Archive for February, 2011

The effects of global warming are wide spread. One such effect would be the increase of ‘Environmental Refugees’. Recently I came across an article in ‘The Times of India’, a daily Newspaper, which also throws light on the ‘Environmental Refugees’.

In a recent conference of American Association for the Advancement of Science held last week, UN projected that there would be about fifty million Environmental Refugees by 2020, fleeing food shortages sparked by climate change.

Environmental migrants or refugees are those people who are forced to migrate away from their homeland due to sudden or long-term changes to their local environment. Some causes for environmental migration are increased droughts, desertification, sea level rise, and disruption of seasonal weather patterns such as monsoons. Migrants are those people who can no longer gain a secure livelihood in their homelands because of the environmental problems together with the associated problems of population pressures and profound poverty. The people facing environmental disasters have no choice but to leave the affected area.

The change in climatic condition makes it worse for the people to survive. Due to global warming, there is a drastic change in the climatic conditions. Winters have become warmer in some regions while there is increase or decrease of rainfall in other regions. The climate change has impacted food security and safety. Warmer winters allow pests that carry plant diseases to survive over the cold months and attack crops in the spring. Increased rainfall would is another result of climate change, when coupled with more fungal pathogens can dramatically impact crop yield and quality. The greenhouse gases and atmospheric pollutants have changed plant structures and reduced crops’ defenses to pests and pathogens.

Environmental changes are especially pronounced in Sub-Saharan Africa. Southern Europe is already witnessing a sharp increase in what has long been a slow but steady flow of migrants from Africa, many of whom risk their lives to cross the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain from Morocco or sail in makeshift vessels to Italy from Libya and Tunisia. Environmental migrants and residents of the area absorbing them may clash over jobs, resources and way of life, and violent interactions such as theft, beating, armed scuffles, seizure of resources and property, murders, insurgencies, and organized militarized violence are possible.

The global economic crisis has pushed down the priority of Climatic Change on Government. If a country is suffering economically, climate change is not going to be the first thing that the government would fund.

Global warming has turned out to be an international concern. This is quite evident if the climatic changes in the past few years are considered. Scientists all over the world are making predictions about the ill effects of Global warming and connecting some of the events that have taken place in the past few decades as an alarm of global warming. More or less all specialists studying the climate record of the earth have the same opinion now that human actions, mainly the discharge of green house gases from smokestacks, vehicles, and burning forests, are perhaps the leading power driving the fashion.

The major cause of global warming is the emission of green house gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. The major source of carbon dioxide is the power plants. These power plants emit large amounts of carbon dioxide produced from burning of fossil fuels for the purpose of electricity generation. About twenty percent of carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere comes from burning of gasoline in the engines of the vehicles.

Recently, a few weeks after the massive floods in Brisbane, a study was carried out by the Canadian climate sleuths have indicates the intensity of heavy precipitation is due to the burning of fossil fuels and other human related activities. The study in Nature journal examined data from across the northern hemisphere found that the intensity of extreme rainfall and snow had gone up in recent years. Human beings may be partially to blame for the increasing intensity of rain and snowstorms.

According to researchers, the greenhouse gases generated by human activity have intensified heavy precipitation events since 1950 across much of North America, Europe and Asia, increasing flooding and devastation. It has been long that greenhouse gases are suspected playing a role in the increasing intensity of storms and floods, but scientists have had trouble pinning it down. The gases append to the planet’s normal greenhouse effect, permitting sunlight in, but stopping some of the ensuing heat from radiating back to space.

Based on the study on past climate shifts, notes of current situations, and computer simulations, many climate scientists say that due to the lack of big curbs in greenhouse gas discharges, the 21st century might see temperatures rise of about 3 to 8 degrees, climate patterns piercingly shift, ice sheets contract and seas rise several feet. The main tools for projecting future climate changes are mathematical models based on physical principles including fluid dynamics, thermodynamics and transfer. The scientists have compared the actual observations with predictions in various climate models. It was found that natural variability alone could not account for the intensity of storms. The increased intensity of green house gases shows that the global warming effects are kicking in.

The Belo Monte Dam Protest

Posted by Freddy on Feb-12-2011

Brazil, world’s fifth largest country, is the only Latin American nation that derives its language and culture from Portugal. When we think of Brazil the first thing that runs into our mind is the Brazilian FIFA Team. But there are many more things in Brazil that we may not observe at first.

Recently, everyone might have read in news about the protest where half a million indigenous people filed a petition against the Belo Monte Dam Project. Today, the Belo Monte dam is the most controversial dam project in Brazil. Proposed on the Xingu River in Brazil, this dam would be the world’s third largest hydroelectric project. Many Brazilians believe, that if Belo Monte is constructed, it will represent a carte blanche for the destruction of all the magnificent rivers of the Amazon – next the Tapajos, the Teles Pires, then the Araguaia-Tocantins, and so on.

