Sunday, 26 April 2009

I am Ill

Yes, I am. I have been ill since Friday. That explains why I posted only once on Friday. I did turned the computer on to check if had new comments, but didn't have the energy to write a post. This is more of a tweet than a proper blog post. I have to, therefore, abandon the idea of writing the series as I planned here. I will have to rely on links instead. Will post tomorrow.

An yes, it's the weather that has made me sick.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Replanting the Rainforests: The Importance of Rainforests

The title, I think, is enough to indicate that this is either a very long post or a very short one, as the first part of a series. The latter is right. The importance of rainforests and forest in general is ... well, you know that.

Let me start with a story.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Replanting the Rainforests: Projects

I am not writing anything here. Will write a lot in the upcoming posts. Meanwhile, have a look at these projects:

Borneo Reforestation Project
Related Posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Costa Rica (Mono Titi) Project
Related Post: 1

Belize Jaguar Project
Related Posts: 1, 2, 3

I have many things to write ...

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Replanting the Rainforests: Donation

I provided a link for you to donate to the RTR Campaign (if you wished, that is) for the last couple of posts. In case, you've ignored them here's the full message from RTR. Read it. I thought Aprill 22 would be the best day for such a request:

The Earth Day Birthday Campaign is designed to give those of us that care
about the environmental health of our planet a vehicle for effecting change. This is a grass roots campaign that is designed to empower people to help shape the destiny of the Earth without the need of governments and global institutions. This campaign is designed to engage people and to reach across borders and join together all those that care about our environmental future.

Earth Day Birthday - Give a Gift to Our Planet - Replanting the Rainforests

Replanting the Rainforests is not a passive program for conserving existing rainforests. Protecting our last remaining forests is vitally important, but it is not sufficient. Over 80 percent of the planet's native forests are gone! We must do more if we are to maintain a healthy environment for future generations.

Replanting the Rainforests is not another "Plant a Tree" campaign.

Virtually all tree-planting campaigns in third world countries take place on lands that have a history of illegal deforestation. Many programs take place on farmlands. Ask yourself: What do farmers do for a living? They plant things, they grow things, and they cut them down and sell them. This is clearly not the way forward if we want to permanently reestablish our lost forests.

What makes us different?

Sustainably Managed Permanent Rainforest Habitats

The Replanting the Rainforest Program creates Sustainably Managed Permanent Rainforest Habitats. Within these habitats both sustainable forestry and permagriculture techniques will be employed that will as close as possible mimic natural processes so as not to upset the continuity of the forest environment. The natural array of biodiversity is meticulously safeguarded, while at the same time we create the economic engine necessary to prevent the un-sustainable exploitation of the resource.

Our focus is to find under-producing agricultural lands, cattle ranches and degraded forests and restore them to more natural conditions. Our methods include analog forestry, wildlife habitat enhancement, biomass carbon negative energy production, and BioChar soil augmentation and edible forest gardens.

The Earth Day Birthday Campaign is run by the Eco Preservation Society in conjunction with Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation and the Rainforest Trust and in cooperation with TreeBanking LLC, and I Empower U.

We are Turning the Tide on Global Deforestation

Our Campaign Goals ---- Find Out How We Do It! ---- Get Involved

Letter from our CEO:

Dear Friend,

Welcome to Give a Gift to Our Planet - Replanting the Rainforests. Thank you for joining.

Through the venue of social media, over the course of just 3 weeks, The Earth Day Birthday Campaign has been joined by nearly 3000 people from more than fifty countries across the globe. Day by day the campaign continues to grow and the excitement build.

In another time and in another era this would have been impossible. In our era things are possible that were previously beyond imagination. Within this group lies the power to reach out to every corner of the globe. Within this group lies the power to reshape the destiny of our planet.

This is a call for action for all of those that share my passion and vision for the need to chart a new course for our future. It is no longer enough to sit back and wait for someone else to solve the problems that are faced by our Mother Earth. This is our time to make a difference. The world is in desperate need of solutions and we have solutions. All that is lacking is the will to act.

Now is not the time to talk and complain. Now is the time to seize control of our destiny. We have everything we need before us to reshape the world for future generations. We must act and we must act with purpose and resolve to avoid the catastrophe that our world faces.

I am asking each and every one of you to reach out to everyone that you know and invite them to join our cause and to let them know that we can make a difference. We need to make people aware that we have the power to change the course that we are on. Awareness precedes action and we must make people aware that there are solutions and that they have the power to make things right.

