Monthly Archives

May 2019

Adventure

Traffic jams making Everest deadly

The reward for climbers who ascend Mount Everest is a view like none other, an expansive vista of the Himalayas from the highest point on the planet. On Wednesday, those who made it to the top saw something else: Hundreds of other climbers.

The final leg of their journey to the summit was a traffic jam of trekkers enticed by good weather, the route clogged by a single-file march of 250 to 300 people along a precarious cliff that caused delays of about three hours.

Nirmal Purja, who photographed the scene, was among the climbers who scaled the peak on Wednesday, despite what he described as “heavy traffic”.

Everest graphic

The long, winding line to the peak added another element of risk to what is already one of the most dangerous mountains, raising the possibility of frostbite and oxygen depletion. At least two climbers died after having reached the summit on Wednesday, and their deaths may have been related to the delays.

Donald Cash, 54, an American, died after collapsing on the mountain following an unusually long summit, according to Pioneer Adventures, a Kathmandu-based organisation that leads expeditions on Everest.

Cash was traveling with Sherpa guides from Pioneer Adventures, the organisation said, and fainted from altitude sickness. He could not be revived by the Sherpas.

The other fatality, Anjali Kulkarni, 54, an Indian, collapsed while returning from the summit with her husband, according to Arun Treks and Expedition, which led the trip.

“Due to the huge traffic yesterday and the delay in being able to return back, she couldn’t maintain her energy,” said Phupden Sherpa, the tour group’s manager.

Sherpa, who recalled similar episodes in 2017 that resulted in climber deaths, said it took the group an additional three hours to return to camp, a wait that he believes contributed to her death. Several of the climbers with Kulkarni returned to their camp with frostbite and other injuries.

Nivesh Karki, the manager of Pioneer Adventures, attributed the congestion at the summit to good weather. The frequently changing conditions mean that there is often only a small window of time for climbing, so on Wednesday, more groups than usual chose to push ahead rather than wait and risk harsh weather. “It was such a clear day, everyone was rushing to the summit,” he said.

“Once the weather is bad, no one can summit. So in good weather, everyone will try to go for the summit.”

Karki said the crowding on the mountain increased the peril for all climbers, even under normal circumstances. Two climbers are believed to have died on Everest last week: An Indian man was found dead in his tent and an Irishman went missing after a fall.

“This is a huge problem because the route is already dangerous, and there is always risk,” he said. “And a lot of traffic makes the journey quite difficult.”

But despite the risks, Everest has grown increasingly crowded. In 2018, a record number of climbers made it to the summit, according to figures from Alan Arnette, who chronicles the journeys of climbers on the mountain on his blog. 

Three Indian climbers have died on Nepal’s Mount Everest this week, bringing the death toll this season on the world’s highest peak to six.

Nihal Bagwan, an Indian climber who was part of a two-member expedition, died at camp four after descending from the summit late on Thursday, expedition organiser Babu Sherpa said on Friday.

“He reached the summit at 8am [02:15 GMT], but lost his energy while descending. So four Sherpa guides brought him back to the lower camp, where he died inside the tent,” Babu told media

Kalpana Das, a 53-year-old woman from India, who was part of a three-nation women’s expedition team, also died on Thursday, said Meera Acharya, an official at the department of tourism.

Anjali Kulkarni, 53, who was returning from the summit of Everest with her husband Sharad Kulkarni, died during her descent on Wednesday, according to Acharya.

Earlier this month, a US climber and an Indian mountaineer had died on their descent from Everest. An Irish climber who went missing is presumed dead on the mountain.

Babu, the managing director of Peak Promotion, said overcrowding had congested the route from camp 4 to the top.

“There were only short weather windows and everyone was trying to climb at once,” he said.

Pre- History

Bones of mysterious extinct Neanderthal-like humans discovered in the Himalayas

An extinct race of Neanderthal-like humans populated the Tibetan plateau more than 100,000 years ago and passed on genes that help modern-day Sherpas survive at high altitudes, a ground-breaking new discovery suggests. A 160,000-year-old Denisovan jawbone unearthed in a cave in Xiahe, China, is the oldest hominid fossil ever found in the vast Himalayan region that has an average altitude of 4,500 metres (14,800ft). Until now physical evidence of Denisovans had only been known from fossils from a single cave site in Siberia. But traces of Denisovan DNA have been detected in present-day Asian, Australian and Melanesian populations, suggesting that they may have once been widespread.

A virtual reconstruction of the Denisovan jawbone that was found (Picture: Jean-Jacques Hublin/PA) Both Denisovans and their sister human sub-species, the Neanderthals, are known to have interbred with the ancestors of people living today. Most intriguingly, modern Sherpas and Tibetans appear to have inherited Denisovan genetic variants that help them cope with high altitudes. The new find suggests that they settled on the Tibetan plateau thousands of years before early modern humans, and the two groups later interbred. Baishiya Karst Cave, where the jawbone was discovered, is at an altitude of 3,280 metres (10,760 feet). A view of the cave where the bones were found (Picture: PA) Scientists were unable to find any DNA preserved in the fossil, but managed to extract proteins from one of the molars. Analysis showed that it was clearly Denisovan. Dr Dongju Zhang, from Lanzhou University in China’s Gansu province, who co-led the research, said: ‘Archaic hominins occupied the Tibetan plateau in the Middle Pleistocene and successfully adapted to high-altitude, low oxygen environments long before the regional arrival of modern Homo sapiens.’ The well-preserved jawbone is robust with very large molars, features shared by Denisovans and Neanderthals, according to the study reported in Nature journal. A heavy carbonate crust covering the fossil allowed scientists to date it to at least 160,000 years old. The oldest specimens from ‘Denisova Cave’ in Siberia are from a similar time period. However, the Siberian site is only 700 metres (2,296ft) above sea level. Modern day humans are not thought to have arrived on the Tibetan plateau until around 40,000 years ago. Sherpas in Nepal (Picture: Alex Brylov/Getty Images) Sherpas have lived in the Himalayas for at least 6,000 years. Studies have shown that they have developed a physiology similar to that of a fuel-efficient car. Their muscles get more mileage out of less oxygen than those of the average person. Sherpas have mitochondria – tiny rod-like power plants in cells – that are extra-efficient at using oxygen. While their red blood cell count is increased in thin mountain air, it remains below the point at which the blood thickens and strains the heart, causing altitude sickness. The Denisovan jawbone was originally discovered in 1980 by a local monk. He donated it to the sixth Gung-Thang Living Buddha, a Buddhist Lama, or teacher, who passed it to Lanzhou University.

