What is green hydrogen?

The government is targeting 5 million tonnes (MT) of green hydrogen production by 2030, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in her Budget speech earlier this month. But what is green hydrogen and why are countries keen on promoting its usage? Let's find out.

Clean energy

Hydrogen is an odourless, invisible gas. Highly inflammable at standard temperature and pressure, it is the most abundant chemical element in the universe. However, it is rarely available in pure form. It mostly exists with oxygen to form water (H2O). Hydrogen can be produced from various resources such as natural gas, nuclear power, solar, and wind. But what is green hydrogen? Hydrogen produced, by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen, using power from renewable energy sources such as solar or wind is referred to as 'green hydrogen. The hydrogen thus produced can be used as a clean and renewable fuel for transportation, electricity generation, and other purposes. (Incidentally, hydrogen produced using coal is called black hydrogen.)

Cut carbon footprint

The problem of climate change cannot be resolved unless we cut carbon emissions. Considered an alternative fuel, green hydrogen can change our dependency on polluting fossil fuels. It is also called the fuel of the future as it does not emit harmful, polluting gases during production or use. This means there are no carbon emissions, hence it is eco-friendly and sustainable. This fuel alternative can be used in industrial applications and can be easily stored as a gas or liquid. It can be used to power household appliances and carried by tankers to hydrogen filling stations.

Energy security

Countries worldwide are working on building green hydrogen capacity as it can ensure energy security and help cut emissions. Green hydrogen, which is highly expensive to produce, currently accounts for less than 1% of global hydrogen production. With the goal of making the country an energy-independent nation and decarbonising critical sectors, the Indian Government in January approved a Rs 19,744-crore National Green Hydrogen Mission. Set to give a new direction to India, the mission's aim is to encourage commercial production of green hydrogen and facilitate demand creation, utilisation, and export of the fuel. Under the programme, States and regions capable of supporting large scale production or utilisation of hydrogen will be identified and developed as Green Hydrogen Hubs.

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When keystone species populations recover

Keystone species can be viewed as "the glue that holds a habitat together". When their populations suffer so do their ecosystems. But when they recover from the brink, they have a positive cascading effect on their surroundings.

All species have a role to play in this planet, and so they are all important for any ecosystem. But among these are species that have an incredibly huge impact on their habitats and other creatures inhabiting the region. Such species are called keystone species. Their role is so crucial that they actually enable other species to survive. In short, keystone species can be viewed as "the glue that holds a habitat together". When their populations suffer so do their ecosystems. While there are innumerable stories on how losing wildlife affects a habitat, here are three instances in the U.S.- that show us how keystone species returning from the brink have a positive cascading effect on their surroundings.


Following the European colonisation of North America in the early 17 Century, the number of grey wolves fell dramatically due to extermination - from a few lakh to less than a thousand in the mid-20th Century. In the latter part of the 20th Century, the U.S. government swung into action by passing new Acts and also reintroducing the species in its former ranges. And, the results are showing. While studies are still on to gauge the holistic impact, scientists discovered that the arrival of the wolves kept the population of their prey - elk - in check. This prevented over-browsing of vegetation, providing "material for birds to build nests and beavers to build dams. The recovered vegetation helped stop soil erosion into rivers, changing their course by reducing meandering. While building their dams, the beavers also create deep ponds that juvenile fish and frogs need to survive. When they embark on hunts, wolves focus on weak and diseased prey, ensuring survival of the fittest. The grey wolf population is believed to be over 6,000 in the U.S. today. But, legalised hunting is still a threat in a few States.


The population of the American buffalo or bison had plummeted from millions to hundreds in the 19th Century. In 2014, they were introduced in a region in the State of Illinois, where their numbers stand at about a 100 today. These animals favour "eating grass over flowering plants and legumes, which in turn allows a variety of birds, insects and amphibians to flourish. Some of these species without that grazing simply just disappear off the landscape due to the high competition of the grasses". Also, when they forage, "bisons hooves kick up and aerate the soil, further aiding in plant growth as well as seed dispersion".

Sea otters

Due to hunting, sea otter numbers declined tragically on the U.S. West Coast in the 17th and 18th Centuries. But in a few places they managed to survive and grow in numbers. "As the dominant predator of marine nearshore environments", the impact of sea otters shows in such places. In the Aleutian Islands, "otters maintained the balance of kelp forest by keeping a check on the sea urchins that graze on them". In California estuaries, "the sea otters controlled the population of crabs, which meant there were more sea slugs who were able to graze algae, keeping the eelgrass healthy". "Eelgrass is considered a "nursery of the sea" for juvenile fish, and it also reduces erosion, which can factor in coastal floods’.

