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A staple of summer — swarms of bugs — seems to be a thing of the past. And that’s got scientists worried.
Pesky mosquitoes, disease-carrying ticks, crop-munching aphids and cockroaches are doing just fine. But the more beneficial flying insects of summer — native bees, moths, butterflies, ladybugs, lovebugs, mayflies and fireflies — appear to be less abundant.
Scientists think something is amiss, but they can’t be certain: In the past, they didn’t systematically count the population of flying insects, so they can’t make a proper comparison to today. Nevertheless, they’re pretty sure across the globe there are fewer insects that are crucial to as much as 80 percent of what we eat.
Yes, some insects are pests. But they also pollinate plants, are a key link in the food chain and help decompose life.
“You have total ecosystem collapse if you lose your insects. How much worse can it get than that?” said University of Delaware entomologist Doug Tallamy. If they disappeared, “the world would start to rot.”
He noted Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson once called bugs: “The little things that run the world.”
The 89-year-old Wilson recalled that he once frolicked in a “Washington alive with insects, especially butterflies.” Now, “the flying insects are virtually gone.”
It hit home last year when he drove from suburban Boston to Vermont and decided to count how many bugs hit his windshield. The result: A single moth.
The un-scientific experiment is called the windshield test. Wilson recommends everyday people do it themselves to see. Baby Boomers will probably notice the difference, Tallamy said.
Several scientists have conducted their own tests with windshields, car grilles and headlights, and most notice few squashed bugs. Researchers are quick to point out that such exercises aren’t good scientific experiments, since they don’t include control groups or make comparisons with past results. (Today’s cars also are more aerodynamic, so bugs are more likely to slip past them and live to buzz about it.)
Still, there are signs of decline. Research has shown dwindling individual species in specific places, including lightning bugs, moths and bumblebees. One study estimated a 14 percent decline in ladybugs in the United States and Canada from 1987 to 2006. University of Florida urban entomologist Philip Koehler said he’s seen a recent decrease in lovebugs — insects that fly connected and coated Florida’s windshields in the 1970s and 1980s. This year, he said, “was kind of disappointing, I thought.”
University of Nevada, Reno, researcher Lee Dyer and his colleagues have been looking at insects at the La Selva Biological Station in Costa Rica since 1991. There’s a big insect trap sheet under black light that decades ago would be covered with bugs. Now, “there’s no insects on that sheet,” he said.
But there’s not much research looking at all flying insects in big areas.
Last year, a study that found an 82 percent mid-summer decline in the number and weight of bugs captured in traps in 63 nature preserves in Germany compared with 27 years earlier. It was one of the few, if only, broad studies. Scientists say similar comparisons can’t be done elsewhere because similar bug counts weren’t done decades ago.
“We don’t know how much we’re losing if we don’t know how much we have,” said University of Hawaii entomologist Helen Spafford.
The lack of older data makes it “unclear to what degree we’re experiencing an arthropocalypse,” said University of Illinois entomologist May Berenbaum. Individual studies aren’t convincing in themselves, “but the sheer accumulated weight of evidence seems to be shifting” to show a problem, she said.
After the German study, countries started asking if they have similar problems, said ecologist Toke Thomas Hoye of Aarhus University in Denmark. He studied flies in a few spots in remote Greenland and noticed an 80 percent drop in numbers since 1996.
“It’s clearly not a German thing,” said University of Connecticut entomologist David Wagner, who has chronicled declines in moth populations in the northeastern United States. “We just need to find out how widespread the phenomenon is.”
Most scientists say lots of factors, not just one, caused the apparent decline in flying insects.
Suspects include habitat loss, insecticide use, the killing of native weeds, single-crop agriculture, invasive species, light pollution, highway traffic and climate change.
“It’s death by a thousand cuts, and that’s really bad news,” Wagner said.
To Tallamy, two causes stand out: Humans’ war on weeds and vast farmland planted with the same few crops.
Weeds and native plants are what bugs eat and where they live, Tallamy said. Milkweeds, crucial to the beautiful monarch butterfly, are dwindling fast. Manicured lawns in the United States are so prevalent that, added together, they are as big as New England, he said.
Those landscapes are “essentially dead zones,” he said.
Light pollution is another big problem for species such as moths and fireflies, bug experts said. Insects are attracted to brightness, where they become easy prey and expend energy they should be using to get food, Tallamy said.
Jesse Barber of Boise State is in the middle of a study of fireflies and other insects at Grand Teton National Park. He said he notices a distinct connection between light pollution and dwindling populations.
“We’re hitting insects during the day, we’re hitting them at night,” Tallamy said. “We’re hitting them just about everywhere.”