Make your voice heard. We need not wait for politicians and power brokers to shape our destiny. We have the power to shape our own destiny and to make a better world for our children and for future generations and it all starts with you.

Thank You!

Warm Regards,

Kevin Peterson, Founder
Eco Preservation Society
Replanting the Rainforests

Follow the link if you wish to donate. And you'll donate nothing to me. Everything will go to this campaign. And if you thought this is the last RTR post from me, let me tell you it's not. I'll keep posting for a while. Cheers!

Replanting the Rainforests: Carbon Sequestration in Soils

I've already talked about Biochar at length. It seems that there are more ways apart from Biochar to sequester carbon in the soils.

Here's simple set of data enough to make things clear:

• One hectare = 10,000 sq. metres
• Soil 33.5 cm deep (1 foot approx)
• Bulk density = 1.4 tonnes per cubic metre
• Soil mass per hectare = about 4,700 tonnes
• 1% change in soil organic matter = 47 tonnes
• Which gives about 27 tonnes Soil Carbon
• This captured 100 tonnes of atmospheric CO2

This is from a report by Soil Carbon. Have a look at it, it's pretty good. There's a plenty of information on this subject. But the first article argues that: 'As reasonable as a simple “1 % increase” may sound, it appears not to be scientifically valid.'

The FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN) estimates that the soils can contain twice as much carbon as the atmosphere. (The extensive report by the FAO can be found here.) It says (page 19):

Soils are the largest carbon reservoir of the terrestrial carbon cycle. The quantity of C stored in soils is highly significant; soils contain about three times more C than vegetation and twice as much as that which is present in the atmosphere(Batjes and Sombroek, 1997). Soils contain much more C (1 500 Pg of C to 1 m depth and 2 500 Pg of C to 2 m; 1 Pg = 1 gigatonne) than is contained in vegetation (650 Pg of C)and twice as much C as the atmosphere (750 Pg of C). Carbon storage in soils is the balance between the input of dead plant material (leaf and root litter) and losses from decomposition and mineralization processes (heterotrophic respiration). Under aerobic conditions, most of the C entering the soil is labile, and therefore respired back to the atmosphere through the process known as soil respiration or soil CO2 efflux (the result of root respiration – autotrophic respiration – and decomposition of organic matter – heterotrophic respiration). Generally, only 1percent of that entering the soil (55 Pg/year) accumulates in more stable fractions (0.4 Pg/year) with long mean residence times.

The report is 129 pages long. It's useless posting excerpts from every chapter. You had better read it. I will highlight some of the key points here.

As I was saying earlier, the FAO report doesn't exactly validate the statistics provided by Soil Carbon. The carbon contents of the soil vary with the condition of the soil, i.e. dry or wet. It says that carbon content ranges between 7 tons and 24 tons in normal (non-depleted) soils, depending on the climate zone and vegetation. If we make a few calculations we'll find that an increased carbon sequestration of 14 tons/hectare is the best possible value – much less than the value SC provides.

Soil Carbon reckons that ruminant grazing plays an essential part in restoring the soils, sequestering carbon and, of course, keeping an ecosystem healthy. But the FAO doesn't agree wholeheartedly with this either. It argues that while their role is important, ruminant creatures don't increase the net amount of carbon in the soils; they merely shift carbon from one piece of land to another. The FAO also highlights the fact that cattle release methane (a much more dangerous GHG than carbon dioxide) into the atmosphere.

But such disagreements between the FAO and SC are beside the point here. And that too, is just a difference of numbers. I think both the FAO and SC agree on one common environment-friendly point. We can (and we need to) sequester more carbon in soils. That can act as a weapon against GHGs and Global Warming. The farmlands will also be improved. To cut a long story short, it'll benefit us almost as much as Biochar.

That's it!

Happy Earth Day

I have been meaning to write this post ever since I participated in the RTR Campaign. I was sure from the very beginning that my first post on April 22 would have the title Happy Earth Day. Now, after writing the title, I'm feeling uncomfortable about the title. I mean, how exactly can I wish you a "Happy" Earth Day when there's no reason we should be happy about. On the contrary, there are things which can actually make us unhappy.

Should I be happy when Kolkata has had the hottest April ever – a clear indication of the ever-increasing grasp of Global Warming – at 42° C (107.6° F)?

Should I be happy because of the fact that we're still wasting energy shamelessly? Or should I be happy to experience frequent power cuts as the power stations are running low of conventional energy resources?

Should I be happy that many species of animals in India are just one step away from extinction? Should I be happy that the number of the Royal Bengal Tigers is decreasing rapidly? Should I be happy that mangroves of the Sundarbans (the Royal Bengal Tigers' dwelling place and the largest mangrove forest in the world) are severely damaged due to sea-level rise?

