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Great Himalayan Quake: Chamba’s ancient Hindu Temples hold clues, says researchers

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Chamba

The team found several telltale signs of earthquake damage, from tilted pillars on the Lakshmi Narayan temples to shifted rooftops on the Bharmour temple.

SHIMLA- Past earthquakes that damaged ancient temples perched high in the Himalayas could be harbingers of dangerous quakes to come, new research suggests.

The supporting pillars and temple structures are tilted with respect to their original positions. The rooftop portion shows tilting or displacement. The bricks of the wall are cracked. The floor stone shows up-warping,

said study co-author Mayank Joshi, a geologist with the Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology in India.

The area, a picturesque, tourist mountain town in Himachal Pradesh, is sandwiched between two regions where catastrophic earthquakes have killed tens of thousands of people. But researchers didn’t think this area was at high risk until now. The findings suggest that the region is overdue for a major earthquake.

Historical quakes

The area near the Himalayas is laced with terrifying faults. In 2005, a magnitude-7.6 earthquake shook a region of Pakistan called Azad Kashmir, killing 86,000 people and displacing millions. And in 1905, a magnitude-7.8 quake rattled the Kangra Valley in Punjab, India, killing 20,000 people.

But sandwiched between these two regions is the picturesque mountain town of Chamba, and it sustained no damage in these earthquakes. As such, the researchers wanted to know whether the region also faces a large earthquake risk.
Chamba’s Ancient Temples

The team analyzed most ancient structures in the region: intricately carved Hindu temples that were built by rulers of the ancient Chamba Kingdom between the seventh and eleventh centuries. Among the most notable are the stone Lakshmi Narayan temples and the wooden Bharmour Chitrari temples, which were built around the year 680.

Of course, it can be difficult to determine what causes pillars to tilt and floors to deform. But it turns out that the waves rippling out from an earthquake travel in a clear orientation that can make earthquake damage easy to identify, the researchers said.

“In case of the ground settling, there would not be a preferred orientation. It will be randomly oriented,”

Joshi told.

The team found several telltale signs of earthquake damage, from tilted pillars on the Lakshmi Narayan temples to shifted rooftops on the Bharmour temple. The researchers then compared that damage to a temple that was built in 1762, which had no signs of earthquake damage.
Pent up stress

Next, the team pored through the historical record to uncover the history of this Himalayan fault region. The researchers found evidence in the historical accounts of Tarikh-i-Kashmir and the Tabaqat-i-Akbari, which were written Medieval Indian and Kashmiri sultanate writers, that a 1555 quake rattled the Srinagar Valley, about 120 miles (200 kilometers) northwest, and sent aftershocks through the region for days.

This was a destructive earthquake in Kashmir, which ruined towns, killed several hundred people and changed the course of the River Vesha, a tributary of the Jhelum,

the researchers wrote in their paper.

Yet, after this event, there was no major quake in the region, suggesting that the nearby fault could have built up quite a bit of stress in the last several hundred years, the researchers said.

This shows that the area has enough potential to produce great earthquakes similar to [the] 2005 Kashmir earthquake,

Joshi said.

Now that the region’s earthquake risk has been identified, it’s up to engineers to build structures that are safe enough to withstand such an event, Joshi added.

Photo: Sarsonkekhet/Representational

Environment

It’ll Take $100 Billion a Year To Stop Very First Human-Made Biodiversity Catastrophe: Scientists

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Cost of saving biodiversity on earth

There have been five mass extinctions in the history of the Earth. But in the 21st century, scientists now estimate that society must urgently come to grips this coming decade to stop the very first human-made biodiversity catastrophe.

“The sixth extinction is on our societyʻs shoulders; it really is,” said ecologist Greg Asner, who serves on the faculty of the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and the School of Earth and Space Exploration and came to Arizona State University this past January to lead the new Center for Global Discovery and Conservation Science.

“We have to make a decision about where to save biodiversity, and where to let it go,” said Asner. “That’s where we are now. We are playing that game as a society. Unfortunately, it’s gotten to that point because we are dominating the planet.”

Asner is one of 19 international authors with a bold new science policy proposal to reverse the tide, called A Global Deal for Nature (GDN). The policy’s mission is simple: Save the diversity and abundance of life on Earth — for the price tag of $100 billion a year.

“It’s not a huge price tag,” said Asner. “That’s not a pie-in-the-sky number, but one we had to meet on and agree on. I know that those numbers are not outlandish.”

Consider that in 2018 alone, the top two most profitable U.S. companies, Apple and Berkshire Hathaway, almost matched that amount. What’s the price of saving the Earth by comparison?

Societal investment in the GDN plan would, for the first time, integrate and implement climate and nature deals on a global scale to avoid human upheaval and biodiversity loss.

While the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement was the first major accord to take global action toward climate change policies, the international team of GDN scientists believe a similar companion pact is desperately needed to implement the very first global nature conservation plan to meet these challenges.

“All nations have signed on to this (Paris) agreement,” wrote corresponding author Eric Dinerstein, of the Washington, D.C.-based nongovernmental organization Resolve. “But the Paris agreement is only a half-deal; it will not alone save the diversity of life on Earth or conserve ecosystem services upon which humanity depends.

“The Global Deal for Nature is a time-bound, science-based plan to save the diversity and abundance of life on Earth. Without the Global Deal for Nature, the goals of the Paris climate deal become unreachable; worse, we face the unraveling of the Earth’s natural ecosystems that sustain human life. Achieving the milestones and targets of the Global Deal for Nature is the best gift we can offer to future generations — an environmental reset, a pathway to an Eden 2.0. We must seize this hopeful pathway.”

