Saturday, 5 November 2016

Let There Not Be Light

Let there not be Light

It was a lazy morning. I woke up just at the right time to reach my class. I wished to bunk it today, but something about my professors just made me not to miss my class again. I was not late, but Professor was already in the class. Sir never dresses in casuals. Today he looked like he was in a jovial mood.

When the class settled down, he said, “We will discuss a grave issue today. Imagine, you are back at home after a very tiresome day, you have your dinner and go to bed. Your body wakes up to sweet light coming from your window and sounds of birds from outside. You figure out it is time to wake up and you get up despite of not feeling energetic enough. You walk to your window and look outside to the new day and then you look at your watch. It says 11.30 pm. It is not yet the morning! You wake up a bit more and realise that the day light is actually an artificial light source nearby, which has been upgraded to a fancy flood light. May be a hoarding by a new commercial. What will you do?”
My class is very active and quick. 

“Put the curtains and go back to sleep.”,  piped an answer from a corner. We all had a laugh.

“Ah! Yes.” The professor smiled and continued.

“Let us change the perspective for a while, shall we. We have watches and curtains. What about the ones who depend totally on light for their activities?”

There was a silence for thought. The professor said, “Come on, tell me who all can be affected!”

“Birds”, said a student.

“Bats. They wake at the night.”,added another.

It just took us some more push of thought to add owls, bugs and spiders to the list.
Professor loved looking at us struggle with thought processes.

“Well. If birds wake up early to hunt, and the worms are not awake yet, they will come back empty.” , thought a student aloud.

“But, if birds woke up early and got lost, isn’t there a possibility of them to get tired and may be collapse due to exhaustion? “ another student added.

“Well. That cannot be right. We do not see such stuff happening. Do we?” I asked with scepticism.
The professor smiled.

“Well, let me tell you what happened and what is in the news. In 2008, the Tucker County High School in West Virginia witnessed hundreds of birds crashing on the brightly lit school, when it was still dark. Within minutes the whole school was a massacre scene for birds.”

“Did they give a holiday to the students?” asked a jovial student. The class laughed.

“Oh! It was worse than that! They had to make sure that the place does not carry some bird related diseases. Actually, these phenomenon are widely studied, and these effects are classified under Light Pollution. Birds are not the only ones getting affected. You see, the darkness has its own life. A study conducted by Daniel Lewanzik from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife research in Berlin showed that light pollution slows down the regrowth of the forests. Nocturnal bats are better pollinators than birds and they get scared due to excessive light, not coming out. Fruit eating bats are very good seed dispensers as their droppings contain both seeds and manure. These problems on ecology are well documented. A scientific report by FWRI scientist Blair E. Witherington and R. Erik Martin of Ecological Associates Inc. shows that new born sea turtles have a tendency to go towards brighter areas immediately after hatching, which in a typical natural lit beach will be towards the sea, where the night sky is lit by stars and moon. But in a not so natural beach, the turtles will tend to walk towards the brighter side, which will not be towards the water, and hence eventually perish. These are very few to mention effects on environment. The overuse of unnatural light disturbs bugs, insects, birds, animals, amphibians and even humans.”

The class was silent. They never had thought that artificial light can be so disastrous for other organisms.

“Why do we humans on day to day basis not feel such extreme effects?” I was curious.

“Good Question”, replied Professor. “It is just that we humans are better at adapting due to our advancements in medicines which give us an advantage over animals. We can of course pull our curtains and go back to sleep, we have a good productive life! Very comfortable, with all the fancy lights. We also have the advantage to be indifferent and overlook how all the less evolved organisms suffer. But we even have a very special gift just by being a human. We have empathy. Empathy to the weak. We can feel the pain of others and choose not to be indifferent. We can adjust our comforts, dim our lights a bit, so that the weak ones can also live in peace.”

The bell rang. There was a pause. No one moved.

The Professor sighed. He added with a smile, “Well, it is a choice we can make, to be indifferent or to have empathy , which leaves us all with a question. With we being celebrators of festival of Light, do we actually use light wisely? Class dismiss.
                                                                                                                -  Nishchal Dwivedi

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

                                               Free Plant Distribution Drive

A free Plant distribution drive was carried out during the Reunion event at Somaiya College, Vidyavihar on 22nd and 23rd January 2016. The saplings of “Ocimum tenuiflorum” commonly known as tulsi plant were distributed. The plant is well known for its medicinal properties and to purify the indoor air quality of households. Owing to these properties people were encouraged to plant and take care of the sapling. Suggestions for healthy growth of the plants were also given. This ultimately helps in aiding to increase a little bit of the greenery in the planet. 