Lawns, light pollution and bug-massacring highway traffic are associated where people congregate. But Danish scientist Hoye found a noticeable drop in muscid flies in Greenland 300 miles (500 kilometers) from civilization. His studies linked declines to warmer temperatures.
Other scientists say human-caused climate change may play a role, albeit small.
Governments are trying to improve the situation. Maryland is in a three-year experiment to see if planting bee-friendly native wildflowers helps.
University of Maryland entomology researcher Lisa Kuder says the usual close-crop “turf is basically like a desert” that doesn’t attract flying insects. She found an improvement — 70 different species and records for bees — in the areas where flowers are allowed to grow wild and natural alongside roads.
The trouble is that it is so close to roadways that Tallamy fears that the plants become “ecological traps where you’re drawing insects in and they’re all squashed by cars.”
Still, Tallamy remains hopeful. In 2000, he moved into this rural area between Philadelphia and Baltimore and made his 10-acre patch all native plants, creating a playground for bugs. Now he has 861 species of moths and 54 species of breeding birds that feed on insects.
Wagner, of the University of Connecticut, spends his summers teaching middle schoolers in a camp to look for insects, like he did decades ago. They have a hard time finding the cocoons he used to see regularly.
“The kids I’m teaching right now are going to think that scarce insects are the rule,” Wagner said. “They’re not realizing that there could be an ecological disaster on the horizon.” (VOA)
By Mohammed Shafeeq
Heart health of every person is in his hands and if people adopt good diet, healthy lifestyle, do some exercises and avoid smoking they can very well prevent a large number of heart diseases, says Cardiological Society of India (CSI) president Dr P.P. Mohanan.
As part of its efforts to create public awareness on how to prevent cardiovascular diseases, CSI at its 73rd conference in Hyderabad has released a video featuring India's former cricket captain Kapil Dev and a book about the common things in cardiology written by 150 cardiologists.
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For the first time, the CSI has roped in a celebrity to come out with a video, through which it is trying to project the importance of avoiding heart attack in youngsters.
"I hope it will be circulated in various forums so that people realise the importance of looking after their heart health, which is in their hands. If they adopt a good diet, lifestyle, do some good exercises and avoid smoking we can very well prevent a large number of heart diseases," the eminent cardiologist told IANS. He described the book as A to Z of cardiology.
"It's all about normal heart, heart diseases, how to prevent them and if you are unfortunately developing them how to treat them. The book is in English but I hope it will be translated in every possible language."
The CSI is adopting a two-pronged strategy -- public information and educating cardiologists. Stating that public awareness has been one of the fortes of CSI, he said they want to improve on it in every possible way.
With 5,000 members across the country, the CSI is working towards the prevention of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and the eradication of cardiovascular mortality to raise awareness among people about cardiovascular diseases and nutritious diets. It is making efforts to increase awareness about the correlation between cardiovascular diseases and the environment and lifestyle.
The four-day conclave of cardiologists, which ended Sunday, discussed issues like clinical cardiology, preventive cardiology, interventional cardiology, imaging cardiology and Artificial Intelligence and digital technology in practice of cardiology.Unsplash
CSI's president elect Dr P.S. Banerjee told IANS that prevention goes side by side with awareness. The cardiologists' body will be approaching the government in reaching out to people in remote areas.
"We will write to the government. If it takes our help we can send our representatives to organise small meetings in local languages on what to do to prevent heart attack or any heart disease," he said.
The four-day conclave of cardiologists, which ended Sunday, discussed issues like clinical cardiology, preventive cardiology, interventional cardiology, imaging cardiology and Artificial Intelligence and digital technology in practice of cardiology.
Dr Banerjee, who was the scientific chairperson of CSI2021, pointed out that the whole subject of cardiovascular medicine was covered. Speakers selected for sessions reputed in their sub-specialties like heart failure, preventive cardiology hypertension and diabetes. There were also joint sessions with American College of Cardiology, European Society of cardiology, European Society of Heart Failure, European heart journal for exchange of views.
Quit smoking to prevent a large number of cardiovascular diseases.Unsplash
The cardiologists met after a gap of two years. Dr Mohanon described it as a fantastic meeting where thrust was given to innovations happening. "Cardiology is one field where we embrace whatever innovations are happening for the benefit of patients," said the CSI president.
"We have been trying to reach out to healthcare professionals, cardiologists, physicians, teach them newer innovations in cardiology, new guidelines for medical treatment and how best to utilise them for better care."
Dr Mohanan said CSI had been trying to assimilate new innovations. "This time we have given more importance to digitization. Covid has taught us a lot of newer things. We learnt a lot of things and we unlearned a lot of things. We are trying to learn about newer things, how to incorporate every new knowledge available world over and improve cardiac care," he said.
