BIG DATA ON NEED TO SAVE ENVIRONMENT

trees
‘Mother Earth’ was created may be around 4.54 billions years ago and today, we humans are in the process of creating its annihilation news.  Change in the global climate is a proven fact and  we are not heading in the right direction. Environment may not affect us directly now, but natural catastrophes do. Continuous cutting down of forests and dumping of pollutants in water bodies is a major cause for rising temperatures and call for an environmental disaster.
For all these billion years, this environment has provided us, food to eat, clothes to warp, clean water to drink and air to breathe. Humans have only taken its resources and have not sufficiently given back. Today I wonder, if our future generations will ever see clear sky, breathe pollution free air and drink clean water. I will not be surprised; if our future generations could only see forests in there digital tablets and may not observe the same in real life. The coming years do have a great scope for technological advancement and vast job opportunities in areas, which uses more resources from the environment only to exhaust and call our own doomsday.
Though chances are rare, have you felt the fresh air when you wake up early morning, have you ever watched those birds fly in that clear sky, have you ever seen the clear stream flowing in its own rhythm, have you ever seen those birds chirping from the forests these days? Imagine if all this vanishes one day and we have to go to a shop and ask for oxygen cylinders as we buy mineral water!
Go to any university and you may see that there are lesser students taking environmental studies as a course curriculum, as most think that it might not provide much monetary value as a career like other job courses. Most of us are not so much eager to know about our surroundings and hence we understand issues about environment less and provide more importance to technologies which ultimately destroys human’s very existence. Long back when I enrolled a course in Masters in Environmental Sciences from Bangalore University, many asked about the future in monetary terms. To them I replied that ENVIRONMENT is in itself the future for human’s existence and that it’s more about the passion to make our world green than about earning money. Today, there are openings in various Government, academic and non-Government organizations on environment.
Saving our environment can only be a reality, if we maintain a balance. Environmental Studies helped us to understand that we need to keep a balance and that we need to find some sustainable approach to keep a balance. The approach should be in areas concerning water, land, food and the air we breathe. All these are the basics of human survival. Let us take the example of water. It’s not the simple expansion of irrigation. It had an ecological and social dimension as well and was the key to rural transformation. Providing a limited but assured quantity of water to all urban households irrespective of their landholding is the key for water conservation. Now, to serve such dispersed need, the systems required had to be entirely different – technologically and socially. The population of the world tripled in the 20th century and now the use of renewable resources have grown six fold. Within the next fifty years the World population will increase by 40%-50%. Now this population growth coupled with industrialization and urbanization will result in an increasing demand of water and will have serious consequences in the environment.
Already there is more waste water generated and dispersed than at any other time in the history of our planet: more than one out of six people lack access to safe drinking water, namely 1.1 billion people and more than two out of six lack adequate sanitation, namely 2.6 billion people (Estimation for 2002, by the WHO/UNICEF JMP, 2004). One must know that these figures represent only people with very poor conditions.
Less availability of water leads to water stress. Water stress results from an imbalance between water use and water resources. The depleting resource leads to many tensions over neighbour’s, communities, districts, states and countries. So, it is a real fact that there is a water crisis today.
With this current state of affairs, correcting measures still can be taken to avoid the crisis to be worsening. There is an increasing awareness that our freshwater resources are limited and need to be protected both in terms of quantity and quality. This water challenge affects not only the water community, but also decision-makers and every human being. “Water is everybody’s business” was one the key messages of the 2nd World Water Forum.
We have the power to change our Earth in our own ways, if only we join hands. Let’s plant trees and let’s close all our water outlets when not in use. The Earth is our Home and let’s save it. Let’s Dream for a more Safer and Greener World for us as well as for our future generations.

The Above are my Personal Views:
Mr. Mainak Majumdar
(The writer is winner of two Gold Medals in Masters in Environmental Science and for last twelve years has been associated with assignments on Developmental Initiatives, Disaster Management and Corporate Social Responsibility Initiatives in National Level)
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TSUNAMI DUE TO EARTHQUAKES: NEED FOR DISASTER (CHEMICAL/NATURAL) MANAGEMENT

tsunamiearthquake

Tsunami’s due to Earthquakes are very dangerous. A few steps can save your life. The given list is of personal advise/suggestions. Please check with Local Disaster Management Authorities for any eventuality:

BEFORE:

1. Find out if your home is in a danger zone. Know the height of your street above sea level and distance of your street from the coast. The Evacuation orders refer to these points.

2. Please be familiar with the Tsunami warning signs as this can be caused by an underwater disturbance or an earthquake.

3. People living along the coast, should take this signs as a warning signal.

4. A noticeable rapid rise or fall in coastal waters is also a sign that a Tsunami is approaching.

5. Make sure that all your family members know how to respond to a tsunami.

Prepare evacuation plans much early; don’t take chances in case of emergencies. A few seconds of delay can take your life.

6. Please keep all the disaster supplies on hand, like first aid box, flash light and extra batteries Also keep all your important documents along with your insurance policies in a bag, so that while evacuating, you can take those with you.

7. Develop your own emergency communication plan. Incase family members are separated from one another during a tsunami (A very real possibility as you can be in work and your children might be at home), have a plan of getting back together.

8. Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the “Family Contact”

9. In case of emergency, please call the Disaster Management Authority of your respective Government or the Red Cross or your local disaster management office.

DURING:

1. Please listen to the Radio to get the latest emergency information. Keep portable radios in

case of emergencies.

2. If you hear an official tsunami warning or detect signs of a tsunami, evacuate at once.

3. Climb to a higher ground as early as possible.

4. Remember that a tsunami warning is issued, when the authorities are almost sure that a tsunami may happen. So, please don’t take chances.

