AMAZON FOREST: EARTH’S LUNGS ARE BURNING, BUT DOES IT MATTER?

NEWS, World Affairs

What’s common between Hollywood superstar Leonardo diCaprio & Bollywood diva Alia Bhatt? No, the two stars are not starring in a movie together, but the two have been urging their fans to take note and act on the biggest environmental crisis the world is facing right now.

View this post on Instagram

#Regram #RG @rainforestalliance: The lungs of the Earth are in flames. 🔥 The Brazilian Amazon—home to 1 million Indigenous people and 3 million species—has been burning for more than two weeks straight. There have been 74,000 fires in the Brazilian Amazon since the beginning of this year—a staggering 84% increase over the same period last year (National Institute for Space Research, Brazil). Scientists and conservationists attribute the accelerating deforestation to President Jair Bolsonaro, who issued an open invitation to loggers and farmers to clear the land after taking office in January.⁣ ⁣ The largest rainforest in the world is a critical piece of the global climate solution. Without the Amazon, we cannot keep the Earth’s warming in check. ⁣ ⁣ The Amazon needs more than our prayers. So what can YOU do?⁣ ⁣ ✔ As an emergency response, donate to frontline Amazon groups working to defend the forest. ⁣ ✔ Consider becoming a regular supporter of the Rainforest Alliance’s community forestry initiatives across the world’s most vulnerable tropical forests, including the Amazon; this approach is by far the most effective defense against deforestation and natural forest fires, but it requires deep, long-term collaboration between the communities and the public and private sectors. ✔ Stay on top of this story and keep sharing posts, tagging news agencies and influencers. ⁣ ✔ Be a conscious consumer, taking care to support companies committed to responsible supply chains.⁣ Eliminate or reduce consumption of beef; cattle ranching is one of the primary drivers of Amazon deforestation. ✔ When election time comes, VOTE for leaders who understand the urgency of our climate crisis and are willing to take bold action—including strong governance and forward-thinking policy.⁣ ⁣ #RainforestAlliance #SaveTheAmazon #PrayForAmazonia #AmazonRainforest #ActOnClimate #ForestsResist #ClimateCrisis 📸: @mohsinkazmitakespictures / Windy.com

A post shared by Leonardo DiCaprio (@leonardodicaprio) on

The two like rest of the environmentalists have been rallying on the internet to draw the world’s attention to the Amazon Forest Fire crisis.

Amazon forests have recorded several forest fires this year. If numbers by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research are to go by, Amazon has witnessed 72,843 fires in 2019. This, reportedly, is 80% higher than last year. Approximately, 9000 of these fires took place in just one week’s time and the size of these multiple fires are varied.

The Brazilian government has already rubbished these numbers and have labelled them as lies. The physicist who served as the head of the agency has also been ‘fired’.

The Jungle Book

Global attention to crisis started once NASA relased images of these fires from space on August 11. The South American continent was virtually covered in smoke.

Spread over 5.5 million square kilometres of land, Amazon forest which has been classified as a Rainforest is located in South America and is spread across Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana. Brazil houses 60% of the Amazon forest. Scientists estimate Amazon houses 390 billion trees including 16,000 species.

Political sparks to fire?

These fires have sparked immense public outrage, with several Brazilians sharing images of clouds and dust caused by the fire across the country.

As residents demand answers, environmentalists claim political nexus sparked these fires.

In 2018, Brazil witnessed a change of guard. Jair Bolsonaro became the President of this developing South American nation, promising to explore the country’s natural reservoirs – the Amazon and since his reign began, Nature has borne the brunt of his ideas.

The President has for now blamed NGOs of the starting the forest fires to defame his government.

Brazil’s INPE claims the area of forest land cleared this year is equivalent to that of forest cleared in 3 years.

Many are already calling it deforestation driven forest fire. The timber trees found in Amazon are being cleared to plant soy & land is being used for pasturing. Many are burning trees as a faster way to clear out forests. These fires are man-made and controlling them is a tough task given the size of operations involved.

While Government is trying to portray these fires as the result of ‘dry season’, the magnitude of the fires negates their argument.

Why Amazon matters?

Amazon Forests are called as Lungs of the world. It helps in carbon sequestration and helps in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

The forests helps in creating rainfall over Northern part of South America. If Amazon forests are destroyed, then there will be no rainfall over the forest(natural cycle) & the quality of the forest can change from rainforest to savannah. This could also result in changing of global temperature. These fires can then lead to a significant rise in temperature.

Whether Brazil choses economy or nature is a moot point, however this crisis is a lesson for the world. While cutting trees will lead to economic growth in the short run, but conserving nature will lead to all around development in the long run

Advertisements

360 DEGREE OVERVIEW: HONG KONG CRISIS

World Affairs

The last few days, social media has been abuzz with photos and videos of Hong Kong residents, taking to the streets.