Realising the key role the government has in public education and awareness, the cardiologists' body is looking to influence the policymakers like its counterparts in the United States.
"We have to advise them about the importance of physical activity and healthy diet."Unsplash
"We have to influence policy makers just like we did for the smoking ban. We have to advise them about the importance of physical activity and healthy diet. Policy makers have a huge say. We will try to influence them like what other associations are doing. The American Heart Association has a huge influence on their government. The CSI will try to emulate that and come out with a solid proposal on how to live a good healthy life so that you prevent heart diseases," the CSI president said.
Dr Banerjee said they have to depend on government assistance as the task of reaching out to a big population, especially in rural areas, is huge. "We need government assistance as society alone can't do it. This requires a lot of money," he said.
He proposed to set up small groups of young doctors who will go to remote areas and with the help of local authorities organise seminars. They will give demonstrations on aspects like CPR, lifestyle modification, benefits of physical exercise, good diet, avoiding tobacco and alcohol. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : heart, health, Kapil Dev, diet, lifestyle, exercises, awareness, cardiovascular, diseases, book, nutritious, prevention, physicians, Cardiological Society of India.)
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By Quaid NajmiMumbai
Set up in 1958 as the country's second IIT -- after IIT Kharagpur (IIT-KGP, 1950) -- in the list of 23 IITs currently, IIT-B enters the momentous diamond jubilee year of its historic first convocation held on December 22, 1962, when around 70 wide-eyed young men passed out of the institute.
Decades later, the golden jubilee convocation in 2012 was attended by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The institute has a little more than 12,005 students in 2021, as per the current annual report released by its Director, Professor Subhasis Chaudhuri.
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The groundwork for the first IIT-KGP was inspired and prepared well before Independence by the late Bengal academician Humayun Kabir, who later served as the Education and Civil Aviation Minister of India.
After the country achieved freedom in 1947, its first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru pushed the idea forward and even laid the foundation stone for IIT-B, according to the Council of Indian Institutes of Technology (CIITs).
Nehru wanted science and technology to play a prominent role in modernising the new India and meeting the needs of its growing population, and envisioned that the IIT system would, over time, produce scientists and technologists of the highest calibre who would engage in research, design and development to help build the nation towards self-reliance in her technological needs.
"The institutions were to be designed with the necessary dynamism, flexibility of organisation and capacity to adapt in the light of expanding knowledge and changes in the socio-economic requirements of a modern society," says the CIIT.
The earliest IITs got the benefit of material assistance and academic cooperation from certain developed countries -- IIT-B from USSR, IIT-Madras from Germany, IIT-Kanpur from the US and IIT-Delhi from the UK.
Over the years, the IITs have created world-class educational platforms dynamically sustained through internationally recognised research, based on excellent infrastructural facilities.Wikipedia
Over the years, the IITs have created world-class educational platforms dynamically sustained through internationally recognised research, based on excellent infrastructural facilities.
The faculty and alumni of IITs have made a huge impact in all sectors of the society, both in India and abroad, and the IITs are globally recognised as 'centres of academic excellence', reputed for the outstanding calibre of the students graduating from them.
Over the years, even IIT-B grew in leaps and bounds and now ranks nationally and globally among the most renowned institutes of excellence in various fields of technology.
Compared to the first girl -- Tejaswini Saraf (1966 batch) -- who turned heads at IIT-B, being the lone female student among 300 boys, today the situation is different with 20-25 per cent female students on the campus.
View from Boat House, Powai Lakewikipedia
As the President of the IIT-B Alumni Association (IITBAA), Deepak Patil, says, at IITs, the mind is trained not only academically, but also to think deeply, rationally, to handle any problem, to go to the root and evolve a logical solution.
IITBAA Chairman Girish Nayak says IIT education makes the student sharper and analytical, trains them overall to solve any kind of problems, grapple any challenges in life without getting surprised or overwhelmed, and this is something that stays with them forever.
The duo feels that the IITs offer an excellent opportunity for personality development, total independence, no family support systems to shield them from any emotional problems, thrown together with total strangers from different parts of the country and learn to live together.
"It's here that we realise that there are many who are not only as brainy as you, probably more intelligent than you... There would be hot debates of high intellectual levels on practically any topic under the sun, from technology to politics. All of these adds to your personality and intellect and yet makes you humble," said Patil.
View of IIT hostelsWikipedia
Plus, the students here get the advantages of an outstanding faculty, staff, academic-industry connection, and the rich experiences of the trail-blazer alumni, which result in achievements that make global headlines.
