‘Save the blood of earth!’ is the touching campaign by DGN Raja Gopalan, from Kuttrallam, RID 3212 the land of the medicinal waterfalls and the healing breeze. He has hands on experience cleaning lakes in his district.
Many lakes need just a little help to keep them clean. The local people living around the lake need to feel that a dirty lake can harm their children’s health.
I went to see the Chittlapakkam Lake in Tambaram. It had been cleaned just a couple of months ago. Already patches of water hyacinth were beginning to grow. Removing them now would be easy. A few months later it would take a lot of more men, machines and money. On the far side, I can see a garbage dump. Bit by bit, the garbage is sliding into the lake. In the pristine water there are lot of plastic covers on the edges. There is a beautiful walking track and benches. It could be a beautiful recreational spot. Locals have asked for lights to be put up around the walking track. The Rotary Club of Tambaram is seeking support from 21 Rotary clubs to do this.
The point is, the lake is like your drawing room. You need to clean it and watch it every day. A little cleaning can prevent it from becoming a multi crore rupee health hazard. It is your lake, go look at it. Plant trees around it. Pick up some garbage. Talk to other walkers, see your local civic officers, tell them what’s happening. And you will have a beautiful lake attached to your home.
With best wishes and regards,
PDG Dr. Rekha Shetty
WASRAG, WATER AMBASSADOR, RID 3232
That Mount Kailash the home of the Gods and even Everest, is littered with plastic garbage, is common knowledge. But unseen, in the depths of the beautiful blue ocean, more than 8 million tonnes of plastic is dumped, every year.
This is fuelled by our ‘disposable’ life style. Everything including throw away wedding gowns have ensured that most plastic items are thrown away after just one use. It is estimated that more than 1 million plastic bags are used every minute, many of them ending up in the ocean. ‘No water, no life. No blue, no green’, writes Dr. Sylvia Earle. A plastic bags average ‘work life’ is just 15 minutes.
Plastics are not bio-degradable. In the ocean, plastic doe not dissolve or disintegrate. They remain to affect human health. The movement of waves tears them into tiny pieces which are eaten by fish and sea mammals who slowly choke and die a lingering painful death. They are then eaten by birds and human. The chemicals are also released into air and water.
Plastics contain lead, cadmium, mercury and carcinogens like DEHP and BPA. An average person produces half a pound of plastic waste every day. How can we be more responsible about cleaning up after ourselves?
Huge plastic islands have been created because of ocean flows. The great Pacific Garbage Patch is larger than the State of Texas. Five such patches have been discovered.
What can we do to protect the oceans?
- Buy a cloth or paper bag
- Choose products packaged in bio-degradable materials.
- A predominantly fish diet is a hazard
- Be responsible for disposal of your garbage
- Recycle plastic
God gave us the infinite oceans. Let us save them before it is too late!
It is said that early civilizations around the Nile, Tigris, Europhrates, Indus and the Yellow river were all destroyed due to soil degradation and soil erosion, leading to food scarcity and starvation. In the first Sahara African drought, 2,00,000 people and millions of their animals died.
China grew a Great Green Wall with 66,000,000,000 trees to prevent the desert from advancing. American farmers did the same in the 1930s to stop the advance of the Mid West Dust Bowl. Jojoba plantations, have played a role in combating the effects of desertification in the Thar Desert, India. Green belts are the best way to protect fertile land and prevent desertification
My city Chennai should be called the ‘Blue City’ because it is on the sea coast and blessed with 134 lakes and three rivers. Unfortunately, all these water bodies are polluted or drying up. On June 17th the world celebrates World Day to Combat Desertification and drought. It is no surprise that this year, all 32 districts of my state, Tamil Nadu have been declared drought striken.
In our case, this problem has arisen because of human activities. Desertification as a process has become a global ecological problem. Deserts appear as a result of natural processes. But many times desertification is man made. This leads to the loss of water bodies denuding of vegetation and the death of wildlife. It happens as a result of greed and misuse of natural resources…
So plant at least 12 trees a year. Get involved in the protection and cleaning of a water body. Refuse to consider living in building being built on a reclaimed lake. Promote sustainable agricultural practices. Buy food from those who promote such practices. Invest in helping people continue to live in villages, instead of triggering large scale migration to cities, due to poverty.
The success of Rajinder Singh India’s water man, also called ‘Water Gandhi’ in the deserts of Rajastan prove that these processes are reversible through proper practices of water management. Much of this happens due to human induced land degradation.
He leads villagers in the footsteps of their ancestors to bring dormant rivers back to life. The key is participatory community action, empowerment of women and linking indigenous knowhow with scientific technologies.
Dr. Rekha Shetty
The recent cyclone in Chennai, Vardha last December, uprooted 100 year old trees and turned green Chennai to a sad brown town. Unless each of us makes an effort to replace these portable oxygen factories, Chennai and its environment will suffer a shortage of rain and shade.
Forests cover 1/3 of the earth’s surface. They sustain 1.6 billion people as a source of livelihood. More than 80% of all creatures, animals, plants and insects live in these forests. Yet 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed every year and account for 20% of the global green house gas emissions.
The World Bank’s starting point now is to ask how can practices that have often led to significant forest degradation, tax evasion and corruption, be reformed, so that forests contribute more revenue to the State, produce more and better jobs, and result in more sustainable development?
Forests are critical for the planet’s supply of water through rain. Their roots protect ground water supply while preventing soil erosion. Forest watersheds and wetlands supply 75% of the world’s fresh water supplying, one third of our cities drinking water. Forests act as natural water filters.
