Thursday, 23 June 2016

A Curse in Disguise

A very small amount of nuclear fuel generates wastes when put through the fusion pro­cess. Since the half life periods of these wastes are much much longer compared to human time scale, they have a potential to emit radiation for a much longer time.
The radiation, emitted in the form of  a. b or g rays need to be stored in such "containers" which cannot be penetrated by these rays and in case of even an accident, there is no damage' to the environment.

A number of proposals advocating va­rious methods have been mooted to store nuclear wastes. But the efficacies of such methods remain questionable.

A 1,000 megawatt conventional fission reactor will produce 27,000 kilograms of 238 U, 340 kilograms of 235 U, 700 kilo­grams of a multitude of different fission products, and 230 kilograms of actinides (mostly plutonium, its daughter products and chemical relatives) as wastes in one year. Fission products include hundreds of isotopes with different chemical and/or radiologic properties, most of which lose their radioactivity in several hundred years. The greatest difficulty in disposing of high level fission products wastes is dealing with chemically different prob­lems. Actinides are relatively immobile in multitude of chemical terms (that is they generally have low solubilities in water), but may take thousands of years to lose their radioactivity.

THREE methods are currently being used to dispose of radioactive wastes:  
Dilute and disperse
Delay and decay
Concentration and containment
In dilution and dispersion, low level wastes are released into the air, water or ground to be diluted to presumably safe levels. As wastes proliferate, this dangerous practice will begin to add significantly to artificial radiation levels in the environ­ment particularly from hydrogen­3C (tritium) and krypton-85 which are difficult and fairly expensive to contain and remove.

Delay and decay can be used for radioactive wastes with relatively short half lives. They are stored as liquid, slurries in tanks. After 10-20 times their half lives, they decay to harmless levels at which they can be diluted and dispersed into the environment.

Concentration and containment is used for highly radioactive wastes with long half lives. They are not only radioactive but also thermally hot (primarily from caesium-137 and strontium 90).

The objective of all high level waste disposal is to isolate toxic or radioactive waste from the biosphere through a sys­tem that is free of the risk of sabotage, theft and leakage. The system must prevent the accumulation of an explosive critical mass of the waste, it must dissipate the heat of the wastes, and it must be effective for thousands of years, till the radiation is reduced to a very low level.

Present disposal systems meet few of these criteria. Hundreds of millions of liters of radioactive defence wastes are being stored in stainless steel tanks as sludge or liquid and 8,000 tonnes of spent fuel rods from power plants are being held in liquid filled tanks, often on the premises of the plant itself. Many waste holding facilities are reaching the end of their useful lives. With the potential for an on-going growth in high level wastes in the future, permanent methods for dis­posing them are obviously badly needed.
Four periods are expected in the life of a permanent waste repository.
The period of testing and excava­tion when geologic tests determine the acceptability of local geologic conditions.
The operational period when the waste is placed in the repository but can be retrieved should any geologic criteria fail.
The thermal period, which is the first 1,000 years after the repository is sealed. During this period heat generated by the wastes will increase and then gradually dissipate. Physical and chemical changes in the waste, the waste container and between the waste and the repository will proceed at the highest rate during this period.
The post thermal period, a storage time of thousands of years during which the radioactive actinide waste lose radia­tion.
Once a repository is sealed, waste can escape isolation to the biosphere only if it is exposed by either geologic processes or by humans or if it is dissolved or otherwise transported by water. The concept of isolating a hazardous waste from exposure of contact with water for thousands of years requires predicting reactions over time periods far beyond any human observation. Very long term predictions of waste and geologic behaviour thus will have to be based upon very short term (in a geologic sense) tests.

To prevent exposure, burial of wastes deep within the earth (300 to 900 metres) in an area of very low geologic activity is proposed. To prevent transport by ground water from such a site, a multiple barrier approach has become the accepted alternative, in which a succession of inde­pendent barrriers to stop wastes move­ment are established.
Conversion of the waste to a form that can withstand intense heat, is impermeable to water, and is unleachable. Vitrification (incorporating the waste in borosilicate glass) is the most widely accepted approach.
Enclosing the waste in sealed canisters made of alloys that are resistant to corrosion.
Backfilling the repository with material that is impermeable to ground­water, that strongly binds wastes, and that neutralises any leaching capabilities of groundwater. Thus, backfilling would protect, surround, and isolate the cannisters.
Choosing a host rock with high strength that conducts heat rather than absorbs it and that does not expand too much upon being heated. A high degree of ability to bind any free waste is also an essential host rock's characteristic that minimise unfavour­able chemical reactions with waste pro­ducts should they reach a liquid form.
Employing geologic factors with other natural barriers to groundwater flow. This means rock with few or no fractures, few seismic faults, low per­meability to water and low porosity for water flow that is isolated from groundwa­ter - by an impermeable barrier.
MOST experts agree that a repository that meets most of the qualifica­tions of the multiple barrier system could probably isolate wastes for as long a period of time as humans can envision. However, the cost of a risk-free waste storage system will be high adding to the already capital intensive nature of the nuclear industry. Morever, no such re­pository has been developed. Arguments continue.

Initially it was proposed that the wastes should be surrounded with concrete and stored in surface warehouses until a better solution was found. But there were grave dangers associated with these proposals.

In 1977 the American Science Congress came with a novel proposal. The proposal was to solidify wastes, encapsulate them in glass or ceramic and place it in metal containers and bury the containers deep inside in earthquake and flood-free geological formations such as dug out salt or granite deposit. But the proposal if implemented would have created more problems than it would have solved because long-term occurrence of natural disasters cannot be predicted. Moreover, heat from radioactive decay would have cracked  the glass containers and fractured salt or granite formations allowing ground water to enter the depository contaminating the ground water supplies.

Transportaion of deadly radioactive wastes to repository sites would have caused additional problems and if inspite of all the project failed, wastes would have been difficult to retrieve.

Jakino and Bupp in 1978 proposed to bury the nuclear wastes in an underground hole created by a nuclear bomb so that the wastes eventually melted and fused with surrounding rocks into a glassy ball. But for such an unknown thing the effects being unknown and unpredict­able-the danger of failure of the project was always there and such a failure would have necessarily contaminated the groundwater.
• Earnest E Angina in his paper published in Nature under the heading ‘High Level and Long Level Radioactive Waste Disposal' came out with a rather novel proposal. His proposal essentially envisaged changing harmful isotopes into harmless ones by using high level neutron bombardment lasers or nuclear fusion. The proposal, however, was too novel in its approach for technological feasibility to be established. Even if technology could make it feasible there was every chance that process would have created materials which would have required disposal. So such a proposal necessarily had to be dispensed with.

Researchers working on nuclear waste's disposal have recently shown that once a suitable container was designed, the nuc­lear wastes could either be dropped in ocean or the oceanic sediments and floor that are going to subduct in the mantle.
The problem was essentially related to designing the container free from any fault. If such a container was dropped to be subducted, the fear that these wastes might spread out somewhere else by volcanic activity would linger. This fear, scientists feel, is largely unfounded since the subduction zone is believed to be the final destroyer, and the crust which is destroyed in the mantle itself, contains radioactive elements. A 'number of specific technological problems also remain to be resolved.
Political decisions about irretrievable burial or allowance for access in the future also must be made. These technical problems can be solved through research efforts.
Meanwhile, the ethical question whether we have the right to leave potent toxins as a legacy to civilisations that hundreds or thousands of years from now may or may not know of their existence, is a value judgement that societies must face as they decide the fate of the nuclear industry.

Everything that you want to know about blizzards | Part 1

The first of the two part series on the new phenomena in NEWS - Blizzards!
Image Credits - NASA’s Scott Kelly from the space station via Twitter

A blizzard is a severe snowstorm characterized by strong sustained winds of at least 56 km/h and lasting for a prolonged period of time—typically three hours or more. A blizzard is characterised by air temperatures that are low (generally less than –10 °C) and winds of at least 30 knots (55.6 km/hr) blow falling snow or that, which has already fallen, such that visibility does not exceed 200 m. For a storm to be classified as a strong blizzard,
Winds must blow at a minimum of 40 knots (74: I km/hr),

Temperatures must be no higher than -12 °C and visibility must be effectively nil.
A severe blizzard has winds over 72 km/h, near zero visibility, and temperatures of −12 °C or lower for a duration of at least 3 hours. A ground blizzard is a weather condition where snow is not falling but loose snow on the ground is lifted and blown by strong winds.
The difference between a blizzard and a snowstorm is the strength of the wind, not the amount of snow. To be a blizzard, a snow storm must have sustained winds or frequent gusts that are greater than or equal to 56 km/h with blowing or drifting snow which reduces visibility to 400 meters or a quarter mile or less and must last for a prolonged period of time — typically three hours or more.

Nor’easter blizzards
A nor’easter is a macro-scale storm along the East Coast of the United States and Atlantic Canada; it gets its name from the direction the wind is coming from. The usage of the term in North America comes from the wind associated with many different types of storms some of which can form in the North Atlantic Ocean and some of which form as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.

FORMATION OF BLIZZARDS
There are set of three criteria that must be met for a storm to be considered a blizzard.
First, there needs to be blowing or falling snow that results in a reduction of visibility to less than one-quarter of a mile.
Second, the storm needs to produce sustained winds or frequent wind gusts in excess of 35 mph, and
Finally, the previous two conditions need to continue for at least three hours.
Blizzard conditions often develop due to intense pressure differences. The difference between the lower pressure in the storm and the higher pressure to the creates a tight pressure gradient, which in turn results in very strong winds.
These winds combine with snow and blowing snow to produce extreme conditions. Storm systems powerful enough to cause blizzards usually form when the jet stream (a very fast moving wind, 240-300 km/hr) which in a sense drags cold polar air, dips far to the south, allowing cold air from the north to clash with warm air from the south leading to formation of front (the narrow zone separating cold and warm air masses).
With the colder and drier polar air, atmospheric temperatures fall enough for the development of snow, sleet, or freezing rain.

