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Next On Its Way To Extinction: Mountain Birds

Birds adapted to live within narrow temperature bands — in regions without wide seasonal variations — may be particularly vulnerable to climate change

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Handout picture released in Lima by the Peruvian Commission for the Promotion of Export and Tourism (PROMPERU), showing a hummingbird spotted during the Birding Rally Challenge taking place in the northern Peruvian mountain jungle close to the city of Tarapoto on June 12, 2013. VOA

A meticulous re-creation of a three-decade-old study of birds on a mountainside in Peru has given scientists a rare chance to prove how the changing climate is pushing species out of the places they are best adapted to.

Surveys of more than 400 species of birds in 1985 and then in 2017 have found that populations of almost all had declined, as many as eight had disappeared completely, and nearly all had moved to higher elevations in what scientists call “an escalator to extinction.”

“Once you move up as far as you can go, there’s nowhere else left,” said John W. Fitzpatrick, a study author and director of the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. “On this particular mountain, some ridgetop bird populations were literally wiped out.”

It’s not certain whether the birds shifted ranges because of temperature changes, or indirect impacts, such as shifts in the ranges of insects or seeds that they feed on.

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A gull flies with the “Dents du Midi” multi-summited mountain as background on July 3, 2016 in Montreux, Switzerland. VOA

These findings, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, confirm what biologists had long suspected, but had few opportunities to confirm. The existence of a 1985 survey of birds on the same mountain gave scientists a rare and useful baseline.

Past research has documented habitats of birds and other species moving up in elevation or latitude in response to warming temperatures. But Mark Urban, director of the Center of Biological Risk at the University of Connecticut, who was not involved in the study said it was the first to prove what climate change models predicted: that rising temperatures will lead to local extinctions.

“A study like this where you have historical data you can go back to and compare is very rare,” said Urban. “As long as the species can disperse, you will see species marching up the mountain, until that escalator becomes a stairway to heaven.”

In 1985, Fitzpatrick established a basecamp alongside a river running down a mountain slope in southeastern Peru, aiming to catalog the habitat ranges of tropical bird species that lived there. His team spent several weeks trekking up and down the Cerro de Pantiacolla, using fine nets called mist nets to catch and release birds, and keeping detailed journals of birds they caught, spotted or heard chirping in the forests.

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A bird flies past the Humayun’s Tomb shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India. VOA

Two years ago, Fitzpatrick passed his journals, photos and other records to Benjamin Freeman, a postdoctoral fellow at the Biodiversity Research Centre at the University of British Columbia. Freeman, who has been researching tropical birds for more than a decade, set out to recreate the journey in August and September of 2017. Using old photos of mountain views, his team located the same basecamp.

Freeman largely recreated Fitzpatrick’s path and methodology to see what had happened in the intervening years, a period when average mean temperatures on the mountain rose 0.76 degrees Fahrenheit (0.42 degrees Celsius). Because the mountain lies at the edge of a national park, the area hadn’t been disturbed.

In addition to unfurling 40-foot (12-meter) mist nets on the slopes, Freeman’s team placed 20 microphone boxes on the mountain to record the chirps of birds that might not easily be seen.

“We found that the bird communities were moving up the slope to reach the climate conditions to which they were originally adapted,” said Freeman, the lead author of the study. Near the top of the mountain the bird species moved higher by 321 feet (98 meters), on average.

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It’s not certain whether the birds shifted ranges because of temperature changes

“We think temperature is the master-switch in explaining why species live where they do on mountain slopes,” said Freeman. “A huge majority of species in our study were doing the same thing.”

Also Read: 60 Percent Wildlife Lost In Just Four Decades: Report

Birds adapted to live within narrow temperature bands — in regions without wide seasonal variations — may be particularly vulnerable to climate change, Fitzpatrick said.

“We should expect that what’s happening on this mountaintop is happening more generally in the Andes, and other tropical mountain ranges,” he said. (VOA)

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Travellers’ Wishlist for Post Pandemic World

Airbnb's internal data reveals future trip planning through search and wish lists created by guests

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People around the world are ready with their future travel plans. Pixabay

As communities around the world slowly begin to open their doors, the idea of future travel is beginning to inspire everyone who has been home sheltering according to Travel News.

