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Scientists detect unexpected widespread structures near Earth’s core

The scientists found that the large patch of very dense, hot material at the core-mantle boundary beneath Hawaii produced uniquely loud echoes, indicating that it is even larger than previous estimates.

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Seismograms Dense Structure Earth

New York, June 12 : Analysing thousands of recordings of seismic waves, or sound waves travelling through the Earth, scientists have detected widespread, heterogenous structures — areas of unusually dense, hot rock — at the core-mantle boundary than previously known.

The new research, published in the journal Science, provides the first comprehensive view of the core-mantle boundary over a wide area with such detailed resolution.

The researchers focused on echoes of seismic waves travelling beneath the Pacific Ocean basin.

Their analysis revealed a previously unknown structure beneath the volcanic Marquesas Islands in the South Pacific and showed that the structure beneath the Hawaiian Islands is much larger than previously known.

“By looking at thousands of core-mantle boundary echoes at once, instead of focusing on a few at a time, as is usually done, we have gotten a totally new perspective,” said Doyeon Kim, a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Maryland Department of Geology and the lead author of the paper.

“This is showing us that the core-mantle boundary region has lots of structures that can produce these echoes, and that was something we didn”t realise before because we only had a narrow view.”

Earthquakes generate seismic waves below Earth”s surface that travel thousands of miles. When the waves encounter changes in rock density, temperature or composition, they change speed, bend or scatter, producing echoes that can be detected.

Echoes from nearby structures arrive more quickly, while those from larger structures are louder. By measuring the travel time and amplitude of these echoes as they arrive at seismometers in different locations, scientists can develop models of the physical properties of rock hidden below the surface. This process is similar to the way bats echo-locate to map their environment.

For this study, Kim and his colleagues looked for echoes generated by a specific type of wave, called a shear wave, as it travels along the core-mantle boundary.

In a recording from a single earthquake, known as a seismogram, echoes from diffracted shear waves can be hard to distinguish from random noise. But looking at many seismograms from many earthquakes at once can reveal similarities and patterns that identify the echoes hidden in the data.

Using a machine learning algorithm called Sequencer, the researchers analysed 7,000 seismograms from hundreds of earthquakes of 6.5 magnitude and greater occurring around the Pacific Ocean basin from 1990 to 2018.

Sequencer was developed by the new study”s co-authors from Johns Hopkins University and Tel Aviv University to find patterns in radiation from distant stars and galaxies. When applied to seismograms from earthquakes, the algorithm discovered a large number of shear wave echoes.

The study revealed a few surprises in the structure of the core-mantle boundary.

“We found echoes on about 40 per cent of all seismic wave paths,” said Vedran Lekic, an associate professor of geology at the University of Maryland and a co-author of the study.

“That was surprising because we were expecting them to be more rare, and what that means is the anomalous structures at the core-mantle boundary are much more widespread than previously thought.”

The scientists found that the large patch of very dense, hot material at the core-mantle boundary beneath Hawaii produced uniquely loud echoes, indicating that it is even larger than previous estimates.

This study also found a previously unknown ultralow-velocity zones beneath the Marquesas Islands.

Better understanding of the shape and extent of the structures at the core-mantle boundary can help reveal the geologic processes happening deep inside Earth. This knowledge may provide clues to the workings of plate tectonics and the evolution of our planet.

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India

Govt must stop dismantling India’s environmental regulations, says Rahul Gandhi

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi, Aug 13 : Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused the government of dismantling India’s environment rules and demanded that the draft EIA 2020 be withdrawn immediately.

The draft environment impact assessment (EIA) notification, 2020, which involves the procedure of issuing environmental clearances to various projects, was issued by the Environment Ministry in March this year and has received thousands of suggestions from the public.

Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar has said the EIA 2020 is only a draft and not a final notification and the ministry has received thousands of suggestions from the public which will be considered before a final draft.

In an article, Congress president Sonia Gandhi has said that the government has a social obligation to protect the environment and must withdraw the EIA.

“Simply put, the government must stop dismantling India’s environmental regulations. An essential first step is to withdraw the Draft EIA 2020 Notification. What is essential is widespread public consultation to shape a national agenda that will place India at the forefront of the battle against global warming and pandemics, she said in the article.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi also shared the article on Twitter saying, “Nature protects, if she is protected.”

