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All you need to know about the locust attack.

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After the outbreak of pandemic COVID-19, the nation was surviving by adapting the new ways of minimalistic living. Until a new pestilence hammered Indian economy and crops in the form of large Locust Swarms. These swarms were seen in states like Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and even in some parts of Delhi-NCR as well.
 In a shocking turn of events, the abrupt appearance of swarms shocked the nation. These swarms have returned after three decades with millions of locusts. We can witness them across western and northern India, destroying farms and raising alarm for the nation.

What is a Locust?
Locusts belong to the family of grasshoppers, normally living and breeding in semi-arid or complete desert regions. It is also known as ‘Schistocerca gregaria’. They migrate in vast swarms which cause huge damage to vegetation. The desert locust is supposed to be the most disastrous migratory pest in the world.They don’t victimize people or animals, but quickly eat up the seeds, leaves, fruits, flowers, and maturing notches of the plant. ‘A small swarm with 40 million locusts has an appetite which parallels to the appetite of 3500 people, 20 camels, and 6 elephants’ published by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Locust outbreak is not new in India, since the beginning of the 19th century, there have been at least eight “outbreaks” causing vast damage to the nation’s agrarian lineage.According to the history of the Locust Warning Office published by the FAO, a “five-year duration” from 1926 to 1931 is tallied to have destroyed crops worth minimum Rs. 2 crores (about 70 crores at today’s price).

Talking to the EarthView, Dr B.B Bhosle Entomologist and former Director of extension, Vasantrao Naik Marathwada Krishi Vidyapeeth, Parbhani said, ‘For laying eggs, Locust need the bare surface, which is hardly found in regions with luxuriant vegetation. So, they can breed in African countries or the Thar desert of India but not in the Indo-Gangetic plains or river deltas.”He further said, “However, green vegetation is mandatory for up-bringing of the hopper. Hopper is the second stage of the nymph from the eggs. Such greenery isn’t widespread in the deserts to sustain the growth of large communities of locusts. So, they migrate from one territory to another and transform in the Adult moth shaping Swarms. “
Bhosale also mentioned that as individuals locusts are not dangerous. But when they accumulate into large populations they transform from ‘solitary phase’ into ‘gregarious phase’, and begin creating swarms.

The worst locust infestation in India has been seen since decades, according to the Locust Warning Organisation (LWO) of India, ‘usually, they appear to strike out Pakistan and enter in the country between July and October lingering in Rajasthan’. 
So, what made Locust so bewildering this time? Swarms of desert locusts already attacked parts of Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh. Delhi, the capital was also alarmed by the wind forecast after the change in wind moments.’The proliferation of attacks is linked with weather dynamics of the Indian Ocean and climate change’, said Dr Bhosle. Further, he also added that heavy rain is a catalyst of vegetation in arid regions which is suitable for the growth of desert Locust. Rising temperature because of global warming made the Indian Ocean particularly warm, which resulted in heavy pre-monsoon rains in north India and the Arabian Peninsula. Suddenly eggs came to life, and it is very much reasonable that wet soil because of extreme conditions favoured the growth of locust swarms more potentially’.After July, westward movements of the swarms because of changing winds as a result of southwest monsoon will be another challenge for states like Rajasthan. The main threat is when they start breeding. As a sole gregarious female locust can lay 60-80 eggs three times during the life cycle of 90 days.”India is a green country, cultivating primarily Kharif crops,” said Dr B.B Bhosle. So, if Locust breeding will be continuous we will face a similar situation like Kenya while cultivating Kharif crop.
Until now 3 million hectares of land were destroyed by Desert Locust. Several Indian media portals reported that around 123,500 acres of cultivated land had already been destroyed in different parts of India.Also, the lockdown affected farmers in tending their crops, because it left them without workers. Such, twin-menace crisis affects the food security of India.
However, we have various advantages in fighting locusts because of deeper knowledge and technology.Since Farmers are aware of the arrival of swarms they have switched to crops that can be cultivated much before swarming season, and the locusts also can be curbed and killed with pesticides.
‘Monitoring for locust breeding is essential, as it is much easier to demolish eggs then fully grown moth Locusts,’ said Dr B.B Bholse, as a primary means to stop their attack. Presently, the methods of controlling desert locust swarms consist of using Chemicals, Pesticides, Beat steel utensils creating noise during late afternoons and evenings, and play noisy music at night to avert locust swarm,” he added.Dr Bhosale also mentioned that accurate wind forecasting can also help in understanding the probable new landing site. He said ‘The direction of Locusts depends on wind direction, speed, and other weather conditions. If accurate wind forecasting is done, it will be helpful to understand probable new Locusts landing sites, where spraying operations for pesticide can be performed earlier, measures and instruction could be prepared in advance’.
However, chemicals and pesticides can be used but are harmful to the environment and humans as they have neurotoxic effects.

Therefore, broad-scale spraying of the dangerous chemical should be avoided. The practice of using must be strategic and with ultimate caution. Since it could harm non-target insects and birds such as ground beetles and Termites.Measures such as Neem, garlic, and chillies can be used to minimize the environmental and human health costs.  The government is laying out a careful road map to deal with both the health and the economic consequences formed because of the crisis, however, the people need to understand the devastating effects of climate change. Despite the planning, it is high time to perform.