From cozy mountain cabins to beat the summer, poolside respites to cool off the heat wave, it’s the outdoors which is calling out to everyone. People have spentmonths cocooned at home, and despite the fear, they want to get out and travel, to live again. As travel planning starts to rebound, Indians are eager to get out onto the road and drive down to their favourite spot for a short staycation.

Short “drivable” destinations are what people are looking at, as air travel remain uncertain, people want to get to a place within short travel time of their homes. The beaches of Goa, the mountains in Himachal, the cool air of Mahabaleshwar are just some of the domestic holiday destinations that are trending.

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The beaches of Goa is just one of the domestic holiday destinations that are trending. Pixabay

Airbnb’s internal data reveals early signs of future trip planning through search and wish lists created by guests ready to reconnect with each other and the world. Travel might be restricted for now, but that isn’t stopping guests from dreaming of one-of-a-kind experiences in far flung destinations. Week-over-week, guests are increasingly turning to wish lists to save listings they hope to travel to one day.

Luxury Penthouses and villas in Goa: India’s tourist hot spot, Goa, is now just a flight away. Travelers can book dreamy villas placed in the heart of Goa, that are perfect to satisfy your travel cravings. With breathtaking views, your own plunge pool and one or two friends or family is all you need.

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Airbnb’s internal data reveals early signs of future trip planning through search and wish lists created by guests. Pixabay

The pollution levels are at an all-time low and the view of the Himalayan Mountain tops are what most travelers are dreaming about. A road trip into the hills with cooler temperatures and the panoramic views of the snowy peaks from your personal sauna, are sure to tick some boxes of your travel bucket list. There are many cottages one can rent with amenities which will make you feel it’s your home away from home.

The Indian capital is home to lavish apartments that could turn your weekend around. From luxury terrace apartments to which farmhouses, its the perfect abode to take a short weekend staycation with your partner.

An artist studio in Jaipur surrounded by heritage buildings, palaces and forts will transport you to a bygone era.

Villas are also the top 10 most wish listed space types globally and they stand second in the wish list inclusions at more than 20 percent growth week-over-week4. When it comes to special occasions beach fronts were the top pick before lockdown. Top keywords from wish lists created in the last 60 days indicate guests are looking to Airbnb to commemorate special occasions that may have been cancelled and are also looking to enjoy the sun in the warmer months ahead.

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People are planning Getaway after the lockdown is lifted and travelling is permitted. Pixabay

Top wish list keywords include:

Beach

Birthday/Bday

Wedding

Honeymoon

Anniversary

Getaway

Vacation

2020, Summer, Summer 2020

Online Experiences – The New Dinner and a Show

Also Read: Above 51% Women Believe Indian Schools Don’t Have Menstrual Awareness Programme: Survey

Online Experiences have swiftly evolved to be one of guests’ favorite ways to be transported to new destinations while at home, with 20,000 seats booked in the first two weeks since its launch in April.

According to a recently commissioned Airbnb online survey, 63 percent guests booked Online Experiences to be entertained, 60 percent to learn something new, and 67 percent chose to book to experience other cultures and lifestyles. Food and Drink is the most popular category, accounting for nearly 40 percent of seats booked, but guests are being drawn to a number of distinctive activities. (IANS)

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Coronavirus Pandemic: A Punishment for Humans?

Humans have caused irreparable damage to earth over the span of millions of year

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The world has seen many pandemics in the past before Coronavirus pandemic. Pixabay

By Muskan Bhatnagar

It’s been over 6 months since the Coronavirus outbreak and the world is still fighting against it. Coronavirus Worldometer suggests a total of 4,907,135 cases so far, including cases that resulted in deaths and the ones recovered. This is not the first time that the world is going through a pandemic and crisis. Humans saw the Spanish Flu back in 1918, the spread of HIV in 1981, and the most recent one in 2009, H1N1 Swine flu. These pandemics killed millions of people across the globe, just like COVID-19

Since the onset of the year 2020, the world has faced terrible situations. The year began with Australia still on wildfires, a US drone strike on Iran which could’ve escalated to another World War in January, February saw a global stock market crash, in March COVID-19 had spread globally forcing nations to shut down, the global death toll from COVID-19 exceeds 200,000 in April and the world economy is expected to shrink  3%, which is the worst contraction since the 1930s Great Depression. With the onset of May, the global death toll exceeds 300,000 and the world faces a global mental health crisis because of isolation, fear, and economic crisis.