The streets were filled with protesters demanding democracy and autonomy from China.

Their symbol of protest is an umbrella, a symbol of passive resistance, which protesters have used against police since 2014 when forces used pepper spray on them.

But what has caused similar protests, 5 years later in 2019?

The seeds to the current protests were sown earlier in February when the Government of Hong Kong, proposed a bill. The bill in question is the Fugitive Offenders & Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters aka the ‘extradition bill’.

Features of the bill

There are several contentious features of the bill. However what sparked public fury was the Chinese connect to the bill

  • Several online reports suggest the bill aims to expand the list of countries to which a suspected offender could be sent.
  • This list went beyond the countries Hong Kong had mutual extradition treaties with
  • Hong Kong could now extradite suspects to other countries on case by case basis
  • This bill could possibly allow extradition of suspect to China and Taiwan.

The Hong Kong government claims this bill was proposed because a Hong Kong resident accused of murdering a Taiwanese resident could not be extradited to Taiwan to face his crimes.

However critics claim this bill is a trap that legalises governmental ‘kidnapping’. They fear this will ensure political dissidents are extradited to China under false charges.

History of Hong Kong

Hong Kong was previously the territory of British following the first Opium War in 1841. It was also briefly ruled by the Japanese for 4 years from 1941 to 1945. But once World War two ended,Britain regained control over it. In 1997 however, the colony was handed over to China through Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Hong Kong became a special administration. It has different laws from that of China (called the Basic Laws), separate Head of Government called ‘Chief Executive’ , their Judicial system is also separate from that of China. However, interpretation of laws by Standing Committee of National People’s of Congress China is final.

Where the bill stands now

The Chief Executive of China Carrie Lam has suspended the bill. She even apologised to the residents of Hong Kong for ineffective communication and explanation served by the government.

But protesters are not convinced,while the bill has been suspended, it has not been withdrawn yet and protesters feel it could be drawn back into life once things slow down a bit.

Carrie reportedly forged a strong bond with China in 2014, when anti-mainland protests broke for the first time. In 2014, she was second in line, but was soon elevated to top post in 2017.

While government is allegedly using police to crush the protest, groups such as Civil Human Rights Front, who are leading the movement, are refusing to drop the momentum. Several protests across Kowloon have drawn millions of people.

China, in the meanwhile, is refusing to legitimise this protest, even calling it a ‘serious violation of law’.

While China has refused to comment on whether they will crack the whip on these protests through the use of their forces, this situation will certainly act as a litmus test for a country which just a few days back delivered sermons of democracy to India on behest of its ally Pakistan over Kashmir.

THE GREAT INDIAN BUSINESS RIVALRIES

BUSINESS

It’s a dog eats dog world out there. The competition is stiff and the money involved is big! In the bid to out do their rival and capture the market, companies sometimes get involved in petty drama. Take a look at how big Indian companies or corporate firms took on each other because of fierce market competition.

Times Now versus CNN-News18

Couple of years back, CNN-News18 called themselves the numero uno of Indian news but India’s self proclaimed number 1 channel Times Now took major offense to it. They released data (36 weeks of it, mind you) from BARC and even went on take their rivals head on by asking questions like, “What’s the desperation CNN?” and “Release the real numbers”. But sadly, the nation did not want to know the answer!

Pepsi versus Coca-Cola

When asked about, who they thought their real competition was, Coca-Cola India had this to say….

“Our real competition is water, tea, nimbupani and Pepsi… in that order.”

For these two American companies, battle fields have been many and India was one among them. This corporate war reached its crescendo in the late 90s when the two indulged in a bitter ad war. This went on for years before both sides realised how silly the entire fight was.

The Hindu versus Times of India

Known for its no-nonsense approach to news, The Hindu, is popular among the older readers. But the Chennai edition of TOI used this as a ploy to attack the Hindu, and they asked The Hindu readers “Stuck with news that puts you to sleep?”. Staying true to their classy self, The Hindu simply released a full front page ad saying, “Stay ahead of the Times”

Colgate versus Pepsodent

After Pepsodent claimed that they were 130% superior than Colgate, the latter dragged the former to the court. “India’s most recommended brand by a dentist” was upset with Pepsodent and asked the court to intervene. Colgate’s claims were set aside by the Delhi High Court. But Pepsodent was panned for using Colgate’s name in the ad. Who knew those pearly whites would cause so much drama.

LET’S BEAT THE GIANT KILLER: DIABETES

Health Care

World Health Organisation is gearing up to tackle a disease most commonly known as the ‘silent killer’ … Diabetes.

The WHO’s Global Report on Diabetes released in 2016 reveals how the number of diabetes patients around the world has quadrupled from 108 million in 1980 to a whopping 422 million in 2014. The report also dispels the myth that diabetes is only seen in individuals with an affluent lifestyle. The report reveals that more number of diabetic patients are emerging from poor and developing countries such as India. India is infamously known as the diabetic capital of the world and by the year 2030, India will be home to 79,441,000 diabetic patients.

