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The primary impacts of climate change are obvious, from the unprecedented fires in Australia to the melting ice caps in the Arctic. However more observers are starting to consider secondary impacts, and none is less obvious perhaps than the creditworthiness of governments, which is analyzed in a new report from Moody’s, a rating company.
A diverse mix of nations including Vietnam, Suriname, Egypt, and the Bahamas are most vulnerable to a rise in sea levels, according to the report released last week. It said rising seas may cause “lost income, damage to assets, loss of life, health issues, and forced migration,” which could hurt governments’ sovereign ratings.
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The report was released ahead of this week’s Davos forum, an annual meeting of world business and government officials to discuss the world’s problems. Past themes at Davos include populism and globalization. The theme is climate change at this year’s Alpine forum, where climate activist Greta Thunberg and U.S. President Donald Trump have clashed on the issue’s impact on business. The irony is not lost on observers that officials are getting to the forum by air travel, a key source of climate-changing emissions, in order to discuss climate change. Not often represented at the forum are the vulnerable nations named in Moody’s report.
“Vulnerability to extreme events related to sea-level rise can also undermine investment and heighten susceptibility to event risk, by hindering the ability of governments to borrow to rebuild, increasing losses for banks, raising external pressures, and/or amplifying political risk as populations come under stress,” said Anushka Shah, Moody’s vice president, and senior analyst, in the report. “While one isolated shock related to sea-level rise is unlikely to materially weaken a sovereign’s credit profile, repeated shocks could do.” Her report, with contributions from Caleb Coppersmith and Natasha Brereton-Fukui, explained the link between climate and credit.
Governments, like individuals and businesses, have credit scores that affect how much interest they pay to borrow. “Shocks” may come along because of rising seas, such as floods, storm surges, cyclones, and erosion. Governments have to spend money to recover from disasters and build infrastructure, while at the same time losing tax income as companies go out of business or individuals can’t work. With more money going out and less money coming in, governments risk a hit to their credit ratings.
The nations highlighted in the report, along with Bahrain, Benin, the Cayman Islands, Fiji, the Maldives, and others, are vulnerable because of a mix of their location by seas and economic and fiscal strength.
They are vulnerable in relative terms, but other nations that are vulnerable in terms of absolute population impacts include Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, and India, the report said. It said credit risks based on climate can vary by nation. The Netherlands, for instance, is at risk of having cities submerged underwater, while Japan has physical assets at risk, like buildings and cars.
Climate change views evolve
Moody’s noted three government climate strategies are protection, accommodation, and managed retreat. That is protection like sea walls, accommodating rising waters with higher bridges and other tools, and pushing people to retreat by living inland away from coasts. The report comes as business views on the climate are changing. Whereas emissions used to be considered a part of doing business, companies now say they can’t survive if emissions keep rising.
Microsoft said last week it will spend $1 billion to remove carbon from the air, a dramatic break from past corporate efforts to simply buy carbon offsets. Around the same time BlackRock, the world’s biggest money manager, said it would divest from coal and make climate an investment priority.
“A big part of the challenge is that as a society we have not committed sufficiently to reduce emissions,” Microsoft president Brad Smith said in announcing the new company policy, adding: “If we don’t curb emissions, and temperatures continue to climb, science tells us that the results will be catastrophic.”
He said the company would also support government policies to reduce emissions. The Moody’s report said there are not many governments can do about past emissions, whether to protect their credit ratings or their populations. It said past emissions have already locked in a sea-level rise of 1.6 meters. However emissions reductions could keep that number from getting even higher, it said. (VOA/JC)
( Global warming, climate, effects of climate change, global warming effects)
Diwali is arguably one of the most auspicious and celebrated holidays in South Asia. It is celebrated over the span of five days, where the third is considered most important and known as Diwali. During Diwali people come together to light, lamps, and diyas, savour sweet delicacies and pray to the lord. The day has various origin stories with the main them being the victory of good over evil. While the North celebrates the return of Lord Rama and Devi Sita to Ayodhya, the South rejoices in the victory of Lord Krishna and his consort Satyabhama over evil Narakasura.
Narakasura- The great mythical demon King
Naraka or Narakasur was the son of Bhudevi (Goddess Earth) and fathered either by the Varaha incarnation of Vishnu or Hiranyaksha. He grew to be a powerful demon king and became the legendary progenitor of all three dynasties of Pragjyotisha-Kamarupa, and the founding ruler of the legendary Bhauma dynasty of Pragjyotisha.
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Narakasura was created, grew up to be strong and powerful but he was not satisfied with it, so he decided that he would worship Lord Brahma. He performed severe penance and was driven by the power of his penance; Lord Brahma appeared before him. Narakasura knew his mother loved him dearly so he asked Lord Brahma to grant him a boon that he would only die by the hands of his mother, Bhumidevi. Lord Brahma smile and ultimately granted him the boon.
Narakasura burst out laughing as Lord Brahma vanished. He thought no mother would kill their child so Lord Brahma had made him immortal. Drunk and maddened by his own power Narakasura brought all the kingdoms under his control and targeted Swargalok (Heaven). Even Indra (King of Gods) and demi-gods had to retreat in front of Narakasura. He kidnapped and took 16,000 women from the palaces as prisoners. Troubled by Naraksura's deeds the gods rushed to Lord Vishnu for a solution.