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The secret behind and ant’s gravity-defying grip!

We see them everywhere on the floor, up the ceiling, inside the sugar jar, outside the half-open pouch of a half-eaten snack... Ants are moving constantly, on different surfaces, and make it look so very easy. How do they do it? A biologist studying ants for three decades tells us how.

Ants have six feet, and each foot has five jointed segments. Each of these segments has spines and hairs, which provide the ants traction on rough surfaces such as barks. The last segment also has a pair of claws that help with a good grip on irregular surfaces. Together, both spines and claws act like our shoes – protect ants from hot and sharp objects. But the true magic of how ants conquer almost any surface lies between their claws.

Located between each pair of their claws is an inflatable sticky pad called arolium (plural arolia). When an ant climbs a wall or walks across a ceiling, gravity will pull it. But before that happens, its "leg muscles pump fluids into the pads at the end of its feet, causing them to inflate". This sticky fluid-called hemolymph- is similar to our blood and circulates throughout its body. A little bit of this liquid oozes out of the arolium when an ant places its leg on the surface, allowing it to stick to the surface. And when it removes its leg from the surface, the leg muscles contract and absorb the liquid back in the body. So, the liquid is used over and over again. Since ants are light-weight, these six pads are adequate enough to give them their gravity-defying grips on any surface "In fact, at home in their underground chambers, ants use their sticky pads to sleep on the ceiling By sleeping on the ceiling, ants avoid the rush hour traffic of other ants on the chamber floors.’’

Did you know?

When we walk, our left and right feet alternate, meaning one foot is on the ground and the other in the air to help us move forward. Ants do the same thing too- when they move, three of their legs are on the surface and three in the air at a time.

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Where the World's largest bacterium discovered?

Scientists have discovered the world's largest-known bacterium, in the form of white filaments the size of human eyelashes, on the surfaces of decaying mangrove leaves in a swamp in Guadeloupe in the Caribbean Sea.

Around 1 cm long, Thiomargarita magnifica is 50 times larger than all other known giant bacteria and the first to be visible with the naked eye. Researchers have compared it to a human encountering another human as tall as Mount Everest.

In most bacteria, the genetic material floats around freely inside the cell. T. magnifica keeps its genetic material inside membrane- bound compartments throughout the cell. It was also found to contain three times as many genes as most bacteria.

The discovery suggests that "large and more complex bacteria may be hiding in plain sight".

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How can we fight climate change and stop the collapse of ecosystems?

 The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration that runs till 2030 calls for urgent action through a global mission. Here's an outline of the agenda and how students can get involved in fostering the recovery of ecosystems.

The Decade

As we know, our planet is plagued by several issues, most of them triggered or worsened by human activity. And how do we resolve these issues? Since the problem is not linear, neither is the solution. But one aspect that's crucial to restoring the health of our planet is its varied ecosystems. And that's exactly what the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021- 2030) focusses on. This decade is contiguous with the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity from 2011 -2020, which aimed at bringing down biodiversity loss. The ongoing decade hopes to bring countries together “to prevent halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean.”

Triple environmental emergency

When the restoration decade was launched virtually last year, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres cautioned us that by destroying our ecosystems, we "are reaching the point of no return for the planet.” But there's still hope if we act now. And to improve the dismal situation it is imperative to at once begin addressing the triple environmental emergency - biodiversity loss, climate disruption, and escalating pollution. UN. agencies have said. "An area of land roughly the size of China needs restoring if the planet's biodiversity and the communities who rely on it are to be protected." So, what type of ecosystems are to be restored? All types! From farmlands, forests, freshwater, grasslands, and shrublands to savannahs, mountains, oceans, coasts, peatlands, and urban areas, all are focus areas. And when ecosystems are restored, they "can help to end combat climate change and prevent a mass extinction" For that to happen, each of us has a role to play.

How can the goal be realised?

The key to realising the goals is working together as a community at the global level. Looking at the type of local ecosystems, identifying, understanding, and adopting specific principles suitable for the restoration of each kind of ecosystem, and implementing them are crucial steps. Equally important is to have the insight that any impact one ecosystem can have a bearing on another, and to plan and execute initiatives accordingly. For instance, the restoration effort for forest and trees could involve planting of saplings while for rivers and lakes, it could be cleaning up the trash and adopting sustainable fishing practices. In towns and cities, the focus could be on starting off with small areas and steps such as setting up parks, adopting a tree, conducting awareness campaigns, etc. However, the most significant action will be an individual's to make Earth-friendly choices in how we live. Does "Eat Right Live Light sound about right?