5.  Stay away from the beach. Never go to the beach to see a tsunami coming.

6. Return home only when the authorities advise you to do so.

7. Do not assume that one wave means that the danger is over. The next wave may be larger than the first one. Stay out of the area.

AFTER:

1. Stay tuned to a battery-operated radio for the latest emergency information. Help the injured or trapped persons.

2. Do not move seriously injured persons unless they are in immediate danger of further injury. Please call for help.

3. Do remember to help your neighbors who may require special assistance- infants, elderly people and people with disabilities. Please stay away from damaged buildings.

4. Do return home, when authorities instruct you to do so. Enter your home with lot of concern.

5. Check for electric short circuits and live wires. Please do not use appliances or lights until an electrician has checked the electrical system and open windows and doors to help dry the building.

6. Check for also gas leaks if any- if you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and quickly leave the building.

7. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home. If you have turned off the gas, the gas should be turned on by a professional.

8. Check for sewage and waterlines damages.

9. Please also call the water company, if your water line is damaged.

After all these, I just want to say, that please don’t panick. Follow the rules and you will be fine. After all, there is so many agencies as well as your Respective Government to take care of you. So, have faith in God and you will be safe…

Mainak Majumdar
Disaster Management Specialist and Writer
Website:  http://www.theideas.in/ 

NEED FOR DISASTER MANAGEMENT, BASIC RESEARCH AND EARTHQUAKE MANAGEMENT

Higher Good

When one thinks of Disasters, it naturally crosses one’s mind if only it had been averted. Disasters are by their very nature unpredictable and happen inspite of the best efforts. It appears to be so sudden and powerful that one attributes it to ones fate. This is what make each of the disasters remarkable and larger than life. Even though all precautions are taken, yet they happen and the sheer ferocity of their occurrence brings terror to one’s heart. It is hard to believe that except for a chance event of the affected people being part of the disaster, they might very well be alive.

The scene of the disaster is heart-rending and what comes to mind is the horror of what happened and one is compelled to feel sorrow for the victims of the disasters.Whether it is the Hurricane Katrina, Wilma, Recent Earthquake in India, Tsunamis, Chernobyl Nuclear Tragedy, Bhopal Gas Tragedy (India), Hurricane Andrew 1992, cyclone at Darwin Australia (1974) etc; each of the disaster has a unique story to tell: if only it could have been avoided and here lies the importance of pre-disaster management policy.

Some times our stereotypical attitudes and lack of proper policy implementation often leads to failure to recognize THAT RELIEF AND DEVELOPMENT are inextricably linked and part of the same on-going process. It is now being acknowledged that disasters an wipe out years of development and can dramatically increase vulnerability An increasing number of Governments and International Organizations are promoting risk reduction as the only sustainable solution for reducing the Social, Economical and Environmental impacts of disasters. Risk Reduction strategies includes vulnerability mapping identification of areas that are safe for settlement and development adoption of building codes based on disaster resilient engineering and on local hazard risk assessments and enforcing these plans and codes by economic and other incentives.

I want to stress on the points of local capacities and pre-disaster management to safeguard the precious lives of our brothers and sisters of my planet. One of the most important of these concerns is to build local capacities. The rationale here is based on recognition that local communities have developed their own, indigenous, preparedness and mitigation activities based on their extensive experiences of living with disasters. (All too often in the past, these have been overlooked or undervalued by Disaster Management Specialists from Outside)

Let me give some examples:

In India, one tribal group living in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands understood the coming of the arrival of the slayer Tsunami and fled to a safer place long before the killer waves would have engulfed them. An art of their own, passed from generations to generations. In Africa, there are a lot of food shortages due to drought; but they are able to prevent full blown famine by employing a variety of ‘coping’ mechanisms that allow them to ride out the hungry season until the next harvest. Also I believe that successful disaster prevention depends partly upon being able to predict these crisis before they happen. Though Disasters happen with great regularity, I believe that we should do research as how to stop these natural calamities rather than forecasting it’s arrival.

To that effect, we should stress the need for natural barriers for cyclones and hurricanes, rainwater harvesting methods for continuous supply of water even in the driest seasons, concepts on recharging of groundwater in the driest part of the world. Stressing the need to use methods for liberation of energy from the faults in the earth-strata, so that the release of the enormous energy from the bottom of the earth will stop earthquakes happening! Also we should stress on the afforestation initiatives in catchment areas basins.

I believe this basic research can enable us to understand the water-soil-climate system better. This can lead to new thinking and new avenues of action, which can yield larger stable production within the existing constraints.

The effort spent in basic research and the policies obtained from those pays for it many times over, though not necessarily immediately.

I do believe that you will definitely find this website ( http://www.naturaldisastermanagement.com ) interesting. We would request you to send your views and suggestions by filling our ‘Contact Us’ form.

The views given above are personal.

Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Writer

Website:   http://www.theideas.in/

NATURAL DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND NEED FOR PLANNING PROCESS

Disaster Management is a combination of environmental, developmental and social issues coupled with administrative directives, operational skills of an organization and its capacities to implement those to lessen the adverse effects of an emergency. The other important constituent of risk management is precise information flow which in itself is a form of disaster response in its own right.