American Blizzards
When cold, moist air from the Pacific Ocean moves eastward to the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains, and warmer, moist air moves north from the Gulf of Mexico, all that is needed is a movement of cold polar air moving south to form potential blizzard conditions that may extend from the Texas to the Great Lakes.
Another storm system occurs when a cold core low over the Hudson Bay area in Canada is displaced southward over southeastern Canada, the Great Lakes, and New England. When the rapidly moving cold front collides with warmer air coming north from the Gulf of Mexico, strong surface winds, a lot of cold air advection, and extensive wintry precipitation occur.
Low pressure systems moving out of the Rocky Mountains onto the Great Plains can cause thunderstorms and rain to the south and heavy snows and strong winds to the north. With few trees or other obstructions to reduce wind and blowing, this part of the country is particularly vulnerable to blizzards with very low temperatures and whiteout conditions.
What are its various impacts?

#1. Whiteout
Blizzards can bring whiteout conditions. In a true whiteout there is no visible horizon and multiple reflection allows the sense of direction and distance to be lost. People can become lost in their own front yards, when the door is only 10 feet (3 meters) away, and they would have to feel their way back. Motorists have to stop their cars where they are, as the road is impossible to see. Whiteouts can paralyze regions for days at a time, particularly where snowfall is unusual or rare.

#2. Wind chill
The wind chill factor is the amount of cooling the human body feels due to the combination of wind and temperature. Blizzard conditions of cold temperatures and strong winds can cause wind chill values that can result in hypothermia or frostbite.

#3. Inundation and Flooding
All the snow that blizzards usher in has to go somewhere. When the temperatures start to rise, the snow melts too quickly and abundantly for it to be absorbed, which increases the risk of flooding, especially in coastal areas. Blizzards also cause sea levels to rise, which can lead to flooding. Floods devastate the plant and animal population, shifting the local ecosystem and potentially impacting the food supply. Floods can also spread pollution from oil dropped on parking lots to plastic bags left out on the street; pesticides; fertilizers and detergents. All of these impact the water supply and further poison the plant and animal population.

#4. Destabilised Water Cycle
Whether blizzards result in flooding, they blanket the land with heavy precipitation that is drawn up into the atmosphere as a result of evaporation. Whether it is the snow from the blizzard or the water from the resulting flood, blizzards can contribute to heavy accumulation of water vapour in the atmosphere. That can lead to greater rainfall throughout the rest of the year, including heavy storms. Those storms can raise water levels and impact plant and animal populations, depending on their severity.

#5. Ecosystem impact
Temperatures quickly drop below zero during a blizzard, especially with the wind chill. Ice and winds cause trees to fall and plants to die. Such storms have the potential to cause significant damage to entire forests, which then release carbon during decay. The excess carbon causes an imbalance in the local ecosystem, which impacts other plants and wildlife. When other plants and flora are killed during a blizzard, their lack of availability also impacts the food supply for local animals and wildlife. Additionally,
Trees, plants, and crops can die in a blizzard, because of the extreme cold.
Tree branches and limbs can break.

#6. Mold and Fungus Damage
Blizzards create wet or damp conditions for extended periods, both while there is snow on the ground and while it is melting. The on-going wet and damp conditions encourage the spread of mold and fungi. Some mold and fungi are beneficial for the environment because they help break down decaying matter, like fallen trees. However, some mold and fungi damage the environment by destroying plants and trees that provide food sources and are important to sustaining the local ecosystem.

#7. Effect on city life
A blizzard can shut down a city, sometimes for days. Transportation can be impossible. Adults cannot get to work. People can be stuck in their homes for days.
Electrical wires often go down because of the heavy wind and snow. This leaves people with no electricity.
A blizzard can cause lots of property damage, such as roof cave-ins and windows breaking. Trees can fall on houses, cars, etc.
Blizzards are the cause of car accidents. Cars can be stranded on highways too.
Blizzards are life-threatening storms taking lives.
Blizzards can hurt the economy.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Floods and landslide as A Natural Event

Uttarakhand, the Himalayan state is rugged has a fragile geophysical structure, very high peaks, high angle of slopes, complex geology, variable climatic conditions and active tectonic processes.


1.   Himalayas formed when the Indian plate collided with the Eurasian plate 55 million years ago. The Himalayas are continuously rising as plate convergence between India and Tibet continues. The collision makes the Himalayas an unstable zone. This triggers earthquakes, fracturing and shearing of rocks, making the Himalayan slopes unstable. The process of formation led to rivers forming gorges through rising mountains. It is in these rivers that huge silt has been deposited. At the same time, steep slopes, cliffs were created, especially in and around the Alaknanda-Bhagirathi systems. All this leads to the Himalayan Mountains slopes to be fragile. To cap it all the westerlies collided with the rising air stream of the monsoons to lead to intense rains

2.   During April-June strong westerlies are generally active over the mid-latitudes (areas between the tropics and the polar regions, approximately 30° to 60°lat). In May and June the westerlies, which flooded central Europe, reached and were responsible for very heavy rainfall and flooding in central European nations, such as Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic to the Himalayan states via Afghanistan to collide with the monsoon, triggered deadly rains. Driven by westerlies, western disturbances, swept into the north Indian hilly states around mid-June, where a monsoon-related low-pressure system had already moved in from Bay of Bengal. In general, the monsoon is relatively weaker in the Himalayan region, which is located near the "periphery" or the northern limit of the monsoon that brings up to 80% of India's annual rainfall. When westerlies encounter the monsoon, they stagnate. The westerlies virtually locked on to the monsoon system, the two systems feeding moisture into each other gave rise to intense interaction. While monsoon currents progress from south to northwest, western disturbances move across north India from west to east, driving up pressure. In fact, in some Himalayan areas, the monsoon is activated by western disturbances. The unusual combination of westerlies along with monsoons led to intense upliftment of moisture-laden winds and deadly cloudburst. That caused excessive runoff, triggering landslides and flooding. Such mechanism of excessive rainfall is not unusual for the Himalayan region, nor such type of flooding is unusual as such an event takes place in one or another region of the Himalayas.

3.   It was GLOF (Glacial Lake Outburst Flood) that caused Kedarnath floods. Kedarnath floods 2013 were caused by the burst of Chorabari Lake or Gandhi Sarovar. Gandhi Sarovar or Chorabari Lake is located at 3,900 metres is a permanent water body on the side of the Chorabari glacier and has been in existence even in maps of the area from 1962. The glacier is about two km upstream from the Kedarnath temple. The lake is surrounded by hard rock on one side and a lateral moraine on the other. The lake is fed by snow and not by the waters of the Chorabari glacier which has receded over the years. The lake was full to the brim and burst its moraine barrier since there was no natural drainage. That outburst is what caused the most damage on June17 and the tons of sediment and water wreaked havoc down the valley. The over 300 mm of rain recorded on June 15 and 16 accelerated the snow melt into the lake. The rain was too early and too heavy causing this extreme event.

Although floods are natural and are part of the hydrological cycle, and floods must also occur and that they must take place because it cleanses the entire system. But, floods also become a hazard when the hydrological cycle is destabilised and the humans interfere with it without having known the dynamics of nature.

A man made disaster 

Uttarakhand has an unplanned settlement, an ever increasing population, weak economic condition and a low literacy rate. Apart from these factors, resource constraint, the lack of technical manpower, the lack of public awareness, very remote, rural and difficult geo-physical situation of the country, absence of modern technology and so on are other factors Uttarakhand prone to disasters.

The recent Uttarakhand floods were more manmade than natural. It was not a natural event or phenomena, it was a man-made disaster. The Uttarakhand floods were caused by many man made events one above another in their intensity of effect.

1.   Unplanned growth and rampant felling of forests responsible for this scale of disaster. The Himalayan water divides and slopes have witnessed unprecedented deforestation over a long period. Forest cover depletion has loosened soil, and this leads to frequent landslides. Landslides block the natural flow of water leading to inundation or constriction of the river path. While official estimates say forest cover has increased in the Himalaya, observations and facts do not give credence to this claim. The fact is that forests have been actually diverted for a host of land use activities such as agriculture, human settlements and urban built up area expansion for infrastructure development such as hydropower construction as well as road building. Scientific studies indicate that at the current rates of deforestation, the total forest cover in the Indian Himalaya will be reduced from 84.9 per cent (of the value in 1970) in 2000 to no more than 52.8 per cent in 2100. Dense forest areas, on which many forest taxa (groups of species) critically depend, would decline from 75.4 per cent of the total forest area in 2000 to just 34 per cent  in 2100, which is estimated to result in the extinction of 23.6 per cent of taxa restricted to the dense Himalayan forests. Vegetative cover slows the speed of falling rain and prevents soil erosion and gully formation - the precursors to landslides and floods. Dense vegetation, by evapotranspiration, also stops nearly 30-40 percent of rainwater from falling to the ground, thereby significantly reducing run-off. Besides holding the soil together, forests and soil soak water from the rain, release it slowly and prevent water flowing as run-off, So, deforestation brings about slope destabilisation which leads to landslides. The landslide and debris flow downstream add enormous load to the streams causing the valley volume to decrease and spilling of the rivers causing flood.

2.   Conversion of Pine to Oak Plantation. These parts of the Himalayas that once boasted of oak forests had turned into pine woods. Oak is an un-exploitable tree for commerce compared to the pine that has a variety of uses. From pine resin to its wood, everything is used profitably by man. Pine is profitable for man but it is not profitable for the Himalayas. The oak is a wonderful tree that in fall over years and decades creates a layer of black subsoil that nourishes the thickest undergrowth one can ever see. These scrubs and brushwood feed on rainwater that seeps down to create an organic whole, a sort of natural masonry that toughens and fortifies the soil against erosion caused even by heavy rainfall. Pine trees, unlike the oak, do not grow leaves, but needles that fall and form a smooth dry bed that does not soak water. This prevents the soil from developing underbrush.