Art & Culture

Dancing for the devout in Himalayas

by Askari Jaffer

Rishikesh International Pyramid Meditation Centre celebrated Buddha Purnima with a cultural festival at Rishikesh-Badrinath and Kedarnath, and they invited Srivari Padalu Dance Academy based out of West Marredpally, Secunderabad to perform for the event. Rishikesh International Pyramid Meditation Centre celebrated Buddha Purnima with a cultural festival at Rishikesh-Badrinath and Kedarnath, and they invited Srivari Padalu Dance Academy based out of West Marredpally, Secunderabad to perform for the event. The team from the academy started their journey to perform amidst the sacred Himalayas on May 12 towards Rishikesh and reached there the next day. The Beautiful Ganga Harathi at the Triveni Sangamam was followed by the dance performance, which was viewed by lakhs of pilgrims there. Also Read – Man held for sexually assaulting minor girl in Hyderabad Advertise With Us They started with ‘Pushpanjali’, a salutation to the lord of dance Nataraja, the Guru, the musicians and the audience. ‘Pushpanjali’ in Amruthavarshini ragam, Adi talam, was sung by TV Srinivas, and was composed by Bangalore T Srinivas. The dance was choreographed by Rama Devi Nalla. The second performance was ‘Maha Ganesha Pancharatnam’ which is a sloka, composed by Adi Sankara in the 8th Century. It is addressing Lord Ganesha, who is also known as the destroyer of obstacles. ‘Maha Ganesha Pancharatnam’ was presented in Ragmalika ragam, Adi talam. Also Read – Hyderabad police arrest five for looting commuters Advertise With Us This was followed by ‘Jathiswaram’, a pure dance presentation, devoid of any abhinaya (emotions), in which, intricate sequences are fused with repetitive musical notes. The dance deals with the execution of adavus (basic steps) and mudras (hand gestures). The piece was presented in Saveri ragam, Adi talam. The last piece for the day was ‘Sree Mahisasura Mardhini Stotram’- a popular devotional stotra of Goddess Durga written by Guru Adi Sankaracharya. Advertise With Us On 14 May, the group started off to Badrinath Temple, which was a difficult ghat road journey of 13 hours. The temperature was -2 to -8 degrees. The strenuous journey was followed by a performance (on May 15) in the presence of lakhs of pilgrims. It was like Lord Shiva gave them the energy to perform in that cooled. “During the performance we did not experience the extreme cold climate, but immediately after the program was finished, we started to shiver and felt the energy given to us for the performance by the Great Lord Shiva present there. The temple CEO then presented us the mementos and the Badrinath prasad. He then personally took us all for the special darshans of the Lord. The extraordinary feeling, we got by performing in the sacred place will remain special in our lives,” says Rama Devi. At Badrinath Temple they performed ‘Shiva Thandavam’. It is described as a vigorous dance that is the source of the cycle of creation, preservation and dissolution. While the Rudra Tandava depicts his violent nature, first as the creator and later as the destroyer of the universe, even of death itself; the Ananda Tandava depicts him enjoying. In Shaiva Siddhanta tradition, Shiva as Nataraja is considered the supreme lord of dance. Ramadevi’s students Simritha, Aakruthi and Kaavya Sri performed the dance. On May 16 the group was scheduled to perform at Kedarnath, but extreme colk climate prevented them. However, it was a great experience shares Rama Devi, “The three programs were organised by Pyramid Yoga & Dance Academy – PYDA International, Vishakhapatnam CEO Padma garu, and we are very thankful to her for giving us this wonderful opportunity.”

 Hans News Service

International

What Use Is Dredging the Brahmaputra?

Jogendra Nath Sarma

The Brahmaputra River has the second highest sediment yield per square kilometre in the world, exceeded only by that of the Yellow River in China. India’s central government and the state government of Assam have planned to dredge the Brahmaputra, with an initial amount of Rs 4 billion ($57 million).

One purpose of this dredging is to reduce flooding by allowing more water to stay in the river. The second is make the Brahmaputra navigable for large vessels – the river has been designated National Waterway 2 by the Inland Waterways Authority of India. It is planned as a vital component of trans-boundary inland waterways transport between India and Bangladesh.

Before the dredging starts, it is important to understand the nature of sediment transport in the Brahmaputra, because the dredged-out river is likely to be filled up again, partly or completely.

Sediment load of the Brahmaputra

The sediment deposited in the Brahmaputra varies across its length. At Tsela Dzong in Tibet it is about 150 tonnes per square km. But as the river crosses the Himalayas and reaches Pasighat at the foothills of Arunachal Pradesh in India, the deposit increases tenfold to 1,495 tonnes per square km. This shows that the river gathers sediments from soft rocks and landslide-affected areas of the Himalayas. The Higher Himalaya Range contributes about 70% of the sediments of the Brahmaputra, as explained by S. Krishnaswami and K. Singh in the September 10, 2005 issue of the journal Current Science.

The Brahmaputra then flows through Assam – forming the Assam valley, with the high Himalayas in the north and the Meghalaya plateau in the south – before entering Bangladesh. As measured at a station in Majuli – the largest river island in Assam – the suspended sediment load is slightly higher at 1,513 tons per square km, higher than at Pasighat, due to the contributions from the rivers Dibang and Lohit, which also flow down from the Himalayas on the north bank of the Brahmaputra.

Since the Brahmaputra is a trans-boundary river, data on its water discharge and sediment load are classified and thus the public has no access. Researchers can get the data after a lengthy process and only if they pledge not to share the data in public.

Sediment loads are measured as both suspended load and bed load. Suspended load is the sediment being carried by the water at the time of measurement, while bed load is the sediment that has settled down on the riverbed. Old data – published despite the ban – reveal that on an average the Brahmaputra transported 402 million tonnes of suspended sediment annually between 1955 and 1979 at the Pandu measuring station in Guwahati, the largest city of Assam.

According to Water and Power Consultancy Services, the average annual sediment yield between 1978 and 1991 was 527 million tonnes at Pancharatna near Goalpara, just a little upstream of the place where the river enters Bangladesh from India.

But this average means little. During the monsoon from May to October, the Brahmaputra transports 95% of the annual suspended load at Pandu at an average daily rate of 2.12 million metric tonnes. It would need over 141,300 trucks – of 15 tonnes each – to carry this away.

Although suspended sediment is measured at a few stations on the Brahmaputra, no convincing attempt has been made to measure its bed load. Dulal Goswami wrote in the 1989 (15.1) edition of the Indian Journal of Earth Sciences that he had estimated the bed load using several empirical equations and concluded that the bed load at Pandu was of the order of 5-15% of the total sediment load of the river.

Dredging feasible? Desirable?

Since suspended sediments form the majority of the load, will it be possible to maintain the dredged channel suitable for large vessels at the desired width and depth during the monsoon, when there is daily input of 2.12 million metric tonnes of sediments into the river?

And to what extent is this desirable? The authorities have stated that the main purpose of dredging the Brahmaputra is to prevent high flows from inundating its banks, which result in floods. But the valley of Assam has been created from the sediments deposited by floods of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries. During last two million years it has deposited 200-1,000 metre thick sediments by flooding and lateral channel migration.

Natural floods have several benefits besides increasing soil fertility. But artificial heavy floods have been created in Assam either due to breaching of embankments or sudden release of impounded water to keep dams safe. Such floods deposit enormous quantities of sterile sands rather than fertile sediments. For flood control, the solution should lie with improving or disbanding embankments and dams rather than with dredging.