May it be a Mexican Earthquake or an 8.7 earth shattering phenomenon at the city of Banda Aceh or the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island or Chile or Haiti Earthquake, which leads to eradication of hundreds of lives.
Seismic activities occur everywhere and coupled with floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, drought & landslides, they compose a complete chronicle of human destruction. The challenges seem to be more and but it also provides saving options. The risks faced due to any environmental disaster are not only due to losses in lives, environment, health status, livelihoods and assets but also for the services that could occur in a particular community or a society over some specified future time period.
Environmental Calamity Management is a highly complex problem and has diverse manifestations. It is a phenomenon which affects people in different ways and is the result of social, cultural, economic and political factors. It is to be noted that all crises do not give rise to emergencies and the radical changes do not mean that it is always in negative.
The vision of the policy makers should be to assist the vulnerable and poor people to bring about positive change and to support their capacity to withstand adverse changes that may affect their social and economic developments. The changes should be made after proper judgment as any changes for the vulnerable people or the communities may give rise to a crisis that may overpower their capacity to cope and hence is an uncalled emergency. Crisis is not only about this unexpected catastrophe but also the sum-up of this slow build-up of political, social, economic and environmental factors. Along with all these issues, there is a combination of unexpected incident such as cyclone, flood, earthquake, drought or any other type of major accidents, which would definitely add to these changes in a very negative way. Hence, it is critical that relief interventions addresses these issue which are the standing parameters for a crisis and which leads to Environmental Catastrophes.
It is this inequity and poverty, which make people more vulnerable to the effects of Natural and Industrial Hazards. It is a well known fact that Natural Resources are divided into two categories, renewable and non-renewable sources of energy. Human Beings would never lack vital materials if he/she would adjust his population size and resource demands at or below the level that allows the biogeochemical cycles to operate in such a way that materials as well as organizations are “reassembled” as fast they are “dispersed”. The shift from “special interest conservation” to “total ecosystem conservation” helps to establish the fact that human beings are a part of a complex environment which must be studied, treated and modified as a whole and not on the basis of isolated “projects”. Hence there is a need to take cautions while tampering with the Environment with lakes to draining, fillings, dredging, pollutions, stabilizations, mosquito control, algae control and the planting of any fish, which are able to swim. It is we humans, who constrict them with levees and dams and then flush them with dredging, channelizations and floods and silt of bad farming.
The other most important factor is proper flow of information. Responding to the Indian Ocean Tsunami Aid Agencies distributed remarkable amounts of relief aid. But despite this, some needy groups were missed. In some cases, aid went to men and the specific needs of women were not met. In others, aid went to dominant social groups, sidelining tribal people and outcastes. Information about them was lacking.
The obvious questions are: Does the people in a disaster stricken area get enough information? Do they receive the caution before a natural disaster? Do the people of a country have the power to involve themselves in management of environmental disasters?
In a disaster area, there are different types of information: It includes everything from facts to deep understanding & may include lies and deception. It should be kept in mind that gathering data is a one-way process. If one has to acquire knowledge and wisdom, we need to involve and exchange ideas and analyze those in the light of experience, through discussion and interviews or multiple channels of communication.
If the disaster victim can recognize an aid agency’s capacity and viewpoints, they can give better advice as how to help them. It is the dialogue than the data that matters.
If we analyze the intensity of a cyclone & its destruction, the deaths and damages caused, it would indicate very diverse co-relationship between the economic leader of the countries and the actual loss of the communities. One of the deadliest cyclones- the cyclone Bhola of 1970 in East Pakistan was classified as Category III (maximum wind speed 205 km) and it killed three hundred thousand people while the economic loss was estimated at US$ 86.4 million.
If we go back to 2004’s hurricane season at Cuba, the country proved again how effective it is in protecting human life from the worst disaster. It was Hurricane Charley which swept into Cuba on 13th August 2004 where 70,000 houses were severely destroyed and four people died. When hurricane Ivan came to the coastline of Cuba, with greater force, over 2 million people were evacuated but none of them lost their lives.
So, how does Cuba do wonders and save lives from the clutches of such horrible hurricanes?
They overpower natural catastrophes as they take Disaster Management in a broader sense addressing issues and policies related to environmental sustainability, social sustainability, information flow and channelization of those in masses and also focus on needs for good quality education in environmental disaster management.
In Cuba, evacuation orders are mandatory – an important distinction from other neighboring countries. Public transport is provided to get people to shelters. Local branches of Federation of Cuban Women help and persuade reluctant people to accept evacuation, so it is rare that the police or army has to step in.
There is a need to ensure that disaster mitigation efforts are not just top to down and is rather based on direct information from the communities.
Risk Mapping is about consideration of direct link from the environmental factors, logical responses and changing pattern of tensions and relationships. Social division and inequality effect risks and its management. Hence there is a need to develop a methodology for analyzing conflict, which should be based on drawing up ‘maps’ of causes and can be superimposed on a similar map of responses.
The next factor is Environmental Sustainability. When the human population of an area is small, poor land use may affect only the people who are guilty of bad judgment. As the population increases, everyone suffers if land is improperly used because everyone eventually pays for rehabilitation or is now too often the case; everyone suffers a permanent loss of resources. A small example is if grasslands in low regions are plowed up and planted to wheat (poor land use), a “dust bowl” or temporary desert will sooner or later be a result. If the grass cover is maintained and moderately grazed (good land use), no dust bowl will likely to be developed. It is a general observance that good land use planning has come only after human has first destroyed or damaged a landscape. It is just as the saying goes that Human does not seem to understand a system which he did not build and therefore he seemingly must partially destroy and rebuild before use limitations are understood.
One solution to these problems are:
i) Cluster development: A cluster development of residential housing around village or town centers with each unit separated by broad green belts.
ii) By retaining stream valleys, steep slopes, lakes, marshes, aquifer recharge areas, waste disposal areas free from houses, buildings, and other high density uses. Without such planning, there might be no open space, and which would lead to the same kind of urban blight, chronic pollution and social disorder that we now observe in older, unplanned cities.
Generally, the short term profits that can be made by exploiting urban land are so huge that it is difficult for people to foresee the socio-ecologic backlashes and overshoots that accompany uncontrolled growth.
With the increase in population, food supplies will reduce resulting in increasing prices.
In other words, the size and quality of the “environmental house” should be an important consideration and not the number of resources; we can relentlessly squeeze from the earth. A reasonable goal could be to stress on the fact that a third of all land could be under open space use. The dependence of a city on the countryside for all its vital resources (food, water, air and so on) and the dependence of the country on the city for economic resources become so widely recognized that the present political confrontation that exists between the rural and urban populations is obliterated.
The next obvious aspects are creation of Sustainable Livelihoods. The real basis for assessing the appropriateness of any type of intervention is an understanding of livelihood systems and the strategies in which people are already engaged, the problems which they face and the ways in which they are adapting to changing environmental and economic conditions. The notion of “livelihood” systems” takes into account the wide range of people’s roles, activities, personal capacities and resources, which make up the way they make a living; and how these elements are related to each other.
It is here comes the concept of serving the poor profitability. These are the people who have great needs, but they can’t express their requirements in a way which may matter to markets. Markets seem to avoid the needs as it doesn’t bring profit and hence poor always tend to remain poorer. It is where Government and corporate houses comes into play and try to make a difference. But today Corporate Social Responsibility seemed to break that ‘tax free’ attitude and has come for the betterment of the World as more World Business Leaders tries to come forward with their aim to improve the smaller parts of the globe where their presence is felt.
Hence the ways forward are:
a) Recognize that Environmental Sustainability is a must for containing a Disaster
b) Recognize that Social Sustainability along with development is necessary for good Risk Reduction
c) Recognize information as a form of disaster response in its own right
d) Support better access to information and communications along with technology for vulnerable communities
e) Build a partnership for sharing information with communities, local governments, media, telephone companies and Industries.
f) Women and men of all ages from disaster affected areas and wider local populations, including vulnerable groups should receive information about the assistance programme and are given the opportunity to comment to the assistance agency during all stages.
Its then we could save many number of human lives with minimum causalities.

