Category Archives: Environment

Effects of Global Warming

Jasmine the fragrant Flower and how to replamt a sapling?

My mother was an expert in preparing a jasmine sapling from the mother plant. I never watched how she did it but she always had couple of Jasmine plant in the garden.
 She uses the flower as an offering for the Lord Buddha.
After along sojourn abroad I returned home and moved to a different location where the house was built on a rock base and the lawn was void of any flowering plant.
I asked my mother for a sapling and within three months she gave me one and I planted it in a location where I could look after it.
And it grew quickly and started flowering but only a few. Since it was planted near a rock in the dry season rock get heated up and the plant could not bear the intense heat and dry condition I had to water it to keep it alive. Once or twice I tried to make a sapling to replant it in the shade away from the rock and all my attempts failed.
Then I went out again and when I returned after little over one year I could not find even a trace of the plant and of course lot of other plants which I planted were also missing. There had been a long dry spell and even drinking water was problem during my absence.
I lost interest on gardening for a long spell and when my mother fell ill, I thought I will try it again.
During the period she was ill she gave up gardening and when I looked for the Jasmine plant it was also missing.
One day in Nugegoda when I was looking for some Linux CDs (I knew of a guy / vendor who used to go to Singapore and bring Linux CDs) I happen to see a woman selling plants and she had three varieties of Jasmine and I bought one each thinking only one would survive that also the common but rugged variety. 
It is now over three years all three plants survived in spite of many dry spells.
Then I re-potted them into larger containers and thought I will try making some saplings.
Months went by but the exercise was not successful but I kept on trying and the last try was a success.
Both local varieties I could prepare two new saplings but the Indian variety was resistant.
I had another go with the Indian variety and today when I examined both mother plants still connected to the daughter saplings were not in good condition. Daughter plants were sapping everything from the mother plant
I quickly severed the connections and repotted the mother plant in a bigger pot
Then I decided to have a look at the Indian variety and severed the connection to the mother plant and pulled out the branch for repotting.
To my amazement even after 4 months there were two tiny roots.
That’s all.
I have severed the connection and I cannot now go back.
This mother plant for some reason won’t let daughter plant get established.
This is the fourth time.

I do not know why but I will keep trying and find a way to fool the mother plant.

Forest Harvesting; Comparison of American Style and Sri-Lankan Style

Forest Harvesting; Comparison of American Style and Sri-Lankan Style

I was bit inquisitive why there are so many tornadoes and hurricanes in America.

I just went to Google Earth and had a little peep from above of North America’s, the West and the East.

There is hardly any difference in tree cover over the land, East or West.

Mostly farmland and build up areas.

That did not give me any clue to the state of the forest cover.

Then I went and searched deforestation.

Americans harvested 90% of the land in 70 years from 1850 to 1920.

Entire East was covered with Forest and fair proportion of the West was covered with primary forest. The deforestation continued to this century and America now has mainly secondary forest covering 10% of the land.

American knew that the CO2 problem started around 1920 and continues even today due to their exploitation of fossil fuel.

Did they tell the truth to the world?

Big No.

In Sri-Lanka we had 90% forest cover until around 1850 and British started deforestation for coffee and tea cultivation. By the time they left in 1948 forest cover was over 60% but before they left they pass a law prohibiting encroachment of the Crown Land.

From 1948 to 2000 we have decimated another 40 percent especially after 1970.

We are now below the minimal threshold of 25% to maintain our rivers.

This land now can be called the People’s Land instead of the Crown Land and the tree felling and the development go on.

When the thermal power plant is operational we will be approaching 10% level which is the cut off point for desert classification.

Acid rain will do the rest even we stop cutting to Zero.

Then we can say we are better than America in case of deforestation and go for an IMF loan.

Very soon we will be no different from Dubai.

Regards to American tornadoes and hurricanes trees act as a wind breaks and control the water cycle better. They should reforest America back to 1920 or continue to have this cycle every year.

Problem is there is no country rich American can go to avoid hurricanes since rest of the world is no better including China.

This is what I call the development of the Earth Crisis.

The prediction that world ends in 2012 should be rephrased that irreversible loss of biodiversity is in full swing from now onward with global warming well established.

We Sri-Lanksn will be drilling oil with Indian help till sun goes down.

The cycle of destruction has begun and it is irreversible unless there is global consensus.

