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Ozone Confusion

Ozone Confusion

When we bought our first air conditioner after our first child was born, we picked a brand that cooled the room without emitting chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) into the atmosphere. It cost us a fortune at a time when CFC producing cheaper options were available. But the idea was to ensure we did not enlarge the ‘ozone hole’.

Two decades before Donald Trump had even declared his first bankruptcy, and a quarter century before he walked out of the Paris Climate Deal, it had become clear that CFCs were creating a hole in the ozone layer that blanketed the earth to keep harmful ultraviolet rays away.

UV rays not only are responsible in causing skin cancer to humans but also for melting the Arctic ice. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane also have been held responsible for climate change. But climate protection advocates need to be clearer while explaining things to lesser mortals because they are not clear to many ordinary mortals. Sometimes they could even sound ‘contradictory’ too.

Last Sunday, I read about the dangers of excess ozone over the National Capital. The Centre for Science and Environment warned that there was a significant ozone build up this summer over the national capital. For a moment, I thought that was good news. The battle for preserving the tiger may not have been won, but at least we have knitted back good old ozone to blanket us and protect us from those treacherous UV rays that causes cancer and melts the Arctic ice.

But apparently, it was not yet time to dance with the polar bear. The report said that ozone blanket was preserving the heat that was reaching us from the sun and roasting us like a good old oven in a traditional bakery. Not only that, CSE warns us that children who play outdoors are at risk of suffering from breathing disorders as ozone was capable of attacking the lining of the lungs.

So what happened to the ‘good old ozone’ that we had known for protecting us from UV rays and saving the polar ice, bear and salmon? Now, would it be right for me to presume that if air conditioners sold in Delhi and surrounding areas switched back to CFC producing system, we could remove the ozone blanket forced upon us in the summer?

By trying to ‘educate’ the world on preserving ozone, have environmental organisations prescribed glucose biscuits for diabetes patients? Or have we undergone the CFC switch for the benefit of multinationals? To get back to Trump, I wish Humphrey Bogart was the President of the United States, because he would have said, “We will always have Paris.”

Trump Not Alone

Staying with ecological concerns, it shocks me to know that the Government of India gives high priority for research on very long range missiles over protection of the fragile environment. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi said last week “we will go beyond Paris,” I didn’t understand that he was hinting about the physical distances he was planning to cover in the coming days.

If his pledge was to the Paris Climate Deal, I wonder how his government’s National Board of Wildlife could on the same day grant clearance to destruction of 49.978 hectares of forest in the Mahatma Gandhi Marine National Park and Eco Sensitive Zone in Andamans’ Rutland Island so that the Defence Research and Development Organisation could set up a facility to test its long-range missiles.

Rutland Island is a rich green forest, surrounded by very rich marine life and was once home to the indigenous Rutland Jarawa tribe. It’s clear that those who make political capital on protecting the cow have no qualms in destroying the fragile environment around us.

Missile testing may require a safe place for the purpose. But the question is why can’t hardly inhabited deserts be chosen for such activities? I agree that even Pokharan where India conducted its nuclear test have people living not far away. But with the fragility of the planet becoming clearer by the day, is it not worth rehabilitating people from sparsely populated areas to make room for such tests?

Imagine the irony! The very idea of the tests is to ensure that we can defend ourselves in case an adversary tries to attack us. If conducting the test is linked to our protection, what sense does it make to destroy the environment and ensure the doom of the whole planet? The threat the planet faces is obviously not evident to the powers that be.

Heard Of Black September?

India has been facing terrorism for 40 years but the world realised it only after 9/11, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a ‘global broadcast’ from St Petersburg recently. It’s true that India has faced several secessionist movements since Independence, the Naga insurgency being the first among them. But none of these, including the Kashmir militancy, took the grave form of terrorism for several decades.

History tells us that the first real terrorism India faced was from the Khalistan movement, in the early 1980s, and lasted for over a decade. Hundreds of innocent people in Punjab, Delhi and other parts of India were mercilessly massacred by Sikh militants who just shot dead people in farms, fields, buses or the streets, apart from leaving explosive devices like transistor bombs.

One would not be wrong to say that the militancy in Jammu and Kashmir took a turn for the worse only after this, around the late 1980s. Simple arithmetic says that there was no terrorism in India before 35 years. Wonder who added another five years to it in Modi’s speech?

It is clear that those who fed the data into the PM’s teleprompter obviously had not heard about Black September, the Irish Republican Army or their exploits. The world, including Asia minus India and Europe, has a longer record of dealing with terrorism, though India’s experience may be more given the sheer number of incidents. But even if we claim that the first plastic surgery was done on Ganesha, we should avoid bragging about being the first victim of terrorism.

Tailpiece

“Make Love, Not War” is a trifle trite to be used even in Syria these days. It has lost its meaning too after reports that say that ISIS warriors regularly make love before and after their senseless battles. But one ‘graffito’ I read on a T-shirt on a hot summer afternoon recently left me in splits. The improvement on the original said, “Make Tea, Not War”. Hopefully, the message on the paunch will reach the one who periodically proclaims his skills in tea-making.

(abey.kay@gmail.com)

#(Published on 12th June 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 24)