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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Christianity needs to shed its age old male dominated Orthodoxy to stay relevant

The Church has crossed all boundaries of blasphemy with the recent revelations about the string of sexual abuse cases in Kerala. I am writing “The Church” to represent all churches in India and across the globe. Accusations of sexual abuse from inside the hallowed walls of the Church have been flying thick and fast from across the world in recent times. I am not a Christian but I have very good friends who are Christians and I do not intend to hurt their religious sentiments in any way with this article.
I had come across an article sometime back stating that religions and especially Christianity is dying in 10 countries. When I was in the Netherlands I had noticed that people were mostly not inclined towards religions and did not engage in discussions about religions. So why is this radical shift happening now? Here is my take on it. Netherlands has a progressive and prosperous society and as they reached the present level of maturity as a society, their tendency to attribute the highs and lows in their lives to external influences must have also decreased. Every religion advises us to live good lives, work hard and become successful and not hurt anyone intentionally. These are basic human values and need not be associated with any religion which is what I observed during my time in the Netherlands. Further and latest endorsement of this is Canada banning all teachings of Christianity from classrooms.
The crux of the matter goes far deeper though. There was no religion called Hinduism till idol worship started in the Kali Yuga as mentioned in ancient Indian texts. None of the Hindu Gods have created Hinduism. Vedas were written to define and streamline the erstwhile society but they do not define Hinduism as claimed by the proponents of Hindutva. Similarly Jesus Christ did not create Christianity and the Church, his followers did. Now here’s the thing. Jesus is referred to as the son of God, so there is God, Jesus and then the Church in Christianity. Jesus never claimed to represent God and neither created a religion called Christianity nor the Church so I believe the Church cannot claim to represent him just like Hindu temples can have idols of Gods but cannot claim to represent any of them. It is a known historical fact that Constantine, the Emperor of Rome integrated the followers of Jesus into Rome and gave shape to what would become a new religion called Christianity. Now the question is, where to put our beliefs. Before Lord Krishna left earth, he had advised that in Kali Yuga, only He can hear people’s prayers so people need to pray to Him. Since Jesus is mentioned as the son of God, praying to him will be the way to reaching out to God. But going by my statement that the Church cannot claim to represent Jesus, is adhering to the diktats of the Church the way or the only way of reaching out to him?
There have been many issues attributed to or plaguing the Church through the course of it’s existence. Thousands of free thinking women were supposedly branded as witches by the Church and burned on the stakes during the Dark Ages, best exemplified by the story of the Joan of Arc. The Church also ignited the Crusades by persuading Britain and France to send their armies to Jerusalem to free the supposedly Holy Land from Muslim rule. Jerusalem was portrayed by the Church as a land flowing with milk and honey but was actually the barren arid land it still is. But the most contentious one I believe in the present times is the rule of confession. The neighborhood around every Church is under the hegemony of the Church’s priest, commonly addressed as father. The fathers are supposed to know everything that is happening in every Christian household under their watch. Done wisely and honestly, this practice amounts to uniting all those families into a community. Treating the father as a mentor and guide and confessing to him about our circumstances and actions, taking his advice and him praying on our behalf are all great practices. But to me, making confessions mandatory is nefarious and not well intended. Religions are never supposed to enforce any rules on its followers. The risk is always there that we could become hostage to our own words in case the father we are confessing to turns rogue. This is exactly what has happened in one of the latest sex abuse scandals to hit the Church. A union minister in the capacity of being a Christian has waded into the issue and is trying to gain consensus to rebuke the attempt by the National Women’s Commission (NCW) to ban the practice of confession in churches (https://thewire.in/women/reject-ncw-recommendations-to-ban-confessions-in-churches-alphons-to-pm). My take here is that the practice of confessions should only be by the free will of people and enforcing it upon them amounts to controlling and enslaving them to the Church which is draconian and law of the Dark Ages and should not be allowed to continue.
I have always felt a sense of vulnerability at young girls and women joining or made to join nunneries under the Church and spending their lives supposedly in the service of God. It places far greater moral virtuosity on the male dominated structure of the Church than is logically comprehensible. Now that this incident of sexual abuse of one nun has come out in the open, the premise opens out that more nuns could have been the prey of sexual abuse for decades or even centuries and they were hushed up and made to suffer silently in the name of Jesus and for the sake of Christianity. Though many serious and satirical movies about the state and affairs of the Church in Kerala have been made in Malayalam, one movie, The Romans, deserves special mention here and is worth a watch.
I am wondering what might Jesus be thinking if he is indeed watching all of what is happening from somewhere. My heart melts at the thought of a poor shepherd who had chosen to teach people to live well, not hurt each other and had died for them and what has got created over the centuries in his name. True followers of Islam have always maintained that none of them can indulge in violence especially against their own kind and the ones who use violence are not followers of Islam. I am inclined to believe this because no human being who prays diligently for 5 times a day can detach himself/herself from the spiritual world and embrace violence. Similarly, the Church can no longer hold on to it’s claim of representing Jesus and continue with it’s orthodox, male dominated structure and let damning incidents such as sexual abuse of women and children happen under it’s umbrella. Every organization and practice needs to be revamped and revised to stay relevant as the society evolves and no religions are exempt from it.