Next biggest crisis will be food crisis and that will be worse than 1973 (due to oil crisis and poor foreign balance) since this time it is related to failure of rain and land becoming desert.

We are at a cliff edge.

Problem is politicians obsessed with development and energy do not want to see that in that way.

We have no plan for food security but have a big plans for 100% energy supply which we will never achieve.

Children who are born today will see the consequences but we do not even have a population plan.

Human needs and his Destiny

It looks likes human needs take paramount importance to all the other needs of living beings on this planet.

 

Human needs are not measured by bare existence but by uncontrolled desire, greed and exploitation of the very environment he lives in.

He is not very responsible but very erratic in behaviour.

He explores and expand both in numbers and the spheres of influence.

When the going is good he expands and when the going is bad he perseveres at the expense of all other beings.

Human is the only species known to eats its own beings and all the other edible beings.

He does not spare anything that this earth can offer,

 

When the going is good it is Lancashire hotpot with lamb but when the going is bad it is only potato hotpot.

His culinary desires which includes cannibalism speaks of his destructive nature.

How can we say he is a rational being?

Only rationality is his own existence at the expense of sometimes his own fellow beings.

Rat race and nothing but rat race.

That is the virtue of all powerful capitalism, power and wealth.

There is something wrong in this simple equation.

Expand, exploit and try to gain control at every advantage point.

He does not learn lessons from the past,

40 years ago in 1973, when oil price hike followed after the Middle est conflict he was ill prepared.

I saw what that meant for our children.

Thousands and thousand of children died of starvation and illness.

We are not ready for its repetition.

This time it is the global warming which is going to precipitate it.

40 years ago it was oil and energy and thereafter the food crisis.

When there is scarcity we tend to invest more on the same resource instead of changing to alternative resources.

In fact after the last oil crisis we had being using oil at a rate far more energetic than before.

We were not ready for the global warming.

In fact we did all to precipitate it.

Then there is a Youth Bubble too.

The rich dictators were not receptive to the needs of the poor while piling up money for their own fantasies.

How can we say man is rational.

His greed dictates the front line.

The ones who are behind the line or sitting on the bench have no say.

Unfortunately this equation is going to change.

Be prepared the human, the stupid exploiter.

Rough Guide to the Tree Equivalent of Man and their Re-plantation

This is not referring to the commercial scale of replacement since the rate at commercial scale exploitation cannot be estimated to any accuracy.
This is based on the use of tree, timber and its products by man during his productive life.
If we were to sustain each man or women has to grow at least 10 trees and maintain them till their mature life. This  has to be done in 4-5 year cycles and older you (above 35 years) are the cycle has to be at least 1-2 years.

Ideally each man or woman plants a tree on his / her birthday!

1. The use as timber products for roofing and housing

2. To replace the use of paper products
3. Use of fire wood (this has to be in relation to the use)
4. The use of furniture
5. Wastage in every production line
6. The trees not sustaining themselves due to bad planting or weather conditions
7. The last 4 are for unaccountable felling and vandalism encountered and may have to vary according to the country.

This amount is to keep the balance of nature. If one has a house with 4 adults in it this estimate makes it 40 trees around their neighbourhood and the way the houses are built in a city next to each other there is is no room for to grow enough trees.

Not even a single tree or hedge to act as windbreaks and shade. (please look at how rich Americans build their houses and walkabouts).
That means every major city has to have a buffer zone (this is how the ancient people built cities) of tree cover equivalent the population that is incarcerated in the name of development.

Colombo city can never regain its splendor what ever we do now for it.

The Kandy city has almost 3 three times population density of Palestine Refugee Camps and we are going to be no different to Israel in another 10 or 20 years.

We are losing it faster than it’s regeneration.

Regarding the commercial exploitation the re-plantation has to be according to the tree’s cycle. If the tree grows to maturity in 4 years for every tree harvested 4 should be planted and only a few trees fall into this category.

For some trees, if it is lost it is lost for ever.

They take may be 400 to 500 years for it to grow to maturity and often not reproducing fast enough due to their longevity and this simple equation cannot be applied in recreating it natural habitat.

This is only a rough estimate and we have lost about 60% of our forest cover in 50 years of unsustainable use.

I do not think these people with mega-development ideas have understood the problem or have insight into the matters of concern we are facing now.

The have no futuristic goals but presence of mind for exploitation.

