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Monday, 16 November 2015

Trees have slowed their pace of absorbing carbon dioxide

Forests play an important  role in stemming global warming  by absorbing carbon dioxide -- the most abundant Greenhouse gas -- from the atmosphere . But a study says that trees have slowed their response  to a warming climate. The trees were slowing  down the process  of sprouting leaves. The slowdown suggests a current and possible future weakening of forests' carbon uptake due to the declining temperature sensitivity of trees.The researchers  found that the trees' response (to earlier spring) had declined over the past three decades, and strong winter warming may further reduce it.The authors believe the trees may be trying  to protect themselves against  cold weather.

 Source. Down to Earth (magazine) 16-31 October 2015

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

This Diwali make a pledge to reduce environmental pollution, not increase it.

 Harm caused by fireworks:

1.      Air Pollution
A heavy smog hangs low in the air on Diwali night and a few days after that. While we ignore the smell - and some even claim to like it - we can't ignore the fact that we are inhaling poison. The pollutant levels are injurious to our respiratory passages, especially Asthma patients.
Toxic Element
Fireworks Usage
Toxic Effect of Fallout Dust & Fumes
brilliant whites
Skin allergy, lung irritation, bioaccumulation
Antimony sulphide
glitter effects
Toxic smoke, possible carcinogen
Arsenic compounds
Lung cancer, skin irritation and wart formation.
Barium Nitrate
glittering greens
Respiratory tract irritation, possible radioactive fallout.
Copper compounds
Can bio-accumulate. Cancer risk.
Hexa-chlorobenzene (HCB)
Use was supposed to be banned globally.
Persistent environmental toxin. Is a carcinogen, mutagen and a reproductive hazard
Lead Dioxide / Nitrate / Chloride
Bioaccumulation, developmental danger for kids & unborn babes, may remain airborne for days, poisonous to plants & animals
Lithium compounds
blazing reds
Toxic and irritating fumes when burned
Mercury (Mercurous chloride)
chlorine donor
Toxic heavy metal. Can bio-accumulate.
Nitric oxide
fireworks by-product
Toxic by inhalation. Is a free radical
Nitrogen dioxide
fireworks by-product
Highly toxic by inhalation. SIDS risk.
fireworks by-product
Greenhouse gas that attacks & irritates lungs
Perchlorate -
Ammonium & Potassium
propellant / oxidizer
Can contaminate ground & surface waters, can cause thyroid problems in humans & animals
Potassium Nitrate
in black powder
Toxic dusts, carcinogenic sulphur-coal compound
Strontium compounds
blazing reds
Can replace calcium in body. Strontium chloride is slightly toxic.
Sulphur Dioxide
gaseous by-product of sulphur combustion
Acid rain from sulphuric acid affects water sources, vegetation & causes property damage. SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) risk.

2.      Noise Pollution
Fireworks can exceed 140 decibels and noise at 85 decibels or above can damage hearing. Prolonged exposure to such high levels of noise can lead to permanent damage of the eardrums. In the middle of the night fireworks often disturb people trying to sleep. There are also cases where people have suffered from heart attack due to the high noise.
Humans are not the only species affected. Birds and wildlife are known to suffer extensively. Numerous pets are reported to panic due to sudden and excessive noise. Their stress levels were reported to be higher during Diwali than any other time of the year.
3.      Garbage
The amount of garbage released on the day after Diwali is phenomenal. Approximately 4,000 additional metric tonnes of garbage are released in Delhi alone, and twice the amount in Mumbai. And this garbage, far from being eco-friendly, is extremely hazardous for the environment as it comprises of chemicals like phosphorous, sulphur and potassium chlorate, and tonnes of burnt paper. Fireworks use plastic plus paper & cardboard (which kills trees) and are all made at factories that pollute.
4.      Accidents
Numerous fire accidents occur every year. Rough estimates claim that nearly 10,000 people get injured by the crackers. Most of the injuries are minor, but cause an untold amount of pain. Most of the victims are children in the age group of 8-16. Other accidents cause extensive building fires, especially in places where crackers are stored in bulk.
5.      Child Exploitation
Our children are fortunate to be part of the privileged few that can afford firecrackers. But there are numerous children who are employed by the firecracker industry, who sit late into the night making crackers for our children to burn in an instant. Firecrackers are made using harmful chemicals and acids, and these children work from dawn to dusk, breathing such harmful fumes and coming into constant skin contact with the acids. They burn their hands, legs and eyes, and many get maimed for life. The conditions they work in are inhuman, and the compensation, pitiful.

Fireworks Alternatives

  • Switching to an environmentally friendly laser light show
  • A stunt kite show at night with some LED's
  • Watching the stars or organize an outdoor movie.
  • Some people are organizing community drum circles and drumming instead of lighting fireworks.
  • Indoor fireworks projectors are small devices that can be used indoors that produce convincing reproductions of firework displays as well as simulating the noise of real fireworks.
  • Electronic fireworks display lamps produce colourful explosions of light all night long without the pollution or noise of real fireworks.
  • Electronic pyrotechnics don't use explosives either. Electronic blasts can form a canopy up to 25 feet in the air that rain down glitter, confetti, rose petals or even candy.
Just imagine all the possible more meaningful and beneficial ways we could use all the money spent on fireworks that wouldn't pollute our environment.

Wish you all Healthy, Safe, Eco-friendly and Prosperous Diwali......

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Conservation of Natural Heritage Information study Centre.