A few of the many notables who have passed out of IIT-B over the past six decades are: BSE MD & CEO Ashish Chauhan, Syntel founder Bharat Desai, Infosys Co-founder Nandan Nilekani, Twitter Inc. CEO Parag Agrawal, Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, ex-BMC Commissioner Jairaj Phatak, ex-Union minister Jairam Ramesh, late Goa CM Manohar Parrikar, mathematician Ravindran Kannan, ex-Dean of Harvard Business School Nitin Nohria, economist Ajit Ranade, and ex-President of Bell Labs Arun Netravali, among others. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : IIT Bombay, IIT. geniuses, convocation, science, technology, knowledge, dynamism, calibre, education, intelligent, student, debate, faculty, advantages, outstanding.)
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With the inauguration of Kashi Vishwanath corridor in Varanasi on December 13, the whole of Uttar Pradesh will be lit up similar to Diwali-like celebrations. This year the people of the state will invoke Lord Shiva in their homes by lighting lamps on the occasion of the inauguration of Kashi Vishwanath corridor, the highest revered shrine of Hindu faith. Along with this, a laser show and fireworks will light up all temples, streets, 'crossroads' and other public places in Varanasi.
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The planners will celebrate the festival of 'Deepotsav' on the lines of the 'Grand Kashi, Divya Kashi' in the whole of Uttar Pradesh. For this every BJP worker will light a lamp in the village, town and city. The BJP believes that this will create a festive atmosphere with ideological commitment which will send out the message of strong cultural ethos.
After the inauguration on December 13 in the evening, the Prime Minister will take a tour of the Ganga river in a boat and perform the 'Ganga aarti'. During this tour, the Chief Ministers of various BJP-ruled states will also be present. The Prime Minister will hold talks with the Chief Ministers and public representatives the very next day. After this, Modi will visit the Swarved temple, Umrah, and a CNG plant in Shahanshahpur and leave for Delhi on December 14 in the afternoon.
Also Read : The Varanasi Hot Air Balloon Festival
On the day of the inauguration of Kashi Vishwanath corridor, all boats will be decorated with colorful lights which will be the main centre of attraction. An appeal has been made by the state administration to all the people to light lamps in their homes on the lines of Diwali celebrations. The people have been instructed to keep the streets and their locality clean and cooperate in the public cleanliness drive.
Diyas will be lit in every house, every temple, streets and BJP offices in the state. Unsplash
If political experts are to be believed, amid the ongoing Ram temple construction in Ayodhya, the BJP is once again trying to assert power through its ideological plank of Hindutva and its cultural agenda, while raising issues like building of a temple in Mathura.
A senior BJP leader involved in formulating the election strategy in Uttar Pradesh and working closely with the party's central leadership said that once again the party is going to celebrate Deepotsav on December 13.
Several BJP workers have been asked to make the occasion a grand success. BJP Kashi regional President, Mahesh Chandra Srivastava said, "On December 13, there will be a festive atmosphere in the state. Diyas will be lit in every house, every temple, streets and BJP offices in the state. We are going to celebrate a grand festival."
Kashi Vishwanath Dham, the work of which is in final stages, is the dream project of Prime Minister Modi. The corridor is now gleaming with lights. After the launch of the corridor, Chalo Kashi month' will also begin under which many programmes will be organised here.
After the inauguration on December 13 in the evening, the Prime Minister will take a tour of the Ganga river in a boat and perform the 'Ganga aarti'.Unsplash
According to the information received from the state government, a symbol of nationalism will be visible between Ganga and Lord Vishwanath temple which will give a new identity to Kashi. Idols of Rani Ahilyabai, Mother India (Bharat Mata), Kartikeya and Adi Shankaracharya will be installed in the Dham.
Kashi Vishwanath Dham is spread over an area of 54,000 square metre. The construction work of the Dham is being completed in two phases. The work of the first phase is in the final stage which includes construction of Mandir Chowk, Varanasi city gallery, museum, multipurpose auditorium, hall, devotee facilitation centres, public facility, spiritual house, Godoulia gate, 'Bhogshala', shelter for priests and sewadars, spiritual book palace, among others.
The statue of Mother India, a symbol of nationality, will also be seen between the Lord's court and the sacred Ganga. The idol of Kartikeya and Adi Shankaracharya will be installed in the grand courtyard of Kashi Vishwanath Dham. The statue of Queen Ahilyabai, who renovated the Kashi Vishwanath temple in 1669 will also be installed here. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : Uttar Pradesh, diwali, Kashi Vishwanath, Varanasi, December, Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, ganga, BJP, corridor, nationalism, people.)