How Mother Nature defines summer this year

As Summer rages on with the grilling of Mother Earth, some of the inhabitants of this planet are left high and dry by the hot, dry weather, while others are drenched in everlasting rain and wind. One thing is obvious: Mother Earth is changing; whether for better or worse is yet to be seen. but while Nature take its anger out on us for whatever we had done to her, let us put into a short list of the hurt we have caused her, and try to reflect on what we can do to appease the Mother.

Groundwater

If the following Yahoo News article is exemplary of the dangerous repercussion on overusing a certain resource, then it would be better that we take heed of the early warning signs and do something to remedy the situation. For those who do not know what groundwater is, the simplest definition by Wikipedia states that:

Groundwater (or ground water) is the water located beneath Earth’s surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formations. A unit of rock or an unconsolidated deposit is called an aquifer when it can yield a usable quantity of water. – Wikipedia

While it gives you a general idea of what ground water can do, it does not provide detail information on the effects of depleting and polluting groundwater. While researching on the effects it have on the piece of land, the author came across an interesting Jstor article which details the effects of groundwater depletion on vegetation. For the masses who finds the information too much for digestion, the author here managed to digest it into simple anatomy explanation that hopefully readers can understand.

Imagine the earth as a joint in any part of your body. The surface represents the skin, underground water as the synovial fluid, tectonic crusts as your joint cartilage, and the bone, muscle and ligaments are your mantle where gravitational fluxes are generated, and most probably what causes Mother Earth to rotate as she has always been doing. As with what synovial fluid does for your joint to allow easy movement and reduces friction, the purpose of groundwater is to create this cushion to prevent overheating and preventing desertification on the surface. it also helps with plant nourishment from deep within, just as it helps with nourishment of your skin, preventing dryness from the inside of your body. what happens when you overuse groundwater? it’s like removing the synovial fluid from your joints, making your joint movements painful and wearing down the more brittle parts of your joints such as the bone and causing skin dryness on the surface, just the same with the depletion or pollution of groundwater. When groundwater is gone or poisoned, the surface which we walk on will slowly heat up, thereby drying up the remaining moisture left on the surface, killing essential nutrients and therefore other life forms, until all nourishment is completely gone, and only sand is left. The end product: Desert.

The author brainstormed on some ways that people affected by the desertification of their land from groundwater lose, can do to remedy the problems they had created (directly or indirectly). One of the ways is to replenish the lost groundwater with replacement fluid. But the replacement fluid needs to adhere to the needs of environmental sustainability. Desalinated water is one possible move that authorities can use to replace the lost groundwater. It may lack in certain nutrients that is required for plant growth but at least it is not devoid of pesticides and other poisonous fluid. Another idea is using collected rainwater to be channeled back into the affected ground. Since this was the original cycle of water movement, and human intervention somehow broke this precious cycle, it is only right to mend the error. But all these are far-fetched ideas until the Authorities realize the importance of re-balancing the ecosystem to sustain their very own lives and their future.

Urban Heat Island

Before this term was finally found, the author had a general idea that the surrounding bricks and metal building that lines almost every inch of cities, big or small, have a part in the continued rising temperature as well as weather patterns of their surrounding environment. This coupled with the amount of vehicles that runs around the space, as well as the fumes that bellows from out of factory chimneys, all have an impact with the weather changes that everyone have been experiencing. After some researching, the term Urban Heat Island of UHI is found to define this phenomenon. But what exactly is UHI?

UHI is defined as:

“Changes occur in their landscape. Buildings, roads, and other infrastructure replace open land and vegetation. Surfaces that were once permeable and moist become impermeable and dry. These changes cause urban regions to become warmer than their rural surroundings, forming an “island” of higher temperatures in the landscape”

As the term suggests, heat that is absorbed by the metal and stone made parts, covered roads and pathways, increases surface temperature by a couple degrees of the surrounding area. As explained by this webpage.

This is possibly one of the main reasons why temperatures are increasing especially in urbanized areas.

As the city expands, so does the temperature across the mass of land. Taking that from a local perspective (in Singapore), the more buildings erected, the more roads paved, the hotter the surrounding temperature of the area. So how can we change to reduce this UHI?

Greenery on the Roof

When the author was travelling around the older estates in Singapore, a number of buildings have either a flat rooftop, or slanted metal roofing. Most of the time, water tanks, and some essential facility machinery can be found on the rooftop. But basically these materials that make up the roof area are usually good absorbers of heat, working much like an oven.