Or should I be happy because the groundwater of Kolkata is no longer at a safe level? Or because the groundwater in some places of West Bengal (which, needless to say, are far away from the sea) have become a bit saline?

Even if I don't talk about my own state, I find even fewer reasons to be happy about.

Should we be happy because the rainforests are in danger? Should we be happy that the Mono Titi, jaguars, orangutans are endangered? (This 'endangered' is not the IUCN classification.)

Should we be happy that the ice in the polar region is melting? Should we be happy that the amount of GHG emission is still very high? Should we be happy for sea-level rise?

Should we be happy that we have not yet put unconventional energy resources (like solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy among many others), our possible saviour, to full use? Or should we be happy because of ozone depletion?

On and on I can go. But I need not. We know the answer.

No, if we look at the present scenario, we can't help being unhappy. But we should be happy on Earth Day 2009 as there is hope, however faint it might be. We are thinking and acting. We are trying to replant the rainforests and preserve the balance in our ecosystems. That's only one part of our efforts. We are devising new methods to save our earth everyday.

Please, please, swear on your earth that you'll try to save it with all your might.

Done it? Now tell me if you're unhappy.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Replanting the Rainforests: The Secret of El Dorado

Now you know the secrets, don't you?

Donate, if you wish.

Replanting the Rainforests: Biochar Video

After the last post, here's this:

Donate, if you wish.

Replanting the Rainforests: Biochar

[Once again, this is my reinterpretation.]

Now the first question is: what is biochar?

Simply –

Soil enriching, carbon gobbling, lo-tech remedy to greenhouse emissions


The Biochar (you can split this word, of course) technology is not a new invention. Our ancestors (much more intelligent than we are) devised this ages ago. We know Biochar by another name. Terra preta, or "dark earth" in Portuguese, is found in the Amazon basin. The soils were created by humans in about 450 BC (see the last link). It is reportedly regenerating itself.

We can create Biochar by pyrolysis of biomass. That is, we have to heat biomass under low-oxygen conditions.

Now the question is: how exactly can Biochar help us?

The answer is long.

First thing first. While Biochar is produced, not only does the process not release the carbon content of the heated biomass into the atmosphere, but the process draws more carbon (in form of carbon dioxide) from the atmosphere. It doesn't stop at that either. Biochar is able to sequester carbon in the soils for millenia. Therefore, it can consume more carbon from the atmosphere and increase its own volume by regenerating itself and rebuild the geological carbon sink.

The microorganic activities in the Biochar soils are very high. Such microorganisms improve the soil by fixing more carbon and making it more nutrient-rich and fertile. Moreover, there's little chance that Biochar will be damaged or the soil will erode. So we won't require any extra measure to conserve it.

Apart from drawing carbon dioxide (a major Greenhouse Gas or GHG), it absorbs other significant GHGs from the atmosphere. It also decreases the soil emissions of GHGs. According to the Wikipedia article, it can "reduce N2O [nitrous oxide] emissions by up to 80% and completely suppress methane emissions." That's one of the best ways to fight Global Warming. To add to this list, Biochar can also act as a source of renewable energy. The energy used to create Biochar can power tractors. Also see this.

Apart from reducing environmental pollution, it can also help us socially, economically and, of course, agriculturally. As it increases the fertility of the soil, the production of crops is much higher. It can help the economy. But most importantly, we can do away with hunger and insecurity of food. It can also help us cut down the high costs of irrigation and harmful chemical fertilizers. (Have a look at this article to see how we've already been benefited from Biochar.)

Wait, there's more. It can also act as a dietary supplement for animals and improve the quality of drinking water. It can reduce the acidity of soil too.

In case you thought that wasn't enough, I haven't really discussed the main thing – the relation between biochar and the rainforests.

One of the main causes of deforestation in the tropical areas is the increasing need of farmlands. Slash-and-burn method is used widely. Apart from destroying the trees, the process harms bio-diversity.

Biochar can create highly fertile lands and put an end to the practice of deforestation. It will restore the ecological balance by saving the forests and wildlife. Biochar will not only save the forests, but will do something the forests do – prevent pollution.

I don't need to say more, do I?

There's a fascinating video on Biochar. I thought that I'd include that in this post but decided against it. That deserves separate viewing. Will post two videos in an hour or so..