Dredging seems to be a superficial answer to the challenge of drainage congestion and managing floods. Proper planning and a detailed study of the basic aspects of this government project are needed. A critical analysis of the data on both sediment input and dredging depth, together with a far better idea of the bed load, is necessary before starting this mega project.

Jogendra Nath Sarma is a retired professor of applied geology at Dibrugarh University, Assam, and the author of two books on the Brahmaputra.

This article was originally published on The Third Pole.

Environment

People’s biodiversity registers will collate data on plants, animals, trees, crops, traditional knowledge

By: Gulshan Ahuja 

India is among the 17 mega bio-diverse countries of the world. Four of the 34 biodiversity hotspots identified in the world are in India — the Western Ghats, the Eastern Himalayas, the Indo-Burma region and the Sundaland (includes Nicobar Group of Islands). India has 10 bio-geographic zones with 46,000 plant species and 96,000 species of animals recorded so far.
The steep decline in biodiversity is a major cause of concern across the world. Plants and animals become extinct in a gradual process but this decline has increased manifold due to human activities. Many regions in the world have seen a major dip in the biodiversity owing to changes in climate and increasing pollution levels and overexploitation of bio-resources for commercial use. Tasmanian tiger, golden toad, Caribbean monk seal, ivory-billed woodpecker, western black rhinoceros are some of the examples of animals species that have gone extinct and mountain gorilla, sea turtle, Amur leopard and tiger are on the verge of extinction. Similarly, plants and trees like Lepidodendron, Araucaria Mirabilis, wood cycad and Kokia cookei are extinct and many others are endangered.

Rio de Janeiro convention on biodiversity 1992

Realizing the need to conserve biodiversity, the world community met during Earth Summit in 1992 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and signed the convention on biological diversity (CBD), a landmark treaty that set the framework for conservation of biodiversity and its sustainable use. The treaty was ratified by 196 countries and India became signatory in 1994. The convention recognizes sovereign rights of the states over their resources with three objectives — conservation of biodiversity, sustainable use of its components, fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources.

In India, the Biological Diversity Act was passed in 2002 and the Centre formulated Biological Diversity Rules in 2004. The National Biodiversity Authority, headquartered in Chennai, was constituted and all the states set up State Biodiversity Boards. Now, biodiversity management committees are being set up local body levels across the states.

Conservation of biodiversity

It is vital that everyone contributes to the conservation of biodiversity by reducing overexploitation of natural resources, planting trees and avoiding activities that lead to pollution as pollution is the largest single factor responsible for climate change leading to loss of ecosystems and biodiversity.

In Haryana, the Haryana State Biodiversity Board is working to achieve the objectives of the convention on biological diversity by educating people and spreading awareness on the importance of conserving biodiversity. The biodiversity management committees across the state will be imparted skill development training in biodiversity management on the importance of conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. They will also be made aware of their rights in use of bio-resources by traders and manufacturers and will be helped in getting their share of benefits through the access benefit sharing (ABS) mechanism that was decided in the Nagoya Protocol signed by the CBD nations in Japan in 2010.

The biodiversity management committees will also be involved in creating people’s biodiversity registers (PBRs) to collate data on plants, animals, trees, agricultural crops (agri-biodiversity) and traditional knowledge existing in the area about use of bio-resources, particularly herbal plants. This information will help them become partners in benefit sharing in bio-resources occurring in the area in case of commercial utilization of bio-resources.

Bio-resources are plants, animals and micro-organisms, but not human genetic material, according to the Biological Diversity Act, 2002.

The theme of the International Day for Biological Diversity being celebrated across the globe on May 22 this year is “Our Biodiversity, Our Food, Our Health.”

Haryana is organizing essay writing and photography contests, and painting competitions by professional painters and nature lovers as well as school children. On this day, it becomes imperative for all of us to start thinking about conservation and sustainable aspects of biodiversity. The conservation of biodiversity is a necessity and we must make efforts to conserve it rather than contributing towards its decline.

(The writer, a former IFS officer, is chairman of the Haryana State Biodiversity Board, Panchkula)

Environment

The heat is on over the climate crisis. Only radical measures will work

by Gaia Vince

Drowned cities; stagnant seas; intolerable heatwaves; entire nations uninhabitable… and more than 11 billion humans. A four-degree-warmer world is the stuff of nightmares and yet that’s where we’re heading in just decades.

While governments mull various carbon targets aimed at keeping human-induced global heating within safe levels – including new ambitions to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 – it’s worth looking ahead pragmatically at what happens if we fail. After all, many scientists think it’s highly unlikely that we will stay below 2C (above pre-industrial levels) by the end of the century, let alone 1.5C. Most countries are not making anywhere near enough progress to meet these internationally agreed targets.

Climate models predict we’re currently on track for a heating of somewhere between 3C and 4C for 2100, although bear in mind that these are global average temperatures – at the poles and over land (where people live), the increase may be double that. Predictions are tricky, however, as temperatures depend on how sensitive the climate is to carbon dioxide (CO2). Most models assume that it is not very sensitive – that’s where the lower 3C comes from – but a whole new set of models to be published in 2021 finds much greater sensitivity. They put heating at around 5C by the end of the century, meaning people could be experiencing as much as 10C of heating over land.

Such uncertainty isn’t ideal, but for our purposes let’s plump for an entirely feasible planetary heating of 4C by the end of the century. If that seems a long time away, consider that plenty of people you know will be around then. My children will be in their 80s, perhaps with middle-aged children and grandchildren. We are making their world and it will be a very different place.

Four degrees may not sound like much – after all, it is less than a typical temperature change between night and day. It might even sound pleasant, like retiring from the UK to southern Spain. However, an average heating of the entire globe by 4C would render the planet unrecognisable from anything humans have ever experienced. The last time the world was this hot was 15m years ago during the miocene, when intense volcanic eruptions in western North America emitted vast quantities of CO2. Sea levels rose some 40 metres higher than today and lush forests grew in Antarctica and the Arctic. However, that global heating took place over many thousands of years. Even at its most rapid, the rise in CO2 emissions occurred at a rate 1,000 times slower than ours has since the start of the Industrial Revolution. That gave animals and plants time to adapt to new conditions and, crucially, ecosystems had not been degraded by humans.

Things look considerably bleaker for our 2100 world. Over the past decade, scientists have been able to produce a far more nuanced picture of how temperature rise affects the complexities of cloud cover and atmospheric and oceanic circulation patterns and ecology. We’re looking at vast dead zones in the oceans as nutrients from fertiliser runoff combine with warmer waters to produce an explosion in algae that starve marine life of oxygen. This will be exacerbated by the acidity from dissolved CO2, which will cause a mass die-off, particularly of shellfish, plankton and coral. “We will have lost all the reefs decades before 2100 – at somewhere between 2C and 4C,” says Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany.Advertisement

Sea levels will be perhaps two metres higher and, more worryingly, we will be well on our way to an ice-free world, having passed the tipping points for the Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheets, committing us to at least 10 metres of sea-level rise in coming centuries. That’s because as ice sheets melt, their surface drops to a lower altitude where it is warmer, speeding up melting in a runaway feedback loop. Eventually, dark, heat-absorbing land is exposed, speeding the melting process even more. By 2100, we will also have lost most low-latitude glaciers, including two-thirds of the so called third pole of the Hindu Kush-Karakoram-Himalayan mountains and Tibetan plateau that feeds many of Asia’s important rivers.