What can students do?

The United Nations suggests three important ways in which anyone can work towards the goal of ecosystem restoration. And these are something students can adopt too since it's for their future.

Actions: Start your own on-the-ground initiative, join an existing restoration or conservation effort. or help build an alliance to give a bigger boost to nature's comeback.

Choices: Change your behaviour and spending to shrink your local and global environmental footprint... Encourage others around you to do the same. Voices: Make your voice and ideas count in debates how to manage your local environment, and about how we can make our societies... fairer and more sustainable.

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What role do ants play in the ecosystem?

Just like other insects and invertebrates, ants are a crucial part of nature. The large role played by these tiny creatures in keeping an ecosystem going is the kind of stuff wonders are made of.

A recent research published conservatively estimates that our planet harbours about 20 quadrillion ants - that's 20 thousand million millions, or in numerical form, 20,000,000,000,000,000 (20 with 15 zeroes!). It is further estimated that the world's ants collectively constitute about 12 million tonnes of dry carbon. This exceeds the mass of all the world's wild birds and wild mammals combined. It's also equal to about one-fifth of the total weight of humans.

Counting the world's ants

The astounding ubiquity of ants has prompted many naturalists to contemplate their exact number on Earth. But these were basically educated guesses. Systematic, evidence-based estimates have been lacking.

The latest research involved an analysis of 489 studies of ant populations conducted by ant scientists from around the world. This included non-English literature, in languages such as Spanish, French. German, Russian, Mandarin, and Portuguese.

The research spanned all continents and major habitats, including forests, deserts, grasslands, and cities. They used standardised methods for collecting and counting ants such as pitfall traps and leaf litter samples. As you can imagine, this is often tedious work.

The previous figures employed a top-down" approach by assuming ants comprise about 1 % of the world's estimated insect population. In contrast, the "bottom-up" estimate in the recent research is said to be more reliable because it uses data on ants observed directly in the field and makes fewer assumptions.

The next step was to work out how much all these ants weigh. The mass of organisms is typically measured in terms of their carbon makeup. It was estimated that 20 quadrillion average-sized ants corresponds to a dry weight or "biomass" of approximately 12 million tonnes of carbon. This is more than the combined biomass of wild birds and mammals - and about 20% of total human biomass. Carbon makes up about half the dry weight of an ant. If the weight of other bodily elements was included, the total mass of the world's ants would be higher still.

A few caveats, but...

The findings come with a few caveats. For example, the sampling locations in the dataset are unevenly distributed across geographic regions. And the vast majority of samples were collected from the ground layer, meaning they have very little information about ant numbers in trees or underground. So, the findings are somewhat incomplete.

But what is clear is while global insect numbers are declining due to threats such as habitat destruction and fragmentation, chemical use, invasive species and climate change, data on insect biodiversity is alarmingly scarce. It is hoped that the recent study provides a baseline for further research to help fill this gap because it is in humanity's interest to monitor ant populations. Counting ants is not difficult, and citizen scientists from all over the world could help investigate how these important animals are faring at a time of great environmental change.


  • Ants provide vital "ecosystem services" for humans. For instance, a recent study found ants can be more effective than pesticides at helping farmers produce food.
  • Ants have also developed tight interactions with other organisms - and some species cannot survive without them. For example, some birds rely on ants to flush out their prey. And thousands of plant species either feed or house ants in exchange for protection, or dispersal of their seeds.
  • Many ants are predators, helping to keep populations of other insects in check.


  • Eminent biologist Edward O Wilson once said insects and other invertebrates are the little things that run the world- and he was right Ants, in particular, are a crucial part of nature.
  • Among other roles, ants aerate the soil, disperse seeds, break down organic material, create habitat for other animals, and form an important part of the food chain.
  • Estimating ant numbers and mass provides an important baseline from which to monitor ant populations amid worrying environmental changes.
  • There are more than 15,700 named species and subspecies of ants, and many others not yet named by science. Ants high degree of social organisation has enabled them to colonise nearly all ecosystems and regions around the globe.
  • Ants are distributed unevenly on Earth's surface. They vary sixfold between habitats and generally peak in the tropics. This underscores the importance of tropical regions in maintaining healthy ant populations.
  • Ants are also particularly abundant in forests, and surprisingly, in arid regions. But they become less common in human-made habitats.

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What's your carbon footprint?

If you want to be a part of the solution to climate change, you need to check your carbon footprint.

A carbon footprint is defined as the amount of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases generated by our actions that are harmful to the planet. It is expressed in tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.