Oaks are not protected by law enforcers. In any case the forest department, comprising no doubt some prized ignoramuses, do not mind this because they watch the pines creep up where once were oaks. Oaks are not protected by law enforcers as it does not ensure that profitability. In order to Green the Himalaya, the forest department greened the Himalayas s all they wanted was a Green cover, irrespective of the type of the tree. Pine is chosen as it spins out more money.

3.   Erratic rain pattern which may have been a product of climatic and weather aberrations led to intense bursts of rain first, and then its subsequent slowdowns causes the Himalayan rocks to be loosened flooding of silted rivers. Some recent studies, pointed out that Himalayan ecosystems have experienced faster rates of warming in the last 100 years and more than the European Alps or other mountain ranges of the world. In such a scenario, a faster melting of glaciers is expected with a higher water discharge in the Himalayan rivers.

4.   Series of dams have upset ecological cycle and hill slope stability. Construction 70 hydro-electric projects recently, including 37 in high landslide susceptibility zone increases the instability of slopes. Large-scale dam building in recent years has caused massive land use changes with ensuing problems in the Himalayan watersheds. Hydropower and allied construction activities are potential sources of slope weakening and destabilisation. Most downstream damage in otherwise flood-free areas is caused by dams and barrages, which release large volumes of water to safeguard engineering structures. Dam operators often release more water during rains than the carrying capacity of downstream areas, causing floods, increasing erosion and destabilising the base of the slopes further.

5.   Pilgrimage are responsible for significant human movement into the Himalaya beyond the region's carrying capacity, whether it is Amarnath in Jammu & Kashmir Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Hemkund inUttrakhand. Commercialisation of pilgrimage routes with encroachment on river banks, forests and dangerous slopes increased risks manifold. The heavy pilgrim population has also resulted in the mushrooming of shanty towns, cheap accommodation and numerous ramshackle buildings along river banks. Huge building construction, cheap hotels and individual dwellings at Uttarkashi, on the banks of the Assi and Bhagirathi rivers have been allowed. There is hardly any buffer between the river and the human settlements. While it is important to appreciate the aspirations of the local people and their economic activities, there cannot be a lack of enforcement of land use control laws on the part of local governments and officials.


6.   A complete neglect of urban planning has led to settlements coming up in danger areas in Rudraprayag, Joshimath, Chamoli etc. These settlements havent followed a simple rule-‘Where the river has its way, stay out it.’ Whether it was Kosi sometime back, and now Alaknanda or Bhagirathi, the rule applies to all.

7.   The illegal sand mining that is so common and rampant both of it has removed the protective cover at the base of the slope increasing its vulnerability to various types of mass movements, landslides and slippages.

8.   3 yrs ago, while auditing hydel projects in Uttarakhand, CAG had warned about severe ecological hazards. Its report ignored.

Suggestions

1.   Increasing literacy rate and train the people to rediscover their local wisdom, and civilisation. As a part of literacy, and school education, disaster management course should be included in the school and university curriculum. It is also necessary to train school teachers, selected students, women leaders, health workers and social workers to educate others in measures to prevent or mitigate the natural disasters. Such types of program may convince people to believe that natural disasters are not an act of God, rather it is a product of peoples’ action who lose their respect for environment and natural surrounding. To attain all this, there is the need of the strong political determination, pragmatic policy formulation and quick decision making. It is also needed very much to think on improving road infrastructure without slope destailisation and other alternatives to road transport such as ropeway; improving communication facilities to carry out rescue and relief works effectively and efficiently. In order to prevent inappropriate construction of buildings, the building code should be strictly implemented.
2.   Afforestation and Species Composition Change. Planting oak by the removal of pine. The oak is ecologically wonderful because its fall over years and decades creates a layer of black subsoil that nourishes a thick undergrowth. These scrubs and brushwood feed on rainwater that seeps down to create an organic whole, a sort of natural masonry that toughens and fortifies the soil against erosion caused even by heavy rainfall.

3.   Independent and serious monitoring of the catchment area treatment plans proposed by Forest Departments with funds from hydropower companies needs to be carried out and reported to the Green Tribunal.

4.   Himalayan State governments need to consider imposing high environmental tax on visitors, particularly during summer and monsoon months. Heavily sizing down pilgrim numbers in fragile areas must begin

5.   All vulnerable buildings need to be either secured or relocated away from rivers. Governments must impose penalties on buildings structures within 200 metres of river banks.

6.   Hydropower policy must consider building fewer dams and prioritise those that have the least environmental and social costs.

7.   This increasing variability and intense downpours are consequence of temperature changes and other weather aberrations, due to the capacity of warmer air to hold more water vapour. It happened last year inUttarkashi, it's occurred this year again. It's going to continue to happen, frequently. This raises three issues.

8.   Surely adaptation means not just desperate evacuation during and after extreme rains, but preparing for them. Experts suggest prior warning systems are feasible, with reasonable investment. Given there was no warning from the IMD, what technological or administrative improvement do we need to ensure that advance warnings are issued before such future events?

9.   Two, that needs not just technology but political will. We need to collectively challenge the callous indifference that most political elites have for the lives and livelihoods of the poor

10.   And three, even assuming a best-case scenario of capacity, efficiency and political will, what impacts and devastation are inescapable in a difficult and mountainous terrain? What we are currently experiencing is in a world 0.9°C warmer than pre-industrial temperatures. Due to the lag between carbon emissions and global warming, a significantly warmer world is inevitable, as are more extreme events.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The present selection system: Its limitations & relevance for good governance