It’s not even been 6 months into this year and the world has already the worst of times. But the question is- who is responsible for all this? The answer is crystal clear. It is us, the human race.

The modern form of humans has existed on earth from 200,000 years. With time, humans have conquered the planet, excelled in the fields of science and technology, made impossible things possible, and developed a world with possibly the most luxurious facilities.

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Humans have caused a lot of damage to the planet with activities like deforestation. Pixabay

In the process of development, humans have caused irreparable damage to Earth and the environment which includes ecosystems, biodiversity, natural resources, etc.

Overconsumption and over-exploitation of resources, overpopulation of humans, global warming, pollution, deforestation, etc have caused damages that are irreversible now. We have exploited the planet to an extent where it’s impossible to rectify the damage we have caused.

Speaking about my personal opinion, this year seems to be a punishment to the human species for all the harm we have caused to nature and the environment since the day of our existence. We have hurt the nature, animals, birds, plants, and even our fellow human beings, and this devastating situation right now, feels like we’re repaying for it.

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People have been hunting animals and destroying ecosystems since a long time. Pixabay

We have killed a countless number of animals and birds just to satisfy our hunger even when we can live without eating them, we have killed animals for the sake of wearing good clothes, we have killed animals just to pursue our hobby of hunting, we have cut down trees so that we can make paper and write ‘save trees’ on them, we have caused air pollution so that we don’t sweat, we have exploited natural resources like petroleum just for the sake of our laziness, we have destroyed forests for the purpose of making luxurious cities, we have damaged the water bodies because we can’t even throw garbage in a bin.

And we happen to be the ‘best creation of God’ and also the smartest species to ever exist on this planet.

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The earth seems to be healing itself while we are confined to our homes. Pixabay

Read More: How Resolution 20-172 by St. Paul City Council Incites Hindu Phobia

Is the development and smartness of any use if the planet is no more able to sustain us? It feels like nature took everything in its hands and decided to punish us from all possible aspects and started to heal itself by confining us to our houses.

Nature has bounced back as we are locked inside our homes. The world has seen a significant positive change in the environment with many countries experiencing a fall in carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide of as much as 40%. With the minimum use of cars on the road, it seems to be a piece of potential good news for the climate as oil happens to be the biggest source of carbon emissions. Not just this, but the flora and fauna have also received a big positive change.

The World and its people are suffering and facing the worst of times, but the planet earth seems to be relieved.

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Let The World Move on, After Adding COVID 19 to List of Diseases

COVID 19 is the latest addition to rest of diseases in the world

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Today, it would look odd, if anyone would say that the world has over reacted to COVID 19 and sacrificed it’s social and economic interests. Pixabay

By N.S.Venkataraman

From historical times, human beings have been surviving,  inspite of  several types of diseases  confronting them.  In such conditions, medical science to safeguard  human beings from diseases have been developed due to the compelling need for survival of humanity.

Traditional medicines :

In ancient India, there were reports of several medicinal practices and development of  several types of drugs for treatment of different types of illness , which were mostly based on natural products  and not developed by synthetic process. Traditionally, such Indian medical practices have been termed as Ayurveda, Siddha etc.

In other countries too, such traditional medical practices have prevailed under various names such as homeopathy , Unani etc.

In short, the world have been living with diseases from time immemorial and has been responding to the diseases by developing appropriate medical procedures from time to time.

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While the panicked world is still viewing COVID 19 with great fear and medical researchers are striving hard to develop treatment procedures. Pixabay

Development of new diseases :

With the changing life style of people, development of synthetic production processes for  cosmetics , chemicals,  fertilisers, pesticides,  etc. and  environmental hazards created by industrial operations and transportation, promotion of new food items etc. newer diseases have also  been steadily arising.

Efforts of medical researchers :

The medical researchers have not lagged behind and have been developing new drugs and vaccines to treat the new and emerging diseases.