“Government of India must stop dismantling India’s environmental regulations. Essential first step is to withdraw the Draft EIA 2020 notification,” he said.

Noting that the origins and spread of the global novel coronavirus pandemic and its catastrophic impact are a warning to the entire world, Sonia Gandhi said the protection of the environment must go hand in hand with promoting public health and access to dignified livelihoods for all.

She said India, with its rich biodiversity and widespread inequality, must especially pay heed now.

“Our nation has all too often sacrificed the environment and the rights of our people while chasing the chimera of unbridled economic growth,” she said.

“Of course, progress requires trade-offs, but there must always be boundaries that cannot be transgressed, she said, alleging that the government has eroded our environmental protection framework in the last six years.

The pandemic should have made the government reflect and reconsider its environmental and public health governance. Instead, the Ministry is handing out clearances during the lockdown without proper public consultations. The announcement of coal auctions by the Prime Minister in previously declared ‘no go’ areas, signals that the government is in no mood to course-correct,” she said.

“The disastrous Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), 2020 Notification, which among other provisions, gives a clean chit to polluters violating environmental regulations through ex-post facto approvals, will unleash unprecedented devastation on our environment, she maintained.

“We have an incredible opportunity to reset our economy and demonstrate leadership to the world with a growth strategy that transforms India into a green manufacturing hub, she said, adding that the erstwhile Planning Commission’s expert group report on low carbon growth strategy and the many suggestions in the 2019 Congress Manifesto can be a starting point.

The Congress chief also alleged that the government has sought to project an image of ‘Ease of Doing Business’ to the world, mindless of the consequences.

It formed multiple committees, diluted laws and regulations across the board, and opened up vast tracts of forest land to a select few in the private sector, she alleged.

She also suggested that in times of mass reverse migration, environment protection through public works programmes including afforestation and watershed development, can be turned into a grass-roots movement involving youth, women, communities, gram sabhas and non-governmental organisations.

Rahul Gandhi on Sunday urged people to protest the EIA 2020 draft, saying it was “dangerous” and if notified, the long term consequences will be “catastrophic”.

Javadekar has brushed aside Congress leaders’ criticism and termed it as “premature”. He also accused protesting Congress leaders of taking big decisions without consultations during their regime.

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India

Sonia Gandhi calls for a stop to dismantling of environment rules

The government has a social obligation to protect the environment; it must withdraw the Draft EIA 2020 Notification

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Sonia Gandhi

The Sanskrit words, ‘Prakriti Rakshati Rakshita’, greet visitors at the Indira Paryavaran Bhawan, the home of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, (MoEF&CC). They mean ‘nature protects, if she is protected’. This ancient Indic wisdom inspired Indira Gandhi throughout her life, as referenced in many of her letters and files. She shared a deep kinship with nature. She was also cognisant that the environment cannot be protected without eradicating poverty. The origins and spread of the global novel coronavirus pandemic and its catastrophic impact are a warning to the entire world. The protection of the environment must go hand in hand with promoting public health and access to dignified livelihoods for all.

Erosion of the framework

India with its rich biodiversity and widespread inequality must especially pay heed now. Our nation has all too often sacrificed the environment and the rights of our people while chasing the chimera of unbridled economic growth. Of course, progress requires trade-offs, but there must always be boundaries that cannot be transgressed. But over the past six years, the government has thoughtlessly — or worse, with intent — eroded our environmental protection framework. The biennial global Environmental Performance Index report has consistently put India at the bottom of its rankings. We were an alarming 177th out of 180 countries in 2018, faring badly on virtually all indicators — environmental health policy, biodiversity and habitat, air and water pollution and climate change.

The pandemic should have made the government reflect and reconsider its environmental and public health governance. Instead, the Ministry is handing out clearances during the lockdown without proper public consultations. The announcement of coal auctions by the Prime Minister in previously declared ‘no go’ areas, signals that the government is in no mood to course-correct. The disastrous Draft Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), 2020 Notification, which among other provisions, gives a clean chit to polluters violating environmental regulations through ex-post facto approvals, will unleash unprecedented devastation on our environment.

