News & Notes 716:The Green Column Returns
The Green Column Returns
Welcome to the Green Column, returning to its bi-weekly rhythm after a prolonged break this summer!
Auroville has experienced a long scorching summer, leading to severe water stress in which the groundwater levels sank alarmingly, some wells ran dry, and water-saving tips appeared weekly in the News. Then came the Southwest monsoon bringing us an unexpected 153 mm of rain in July, and between the 1st and the 20th August it rained another 195 mm - exceptionally high figures for the summer rains. Except for the trees we did lose, most vegetation has revived, and Auroville looks lush and green again.
Elsewhere in India the Southwest monsoon has caused havoc with rivers in spate, floods, water-ravaged agricultural lands, food shortages and millions of displaced people. The world at large experienced many extreme weather events these last months: droughts and floods, earthquakes and hurricanes - the latest hurricane called Maria is hitting the Eastern Caribbean island of Dominica with winds of 260 km /hour right now - unleashing their destruction on the Caribbean, southern USA and Florida, Mexico as well as the Philippines, bringing untold suffering with millions of people rendered homeless.
Economic losses from natural calamities are reaching 300 billion US Dollars a year and have a disproportionate impact on small and vulnerable countries, where they are often additionally worsened by violent conflict (Sub-Sahara Africa, South Sudan, Nigeria ,Ethiopia, Myanmar/Bangladesh), as reported in the latest UN Global Assessment of Food Security and Nutrition, which was launched in Rome recently.
Towards the end of the next month we are expecting our Northeast monsoon, and hopefully we will be prepared with bunding, water catchment ponds, rain water harvesting and related measures in place. It is to be hoped that Chennai would have learned from the disastrous floods two years ago, which were caused by the concreting over of its natural waterways (through which floodwater has to drain to the sea), with illegal building sites sprouting up everywhere, and storm water drains having insufficient capacity to handle the floodwater.
The Green Column reports on green matters in Auroville, the Bioregion and the wider world. News on the environment can be found everywhere; positive news tend to get overshadowed by negative ones but they do exist: The exponential growth of Solar energy, increase of electric transport, new inventions to conserve energy, as well as ever greater public discussion and participation followed by petitions, protests and action via Social media are heartening. On the other hand, it is hard to ignore the damage wrought by illegal logging, monoculture, palm oil plantations, pesticide use and GMOs, illegal mining and encroachment in protected areas, hunting, fishing and poaching of large species causing an enormous loss of wildlife, and the serious pollution of land, water and air. Climate Change with its extreme weather events are an indisputable fact; unfortunately whether it is man-made (anthropogenic) is still not recognised by everybody on our very finite planet, whose resources are diminishing at an alarming rate.
On all such issues, and especially practical topics relating to Auroville and our neighbourhood, we hope to report in this Column. For this, we look forward to your lively participation, feedback and discussions. Do write to us at: avgreencenter (at) auroville.org.in.
A warm welcome to Island, experienced forester and active member of the Forest Group, as a new contributor. The Sunday Walks to Farms & Forests will only resume from mid-January till the end of April next year.