There was also a model demonstration of a “sustainable building” which explained the various technologies that can make urban environment eco-friendly without compromising on the comforts. Technologies like rain water harvesting, vermicomposting, Solar panels and algal panels that address problems like water scarcity, solid waste, and, high electricity usage. The processes were explained in detail and encouraged the young crowd to learn about eco-friendly ways of living. 

People were also encouraged to participate in various activities for environmental causes conducted by green health foundation. More than 500 people volunteered to support which exclaims the grand success of the event.

Siddhika Mohan  
Green Health Foundation

The scared droplet





This is India.  Always personifies. Even if it’s a small drop of water pouring from the clouds, like me! I still remember the old days, leaving the clouds. I cherish the memories of being poured upon the saintly land of India.Yes, as the poet Hariaudh says in the above lines…I was always scared to leave my cloud; but whenever it used to be India, I was never scared. Sometimes I landed in the holy kamandal of a sadhu, being sought for as a symbol to reach heaven,sometimes in the play of some very unique fauna. Sometimes, I was used to wash the feet of an elder, sometimes in making of a sweet served outside a temple. There was a great sense and philosophy to respect water, every single drop! It always ended up water not getting wasted in vain.
Today is not the same. Today again I am on my way to pour down to this city called Mumbai in India. I no longer feel the same sense of respect. Earlier, to get water to support their family, humans used to have a very hard time. They had to either dig a well, or rely and share from natural sources. There used to be pots on the heads and walking over long distances.This inaccessibility to the sources made the humans humble about getting water, avoiding wastage. They understood that Water was for all the living creatures and it was simply borrowed by humans. This made them sensitive to plants and animals alike.
Things are not the same in the present scenario. Today Water is just something which the humans buy with money. This buying leads to sense of ownership, which ends up in misuse.
As I am falling from the sky, I know what will happen to me. It is all predictable! I will land up in some tank which will take me to some house. The house will use me in the shower, a fancy way to bath! If they would have used the Tap and bucket instead, it would have saved me and lots of my friends from misuse. And then I will inevitably go to the drain, a drain with so much of dirt and chemicals that no process in the human reach are able to clean me completely. Laden with all these chemicals, I reach in the sea. And here comes a bigger problem… the sea has much more chemicals dumped into. I remember the days when the sea used to be happy and the aquatic flora and fauna used to feel lively with arrival of me and my friends, because we brought a lot of Oxygen and Life for them. Today, we are so much laden with chemicals, that we are no longer able to carry enough oxygen for the sea. This has lead into poisoning of the sea and its inhabitants. Now the sea is sad. It has a layer of oils and chemicals, which prevent our immediate evaporation. And when we evaporate… many times some ugly chemical tags along with us and next time we rain as acid… a disaster to all living ones!
Another scenario which happens with us these days is landing up in a bottle of plastic. It is not much comforting to be inside a cage of plastic which takes ages to degrade. Now comes the work of the humans who buy us with a sense of ownership. The irony is, they will buy us, but won’t finish the entire bottle. They will just throw us in a dustbin, half used, right next to a dying plant and a thirsty stray dog! I will never understand why will the humans not help the other living beings? They being the most smart and strong living beings… isn’t it their responsibility to safeguard all the weaker beings around?

I feel the Humans are being overwhelmed. The technology they have got gives them power and they still do not know how to use it correctly. But that can never serve as an excuse. What the humans need to do is realize their responsibility to safeguard the nature. They need to appreciate the effort the nature takes to deliver its resources to them without complaints. I don’t know if the humans can hear me or not… but if humans scare a drop like me… the day will not be far when we will collectively decide not to arrive at earth all together. Humans must realize it.

Article contributed by:
Nishchal Dwivedi
A Young nature sensitive science enthusiast who believes in logically understanding the environment and communicating it simply to everyone around him with help of articles, cartoons and contribution in various blogs.
He is an explorer of Ornithology and Biodiversity. He implements his knowledge in physics in understanding these varied branches of Environment.

Graphics contributed by:
Hrishikesh Badrike
Green Health Foundation