Please send your feedback in the e-mail address given below.
Thanks and Regards,
Mainak Majumdar
Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

VOLCANOES AND ITS DEVASTATION – ARE WE CLOSER TO 2012

Volcanoes, earthquakes & tsunami pose the most frightening hazards, which is able to eradicate the lives of thousand within seconds.  In this regard let me put across a few words from Antigone, by the Attic tragedian Sophocles (4967-406 B.C.), in the translation of Sir Richard Jebb, C.U.P., 1900 (Jakobsen, p. 57); Wonders are many, and none is more wonderful than man…. only against Death shall he call for aid in vain; but from baffling maladies he hath devised escape.

This year (2010) there were so many earthquakes that it is hardly a day, when we do not hear about it.  The occurrence as narrated and visualized in television tells a tale of destruction which still remains visible in the eyes of the beholder. The word ‘tsunami’ may be a much more recent acquisition to our vocabulary, attained as a result of 26 December 2004, when a submarine earthquake near Sumatra displaced the sea water into devastating series of waves – a tsunami – that claimed nearly 300,000 lives around the shores of the Indian Ocean.

These Volcanoes undeniably produce impressive landscapes and those of us who are fortunate enough to have witnessed such an erupting volcano will carry to our graves indelible memories of an erupting volcano, the spectacle, the noise, the smell and the drama. But beauty has its worst side too.  To save one from these types of disasters purely lies on ones position. If you are in a wrong place at the wrong time, you may not be able to save yourself. For other people, whose lives, health, homes and livelihoods are being destroyed or put at risk by an eruption – any sense of scientific curiosity is understandably displaced by more pressing personal concerns.

Generally it is often seen that eruptions are always associated with small earthquakes and that in some circumstances the eruption of a volcano is the cause of a small scale tsunami. Everything in this world is related. One cannot mitigate one parameter, without understanding the other’s ecological links. Mitigation can only be done, when we understand the ecology and its biodiversity outlooks and hence require specialists from various fields to come together and act. Natural Catastrophe Management may be the domain of trained civil defense people, but if one needs to mitigate the disasters and save billions of dollars of development from annihilation, one need to have effective understanding of Environment and our immediate surroundings – the things we do and things we should not do. It’s just not deforestation, it’s not about the construction of high rises buildings, it’s not about the exploitation of Mother Nature in the name of development but it’s about understanding the role of all these factors in context to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA, 5-10 years of human existence). That’s the importance of these EIA.

It was the eruption of Krakatau (popularly referred to as Krakatao) which caused the tsunami in 1883. In addition to generating an ocean-crossing tsunami, a volcanic eruption can teach up and pluck aircraft from the sky. Let’s glance into the reasons as why does a volcano happen.

Molten rock at a depth is known to geologists as magma. Depending on its composition, magma solidifies when its temperature drops below about 1200 – 800 degree centigrade. This type of solidified rocks formed by solidified magma is described as an igneous rock. The term ‘igneous’ is derived from the Latin word ‘ignis’meaning fire. Thus an igneous rock made by solidification inside the earth’s surface is described as intrusive and is said to form an ‘igneous intrusion’. If the magma reaches the surface the resulting rock is called as volcanic.