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Credit : http://static.goal.com/176400/176463_heroa.jpg

In fact, there has been a report just a year ago, about the government’s initiative to set a greener example, and the author agrees with this move. Because indeed, without these green roof, the city will continue to see a steady rise in ambient temperature as the years go by. But the question here lies: How long will it take for the city to complete converting a major percentage of metal and mortar roofs to a green roof? And are there more that can be done to further reduce heat retention within the city?

The author might suggest further extending the greenery to not just on the roof, but perhaps on the side walls of the buildings as well (without obstructing the windows). cascading plants like the Hedera species or the vines species can not only beautify the building, but it also helps reduce the heat absorbed by the building by providing shade to the building walls. Furthermore, it can also help reduce carbon footprint by natural photosynthesis.

In any case, the author hopes the idea gets better broadcast, and more can be done to help reduce emitted heat to cool Earth down. Any part played by the community affects the society and the country as a whole. All it takes is a little concern on every individual’s part.

Are you ‘Man’ enough to read this?

What is the definition of Man? Has it even been stated as the dominant half of the human species? Can you find one article that states squarely that man (in the male sense of the species), is the rightful dominant half of the human species, without any implication of chauvinism or misogyny whatsoever? I however, do not deny the many literary texts that sing praises of the male species more significantly superior than female. I do not deny that there are many reasons why they are being termed as more superior. This mainly is because male human species genetically built to endure heavier manual work load due to muscle structural enhancement; the interference of the SRY gene on the Y chromosome interferes the default process of producing a female, and in turn, a male is created. But as it points out that genome mutation led the prevention of further growth to the default female reproductive structure, specifically in the 3rd to 4th month of human pregnancy, so I can assume that all humans were created female initially. If this theory stands, then ancient cavemen were right to worship a female as God, for they brought life to this world, and created man.

This coming March the 8th, the world celebrates the recognition of women contribution to society, no matter how small. The notion of birth is to me the greatest contribution a woman makes to society, and to all females, the greatest contribution to the world. I take this opportunity to salute all mothers, no matter if they are human, or animal, to thank them for their contribution, and to put forth a very serious crime made against them in many ways, by the supposed “failed-default female” or Man.

I read an article recently about the life of Pakistani and Afghanistan women after they were reported to be involved in an acid attack by someone like their husband, or a suitor seeking revenge. What I saw saddens me. Some are too poor to seek medication and by the time help arrives, it is too late to remedy the scar. Now it becomes part of their life. The pain, the endurance and the discrimination against these poor women, who are struggling all their lives since they were born to stay as far away from trouble as possible, who can understand them but only among themselves, trapped and shunned away from society. It was due to the kindness of social workers and documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy that these ladies finally have their dignity restored. A new law passed down from Pakistan impose a mandatory prison term of 14years if found guilty of acid attack.
I applaud the Pakistanis for this movement. But the question now: is it enough? If you are a man (or any form of male species before or after medical mediation), ask yourself the same question. Think about it. Who is it that got you to where you are right now? Who carried you lovingly for 10 long months through all pains to ensure your safe delivery? If you are one who holds a dislike to the women in general, or had done something that caused injury and hurt to them, think of your own mother. Without her, and the sheer intervention of genetics, you would never have been here, or you would be born a default: woman. If you are one who involve yourself in acid attack, think: what if you are her? What if that victim is your mother? How would you feel? Helpless? You can laugh and mock all you want now, but you will suffer the same fate in the end. If you believe in reincarnation, pray that you won’t be the default in your next life, if you are one such male.

So please, there is a reason why is the Earth round; be respectful to all.

Nature to Humans

I came across a spat of disagreement between two of my colleagues who I am till now assumed to be evenly tempered. The sudden build up of tension at a rapid rate to result in my female colleague shouting in anguish, is a sight to behold. The fuel to the tension is just simply over a game that would be played on Friday, but due to the difference in perspective about the same event, we end up with two unhappy people. But that opens a new window of perspective for each other. At least we know now that one is a short tempered person, another is an arrogant subspecies, though both are wonderful people in their own way.

It is just like water and oil, both essential, both unique, but can never be mixed together. That is unless you add flour in between and knead them into a dough. So applied to humans, its theory is still the same.

I think I had run this post too meaningless. I’ll end here with lots more to ponder.

