
 

TED Tuesday: Walking the Earth August 11, 2009

Filed under: earth,environment,future,human interference,TED — Radiance @ 10:00 AM
For almost three decades, John Francis has been a planetwalker, traveling the globe by foot and sail with a message of environmental respect and responsibility (for 17 of those years without speaking). A funny, thoughtful talk with occasional banjo.

 

 

Sunday Spotlight: Story of Stuff August 9, 2009

Filed under: earth,environment,future,human interference — Radiance @ 10:00 AM
SOS is a long used and recognised distress call in Morse code which consists of “… — …” (3 dots, 3 dashes, 3 dots) and is used in a serious crisis situation that needs immediate attention. The SOS that I’m going to write about today is also a distress call but it is meant for entire population of this planet. The Story of Stuff (or SOS) is a web-based documentary about the life-cycle of goods and services. The documentary, released online on 4 December 2007, is narrated by Annie Leonard who is an activist who has spent the past 10 years travelling the globe tracking down the path that consumer goods take from their cradle to grave.
As described on the SOS website,
From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It’ll teach you something, it’ll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever.
Well, it certainly taught me a few things and also made me glad about a few things I do, knowing that they matter to the planet.
Even though SOS is mainly focused on the materialist and consumerist lifestyle in the US, rest of the world definitely has a lot to learn from it. Especially given that majority of the nations want to follow in US’s footsteps and want to live like Americans! The best thing about the documentary is that Annie explains everything is layman terms. Someone like me, not very knowledgeable in world economy, commerce, consumerism etc., can easily understand the crux of the matter. The explanation is also well-supported by animated illustrations. The documentary very easily achieves the difficult goal of explaining the “story of stuff” to its audience successfully in 20 minutes. That’s very commendable! It explains the “fine print” of the extraction – production – distribution – consumption – disposal cycle that has become the story of our life….. without us even knowing it. The story describes how we’ve used up 1/3rd of Earth’s natural resources in past decade, how erosion of these ecosystems pushes the natives towards cities for livelihood, how they (and all of us) get exposed to the synthetic, toxic chemicals used in production, how the distributors afford to sell us goods real cheap by “externalising the costs”, how the goods are designed for obsolescence to keep the “golden arrow of consumption” afloat and eventually, how 99% of goods end up in landfills or as super-toxins in air within 6 months of purchase! Yes, SOS holds a lot of shocking revelations for you and me.
There is a lot more I could go on writing about the documentary and about what I learnt from it, what it made me think etc. But I will leave you with a few key points.
  • It turns out that breast milk, ideally the first “meal” of a newborn, is the most toxic one a human can ever get. Because it is loaded with all toxins the mother has inhaled, ingested and absorbed in her body in her lifetime. So the most basic right of the youngest members of our race has become a threat to its life! But as a species, we have an escape route. Cleverly, human mothers can switch to formula milk. What about the babies of other mammals on this planet whose parents didn’t even make and release all these toxins in the environment? Why should they pay the price for the actions of some really “intelligent” but equally ignorant species they co-habit the planet with?
  • I loved the bit where Annie talks about a $4.95 radio from Radioshack and how she thought how can it be so cheap? “I didn’t pay the full price of the radio. The kids from Congo paid it with their future!”
  • Some things have become so much a way of life for us that when the con is clarified, it is utterly shocking. SOS describes how the goods are “designed for dumps” to keep us buying new things. The stuff becomes obsolete in two ways; planned obsolescence (PC chips are designed in different shape each year so when earlier becomes obsolete, you have to throw out entire CPU and buy a new one. You can’t just buy the chip because it will not fit in the old CPU/motherboard.) and perceived obsolescence (Why do women’s shoes go from thin heel to thick heel to thin heel again and again? So every fashion “season” you have to buy a new one to fit in!)
Well yeah, there are a lot more “enlightening” things about SOS so I’d suggest you go and watch it for yourself. 20 minutes is worth giving for the future of your children and grandchildren. Also, the website has lot of information and resources for those interested in “clicking around and joining in”, as Annie says.

 

Update: New York Times ran a front page story about SoS on 10th May, 2009 about the ways the film is supplementing and expanding sustainability education!!!
P.S. Join SoS on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and WiserEarth.
 

Oldest surface on Earth July 9, 2009

Filed under: earth,geology,history — Radiance @ 12:00 AM
This is a quick post to share with my readers something that I found fascinating. An article in LiveScience by Robert Roy Britt on 5th May 2009 tells us,

A new study of ancient “desert pavement” in Israel’s Negev Desert finds a vast region that’s been sitting there exposed, pretty much as-is, for about 1.8 million years, according to Ari Matmon and colleagues at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

I was trying to imagine how those scientists must have felt to stand on that desert pavement and realise that they were standing on the most primitve Earth we could find today. I don’t know about them but I would find it very exhilerating!
 