Donate something, if you wish.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Replanting the Rainforests: Tree Avalanching 1

I must admit that I didn't hear the term "Tree Avalanching" till I came across this article. But as I have to write things about this subject, this post is, more or less, heavily dependent on that article. In other words, this is nothing but my reinterpretation.

The article begins with a theory I talked about in this post – that we should not just plant trees, we should restore the forests. To quote the article, replacing deforestation with reforestation must meet the following three requirements:

  • The trees must be able to fund land preservation.
  • The trees must be able to diversify.
  • The trees must be able to fund more acquisition of more land.

Point # 1:
What use is tree plantation or reforestation if we aren't able to protect it? We have to preserve the land where we are reforesting. Otherwise, it'd become a victim of tree poaching. As the article indicates, we don't need another law to protect the forest. We need activity.

Point # 2:
This is pretty simple. We need a variety of trees. And "continuous monocrop plantations of trees all of the same age" face a huge risk. The trees easily fall prey to insects, pests and diseases. Naturally, they would spread more easily when there's only one kind of tree in a particular area than when there are various trees. Can we really call something a forest if it had only one species of tree?

Point # 3:
This is best explained like this:

Most reforestation efforts are being spent on plantations, not on genuine new
forests. We use the term "reforestation" a lot, but in reality, unless the lands
are permanently returned to forest, you are not reforesting, you are raising a
crop of trees. Tree plantations can reduce commercial pressure on remaining
forests, but they are not themselves new forests. Just like a loss of trees is
not deforestation unless the land usage permanently changes, it isn't
reforestation unless the end result is a forest.

Now let's come to the point of the post – Tree Avalanching.

There is a way to pay the trees. We call it the Tree Avalanche. The Tree Avalanche works by using donated trees to create a pioneer forest of valuable wood. Among these trees are also planted the succession trees that will make up the more mature rainforest. Most tropical succession trees require shade to grow; that's why planting pioneer species speeds up the creation of the new forest.

The article explains this with a beautiful story we all have read in our childhood. It's about a king and a beggar. The beggar wanted something really negligible from the king. The following day, he wanted twice that amount and so on. It would have continued for days if a mathematician hadn't pointed out that the king would go bankrupt after a few days.

At first, the pioneer trees are planted. Over a long period of time, the succession trees are planted. But the pioneer trees are gradually removed. That'll not only make way for the new trees but will also bring money for improving the forest. This programme serves all the requirements simultaneously.

Firstly, after removing the pioneer trees and planting the succession trees, we will have a true, diversified forest.

Secondly, we can invest the money earned from the pioneer trees on planting more trees. Note that we'll not chop trees mindlessly. We will just remove and sell the "sellable" parts without harming the forest in any way. That will make the forest cover greater. Therefore, we'll have a greater area of forest.

But there's something it can't do. We will have to do that. We will have to protect them. But that isn't a very difficult task. If there's enough job opportunity for the local people in and around the forests, that'll do. Not only will the forest help them earn their bread, but it will be loved and protected by them. Isn't that the best possible protection?

I just realised that I learned a lot more about reforestation after writing this post. But have to stop now. Expect more posts on this.

Donate something, if you wish.

Replanting the Rainforests: In Papua New Guinea

I read the title of the video 3 times before I was sure I wasn't wrong.

I did intend to write something but I don't quite know what I should write.

Donate something, if you wish.

Replanting the Rainforests: Sustainably Managed Permanent Rainforest Habitats

Finally, I'm getting back to writing.

Today, we're talking about Sustainably Managed Permanent Rainforest Habitats. Here's an introduction from the RTR website:

The Sustainably Managed Permanent Rainforest Habitat concept is a key differentiation point with other Tree Planting projects run by other organizations.

Because these programs do not have control of the lands where the trees are planted and in most cases the trees are planted in areas that have a history of deforestation. Many programs take place on farmlands. Ask yourself: What do farmers do for a living? They plant things, they grow things, and they cut them down and sell them.

What we do is different. Our projects mix a variety of technologies to create an economic engine to support the creation of these habitats. These technologies include analog (sustainable) forestry, wildlife habitat enhancement, biomass carbon negative energy production, BioChar soil augmentation and edible forest gardens (Permaculture).

That's where the uniqueness of this programme lies. We just don't want to grow trees in our locality. We want to – we need to – regrow the whole of the rainforests. There's a lot of difference between planting a tree randomly and replanting an entire rainforest. As you have understood, such scattered tree plantation does not make up for the loss of the rainforests because that doesn't support a habitat. Nor does it offer us so many benefits as the rainforests do.