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Our Social Dilemma

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When I ask a question to people about why they use social media? The common answer people give is that they have access to interact with their friends and other people. Technology bought remarkable changes in human life, they increased communication between people, they found organ donors, and they spread news faster and many more. This technology bought meaningful and positive changes to human life. Nevertheless, we are unaware of the flip side of the coin.

Many people think that Facebook is just a place to see their friend or YouTube is just a source to see videos around the world. What we don’t realise is they are competing for our attention. How it is possible? Let us dig down deeper into it.

Large tech companies like Facebook, Google, Tiktok, Instagram, Pinterest have a business model to engage people onto their screens, to get people’s attention as much as possible and making money simultaneously within that span of time. All that we think is free on the internet is not in reality, they are paid by advertisers. The advertisers pay these companies in exchange to show their advertisement. 

If internet wasn’t a free source, the engagement rate towards it would drop down drastically. As we, don’t pay for the product we have become the product. Where the tech companies are the sellers, advertisers are the customers and the product being sold is our attention.

Every business thinks that if they place an advertisement they will reach their goal of success early. In order to reach the success in that particular business they need to have great prediction and lot of data.

The tech companies whose business model is to make sure the advertisers are successful in that business track your data, all the clicks you have made, all the likes, screen time, almost everything is tracked and monitored. They know everything thing about us whether we are lonely or happy. They even know our personality type.

There are lot of techies in Silicon Valley learnt to use all the knowledge about human psychology that persuades people and build that into technology. This is persuasive technology, A design technique that can modify someone’s behaviour. Instagram has infinite scrolling feature that persuades people to keep on scrolling until they find something interesting.

Another feature very commonly used is refreshing. You pull your screen down and there will new feed on the top. So the infinite scrolling and refresh feature gives you a reward at a regular basis, when you scroll down there is something new on the screen that looks interesting for you which release dopamine into your body, to get back the dopamine hit you have to keep on scrolling. Now this action of pulling down the screen and scrolling becomes an unconscious habit. This in psychology is positive intermittent reinforcement.

We have surrounded our lives with perceived sense of perfection, we get short-term rewards of dopamine hit through likes, thumbs up, comment etc,. We get a fake popularity that we consider as real. These short-term rewards force us to fall into the loop to do something new to get that reward again. Technology is not only controlling our attention but technologies like social media have changed psychology of kid’s as well as teenagers; they have lost their self-worth through this fake reality. Today’s young generation is more anxious and more depressed.

Processing power has advanced quadrillion times since 1960s but our human brain has not evolved and fundamentally, it would never change. We all think the same that Artificial intelligence will be the destructor of humans in far future, what we need to understand is Artificial intelligence is running our world right now.

The big tech companies have tons and tons of computers stored in a massive room that runs all algorithms from simple task to complex task. However, Artificial intelligence isn’t the problem, it is just like a machine with a define task to do and it learns by performing different experiments to reach the task and gets slightly better every single day.

Famous basketball player Kyrie Irving believed that earth is flat, later when he apologized he blamed to YouTube’s rabbit hole. Basically Kyrie Irving fell into the trap of YouTube recommendation, YouTube’s A.I used recommendation feature to engage Kyrie onto his screen by displaying all the videos that were promoting the flat-earth conspiracy theory, its like the YouTube finds the nearest rabbit hole to dig down deeper and deeper.

Finally, Kyrie was convinced that the earth is flat because all the videos he was watching sound true to him. When he apologized for believing that earth is flat, few student were interviewed saying “the round-earth people got Kyrie”. The algorithm is getting smarter exponentially today people are convinced by the flat earth theory tomorrow there would be new conspiracy theory that people will believe into.

There is lot of fake news spreading faster than real news; It has increased polarization among people, nations are dividing themselves. Internet has become as market place, a market place where human futures are being sold, a market place where you are just a zombie who look at the screen for a long time. This is undermining democracy, if this goes on for years we won’t survive.

People often say that technology has ruined the world but this isn’t true. It is simultaneous utopia and dystopia, you can call anyone from any corner of the world, and on the flipside, your calls could be tracked to use it against you.

Social media was built to spread love amongst people but the business model of different business and their financial incentives have ruin the fabric of healthy society, and there is no financial reason for the tech companies to change their services. There is no law on the tech companies to regulate data and to use is ethically

We need to admit these bad outcomes of technology are because of our work. We can demand the tech companies to built this humanely and not like an attention extraction source. The very fabric of healthy society depends on getting off the corrosive business model.

if we have built something we have a moral responsibility to change it and make it ethically possible.

