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Why This Dust Storm in India Turned Deadly

A man wraps a scarf around his nose as a dust storm envelops the city in New Delhi, India.

Photograph by Manish Swarup, AP

The onset of India’s monsoon season isn’t coming quietly for the northern part of the country. At least 100 people were recently killed by a massive dust storm that swept through the region on Wednesday night.

According to local reports, many of the fatalities occurred when intense wind knocked over large structures, killing or injuring those in its way.

Dust storms are an annual weather pattern seen in the region. The scale and intensity of this most recent storm, however, surprised officials on the ground. It stretched from the western state of Rajasthan to the eastern state of Uttar Pradesh and hit Delhi, which lies between them.

In past years, fatalities from the dust storms rarely caused more than a dozen fatalities.

Speaking with the BBC, secretary for disaster management and relief in Rajasthan Hemant Gera said, “I’ve been in the office for 20 years and this is the worst I’ve seen.”

What made the landlocked storm so deadly?

“The villain was a huge thunderstorm complex that swept through the area overnight, generating high winds that also carried lots of dust,” says Bob Henson, a meteorologist and writer at Weather Underground. “It appears the strong winds were probably downbursts, similar to those that can strike the central and eastern United States during intense thunderstorms.”

As the name implies, a downburst is characterized by intense, downward air movements during thunderstorms. They can produce some of the strongest wind gusts of all weather patterns. As the downward air hits the ground, it moves outward and back up. (Read about why these Indian farmers are protesting with skulls.)

While downbursts can span distances over 200 miles, some are more concentrated, impacting ground only a mile across. Downbursts smaller than 2.5 miles are called microbursts.

According to Henson, the dust itself likely did little to influence the storm’s intensity, but dry air could have intensified the downbursts. (This monster dust storm swept through the Middle East three years ago.)

Meteorologists speaking with Indian news outlet the Hindustan Times noted that the region’s unusually warm weather may have also intensified the storm. Earlier this week, temperatures in Rajasthan were as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ken Waters is an expert on dust storms for the National Weather Service. He says that, while dust was present in these storms, what really delivered the biggest punches was the wind.

“Primarily [dust storms] effect transportation. The dust can take us by surprise, and you have zero visibility. You don’t even know you’re on the road,” he says, adding that dust storms can also cause health-related issues.

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One Of The Largest Dog Meat Markets In South Korea Has Shut Down

After many years of controversy, Gupo Livestock Market in South Korea has finally agreed to stop selling dog meat. Gupo Market has been one of the largest dog meat markets in the country, which has made it a regular target for animal rights activists. The market was home to 19 different dog meat distributors, all of whom agreed to close their shops by July 11.

The dog meat sellers will be compensated by the government to the tune of 3.1 million won each month, which converts into about $2,700. Each of the sellers will receive the payments until December 2020. These payments are a part of a government plan to peacefully persuade the dog meat sellers to open up other businesses.

One Of The Largest Dog Meat Markets In South Korea Has Shut Down 1

Dogs waiting to be sold as food are in kept in a cage on a truck in Songnam. Photo Credit: Reuters

In a joint statement among four of the largest animal rights groups in the country, activists called the closure of the market a “big step forward.”

“We wholeheartedly welcome and support the district office’s effort to end the trade of dog meat in Korea. It is a big step forward, but Korea still has many such markets, including Chilseong Market in Daegu … We will continue to work with everyone to end the practice of eating dog meat,” the statement read, according to Korea Times.

It is estimated that anywhere between 1 and 2 million dogs are raised on farms across South Korea for the sole purpose of providing meat. Across Asia as a whole, roughly 30 million dogs are killed and eaten each year, many of them stray dogs or stolen pets.

The farmers and dog meat sellers in this industry are also said to be extremely cruel with the animals. Witnesses say that farmers torture dogs to death in front of the other dogs.

One Of The Largest Dog Meat Markets In South Korea Has Shut Down 2

Wonju, South Korea — A caged dog looks out of an opening of a dog farm in rural South Korea in February 2018. Photo Credit: Sandy Hooper of USA Today

Animal rights activist Nara Kim celebrated the closure of the Gupo Market in a recent statement. Kim said:

“The closure plan is the result of months of hard work between the local authorities and the market vendors, and both sides are to be commended for working towards this goal that will not only bring to an end to Gupo’s dog meat era, but will also see the area regenerated with new amenities and businesses for the benefit of the local, modern economy,” Kim said. 