At present, much of the forest cover we had 100 years ago, is lost. As a result, many species of animals are extinct today. Therefore, the bio-diversity is considerably endangered today. That's not the only loss. We have been victims of pollution in water, air and soil – a direct effect of deforestation. While we are being more conscious about the benefits from trees and the bad effects of deforestation, we are not really doing what we should do. We are planting trees at random places. Although that's a very admirable effort and must be encouraged, that doesn't offer a solution to the bigger problem.

Surely we can't expect our backyard trees to be the dwelling-place of jaguars and orangutans, can we? Can we expect the trees we planted to control the climate of our entire region? Can we ensure that our trees will prevent landslides, draughts and floods? Will they provide us with 30% of our planet's fresh water? Will they give us what the rainforests do?

Of course, you know the answers, don't you?

Yes, we need to restore – and if possible, create – the rainforests for the very same reasons. We have to give the habitat back to the animals, whom we've treated so wrongly. We need to create habitats which are permanent. We need to create habitats which we can manage well. And finally, we need to create habitats which can be sustained.

We don't want to see a time to come when the existence of the rainforests and the animals of the forests is limited to picture story-books. If such days are ahead, we must be aware of the fact that we won't even have a place in such books either.

So plant a tree, for sure. But also think about the forests.

Here's an awesome video.

Donate something, if you wish.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Replanting the Rainforests: From BOS Sanctuary

It's the last post today. Actually, I was not able to write anything today for many a reason. From tomorrow, I will start writing.

So wait...

Replanting the Rainforests: Another Video on the Orangutans

This may present the facts you already know, but it's quite interesting:

Replanting the Rainforests: A Video on the Jaguars in Belize

I won't write anything creative today as well. The writing will start tomorrow. Another video:

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Replanting the Rainforests: Saving the Orangutans

Watch the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation team here trying to save the orangutans:

On This Day in 2008, I Was Informed That ...

...I was going to Japan. (The trip I mentioned in my profile.) My mother called me up at probably 11 a.m. She told me that she had just received a call from New Delhi. My passport had to be submitted to the travel agent the following day. I was going to the Land of the Rising Sun in 22 days!

I will soon write more about my Japan trip. Watch out!

I also remember reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban on the 18th of April last year.

And yeah, the Indian Premier League (IPL) started last year on April 18 as well. (I'm adding the label "Sports" to this post, but this may be the only post under this label you'll ever see.) There's no team that I support in the second season of this cricket tournament. There's no choice, actually. The team which had the name Kolkata Knight Riders (you know that Kolkata is my city) have shed the word "Kolkata," for reasons I don't know nor do I wish to. Of course, some very intelligent (perhaps the most intelligent) mind is behind this extraordinary decision. And did I mention that the team have (or the Great Mind has) invented (but I guess, not yet implemented) a brilliant theory: multiple captaincy - as a part of the game strategy. I wonder how much better it'd be if every country had multiple Presidents, multiple Prime Ministers, multiple Queens and Kings and so on ... Surely, it'd benefit every country.

So there's no way I can support my city team when there's none. I have to support teams representing cities my friends are from. But if there's a match - and there will be - between two such teams, I don't know I am going to do.

So enjoy!


My blog template is making me crazy. You'll have a new template within an hour or two.

Replanting the Rainforests: A Video

Have a look at it. It's pretty long by YouTube standard:

Donate here, if you wish to.

Replanting the Rainforests: Orangutan Diaries Preview

I am not wrting anything on RTR today. I am providing a video instead. Here you go:

Go Green!

Friday, 17 April 2009

Replanting the Rainforests: Orangutan on the Brink

One of the many pleasures of childhood is going through every kind of picture-book. I had many of them. Some of the books contained talking animals. And I loved those books! I guess my childhood affection for the cutely-drawn animals is responsible for making me concerned about wildlife today.

One of the animal I liked was the orangutan. For they were always given intelligent, witty dialogues. They were a sort of "respectable" species for me. Around the time my grandfather told me briefly Darwin's Theory of Evolution. He explained it in a way a four-year-old could understand. I was even more glad to know that humans and orangutans were related in some way. (It was only when I studied biology, did I know that both of them are hominoids and, more specifically, part of the same family Hominidae.) When I was about 6 (or maybe 7), I read detective stories where an orangutan was subdued and trained to rob banks or something like that. Though these stories fascinated me no end, the line between fact and [children's] fiction became clear as I grew up.