The average carbon footprint for a person in India is 2.7 tonnes. But this average masks the wide differences between urban and rural residents, and between rich and poor households. So if you want to be a part of the climate solution, you need to check your carbon footprint.

There are many carbon calculators on the Internet, but few are fine-tuned for the Indian consumer. Some of the local calculators are from Tata Power and ICICI Bank. The calculations cover your energy, gas, paper, and other uses whose manufacture generate carbon emissions.

Once your footprint is known, various options are available to offset your emissions. These include planting trees, helping to set up solar or bio gas installations in villages, etc.

Voluntary carbon offsets

Many airlines provide voluntary carbon offsets for domestic or international flights as part of ticketing. For example, if you fly from Mumbai to London on British Airways (BA), your round trip will generate 1.1 tCO2e in emissions. BA will charge you separately to offset the emission, which will be used to protect forests in Cambodia or Peru or supply smokeless cook stoves in Sudan.

So what is the benefit to you? There is no direct benefit, except for some satisfaction that you have done your bit for the environment, that you have been a good global citizen, and that instead of just talking about climate change, you are taking action to address the climate crisis.

Planting trees

I will give you a personal example. My carbon footprint for 2020 was 7.1 tCO2e, which is above the Indian average on account of two flights. I decided to offset this emission by contributing towards planting trees in the village of Pekhri in Himachal Pradesh. I was helping not only to create a 'global good' but also local villagers who had no work on account of the pandemic. The money will help Pekhri village to plant a thousand fruit, fodder and timber trees on degraded slopes. The trees will be selected by the local people. In a small way, the plantation will also help store carbon in the soil, a global benefit.

But critics of carbon offsets say this is a Band-Aid solution, that it enables the well-off people to continue to pollute the Earth and just write a cheque to offset their bad behaviour. What is needed, they argue, is a complete change in lifestyle, a behavioural change that recognises the damaging impact of consumerism on the planet.

Getting out of our comfort zone

This is a valid argument, but changing human behaviour is not easy. Try convincing a car owner in Mumbai or Delhi to give up his precious car, motorcycle or scooter! Or a middle class housewife in Chennai or Hyderabad not to run the home air conditioner in the summer. Comfort and convenience are the hallmarks of a modern lifestyle. To convince the urban middle class to move out of its comfort zone is very hard, but one must try through raising awareness.

Calculating one's carbon footprint is the start of this awareness. As my high schoolteacher said, "To be a part of the solution, you must recognise you are part of the problem." You can't solve the climate crisis without recognising your role in it.

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What is harmful algal bloom?

Recently, Lake Merrit in Oakland, California, the U.S... turned reddish brown, causing fear among the residents. They were advised to not use the water and to keep their pets away from the water body. Scientists suspected a possible case of Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB), and the samples have been sent for investigation. This is not the first time that HAB has been experienced in the lakes in the US. In the last few months, there has been a sporadic rise in the detection of algal bloom in the lakes. Lakes such as Hopatcong, Anna, Erie, and so on have been witnessing the highest concentration of HAB, triggering concerns.

Algal bloom is an overgrowth of algae or algae-like bacteria in fresh, salt, or brackish waters. They can occur in a variety of colours, namely red, blue-green, brown, and pink. Depending on the algae, they can lead to the formation of scum, foam, froth, or a slick. Not all algal blooms are toxic. A HAB, though, is, and can endanger humans and many organisms.

What causes HAB?

Most are caused by cyanobacteria. Though they are bacteria, they perform photosynthesis just like algae, and are often called blue-green algae. Some produce dangerous cyanotoxins. The most reported cyanobacteria is microcystis. HAB Occurs naturally as well as due to human activities. In fact, human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, land development, and deforestation have all led to an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide. The cyanobacteria feed on the carbon dioxide, which fuels their growth.

Most harmful algal blooms are caused by cyanobacteria. Though they are bacteria, they perform photosynthesis just like algae, and are often called blue-green algae.

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Dragonflies are large, fast-flying insects that can dart at speeds up to 60 km per hour. Their four wings move independently of one another and make a rattling sound. Dragonflies can also fly backwards.

1. Dragonflies Are Ancient Insects

Long before the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, dragonflies took to the air. Griffenflies (Meganisoptera), the gigantic precursors to modern dragonflies had wingspans of over two feet and dotted the skies during the Carboniferous period over 300 million years ago.

2. Dragonfly Nymphs Live In the Water

There's a good reason why you see dragonflies and damselflies around ponds and lakes: They're aquatic! Female dragonflies deposit their eggs on the water's surface, or in some cases, insert them into aquatic plants or moss. Once hatched, the nymph dragonfly spends its time hunting other aquatic invertebrates. Larger species even dine on the occasional small fish or tadpole. After molting somewhere between six and 15 times, a dragonfly nymph is finally ready for adulthood and crawls out of the water to shed its final immature skin.

