Caged Feet

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The movie Happy Feet is an immensely delightful movie. But as you enjoy the brilliant animation, the message of global warming and the irresponsible actions of humans is very evident. It simply breaks one’s heart to see cute little Mumble in captivity and how it affects him.

And the effect is not just physical but more so mental. Animals in captivity tend to lose their identity and become mere objects of human gratification . And to say that animals in captivity have a greater chance of survival than in the wild is a extremely outrageous justification for our wrong deeds. It is like saying that because of the lack of parents’ will to educate their children the quality and quantity of education is deteriorating! Because we aren’t trying hard enough to provide a safe environment to our wildlife is no justification to say the wild isn’t safe for them anymore. A UN report says that best chance we have is now. The effort we make now will have a more lasting effect than the ones we take in the next 1000 years. Yes, the time is NOW! The IPCC also gives us a very clear picture and a time chart of how small efforts made now will bring us back into the sustainable level of emissions, changing the situation drastically.

We are all facing the global food crisis and this crisis is only set to get worse unless some serious steps aren’t taken. According to a UN report, by 2030 there will be a 40 million tonne shortfall of fish. The over fishing of the oceans is alarmingly depleting the reserves of fish. And what is even more alarming is that the replenishment rate of the population is far below than what is being fished out.
Furthermore,, the pollution and the melting of ice caps greatly affect the amount available. The change in the water currents leads to a loss of climate for survival as the navigation currents are disturbed. The Environmental Performance Index is an indexation of all the nations based on their environmental policy on river conservation, wildlife protection, deforestation, desertification, alternate fuels etc. . Australia and New Zealand top in their efforts and Sweden follows suit. The European Union countries fared much worse, which is even more alarming as countries like Belgium, Germany, Netherlands had a negative growth with Spain being the worst of the lot. To add shame to the already present insult, the European Union seems to have very filmsy rules and has not taken enough measures to check the harmful activities of these nations. In the other part of the world, the southeast Asian countries seem to be on a rampage at seas as well, with Singapore leading the pack.

It is astonishing to note that in these alarming times, less than 7 per cent of the total forested area is protected. In the USA, 90 per cent of their legendary redwood forests have been cut down already. They are one of the oldest living things found on earth and the tallest amongst the trees, with diameters of fully grown trees measuring upto 10 feet in diameter. It is sad to see that their majesty has been severely marred due to their fragility and today, their growth rate has been brought down to an average of 3 per cent than their previously prevalent rate of a 100 per cent. Deforestation has been rampant in recent times for not just farming but for urbanisation as well. In nations like Congo, the deforestation is primarily for basic necessities like heating and fuel, something global cooperation and development can drastically reduce. Also, alternate farming and oil palm trees have replaced vast areas in nation like Brazil and mexico. It comes as no surprise that every second, area equivalent to a full size soccer field is cleared. Cutting and burning of trees as expected increases the CO2 component and comprises 25 per cent of the CO2 emissions. Countries like Uganda, Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia, have seen a sudden decline in the forest cover whereas Germany, Cuba, Spain and Italy have surprisingly shown an improvement in the same. It is commendable with efforts in this regard, Brazil has managed to bring down its rate to 30 per cent, the lowest rate on record till now

Desertification has claimed a lot of land uptil now and its damage is only increasing. Sudan is not only being plagued by human rights violation but what is making it worse is desertification due to overplanting and overgrazing. The Sahara is expanding and so is the Gobi desert at a rate of 2400 km per year. The dust from the Gobi has now even reached from China till the USA! Seeing such a trend China is investing $8 billion in 2800 miles of a green tract which is now being heralded as the Green Wall of China. Already, the effort is bearing fruit and 8000 square kilometres of land have been recovered. Luxemberg and Belize rank high amongst the EPI while Turkey and Haiti rank the lowest.

The world’s wildlife is yet far from being explored. It is believed that 90 per cent of the world’s species are still to be discovered on earth. Therefore, it is all the more important to protect the few which we know of; And the ones we may not know should not get extinct even before we may ever get know about them. The blue Whale conservation projects have in recent times shown encouraging results. But not all species have been lucky – the Indian gharial, China’s river dolphin, the mountain gorilla have faced the vengeance of the human race. In a brutal message to the conservationists, four mountain gorillas were savagely killed and their bodies displayed inhumanely. One a silver backed gorilla, one a pregnant mother stabbed in the stomach, and two other adults, with a small baby gorilla left crying for its mother. Such inhuman acts against animals must not be tolerated at any cost. The law must come down heavily on such culprits. We too must cooperate and not encourage poaching in any which way.

Many nations are taking steps to tackle to crisis but there is a much needed drastic policy step while soft measures are always welcome. For example, in New York, there is a proposal to move towards green taxis from the yellow taxis by 2012 but the overall industrial policy is remaining mostly untouched, which is clearly hypocritical. So seem the efforts of China , the second largest polluter, is planning to spend a large amount to explore the option for alternate fuel uses. Countries like Iceland, Norway and Paraguay top in their efforts towards a cleaner environment. It is enlightening to know that the Vatican is the first place to be the Carbon Neutral state.

As a combination of these various parameters the countries of Iran , Cuba and Oman feature at the bottom of the EPI while a surprising Namibia tops the Index.which clearly proves that a balanced approach is what is needed as being the leader in one aspect and the worst in another is simply no good. An effort in all directions takes the process ahead. Another stark observation also derives that most of the large developed nations are actually evading responsibility and constantly adding to the growing crisis.Also we must note that the size of a nation is significant – a growth rate of 3% is quite large in a large nation as compared to smaller nation. Hence, we must continue with the efforts to tackle counter global warming at earnest. Hopefully, then will all the mumbles in the world live happily ever after and all others be able to enjoy a life like Mumble

Kirandeep Virdi

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