But somewhere in my mind, the apparently ugly-looking, super-intelligent animal still had a place. Probably that's why I (two years away from my school-leaving exam) was so shocked to read this:

The Sumatran species is critically endangered and the Bornean species of orangutans is endangered according to the IUCN Red List of mammals, and both are listed on Appendix I of CITES. The total number of Bornean orangutans is estimated to be less than 14% of what it was in the recent past (from around 10,000 years ago until the middle of the twentieth century)[.]

I need not say what's responsible for this as this is basically the point of the whole programme:

Orangutan numbers have declined sharply on the only two islands where they still live in the wild and they could become the first great ape species to go extinct if urgent action isn't taken, a new study says.

The declines in Indonesia and Malaysia since 2004 are mostly because of illegal logging and the expansion of palm oil plantations, Serge Wich, a scientist at the Great Ape Trust in Iowa, said on Saturday.

The survey found the orangutan population on Indonesia's Sumatra island dropped almost 14 percent since 2004, Wich said. It also concluded that the populations on Borneo island, which is shared by Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, have fallen by 10 percent. Researchers only surveyed areas of Borneo that are in Indonesia and Malaysia.

See the full article here.

The orangutans don't deserve such short posts. I will definitely come up with more posts on the orangutans. As they say, it's just the beginning.

[Donate something, if you wish.]

Replanting the Rainforests: Jaguar - Part 2

[If you want to contribute to the Replanting the Rainforests campaign, see this page]

Here's more about the urgent condition of the jaguar after the last post:

Jaguars may be large, measuring 1.8m from snout to tail and weighing up to 158kg. They may live in places like Sirena, a tropical rain forest on the southwestern peninsula of Costa Rica, where every day is an ecotourist's Mardi Gras of spider monkeys tumbling over howler monkeys, Muppet-face sloths and toucans and scarlet macaws flapping overhead like crayons with wings. Yet even when other normally shy creatures feel free to make spectacles of themselves, the jaguar remains aloof.


Individual jaguars can be distinguished and accounted for by their singular patterns of spots. This spring, the cameras took a picture of a black jaguar, the first one known in Corcovado. Carrillo is reluctant to make estimates in advance of the data analysis, but he said he expected 50 to 100 jaguars in Corcovado [a biologist] and its environs, a reasonable density for a large meat eater that needs a extensive space to earn a living.

Rabinowitz, author of the influential "eco-memoir" Jaguar: One Man's Struggle to Establish the World's First Jaguar Preserve (2000), said such numbers were on the high end of jaguar statistics and applied to relatively pristine places like the Santa Cruz ranch in Bolivia and his hard-won Cockscomb jaguar preserve in Belize. Elsewhere, however, the jaguar is losing range to familiar culprits like logging, slash-and-burn agriculture and poaching.

More stuff here.

The jaguar is also posed a threat in Belize.

I don't like the fact that I'm writing nothing and providing links to other articles – a sign of laziness. But I want to write something original soon. Have been thinking about it.

Replanting the Rainforests: Jaguar

[If you want to contribute to the Replanting the Rainforests campaign, see this page]

Looking at my last post, I realised that my last post was somewhat cold. I couldn't understand why. You may also find this post very similar to the last one. But I guess this "coldness" is inevitable. I'm discussing the critical state of wildlife. I'm not discussing anything about how to save them. So I don't really have a scope to get creative now. I'll add my comments in future posts.

After Mono Titi or Squirrel Monkeys, we'll now talk about the jaguar. Jaguar conservation has become an important subject now. Here's a brief introduction (from Wikipedia):

The jaguar, Panthera onca, is a big cat, a feline in the Panthera genus. It is the only Panthera found in the Americas. The jaguar is the third-largest feline after the tiger and the lion, and the largest and most powerful feline in the Western Hemisphere. The jaguar's present range extends from Mexico across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina. Apart from a known and possibly breeding population in Arizona (southwest of Tucson), the cat has largely been extirpated from the United States since the early 1900s. There is, however, a high probability that (given the surveyed population in southwestern Arizona) populations of Jaguar exist in other unsurveyed regions within southern Arizona, New Mexico and possibly even Texas.

The jaguar is known as "a largely solitary, stalk-and-ambush predator," but it has never been known as a man-eater. It is located at the end of food-chain or at the apex of ecological pyramid. Therefore, it plays a crucial role in maintaining the stability of an ecosystem. But ...

Inconsiderate deforestation has imperiled this species. The IUCN has declared this species as "Near Threatened," which means "it may be threatened with extinction in the near future." Along with deforestation, poaching and hurricane (which is a result of the change of the climate pattern – another effect of deforestation) are also to blame for this. The "increasing competition for food with human beings" is also a risk factor for the jaguar.