3. Nymphs Breath Through Their Anus

The damselfly nymph actually breathes through gills inside its rectum. Likewise, the dragonfly nymph pulls water into its anus to facilitate gas exchange. When the nymph expels water, it propels itself forward, providing the added benefit of locomotion to its breathing.

4. Most New Dragonfly Adults Are Eaten

When a nymph is finally ready for adulthood, it crawls out of the water onto a rock or plant stem and molts one final time. This process takes several hours or days as the dragonfly expands to its full body capacity. These newly emerged dragonflies, known at this stage as teneral adults, are soft-bodied, pale, and highly vulnerable to predators. Until their bodies fully harden they are weak flyers, making them ripe for the picking. Birds and other predators consume a significant number of young dragonflies in the first few days after their emergence.

5. Dragonflies Have Excellent Vision

Relative to other insects, dragonflies have extraordinarily keen vision that helps them detect the movement of other flying critters and avoid in-flight collisions. Thanks to two huge compound eyes, the dragonfly has nearly 360° vision and can see a wider spectrum of colors than humans. Each compound eye contains 28,000 lenses or ommatidia and a dragonfly uses about 80% of its brain to process all of the visual information it receives.

6. Dragonflies Are Masters of Flight

Dragonflies are able to move each of their four wings independently. They can flap each wing up and down, and rotate their wings forward and back on an axis. Dragonflies can move straight up or down, fly backward, stop and hover, and make hairpin turns—at full speed or in slow motion. A dragonfly can fly forward at a speed of 100 body lengths per second (up to 30 miles per hour).

7. Male Dragonflies Fight for Territory

Competition for females is fierce, leading male dragonflies to aggressively fend off other suitors. In some species, males claim and defend a territory against intrusion from other males. Skimmers, clubtails, and petaltails scout out prime egg-laying locations around ponds. Should a challenger fly into his chosen habitat, the defending male will do all he can to chase away the competition. Other kinds of dragonflies don't defend specific territories but still behave aggressively toward other males that cross their flight paths or dare to approach their perches.

8. Male Dragonflies Have Multiple Sex Organs

In nearly all insects, the male sex organs are located at the tip of the abdomen. Not so in male dragonflies. Their copulatory organs are on the underside of the abdomen, up around the second and third segments. Dragonfly sperm, however, is stored in an opening of the ninth abdominal segment. Before mating, the dragonfly has to fold his abdomen in order to transfer his sperm to his penis.

9. Some Dragonflies Migrate

A number of dragonfly species are known to migrate, either singly or en masse. As with other migratory species, dragonflies relocate to follow or find needed resources or in response to environmental changes such as impending cold weather. Green darners, for example, fly south each fall in sizeable swarms and then migrate north again in the spring. Forced to follow the rains that replenish their breeding sites, the globe skimmer—one of several species that's known to spawn in temporary freshwater pools—set a new insect world record when a biologist documented its 11,000 mile trip between India and Africa.

10. Dragonflies Thermoregulate Their Bodies

Like all insects, dragonflies are technically ectotherms ("cold-blooded"), but that doesn't mean they're at the mercy of Mother Nature to keep them warm or cool. Dragonflies that patrol (those that habitually fly back and forth) employ a rapid whirring movement of their wings to raise their body temperatures. Perching dragonflies, on the other hand, who rely on solar energy for warmth, skillfully position their bodies to maximize the surface area exposed to sunlight. Some species even use their wings as reflectors, tilting them to direct the solar radiation toward their bodies. Conversely, during hot spells, some dragonflies strategically position themselves to minimize sun exposure, using their wings to deflect sunlight.

Credit : Thought co ?

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Insects are small animals with no bones. An insect's body is protected by a hard outer covering called an exoskeleton. The body has three segments: head, thorax and abdomen. The head has eyes - which can have six to 30,000 lenses - and a pair of antennae to feel, taste and smell things. The thorax has wings and legs. The abdomen includes systems for digesting food.

The insects have proved to be the most successful arthropods. There are far more species in the class Insecta than in any other group of animals. These amazingly diverse animals have conquered all the environments on earth except for the frozen polar environments at the highest altitudes and in the immediate vicinity of active volcanoes.

Insects are the only invertebrates (animals without backbones) with wings. Much of their success results from their ability to fly and colonise new habitats. The study of insects is called entomology and entomologists are scientists who study insects.