Very soon we will be like Dubai, the work we have to do now is enormous if we are to arrest these trends.

Growing Grass Under My Feet

Growing Grass Under My Feet

It is high time that we calculate the CO2 foot imprint of every living human being on this planet before it is too late.

It is one of the most important mathematical exercise that we can undertake now.

It may be easy to do that on an animal say a cow but it may be an extremely difficult proposition for even a forest dweller of today.

Since he carries his cell phone and at least a box of matches or a lighter to the deep jungle, his carbon footprint cannot be even remotely compared to a pre-historic man. Where ever he set foot even the deep-sea shore he leaves behind lot of CO2 footprints.

What we can do is to calculate it for an average American and then compare with a Chinese, Indian and hypothetical man who lives for 60 years.

On the alternative we can calculate for a bull or cow and extrapolate that to a sedentary American man.

American Man eats 3 to 4 cows by the time he is 45 and probably 5 by the time he says good-bye having consumed every possible advantage and resources available on this planet earth.

Then we calculate for a hypothetical bionic man who needs energy for all his activities including his air travel from say New York to New Delhi and all over the globe in one year to schedule a typical American company owner.

Then we have to figure out how many Americans live hand to mouth existence with minimum of a car ownership.

The equations will go like this

1.  5 bulls X USA (poor American)=USA (poor)

2.  USA X USA (Wealthy American) roughly equivalent to 25 bulls

3.  Total Bull consumption  = A x USA X USA (Wealthy) + B x USA (poor)

A= Total Rich Americans 

B= Total Poor Americans

4. Now 3  has to be divided by (American census-minus rich Americans)

5. Now 3 has to be divided by  (American census-minus poor Americans)

4 and 5 gives the ratio of consumption in nearest approximation to current American Standards

The results 4 and 5 should be multiplied to get a total figure

This figure should be now divided by the total current human population

My estimate even without going into nitty-gritty of the equation is like this.

  1. An average American (poor) will have a figure of 1000

  2. A rich American will be 1000 x 1000

  3. Average Chinese is 100

  4. Rich Chines will 100 x 100

  5. An average Indian will be 10

  6. Rich Indian 1000 x 10000 (more than that of a rich to American

The total CO2 foot print of China comes first.

America comes second. 

And India comes 3rd even though the population come only second to China since after many years of open policies some Indian still live and breath air and do not produce much CO2 since their meals are going down including onions.

This is what India call it 21st century progress and send rocket to the space and moon and still find a way to fail in Cricket World Cup including completing of venues.

While China is barely able to feed its masses India has failed to make a square meal for the poor whereas a poor American eats 100 times equivalent to a poor Indian.

Mind you a rich Indian with a Maharaja Image produces much CO2 footprint than an American. This equation has nothing to do with the bank balance or capital of an individual except it’s somewhat close relationship with affluence.

There are some rich people who do an enormous amount of work to decrease our impact on the planet and I appreciate their efforts. This is an indirect complement to them.

I  want an American Scientist to disprove my equation and discovery and publish a relevant article in the prestigious magazine, American Scientist.

While all this happening I grow grass under my feet to cushion the CO2 foot prints of mine with my urine added to make it’s growth luxurious unlike our banana growers.

Bamboo and the Windbreaks

This fastest growing plant rather a grass is one of the most vandalized plant in this country. Since it is growing fast we take for granted to destroy at every opportunity available and never care to plant any.

I have never seen a nursery for bamboo even though there are hundreds of varieties.

These plants are not seen in the temperate countries and in early as 18th century Americans took them from Asia and started growing them as ornamental plants.

 

While they do research on these plants we vandalize them.

 

Why?

 

We have plenty of them and we do not care for the mother nature.

 

If I write one plant a day and continue I may have to continue for years how we destroy our wealth of plants.

 

The plants going extinct were never recorded in our history and we have not even begun to take an inventory as a proactive exercise.

 

This is not to elaborate on that issue but to state how bamboo tree protects our river beds and roads that run along the rivers.

 

The do protect the embankments but what our guys do is to chop them at will since they are not protected by the local authorities.

 

River basin and embankment is nobody’s business in this country.

 

It also act as a windbreaks.

 

It cools the air on a warm day with with gentle air currents.

 

Not only that it reduces our CO2 foot prints.

 

None of these are taken into accounts since our guys who gets to the parliament have never studied any including social science and not at all pure science.