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Humans and Climate Change: Our Energy Produce

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A general definition of energy is Capacity to do work. About 99% of human history , man used muscle energy either  humans or animals to do work. Using muscle energy wasn’t an efficient way for us to perform tasks as it consumed large energy. To match our needs and to increase efficiency we started making and developing tools. The first energy development happened when humans learnt to use the force of nature. Wind mills and water power increased the food production and irrigation in farms respectively. As technology advanced Coal became the dominant commodity to generate energy. In 1698, an English engineer named Thomas Savery invented steam engine. It was the first machine that provided significantly large amount of power not derived from muscle, water or wind. Coal powered industrialisation gave a boost to scale the production of goods. It was the industrial revolution where we discovered a clean and efficient form of energy called electricity. Electricity allowed people to work in dark and power heavy machinery. Coal that was used to generate energy was then used as a raw material to generate electricity. Soon after we discovered Oil and gas which were relatively efficient and clean source of energy than Coal. Oil was revolutionary because it could power not only ships, electricity and trains but also internal combustion engines which made cars and aeroplanes possible. 

From an energy use perspective the world since 1900 is a new era in human history, electricity and oil has become the core of our energy use. We use electricity for everything from lighting bulbs to powering our gadgets and oil for transportation. Scientists estimate that if we continue our current energy usage, we will run out of oil and gas  in next 50 years and Coal in next 100 years. Since 1900 our energy demands have increased exponentially and the usage is abrupt. Energy is cheap yet its most important factor that needs attention. We are not really concerned about our energy usage. So will renewable energy be our way to go ? Before answering this question let us know all about renewable energy.

Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resources like sun, wind and various others. It is the cleanest energy and doesn’t emit carbon dioxide in the air. Solar panels and wind turbines are the best example of technology to harness renewable energy. Renewable energy is the only category of energy that grew globally at double digits over the past decade. For perspective, in 2009 the world consumed 8.2 exajoules of renewable energy. In 2019, that had nearly quadrupled to 29.0 exajoules. At some point renewable seems a fascinating alternative that could also create new jobs. But the truth is it is not our way to go and why ? let us understand.

The electricity from solar rooftops end up costing twice as electricity from solar farms. Both solar and wind farms acquire significant areas of land with solar panels and wind turbines and it requires large transmission lines to bring the electricity from the country’s side into the city in which about 7-8 % of electricity is drained. Many big bird species that are endangered like kites, eagles and condors die due to wind turbines, in fact the most significant threat to these birds are wind turbines. In terms of solar farms, we need to clear the land and the wildlife to install the solar panels that threaten the species living there. To give an example, to build Ivanpah solar farm in California people clear all the desert tortoise, literally pulling and filling into the truck to shift them to other places. Many of these tortoises died while loading in trucks. At current estimates over 6000 birds die every year by catching on fire above the solar farm. Now using the cleaner energy and dealing with the environmental impact comes at a high cost. The electricity from the solar and wind farm can cost significantly high. We might think that it’s ok to pay high to receive clean energy.

Germany, the leader of solar, wind and renewable energy generates 48% of its electricity from clean sources. But at the same time the cost of electricity increased by 50% since the revolution. On the other hand, France produces about 75% of its electricity from clean zero-emission sources and pays almost half as much as Germany pays for their electricity. France produces its electricity from nuclear energy, about 75% of France is powered by nuclear energy. 

Nuclear energy turns out to be more reliable, It can generate electricity for 90% of the year. A 40 year study by the Environmental Progress shows that it costs less to produce electricity from nuclear power plants than solar, wind and other renewable sources. After understanding all these positives about nuclear power, a general question arises in each mind, is nuclear power safe ? Another 40 year study by British medical journal lancet finds nuclear power to be the safest. A climate scientist named James Hansen found out that nuclear power saved 2 million lives up to date. It turns out wind energy is far more dangerous than nuclear, two maintenance people died on a wind turbine while working on it in Netherland. Talking about environmental hazards by nuclear power is less due to less produce of nuclear waste that can be stored and managed in containment rooms. We need to change our views on Nuclear Power, this may help us a lot to fight against climate change for real.To all the readers, I ask a question. We know that Renewable Energy cannot save the planet, so could we allow them to destroy our planet? And would you support Nuclear energy in future to generate electricity? Think over it because our Future is in our hands.

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PUBG Mobile India Re-entry

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South Korean game developer PUBG Corporation and publisher KRAFTON announced that they have fully merged into a single entity. The company will be renamed to PUBG Studio and solely focus on development as PUBG Corp’s publishing and support teams have previously been integrated into KRAFTON.

KRAFTON’s independent studio portfolio currently consists of four studios including PUBG Studio, Striking Distance Studios, Bluehole Studio, and RisingWings. The AAA development studio Striking Distance Studios is currently developing an original narrative experience in the gaming Universe, while the Studio “will continue to seek ways to develop and expand the IP in various fields, including its esports and entertainment business.”

For fans, the move should be a good thing. The Corporation becoming PUBG Studio under Krafton means that the team can work autonomously to create its own unique vision on games. The battle royale has been going strong, and continues to be a mainstay in the genre since it released in 2017. According to the press release, The Studio will continue to develop and support Mobile version moving forward. The team has constantly added new content to its games and now we can some new innovations around the games.

Though PUBG has yet not clarified any official launch date, several media reports have come up with various dates on the launch. The latest date was said to be somewhere in the last week of December.

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