But what exactly is Diabetes and how does WHO aim to tackle this global pandemic?

Not so sweet!

Diabetes is a medical condition where the levels of blood sugar levels are higher than normal due to low production or ineffective use of a hormone named Insulin. Insulin regulates blood sugar and low levels of Insulin can lead to can lead to Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar.

If blood sugar levels are not controlled then a diabetic patient can suffer from complications like poor wound healing and stroke. Diabetes also affects organs like eye, kidneys, nerves and the heart.

  • Type 2 diabetes is the most common variant, here the body becomes resistant to insulin.
  • On the other hand Type 1 diabetes is a type of diabetes where pancreas produces very little or no insulin.
  • The third variant is Gestational diabetes where hyperglycaemia is seen only during pregnancy leading complications during delivery.

Such mothers and their offsprings are at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. Women with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of complications during pregnancy and at delivery. They and their children are also at increased risk of type 2 diabetes in the future.

According to World Health Organisation, In 2016, diabetes was the direct cause of 1.6 million deaths and in 2012 high blood glucose lead to 2.2 million deaths.

The Blueprint

Governments around the world have committed to 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and aim to reduce preventable deaths from diseases like diabetes.

WHO aims to assists all nations by ensuring that all countries have access to low cost diagnostic equipment, cheaper anti-diabetic drugs & insulin vials. WHO will also aim to raise awareness levels of the disease and it’s management among general public.

Management:
Diabetes is a preventable disease and simple lifestyle changes can prevent the onset of the disease.

1)Healthy Diet:
A low carbohydrate diet accompanied with plenty of fruits and green leafy vegetables is best recommended.

2) Don’t be a couch potato:
Adopt a healthy lifestyle, work out for at least 30 mins daily. An overweight individual is more suspectable to turn diabetic

3) Quit the habits:
While smoking can aggravate complications associated with diabetes, drinking alcohol can surge blood sugar levels.

4) Keep a tab:
Regular visit your physician regularly to get your sugar level tested and avoid self medication.

UNITED NATIONS: A GRAND SUCCESS OR A HISTORIC FAILURE?

World Affairs

At a time when Hong Kong is seeking Independence from China, when Gun violence is at its peak in America,when Inflation is soaring in France, when Britain’s future is uncertain due to Brexit, when Ukraine is protesting against Russia, the 5 ‘super powers’ chose to ignore their own problems & discussed the Kashmir crisis at the behest of Pakistan’s all weather friend China.

United Nations Security Council discussed the Kashmir Issue behind closed doors, and as expected, Pakistan & China failed miserably as the 4 other countries backed India. But the question is what gives the international body the legitimacy to interfere in India’s internal matter & secondly, why do they selectively choose matters? Why didn’t they discuss issues plaguing their own country?

Historic Spillover

The year was 1945 and the world had just witnessed the Second World War. The destruction caused by the war was massive. 85 million lives were lost and close to $1.6 trillion was gutted in the war.

The world had never witnessed a tragedy of this scale. The existing ‘League of Nations’ had failed to check the ambitions of Hitler and Mussolini. 50 countries lead by the USA then decided to form a body that could maintain peace and harmony in the world.

On June 26, 1945 these 50 countries ratified a new inter-govermental body which came into existence months later in October 1945. United Nations was created heralding a new era in the world history.

Today United Nations is considered as the most successful trans-national body but its critics think otherwise. Let’s take a look if the body has lived up to its motive of securing international security.

A Success Story or a massive failure?

The biggest impact UN has had is in the sector of healthcare. WHO successfully eradicated Small Pox and the UN health care agency also successfully removed the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS. In the last 70 years health care indicators like Maternal Mortality Rate and Infant Mortality Rate has drastically reduced all thanks to the persistent efforts of WHO.

In the field of Culture, UNESCO World Heritage Sites have helped in the preservation and protection of unique culture and natural heritage of various countries.

Many however consider the United Nations a monumental failure. Apart from failing to tackle the Kashmir and the Palestine issue. The peace keeping force of the United Nations failed to prevent the Srebrenica Massacre and the 1994 Rwanda Massacre. Despite allegedly having prior information, UN was unable to stop the killings.

The Oil for Food program was meant to help the cash strapped Iraq, but soon UN officials were accused of bribery and till date the United Nations has refused to make the internal audits public

The failure to check the growth of terrorism in countries like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan is also considered as UN’s biggest failure.

United Nations Security Council has been accused of creating a new world power. China, US, UK, France and Russia being the permanent members have been accused of meddling in the functioning of other countries. They have blocked the entry of new permanent members, plus Arab and African countries have been poorly represented in the council.