A second view on what Nature is capable of

After a quiz, I am finally able to take some off to unwind and loosen out a little before I grapple with the reality that my assignments are coming to a due soon. So of all the list of movies to watch, I had to choose “The Day after Tomorrow”. I cannot answer why I feel like watching it now, perhaps over the series of changes to environment all around the world. But this is a really good movie, great storyline, although the script is somewhat badly written.

I have to congratulate and applauded the movie maker and producers for the spectacular effects and the impact that this movie have on Global warming as a whole. But I feel that the seriousness of this message is being ridiculously exaggerated to a point that viewers might put it off as a bad joke.

Global warming is a reality, happening rapidly even as I typed out this article. But to the best of my knowledge, I am regretted by the way the movie put an event to over a time phase of a couple of weeks, days even. But it is understandable. A movie timeline cannot be dragged on too long, or it will lose its climax.

But let us go back to the topic at hand. Earth’s deterioration in health has always been a major problem; even now I feel that this issue is still not addressed properly. One reason I can derived and I feel is crucially advertised in this movie is the part where you have an ignorant vice president who still feels that the world is functioning properly as the way he feels like it. I strongly encourage people, no matter young or old, rich, poor, powerful or just staying in a slum, to learn from the mistake this old man did, though in the story, his decision was wrongly made, and rectifying it was just too late.

The story shifts in the later part to focus on humanity, and politics. I especially enjoy the part where people rushed into Mexico from the United States of America. It is common knowledge that the U.S.A and Mexico share a unique relationship that involves a few tussles and treaties to finally come to a see-saw conclusion. Both countries are facing a never ending problem of illegal immigration, drugs and arms trade. But these problems are usually raised by the U.S.A, for they are seemingly healthier in the economic growth. But to see this part of movie, where roles have been reversed, does give a clear statement to not just the U.S.A, but also to well-developed countries all over the world, that one should always be humble and gracious to each other, no matter how poor undeveloped they may seem; For if one day disaster strikes, you may need their help and assistance more than they do you.

On the whole, it is a good movie with all the good intentions a story can get. But to viewers who simply enjoy this movie for the CG effects, you are better off watching James C’s Avatar. But if you are intrigued by what the movie means, try watching it a couple more runs. And think of what you can do to save Earth: your home.

The next Atlantis?

It’s late July nearing August, and I just battled a small pool of water that was collected at my doorstep earlier in the morning. Blessed as I had that no flood water could reach the 15th level of the apartment I stayed in currently, and the ground floor of the house that I moved into sometimes over the weekend for some quiet time. I must say the recent weather here locally is not at its best behaviour. A check through the weather charts showed signs of El Nino activities stretching from late last year till mid this year, and though normal weather activities resumed during late April till early June, it doesn’t stop Mother Nature from showing us who’s the better player when it comes to messing up the climate charts.
 
News in the afternoon blares about the floods affecting the many regions, including the busiest district in Singapore: Orchard Road. Businesses affected, owners frustrated, complained that the building management should do something about it, when their shops are located at a open-concept, basement level!
The flooding earlier in the day is partly due to the tropical storm that travels from the Philippines to southern China, and Vietnam, brought about by the wonderfully mixed warm and cold winds in the South China Sea. So the seemingly innocent morning precipitation, supersized into massive downpour, results in furniture escaping from their owners’ household.
So will Singapore in decades to come, be the next Atlantis? When that time comes, I hope I won’t be in the celebration party then. Because I am a sore loser, I do not want to face Mother Nature in her winning glory.

Are we degrading Earth faster than its struggle to balance?

News about blizzards in Summer, frequent earthquakes, multiple typhoons, numerous floods and unearthly thunderstorms that simply blasts louder every year. These are signs and patterns that seem to echo some form of code year after year. This is generally my own opinion, and you may or may not agree totally to what I am about to put into theory. But I am certain that for some years, these signs and patterns seem to repeat frequently and with increased ferocity.
I would like to group such pattern as a form of natural balance of Mother Earth. Earth, as much as we know its existence, and its powers, there are a lot more to which we do not understand, or we presume to understand but were greatly mistaken.
So the question here now is, as Nature struggles to put the balance back in place, we are busy trying to tip its scale; who is winning? Who is faster?
We dig up and nearly exhaust the natural resources we have, Nature retaliates by giving us the Cold Feets, or a cleanse, or reconstruct our very landscape so that the scale will be balanced once more. But given the sheer number of human population, and the power each individual wields, Nature seems to be losing in the speed department. So it further attack by unleashing a series of weird weather changes, driving our scientists up the wall.
As the battle rages on, it’s time to take sides.Which side do you choose to help?