The study, published in Science Advances, titled “A Global Deal For Nature: Guiding principles, milestones, and targets”

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Environment

Group of Youth Try Cleaning Part of Shimla’s Jakhu Hill, Finds More Garbage Than Expected

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Trek A Tribe Cleanliness Driver in Shimla

Shimla-Every year on April 15, Himachal Day is celebrated to mark the day when Himachal Pradesh, among other 30 princely states, came into being as a centrally administered territory. Since the inception of this state, the people throughout the world have admired Himachal Pradesh owing to its tall standing mountains, forests, nature, adventurous trekking trails and the peace and serenity it offers.

However, during the last decade, this love and admiration from tourists have turned into filth and carelessness. Rivers and forests alike have been polluted by broken beer bottles, single-use plastic cups, water bottles, wrappers of crisps and biscuit. Not only do they harm the soil, but also poses a threat to the lives of animals like cows and dogs, who consume littered plastic, causing them extreme physical ailments.

The menace of littering continues despite the claims of the civic bodies as well as the government of India that Swachh Bharat has almost eradicated this ill practice.

As an initiative Trek A Tribe, a tours and travels company, organized a cleanliness drive at Shimla on April 15, 2019 to celebrate Himachal Day. Total 18 youth participated in the cleanliness campaign. As per this team, the campaign began from Sheeshe Wali Kothi and was supposed to end at Jakhu Temple. But they had to abandon their plan of going till the top since the amount of waste was much more than these youth had expected.

Just the starting point consumed over four hours of their drive. We collected 35 bags of garbage at the starting point of their drive,

the team said.

Most of the trash is the plastic left behind by youth who come to the forest to drink and eat, causing harm to the environment,

the team said.

The end solution, however, does not lay in repetitive cleanliness drives, but in the conscious awareness of the people. They should be aware enough to not leave their trash behind, it said.  

These cleanliness drives, the team said, do help in cleaning the surroundings but they do not solve the purpose if the people keep littering the same place over and again. The team said that the purpose of its cleanliness drive was also to raise awareness among the people by initiating a dialogue towards the protection of the environment. This drive urged people to raise voice against plastic pollution and to lead their lives more consciously. They need a more aware lifestyle.

The Municipal Corporation, Shimla, provided transportation and disposal facility for the garbage collected by these youth.

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Environment

India’s Air Quality Continues to Worsen While China Takes Aggressive Actions to Improve: Study

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Air Quality In India

Though, worsening air pollution in India is hardly a hot topic of discussion ahead of the general elections to the Lok Sabha, but its a reality that India has failed miserably in fighting against it. While politicians, government, and media are focused entirely on “Chowkidar” and “Chowkidar Chore”, air pollution in India is in dire need of attention. The findings of a new study that was released today came as a blow for India and its neighboring countries.

Exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution could, on average shorten the life of a child born today by 20 months, according to a new global study, State of Global Air 2019 (SoGA2019).

The study said overall, air pollution is responsible for more deaths than many better-known risk factors such as malnutrition, alcohol use, and physical inactivity, according to the annual SoGA2019 report and interactive website published today by Health Effects Institute (HEI1).

Air pollution is the 5th highest cause of death among all health risks, ranking just below smoking; each year, more people die from air pollution-related disease than from road traffic injuries or malaria, the study said.  

It said that for the first time this year’s report and website estimate the effect of air pollution on how long people live, or life expectancy. Worldwide, air pollution reduced life expectancy by an average of 20 months in 2017, a global impact rivaling that of smoking.

 As per the study, lost life rises to over 2 years and 6 months for children born in South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan) where air pollution is at its worst. Long-term exposure to outdoor and indoor air pollution contributed to nearly 5 million deaths from stroke, heart attack, diabetes, lung cancer, and chronic lung disease worldwide in 2017.

The study also reported that aggressive actions on fighting air pollution by China have showed the first signs of progress in reducing exposure, even as South Asian countries – Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan – led the world as the most polluted region, with over 1.5 million air-pollution-related deaths

A child’s health is critical to the future of every society, and this newest evidence suggests a much shorter life for anyone born into highly polluted air,

said Dan Greenbaum, President of HEI.

In much of the world, just breathing in an average city is the health equivalent to being a heavy smoker,

he added.

The analysis found that China and India together were responsible for over half of the total global attributable deaths, with both countries facing over 1.2 million early deaths from all air pollution in 2017.

China has made initial progress, beginning to achieve air pollution declines; in contrast, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India have experienced the steepest increases in air pollution levels since 2010.

 The report also highlighted that nearly half of the world’s population—a total of 3.6 billion people—were exposed to household air pollution in 2017. Globally, there has been progress: the proportion of people cooking with solid fuels has declined as economies develop.

 As per the study, less developed countries continue to suffer the highest exposure to household air pollution. And household air pollution can be a major source of impact in outdoor air: with indoor pollution emitted to the outdoor air the largest cause of health impacts among all sources in India, contributing to 1 in 4 air pollution-related deaths, it said.

The Global Burden of Disease leads a growing worldwide consensus – among the WHO, World Bank, International Energy Agency and others – that air pollution poses a major global public health challenge,

 said Robert O’Keefe, Vice President of HEI.

In the developing world, where half the world’s population faces a double burden of indoor and outdoor pollution,

he added

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