A good governance requires an efficient, coherent, amicable and smooth functioning of the coordination between the executive, legislator, judiciary and the civil services, supported by an awakened, enlightened and well informed citizens. The people select someone to represent themselves in an election mandate who frames policies for the welfare of the people, which is in accordance with the law or not, is analysed by the judiciary and then implemented by the government servants called civil servants.
In order to implement the policies of the government, the chosen civil servants require to behave in a holistic manner having an idea about everything happening around them, so that they can administer the policies taking almost everything or maximum number of variables into account. Thus, these civil servants are not required to be any specialists rather they require to know something about everything, i.e., they are required to be generalists, who form the army of bureaucrats who supposedly 'run (or ruin)' the administration of the country.
The bureaucracy has to dispense certain duties, handle a lot of responsibilities, help in governance, help frame policies of the government and that too with a feeling towards the countrymen, so that the policies bring about a holistic upliftment of the society and do all these require certain qualities. The bureaucracy requires a combination of human traits, personality traits and attitudinal traits.
The identification of the bureaucratic tests, abilities, capabilities, its testing and ultimately its selection is done through a system of examination promoted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).
The UPSC tries to identify whether the candidates possess the desired qualities or not and on that basis recommends them to the Ministry of Personnel Affairs for their induction into Civil Services.
Had it been that the selection process of the UPSC would have been infallible, the chosen government servants would have been patriotic, intelligent, efficient, hard working, visionary, sensitive and understanding. However, the present corp of officials far from showing these qualities rather excel in qualities which are completely reverse and on the extreme.
They come to earn money, which they start doing right from their early stage, they have a bloated ego, which gets a boost by qualifying and subsequently oil massaged in the administrative setting, they come with minimum feelings about the country which becomes dead.
Obviously then, something is wrong somewhere. There is a thorough mismatch between what is required, what is desirable, what type of government servants we get and how they work. The qualities that are desired of them, whether they have been tested, checked or is that, that they are picked up for wrong qualities.
An attempt in the following paragraphs is being made to understand these anomalies and make some suggestions for sustainable governance of the country.
To begin with, the civil servants don't require to be genius, intelligence is enough. A genius has its own ways, his/her thinking is completely out of the world. Genius are not part of the general masses, they do not care for the world and can be out and out a revolutionary. An intelligent person allows his logic and intuition to function in a balanced manner. He knows when actually to use his intuitive abilities and his logic. The present examination system particularly the Prelims lays more emphasis on the retentive capability, rather than on intelligence but its Mains examination has a good mixture of intelligence and retentive power capability. Indeed the people chosen are intelligent, talented, but whether they use their talent and intelligence for the right cause or not, leaves a lot to be desired.
Language for bureaucracy is not merely a test of only the reading and writing ability but a means of communication. It emboldens the bureaucrats' ability to draft letters, understand legality, communicate what is to be communicated to the masses without causing any offence , and prompt the reader to think beyond words. Language has never been the most important test for the bureaucracy, however at two levels of examination the ability of the candidates to communicate used to be checked-- the Mains level and the Interview level. Since the Mains answer require the candidates to faithfully reproduce rather than think originally, therefore to what extent the language was tested remains a question mark. Some interview boards go on to become quizzical. Consequently, their efficacy in testing the communication skill and language also remains to be seen. The induction of essay has been a good attempt to check the language of the candidates, and its comprehension ability. Still, the questions in the Mains require to test the analytical capability to a greater range by inducting complexities and to test the conclusive range of the candidates.
As part of the recent changes in the civil services examination system the welcome development has been the introduction of Interpersonal skill, including communication skill as part of CSAT. CSAT is an appreciable effort for the reason that the qualified candidates of the Services will not be required to be taught English language (Some four IFS candidates who though having qualified and not able to comprehend English had to be taught English separately for one year) and the non-expressive one will be eliminated right in the beginning.
One of the most important administrative traits is the organisation of thoughts and the capability to organise the thoughts. The more organised the thought of a person, the better are the possibilities of his becoming a better administrator. If not in the PT, surely in the Mains examination, and in the Interview the unorganisation of thoughts become a major hindrance. The candidate in no way can clear the Mains examination without this ability.
Only when the thoughts are organised, can there be any enhancement of analytical ability and that always helps a better judgement after a solid comprehension. The prelims test has introduced such questions and enlarged their numbers in the question paper as well.
However, the real test of analysis comes in the Mains. Fortunately, the scope of analytical questions has increased over the last two years to such an extent that the civil services examination has ceased to be only a test of reproduction. Some interview boards also test candidates’ ability to analyse but most of them still go on to be quizzical. After all, a quizzical interview is so easy, less strenuous and requires virtually no quality interviewer. Analysis, helps one to convert information into knowledge or use the tool of information for knowledge. Knowledge is the capability of using information, learning for a value based judgement on what is wrong and right, what is good and bad, what is desirable and undesirable, what is view and vision, and whether it is better to be short sighted, visionary or to be blind.
Unfortunately, knowledge is not really subjected to any realistic assessment at any stage of candidate's qualification scheme of things, as the perspective base of candidates is not subjected to any value based assessment. A selected candidate devoid of wisdom is bound to be poor in decision making, has to be short-sighted and irrational.
Even with a diverse perspective base, the candidate can be objective in thinking ready to balance perception. Any lack of balance of perception is bound to make the officer partial, show a lot of biases take a sectarian view, ally themselves easily to any ideology, political party and view.
No test has been designed for checking the balance of perception and objectivity of the candidates in their thinking. Needless to say, the present corp of bureaucrats show every type of bias, sectarianism, casteism, regional bias and what not.
The UPSC could have better thought of advancing its thinking on CSAT as previously thought of, where it sought to check in the candidates’ "ethical, moral and analytical dimension in decision making" but the present form of CSAT is a good departure from its previous motive of testing ethic and morality.
The form of testing of ethics and morality is nowhere visible in the present format. Although it must be said that a design of test to check the ethics and morality in the candidates aptitude couldn't have been too difficult to assess and check. Asking the candidates to choose between "Monsoons are uncertain" and "Monsoon are unpredictable" and "Monsoon show high degree of spatial and temporal variation" would have indicated the candidates approach towards nature – whether critical or appreciative, whether ethical or consumerist.
In turn such a designed test with the help of certain questions would have indicated the feelings of the candidate towards either nature or fellow human beings such a question would have a choice in the form of "A train accident killed 70 people or "70 talents of country, or 70 families devastated because of train accident"
Indeed, the bureaucracy must have a fair degree of sensitivity along with talent. Bureaucracy must be picked from the best in the country. Talents are easy to spot and identify. But it is difficult to find and identify candidates sensitive and benevolent vision for our country. The country's governance is bad not because of talents but because of the attitude of the bureaucracy. It is attitude that would have determined the progress of the country. Well being of oneself, positive thinking, progressive nature and the ability to identify and respect others as well as one's own talent comes with attitude.
Attitudes have hardly been studied and/or they have got any precedence over talent. Talents can be spoilt brats, attitudes are always rational.
Inability to have an attitudinal test or to design one or the lack of willingness has determined the dearth of attitude in the administrative manpowers.
A leadership trait in bureaucracy will help the bureaucracy take a lot of lead in initiative building, mobilising people, association building, developing consensus for far fetched concepts, furnish thinking and consequently improve the predictive power of the candidates. Incidentally none of these traits are associated with the present bureaucracy. They are perceived as leaders by virtue of the powers they hold, or they have, or the perception they build around them, or their subordinates who protect them to such an extent. They are not leaders by virtue of having it as one of the personality traits.
The present system of examination does not seek to test the leadership qualities of the candidates. Had it been, the initial screening would have been done on the lines of SSB, a complete picture of the perspective candidates would have emerged of the candidates who really had (the leadership qualities) in them. An examination system that is ostensibly meant to select the cream of the candidates from the country, grossly lacks on this count. The Prelims checks the information capability of the candidate, the Mains examination checks the candidates’ ability of to reproduce fact, the Interview of 30 minutes duration hardly gives correct information about the candidate.
Had the present system of examination with a Prelims-Mains-Interview combination been very effective, we could have hardly seen the type of inefficient, incapable, short-sighted, corrupt and psychological dented bureaucracy.
The present CSAT related reform ostensibly to check the aptitude of the candidate must not be a departure from the initially thought out plan of testing, "ethical, moral and analytical dimensions in decision making." What the reform in prelims examination means or intended to mean can be known only when the Preliminary examination takes place with the new pattern. It will prove how far the Union Public Service Commission is sincere in its efforts to really design and bring out a test which could choose a bureaucrat with moral and ethical value, required at the crucial time that the country is passing through with scams in all the fronts…… be it telecom sector, banks, commonwealth games, space or judiciary……. and many more.
In the Main examination, there is an urgent need to re-frame the syllabus and its content change along with a change in the way the questions are asked, so that the candidates who can only faithfully reproduce facts can be weeded away, and encourage good amount of thinking among the candidates so that they assimilate, account for and analise the situation, circumstance an the setting. Some subjects like that of literature and some social science subjects must not be encouraged, as they deter any improvement in the imaginative power, analytical capability of the prospective candidate or to infuse fresh thinking.

The scope of personality test have to be increased/ improved further and its weightage must – must be increased in terms of marks and its form changed to SSB type or evolve a dynamic, as well as customised variant so that in five-six days of time it really tests, the attitude and talent of the candidate that is not fake and which the candidate cannot camouflage.

By K. SIDDHARTHA

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Let us know the perils of interlinking as a drought proofing mechanism

In the light of water scarcity that has plagued Maharashtra, a lot of talk is going to revive the interlinking of the rivers plan.
The interlinking of rivers offers some solutions, but comes with a big load of problems
Environmental: Inbuilt in the linking philosophy is that the rivers flooding is a disaster and that it should be curbed.
River flooding, in lowland areas particularly, is good for agriculture and ecology. If all human civilization and development are due to sustainability of agriculture then there is no earth process that is more beneficial to mankind than natural river flooding.
Floods are a constructive geological process, Floods are responsible for alluvium deposits in the Gangetic Plains. The floodwater brings along nutrient rick sediments, which get deposited in the plains, a process so crucial to agriculture.
River flooding created fertile plains, by depositing nutrient-rich sediments, which had acquired the textures and mineralogy to hold enormous quantities of water and nutrients. River flooding as a constructive geological process will be eliminated once interlinking takes palce.
Allowing the rivers not to flood will cut down the sediment supply and this could cause coastal and delta erosion by waves and longshore currents.
On a geological timescale, this will result in a loss of productive farmland as well as small-scale sea transgressions. If the global warming is a reality and taking place, with a consequent sea level rise on the east coast, the cumulative effect of coastal erosion due to reduction of sediment supply and the sea level rise could lead to large scale sea transgressions into the coastal areas.
The floodplains allow the rivers to store store the excess water in these floodplains and deltas during monsoons and release it during dry periods to maintain the minimum flow and to sustain agriculture. The floodplain formation will stop once the rivers are linked.
Whenever water goes through any living body, the chemistry of its dissolved solute changes. The entire ecosystem along a river and at its mouth has evolved in response to the natural and dynamic changes in the chemistry of flowing water as well as small-scale physiographic changes along the river and its adjacent region. This chemistry will change in case of river linking.
There is a strong symbiosis between marine and land life systems on earth. The hydrologic cycle provides fresh water to the land from the oceans. Water, fallen on land either as rainfall on snowfall, weathers rocks on land and picks up the nutrient elements as dissolved solutes, and carries them through surface run-off (rivers) as well as subsurface flows to the sea. The linking of rivers would cause little water to be returned back to sea. If only little water is returned to the oceans there are at least two major consequences.
Marine life is deprived of nutrient supply and marine productivity could get adversely affected.
The Bay of Bengal (BoB) is uniquely characterised by the presence of a less-dense and low-saline layer of water. The presence of this low-salinity layer helps in the maintenance of high sea-surface temperatures (greater than 28°C), a requirement though to be responsible for the intensification of summer monsoon in the BoB. A very large part of the Indian subcontinent gets summer monsoon rainfall because of the development and maintenance of a low-pressure system in the Bay of Bengal. Monsoons can get adversely affected if floods dont take place.
Once reservoirs and virtually a country-wide network of canals are created, this will play havoc with this ecological role. It will not only impoverish river valleys and the prosperity, it will lead to systained displacement of local communities.
As one sees in Punjab and Haryana, it will lead to waterlogging and salinity in the absence of proper drainage that rivers provide.
It will fragment wildlife habitats: Animals require corridors to connect them to far-flung forests, and these will be severed by the construction of reservoirs and canals.
Political: Moreover, this river-linking plan can become a potential source of perennial conflicts at various level: centre versus state, state versus state, state versus people, urban versus rural etc.
Constitutional: The National River-Linking Plan is a blatant violation of constitutional provisions, especially in two areas.
First, it is a cryptic effort to circumvent states’ control over water and placing it in the hands of the centre, de facto.
Second, it wipes out all the ambiguous and unresolved issues or rights over water, forest, and land, in just one stroke. This second aspect poses a great threat to the functioning of thousands of field-based smaller action groups engaged in empowering local communities, mostly rural, voiceless and marginalized. It therefore becomes pertinent that such groups have adequate information of the river-linking plan and keep updating it from time to time in the future, as and when the complete picture begins to unravel, especially those groups working in the areas falling under these 30 river links.
The plan may also lead to greater conflict at the international level. Cooperation of neighbouring countries, is crucial for the success of the river-linking project.
Economic-Socio-Environmental Considerations
It has been claimed in the official documents that no new reservoirs are planned for construction under this river network plan in Peninsular India but it seems that it is merely a technical jargon. It implies that various dam projects, pending with the government owing to various reasons, will be brought under the fold of this plan and will be put on fast track in the name of national interest. Many of these projects are delayed because of environmental and financial reasons, which mean that now these parameters will be swept away.