Insects play a very important role in the web of life, in every environment. Some of their jobs include pollinating flowering plants, being a source of food for insectivorous animals and assisting in the decomposition of plants and animals.

Insect classification

Modern insect classification divides the Insecta into 29 orders, many of which have common names. Some of the more common orders are:

Mantodea - praying mantids
Blattodea - cockroaches
Isoptera - termites
Siphonaptera - fleas
Odonata - dragonflies and damselflies
Dermaptera - earwigs
Diptera - flies
Lepidoptera - butterflies and moths
Orthoptera - grasshoppers, katydids, crickets
Coleoptera - beetles
Hymenoptera - wasps, bees, ants, sawflies

Insect features

The insect body is divided into three main parts, the head, thorax and abdomen.
Insects have no internal skeleton, instead they are covered in an external shell (exoskeleton) that protects their soft internal organs.
No insect has more than three pairs of legs, except for some immature forms such as caterpillars that have prolegs. These are appendages that serve the purpose of legs.
The typical insect mouth has a pair of lower jaws (maxillae) and upper jaws (mandibles) which are designed to bite. There are many variations to this structure, as many moths and butterflies have tubular sucking mouthparts, many bugs and other blood-sucking insects have sucking stabbing mouthparts and some adult insects simply don't have functional mouthparts.
Insects have one pair of antennae located on the head
Most insects have one or two pairs of wings although some insects such as lice, fleas, bristletails and silverfish are completely wingless.

Credit : Australian.museum

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Although natural disasters and sudden changes on Earth's surface, such as earthquakes, volcanoes and wildfires, can hurt the animal kingdom, human-led changes, such as the cutting down of forests, deliberate forest fires, water and air pollution, have also severely affected wild animal habitats across the world.

Earthquakes and tsunamis

According to United States Geological Survey (USGS), each year there are 15-20 major earthquakes worldwide with a magnitude of over 7.0 and over a thousand that measure above 5.0.5 Unlike hurricanes and volcanoes, earthquakes hit without warning.6 In addition to shaking land, they can shake and displace the seabed. Islands and beaches can disappear from subsiding land or double in size because the land surrounding it is uplifted.7 When the ocean floor is displaced, it can create a tsunami, which is a series of high, fast waves that begin quickly, can cross oceans, and can last for days.8 They may be followed by landslides that bury animals alive and destroy their homes9 or floods that can sweep them away.


There are at least 20 volcanoes erupting around the world at any time, not including volcanoes erupting underwater, which are much greater in number.13 Eruptions can last for months or years, spewing abrasive and toxic lava and ash, causing explosions, and heating nearby water that can boil marine animals alive.


The wind, rain, and debris from storms injure and kill animals and cause a lot of damage to their habitats, including destroying shelters and contaminating food and water sources. During Hurricane Dorian in 2019, winds reached 295 km per hour. Strong winds and rain can cause broken limbs, head trauma, as well as breathing problems and infections from getting water in the lungs. Animals are displaced and orphaned. Most of these problems would not be fatal if the animals were able to receive care, but in most cases they do not. A few lucky mammals and birds get care if they are blown into urban areas and are found disoriented on someone’s lawn.


Smaller animals are more vulnerable to drowning or dying in resulting floods and mudslides. Burrowing animals may be safe from smaller disturbances, but torrential rains can collapse their burrows or block the entrances, trapping them or leaving them without shelter. Burrow entrances can be blocked by branches, leaves, stones and other debris moved around by water or wind.


A single wildfire can kill millions of animals. The flames and smoke of forest fires kill most animals in their path, including many burrowing animals who are too near the surface, and animals who live in rivers and streams as the flames pass over. Even if they survive the fires, the aftermath can leave animals with burns, blindness, and respiratory problems that can be fatal or permanently debilitating. Hurricane force winds can carry embers and ash from a fire up to a mile away, which can trigger new fires. Strong fires generate so much energy that they change the local weather by modifying wind and temperature. The moisture coming off a fire can generate clouds that cause rain.

Credit : Animal ethics

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When one animal kills another for food, it is called predation. The animal which kills is called a predator, and the animal which gets killed is known as prey. Predators often have special skills for hunting, with highly tuned vision, hearing and sense of smell. Many have sharp claws and jaws to grab hold of and tear the body of the prey. Predators can act in a group or can kill alone. At times they hide and wait to catch their prey off-guard in an ambush killing.