When the molten rock reaches the surface it is generally called lava rather than the magma and if it flows in a stream across the surface, then this is described as a lava flow. Just to mention here that rocks of all types contain various minerals. When these rocks are in a molten state it is called Magma. These magmas may also have small crystals and bubbles of gas inside them. Magma will tend to rise upwards only if it is less dense than the solid rock that surrounds it. A close study reveals that the movement of the magma is restricted by its viscosity, which is a measure of how freely it is able to flow. One can compare and understand the amount of viscosity by taking the example of basalt (Common variety of magma, in fluid state) is about 100,000 times more viscous than water! This gives it the consistency of very thick porridge, so that it would not be able to escape up a narrow borehole.

The earth is composed of Core (Inner and Outer), Mantle (Lower and Upper) and the crust. The Inner core of the Earth is between 6370 Km to 5155 Km. The Outer Core is between 5155 Km to 2900 Km, the Lower Mantle is between 2900 Km to 670 Km, the Upper Mantle is between 670 Km to 90 Km/25 Km. The Crust is between 6-11 Km. Although the outer core’s chemical composition is uncertain, we can be sure that it is a liquid rather than a solid because of its effect on seismic waves. These are vibrations of various sorts emanating from earthquakes or underground explosions, which travel through the rock at speeds of several kilometers per second. The biggest earthquakes and the underground nuclear detonations generate seismic waves strong enough to pass right through the globe. When seismic waves encounter the outer core, those waves consisting of shearing vibrations (as inside a wobbling jelly), which is called the S waves, cannot travel through it and are either reflected or absorbed. This demonstrates that the outer core offers no resistance to shearing motions, and so must be liquid. Conversely, seismic waves that consist of alternating pulses of compression and dilation (like sound waves in air or water) called P Waves, can travel through it. There are other sorts of seismic waves that can travel only near the Earth’s surface.

Although the molten iron stew of the outer core has a surprisingly low viscosity (little more than that of water), it is much too dense to find its way up to the surface at volcanoes. However, it does make its presence felt at the surface through Earth’s magnetic field. This is a product of electrical currents in the outer core, which are generated because the molten material is in rapid circulation and is a good conductor of electricity. The core is surrounded by the mantle and overlying this mantle is the crust, which is relatively thin skin at the Earth’s Surface, accounting for less than 0.5 per cent of the Earth’s mass. The crust is richer in silicon and certain other elements than the mantle, so the varieties of silicate materials that are most common in the crust differ from those that characterize the mantle. However, the compositional difference between mantle and crust is trivial compared to the difference between mantle and core. There are two types of crust: one is the Oceanic Crust which is about 6-11 Km thick and mostly composed of basalt and constitutes the floor of deep oceans. Continental crust makes up the continents and floors of the shallow seas that are adjacent to most major land masses. It can be as thin as 25 Km where it has been thinned and stretched and as much as 90 Km thick below the highest mountain ranges where it has been buckled and compressed.

The elements which are mostly found in the earth’s crust are Silicon, Titanium, Aluminum, Iron, Magnesium, Calcium, Sodium, Potassium etc. Volcanoes generally occur where magma that has been generated at isolated patches in the mantle collects into sufficient volumes to be able to rise into the crust and make its way to the surface. The theory of plate tectonics describes the way in which the plates slide around and explains why most volcanoes occur where they do and the nature of the ground displacement during earthquakes. The Earth crust is firmly joined to the part of the mantle immediately beneath it. In most places, the top 100 Km or so of the mantle is just as strong and rigid as the crust, so that the crust and thus this uppermost mantle constitute a single mechanical layer. This layer is known as the lithosphere, a term chosen because it includes ‘lithos’, the Greek word for rock.

The lithosphere is rocky (in the familiar sense) in terms of both its composition and is strong and rigid nature. It ranges between 20 and 50 Km thick in the oceans and is typically about 150 Km thick under the continents. Each tectonic plate is a slab of lithosphere that can move around because the part of the mantle immediately beneath it is much weaker. This layer of the mantle is called the Asthenosphere(constructed from the Greek word for weak). The part, which is weak of the mantle, lies in few tens of Kilometers immediately below the base of the lithosphere, where there is evidence that a few percent of molten material may permeate along the interfaces between crystals. However, the proportion of this melt is so small that it is no more valid to think of this zone as molten or rather it is better to describe it as water-sodden brick as a liquid. However below the lithosphere there is an important change in the properties of the Earth’s rock that persists all the way to the core – although deep mantle is solid but it is not at rest. It is circulating at a speed of a few centimeters a year. However, that does not mean it is a liquid, certainly not so far as the transmission of seismic waves is concerned. The deep mantle’s slow flow is usually described as ‘solid-state convention’.

It’s this convention of current, what makes warm air to rise and cold air sink or water circulate in a saucepan (even before it boils). It is a way of transporting heat outwards. In the Earth’s solid mantle, convective forces cause it to circulate and thereby transfer the Earth’s internal heat outwards much more effectively than could be achieved simply by conduction through a motionless mantle. In fact, it is the efficiency of solid-state convention in the mantle that actually prevents the temperature getting quite hot enough to cause widespread melting. Put simply, hot mantle rises upwards & transfers its heat to the base of the lithosphere. Mantle that has lost heat in this way becomes slightly denser and sinks downwards again. Most of the heat deposited at the base of the lithosphere trickles through to the surface by conduction, but some is carried higher by pods of magma that can intrude high into the crust or even reach the surface at volcanoes. Often it is seen that most volcanoes occur independently of convection in the mantle and are a result of movements of the tectonic plates and these movements are possible only because only because the top of the Aesthenosphere is weak enough to allow them to happen. Volcanoes tend to be concentrated in well defined belts. These volcanoes during eruption also disturb the plate boundaries and are the cause of earthquakes and tsunami. A sudden change can be drastic and can eliminate thousands of human life.