Manoel Sobral Filho, Director of the UN Forum for Forests, speaks of massive growth of populations in Africa and Asia reaching 8.4billion people in 15 years. Some of the world’s largest cities depend on our forest water resources: Durban, Jakarta, Rio De Janeiro, Bogota, New York and Madrid. 75% of all fresh water is provided through forest catchments. Over 42% of the world’s workforces are heavily water dependent. Forests are a natural safety net during famine providing fruits, leaves, grains, nuts, timber and wood.
After the devastating floods on the Yangtze river in China, reforestation using economically productive trees like chestnut, ginko and bamboo, helped boost average annual income by 150% between 1998 and 2014. In Ethiopia’s Great Rift Valley, forest co-operatives were used to encourage natural regeneration by limiting wood, charcoal and fodder extraction. This improved water availability for 65000 people. Physical and financial security of communities can be greatly enhanced by growing more trees and regenerating forests. In Liberia, timber was once used to buy weapons and fuel. Today forest co-operatives have changed everything.
So every year, plan to plant one tree a month in a protected area in your house, in a school or a community centre. Take your own steps to preserve water and planet earth.
Dr. Rekha Shetty
join those who have sent 45000 children back to school under the Asha Kiran Programme. There is no time to lose. Even as we speak children 8 years old and less are being beaten, abused, assaulted and forced to work. send them back to school.
The year ahead is a blank slate. A white page. The events to come are offstage, waiting in the wings. You have an opportunity to reengineer, to reinvent, to restructure your life. So let’s start the makeover, the new you.
Remember your dreams, your aspirations, things you have always wanted to try, to learn. Listen carefully to yourself. Talk to a friend. Take notes. Look at the four quadrants of your life – family, work, social and personal.
Start with ‘personal’: Before you are a parent, a team member, an elder, you are a person. Usually, people give their own needs the lowest priority. Here are a few suggestions:
Improving health, eating healthy, exercising daily by going for a walk for atleast 45 minutes. Practicing yoga, meditation. Make friends with a young doctor. Find a new hobby or go back to an old one.
Spending more time with family, doing more fun things together, having meals together at least once a day without the distraction of TV, cell phones or newspapers. When you can talk and listen to members of the family, even the small children.
Expanding your sphere of influence, attending training programmes. Reading and trying to improve your wealth of knowledge, or learning by being attentive to other people.
Keeping in touch with the extended family, Meeting old friends. Becoming involved in an NGO or neighbourhood organization to help others, while you spend your spare time usefully. Be decisive do not postpone taking decisions.
During the coming year, identity your new work life balance. Approach it like a menu. See what you want to add and what you want to remove
Study your life for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Pay attention to what is happening to the environment around you. Perhaps a new opportunity awaits in the wings. Be prepared to grab it as walks past!
Many may tell you money is not important. I disagree. You need to fuel your goals with the liquid stuff. What are the new skills you need to operate in the changed environment? Get the training required. Get organized. Get networked. You will need a lot of help to make things happen. Make a plan. Find a way to measure progress and readjust as you go along to reach the goals you have identified. Get set for the New Year!
We can do anything with water except live without it. Imagine, the cities of the UAE, meet all their drinking water needs from desalinated water! Waste water is treated and reused for greenery. There are several sea water desalination plants in the UAE. In the model green city, Masdar, four smaller pilot desalination plants will use solar power! Using an old technology, ocean desalination, a plant in UAE, at Jebel Ali can produce 564 million gallons of water a day from the sea!
Everyone pays for water by public meter, so they are more careful with its use. Water saving toilets and showerheads are mandatory. Over use of water is indicated on the bills in red. It is time we thought about the use of water more carefully, when it is still available. Treating water becomes more and more expensive as we deplete our supplies.
In spite of their water issues, UAE is generously involved in efforts to provide foreign water aid, which include basic water supplies projects, digging wells, developing rivers basins, general hygiene, large scale water supply systems, large scale general hygiene systems and conservation of water resources in more than 61 countries, at a cost exceeding AED 1 billion. Top recipient countries of water projects includes: Afghanistan, Pakistan the only two Polio affected countries where impure water is key source of infection, Lebanon, Somalia and Sudan. In addition, UAE supports water projects in West African countries, such as Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Burundi.
Water projects have contributed in improving the enrolment rates of the school students, and for girls and women joining rates to adult literacy classes. In rural areas around the world, children, especially girls and women, are engaging in a daily journey searching for water, and spending long hours that force them to miss opportunities of education and improving their livelihoods. Funded water projects helped in improving the personal hygiene, which reduced infections of hygiene related diseases. In addition, the availability of water resources saved some time for women to take care of their children and families, which led to improved maternal and child health. It also provides more time for the family to engage in income- generating activities. Also water availability helped in reducing the struggle over water. This helped in reducing conflicts, providing security and peace. For example, Merowe Dam in Sudan, which UAE has helped fund in providing energy of 1250 MW and irrigating 300,000 hectares of cultivated land.
Unless we are careful, we will soon join the 1.2 billion people who live in places where it is tough to get water. It is estimated that climate change is moving more parts of the world into desertification. The world population is expected to cross 9 billion by 2050! Unless we start working on saving water, even on an individual level, most of them will be thirsty. Start rain harvesting today! Start conserving water!
Rotary in the sub continent, under the leadership of RI Director Manoj Desai will hold their annual Institute in Dubai in December 2016. www.dubairotaryinstitute2016.org
Dr. Rekha Shetty