Kim also pointed to the changing opinions in the country about dog meat.

“HSI has been working with dog meat farmers in South Korea for nearly four years helping them close their flagging businesses as more people in the county turn away from dog meat, so the closure of Gupo’s grimly iconic dog market, which follows the demolition last year of the country’s largest dog slaughterhouse complex, is a sign of more compassionate times,” Kim said.

survey by Gallup Korea conducted in June 2018 showed that 70 percent of South Koreans say they will not eat dog meat in the future. Experts say that people in the country are beginning to see these animals more as pets than as food.

One Of The Largest Dog Meat Markets In South Korea Has Shut Down 3

Activists from animal rights groups ‘Animal Liberation Wave’ and ‘Last Chance for Animals’ hold dead puppies retrieved from a dog meat farm, as they protest against the dog meat trade in Gwanghwamun Plaza in central Seoul, South Korea, on July 17, 2018. Photo Credit: Ed Jones of the AFP

On November 21st, 2018, South Korea closed the country’s main dog slaughterhouse, known as Taepyeong-dong. Now, the former slaughterhouse will be turned into a community park.

The consumption of dog meat in Asia can be traced all the way back to the times of the Mongol invasions.

Still, despite all these closures, there are roughly 17,000 dog markets remaining in South Korea.

While the practice was incredibly rare in the United States, killing dogs and cats for food was actually still legal until 2018. In December of last year, US President Donald Trump signed the Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act, which makes it a federal offense to slaughter, trade, import or export dogs and cats for human consumption. However, Native American tribes are still exempted for religious rituals.

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Bear Cub Feels Grass For First Time After Being Rescued From Filthy Basement [Video]

By Mandy Froelich / Truth Theory

An adorable bear cub has a new lease on life, thanks to the animal welfare group Four Paws International and Kosovo authorities. After living in a dark, filthy basement for most of its life, the bear cub now lives at the Bear Sanctuary Prishtina. Recently, he experienced grass for the first time ever. 

As GoodNewsNetwork reports, the cub had been liberated from a dark basement enclosure in Kosovo. Someone had been keeping him as a pet, which is against the law. After the cub was rescued, he was transported to his new home at the bear sanctuary.  The specialized sanctuary is home to other bears who have also been saved from neglectful situations.

Before he was allowed to experience the joys of nature, the bear cub underwent a thorough medical examination. Once he was deemed “healthy,” he was transported outside. The video below shows him running through the grass, feeling the sun on his face, and exploring his new home.

Safe haven for the bear cub in Kosovo!

A safe haven last! 🐻The recent tragic story about the bear cub in Kosovo, who was found to be living in terrible conditions in a dark garage, was not only touching for us, but it also moved many of your hearts.🧡Two weeks ago, we got the news we had all been hoping for, and we were finally able to bring him to our Bear Sanctuary Prishtina. Here you can see the emotional moment when the little bear explores his new beautiful enclosure for the first time! 🌳➡️ Please help us to look after this little wild animal in the future!

Gepostet von FOUR PAWS International am Dienstag, 25. Juni 2019

https://www.facebook.com/fourpaws.org/videos/464367954330208/

“We thank Ministry of Environment and Agency for Environment Protection for the trust in our professionalism to continue with the right treatment for the cub,” said Afrim Mahmuti, manager of the Bear Sanctuary Prishtina.

For the next six months, Four Paws International will care for the cub until he matures into adolescence. At that point, it will be determined whether or not the bear can be released into the wild. For now, he seems happy simply living at the sanctuary.

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Four steps to make your lawn a wildlife haven – from green desert to miniature rainforest

If you could ask British insects about the habitats they prefer, they’d probably tell you that you can’t improve on grassland that’s rich with wildflowers. For farmers, though, grassland is said to be “improved” if it has been treated with fertiliser and sown with fast growing grasses.

“Unimproved” grasslands are those that have not had their productivity improved for agriculture. They’re semi-natural habitats, because if mowing or grazing stopped, they’d quickly turn to scrub and then woodland. These unimproved grasslands are extremely rich in the number of species they can support, sometimes having well over 40 species of flowering plant in a single square metre.

But since World War II, 97% of unimproved grassland habitats have vanished from the UK. This has contributed to the loss of pollinating insects – and the distribution of one third of species has shrunk since 1980.