However, most rivers, especially in Asia, will flood more often, according to research by Richard Betts, head of climate impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, because the hotter atmosphere will produce more intense monsoons, violent storms and extreme rainfall. His studies predict a wide equatorial belt of high humidity that will cause intolerable heat stress across most of tropical Asia, Africa, Australia and the Americas, rendering them uninhabitable for much of the year. Tropical forests of heat-tolerant species may well thrive in this wet zone with the high CO2 concentrations, especially with the disappearance of human infrastructure and agriculture, although the conditions will probably favour lianas (vines) over slower-growing trees, Betts says. To the south and north of this humid zone, bands of expansive desert will also rule out agriculture and human habitation. Some models predict that desert conditions will stretch from the Sahara right up through south and central Europe, drying rivers including the Danube and the Rhine.

Our best hope lies in cooperating as never before: decoupling the political map from geography

In South America, the picture is more complicated: increased precipitation could enhance the Amazon rainforest, leading to mightier river flow. Other models predict a weakening of the easterlies over the Atlantic, drying the Amazon, increasing fires and turning it from forest to grassland. The tipping point for the Amazon could well be triggered by deforestation; while the intact forest could cope with some drought because it generates and maintains its own moist ecosystem, areas that have been opened up through degradation allow moisture to escape. “A combination of climate change and deforestation could push it into a savannah state,” Rockström says.Advertisement

All of nature will be affected by the change in climate, ecosystems and hydrology and there will be plenty of extinctions as species struggle to migrate and adapt to an utterly changed world. Daniel Rothman, co-director of MIT’s Lorenz Center, calculates that 2100 will herald the beginning of Earth’s sixth mass extinction event. But what about us? This is undoubtedly a more hostile, dangerous world for humanity, which by 2100 will number around 11 billion, all of whom will need food, water, power and somewhere to live. It will be, in a giant understatement, problematic.

The good news is that humans won’t become extinct – the species can survive with just a few hundred individuals; the bad news is, we risk great loss of life and perhaps the end of our civilisations. Many of the places where people live and grow food will no longer be suitable for either. Higher sea levels will make today’s low-lying islands and many coastal regions, where nearly half the global population live, uninhabitable, generating an estimated 2 billion refugees by 2100. Bangladesh alone will lose one-third of its land area, including its main breadbasket.

From 2030, more than half the population will live in the tropics, an area that makes up a third of the planet and already struggles with climate impacts. Yet by 2100, most of the low and mid latitudes will be uninhabitable because of heat stress or drought; despite stronger precipitation, the hotter soils will lead to faster evaporation and most populations will struggle for fresh water. We will have to live on a smaller land surface with a larger population.

Indeed, the consequences of a 4C warmer world are so terrifying that most scientists would rather not contemplate them, let alone work out a survival strategy.

Rockström doesn’t like our chances. “It’s difficult to see how we could accommodate a billion people or even half of that,” he says. “There will be a rich minority of people who survive with modern lifestyles, no doubt, but it will be a turbulent, conflict-ridden world.”

He points out that we already use nearly half the world’s ice-free surface to produce food for 7 billion people and thinks meeting the needs of 11 billion in such hostile conditions would be impossible. “The reason is primarily making enough food, but also we would have lost the biodiversity we’re dependent on and be facing a cocktail of negative shocks all the time, from fires to droughts.”

Others are more sanguine. “I don’t think that humans as a species or even industrial civilisation is seriously threatened,” says Ken Caldeira, climatologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in California. “People live in Houston, Miami and Atlanta because they live in air conditioning through the hot summers. If people are rich enough to air-condition their lives, they can watch whatever is the successor to Game of Thrones on TV, as the natural world decays around them,” he says. But he points out that while richer people risk a loss to their quality of life, the poorer risk their actual lives.

So how might we give all of humanity the best chance?

Our best hope lies in cooperating as never before to radically reorganise our world: decoupling the political map from geography. However unrealistic it sounds, we’d need to look at the world afresh and see it in terms of where the resources are and then plan the population, food and energy production around that. It would mean abandoning huge tracts of the globe and moving Earth’s human population to the high latitudes: Canada, Siberia, Scandinavia, parts of Greenland, Patagonia, Tasmania, New Zealand and perhaps newly ice-free parts of the western Antarctic coast. If we allow 20 sq m of space per person – more than double the minimum habitable space allowed per person under English planning regulations – 11 billion people would need 220,000 sq km of land to live on. The area of Canada alone is 9.9m sq km and, combined with all the other high-latitude areas, such as Alaska, Britain, Russia and Scandinavia, there should be plenty of room for everyone.

Food production will need to be more intensive. This will be a mostly vegetarian world, devoid of fish and livestock

These precious lands, with tolerable temperatures and access to water, would also be valuable food-growing areas, as well as the last oases for many species, so people would need to be housed in compact, efficient high-rise cities with reflective roofs and resource-recycling systems. That risks raising local temperatures to intolerable levels, because compact cities function as heat islands, so solar-powered cooling or even artificial winds would be needed to counteract this. There is also an increased risk of epidemics in such densely populated spaces.

Peter Cox, a climatologist at the University of Exeter, thinks this is viable, but would require a massive programme of infrastructure to manage waste, air quality and water needs. City-scale underground reservoirs could supply domestic needs and efficient recycling would keep water – and other resources – circulating in the population for years rather than hours. Post-fossil fuels, we will require unprecedented electricity production. This could come from vast arrays of solar- and wind-power plants in a belt across the uninhabitable desert regions. High-voltage direct current transmission lines could relay this power to the cities or it could be stored as thermal energy in molten salts and transported in hydrogen – after solar energy is used to split water to provide hydrogen for fuel cells.Advertisement

Hydrogen production will be on an industrial scale and it could be used for nonelectric transport, for instance. Wave farms, nuclear fission (and potentially fusion) and solar power will help meet our electricity needs. In the meantime, the effective capture from the air of today’s carbon emissions will with luck be a reality; they can be stored or used in the manufacture of materials.

Food production will need to be more intensive, efficient and industrial. This will be a mostly vegetarian world, largely devoid of fish and without the grazing area or resources for livestock. Poultry may be viable on the edges of farmland and synthetic meats and other foods will meet some of the demand. Heat-tolerant, drought-resistant crop varieties, such as cassava and millet, will replace many of our current unmodified staples such as rice and wheat and they will grow faster and with greater water efficiency because of the high COlevels.