Macro-Economic and Financial Factors
The two components of inter-linking, the Himalayan and the Peninsular Rivers Development will cost Rs. 560,000 crores (US $112 billion), at 2003 rates. The enormity of this can be gauged from the fact that this amount is:
More than the total debt incurred in last 50 years
It is equal to 25% of the national GDP
It is 2.5 times more than the tax revenue
More than the total market capitalization of India’s 500 biggest companies
The inter-linking of rivers can only be completed by taking massive foreign loans, as many of the current ongoing water development projects are being completed with similar loans. It is really essential to push the country into yet another debt cycle? Why are other successful alternatives not being given priority and tried? In this context it becomes pertinent to look at the performance of the dams.
In last two decades of the past century, very strong anti-dam, mass-based, people’s movements have emerged throughout the country, drawing worldwide attention on some fundamental issues related to water management.
As per government claims, overall 79,292 hectares of forest land, will come under the submergence of this project.
Secondly, there are 24 river basins in India, as per the MOER, GOI. Even a cursory look at the boundaries of each river basin is enough to tell a common man that a large number of lifts will be involved in the river linking.
Thirdly, each river regime is unique in its own way within its own ecosystem. Which will be disrupted

Engineering limitations
The most important of these pertains to the difficulty of lifting water from the north up to the Deccan. This will entail enormous amounts of energy much of which has to be produced by hydro power to begin with and renders the scheme infructuous from the start.
It has been suggested that a Central authority should construct huge reservoirs on the Ganga and Brahmaputra and link these two mighty rivers with canals, thereby diverting surplus waters south-eastwards into the Mahanadi. Any scheme that smacks of gigantomania of this kind ought to be questionedwww.ensemble.net.in

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Everything that you need to know about recent advances in Nuclear Fusion

Chinese just came a step closer to creating an artificial sun. Get to know what India is upto!
The topic of nuclear fusion has been in news following the success of the Chinese Scientist at Hefei Institute of Physical Science, where they came a Step Closer To Creating An Artificial Sun.
Nuclear Fusion
The process in which two nuclei of light atoms (like that of hydrogen) combine to form a heavy, more stable nucleus (like that of helium), with the liberation of a large amount of energy is called nuclear fusion.
It takes huge amount of energy to put together two nucleus of even a lighter element like hydrogen, which can only be generated through intense heating, so much, so that the atoms turn into plasma state of matter and experience intense acceleration, required to overcome the large force of repulsion between two nucleus.
Heating the light atoms to an extremely high temperature carries out the nuclear fusion; the process is thus called thermo-nuclear reaction. There is some loss of mass during the fusion process, which produces a tremendous amount of energy.
The energy produced in nuclear fusion reaction is much more than that produced in a nuclear fission reaction, because the energy that holds a nucleus together is far greater than the one that holds electrons within the atom.
There are three difficult requirements for a sustained nuclear fusion reaction, and they must all be met simultaneously. Scientists must
Heat a small quantity of fusion fuel to about 100 million °C,
Contain and push the resulting plasma together long enough and at a high enough density for the fuel atoms to fuse,
Recover enough net useful energy to make fusion profitable.
The two major approaches are magnetic confinement and inertial containment. The magnetic confinement approach is called tokamak approach, while the inertial confinement is called the laser bombardment approach. An experimental reactor working on laser bombardment approach in Princeton University has been named after the Hindu God, Shiva. However most of the recent researches have been based on the tokamak approach.

ENGINEERING PROBLEMS SO FAR ENCOUNTERED IN ITS DEVELOPMENT
A critical temperature must be built and maintained and sustained.
Even if the ignition and confinement problems are solved, scientists still face formidable problems in developing in a workable nuclear fusion reactor and plant.
At the centre of the reactor the plasma may be 100 million °C, but only 2 meters away, around the magnets, the temperatures must be near absolute zero (—273°C) to be achieved by using liquid helium—a substance that may soon be scarce.
The entire massive chamber must also be maintained at a near perfect vacuum.
The inner wall of the reactor must resist constant baths of highly reactive liquid lithium (at 1,000°C) and steady bombardment by neutrons (which destroy most known materials) for 10 to 20 years. A wall of any known metal would have to be replaced every 2 to 10 years at such an enormous cost that fusion may never be economically feasible
In addition, repairs would have to be made by automatic devices since no human worker could withstand the radiation.
Fusion reactors, though much less dangerous than conventional or breeder reactors do have some potential radioactivity hazards. Worst would be the release of radioactive tritium (hydrogen-3), either as a gas or as tritiated water, which in turn could enter the human body through the skin, mouth, or nostrils.
Tritium is extremely difficult to contain, because at high temperatures and high neutron densities it can diffuse through metals. The long-term disposal of worn-out radioactive metal parts from fusion reactors could also create a problem. Worn-out lithium blankets from fusion reactors would create ten times the volume of wastes created by fission plants.
In late 80s and early 90s, a new phenomena was reported called cold fusion

COLD FUSION OR HYPOTHETICAL FUSION
Two scientists, Martin Fleischmann of the University of Southampton, England, and B. Stanley Pons of the University of Utah, U.S.A., did a simple experiment by which they claimed to have found that it would be possible to duplicate in the laboratory what occurs in the sun at temperatures of millions of degrees. The reported results received wide media attention and raised hopes for a cheap and abundant source of energy. Many scientists tried to replicate the experiment with the few details available. Hopes fell with large no of negative replications, withdrawal of many positive replications, discovery of flaws and sources of experimental error in the original experiment, and finally the
discovery that the scientists had not actually detected nuclear reaction by products.

THE INDIAN APPROACH
Aditya-L1 :: India's expedition to the SUN
source: defencenews.in
‘ADITYA’ is a medium-sized Tokamak conceived, designed and fabricated indigenously and it is commissioned and operational at the Institute of Plasma Research, Gandhinagar. The chief scientific objectives of ADITYA are:
Investigation and control of edge phenomenon for improving confinement properties;
Investigation of density and current limits of a Tokamak, with special emphasis on interesting phenomena, like MARFES, detached plasma, disruptive instabilities and their control and
Study of novel regimes of operation. e.g. H mode obtained using bulk/localized heating by RF.

THE RECENT BREAKTHROUGH IN CHINA
Scientists at the Hefei Institute of Physical Science produced hydrogen gas more than three times hotter than the core of the Sun. They did this inside the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) fusion device. The scientists managed to maintain the extremely high temperature – 50 million C°– for 102 seconds, a feat not achieved anywhere in the world yet.
The scientists were aiming for 100 million Kelvins for over 1,000 seconds (nearly 17 minutes).

MECHANISM OF THE NEW PROCESS
Inside the EAST device, a large metallic doughnut-shaped chamber, using magnetic confinement approach or in a tokamak reactor, hydrogen isotopes ‘deuerium’ and ‘tritium’ are collided at high speeds to produce helium. This produces a large amount of energy, akin to almost a medium-scale thermonuclear explosion. The heat produced inside the EAST device is 8,600 times that of the Earth’s core.
To keep the helium gas suspended in the fusion chamber the scientists created a magnetic field using superconducting coils fitted across the structure.

THE PROBLEMS CHINESE FACE
While, theoretically the temperatures could be sustained for 102 seconds, it will take a while for the core of a device to sustain the high temperatures for a long period of time.
The costs involved in building commercial power plants, which have a core that can sustain the extremely high temperatures, are very high, consequently, iy raises questions on its economic viability.
The apparatus and temperatures needed to ensure high-speed collision of nuclei are not easy to put together. It is difficult to get the positively charged hydrogen isotopes to come close enough to collide.
At times, it can also be difficult to contain the high amount of energy produced.
Many safety layers need to be put in place, so make it radiation protected, disposal of waste, etc.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

कोल्ड स्टार्ट के प्रति पड़ोसी देशों की नीति और भारतीय रणनीति

कोल्ड स्टार्ट एक सैन्य सिद्धांत है जिसे भारतीय सेना ने पाकिस्तान के खिलाफ संभावित युद्ध को ध्यान में रखकर विकसित किया है। कोल्ड स्टार्ट सिद्धान्त के अनुसार आदेश मिलने के 48 घंटों के भीतर हमला शुरू किया जा सकता है। इतने कम समय में हमला करने से भारतीय सेना पाकिस्तानी सेना को आश्चर्यचकित कर देगी।
इस पद्धति में भारतीय सेना के विभिन्न हिस्सों को आक्रमण के लिए एकीकृत करने पर जोर दिया गया है। इस तरह का अभियान पंजाब और राजस्थान के सीमावर्ती इलाकों में होगा। कोल्ड स्टार्ट सिद्धान्त का एक उद्देश्य युद्ध की स्थिति पाकिस्तान को परमाणु हमले से रोकना है, क्योंकि उसे जरा भी समय नहीं देना है।

उद्देश्य
इस योजना का मूल उद्देश्य तीव्रगति से हमले पर जोर दिया गया है। इसके बख्तरबंद वाहन और तोपखाना पाकिस्तान के इलाके में इसके अन्तर्गत कम से कम समय में प्रवेश कराया जा सकता है।
कोल्ड स्टार्ट सिद्धान्त को पाकिस्तान के खिलाफ भारतीय सेनाओं को कुछ हफ्तों के स्थान पर केवल कुछ दिनों में ही तैनात करने के लिए बनाया गया था। इसका परीक्षण भी अभी युद्ध में किया जाना शेष है। इसका उद्देश्य है कि तत्काल लामबंदी और त्वरित हमले से पाकिस्तान आश्चर्यचकित रह जाएगा। इससे पाकिस्तानी प्रतिक्रिया के पहले ही भारत अपने उद्देश्यों को हासिल कर सकेगा। अंतर्राष्ट्रीय समुदाय द्वारा युद्ध रोकने की पहल से पूर्व ही भारत अपने उद्देश्यों को पूर्ण कर चुका होगा।