Predator and prey evolve together. The prey is part of the predator's environment, and the predator dies if it does not get food, so it evolves whatever is necessary in order to eat the prey: speed, stealth, camouflage (to hide while approaching the prey), a good sense of smell, sight, or hearing (to find the prey), immunity to the prey's poison, poison (to kill the prey) the right kind of mouth parts or digestive system, etc. Likewise, the predator is part of the prey's environment, and the prey dies if it is eaten by the predator, so it evolves whatever is necessary to avoid being eaten: speed, camouflage (to hide from the predator), a good sense of smell, sight, or hearing (to detect the predator), thorns, poison (to spray when approached or bitten), etc.

In this snowy environment, the polar bear is white to avoid being noticed as it approaches the seal, and the seal pup is white to avoid being noticed by the bear.

The fastest lions are able to catch food and eat, so they survive and reproduce, and gradually, faster lions make up more and more of the population. The fastest zebras are able to escape the lions, so they survive and reproduce, and gradually, faster zebras make up more and more of the population. An important thing to realize is that as both organisms become faster to adapt to their environments, their relationship remains the same: because they are both getting faster, neither gets faster in relation to the other. This is true in all predator-prey relationships.

Another example of predator-prey evolution is that of the Galapagos tortoise. Galapagos tortoises eat the branches of the cactus plants that grow on the Galapagos islands. On one of the islands, where long-necked tortoises live, the branches are higher off the ground. On another island, where short-necked tortoises live, the branches are lower down. The cactuses, the prey, may have evolved high branches so that the tortoises, the predators, can't reach them.

Credit : New England complex system institute

Picture Credit :Google 


World Paper Bag Day is observed on July 12 every year to spread awareness about plastic pollution and encourage the use of environment-friendly alternatives. Use of paper bags, which are easily recyclable, will help reduce plastic waste that takes years to decompose, causing environment pollution.

Remember the 3 'R's? We know this mantra of Reduce', 'Reuse and Recycle can help us adhere to a sustainable lifestyle. It's also our trump card to save the Earth. What if we told you that there is also another lifestyle choice you could make to help the earth breathe, reduce your carbon footprint and regulate the usage of plastic.

Does it come as a surprise that the humble Paper Bag has a day of its own

The first machine

Not much literature is available as to how Paper Bag Day came to be or who started it. But the day gets marked with a flurry of programmes to promote the usage of paper bags. But there is a lot of drama and story behind this bag and how it came to be. Did you know that it was in 1852 that the first paper bag machine was established? This was by American inventor Francis Wolle who patented the first paper bag-making machine. Wolle who was also a priest called it the 'Machine for Making Bags of Paper.

Later, inventor Margaret E. Knight came up with a machine that could fashion out flat-bottomed paper bags. She patented this in 1870. This invention made a lot of difference enabling the production of flat-bottomed paper bags that could carry groceries.

It is interesting to note that the inventions didn't stop here! In 1883, another patent was granted. And this was to Charles Stilwell who created the S.O.S bag aka Self Opening Sack. Stilwell named it so because the bags could stand on their own without anyone's assistance while it was being loaded.

An alternative to plastic

Much has been talked about plastic and single-use carry bags and their detrimental environmental effects. Yet we still find it being used abundantly in marketplaces. People still depend on it out of convenience.

There is an organic solution to tackle this. Paper bags! One can easily create these bags using recycled paper. You must have seen that newspapers are quite often used for making paper bags.

Make your own bags

So, let's pledge never to use plastic bags and shift to sustainable alternatives such as paper bags or cloth bags.

And try making your own paper bag! Trust us, you will enjoy the process. You can introduce your fellow mates to this bag that can do so much and initiate them to the new craft of making paper bags. Make this sustainable lifestyle choice and be the change!


According to estimates, 100 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide every year.

About 18 billion pounds of plastic find their way into the ocean every year, proving to be life-threatening to marine life. And this plastic stays in the ocean.

According to statistics, over 40% of the plastic produced gets used only once. And they get discarded, ending up as refuse on the Earth, taking years to disintegrate.

In the case of single-use plastic bags, it could take hundreds of years to disintegrate and get turned into microplastics, polluting the environment further. The plastic that we use today could easily stay on even after our journey.


It takes centuries to decompose.

It contains many chemicals that pollute the soil and the environment.

It affects food chains; harms water resources, has led to the unnatural death of animals species on land and sea. It is expensive to recycle.

Picture Credit : Google 


Beaches are much more than just recreation - they are integral to the ecosystem and for livelihood. There is thus, a need to preserve them.

Beaches are amazing wonders of nature. But they are not just spaces for recreational activities. They support an incredible diversity of marine life and the livelihood of fisherfolk. They act as a natural barrier between the land and the sea protecting coastal areas from large waves during a storm. Without this barrier, coastal land would be infertile, courtesy, the sea's salty water.

