Learning to control the elements is the only way left to negate human effects on climate change

The fact that climate change and its potentially disastrous consequences if left unresolved has been a hot topic of debate for quite some time now. Even school going children have greater awareness to this threat to our planet and our survival. On March 15, they took matters into their own hands. Tens of thousands of them around the world skipped their classes and took to streets to demand greater action to control pollution and save the environment from their governments and world bodies.

Why has the focus on climate change increased? One reason is because scientists and researchers have comprehended that the 6th mass extinction event is underway on our planet. The trademark identification of such an event are the increasing cases of complete extinction of many species of animals because of the overpopulation of one or certain number of species.

Population explosion of humanity and industrialization, especially in the last 100 years has exponentially increased green house effects. But what many people do not know is that this is not the first instance of our planet experiencing the drastic and adverse effects of green house effects. Herbivore dinosaurs had chomped their way through massive forests and expelled humongous amounts of methane gas from their belly after digestion creating massive greenhouse effect.

I had attended a seminar on wetland conservation at the Agricultural University in my hometown a few weeks back. One of the speakers was a researcher on greenhouse effect and he did an excellent presentation on the topic. But I realized that one critical factor was missing from his presentation. If our planet is in the midst of the 6th mass extinction, it means complete destruction of our planet and all its beings has happened five times before. Each time nature has been reset and life has taken roots again. The last time it happened dinosaurs became extinct. But interestingly, crocodiles, cockroaches and turtles survived. So if it happens again, can we survive and what will it take for us to survive? I asked the speaker these questions and he admitted that he had never considered those aspects in his research.

Interestingly, I found the answer to my question on social media the next day itself.

The arrival of the Spanish Inquisition in Central America in the 16th century and the subsequent destruction of the thriving civilization of the Incas resulted in the Amazon forest reclaiming its lost land to people. The unintended effect of this reforestation was the drastic drop in temperature in Europe in the 17th century and large number of people dying because of unbearably cold conditions. We keep adapting to small increases in temperature and changes in weather conditions without realizing that the overall impact of the changes is considerable. Only when the changes are reversed by nature will we know what its effects will be on us.

The floods in Kerala and the destruction it caused is a fresh reminder of what can happen to us when nature resets itself. Kerala has traditionally been a rainfall abundant region because of its proximity to the Indian ocean and Western Ghats. I have learned in school that after Cherapunji, it is Kerala that receives the most rainfall during monsoon season every year. In spite of this known fact, people encroached into low lying areas to build their houses.

While rainfall in Kerala has decreased considerably in the last decade or so, it never meant it would never rain like before. When it did rain, water had nowhere to go. So where water could flow it swept away everything in its path and where it couldn’t flow it got stuck causing massive floods. There was also an enduring image circulating on social media of a bridge filled with plastic bottles and containers, which the water had deposited back on to land.

So mass extinction and resetting of nature has been an ongoing phenomenon on our planet. We can blame human overpopulation and wanton industrialization for climate changes now but that has always been the problem with dominant species as the dinosaur case illustrates. We are the only species on the planet that destroys nature’s ecosystem to create our own. No animal cuts trees to make its own shelter.

Animals adapt to what is available in nature. The reason could be that we were created to rule over nature and not protect it as the quote from Bible suggests. In Genesis 1:26, God says, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness, to RULE over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, and over all the earth itself and every creature that crawls upon it.”

The question now is how to control our effect on climate change. I believe we are a little too late to think about it. A few billion of us have to die off to restore parity in nature. But there is a catch here. The few billion of us have to die without disturbing the nature, which is impossible without a natural calamity on a massive scale or a man made disaster like a nuclear war. There is an analogous situation happening right now. Flickr, the online photo sharing community has created a new rule which restricts its free users to upload and retain only 1000 photos on its website. The difference here is, nature cannot tell us the size of the human population it can manage. The onus is on us to find it out, reduce our population accordingly and keep it below the threshold number.

Sounds ridiculous right? We cannot wipe off our own population that too on such a massive scale. What we can do is control our population growth and not increase our negative impact on nature anymore. One purpose all species procreate is to stay dominant in nature. We do not need to procreate like other species anymore. All of us do not have to leave our own unique genetic imprint on our population.

There is something more left for us to do though. Humans have been trying to understand nature from the dawn of our existence. Exponential technological advances we have made has helped us to investigate and understand every aspect of nature closely. Even then, we are restricting our research to simply collecting data about nature. The more we learn about something it is natural that we also learn how to control and manipulate it. This is how the field of medicine has grown and how we have learnt to treat diseases.

But surprisingly, other than cloud seeding to create artificial rain, we have not been able to control weather and climate changes. There are places in our country like Kerala which receive abundant rainfall and other areas which suffer from extreme drought every year. All government departments and research institutions watch this unfold every year helplessly. None of them have even wondered if it would be possible to distribute rain clouds or rainwater to all parts of the country uniformly.

There is a story in ancient Indian texts about the young Hanuman who leapt into the sky to catch the rising sun to play with it. Indra, the God of lightning and thunder, in his apprehension threw the Vajrayuda (thunderbolt) at Hanuman who got struck by it and fell back to earth unconscious. Maruti, the God of wind who was Hanuman’s biological father got enraged and pulled out all the air flowing on earth and relented only after Hanuman’s health was restored. The takeaway from this story for me is that air flow on our planet can be controlled. Ancient Indian texts are treasure troves of extremely advanced technology and interpreting them correctly can answer and solve most of the problems we are facing now.