Have a look at this to know better about the present condition of the jaguar.

[Is this post very cold as well? I think so. I am looking forward to the upcoming posts where I want to write in a more creative way.]

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Replanting the Rainforests: Costa Rican Mono Titi

[This the second part in the series Replanting the Rainforests.]

If we need to know the need for saving the rainforests and their present state, we must know how it (or the lack of it) affects us.

We know it very well that bio-diversity is one of the key aspects of our environment. The health of an ecosystem greatly depends on its bio-diversity. The current critical situation of the rainforests has had an adverse effect on bio-diversity.

At present, bio-diversity in Costa Rica has been threatened. The number Mono Titi, a species of squirrel monkey, is decreasing rapidly. Mono Titi is one of the smallest and most peaceful primates. Mono Titi are very dear to the Costa Ricans. You can find more about Mono Titi here.

However, there is great need to save Mono Titi. I will write more posts on Mono Titi soon.

To know more about the dangers Mono Titi are facing now, visit this. It's quite informative.

In the upcoming posts, I will provide links to the Saving Mono Titi project.

Replanting the Rainforests

I don't really need to tell you – and I'm really fed up of telling this to everyone – that our environment is seriously, brutally and almost irreparably endangered. You already know that. But there are some who know it, or shall we say, read and heard about it in details, but refuse to acknowledge the very existence of the environmental pollution. To them, Global Warming is a myth. So is every news that concerns the environment and the pollution that's affecting the environment and us. (By the way, what are we if not a part of the environment?)

No, I don't want to write a high school essay on The Bad Effects of Environmental Pollution, which we forget right after we have written the last word. Our (with "our," I mean the students) environment-consciousness usually stops right after we've scored fascinating marks. That's why I prefer a practical approach to environmental study to a theoretical one. While theoretical environmental study no doubt supplies us with valuable and necessary information, a practical approach enriches us with knowledge. Not any kind of knowledge, the knowledge which makes us think of the environment and protect it from all evils.

That brings us to the point of this post.

I am blogging now to be a part of the programme that's trying to spread this knowledge. I don't imagine in my wildest dreams that my blog, in any possible way, would rescue the planet from its present situation. I am blogging to spread the awareness. With my blog, I will urge everybody to devote their time to think about the condition of our earth. I will request them not to be limited to thinking. I will urge them to be active and do something...anything! If you plant a tree, you are doing something. So, become an active part of it!

With Earth Day coming next week, I start the "Replanting the Rainforests" campaign here. Our precious rainforests are in danger. Over the upcoming posts, I am going to discuss the present state of the rainforests, how important they are (not only from a natural perspective, but a social one as well) and how we should restore them.

We need to act before it's too late. Please think about it.

We can do it! Can we not?

[Note: I couldn't start posting yesterday as I was having problems with the template after the last post.]

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Śubha Nava Varṣa (or Śubho Nôbô Bôrṣô)

[This is the first time I've tried my hands at flower-photography. I switched to the "macro" mode. But the result is not very good. Do tell me if you know how to photograph a flower properly.]

Happy Bengali New Year 1416

Here's Upamanyu wishing you: A Very Happy Bengali New Year (or Śubha Nava Varṣa or Śubho Nôbô Bôrṣô) 1416.

Today is the first day of Voiśākh/ Boiśākh (or Pôela Voiśākh or Pôela Boiśākh).

The first day of the Bengali calendar transports me back to a distant past, a past that was so dear to me. So many colourful events shaped those days. Those days were distinguished by simple, limitless and unadulterated joy. Every single moment those days was filled with wonder. I can never feel the joy and wonder again. That's why this day makes me simultaneously sad and cheerful: sad, because I know I can never get the days back, and cheerful, because I can almost feel the joy and wonder of those days.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

100 Hours of Astronomy: The Final Word

It's finally over. The 100 Hours of Astronomy. The hundred hours went away as if they were a dream. But they were a dream. How else can I explain the immense joy I derived from organising the 100HA events? Now that the 100 hours are over, I'm looking back at the event and penning -- sorry, blogging -- my thoughts about it.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

100 Hours of Astronomy:Day IV

April 5
This was the final day of the 100 Hours of Astronomy. It was very saddening to close the event. The whole event was as enchanting as a beautiful dream. I will cherish the 100 Hours for ever.

Now let's talk about the event of the final day. Wait, there's not a lot to talk about. No, I'm not feeling lazy to write the report. But I've observed that all my previous reports had a sense of déjà vu. I'm pretty sure that if I start writing the event report of Day IV it will be nothing but a rehash of the reports of Days I, II and III (especially of Day III).