One problem is that almost all of our agriculture will need to be at higher latitudes, because the tropics will be too dry or too hot for farmworkers. And that means less land and less sunlight in winter. “Global agriculture could be limited by the geometry of Earth’s orbit around the sun,” Cox says. “However, studies have shown that crops thrive with artificial light delivered by LEDs at exactly the right frequencies for photosynthesis. This means we could grow crops through the winter months, hydroponically in smaller spaces, stacked up in warehouses or even underground, leaving valuable land surfaces for other uses.”

Cultivation of algal mats and crops grown on floating platforms and in marshland could also contribute, while crops could potentially be grown in uninhabitable regions, farmed and processed remotely by artificial farmers. Either way, we would need to use far more precise nutrient and irrigation systems to avoid polluting more fertile ecosystems and reduce food loss and waste.

He points out that we already use nearly half the world’s ice-free surface to produce food for 7 billion people and thinks meeting the needs of 11 billion in such hostile conditions would be impossible. “The reason is primarily making enough food, but also we would have lost the biodiversity we’re dependent on and be facing a cocktail of negative shocks all the time, from fires to droughts.”

Others are more sanguine. “I don’t think that humans as a species or even industrial civilisation is seriously threatened,” says Ken Caldeira, climatologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in California. “People live in Houston, Miami and Atlanta because they live in air conditioning through the hot summers. If people are rich enough to air-condition their lives, they can watch whatever is the successor to Game of Thrones on TV, as the natural world decays around them,” he says. But he points out that while richer people risk a loss to their quality of life, the poorer risk their actual lives.

So how might we give all of humanity the best chance?

Our best hope lies in cooperating as never before to radically reorganise our world: decoupling the political map from geography. However unrealistic it sounds, we’d need to look at the world afresh and see it in terms of where the resources are and then plan the population, food and energy production around that. It would mean abandoning huge tracts of the globe and moving Earth’s human population to the high latitudes: Canada, Siberia, Scandinavia, parts of Greenland, Patagonia, Tasmania, New Zealand and perhaps newly ice-free parts of the western Antarctic coast. If we allow 20 sq m of space per person – more than double the minimum habitable space allowed per person under English planning regulations – 11 billion people would need 220,000 sq km of land to live on. The area of Canada alone is 9.9m sq km and, combined with all the other high-latitude areas, such as Alaska, Britain, Russia and Scandinavia, there should be plenty of room for everyone.

Food production will need to be more intensive. This will be a mostly vegetarian world, devoid of fish and livestock

These precious lands, with tolerable temperatures and access to water, would also be valuable food-growing areas, as well as the last oases for many species, so people would need to be housed in compact, efficient high-rise cities with reflective roofs and resource-recycling systems. That risks raising local temperatures to intolerable levels, because compact cities function as heat islands, so solar-powered cooling or even artificial winds would be needed to counteract this. There is also an increased risk of epidemics in such densely populated spaces.

Peter Cox, a climatologist at the University of Exeter, thinks this is viable, but would require a massive programme of infrastructure to manage waste, air quality and water needs. City-scale underground reservoirs could supply domestic needs and efficient recycling would keep water – and other resources – circulating in the population for years rather than hours. Post-fossil fuels, we will require unprecedented electricity production. This could come from vast arrays of solar- and wind-power plants in a belt across the uninhabitable desert regions. High-voltage direct current transmission lines could relay this power to the cities or it could be stored as thermal energy in molten salts and transported in hydrogen – after solar energy is used to split water to provide hydrogen for fuel cells.Advertisement

Hydrogen production will be on an industrial scale and it could be used for nonelectric transport, for instance. Wave farms, nuclear fission (and potentially fusion) and solar power will help meet our electricity needs. In the meantime, the effective capture from the air of today’s carbon emissions will with luck be a reality; they can be stored or used in the manufacture of materials.

Food production will need to be more intensive, efficient and industrial. This will be a mostly vegetarian world, largely devoid of fish and without the grazing area or resources for livestock. Poultry may be viable on the edges of farmland and synthetic meats and other foods will meet some of the demand. Heat-tolerant, drought-resistant crop varieties, such as cassava and millet, will replace many of our current unmodified staples such as rice and wheat and they will grow faster and with greater water efficiency because of the high COlevels.

One problem is that almost all of our agriculture will need to be at higher latitudes, because the tropics will be too dry or too hot for farmworkers. And that means less land and less sunlight in winter. “Global agriculture could be limited by the geometry of Earth’s orbit around the sun,” Cox says. “However, studies have shown that crops thrive with artificial light delivered by LEDs at exactly the right frequencies for photosynthesis. This means we could grow crops through the winter months, hydroponically in smaller spaces, stacked up in warehouses or even underground, leaving valuable land surfaces for other uses.”

Cultivation of algal mats and crops grown on floating platforms and in marshland could also contribute, while crops could potentially be grown in uninhabitable regions, farmed and processed remotely by artificial farmers. Either way, we would need to use far more precise nutrient and irrigation systems to avoid polluting more fertile ecosystems and reduce food loss and waste.

Health

Rotavirus vaccine to be introduced in Mizoram by July

The vaccination for rotavirus is set to be introduced in the state of Mizoram by July 2019.

Rotavirus, which according to the WHO, is the most common cause of severe diarrhoeal disease in young children throughout the world.

An introductory workshop was held at the Directorate of Health Services, Conference Hall on Monday.

Dr Tushar Rane, chief of Field Office and representative of UNICEF Northeast gave an introduction of the rotavirus vaccine and spoke on how this vaccine has been introduced in other states of India.

The mission director, NHM,Dr Eric Zomawia gave a keynote address where he spoke on the various endeavours and future plans of the Health department while the State Immunization Officer Dr Lalzawmi gave a power-point presentation on the ‘Overview of Universal Immunization programme’.

The rotavirus vaccine is expected to be introduced in the State by June or July 2019 after the completion of state and district level training.

The vaccine will be given in three doses to six week, 10 week and 14 week old infants.

The administration of the vaccine can only be carried out by trained medical experts.

While two states in the Northeast, Assam and Tripura have administered the vaccine, instruction has been received from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of India to administer the vaccine in the rest of the north-eastern states.

Rotavirus vaccine will be included in the Routine Immunisation vaccines under the health department of Mizoram.

The virus which is the most common cause of severe diarrhoea is believed to claim the lives of more than 200,000 children each year. More than 80 per cent of children get infected by 5 years of age.

Rotavirus Vaccine

A new milestone towards expanding full immunisation coverage

Diarrhoea caused by Rotavirus is one of the leading causes of severe diarrhoea and death among children less than five years of age. In India, between 80,000 to one lakh children die due to Rotavirus diarrhoea annually while nearly 9 lakh children are admitted to hospital with severe diarrhoea. Another 32.7 lakh children visit the hospital as out patients due to the disease.