There are primarily three obstacles we are facing for space exploration and one of them is creating and controlling weather conditions suitable for us on other planets. The key to this lies in greater understanding and controlling weather and climatic changes on our own planet. The fact that children are speaking about climate changes reflects poorly on their parents and exposes the ignorance they have on the subject. People have to start talking about solving social problems and these discussions have to start from educational institutions. The research that the speaker did on the greenhouse effect creates no value because all the effort he put in does nothing to help humanity. What is the objective of doing research on any subject if it is not helping in the survival and evolution of our species?

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The World Should Be Worried About Gun Related Massacres Spreading As A Culture

The tranquility of two peaceful countries has been shattered by gunfire in the last few days. Life in New Zealand and Netherlands has been jolted by bullets and the ensuing blood and gore. As the perpetrators are caught and assessed to find out the objective of their barbarous acts, the answers lie somewhere else.

I have lived in Utrecht for 6 months between 2008 and 2009. Going from Bangalore to Utrecht felt like going to a sleepy village. The effect was more profound because I was there during the winter season. No birds, no leaves on trees, there used to be hustle and bustle on the streets between 8-9:30 in the morning and 4-5:30 in the evening. Rest of the time, it used to look like an urban desert. I saw police cars 4 times in 6 months and 3 times were outside departmental stores. I heard a vehicle honk once in 6 months. Honking is considered to be abusing there (God bless Indians). I heard about one road accident in 6 months. I couldn’t sleep for the first few days because of no sound. In India, sounds of human activity can be heard all through the night. Lack of any sound was so new and overpowering for me. A decade on from all of this, the city being in the news for random gun related killing is extremely disturbing.

But this is not without an irony. Bursting firecrackers is banned in Netherlands except for New Year celebrations. I do not understand banning firecrackers and allowing people to possess guns. Here is a typical case of this guy from New Zealand.

He used to own a gun for farming related reasons. I have seen farmers chasing away birds from their farmlands in my hometown by bursting firecrackers. In farmlands all kinds of animals exist. Small birds come to eat beetles and insects, those birds are eaten by larger birds of prey, snakes come to eat rats and snakes in turn get eaten by mongoose. This is nature’s way of maintaining its ecosystem. So what can guns do on a farm that fire crackers cannot?

An argument can be made that guns help people protect themselves. From what? Lets say armed robbery. If robbers know people have guns, they would also try to get a gun by stealing or by illegal means. What chances do people have in a shootout? It could go either way. In commando and special ops training, trainees are taught to use anything available as a weapon. Moreover any tools that we use like knives, screw drivers, etc can be used as weapons. But all of those have some utility value and serves multiple purposes in our daily life. What purpose do guns serve other than taking lives?

Even more ironic and silly is the assessment of perpetrators of gun related crimes and profiling of candidates to be given license to have guns. Here is a news item from last year about the Netherlands government profiling candidates to be legal gun owners. Human emotions and behaviors are influenced by circumstances, genetics and hormones. Our genetic structure supposedly contains information from our 7 previous generations. So it is possible that our genes may have information about robbers, murderers and rapists. Those information could become dominant in an environment that nurtures them and influence our behavior. This could explain many crimes because with a sane mind, criminals don’t seem to be able to comprehend how they committed the crimes, something which society has been explaining away as the influence of Satan. So tendencies to commit crimes may arise anytime within us. What can the government do about someone who was given license to possess a gun 10 years back, the person had to face severe problems in life after 8 years and in despair took out the gun and killed his family and himself?

What is worrisome is the gun related killings spreading to all parts of the world. As people migrate to all parts of the world, their cultures hold them back from integrating themselves into the new society they are in. There have been many cases of men from Muslim countries migrating to western countries and finding it hard to contain their sexual desires when they see the attire of women in those countries which are in stark contrast to the burka tradition prevalent in their own countries. Crime rates have increased in Europe after the European countries opened their doors to asylum seekers from many strife torn countries in Africa and Middle East. Inability to adjust to new cultures, despair because of leaving their homeland and loved ones behind, frustration at having to start life from scratch in a new place all contribute to mental disturbances leading to violent behavior. While the perpetrators of the massacre in New Zealand have been attributed to white supremacy, the one in Netherlands has been identified as a Turkish man whose motive is yet to be found out.

Guns empower us to assume that we can provide quick justice and get rid of problems instantly. Politics, human and animal atrocities, there are so many issues and instances that make us feel helpless which in turn invokes the sense of vigilantism within us. We may be able to eliminate a corrupt politician with a gun but not corruption. It is possible to kill an individual but guns cannot destroy a system. If we look at it closely, no guns in society makes more sense that having them. Then why aren’t  governments all over the world taking a unilateral decision to ban guns?

World War II was termed as the “war to end all wars”. But there have been armed conflicts after the war all over the world and continues to this day. Research to develop more lethal and sophisticated weapons is a black box and consumes unimaginable amount of money. The weapons are not meant to protect humanity from alien invasions. We are developing those weapons to fight among ourselves and kill our own kind. Why do we still have borders between countries and armed forces? The answer is very simple. Weapons manufacturing is one of the biggest and most profitable industries in the world. The same companies provide funding to political leaders during elections which makes the leaders accountable to them than to the people. From shopping malls to hospitals it is people and their lives that create revenue for the corporate. The gun lobby in the US is extremely powerful and influential. This is why there are only talks of banning guns without a ban ever coming into existence.