 

They use environment issues to form green parties but never practice what they preach once they get there.

 

If we want to do as little as possible for our mother nature grow a few bamboos around river path and the surrounds.

 

Like eating a banana a day (not poisoned by UREA) is healthy for our life growing a bamboo a day would protect our rivers, roads and environment (air) too.

 

That is my message for today.

Raindrops on Coconut Palm

I asked some of my students to list 10 important points about coconut tree as a creative thinking exercise and I couldn’t get anyone of them to think it as related to mother nature.

Then I told them we are the only animal species on planet earth who behave like aliens.

The coconut tree purifies the water and present us a drink superior to saline that we inject as a life support in an emergency. In the second world war it was used as saline substitute when things were in short supply.

It gives us water to drink.

It clears the carbon foot print of ours by taking in CO2 and releasing out O2.

The two most important things animal life need for its survival but yet we forget to mentioned them but obsessed with coconut milk and coconut oil.

Why?

We tend to think we are the only important living animals on this planet.

We are the only selfish animals on this planet.

That is true and will remain true for the current century unless we open ourselves to creative thinking and awareness of our mother nature.

We build houses.

We build roofs to protect us from rain and sun.

If we take the plant kingdom.

The story is different.

It lives by the day under sunlight but rest by night but never sleeps.

It takes rain as survival god never complains if there is snow or frost

They are in constant touch with nature and the air currents of change and wind

They are in harmony with all physical elements.

Remain and stay put for another day come sun or rain what it may.

 

When rain drops fall on the roof and runs through the gutters it makes a constant and a big racket and and I even  find it difficult to sleep at night.

But when rain drops falls on tree tops and leaves there is no rackety pitch.

We only hear the wind blowing but raindrops hardly make a noise. They gently touch the leaf surface and trickle down gently to the soil. No big gush and the roots soaks in as much so that the water that seeps through is clear.

But on a rainy day in a city we see all rubbish and mud that comes out of the gutters and finally minor floods all over the place till the rain ceases.

There are no tress with roots to soak the extra water.

Coming back to coconut tree it leaves take the water in a peculiar way not sen in other smaller leaves. The peculiar way it handles water make it and excellent covering for roofs and thatched coconut leaves that used to cover the village huts did not make a big racket on a rainy day but the asbestos sheets that cover us now are totally different and alien to mother nature.

Mind you the coconut tree takes all the shocks of thunder and lightening too.

If not many of us would be dead by lightening.

The golden rule was not to rest under a tall tree in a thunder storm.

None of these came out of my students’ creative thinking exercise.

What the hell the education system is doing to them in schools and university?

I do not know.

It is said that even in America in the first two years in the university they do not gain any extra incites or creativity.

Why?

Education is now a money spinner.

No more creativity left in it now.

Make money when going is good but leave the students without opportunities.

Coconut Tales of Tail Spin and the Windshield of Whirlwind

Coconut tree which lives over 50 years of productive life sometimes more than 80 years if left untarnished by human activity lives behind a tell tale story of the weather beaten life.

If one looks at a human face at 80 (eighty) it leaves behind a sad tale of wrinkles but never leave behind the tale of destruction he or she has caused over his or her life time, leave alone the junk that is collected and left behind.

On the contrary, the coconut tree tells us all the rough times it has had over the years, if we look at the way the trunk had twisted and turned against the air current around it, it bears the true tale of forbearance.

What a contrast?

In fact it can tell the exact time of the last grand cyclone it had managed to withstand on its own.

Unlike the humans they are a barometer of wind currents of today and tomorrow.
If one looks at its leaves, the gentle rustle they create with the wind and how it raises a rhyming tune with some alarming whirring of a whirlwind, foretelling a thunderstorm that is about to land is something we have taken for granted but never given thought in any scientific manner.

We take it for granted that the water is abundant but at the same time pollute it in every possible way from Adams peak to the sea.

The same story is true for the coconut tree.

It is vandalized to the stem and we cry hard only when the coconuts go high in price but never cared to listen to its story and the windshield it creates on a daily basis.

My observation days back to my childhood inquiry not necessarily based on any scientific themes. If I wanted to fly a kite I look at the coconut trees and their leaves and then bring out the kite if I consider the conditions are favorable.

Then I go to a place where I can get the kite over the coconut trees quickly and off I go with the wind.