Me = 2.7 Earths!!! July 8, 2009

Filed under: earth,ecology,future,human interference — Radiance @ 4:27 AM
I just used the WWF Australia’s Ecological footprint calculator (US folks can use this) and here are my results (the image is a screenshot of the webpage, click on it to see bigger image),

  • If everyone lived like me, we’d need 2.7 Earths to support us all.
  • It takes 4.8 global hectares of productive area (11.6 tonnes of carbon) to support my lifestyle.
  • Breakdown of my ecological footprint is, mobility: 32%, food: 26%, shelter: 18%, services: 13% and goods: 12%.

So….. I’d like to see you take the quiz and share your results with me! The purpose is not to make you feel good or bad about your lifestyle but to make you aware of your impact on the planet. After that if you chose to change your lifestyle, for better or worse of the Earth, it will be your decision.

 

Sunday Spotlight: Home July 5, 2009

Filed under: earth,human interference,sunday spotlight — Radiance @ 12:00 AM
It seems like there has been sudden upsurge of consciousness among the humans in last couple years of what we have been doing and are still doing to the planet Earth. As the signs of deprivation of natural resources and treasures on Earth become more and more alarming, at least some of us have started taking the warnings seriously. There have been various projects and research and acts from the people, the scientists and the governments to try and decrease our impact on the environment. Advances in communication and mass media have been used to educate and convince people that we need to change our ways. I have written before about couple of such documentaries, Story of Stuff and Earthlings, which try to show us the uncomfortable facts that we chose to ignore otherwise. Today I’m focusing the spotlight on another such endeavour, Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s ‘Home’. Yann is not your average film producer or director. He’s the creator and chair of an environmental non-profit organisation, Good Planet and this documentary is only a part of the big picture.
Yann’s talk at the TED conference that showcases Home as well as his other interesting project, 6 billion others, was featured on my blog in this week’s TED Tuesday. He mentions in it that Home is not meant to make money and hence is available free for anyone to download from YouTube or iTunes and show it to whoever they want to. The purpose is to get as many of us 7 billion as possible to watch it. I watched Home for the first time about 3 weeks back (and 5 more times since then). Yesterday I watched it again with the intention of writing a blog post on it and took copious notes while watching. However, I later realised that rather than me giving all the info in it to my readers, I should make my post a teaser for Home. And make sure as many of my readers as possible watch it themselves and show others.
A couple of interesting facts about the documentary that might convince you to go watch it (if you don’t care about the Earth, that is) are that it is supported by big brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci, Balencia etc. and it has been narrated (very effectively) by Glenn Close. The movie was shot in 54 countries in 217 days and includes some absolutely stunning wide angle footage of our planet’s not-so-famous regions. The music (by Armand Amar) and narration script (by Yann and Isabelle Dellanoy) couldn’t have done more justice to the fascinating cinematography. The diverse and raw, native vocals from around the world suit perfectly to the gentle story-telling style primer on the natural history of primeval Earth and the advent of humans 200 thousand years ago.

Engine of life is ‘linkage’. Nothing is self-sufficient. Sharing is everything […] Our Earth relies on a balance in which every being has a role to play and exists only through the existence of another being; subtle, fragile harmony that is easily shattered.

The music picks up pace and tempo about half way through as the story is now about the advent of fossil fuels and industrialisation and the “facelift” of Earth by us humans has begun.

You benefit from the fabulous 4 billion year legacy bequeathed by Earth. You’re only 200 thousand years old. But you’ve changed the face of the world. Despite your vulnerability, you’ve taken possession of all habitats like no other species before you.

The movie details our reckless consumption of fossil fuel, minerals, trees, fish, water, marshlands. The statistics of our proliferation in last 50 years are mind boggling. Faster and faster our cities grow, more and more we snatch from Earth, farther and farther we go from nature.

Nothing seem farther removed from nature than Dubai. But nothing depends more on nature than Dubai. It is sort of a culmination of the western model. We haven’t understood that we’re depleting what nature provides.

The movie delivers the final blow by making us aware of Methane, a green house gas 20 times powerful than carbon monoxide, that is buried under the permafrost of Siberia. If this permafrost melts due to global warming and releases the Methane, no one knows what the Earth will look like then. Home ends on a positive note summarising the initiatives around the globe in attempt to slow down climate change.

We must believe what we know […] We have shaped the Earth in our image […] it is too late to be a pessimist […] it is up to us to write what happens next … together.