20 March 2008
Today being the Vernal Equinox, or in other words, the day when Sun crosses the equator from southern hemisphere into the northern hemisphere, thoughts started drifting towards astronomy.
The Earth's seasons are caused by the rotation axis of the Earth not being perpendicular to its orbital plane (Note, seasons has nothing to do with the elliptical orbit of earth). The Earth's axis is tilted at an angle of approximately 23.44° from the orbital plane. As a consequence, for half a year (from around 20 March to around 22 September) the northern hemisphere tips toward the Sun, with the maximum around 21 June, while for the other half year the southern hemisphere has this honour, with the maximum around 21 December.
While surfing about eclipses during last month’s lunar eclipse, happened to realize that it’d take 18 years, 11 days and 8 hours for the same lunar eclipse to happen again (at the same location on earth). This cycle is called Saro’s cycle and understanding this phenomenon is not for the light-hearted. If this cycle was discovered by the Chaldeans (ancient Babylonian astronomers) around 3000 BC, understanding the fundamental difference in approach to life will help us solve the environmental problems of today, I guess. We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Agreeing upon a timetable
AFTER a fortnight of torturous negotiations during the last month of 2007 at Bali, 190-odd countries decided that a global agreement involving all countries is needed to tackle climate change. The “Bali roadmap”, is a milestone of sorts. Rich, middle-income and poor countries have together acknowledged both the threat of a changing climate and the need for urgent action by all. Subsequent negotiations will follow to produce an international convention by the end of 2009 on exactly how countries will meet their “common but differentiated responsibilities” to fight climate change. These negotiations will be guided by the scientific reports produced by the IPCC lately, which concluded that the planet will probably be in serious trouble—rising temperatures, acidic seas and changing rainfall patterns, among other problems—unless global emissions of greenhouse gases peak within 10 to 15 years and then decline thereafter.
Reaching agreement just to start negotiating might not sound much of an achievement. And the roadmap is insufficiently ambitious for most non-governmental organisations. But America's George Bush has been reluctant even to discuss climate change, but he has now signed up to talks, if unwillingly. Similarly China, soon to be the world's largest greenhouse-gas emitter, was, until this year, an obdurate opponent of negotiating beyond Kyoto. In Bali, Beijing was repeatedly praised for engaging constructively. And Australia's new prime minister, Kevin Rudd, received plaudits for ratifying the Kyoto protocol immediately after taking office. Various factors have produced the changes of heart. The science of climate change is becoming firmer, more widely accepted and, in some areas, more worrying. In some places the impact of climate change may already be felt. Though there’s nothing of a guarantee of a deal in 2009, the sense of urgency found in the Bali talks is a source of optimism for everyone!!!.