According to computer models, somewhere near Toba, along the fault line there may be another super volcano getting ready for eruption. 3.1 mile sinking of Indo-Australian plate under the Euresian Plate in the last 74,000 years has created enough magma for a super volcano.

In the words of poet Stefanie Zammit,

‘Where distant screams haunt the nights,

And streets are filled with empty homes.

Where starving dogs are left to fight

Over lost men’s meat and children’s bones…

…When the smoke of burning men fills the air:

A smoke that no wind can fend.

When you take a breath and you declare:

This is when it really ends.’

Though these is just an assumption till now, but who knows when these volcanoes in well defined belts starts erupting and cause huge earthquakes all around the world to tell the final tale of human beings last annihilation story 2012.

(Please Note: Incase, there is any mistake in the above data, kindly feel free to mail me at the e-mail address given below)

Thanks and Regards,

MAINAK MAJUMDAR

Disaster Management Specialist and Writer

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

DISASTER MANAGEMENT AND RISKS

Risk Assessment is about identifying the potential hazards and risks associated with any substance, process or activity and determining ways to manage those hazards before the adverse effects become evident.

Risk Management takes a more multifaceted form if a system becomes more complex. This is what happened in Bhopal. It was in 2-3rd December, 1984; the World’s worst industrial disaster killed at least 20,000 people and left thousands maimed and helpless. The medical follow up done by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), based on diverse multi-institutional projects over a 10 year period between January 1984 and May 1994, on the communities that were exposed to the leak provides a reasonably comprehensive viewpoint on both short and long-term health effects. Epidemiological studies formed the core of the study that included 25 research projects, including two multi-disciplinary ones on pathology and toxicology to determine the effects of inhaling noxious gases. The investigations also included clinical and toxicological studies. The entire work was coordinated by the Bhopal Gas Disaster Research Centre (BGDRC).

An International Journal stated earlier that the findings of the study were not made public till 2004. It was of belief that about 42 tones of Methyl Isocyanate (and other gaseous products of the runaway reaction) were leaked from the storage tank in 1984. Approximately about three-fourths of the storage tank population at that time was exposed to the leak. Large part of the populations were affected to different degrees and when experts debated on the ways to find solution, people died like flies. A total number of approximately 80,000 people were studied at severely, moderately and mildly exposed areas and compared with controls from unexposed areas. Later it was found – of the total population, 3.9 percent was affected severely, 8.6 percent moderately and 50.1 percent mildly, while 37.4 percent was not affected. Most people included in the study had no fixed occupation or fixed source of income. Nearly 70 percent of the people, lived in Kuccha houses, in the severely affected as well as control areas (areas where the gas had not spread), and prevalence of the smoking habit ranged from 0.2 to 14.3 per cent.

If one goes through the ICMR report then one could come to a conclusion that the three-fourth of the deaths occurred within the first 72 hours of the leak, which happened around mid night of December 2-3, 1984. It was the post-exposure phases that is now considered as depending on the varying clinical features, the different post-exposure phases have been classified in the study as acute (first month of exposure), sub-acute (one to three months) and chronic (more than three months). The ocular symptoms during the acute period were related to the effects of the gas(es) on the eyes and the respiratory tract. In the acute phase, in addition to respiratory complaints, including chest pain and breathlessness, there were complaints of muscle weakness, febrile illness and vomiting. After examination of blood, it was found that in this phase there were increased white blood cells and higher than normal hemoglobin levels. Situations of these types of can be termed as EXTREME EVENTS, which is beyond the natural capacity of the individuals to cope.

If we look through the doors of history then one can find that risk and crisis management is lettered with narratives about the ways in which the organizations failed to deal with the demands of ‘extreme events’. Extreme events by definition are a class of outcome that have very high consequences (often exceeding the perceived worst class scenario) but also a low probability of occurrence. These factors make them difficult areas for analysis and investigations. These may lead some individuals to come to a conclusion by dismissing their significance by stating that they are not representative of the ‘normal’ state of affairs within the ‘system’ under consideration. Extreme events call into question our understanding of the various classes of phenomenon in which they are found and the strategies that organizations have in place to deal with them.

Thus they confront the secretarial claims and their control systems and can often call into question many of the fundamental assumptions that are held about the nature of hazard. These types of extreme events are also found in Natural Disasters or catastrophes or go-physical phenomenon, extreme weather conditions and also for long term phenomenons like global warming.

For example, a region receives a clear warning about heavy downfall and the same place receives enough rainfall in a 24 hour period (which is equivalent to months of precipitation in the given region) then the scale of the event will definitely surprise many people and will cause situations which may be difficult for the local population to cope. Again, a clear look states that it is often the scale of the events that present challenges around prediction. These leads to elementary complexity in the provision of mitigating advice to those, who are exposed to these type of risks. However there are attempts to provide early warning systems to warn the people against the upcoming disasters.

‘Extreme Events’ are typified by being both high consequence and low probability events. They are events that have the potential to overpower our resistance and yet they occur so uncommonly that we are powerless to develop enough experience from them and expand effective management control strategies that are grounded in the normal trial and error learning process that characterize organizations.

Extreme eventsare however also characterized by the various attempts to ‘manage’ them so that one can prevent the process of its escalation that has the power to move a system within its boundaries of its normal perturbation towards an extreme position, where it can no longer be controlled and has the potential to cause considerable levels of damage. Here we need to understand the consequences of an extreme event rather than seeking to search for developed technologies of prognosticating their occurrence.

If we understand the possible harm that such ‘extreme events’ can cause, it would lead the outcome administrators to reflect on the process by which incidents can shoot up to generate considerable damage and how inadequate our understanding base is, which often depend around these processes.