The vaccine was being introduced initially in four States — Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Odisha — and would be expanded to the entire country in a phased manner, Mr. Nadda said. “Adding this life-saving vaccine to our immunisation programme will not only improve the health of our children but also reduce hospitalisation and other conditions associated with diarrhoea due to Rotavirus such as malnutrition, delayed physical and mental development among children. Reduced hospitalisation lower the economic burden on the family and the health cost burden on the country,” the Minister added. The Rotavirus vaccine was developed indigenously, under a public-private partnership between the Ministry of Science Technology and the Health Ministry.

The Rotavac is in addition to three new vaccines that have been introduced in India’s Universal Immunisation Programme (UIP) including Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV), Measles, Rubella (MR) vaccine, and Adult Japanese Encephalitis (JE) vaccine.

With these new vaccines, India’s UIP will provide free vaccines against 12 life threatening diseases, to 27 million children annually, the largest birth cohort in the world.

Economy, International

FPC Briefing: The Authoritarian-Populist Wave, Assertive China and a Post-Brexit World Order

by Dr Chris Ogden

Over the last decade, the rise of authoritarian tendencies represents an increasing illiberal wave in international politics. Such a wave is not limited to smaller countries but increasingly typifies the political leadership and underlying nature of the international system’s foremost powers, in the guise of the United States (US), Russia, China and India, who are normalizing authoritarian-populism as a dominant global political phenomenon. In this regard, we must recognise that authoritarianism and democracy are not opposing political systems but are fundamentally inter-related on one continuum, whose characteristics co-exist and significantly influence each other.  China is at the vanguard of this phenomenon and provides a clear counterpoint to western liberal democracy. With western democracies heavily reliant upon China’s continued economic growth and facing significant political upheavals and crises, in particular, Brexit, the essence of the liberal world order may soon be on the verge of capitulation to China’s preferred authoritarian basis.

Authoritarian and populist tendencies are escalating in the international system, transforming the nature of domestic and global politics. Permeating the domestic proclivities of countries ranging from Hungary, Poland and Turkey, to Mexico, Brazil and the Philippines, ‘nearly six in ten countries … seriously restrict (their) people’s fundamental freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression’.  Authoritarian-populism is now also a shared phenomenon among the world’s most influential countries, and the rise of authoritarian tendencies among the great powers characterises an increasing illiberal theme in international politics over the last decade[2].

‘Anti-elitist’, assertive and nationalist-minded leaders all currently lead the world’s great powers – the United States (US), Russia, China and India – with each proactively proclaiming a common nationalistic goal of restoring their countries’ past glories and status. Via their economic, military and diplomatic strength, as well as substantial, growing and evermore vocal populations, it is these four major powers – more than any other countries – that will determine and delineate the foundations of world politics – and of the prevailing world order itself – in the decades to come.

As such, in the US, the populist President Trump openly questions civil liberties, attacks the media, and side-lines and undermines major bureaucratic and legal bodies. In China, President Xi’s repressive government has increased internet surveillance, imprisons human rights activists, and threatens and re-educates religious activists. In Russia, an autocratic President Putin silences liberal opposition groups, restricts free speech, and controls media outlets. And in India, Prime Minister Modi’s Hindu nationalist rule is typified by heightened state censorship, the frequent banning of non-governmental organisations, and increased violence towards minority groups.

A range of key factors critically binds these four leaders together; primarily their highly personalistic leadership styles, their desire for centralized political control, their appeal to mass public audiences, and their sustained intolerance of dissent. Of note too is that even before President Trump gained power, the US was downgraded to the status of a “flawed democracy” in the Economist’s Democracy Index 2016[3]. India holds a similar standing, whilst Russia and China are considered authoritarian. The Index bases its comparison across a range of factors, including the electoral process and pluralism, functioning of government, political participation, political culture and civil liberties, underscoring the commonalities between these countries.

Given the vital role that these great powers perform as the shapers and creators of global institutions – and therefore of accepted behaviours and practices in the international sphere – as they become more authoritarian in nature so too will the dominant world order. Moreover, how they understand, demonstrate and deploy authoritarian-populist traits via their autocratic leaders has the potential to threaten the stability of democratic societies throughout the world, including in Britain and the European Union. Critically, we need to see that authoritarianism and democracy are not opposing and exclusive political systems but that they are fundamentally inter-related on one continuum. In this way, there is no fixed, binary divide between democracies and authoritarian regimes but instead, they are essentially fluid, inter-connected and impermanent entities, whereby democracies can display particular authoritarian inclinations and vice versa.

Chinese-Style Authoritarianism

Through a one-party state dating from 1949, the Chinese Communist Party presently rule with an authoritarian political basis that seeks to inhibit political pluralism, sanction political participation, imprison opponents (including political, ethnic and religious groups, most notably China’s Uighur population), and use state apparatuses to strictly monitor, control and command their population. China’s specific political nature relates to core elements of its specific world vision, in particular a set of desires pertaining to centralized control, territorial restoration and restored recognition, along with the continued impact of Confucian beliefs concerning harmony, peace, hierarchy, respect and benevolence – principally across East Asia. These various factors are informed by particular leadership styles, especially the more assertive and nationalistic Xi Jinping, who in October 2017 pertinently stated that ‘no one political system should be regarded as the only choice and we should not just mechanically copy the political systems of other countries’[4].

China’s authoritarian-populism is deep-seated in nature and is the hallmark of the country’s bureaucratic, legal and security institutions. These elements produce a political basis that critically contrasts to core dynamics integral to the current world order orientated around Western liberalism, as based upon democratic practices, tolerance, the rule of law, and protecting individual (rather than collective) human rights. As China’s stature increases, via the country’s ongoing economic, military and diplomatic rise, its global pre-eminence will allow the country to influence the functioning of the international system and threaten the predominant parameters of the current world order. This will allow for the realisation of Xi’s ‘Chinese Dream’ that ‘is a dream about history, the present and the future’, and inter-connects China’s longstanding values with its ambitions. By enabling a new world order, China’s supremacy in 1) economic, 2) institutional and 3) normative terms will be paramount and echo the country’s specific domestic values, which are deeply historically engrained in the mind-sets of its leaders, thinkers and people.

Economics

With China now possessing the world’s largest economy[5], it is acquiring a system-determining capacity that allows it to cast its own vision of authority, order and control throughout the contemporary international structure. The country’s gradual embrace of liberal economics – often merged with specific Chinese values and characteristics based upon state control and a blurring between public and private ownership – has given it this ability. This has resulted in an economic system defined as being authoritarian-capitalism that diverges from the western liberal economic ideal. In addition, China’s ever-increasing demand for resources, markets and energy has made the world’s composite national and regional economies dependent upon it as a major import and export market, cheap labour provider and fruitful foreign investment destination[6].