पृष्ठभूमि
सेना लम्बे समय से एक सैन्य सिद्धान्त पर कार्य कर रही थी जो कि काफी पुराना पड़ चुका था। संसद भवन पर आतंकवादी हमले के बाद पाकिस्तान के खिलाफ सेनाओं की तैनाती के ऑपरेशन पराक्रम के दौरान इस सिद्धान्त की कई कमजोरियां प्रकाश में आईं। इनको दूर करने के कई प्रयास किए गए।
इसके बाद सेना ने एक व्यापक आधुनिकीकरण कार्यक्रम शुरू किया। परन्तु सेना की आक्रमणात्मक क्षमता में अत्यधिक वृद्धि करने वाले नए हथियारों को हासिल करने में विलंब हुआ। यहां तक कि भविष्य में एक युद्ध में महत्त्वपूर्ण भूमिका निभाने वाली या दुश्मन सेना के पीछे से जाकर हमला करने वाली भारत की विशेष सेनाओं को भी अत्याधुनिक हथियारों से पूर्णतः सुसज्जित करना अभी भी बाकी है।

समस्याएं
पाकिस्तान को असुरक्षित स्थिति में दबोचने और परमाणु हथियारों की छाया में युद्ध से कई समस्याएं हैं। इस सिद्धांत के सफलतापूर्वक क्रियान्वयन में भी कई किंतु-परंतु हैं। पाकिस्तान की प्रतिक्रिया का अंदाजा पहले से नहीं लगाया जा सकता और पाकिस्तान क्षेत्रों पर कब्जा बहुत कम समय के लिए हो सकता है क्योंकि उसे अधीन नहीं बनाया जा सकता। कुछ पाकिस्तानी प्रतिक्रियाओं में उनकी प्रतिरोधक रणनीति का महत्त्वपूर्ण संकेत मिलता है।
पाकिस्तान के शीर्ष सैन्य कमांडरों का कहना है कि भारत की कोल्ड स्टार्ट की रणनीति पाकिस्तानी सैन्य क्षमता के गलत आकलन और गलत धारणा पर आधारित है। भारत के नए सैन्य सिद्धान्त से खतरनाक रोमांचवाद पैदा होगा जिसके परिणाम गैर इरादतन और अनियंत्रित होंगे। सीमित युद्ध इस उपमहाद्वीप को खतरनाक स्थिति में पहुंचा देगा।
भारतीय रणनीति जिसका उद्देश्य आश्चर्य और गति के साथ एक परंपरागत हमला करना है, इस तथ्य की अनदेखी करता है कि पाकिस्तान के पास परमाणु हथियार हैं। इन हथियारों को तेज गति से हमले में भी नष्ट नहीं किया जा सकता है। पाकिस्तान पूर्वानुमानित हमले की स्थिति में मिसाइलों की संख्या में वृद्धि कर सकता है।
वास्तव में कोल्ड स्टार्ट सिद्धान्त केवल पश्चिमी मोर्चे पर पाकिस्तान के खिलाफ युद्ध में ही अपनाया जा सकता है।
सीमितता
पाकिस्तान से युद्ध सिर्फ भारत की समस्या नहीं। चीन एक दूसरा मोर्चा भी खोल देगा।
दो मोर्चों पर युद्ध एक अलग तरह का खेल होगा। दो मोर्चों पर युद्ध की रणनीति अभी सिद्धान्त रूप में आनी बाकी है। इस बात के संकेत हैं कि एक संभावित दो मोर्चों पर युद्ध की रणनीति के सिद्धान्त पर गहन चिंतन चल रहा है। चीन और पाकिस्तान के बढ़ते सहयोग को देखते हुए यह संभव है कि भारत को दो मोर्चों पर युद्ध का सामना करना पड़े। भारत सिर्फ पाकिस्तान को ध्यान में रखकर कोल्ड स्टार्ट सिद्धांत लागू नहीं कर सकता।
source: indiatimes