Some organizations consider the nature of their past histories as evidence that they are ‘crisis prepared’ or ‘resilient’. The lack of sufficient information and evidence about the exact understanding of the possible harm of a particular catastrophic hazard is often seen as a ‘justification’ that the organization is prepared for such crisis. But what if these crisis takes the shape of an extreme event. The coping capacity of such organizations is largely a function of the assumptions that exist around controls, which work under a range of conditions and to an extent that they are able to cope with the task demands that they are generated by emergence.

If we look into the details then one arrives at a conclusion that there are few handful of managers who have an ‘Hand on’ experience of ‘crisis’ not necessarily an extreme event and that would allow them to manage these events with their own past histories he/she had undergone. Therefore the organizations need to engage in simulation exercises in order to ensure that managers have some experience of dealing with those processes around which the hazard might escalate. It would help if the mangers are also willing to consider the experience of other organizations, which are having similar experiences around such types of events. As crises are in essence, extreme events, our understanding of them will be a function of the observations that we can make ‘at a distance’ rather than by direct experimental learning.

However, what these extreme events do is to point to the manner in which managerial assumptions around control can generate the conditions in which catastrophic failures can occur. As such, they serve an important role in allowing us to develop strategies for coping with the consequences of extreme events or crisis by considering the range of impacts that such events can generate.

My assumption goes that these factors stated above may be lacking for what happened in Bhopal Gas Disaster in 1984. A deep look into these aspects and significant research with proper implementation of policies in these areas can help organizations, corporate and other agencies to tackle ‘extreme events’ more professionally and effectively.

Please Note: Incase, there is any mistake in the above data, kindly feel free to mail me at the e-mail address given below.

Thanks and Regards,

Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/

RELIEF GUIDELINES: AN ESSENTIAL PART OF DISASTER MANAGEMENT

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EFFECTIVE MANAGEMENT OF DISASTERS:

In any emergency, the response by Governments and Aid organizations can be successful if AID reaches in time and to everyone in need. But in disaster zones worldwide, despite the best efforts of many, a great need remains.

The main factors that happen in the disaster areas are:

1) Importance shifting to other points.

2) There is a clear lack of dialogue during the distribution of relief as a result there is discrimination based on the reasons of sex, ethnicity, religion etc.

3) The people of above sixty and disabled have difficulties in getting relief. The older persons and the disabled may find it difficult to travel to distribution sites and often do not have strength to carry the goods back to their shelters. This is the case, when the sites are located high above due to some security reasons. Mobility is also a big problem for these people, where flooding or other type of disasters is regular.

The elderly are often deemed helpless. When the Iranian city of Bam was destroyed by an earthquake in December 2003, killing over 26,000 people, disaster response experts were helped by local elderly men of influence who organized community responses across the city.

When relief material was distributed following the Indian Ocean Tsunami, An older people stood alone in the remains of his thatched roof and refused to join for collection of relief for him. Asked why he did not join in and he shook his head and said that’ it’s of no use. I’ve been pushed out before and have fallen on the ground.

There is also same problem in Haiti Earthquake Relief Response (2010)

These are the challenges which are faced in general:

1) Use of untrained or unqualified personnel, lack of adherence to quality and accountability standards, as well as humanitarian principles and values and the non-utilization of local response capacities and skills.

2) Sometimes delayed entry of foreign relief workers or goods and equipment, lengthy procedures for gaining legal status to operate in the disaster-affected countries.

Special emphasis should be given to Women during a disaster as they are most vulnerable. So, whether disabled or not, young or old, of whatever colour or race, women remain the most vulnerable and discriminated category, whereas the first local response comes from women.

At Banda Aceh, over 70 % of Staff of local NGOs delivering relief in Banda Aceh were women. There are instances where women were denied their rights to relief. Then there is violence against women at conflict areas. Alongside contraventions of women’s rights, disaster after disaster produces irrefutable evidence that with displacement- be it as a result of natural hazards or conflict- the risks of physical abuse to women and girls rises substantially. The nature of the discrimination varies but commonly includes sexual violence, exploitation and abuse, forced prostitution, domestic violence, trafficking, forced and early marriage and widow inheritance.

In general some disaster prone communities are also vulnerable to discrimination. This happens especially with some groups, households and individuals. A disaster can reinforce various forms of discrimination. May it be social or may it be political or may it be racial.

Another challenge, which is faced by the agencies are lack of continuous focus on the affected areas. This is due to the fact that when a disaster happens, in general the Media of the World focuses its attention to it. But at times, when things almost are half done, a different quite similar type of incidence occurs in some other part of the World and Journalists based there are given marching orders. This does hamper the development and the aid work, which was conducted in the area. Not only the agencies loses there focus but the obvious question that arises is that the Job/task remains half done. Later, we again bring some rehabilitation project into the area and that again involves lots of money. In the mean time, the persons involved in the first task loses there attention and thus lot of motivation is required for the new project officers to conduct the task. This is from my personal experience. Hence Journalists should be on board on disaster relief committees.

How to meet this challenge?

We have every reason to see that this is really a great challenge, which need to be addressed. We have to take some time and think on these lines. So, any international organizations should have separate regions and separate force ready to tackle the issues.

The international community needs to agree on clear definitions of all potential minority groups to prevent opposing interpretations and to ensure a common understanding of the vulnerability of minorities. Aid agencies need to improve initial need assessments by sharing information learning from experience and developing indicators on the impacts of discrimination. Minority and vulnerable groups need to be supported and enabled to participate in the planning; design and implementation of all emergency and non-emergency programmes. Agencies need to advocate within communities to change existing negative attitudes towards minority and vulnerable groups.