Jesus Christ deserves far better for giving up his life for our sins.

The triple talaq dilemma

The Apex court of India made a landmark ruling yesterday, setting aside the triple talaq system in Islam and making it viable to be made into law. The BJP is espousing it as the fruits of their labour though no political party has ever moved a finger to take up the cause till now. I have been coming across many influential Muslim women hailing the judgement, but I am not able to see the true benefits.

Before I get there, a little peek at history. According to ancient texts including Bible, Gods created us and then some of the Gods themselves had children with women (who were born as Giants). Mankind was mating randomly like animals creating many issues including genetic disorders. That’s when the Gods decided to destroy earth and make a new start with the help of Noah. Then societal rules were formed and monogamy was enforced, primarily to avoid genetic disorders. Marriage ceremonies and rituals were introduced and families were made responsible for organizing marriages and maintaining the relationship. For the longest time, men were educated and women were meant to learn household chores so that they can extend the families with men. There were times till the recent past when marriages used to be fixed by families and the groom would marry the bride without seeing her. He was allowed to see her face only on the night the marriage is consummated. In some communities that night might come after a few weeks or even after a month.

Coming to the point of divorce, no two people can be forced to stay together against their will. By the unofficial 7 year rule, if the marriage survives for 7 years, then it will keep going. If marriage becomes untenable, there is no option other than to dissolve it. Different religions and communities have their own rules for conducting and dissolving marriages. Islam has its own rules (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divorce_in_Islam). What has complicated matters is the blatant violation of Islamic rules. The word talaq which means divorce has to be said 3 times by the man to his wife to annul the marriage. This has to be done in the presence of both families and there has to be one month’s holiday after each time the talaq is said. Nowadays, men are using phone, Skype and social media platforms including Facebook and even Whatsapp to say talaq 3 times continuously to their wives and they consider it enough to annul their marriage. This is what the Supreme Court has targeted at the behest of a Muslim woman.

What I am wondering is, if a man believes that saying a word three times to his wife over phone or social media is enough to  erase the relationship he has with her, then he does not deserve to have her or any other woman in his life. It just shows that he treats her like an expendable commodity. By striking this down, I believe the apex court has made the suffering all the more for the women at the hands of men. As long as women receive alimony from their husbands, they shouldn’t be breaking their heads over keeping men who treat them so shamefully and disrespectfully. What should have been done are three things:

  • Imprison men violate Islamic rules and use phone or social media platforms to annul their marriages and shame them in their community.
  • Prohibit them from remarrying their wives which is allowed under Islamic law.
  • 2 such “small” divorces are allowed and the 3rd one is the “big” divorce. After the 3rd one, if the husband wants to remarry the wife, she has to be married and divorced similarly by another man. This is equivalent to treating a woman as a slave and is a completely repressive practice which needs to be scrapped entirely.