महाराष्ट्र में पानी की कमी की समस्या

महाराष्ट्र में पानी की कमी की समस्या के विकट रूप धारण करने के परिप्रेक्ष्य में नदियों को जोड़ने की योजना पर काफी ज्यादा चर्चा हो रही है।
सूखे जैसी स्थिति उत्पन्न होने के लिए नदी ग्रिड बनाने का प्रयास
नदियों को जाड़ने से सूखे की समस्या का कुछ हल तो निकलेगा लेकिन इससे अन्य भारी समस्याएं भी खड़ी होंगी।
नदियों को जोड़ने के समर्थन में पर्यावरण से जुड़ा एक तर्क यह दिया जाता है कि नदियों में बाढ़ का आना एक समस्या है और नदी ग्रिड बनाने से इस समस्या से निपटा जा सकता है। लेकिन बाढ़ एक प्राकृतिक घटना है-
नदियों में आने वाली बाढ़ विशेषकर निचले इलाकों में आने वाली बाढ़ कृषि और पर्यावरण के लिए लाभदायक है। संपूर्ण मानव सभ्यता और विकास कृषि की निरंतरता का परिणाम है, और प्राकृतिक बाढ़ जैसी घटना से बढ़कर अन्य कोई भी अन्य घटना अधिक लाभदायक नहीं है।
बाढ़ एक निर्माणात्मक भू-भौगोलिक प्रक्रिया है। गंगा के मैदान में जलोढ़ मिट्टी के जमाव के लिए बाढ़ ही जिम्मेदार है। बाढ़ का पानी अपने साथ पोषक खनिज लवणों को लाता है, जो मैदानों में जमा हो जाता है। यह प्रक्रिया कृषि के लिए महत्वपूर्ण है।
नदियों की बाढ़ खनिज पदार्थों से युक्त जलोढ़ मृदा का निक्षेप करके उपजाऊ मिट्टी का निर्माण करती है। यह पोषक पदार्थ नदियों के पानी में प्राकृतिक रूप से मौजूद रहता है। यदि नदियों को जोड़ दिया गया तो नदियों में आने वाली निर्माणात्मक बाढ़ की प्रक्रिया खत्म हो जाएगी।
नदियों में बाढ़ नियंत्रित करने से जलोढ़ मृदा की आपूर्ति बंद हो जाएगी और तटीय निक्षेप कम होने के कारण समुद्री लहरों से तटीय डेल्टा के क्षरण की समस्या पैदा हो जायेगी।
भूभौगोलिक दृष्टि से लंबे समय के बाद उपजाऊ भूमि की उत्पादकता में गिरावट आने लगेगी और तटीय इलाकों में समुद्री विस्तार बढ़ेगा। यदि वैश्विक उष्मन एक सच्चाई है और इसका प्रभाव बढ़ा तो पूर्वी तट पर समुद्र का जल स्तर बढ़ेगा और जलोढ़ मिट्टी का आपूर्ति बंद होने से तटीय क्षरण की गति तेज होगी।
बाढ़ के मैदान नदियों में आई बाढ़ के दौरान अतिरिक्त पानी को सोख लेते हैं और सूखे के दिनों में नदी में न्यूनतम प्रवाह कायम रखने एवं कृषि की निरंतरता बनाये रखने के लिए उपयोगी होते है। एक बार यदि नदियों को जोड़ दिया गया तो जलोढ़ बाढ़ के मैदानों का बनना बंद हो जाएगा।
पृथ्वी पर समुद्री और भूमि के जीवन व्यवस्था के बीच एक मजबूत सहजीवी सम्बन्ध स्थापित है। जल चक्र जिस स्वच्छ जल को धरती पर वर्षा के रूप में उपलब्ध कराता है वह उसे समुद्र से ही प्राप्त करता है। धरती पर वर्षा और बर्फबारी के रूप में जो पानी गिरता है वह घुलनशील तत्वों से पोषण प्राप्त करके उसे नदियों से होते हुए समुद्र में डाल देता है। यदि समुद्र में संतुलन से कम पानी लौटेगा तो उसके दो बड़े परिणाम होंगे-
समुद्र में प्राकृतिक पोषक पदार्थों की कमी हो जाएगी और समुद्री उत्पादकता बुरी तरह प्रभावित हो सकती है। जिससे जीव जंतु और पारिस्थिति तंत्र दोनों का सन्निपात हो जाएगा।
बंगाल की खाड़ी की एक अनोखी विशेषता, वहां कम घने और कम खारे पानी की एक परत है। कम खारे पानी की यह सतह समुद्र की सतह का तापमान 28डिग्री सेंटीग्रेड से ऊंचा बनाए रखने में मददगार होता है,जो बंगाल की खाड़ी में ग्रीष्मकालीन मानसून को तीव्रता देने के लिए जिम्मेदार है क्योंकि इसकी वजह से ही वाष्पीकरण अधिक होता है। भारतीय महाद्वीप का एक काफी बड़ा हिस्सा बंगाल की खाड़ी में बनने वाले हवा के कम दबाव की व्यवस्था के कारण गर्मियों में मानसूनी वर्षा हासिल करता है। यदि बाढ़ नहीं आएगी वाष्पीकरण प्रभावित होगा और मानसून बहुत ज्यादा प्रभावित होगा।
पूरे देश में जल संग्रहणों और नहरों के व्यापक जाल के निर्माण के कारण पर्यावरण की व्यापक हानि होने की आशंका है। इससे न केवल नदी घाटियों एवं उनकी संपन्नता को ही नुकसान होगा वरन इससे काफी ज्यादा विस्थापन की समस्या भी पैदा होगी।
प्रत्येक नदी का अपना पारिस्थितिकीय-तंत्र होता है। नदी ग्रिड के कारण उसमें भी असंतुलन पैदा होगा। यह नदियों का सहबंधन जटिल पारितंत्रीय समस्याओं को जन्म देगा-
नदियों के निचले तटवर्ती भागें में जैन विविधता की कमी आ जाएगी, बहुत से जीवों की मृत्यु हो जाएगी।
यदि ऐसा होता है तो गंगा नदी के निचले भाग सूखे की चपेट में आ जायेगें।
नदियों में जल की मात्रा, इसका वेग, इसका रसायन शास्त्र, इन सभी में परिवर्तन के कारण नदी के जैविक समुदायों पर प्रतिकूल प्रभाव ही पडे़गा।
राजनीतिक रूप से भी नदियों को जोड़ने की योजना से अनेक विवाद पैदा होंगे। इससे केंद्र एवं राज्यों के बीच, राज्य और राज्यों के बीच और सरकार तथा जनता और शहरी तथा ग्रामीण के आधार पर मतभेद और बढ़ने की आशंका है।
नदियों को जोड़ने की योजना से संविधान के प्रावधानों का, विशेषकर दो क्षेत्रों में सर्वाधिक उल्लंघन होने की आशंका है-
सबसे पहले इससे जल पर राज्यों के नियंत्रण का अंत हो जाएगा और इस पर केंद्र का नियंत्रण हो जाएगा।
दूसरा, इसके कारण केवल एक ही झटके में जल, जंगल और जमीन पर से सभी सार्वभौम अधिकार समाप्त हो जाएंगे। इसके कारण ग्रामीण और दूरदराज के क्षेत्रों में स्थानीय समुदायों के सशक्तिकरण के लिए काम करने वाले छोटे समूहों के लिए भी खतरा पैदा हो जाएगा। इसका सबसे ज्यादा शिकार गरीब, वंचित और उपेक्षित ही होंगे।
इस योजना के कारण अंतर्राष्ट्रीय स्तर पर भी काफी विवाद पैदा होने की आशंका है। बांग्लादेश और पाकिस्तान इससे कुप्रभावित हो सकते हैं। नदी ग्रिड परियोजना की सफलता के लिए पड़ोसी देशों का सहयोग भी काफी अधिक आवश्यक है।
आर्थिक-सामाजिक-पर्यावरणीय दृष्टि से भी यह परियोजना किसी भी तरह व्यावहारिक नहीं होगी। आधिकारिक दस्तावेज में यह कहा गया है कि नदी ग्रिड योजना के तहत प्रायद्वीपीय भारत में किसी भी तरह का जल संग्रहण भंडार बनाने की आवश्यकता नहीं होगी लेकिन यह केवल एक तकनीकी शब्दजाल है। सरकार ने कई बांधों के निर्माण की जिन योजनाओं को स्थगित कर रखा है उन सभी को इस योजना के अंतर्गत लाकर राष्ट्रीय हित के नाम पर उनमें तेजी लाई जाएगी। इनमें से कई परियोजनाएं वित्तीय और पर्यावरणीय कारणों से रुकी हुई हैं।
विस्तृत आर्थिक और वित्तीय परिप्रेक्ष्य में देखा जाए तो भी यह योजना बहुत व्यावहारिक नजर नहीं आती है। हिमालयी और प्राद्वीपीय नदियों को जोड़ने की लागत 2003 की दरों के आधार पर 560,000 करोड़ रुपये है। यह रकम-
पिछले 50 वर्ष के कुल ऋण को चुकाने के लिए पर्याप्त है।
यह राष्ट्रीय जीडीपी का कुल 25% है।
यह कुल कर राजस्व के करीब 2.5 गुने से ज्यादा है।
यह भारत की शीर्ष 500 कंपनियों की कुल बाजार पूंजी से भी अधिक है।
इसके अलावा नदियों को जोड़ने की योजना को विदेशों से भारी ऋण लेकर ही पूरा किया जा सकता है। हाल ही में कई जल परियोजनाओं को इसी प्रकार से पूरा किया गया है। क्या देश को फिर से एक नए ऋण जाल में फंसाना आवश्यक है। क्यों नहीं अन्य सफल और वैकल्पिक उपायों को प्राथमिकता दी जाती है या उनको क्यों नहीं अजमाया जाता। इन सबको बांधों की सफलता के परिप्रेक्ष्य में देखा जाना चाहिए।
पिछली सदी के अंतिम दो दशकों में पूरे देश में जन आधारित बांध विरोधी आंदोलनों ने पूरी मजबूती से अपनी लड़ाई लड़ी है। इन आंदोलनों ने जल प्रबंधन के कुछ मूल अधिकारों के संदर्भ में पूरी दुनिया का ध्यान अपनी ओर आकर्षित किया।
सरकार के दावे के अनुसार इस परियोजना में 79,202 हैक्टेयर वन भूमि डूब क्षेत्र में आएगी। भारत में 24 नदी घाटियां हैं। यदि सभी नदी घाटियों की सीमाओं पर ध्यान दिया जाए तो एक साधारण व्यक्ति भी कह सकता है कि नदी ग्रिड बनाने में काफी अधिक लिफ्टों की आवश्यकता पड़ेगी।
तकनीकी तौर पर भी देखा जाए तो इसमें सबसे बड़ी समस्या उत्तर भारत से पानी को लिफ्ट करके दक्कन में भेजना है। इसमें काफी अधिक ऊर्जा की आवश्यकता लगेगी जो कि इस परियोजना के शुरू में उत्पन्न होने वाली ऊर्जा से काफी अधिक होगी।
यह कहा जा रहा है कि एक केंद्रीय संस्था गंगा और ब्रह्मपुत्र की घाटियों में विशाल जलाशयों का निर्माण करेगी और अतिरिक्त जल को महानदी घाटी में भेजा जाएगा। इस योजना में इतने विशाल पैमाने पर निर्माण करना होगा कि इसकी सफलता में संदेह पैदा होना स्वाभाविक है।

INDIA TODAY

Monday, 6 June 2016

Environmental ethics and truth...

के. सिद्धार्थ का लेख : पर्यावरणीय नैतिकता और यथार्थ

अब सवाल यह है कि हम प्रकृति को किस रूप में देख रहे हैं और उससे क्या हासिल करना चाहते हैं। यह समझने की बात है कि पर्यावरण को संशोधित नहीं किया जा सकता और न ही उस पर कोई टिप्पणी की जा सकती है, और न ही इस पर तर्क किया जा सकता है।