Left – Grassland in Transylvania, where agricultural ‘improvement’ has been limited. Right – Potwell Dykes, Nottinghamshire – how much of the UK’s lost grassland would have looked.
Adam Bates

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, your lawn can be thought of as a small patch of artificial grassland, which will usually have only a few species of turf grass. Most suburbs and villages still have around a quarter to a third of their area covered by grass.

Unfortunately, lawns are largely featureless and offer little refuge for small creatures like bugs and other invertebrates. Regular mowing also prevents plants from flowering and producing seeds, which is why carefully maintained lawns are mostly barren.

A traditionally managed lawn. There are few plant species and little structure for bugs to exploit. Spiders, for instance, have nothing to anchor their webs to.
Adam Bates

But lawns can be made into important wildlife habitat by changing how they’re managed. This is an idea that’s gaining traction – campaigns such as “Say No to the Mow” have made an “unkempt” garden more socially acceptable. For anyone wanting to create a wildlife lawn in their garden, there are four important steps to follow.


Adam Bates

1. Cut higher

The first step is simple. By raising the height that the mower blade cuts the grass to its highest setting – usually about 4 cm off the ground – you can provide more variety in the lawn’s structure and more refuge for other plant and invertebrate species.

2. Include mowing gaps

Fox-and-cubs (Hieracium aurantiacum) help feed leafcutter bees.
Jörg Hempel/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

By mowing less often you can allow plants time to flower and provide a food source for bees and other pollinators. Leaving gaps between mowing in spring gives time for species like the cowslip to flower – a plant which has declined markedly in the UK but which butterflies like the Duke of Burgundy depend on for laying their eggs.

Summer gaps can allow species like cat’s ear and fox-and-cubs time to flower, providing an important source of food for species of leafcutter bee. Deciding how long to wait between mowing isn’t an exact science, but can be judged by seeing whether or not the plants in your lawn have had a chance to flower.

3. No fertilisers or herbicides

“Weed and feeds” are used on lawns in a one-bottle mix of herbicide – used to kill non-grass species that we’d usually consider weeds – and fertiliser, to add nutrients to the soil. Herbicides reduce biodiversity by killing other species, but it may surprise you to learn that fertilisers are no friend to biodiversity either.

When gardening or farming, usually the more fertility in the soil the better, because this promotes greater productivity. In other words, more grass, greener grass, more flowers and larger flowers. The selective actions of the gardener or farmer to promote the target species, whether prized rose or crop, means that only the target species benefits.

Without this selectivity, more fertility in your lawn only favours the one or two turf species that are best able to take up nutrients and outcompete other species. So, more fertility means fewer plant species, despite the more luxuriant green colour.

4. Remove the clippings

Removing the grass clippings after you’ve mowed the lawn also reduces the fertility in your lawn, preventing it from becoming dominated by one or two competitive turf species. Removing and composting grass clippings will gradually remove nutrients from the soil, lowering the fertility with each cut.

Beyond these four steps for improving the value of your lawn to wildlife, there are other things that can be done by the more committed gardener. Leaving small areas of the lawn deliberately uncut – such as strips at the sides or patches in the corners – can help small wildflower meadows to form. Cutting these at the end of summer will prevent them overgrowing into rank grassland with few species.

Wildlife value can also be added by spreading some locally-sourced wildflower seed on your lawn. If you’re gathering seeds from elsewhere, make sure to ask permission and don’t take too much.

A single suburban wildflower lawn – multiple plant species that can flower and seed, and high structural diversity.
Adam Bates

Enjoying your wildflower lawn

Wildflower lawns can have a variety of other surprising benefits, not least helping to slow global warming. Some studies have shown that lawns are actually sources of carbon dioxide due to the amount of energy needed to power the mower and manufacture “weed and feeds”. Reducing how often you mow, not applying “weed and feeds” and even using a manual lawn mower can change your lawn from a carbon source to a carbon sink.

Having taller vegetation in your lawn shades the ground, thereby reducing evaporation from the soil and reducing the need for sprinklers and hosepipes. Less mowing means less work to do and more time for you to enjoy watching the bees gathering nectar and pollen from your wildflower lawn.

Wildflower lawns, with spikes of colourful flowers and attendant bees, at least to my eyes, are far prettier than a carpet of grass, whether it’s stripy or not. Grass – especially when not in flower – is the most aesthetically boring part of a grassland. The species that have traditionally been disregarded as “weeds” are far more interesting.

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