A uniform civil law for all citizens is ultimately what is needed, but in a religiously diverse country as India, it is not going to be easy to implement the law on the ground. Thrusting a law forcefully will only end up in agitations and communal violence. No government would want to create disorder and disrupt their vote banks. Changes will happen to society over the years and religions and the mindset of people has to change accordingly. I am wondering, what if the Supreme Court, instead of striking down the three talaq system had ruled that equality is paramount in an evolving society like ours and had granted women the right to divorce their husbands in the same way?

 

The inverse relationship between intelligence and sex

I came across this thought provoking article today morning.

http://iheartintelligence.com/2016/02/09/intelligence-sex-drive/

The fascinating bit is, higher the IQ, higher the sex drive but lesser sex. This has been explained away by reasoning that people with higher IQ are more focused on gaining knowledge than having sex, but it does not get into the details as to why.

People with all levels of IQ are interested in sex, but higher IQ means more neuron connections inside the brain which translates into deeper connectivity in relationships with other people. This is why these people make lesser friends and prefer to be social outcasts because they simply desist being in superficial relationships. Such people simply cannot be in casual relationships or one night stands because they find no mental connectivity in such short time. They would rather prefer to stay away from sex completely or be monogamous if they come across that person with whom they find the deep connectivity they are looking for. This could explain the higher use of sex toys among people with higher IQ as mentioned in the article. They would rather use the toys rather than being in meaningless relationships.

But there is a deeper reason for giving up on sex for gaining knowledge. People in ancient times used to do penance to reach out to God for superior knowledge and powers. Ancient Indian texts are replete with the tales of such numerous yogis. Why did they leave their lives behind and walk into the deep forests to do the penance? They wanted to be away from all relationships and distractions because they had to channel and focus their entire energy into reaching out to the higher powers. They needed all their energy to interact with the supremely higher energy source that is God. There are two activities in our daily lives that are the most resource intensive, digestion of food and sex. Both require the maximum blood in our body to complete the tasks. The more food and more sex we have, the more exhausted and drowsy we become. That is why yogis used to live on fruits and berries and observe complete abstinence from any sort of contact with women. Some of this is still in vogue. In my native state, Kerala, before we go to a certain temple called Sabarimala, it is required to abstain from meat, alcohol, women and even cutting of hair and nails for 41 days. Our ancestors used to walk to the temple through forests for weeks and months. They used to carry machetes to clear the forest area they were walking through. When they leave, their families used to light oil lamps and used to ensure that the lamps burn till they return. 41 days was probably the average time taken by people to walk forth and back and if they did not return in that time period, they were presumed to be dead.

Animals have been considered at a lower order than humans in ancient Indian texts and there are reasons for that. Animals exist to maintain the equilibrium of the planet’s ecosystem and we do not belong to the food chain because we were given intelligence and knowledge to cultivate our own food, domesticate animals and use fire and metals. Unlike us, animals have no taste buds. They do not need to seek higher knowledge so that’s why they have not been given intelligence. It is said that when the Gods created us, we were not supposed to be made intelligent. But some among the Gods defied the rule and passed on intelligence and knowledge to us. The Forbidden Apple eerily resembles the shape of the vagina which could mean that we were told not to get into the infinite loop of procreation like animals and we were meant to use our intelligence to seek higher knowledge.

I do not believe that anyone is born with higher IQ than others. It is said that we are listening and feeling from the time we are in our mother’s womb. What we experience right from our mother’s womb through our infancy and in our growing up years affects our mental makeup positively or adversely. The well-being of relationships between couples could determine the makeup of children even when they are conceived. Ancient Indian texts describe in detail how to live our lives and all these factors have been taken into consideration when writing them down. We overlook everything because of our ignorance and this is precisely why the apple was forbidden.