Bangalore: City’s green cover under threat?

BANGALORE: At a time when the city’s green cover is depleting, the government is thinking of amending the Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act.

If the amendment comes through, anyone and everyone will have the licence to fell trees like mango, neem, guava, sapota, arecanut, jackfruit, without the forest department’s permission.

As per present provisions of the Act, only casuarinas, coconut, erythima, gylerecida, silver oak and subabul can be cut down without permission. But in the amendment proposed by the forest department, 35 other varities have been included. What’s further worrying is that some of these trees are of high biodiversity value. Pongemia, prosopis, rubber, tamarind, burma bamboo, varieties of acacia are also included in the new list.

“The proposal, in its present form, is a threat to the green cover. I understand that the department wants to amend the law because of demands from plantation owners and farmers. But that has to be specified in law. A blanket exemption will only provide licence to chop trees indiscriminately. The move could be a boon to the timber lobby, but will destroy the greenery of Bangalore,” said Vinay Sreenivasa of Hasiru Usiru.

For farmers and plantations only

According to N L Shantkumar, conservator of forests at BBMP: “It’s only at a proposal stage. The government is yet to take a decision. The proposal was put forward to ensure that farmers and plantation owners don’t need to seek permission from the forest department every time they cut down trees. But we don’t know the likely repercussions. Obviously, utmost care should be taken to prevent tree-felling in public places,” he said.

According to forest department sources, the government has sought clarification on some of the clauses in the proposed amendment.

From TOI

Commercial activity around Corbett threatens wildlife

A view of the Corbett National Park. Unhindered commercial activity around Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand is posing a serious threat to this eco-fragile zone and obstructing movement of animals. File Photo; The Hindu


Himalayan glaciers most threatened by global warming

It may be delayed, but smoke particles absorb sunlight and heat greenhouse gases: Prof. V. Ramanathan 

Focus on reducing black carbon, which has a deadly effect on human health

Alternative cooking fuels could reduce deaths and clear the air

NEW DELHI: Just before starting his lecture on ‘Atmospheric Brown Clouds,’ Prof V. Ramanathan admits that people think he has come to dismantle Indian progress.

The Director of the Center for Clouds, Chemistry and Climate, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, San Diego, in a recent address to the International Federation of Environmental Journalists in New Delhi, said the world was already committed to a global warming of 2.5 degrees Celsius.

“Think of greenhouse gases as covering the earth like a blanket,” he starts off.

The blanket traps the heat, but there are also other particles such as sulphates and nitrates in the atmospheric brown clouds, which function as mirrors.

The good news, he says, is global warming may be delayed and the bad news is that smoke particles or mirrors absorb the sunlight and heat the blanket directly.

CFC regulation

Since he left India in 1970 (he was a refrigeration engineer then), he has been publishing nothing but bad news, admits Prof. Ramanathan. One molecule of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) has the same greenhouse effect as have 10,000 molecules of carbon dioxide. “If we had not regulated CFC, we would have faced a climate catastrophe.”

In 1980, Prof. Ramanathan predicted that the planet would warm up by 2000. In a 1983 study, he said non-carbon dioxide trace gases contributed as much as CO{-2} to the increase in atmospheric greenhouse effect.

“They thought Ram has gone crazy, but all that came true,” he says.

“I feel sad that the system is behaving as we are predicting it. The only hope we have is that our prediction will be wrong.”

“We have made the blanket thick enough to heat the planet by 2.5 degrees Celsius. The Artic summer ice will be the first to go and the Himalayan glaciers are the most threatened by global warming over 2.5 degrees Celsius.”

There is a 50 per cent probability that the planet will warm by 2.5 degrees Celsius “because of what we have already done.” There was a failure to anticipate this all along.

The “mirrors” (sulphates, nitrates, etc) in the atmospheric brown clouds mixing with rain form acid and it is no longer a good idea to rush out and feel the first rains. “When the mirrors are gone, you get the full blast of global warming.”

The last G8 meeting said emissions would be cut by 50 per cent by 2050.

However, CO{-2} concentration is still increasing and even with the aim of reducing emissions by 50 per cent, only the rate of warming would be slowed down.

“The world thinks that if you cut CO{-2} emissions all will be fine,” he says.

Uncertain science

The science of climate change is uncertain at best; even if the Copenhagen summit succeeds, temperatures could rise in the future to 3.5 per cent, Prof. Ramanathan forecasts. Pointing fingers is not a solution, he says, quoting Mahatma Gandhi that an eye for an eye will make all of us blind.

Referring to his own study, initially called the Asian Brown Cloud, Prof. Ramanathan admits that it was a mistake.

Brown clouds are everywhere now, and they absorb sunlight and have the direct impact of suppressing rain. India is darker by 5-10 per cent, and its rainfall pattern is changing. Even in China, the same thing is happening. Glaciers are surrounded by brown clouds; even on Mount Everest, there is evidence of black carbon deposition, apart from soot on the Tibetan glaciers and the Artic.

The Himalayan glaciers also show evidence of black carbon. The hope lies in the fact that black carbon in the atmosphere is 55 per cent. Alternative cooking fuels could reduce human deaths and clear the air, so to speak, and there is need to focus on reducing black carbon, which has a short life of less than 10 days in the atmosphere. But black carbon and smoke have a deadly effect on human health. Indian contributes six per cent black carbon, though its contribution of biofuels is just one per cent. China accounts for about four times more.

The last slide in Prof. Ramanathan’s presentation showed his little granddaughter on his shoulder. “Need a personal reason for wanting to solve the problem? Lead by USA and Europe is critical for reducing committed warming. Engagement of Asia is critical for reducing future commitment,” he says.


Himalayan treasures threatened

Himalayan treasures threatened

Himalayan treasures threatened

 The balance of life within the Eastern Himalayas is threatened by climate change, says the WWF in a new report. Yet the region is home to a treasure trove of new species only discovered in the past decade.