Lord Krishna and Devi Satyabhama were born to kill Narakasura
Lord Vishnu was born as Lord Krishna and Narakasura's mother Bhumidevi took the avatar of Krishna's wife Satyabhama. As Satyabhama, Bhumidevi was unaware of the knowledge of Naraksura being her son. Aditi the mother of all gods approached Satyabhama crying for help with bloodied ears as Narakasura had torn off the glowing earrings from the ears of Aditi.
Satyabhama was furious on gaining the knowledge of Narakasura's atrocities she asked Krishna to fight the demon king while she fights alongside him. Krishna agreed and they attacked the great fortress of Narakasura, riding his mount Garuda with his wife Satyabhama.
The furious battle unleashed. Krishna defeated Narakasura's general Mura and came to be known as Murari (the killer of Mura). Narakasura used several divine weapons against Krishna, but Krishna slew all those weapons effortlessly. The demon hurled a shakti towards Krishna, which mildly hurt Krishna and he fell unconscious. Upon this sight Satyabhama was enraged, she furiously pulled out a weapon of her own and hurled it at Narakasura's chest. Anxious Satyabhama turned to her fallen Lord, Krishna got up with a smile and he was completely fine. He was only playing his part. It was Satyabhama who was an incarnation of Bhoomidevi, whose hands were destined to slay Narakasura.
ALSO READ: Choosing Environment-Friendly Diwali
Lord Krishna and Goddess Satyabhama had put an end to the Narakasura's kingdom of evil. As Narakasura lay on his deathbed he realised that Satyabhama was no one but an avatar of his own mother. He requested a boon from his mother, for no one to mourn his death. Instead, he wished for people to celebrate it with light and colours. They freed the 16,000 women who later married Lord Krishna to restore them of their honour in society, retrieved Mother goddess's earrings. This day is celebrated as 'Naraka Chaturdashi' popularly known as Choti Diwali - the day before Diwali as the triumph of good over evil.
Keywords: Diwali festival, goddess Laxmi, demon king, Lord Krishna, Satyabhama, the festival of light, Naraksura, Narak Chaturdashi
For all the great inventions that we have at hand, it is amazing how we keep going back to the safety pin every single time to fix everything. Be it tears in our clothes, to fix our broken things, to clean our teeth and nails when toothpicks are unavailable, to accessorize our clothes, and of course, as an integral part of the Indian saree. Safety pins are a must-have in our homes. But how did they come about at all?
The safety pin was invented at a time when brooches existed. They were used by the Greeks and Romans quite extensively. A man named Walter Hunt picked up a piece of brass and coiled it into the safety pin we know today. He did it just to pay off his debt. He even sold the patent rights of this seemingly insignificant invention just so that his debtors would leave him alone.
Anyone wearing safety pins that were visible began to be associated with the rock movement in the 70s. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons
Later, he even invented the sewing needles and a couple of other important inventions but never kept any of the patent rights.
When the punk rock tradition took over in the seventies, safety pins became a fashion rage. They were used as piercings and to patch clothes together. Anyone wearing safety pins that were visible began to be associated with the rock movement. In some cultures, the safety pins have become symbols of good luck.
Keywords: Safety-pins, Punk Rock, Brass, Accessories, Walter Hunt
In South India, Deepavali marks the end of the monsoon and heralds the start of winter. The festival is usually observed in the weeks following heavy rain, and just before the first cold spell in the peninsula. The light and laughter that comes with the almost week-long celebration are certainly warm to the bones, but there is still a tradition that the South Indians follow to ease their transition from humidity to the cold.
Just before the main festival, the family bathes in sesame oil. This tradition is called 'yellu yennai snaana' in Kannada, or 'ennai kuliyal' in Tamil, which translates to 'sesame oil bath'. The eldest member of the family applies three drops of heated oil on each member's head. They must massage this oil into their hair and body. The oil is allowed to soak in for a while, anywhere between twenty minutes to an hour. After this, they must wash with warm water before sunrise.
Women applying oil to the heads of men Photo credit: Indians in Kuwait
In some parts of the peninsula, soap is not used to wash off the oil because it nullifies its effects. Some cultures who do not like the oil to remain in any way on their skin wash it off with shikakai and herbs, which is a paste that is traditionally used as a substitute for soap. Sometimes, the oil is heated with flowers and spices as well and is less sticky than in its pure form.
The purpose of this ritual is to cleanse the body, detoxify it, and produce heat in it. Sesame is a very heaty substance and tends to heat up the body. This heat, or 'usshna' in Kannada, prepares the body to face the sudden cold that comes to the peninsula immediately after Diwali. South India has no smooth transition weather-wise from monsoon to winter. There are a few days of stable, rainless weather, and suddenly the cold winds descend.
In many ways, the celebration of Diwali is centered around preparing for winter, considering the amount of heat and light the rituals consist of – lighting lamps, bursting crackers, and consuming warm treats. Those who practice these rituals earnestly find the shift in seasons and weather quite pleasant.
Keyboards: Sesame Oil Bath, Diwali Ritual, Traditional Sesame Oil Bath