Some of the synthetic drugs developed for treatment of diseases were also reported to have side effects , which cause more diseases and sickness .

Regulatory authorities have been from, time to time, imposing ban on some of these drugs, due to unacceptable side effects,  though the damage due to such banned drugs would have already happened.

COVID 19  latest addition :

 COVID 19 is the latest addition to rest of diseases in the world.

Huge international efforts have now been taken up to identify the root cause of COVID 19 and develop appropriate drug / vaccine to treat the disease.

Given the past success ratings of medical researchers in handling other diseases, one can be hopeful that before long,  appropriate drug / vaccine would also be developed to treat COVID 19 patients.

Limitations of medical research :

While the medical research have developed phenomenally , the medical research have not been able to prevent the occurrence of the disease , except in a few cases. Of course, in the case of  polio attack, vaccines given to the children at the right time have largely eliminated the polio disease in the world.

However, this cannot be said about several of diseases such as cancer, influenza etc. which continue to occur at very high level and are being treated.

Similar situation may prevail in  future in the case of COVID 19 too, with medical researchers unable to prevent it but only treat it.

Alarm due to COVID 19 :

In the case of COVID 19,  the world has reacted with huge alarm , as if the COVID 19  would wipe out the entire human race.

Several world governments have declared lockdown and brought the global economy nearly to a half , like of which it has never happened before in human history.

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While the panicked world is still viewing COVID 19 with great fear and medical researchers are striving hard to develop treatment procedures, certainly the day will come when the world would reconcile itself to the prevalence of COVID 19 , just as it has reconciled itself to the prevalence of diseases like cancer, flu etc. and would also be prepared to treat the disease with appropriate procedures.

Is there over reaction to COVID 19 crisis ?:

Possibly, after six months or so from now,  when COVID 19 crisis would settle down, the world community would look back at the COVID 19 crisis and would wonder whether the world has over reacted to the COVID 19.

The world would calculate the number of people infected by COVID 19, recovered and died. Then, after reading this calculations, the world would inevitably come to the conclusion that it has not been as bad at all  as it was feared at one time, as the world community would remain intact after COVID-19 crisis.

It is estimated that around 0.15 million people die in the world every day due to various reasons such as old age, cancer, heart attack, kidney failure, virus attack  etc. It translates to around 54 million people die in the world every year.

Till date, around 0.25 million people have died due to COVID-19 over the last four or five months.

Probably, when the COVID-19 crisis would end one day , the number of deaths due to COVID-19 could be just less than 1 million, considering worst scenario.

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Probably, when the COVID 19 crisis would end one day , the number of deaths due to COVID 19 could be just less than 1 million, considering worst scenario. Pixabay

In future, after the end of present COVID-19 crisis  such scale of deaths due to COVID-19 are unlikely, in view of the development of appropriate drugs to treat it.

This projected death figure of just less than one million due to the on going COVID19 crisis, do not add much to the worldwide  death of 54 million every year in normal times.

Lives vis a vis livelihood debate :

Of course, death is natural and inevitable. It occurs for people in various age groups and due to natural / disease factors  and unnatural factors such as accidents, murders, war etc.   Every individual  has to reconcile oneself to the inevitable event of death that would happen one day for everybody.

In such circumstances, is it appropriate that the world economy should have been brought down to the level of stagnant or decelerating growth over several months in the year 2020, fearing COVID-19.

Due to such near global lockdown, billions of poor people have been put to hardships , large number of people have lost the jobs, many production centres are facing  closure and appears that it would take some time for the world to recover from this losses due to lockdown , fearing COVID 19.

Also Read- ICMR Reports Conducting Over a Million COVID-19 Tests

How future days would view COVID 19 crisis ?

Today, it would look odd,  if anyone would say that the world has over reacted to COVID 19 and sacrificed it’s social and economic interests.

As the days go by, perhaps, in the beginning of 2021  the world would realize that after all, it could have  been a case of over reaction by the world community with regard to COVID 19 crisis.

In future, the world would add COVID 19 to the list of diseases prevailing in the world , treatment procedures would be evolved and some people would succumb and some people would recover.

World will move on,  just as it has been moving on even as it is confronted with diseases like cancer, flu, kidney failure , heart ailment etc.