Beijing’s wild success in rapidly transforming the economic fortunes of its population, pulling hundreds of millions out of poverty and conducting its international trade in a non-ideological manner, also acts as an inspirational developmental model for countries across Africa and Asia – particularly those with authoritarian regimes. By doing so, China deeply questions the legitimacy of western liberalism’s declaration that economic growth inevitably leads to democracy, and – by presenting a viable alternative to it – shows that such a world order can be usurped and replaced.  Beijing’s planned Social Credit System[7], which will come into force in 2020, inter-links educational achievements, financial behaviour and social media activity to produce a transparent and publicly available social score, will extend the Chinese state’s capability to control its people.  The technologies central to this control are being exported to other countries[8], and their underlying principles are evident in the west, such as for credit scoring or screening terrorists[9].

Institutions

By binding members together around particular values, practices and understandings, and providing their instigators with a managerial role to govern and regulate international affairs, multilateral regimes aid the creation and maintenance of world orders. Such institutions innately reflect the specific interests, concerns and values of their creators, and are vehicles to disseminate particular visions of the world onto the global stage, as displayed by the western-originated International Monetary Fund, World Bank and United Nations. For most of the latter half of the twentieth century, these institutions encapsulated the US-led vision of a western-orientated world order resting upon an image of international security via liberal free trade and democratic politics.

Underscoring this system-ordering potential, and also its differentiation from existing groupings, China’s beliefs concerning multi-polarity, global governance, human rights, peaceful development and non-intervention are engendering a new form of world order. China’s creation of different regimes, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB, a multilateral development bank founded in 2015), and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO, a Eurasian security organization initially initiated in 1996), encapsulates how its differing attitudes are inculcating a Chinese-led world order. Such an order inherently challenges rival western institutions, and – by extension – the very liberal values upon which they have been crafted, imagined and legitimized.

Normative

Drawing upon how leading great powers not only create world order but also provide leadership, as well as territorial, financial and existential security, a Chinese world order would necessarily change the very conduct and nature of global affairs. China’s domestic identity, history and behaviour pertaining to the acceptance of an autocratic and benevolent form of single- party rule all critically inform this discussion. So too do the wider realization and enactment of the notion of tian xia (“all under heaven”) that seeks to create a China-centred world order that is built upon tenets of hierarchy, paternalism and harmony in its various diplomatic relations across the world.

China’s underlying indigenous authoritarian values, practices and ideas have already altered the structure and workings of the international system, and as China becomes increasingly influential and powerful, they will lead to further significant transformations. Moreover, because authoritarian-populism is increasingly present in the politics of the great powers – as well as in many medium and lower tier countries – it acts as an enabling and legitimizing mechanism for China’s worldview. Such a convergence, accompanied by the weakening of western liberalism, the challenge that China poses to it, and the US’s continued retreat away from leading global affairs, illustrates how China’s authoritarian world order is becoming both feasible and achievable.

Thinking Ahead

The international system is currently experiencing a period of transition as economic, institutional and military power is being amassed by China, which is depleting the relative influence and stature of western countries and their associated values and worldviews. Moreover, Beijing is now able to articulate an alternative vision of world order premised upon different economic, institutional and normative conditions that are becoming increasingly legitimate in the eyes of many world leaders. Growing authoritarian and populist traits across the world – and its dominant great powers – accelerate this trend, as do pressure from domestic populations negatively affected by globalization, increased migration and growing economic disparities.

To effectively counteract the risk posed to their country by the authoritarian-populist wave, leaders in the UK – particularly in the context of Brexit – must remain aware that political systems are inter-connected and evolutionary in nature, and that such systems are all highly susceptible to:

  • Shock: Periods of tumult – in the form of a profound economic shock, recession or depression – will only serve to further accentuate and speed up a country’s assimilation to the authoritarian-populist wave. In such an atmosphere, nationalist tendencies will rise as domestic pressures and international uncertainties increase, especially in countries experiencing a deep identity crisis, such as the UK post-Brexit;
  • Slippage: In order to prevent them from being replaced by other worldviews, national values – and thus values underpinning particular world orders – require regular maintenance. Populations need to be actively (and regularly) informed concerning their rights, and how such rights were originally won, in order to better sustain the liberal world order. Without such a basis, citizens will be evermore vulnerable to alternative narratives; &
  • Isolation: countries separated from dominant economic and political groupings are more exposed to the core factors personifying the authoritarian-populist wave. This means not only nationalist forces – and more extreme political beliefs – but also alternative sources of financial and trade security, which China (and also the US) may be willing to provide but only subject to a tacit acceptance of its preferred worldview.

[1] Quoted in People Power Under Attack 2018 (Monitor Civicus), https://monitor.civicus.org/PeoplePowerUnderAttack2018/

[2] Economist, Democracy Index 2016: Revenge of the “Deplorables” (London: Economist Intelligence Unit), http://www.transparency.org.nz/docs/2017/Democracy_Index_2016.pdf; Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2017 – Populists and Autocrats: The Dual Threat to Global Democracy(Washington DC: Freedom House), https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/freedom-world-2017; Polity IV, Polity IV Project: Political Regime Characteristics and Transitions 1800-2013(Vienna, VA: Center for Systemic Peace), 2014, http://www.systemicpeace.org/polity/polity4x.htm

[3] Economist, Democracy Index 2016: Revenge of the “Deplorables” (London: Economist Intelligence Unit).  Accessible at http://www.transparency.org.nz/docs/2017/Democracy_Index_2016.pdf

[4] Quoted in Tom Phillips ‘Xi Jinping Heralds “New Era” Of Chinese Power at Communist Party Congress’, The Guardian, October 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/oct/18/xi-jinping-speech-new-era-chinese-power-party-congress

[5] See ‘Country Comparisons – GDP (Purchasing Price Parity)’, CIA World Factbook, 2017,https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/208rank.html#CH

[6] See ‘Foreign Direct Investment’, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), 2018,  http://unctadstat.unctad.org/wds/ReportFolders/reportFolders.aspx

[7] Celia, Hatton, ‘China “Social Credit”: Beijing Sets Up a Huge System’, BBC News, October 2015. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-34592186

[8] Rui Hou,  ‘The Booming Industry of Chinese State Internet Control’, openDemocracy, November 2018, https://www.opendemocracy.net/rui-hou/booming-industry-of-chinese-state-internet-control

[9] Jimmy Tidey, ‘What China Can Teach the West About Digital Democracy’, openDemocracy, October 2017,  https://www.opendemocracy.net/digitaliberties/jimmy-tidey/what-china-can-teach-west-about-digital-democracy

Health

What is Kush cannabis and why is it so popular?

by ALEX TRPKOVICH, GREENCAMP.COM

You may have heard Kush being mentioned in many popular hip-hop songs. Time for an education on everything there is to know about the strain.

Hindu Kush—historically grown only in the mountain range of the same name, which mostly runs along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan—is one of the most potent landrace strainsavailable. The Himalayan slopes gave birth to the strain, which over time, brought about many other strains that inherited part of its name—Kush.

What does the slang Kush mean?

In the last decade or so, the word “Kush” has become synonymous with premium cannabis strains; high-quality street cannabis is often called Kush among users. Kush became the go-to term for high-quality cannabis in the U.S., quickly replacing its contemporaries.

What is Kush?