India has a long coastline of over 7,500 km which includes both sides of the Indian peninsula and the islands. But, did you know that at many places along the coast, the sandy shoreline has been disappearing slowly? As much as 33 per cent of the coastline has been lost in 26 years between 1990 and 2016 alone. This phenomenon, known as coastal erosion is natural and human-induced.

Coasts undergo constant changes due to natural factors, such as rivers flowing into the sea, sediment deposition, tides, storms, tsunamis and more. However, it is human activity that has put our beaches in peril today.

Threatened existence

A beach is formed when a river deposits large amounts of sediment as it drains into the sea. Dams, built along the course of rivers, have disturbed this natural flow of sediment to the coast. Many ports and fishing harbours dotting the coastline have changed the natural pattern of sand distribution along the coast. Sediments have to be removed from time-to-time to maintain ports. But, they are rarely ever replenished, leading to beach erosion.

Rampant sand mining is a huge contributor to coastal erosion. Sand is a common raw material for construction activities, and its growing demand has spawned sand mafias, which routinely take away truckloads of sand from beaches. Then, mangrove forests hemming the shoreline, that bind the sand together and prevent erosion, are being destroyed for building homes factories, and for commercial activities like aquaculture.

Global warming, over the past several decades, has caused glaciers to melt, leading to a rise in sea levels. Rising seas have been slowly engulfing coastal areas. Due to the rapidly warming Indian Ocean, cyclones are increasing in number and intensity on India's east and west coasts. Severe cyclones cause changes to the coastal geography. Added to this are many illegal constructions that have encroached upon the coastline despite a ban. This has not only endangered coastal ecosystems but also caused large-scale beach erosion.

In the past two decades, the sea has swallowed up large stretches of our coastline, destroying hundreds of homes and forcing families into temporary shelters. With no beach to stop the sea from flooding villages and towns, the govemment built high stone walls to keep the waves at bay. But sea walls seem to have caused more harm than good.

Erosion during the monsoon is natural, but after the rains, the beach gets restored as the sediments that are washed away are returned to the beach But stone walls block this natural movement of sand. They also redirect the waves and cause another area along the coast to erode. Moreover, sea walls block the easy access of fishermen to the sea. In Kerala, over 65 per cent of the coast is now lined with stone walls instead of sand.

Beach restoration

Until 1989, Puducherry had a beautiful beach drawing thousands of tourists each year. It began to erode soon after the construction of a harbour, and disappeared completely within a few years. After unsuccessful attempts to contain the sea with stone walls, Puducherry finally adopted a sustainable plan to restore the beach. A triangular-shaped artificial reef, submerged into the sea, has been able to partially restore it within a year.

Odisha has installed geotextile tubes at Pentha, a small coastal hamlet in Kendrapara district. These tubes acted as an effective barrier and protected the coast during the cyclones that battered the state in the last decade. The beach has been restored here as well.

Picture Credit : Google 


So much of our oceans is still unexplored and remains a mystery. In fact, it is safe to presume we know more about the surface of Mars than about Earth's seafloors! But whatever  we little know of life in ocean depths is intriguing, fascinating, and incredible. The deep oceans are low on sunlight and plants but high on pressure, and yet, several creatures call this space home. Here's a glimpse of how they have adapted to life in unforgiving conditions.

Colours that help

 Since they dwell in open waters without plants or rocks to hide under to safeguard themselves from predators, many creatures benefit from disguise. Some of them are red. rendering them difficult to spot since red light does not penetrate those depths. Some others are transparent, again tough to spot. Many others are bioluminescent, a good tool to confuse predators.

Heard of sea snow?

Since ocean depths hardly have any plant, finding "live meal" is a tough task. Apparently, the duration between two live meals can be even up to three weeks for a marine creature! That's where marine snow or sea snow comes into play. When no live meal is available, the next best thing to turn to is the dead. Organic particles from the surface waters - disintegrated bodies of animals and plants, mingling with fecal matter-drift down in what is known as "marine snow".

What is chemosynthesis?

At the cracks between oceanic plates are hydrothermal vents - these are the hot springs on the ocean floor. These vents send out chemical compounds such as hydrogen sulphide. These chemical compounds are used for preparing food - much like sunlight is used in photosynthesis. This process used by microorganisms such as bacteria to create food (such as glucose), is called chemosynthesis.

Though humans still don't have a complete understanding of ocean depths, we're definitely leaving our mark there- and, sadly, not in a good way. With global warming, over-fishing, and pollution, we're changing the composition of the oceans they are acidifying, and hosting crustaceans with microplastics, as far deep as the Mariana Trench, the deepest location on Earth.

Picture Credit : Google