It’s a tough task, but if these can be done then, we can move one step towards a sustainable world. Agencies need to advocate within communities to change existing negative attitudes towards minority and vulnerable groups. Government and Non-Governmental agencies must also identify and address obvious and hidden discrimination, within their organizations.

On the other hand disasters do not discriminate. They strike indiscriminately, affecting minorities and majorities alike. However, there are various impacts to discrimination. The vast desert and semi-desert region in northern Kenya is home to 3 million people ‘ most of whom are pastoralists. By 2006, there has been drought in the region. In Wajir in north eastern Kenya, visiting journalists reported that many grazing cattle had died by March and that two-thirds of the people were dependent on food aid. The crippling drought was then followed by floods. The appalling infrastructure seriously hampered the food and medical aid distribution programme, as the only road to the worst affected area had reportedly been washed away. The United Nations now has sophisticated early warning system in place, based on factors such as expected rainfall and crop yield, which can forecast when critical food shortages are likely to arise in advance. Then the obvious question comes to one’s mind is that why the Government did not act in time. There may be many reasons but one may be due to the fact that Kenya’s political elite consider or regard the pastoralist way of life as an anachronism. Often it is seen that geographically distant from the capital cities; pastoralists are also sidelined politically, lacking the influence to press their case in the corridors of power.

Now with the effect of climate change felt in most parts of the world, we have a problem in the desert areas of Africa. It is also clear that the long term impact can be catastrophic. Hence, the more we go on neglecting these issues; we are going to make our fellow brother’s and sisters’ more and more dependent to disaster relief assistance. Not only that there are evidence of caste based discrimination in some parts of the World. After the Indian Ocean Tsunami, ‘Dalits’ who are treated as ‘untouchables’ in the Hindu caste system, were forbidden by other castes from drinking water from UNICEF water tanks because sharing with Dalits would, in their view pollute the water. So, discrimination can be deep rooted, not just for operational relief work but also for recovery and further rehabilitation work.

So, what could lead to a better relief?

a) The donor agency should see and include minority peoples in the team. Ideally the ratio of minority peoples in the organization should equal the ratio of minority peoples among the public.

b) Educate minority peoples with the aim of developing community resilience as well as obtaining professionals from the communities.

c) Be aware of discrimination against the minorities in humanitarian work, by self examination as well as through consultations with people from the community and human rights specialists.

d) Participate in advocacy in domestic, regional and international forums. Humanitarian organizations can also play a vital role in human rights advocacy.

e) Develop indicators on the impact of discrimination against minorities in disaster management with the co-operation of human rights.

Now the donors and the funding agencies should look into these aspects:

a) Put more value on the issue of discrimination in humanitarian operations. Disaster Relief and discrimination are inseparable issues.

b) Examine the possibility of introducing special measures for minority groups, particularly those who do not have access to basic materials.

c) Understand the vulnerability of minorities, especially those who are prone to being affected by disasters. If the region has a history of disasters, then there is an absolute need for disaster preparedness.

I visited Assam India and I found that the State Red Cross Branch, under Indian Red Cross Society have built orphanages out of their own resources. Kids in the age of 1-3 years are their occupants at ‘Sishu Gram’ (Sishu in English means Children and Gram in English means Village).

Recent floods have washed out everything. The donor attention should also focus into these aspects while funding for any program. Disasters bring along with them lots of trauma and pain. Especially the Children are the most affected. They are the living dead. A small contribution for their education and care in good shelters can make wonders. It’s not an emotional statement, but a fact which is hard to ignore.

Media:

In a disaster, it is common to see images of children, often vulnerable, unwell, used by humanitarian agencies to generate compassion and funds. While the images can create the desired effect with donors, children’s protection and special needs are rarely incorporated within budget lines and programmes, resources are not prioritized and there is a lack of clear strategies to support and protect children.

Children are too often used to generate support, but they do not always enjoy the benefits.

So, what can be done?

Prioritize prevention of discrimination and violence against children. This means clear budget lines for prevention programmes and services.

There is also a need to enhance the capacity of all humanitarian personnel through education on children’s rights.

Create accessible, safe and child-friendly reporting systems and services. This includes safe, well-publicized, confidential and accessible mechanisms for children, their caregivers and others to prevent and report violence against children.

Help to improve collaboration between humanitarian agencies. This includes developing clear systems and standards to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against children at all stages of a disaster ‘ preparedness, response and recovery. Children don’t get the support they need.

Hence, separate funds should be allocated solely for the purpose of children. Community Recovery Committees ‘ a diverse group including different ethnicities, backgrounds and genders that are well trained, with adequate resources and able to communicate with the formal humanitarian system- can greatly assist equitable assistance. An oversight mechanism to ensure that discrimination against poor and neglected groups is minimized in the committees is needed and their assessments have to be cross-checked.

I do believe that a little attention to the above mentioned problems and its solutions can help us to create a Safer World for us as well as for our future generations. Hence, we need to have effective Relief Guidelines for proper management of disasters.

I faced the situations.  Heart-rending situations in a disaster area bring tears in ones eyes. I am not emotional, but what is stated above are true facts. Please put a comment, if your time permits. I will be glad to see your support on the above issue.

Let’s together join hands and create a Safer, Stronger, Greener and a Disaster Free World for us as well as for our future generations.

Thanks a lot for reading.

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Please send your feedback in the e-mail address given below.

Thanks and Regards,

Mr. Mainak Majumdar

Disaster Management Specialist and Consultant

Weblink:     http://www.theideas.in/