Opaque reviews

It was apparent that a Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party government would be destructive to India’s environment going by Mr. Modi’s track record in Gujarat as Chief Minister. During the 2014 election campaign, Mr. Modi slandered the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government and the Environment Ministry for being an impediment to the nation’s growth. From the very start, the government has desperately sought to project an image of ‘Ease of Doing Business’ to the world, mindless of consequences. It formed multiple committees, diluted laws and regulations across the board, and opened up vast tracts of forest land to a select few in the private sector.

In 2014, the T.S.R. Subramanian Committee was set up to review six major environmental laws. Another committee was formed to amend the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ), 2011 Notification. Both faced immense criticism for opacity and not consulting a wide range of stakeholders. The TSR Committee Report was never released, but some of its recommendations were surreptitiously implemented. On similar lines, the 2018 CRZ Notification was rejected by the National Fishworkers Forum and other stakeholders, for threatening the livelihoods of fishing communities and destroying coastal ecology along India’s 7,500-km long coastline. These communities contribute more than ₹50,000 crore annually to the Indian economy. They are severely impacted by climate change and natural disasters and are left to fend for themselves by the government. Likewise, the National Board for Wildlife, the Forest Advisory Committee and Expert Appraisal Committees are approving projects in and around protected wildlife areas without following due process.

The North Indian plains and the National Capital Region are engulfed in a debilitating smog year after year. According to a study in the British journal, The Lancet, 12.4 lakh deaths i.e. 12.5% of all deaths in India in 2017, could be attributed to air pollution. Yet, there has been no concerted action to address this public health emergency. Instead of stringent measures to control emissions from thermal power plants, the government extended deadlines for compliance and has made a U-turn on clean coal.

Attack on Adivasis

The government’s greatest assault has been reserved for the land and the rights of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers. The historic Forest Rights Act (FRA), 2006 was passed by the UPA government to undo centuries of injustice. Our deep cultural traditions as well as experience from all over the world have demonstrated that well-defined land rights to forest dwellers are beneficial for both marginalised populations and the environment. The twisted interpretation and shoddy implementation of the FRA, 2006, has led to Adivasis and forest-dwelling communities being harassed by the Forest Department. Their legal claims to land are buried in bureaucracy. The FRA link to project approvals has been abandoned in practice, and the curtailment or elimination of public hearings means that civil society and independent or concerned voices are muzzled.

Indira Gandhi had once said that forest development corporations had become forest destruction corporations. The veracity of her observation is borne out by several proposals or actions that militate against the interests of forest dwellers. For example, there is a proposal to overhaul the colonial Indian Forest Act, 1927 to give enhanced policing and quasi-judicial powers of the forest officials. It gives forest officials powers to use firearms with unjustified levels of immunity from prosecution. Earlier, the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Act, 2016 was passed by the government in both Houses of Parliament, ignoring the Opposition which pointed out that it bypasses the FRA, 2006, and disempowers Adivasis, forest dwellers and gram sabhas.

Promote public health

In the name of reforms, the government rolled out the red carpet for crony capitalists, systematically disenfranchised the marginalised and vulnerable populations, and abandoned its responsibility to both domestic and international commitments on climate change and environmental protection. This is a completely wrong way to go about things.

The government should recognise it has a social obligation to protect the environment and promote public health. India’s environmental protection framework is not a regulatory burden and the government must incentivise industry to shift its mindset from clearances to compliance. The Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector must be subsidised to follow green norms. Nobody denies that India needs a modern EIA framework. But it must be based on best available scientific knowledge, enhanced public participation and regular social audits. The concept of cumulative impacts of projects in a region or ecology — on the Ganga, for example, must be adopted. You cannot have ‘Nirmal Ganga’ without ‘Aviral Ganga’.