According to the Brazilian Government the project will cost more than US$10 billion but industry analysts say that due to the difficulties in building a project of this size in the Amazon, its cost could easily exceed US$16 billion. Though this project costs a whooping big figure natives believe that this huge cost and perfect design is no guarantee to proper functioning of the dam. The river’s large seasonal variations in flow have led many to believe that after completing Belo Monte, Brazil will build other dams upstream with greater storage capacity to guarantee there will be enough water for Belo Monte to generate electricity year-round. The possible future upstream dams would impact Kayapó indigenous territories, flood the lands of peoples such as the Araweté, Assuriní and Arara, and cause extensive damage to forests and fisheries across the region.

The project is strongly criticized by indigenous people and many non-governmental organizations in Brazil. When decisions were taken to construct this dam, there was lack of consultation with the public and only four hearing were held in the cities of Altamira and Vitória do Xingu. According to the government, there were many public hearing but natives claim that most of these hearings were just educational. Opposing the claims posed the government stated that proper public hearings were held to consult indigenous people and river dwellers about the impacts of Belo Monte. Leaders from the Xingu River Basin have made it clear that their right to consultation on the Belo Monte project has not been honored.

The project will directly displace over 20,000 people, mainly from the municipalities of Altamira and Vitoria do Xingú. The government justifies this by stating that this project will generate many job opportunities in the region. They are also quite sure that the Belo Monte will also attract 100,000 migrants to this region. But as a clearer picture of the future is drawn a cruel fact is unveiled, though the dam will generate over 40, 000 jobs they would all be temporary. Only 2000 long term jobs would exist for the people living in this region and others who have migrated will be illegal entrants. For the Xingu’s poor farmers, temporary employment created by the dam is not a viable replacement for lost agricultural lands and the river’s fish supply.

The dam will have adverse impact on the environment. There will be loss of vegetation and natural spaces, with changes in fauna and flora. It will create changes in the quality and path of the water supply. Apart from that there will be temporary disruption of the water supply in the Xingu riverbed for 7 months.

The protest has turned as a struggle about the future of Amazonians.

The Carnatic Music

Posted by Freddy on Feb-6-2011

In my last post I have shared about the Hindustani Music so this week I thought I would share about the Carnatic Music. Carnatic music is one of the most ancient music systems in the world with its history dating back to the age old days of the Vedas. It is a system of music commonly associated with the southern part of the India. It is one of two main sub-genres of Indian classical music that evolved from ancient Hindu traditions. The main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music. Most of the compositions are written to be sung and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in gāyaki style.

Carnatic music is typically a melody-based system where the stress is laid on the successive combination of notes. The melodic elements of Carnatic music are very systematic in their development from the simple to more complex and then ultimately utterly sophisticated. The Carnatic music is usually performed by a small ensemble of musicians, consisting of a principal performer who is accompanied by a violin, mridangam, and a tambura, which acts as a drone throughout the performance. Other typical instruments used in performances may include the ghatam, kanjira, morsing, veena & flute.

Carnatic music rests on two main elements: raga, the modes or melodic formula, and tala, the rhythmic cycles. Sruti, Swara, Raga and Tala are the main elements of Carnatic Music. Apart from the main elements of Carnatic music there are also four main types of improvisation in Carnatic music which plays the pivotal role in contouring this genre of music. They are Raga Alapana, Niraval, Kalpanaswaram, Tanam, Ragam Tanam Pallavi and Thani Avarthanam.

In contrast to Hindustani music, Carnatic music is taught and learned through compositions, which encode many intricate musical details and also provide scope for free improvisation. Nearly every version of a Carnatic music composition is different and unique as it embodies elements of the composer’s vision, as well as the musician’s interpretation. A Carnatic composition really has two elements. There are many forms of compositions. Geethams and swarajatis are principally meant to serve as basic learning exercises.The most common and significant forms in Carnatic music are the varnam and the Kirtanam.

Kirtanam are varied in structure and style, but generally consist of three units, which is Pallavi, Anupallavi and Charana. There are other possible structures for a Kriti, which may in addition include swara passages named chittaswara, which consists only of notes and has no words. Others have a verse at the end of the charana, called the madhyamakala. It is sung immediately after the charana, but at double speed.

Varanam highlights everything important about a raga and not just the scale, but also which notes to stress, how to approach a certain note, classical and characteristic phrases, etc. Though there are a few different types of varnams, in essence, they all have a pallavi, an anupallavi, muktayi swaras, a charana, and chittaswaras. They are sung in multiple speeds, and very good for practice. In concerts, varnams are often sung at the beginning as they are fast and grab the audience`s attention.

The rich elements of Carnatic music coupled with the melodic improvisations offer Carnatic music an all encompassing effect whilst making this genre of music to reverberate the age old heritage of Indian music.