I never paused to think what a service it does as a wind breaker.

This little piece is to finally put to rest and peace of my mind with the wind physics (theory) of biological nature and facts which I call the biophysics of coconut saga.

I should have done this decades ago!

Not only the coconut tree stands to the wind upright but it divide the wind to upstream high and a downstream gentle for us to live in peace. This we forget when we chop it for fast growing development and consumption as timber.

It is the scene of coconut trees that touches my heart when the plane lands at Katunayake. It was strikingly beautiful 30 years ago but now we see s few coconut trees near the airport and the sudden thud of landing.

The landing is also not as smooth as it used to be.

I even go to the extend of saying that the planes used to land smoothly due to the coconut plantation driving the unnecessary tailspin and head wind currents well above the plane as it touches down making it easy for the pilots to land.

Think about it this as food for for thought for scientists who are hell bent on discovering new source of energy along with foot prints of destruction.
I wish our veteran pilots do some study on this keeping in mind those who were on service during the second world war II might know it better than the present day autopilot youngsters.

Coconut tree is a wind breaker and a windshielder.

Of course it will provide its trunks to climb when the next tsunami comes if we start growing thousands and thousand of them around our beaches instead of constructing polluting hotels that divert the sewerage to the sea.

This is my wishful thinking but I am sure more trees will be down to move the fast development trends of our political mights.

Good Bye my friend windshield and welcome thy whirlwind of destruction in the name of construction!

Majestic Elephants

This is a country run with Mega Mania Memorabilia (3 Ms) but unable to look after our majestic elephants.

Three years ago one of the tuskers was dead due to negligence and dehydration after a so called majestic pageant that paraded the hill country.

Then recently a giant tusker was dead in captivity and the popular story circulating round is he was let to die to get the tusks for ornamentation in high office.

Then comes the floods in the East.

A young dead elephant is trapped in a tree. First of a kind of news item and quite relevant in context.

That tells the sorry story of our majestic heritage and how we care.

It is an eye opener for the world if not for this blessed country.

We had 90% forest cover at the beginning of the last century and had over 60,000 elephants.

By mid last century the estimate was 6000 in the wild.

I do not believe we have 600 left in the wild now and the the forest cover is less that 20% now not enough to sustain vegetation let alone elephants.

We are going to commission two mega coal power units in the near future.

The forest cover will be reduced to 10% within a decade of their operation due to acid rain and the environmentalist are hiding behind the saffron clothed M.P.s.

Very soon we won’t have a place in the jungle to meditate in quiet solitude.

Mega mania development will sacrifice the rest of the trees in the name of development efforts.

Very soon we have to import coconut timber with coconuts on top.

Last tsunami a few people survived by climbing on top of coconut trees.

We have mega floods after 53 years in the East and there are no coconut (palms) trees grown for 6 years after the tsunami to climb onto.

But we have election after election to elect representative who ruin this country.

Mega Mania Memorabilia at its best!

The carnival goes on!

Thinking before the leap

It is unfortunate that man is the biggest polluter on the planet earth and he thinks only after the fact or afterward.

This is very relevant today with flash floods in different parts of the world.

He thinks the rivers and sea are dumping places for his economic activity.

He does not care for the river basin or its management and install industries upstream and discharge all the waste to the river and its basin around. This is seen in India, China, USA and all European countries.

It is true of Sri-Lanka too.

From the time of Portuguese this has happening in this land. They started with a port called Colombo and the Kalani river is the most polluted of all.

Then he invents filters and the like to purify water.

We might even invent nanotechnology but is it worth if we continue to pollute our soil and water?

We have water cutting ceremony every year and it is time to rethink and revisit our heritage.

Pure drinking water we had 100 years ago.

More development more pollution that is the equation which we cannot understand with the big brains we have.

We need not have to filter if we do not pollute it in the first place.

Is there a single river or stream in this country which hails for over 40 rivers and streams that we can sip some water for thirst without any treatment?

If we cannot drink it does not matter.

We can filter or boil it.

What about the animals who try to live with us.

Can a stray dog drink a bit of pristine water on a Poya Day!

When we see the sorry stage of our stray dogs I begin to wonder is it a Buddhist country in practice anymore?

We had Kings who cared for animals but can we say the same thing about the elected elite!

That is my message for the first Poya Day. of year 2011.