India as a green hub

Simply put, the government must stop dismantling India’s environmental regulations. An essential first step is to withdraw the Draft EIA 2020 Notification. What is essential is widespread public consultation to shape a national agenda that will place India at the forefront of the battle against global warming and pandemics. We have an incredible opportunity to reset our economy and demonstrate leadership to the world with a growth strategy that transforms India into a green manufacturing hub. The erstwhile Planning Commission’s expert group report on low carbon growth strategy and the many suggestions in the 2019 Congress Manifesto can be a starting point. In times of mass reverse migration, environment protection through public works programmes including afforestation and watershed development, can be turned into a grass-roots movement involving youth, women, communities, gram sabhas and non-governmental organisations. Indira Gandhi was the first major world leader to recognise the environmental crisis confronting the world in Stockholm in June 1972. Can India once again rise to the greatest challenges of the 21st century?

Sonia Gandhi is the President of the Indian National Congress

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Lifestyle

World Breastfeeding Week 2020: 10 essential nutrition tips for mothers

Calcium is vital for lactating mothers as they lose up to 15 percent of their own body calcium and about 3-5 percent of their bone mass while nursing their baby.

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Breastfeeding

New Delhi: For women who have recently become mothers, a healthy and nutritious diet is essential to boost lactation, just as much as its essential for a newborn to get its share of required nutrition. This makes it mandatory for the mother to consume food that will benefit her physical health and give her enough energy to combat post-pregnancy pressures, especially with the pandemic disrupting our daily lives.

This World Breastfeeding Week, Rohit Shelatkar, VP at Meyer Vitabiotics and Fitness and Nutrition Expert shares ten essential nutrients tips for new mothers :

Calcium: Babies need to develop their bone structure, and calcium is the best aid for that. It plays a crucial role in development of the new born baby’s teeth, and thus needs to be included in the diet for lactating mothers. Milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu and nuts are some of the foods that are rich in calcium and must be consumed. Calcium is vital for lactating mothers as they lose up to 15 percent of their own body calcium and about 3-5 percent of their bone mass while nursing their baby.

Protein: Inclusion of protein is crucial because it serves as the tissue’s building blocks and fosters growth. The new-born baby needs these nutrients and so the new mother must incorporate eggs, lean meat, fish, peanut butter and beans to her diet.

Omega 3: A crucial source of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), Omega 3 fatty acids offer a host of benefits including aiding the development of the baby’s eyes and brain, reducing risk of chronic diseases, decreasing effects of ADHD, and more. The best source for Omega 3 fatty acids is fish like salmon and trout and alternatively, for vegetarian mothers, flaxseed, soy, walnuts and pumpkin seeds are good sources for Omega 3.

Probiotics: Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria that helps fight ‘bad’ bacteria that cause infections. This is important for the new born, as during this time their immune system is still weak. Yogurt, paneer, green peas, kimchi, pickles, idli and buttermilk are excellent sources of probiotics that should be incorporated during meal time.

Iron: Iron aids in the development of the brain and blood cells for the baby and should be a part of the new mother’s diet. Lentils, beans, tofu, spinach and cashews are natural sources of iron and must be incorporated into their meal plan. Iron is also an essential nutrient for new mothers because there is loss of blood during the delivery, followed by tiredness and long nights with the infant and iron consumption helps cope with that.

Moderating caffeine intake: After nine months of avoiding caffeine, new mothers can finally enjoy a cup of coffee again, but in moderation, as excess intake of caffeine can leak into the mother’s breast milk and reach the baby’s system.

Consider Supplements: It is recommended to consume a daily vitamin B-12 supplement. Vitamin B-12 is found mostly in animal products, so it’s difficult to get enough in vegetarian diets. Additionally, Vitamin D supplements help absorb calcium and phosphorus. New mothers should consider adding these to their daily diet.

Be Moderately Active: It is perfectly fine to perform physical activity for new mothers while breastfeeding and that won’t affect the baby’s growth or milk supply. Moderate intensity activities like brisk walking or riding a bike on a level surface about three or four times a week can help reduce stress levels, improve energy levels and build bone strength.

Avoiding empty calories: The first few days after delivery are very hectic, and it is extremely tempting for the new mother to turn to comfort food or junk food. These types of food contain a number of empty calories that can affect insulin levels in the body which can lead to obesity.

Avoid Smoking or Drinking Alcohol: This is a big ‘no’ for breast-feeding mothers as the harmful toxins transfer to the baby via the milk. Additionally, it is important not to use any medication that is not approved by the doctor.

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