Friday, December 18, 2009

Poll results: Do you believe that climate change is detrimental?

- Yes, the evidences are very convincing (60%)
- No, I refuse to believe in such paranoid theories (20%)
- No, climate change has been happening through the centuries (20%)
- I don't care (0%)

Children of the Forests

Much time, energy, and capital is invested in the protection of equatorial and tropical forests, a characteristic seen not just in India, but also in many other nations who have been blessed with such green lungs and hotspots of biodiversity. As a consequence, one also reads of how the natives of the forests, a.k.a tribals, are often evicted on the grounds that they have been practicing activities resulting in deforestation/forest degradation. Their pathetic huts are torn down, and the families are left by the wayside (some lucky ones are rehabilitated elsewhere) without a roof over their heads. Is it indeed necessary to evict these people from the very places where they were born and which they know well like the back of their hands? And that too citing deforestation?

I doubt. Tribals are hardly the sole perpetrators of deforestation. Indeed, their settlements may be located deep within the forests. But so has it been for their fathers, grandfathers, and countless ancestors from centuries ago. They live in sync with the environment, using sustainable practices, including gleaning resources from the forest. They may indeed hunt various animals and may even have converted a tiny area into agricultural land. They may speak their own language, which might sound like gibberish, may be scantily clad, and unaware of the world beyond. But they are happy to remain in their simplicity and seldom have anyone advocating their cause. But since education has reached most of them, they may (like anyone else) try their fortunes in the lush green cities. But I may be erroneous, for my views are based on my observations on the Keralite tribals. One study elsewhere stated that tribals are responsible for 5% of deforestation, and this might be true in other areas where they encroach and build settlements, in the process, destroying the forests.

But when I observe the nearby mountain ranges of the Western Ghats, I find that the main culprits are others. Although much of this deforestation has been reduced due to efficient forest preservation legislation, timber thieves do find leeway to lay hands on rosewood and ebony, so freely available without a price tag. Then there are highland tea and coffee plantations (for which forested area were cleared which had been a century or two ago) who believes in the maxim ‘slow and steady wins the race’- for they gradually encroach into the forest by planting their crops amidst the scrub in one year, and gently annexing that area later. Or, of course, the blatant encroachment by burning the existing vegetation and planting their crops on the fertile soil. These annexed/encroached areas are of a gargantuan scale than the petty cents trespassed by the tribals. Are these activities noticed by the powers-that-be? Does anyone raise a voice of dissent? Perhaps not.

Friday, October 2, 2009


According to the indigenous calendar, ‘Kollavarsham’, the product of centuries-old of climatic observations, this is the ‘Kanni’ month characterised by sultry temperatures, so high that the ‘sea would evaporate’ (“kadal vattum”). Paradoxically, the southern states are currently being buffeted by a persistent low pressure, resulting in torrential rains, devastating floods, and high velocity winds resulting in loss of life and property. Thus, this seems to be a fitting time to introduce my new blog on all matters pertaining to the environment. I shall be scribbling my various thoughts, straight from the heart, and would appreciate your views as well.

And apparently, I must include a legal disclaimer somewhere on my blog. So, hear, hear!

This blog is published by and reflects the personal views of Sarah Stephen, in her individual capacity as a concerned citizen of this planet. The term 'Our Gossamer Planet', as well as every opinion, comment, and statement expressed in this blog are the exclusive property of Sarah Stephen (© 2009 - present), unless explicitly stated otherwise, and should not be disseminated without the written consent of the author. The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily representative of the views of any school, college, University, city, town, state, country, or church where Sarah Stephen has studied, worked, worshipped, or lived, and is not sponsored or endorsed by them. The reader(s) is reading the posts and arriving at conclusions about the author, or otherwise, at his/her own risk. Occasionally, the blog might contain subjects which may be considered offensive, and the author refuses to accept any liability for any psychological, physical and emotional reactions, short-term or long-term, which the posts might generate in the reader. The author reserves the right to update, edit, delete or otherwise remove, the posts or any comments, the latter of which might be deemed offensive or spam. The author also reserves the right to publish in print media, in whole or part, any of the posts which might be an edited version. If the reader has a problem with any post, the author expects them to contact her, explaining the reasons for their discomfort.