सभ्यता और सभ्य होने का सिर्फ एक अर्थ है,अपने आसपास के पर्यावरण का आदर और आदरसूचक मूल्य से उसके प्रति सोच। सभ्यताओं का पतन तभी होता है जब आसपास के पर्यावरण के प्रति सम्मान कम हो जाता है, पर्यावरण के प्रति नजरिया व परिप्रेक्ष्य बदल जाता है। सिंधु घाटी, दजला फरात, माया- इन सभी सभ्यताओं का पतन इन्हीं कारणों का प्रतिफल था। आज का आधुनिक और सभ्य समाज पर्यावरण के प्रति नजरिये को लेकर विरोधाभासी मनोवृत्ति और द्वंद्व में उलझा हुआ प्रतीत होता है। पर्यावरण के स्वरूप, उसकी सुंदरता, उसकी विशालता, उसकी भव्यता, उसके परिवर्तन में पर्यावरणीय समस्या भी देखी जा रही है, जैसे कि पर्यावरण खुद पर्यावरणीय समस्याओं के लिए जिम्मेदार है। और अगर यह समस्या है तो क्या यह समस्या मानवता की मनोवृत्ति के साथ है, या पर्यावरण के प्रति समझ न होने के कारण? पर्यावरण में होने वाले परिवर्तन क्या वास्तव में समस्या हैं? हैं भी या नहीं? कुछ हद तक इसका जिम्मेवार पर्यावरण शब्द का चलता-फिरता उपयोग भी है। आज ‘पर्यावरण’ शब्द का उपयोग सामान्य अर्थ में अधिकाधिक लिया जा रहा है, जैसे सामाजिक पर्यावरण, व्यापारिक पर्यावरण, खेल पर्यावरण आदि। इसका एक परिणाम यह है कि वह अपनी शुद्धता और विशिष्टता खोता जा रहा है। वास्तव में इस शब्द का पर्याय प्रकृति और जीवन का पर्यावरण के प्रति समायोजन है, जो कहीं अधिक विशेष, सात्त्विक और अर्थपूर्ण है। लेकिन विडंबना यह है कि जो हमारा जीवन है उसे आज पर्यावरणीय समस्या के रूप में प्रस्तुत किया जा रहा है और यह हमारी मानसिक और अवधारणात्मक विकृति को संप्रेषित करता है। दरअसल, हमारी समायोजन न करने की चाह पर्यावरणीय समस्या नहीं बल्कि प्रकृति के साथ दुर्व्यवहार है। यदि तथाकथित समस्याओं की गहराई पर विचार किया जाए तो स्वाभाविक सवाल यह उठता है कि क्या पर्यावरण और प्रकृति से जुड़े हुए सारे परिवर्तन ‘समस्या’ हैं? क्या ज्वालामुखी की क्रिया हमेशा विध्वंसक ही होती है? क्या बाढ़ वास्तव में एक आपदा है? क्या प्रकृति को मनुष्य के मनोनुकूल व्यवहार करना चाहिए? क्या जलवायु की विविधता जलवायविक परिवर्तन है? ‘पर्यावरणीय समस्या’ शब्द से जो अर्थ निकलता है वह एक त्रासद अर्थ है, क्योंकि प्रकृति के प्रति आम जनजीवन के श्रद्धाभाव में निरंतर कमी आई है। यही कारण है कि हम इसे एक वस्तु के रूप में देख रहे हैं। यदि ऐसी समस्या है तो इस समस्या को बहुत सरलीकृत भाव में लिया जाता है। इससे समस्या क्या है और कहां है, इसकी वास्तविक पहचान नहीं हो पाती है। हर वह वस्तु जिससे मनुष्य को नुकसान पहुंचता है उसे एक ही पलड़े पर रखा जाता है। जैसे, यह कैसे हो सकता है कि मानव जीवन के लिए जितना खराब रेडियोएक्टिव प्रदूषण है उतना ही खराब ज्वालामुखीय विस्फोट हैं। जितना बुरा कीटनाशकों के कारण मिट्टी का पतन है उतना ही बुरा हिमस्खलन या भूस्खलन है? एक के लाभदायक परिणाम भी होते हैं, दूसरे के कभी नहीं। इसके लिए ‘समस्या’ शब्द का उपयोग कहीं से भी नैतिक नहीं है। ‘पर्यावरणीय समस्या’ मानव द्वारा पैदा की गई है। कोई भी शब्द सिर्फ शब्द नहीं होता बल्कि उसमें भाव छिपा रहता है जो हमारी मानसिकता को प्रदर्शित करता है। प्राकृतिक घटनाएं सिर्फ घटनाएं हैं, वे कहीं से भी समस्या नहीं हैं और न ही सत्यनिष्ठा की दृष्टि से उन्हें इस रूप में परिभाषित किया जा सकता है। ‘पर्यावरणीय समस्या’ में अवधारणात्मक और विचारात्मक खोट है। इस तरह के प्रयोग से मनुष्य अपने हानि-लाभ के विषय में केंद्रित हो जाता है और प्रकृति का वास्तविक अर्थ खो जाता है। अब उसका अर्थ सिर्फ मनुष्य को हानि पहुंचने या मनुष्य को लाभ पहुंचने के रूप में रह जाता है। हानि-लाभ के आधार पर प्रकृति का जैसा आकलन किया जा रहा है वह न सिर्फ गलत है बल्कि हमारी नितांत स्वार्थी, संकुचित, स्वकेंद्रित और प्रकृति-विरोधी मानसिकता का परिचायक भी है। इस तरह की अवधारणात्मक विकृतियां मुख्यत: पर्यावरण के प्रति गलत दृष्टिकोण की वजह से पैदा हुई हैं। पर्यावरण के प्रति सकारात्मक दृष्टिकोण विकसित न करने की वजह से ही ऐसी कठिनाइयां आ रही हैं। अगर इंसानी नजरिए से देखा जाय तो प्रकृति के प्रति यह आम धारणा होती है कि उससे वह कितना अधिक से अधिक लाभ ले सकता है। यही स्वार्थी दृष्टिकोण समस्याओं को पैदा करता है। लगातार यह देखा जा रहा है कि मानसून को लेकर ‘अनिश्चित’ और ‘सामान्य’ दो शब्दों का प्रयोग किया जा रहा है। ये शब्द हमारी पूर्वाग्रही मानसिकता के द्योतक है। यह निर्णय कौन करेगा कि मानसून को कैसा होना चाहिए। अगर मानसून हमारे अनुकूल नहीं आता तो वह अनिश्चित है! इस तरह से बाढ़ आपदा, सूखा आपदा, भूकंप आदि आपदाएं बताई जाती हैं। इन्हीं अनगिनत भूकंपों ने हिमालय का निर्माण किया, ऐसे ही अनगिनत करोड़ों बाढ़ों ने गंगा के मैदान का। और अगर करोड़ों वर्षों तक विध्वंसक जवालामुखी क्रिया नहीं हुई होती तो महाराष्ट्र का आज नामोनिशान न होता। ‘आपदा’ शब्द से प्रकृति और मानव के मैत्रीपूर्ण संबंध समाप्त हो जाते हैं और पर्यावरण को मनुष्य के दुश्मन की तरह प्रस्तुत किया जाता है। प्रकृति के प्रति यह नजरिया हमारी सीख को बाधित कर देता है, जो प्रकृति हमारी शिक्षक है। प्रकृति एक सीखने, जानने और ज्ञानार्जन के साधन के रूप में है। यही नहीं, प्रकृति हमारी संरक्षक और शक्तिशाली प्रेरक भी है। प्रकृति के पास अनेक ऐसे स्रोत हैं जो हमारे ज्ञानार्जन को एक संस्था जैसा विस्तृत करते रहे हैं और कर सकते हैं। मनुष्य अगर अपनी अंतर्दृष्टि को विकसित कर ले तो प्रकृति उसे सहज ही ज्ञानवान बना सकती है। प्रकृति को समझने के लिए प्रकृति के पास ही जाना पड़ेगा। बाहरी ज्ञान प्रकृति के स्वभाव के विपरीत ही परिणाम देगा। आजकल प्रकृति को संसाधन के तौर पर देखने और व्याख्यायित करने का चलन बढ़ता जा रहा है। पर यह बहुत ही दोषपूर्ण दृष्टि है। प्रकृति हमारी सुविधा प्रदाता नहीं है, वह हमारी विरासत है। सुविधा प्रदाता के रूप में प्रकृति को देखना हमारा स्वार्थ, मूल्यहीन सोच और हमारी सबसे बड़ी भूल है। हमें उसे अपनी विरासत के रूप में बहुत संभाल कर और सहेज कर रखने की जरूरत है। प्रकृति को वस्तु के रूप में नहीं लिया जाना चाहिए, बल्कि उसे अपने संरक्षक और शिक्षक के रूप देखना अधिक लाभप्रद होगा। यह सोचना कि प्रकृति हमेशा एक जैसा व्यवहार करेगी, न सिर्फ गलत है बल्कि हमारे अज्ञान का द्योतक भी है। उसका मूल स्वभाव ही बदलावधर्मी है। गर्म होना, ठंडा होना, शुष्क होना, बरसात होना आदि बदलाव के ही प्रतीक हैं। यह मुद््दा ही नहीं है कि प्रकृति ज्यादती करती है या कर रही है बल्कि यही प्रकृति के चमत्कार हैं। वह कोई मिथक नहीं, वास्तविकता है जिसे मनुष्य को स्वीकारना होगा। प्रकृति के पास सीखने के ऐसे स्रोत हैं जो अनेक आपदाओं से निपटने में सहायक हो सकते हैं। अब सवाल यह है कि हम प्रकृति को किस रूप में देख रहे हैं और उससे क्या हासिल करना चाहते हैं। यह समझने की बात है कि पर्यावरण को संशोधित नहीं किया जा सकता और न ही उस पर कोई टिप्पणी की जा सकती है, और न ही इस पर तर्क किया जा सकता है। प्रकृति तर्कातीत है। तर्क और अपने ज्ञान से प्रकृति और पर्यावरण को तौलने के बजाय इस बात की ज्यादा जरूरत है हमारा उससे समन्वय कैसा है। पर्यावरण के बदलाव को समस्या बना कर हल करने के बजाय अपनी आकांक्षाओं और आवश्यकताओं को नियंत्रित व प्रबंधित करना अधिक आवश्यक है। प्रकृति की समस्या को दूर करने के बजाय जरूरत इस बात की अधिक है कि आम जनमानस को प्रकृति के प्रति संवेदनशील और जागरूक बनाया जाए। सभी तथाकथित प्राकृतिक खतरे मसलन ज्वालामुखी, भूकम्प, चक्रवात, सुनामी, बाढ़, सूखा आदि सभी मानव हित के लिए उपकारी हैं। उनका कहीं न कहीं प्रकृति के संतुलन में योगदान होता है। इनके बिना इस ग्रह पर मनुष्य के लिए जीवन का रास्ता असंभव है। यह विडंबना ही है कि भूकंप, ज्वालामुखी, चक्रवात, सुनामी, बाढ़.. जिसने पृथ्वी का निर्माण किया, आदि इन सारी घटनाओं को आधुनिक सभ्यता के लिए खतरों के रूप में देखा जा रहा है। वास्तव में पर्यावरणीय समस्या जैसा कोई शब्द या भाव होना नहीं चाहिए और न ही इसे समस्या समझ कर दूर करने की कोशिश की जानी चाहिए, हां इसका कोई प्रबंध किया जा सकता है और वह भी खुद को इसके प्रति समायोजित-अनुकूलित करके, न कि उसकी आलोचना करके। वास्तव में पर्यावरण के बदलाव प्राकृतिक रूप हैं। प्रकृति हमेशा खुद से गर्म होती है फिर ठंडी होती है। तो क्या यह समस्या है? बिलकुल नहीं। यह उसका स्वरूप है। अगर ऐसा नहीं होता तो केदारनाथ मंदिर नहीं बन पाता, वहां चावल की खेती नहीं होती। वहां का मौसम गरम था, फिर ठंडा हुआ, फिर थोड़ा गरम हुआ। अर्थात प्राकृतिक आपदा जैसी कोई बात होती ही नहीं। प्रकृति स्थिर नहीं है, सदैव बदलती रहती है। वह शिक्षक है और सिखाती भी है। अत: ‘आपदा’ और ‘बदलाव’ के अंतर को समझा जाय। वास्तविकता यह है कि हम बदलाव को आपदा मान चुके हैं, जिसे अपने मन से निकालना होगा तभी हम पृथ्वी पर बेहतर रूप में रह पाएंगे, प्रकृति का उपयोग कर पाएंगे। प्रकृति का सम्मान ही संस्कार है, विद्या है, ज्ञान है, सभ्यता है। इस सभ्यता के पतन का पहला चरण प्रकृति के प्रति मौजूदा मनोवृत्ति, हमारा नजरिया और हमारी स्वार्थ-केंद्रित सोच है।