Here's the short of it:
From 10 a.m. in the morning I started showing webcasts. I also showed the NASA DVD on Saturn. The number of attendees was the highest this day. Therefore, I had to entertain the guests in several batches. The reaction was great, to say the least. (I can't find any other synonyms of "great." I've used a lot.) It was a busy day for all of us. People were disappointed with the observing session. But that's not my fault. You can do nothing if the sky remains clouded. Only the Moon was somewhat visible. So the observing session was not as satisfying.

But if you ask me how the day was, I'd say just one word: Excellent!

Here are the parting images of the 100 Hours of Astronomy from Kolkata. I could take these photos only after the participants left.

100 Hours of Astronomy - The Moon Behind the Clouds (2)

A rare moment when I could see the Moon fully.

Otherwise...Behind the clouds...

100 Hours of Astronomy - The Shielded Moon

The photos are not good. I know, I know.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

100 Hours of Astronomy: Day III

April 4
Of all four days, this was easily the finest. The 100 Hours of Astronomy couldn't get any better for me. This was the busiest and most noisy day as well. After the good reaction to the events of the first two days (reports: Day I, Day II), people came in pouring. In fact, at one point, it became quite difficult to manage the crowd and, you won't believe this, count the attendance. It was overwhelming in every possible way.

100 Hours of Astronomy: Day II

3 April
The second day of the 100 Hours of Astronomy was not really satisfying for me as an event organiser in terms of public outreach.

Monday, 6 April 2009

100 Hours of Astronomy: Day I - Part 2

2 April
Oh, what a wonderful experience I had!

This was the first event for 100 Hours of Astronomy I organised for the public. (I did one before, but it was not open to the public.)

And it was brilliant.

The programme for this day was aimed at some students of a local school. The program was also open to some of their guardians. I persuaded those guardians for long before they finally allowed their children to come here.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Server Not Found (or How My ISP Almost Destroyed the 1OO HA)

This error message (and its variations like "The Page Cannot Be Displayed") irritates you and me, of course. But never before, I guess, this message has made me cry...well, almost.

That's what happened to me yesterday and the day before. Before I could submit my further plans for 3-5 April on the 100 Hours of Astronomy website, my truly great server went off. You may argue that reporting doesn't mean much (or anything at all) if I really celebrate the 100 Hours of Astronomy and reach out to everybody. And I'd agree with you, no doubt.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

100 Hours of Astronomy: Day I - Part 1

What more can I say except that the very first hour of the 100 Hours of Astronomy was underwhelming for me?

I didn't really intend the first hour of 100 Hours of Astronomy to be like this. As you know, the 100 hours started from April 2. I wanted it to start with observing the sky through my telescopes. So I was there on my terrace with my two telescopes. The people I invited were there.

I scheduled an observation session from 00:01 to 01:01. But, alas, I was disappointed.

I was ready. I had everything ready. But something undesirable -- and also unchangeable -- happened. The weather in Kolkata proved a dampener for me. The sky was overcast! The red clouds created an impenetrable wall between the two of us -- the sky and yours truly. How much I loathe those red clouds!

But I was not completely disappointed. I did get a very faint and very brief view of Saturn. Just that, nothing else!

But astronomy isn't limited to observation. 100 Hours of Astronomy means the endless celebration of this branch of science, right? So who can possibly stop my celebration?

I will do more stuff today, involving even a greater number of people.

The celebration has begun. You better take part in it before it's too late.

[For more on this topic, click on the labels]

100 Hours of Astronomy: The Beginning

Ah, it's begun. We have started celebrating!

As part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009), astronomers worldwide have started celebrating 100 Hours of Astronomy.

Astronomers -- professional, amateur or otherwise -- and even astronomy-lovin' non-astronomers from almost every corner of the world are participating in this.

How proud I am to say that I started celebrating the 100 Hours of Astronomy before most people could. I have to thank the longitude of Kolkata for this.

I'll be organising various 100 Hours of Astronomy events here in Kolkata and around. I aim at reaching out to as many people as possible. I will be holding events at various locations, including schools. As a member of NASA's Saturn Observation Campaign, I will show films on the planet Saturn. It's also a great that Saturn can now be observed easily. And, of course, there's this telescopic event. I'll organise the events also a representative of Prof. Dhiranando Roy Study & Research Centre. I'll be holding events everyday there.

[Note: If you live in Kolkata and want to participate, please leave necessary details at the comments section of this page. Please provide your email.]

Coming up: DAY I - Part 1