Kush is primarily a cannabis indica strain, which has risen in popularity in the last decade, and played a pivotal role in creating dozens of modern-day hybrid strains. One will rarely see a Kush strain that is a purebred sativa, although this can occur with proper growing conditions, combined with relentless cross-breeding.

Macro view of the Black Lotus Kush bud. ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS

When Kush is grown under specific conditions, its unique phenotypes come out in a different light. Kush plants are known to evolve and acclimate in order to survive. Nowadays, Kush is grown all around the world, but its tough Himalayan genetics endured and continue to follow the strain, giving it both durability and potency.

It is most likely true that Kush is a lost strain and that its precise genetics are unknown. That said, the next best thing is available, namely OG Kush, also known as Ocean Grown Kush.

The rise of OG Kush

OG Kush first appeared in California during the 1990s, right around the time Dr. Dre dropped his The Chronic album, which took the cannabis community by storm.

There are two stories that explain the strain’s mysterious genetics. The first is that a breeder claimed to have gotten the seed from a bag of Chemdawg 91 strain, in the Lake Tahoe area in 1996; the second goes that it was brought to California from Florida, by a grower who now operates a company known as Imperial Genetics. He reports the parents of this strain were a male cross of Lemon Thai and Old World Paki Kush, and a female Chemdawg plant.

Unfortunately, OG Kush is a clone-only strain and, at that time, one couldn’t simply plant a seed of this strain. Rather, a cutting from an existing plant is needed.

There is a lot of confusion about the origin of the name, and what OG exactly stands for. Given that it was bred in California, many users thought it meant Original Gangster, or just Original Kush. However, the truth is the grower who first bred OG Kush in California was asked by a consumer if it was mountain-grown, complimenting the quality of his buds. The grower responded with a simple, “This Kush is ocean-grown, bro.” The rest is history.

Quickly after that, cuttings of various OG Kush plants began making the rounds around Los Angeles and the rest of California. Those cuttings made way for new, closely-related strains.

Hindu Kush—historically grown only in the mountain range of the same name, which mostly runs along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan—is one of the most potent landrace strains available. ISTOCK / GETTY IMAGES PLUS

The strains that came from these plants all gained popularity, and developed into Cannabis Cupwinners themselves, including Bubba Kush, West Coast Dog, Larry OG, Tahoe OG Kush, Triple OG, Ghost OG, Diablo OG and so forth.

What does the Kush high feel like?

Kush strains are known to have the utmost relaxing effect, all while making the user giggly and joyous. These traits aren’t common among the different cannabis strains that came from Kush.

Kush strains with strong ties to their indica roots are very hard to come by these days, as the cannabis community moved towards growing highly resistant hybrids. However, those who still grow Kush with a higher indica presence are known to produce flowers with potent cerebral effects that “tranquilize” the user, and these buds are frequently recommended as a way to battle insomnia.

Popular Kush strains

There are 100-plus strains containing the word Kush in their names, and many more that came about by cross-breeding Kush strains with other strains. As previously mentioned, landrace Hindu Kush is known for its resilience and the ability to grow just about anywhere, a useful trait that made Hindu Kush one of the most sought-after strains by growers and breeders.

As it now stands, there are overwhelmingly more hybrid and indica Kush strains than sativa Kush strains. Additionally, most of the Kush strains aren’t pure indicas and sativas, but rather hybrids whose one trait is more dominant than the other.

With that in mind, here are picks of some of the best Kush strains by three separate categories. The most popular indica-dominant Kush strains include Kosher Kush, Bubba Kush, Critical Kush, Afghan Kush, Platinum Kush, Hindu Kush, Super Kush, Sin City Kush, Alien Kush, Purple Kush, Purple OG Kush and Master Kush; the most popular hybrid Kush strains include OG Kush, Pink Kush, Lemon OG Kush, Cali Kush, Royal Kush, Mango Kush, Pineapple Kush, Holy Grail Kush and Big Kush; and the most popular sativa-dominant Kush strains include Mickey Kush, Silver Kush, Quantum Kush and Heisenberg Kush.

What is the best Kush strain?

OG Kush is widely viewed as the best Kush strain because of its legacy. That said, it’s somewhat difficult to classify one strain as the absolute best, mostly because each crop varies in quality and cannabinoid and terpene levels. There are also many variations of a more or less same strain.

Given that OG Kush was originally a clone-only strain, growers named clones of different potency different names. This has produced confusion since, at one point, a person might have smoked the exact same weed from two different growers marketed under two different names.

If the best strain is characterized as “the one with the highest level of THC,” then the Oscar goes to Ghost OG. This strain is, without a doubt, the strongest Kush variety, at least so indicates Washington State I-502 data.

In that testing sample, Ghost OG, which is a cutting from the original OG Kush mother stock, consistently came in at a colossal 28.7 percent THC content. On the same test, OG Kush results came in significantly lower, averaging around 19.4 percent THC content.

In a study conducted by scientists Nick Jikomes and Michael Zoorob, they found OG Kush isn’t topping its competitors, at least as far as THC levels go. In their study, Gorilla Glue #4—now usually known as Original Glue—came in first place with an average of 21 percent THC. The researchers concluded that there’s still a lot of test result manipulation going on and that retailers often display cannabinoid levels much higher than they actually are.

With that in mind, THC levels should not determine which Kush strain is “best”, because the delicate balance of minor cannabinoids and terpenes also plays an important role in the effects of each particular strain. There is much more to a strain than just numbers on a piece of paper.

Greencamp.com is an educational website dedicated to shedding the light on many unexplored sides of medical and recreational cannabis. Aside from informing people of safe cannabis use, Greencamp also provides technology for finding optimal cannabis treatment. You can download their app from Itunes or the Google Play store.

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International

China Begins Sharing Hydrological Data On Brahmputra With India; Expected To Share Sutlej Data From 1 June

With the onset of monsoons, China has begun sharing hydrological data with India on the flow of Brahmaputra river for this year and is also expected to start sharing data on the Sutlej river from 1 June, reports Economic Times.

Originating in China’s Tibet and flowing into India’s Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, the Brahmaputra then flows into the Bangladesh before ultimately draining into the Bay of Bengal. Meanwhile, Sutlej, a tributary of the Indus river, also originates in China’s Tibet and flows into India before entering Pakistan.

The data on the flow of these rivers holds significance for the Indian government as it is necessary for flood management in peak monsoon seasons when the rivers swell up in size because of the heavy rains.

It should be noted thought that China had stopped sharing the data on Brahmaputra river in 2017 following the Dokalam stand-off between the two South Asian giants. It had then claimed that the hydrological data gathering sites had washed away due to heavy flooding. It was later in 2018 with the strengthening relations that China resumed the sharing of data.

The data on Brahmaputra river is shared from 15 May while on Sutlej from 1 June and the sharing of data continues till 15 October every year. Last year, China provided the data even beyond the October deadline after the Brahmaputra had witnessed formation of a lake due to a landslide that had increased the water levels.Tags: