About: the world this week, 8 August to 14 August 2021, irreversible changes, running out of Greek letters, the end of the Tokyo Olympics, New York, and India’s stuck Parliament.
My maid who helps with the cooking and house-keeping returned after a month long hiatus babysitting her just-born second grandson. After a few days with the pots and pans, she took a quick break to attend the Baby Shower of her close relative. It’s gonna be a boy she beamed, on returning. A customer dropped in to our store yesterday. Her daughter had married early this year-we had done the bridal dresses-and she is already in the family way. It’s gonna be a boy – I can guess from the ‘dark look’ of her face, she said, with bright knowledge lines written all over her own face.
A doctor friend dropped by for an evening chat, and we discussed, among other things, the booming baby boy-boom and wondered what could be the reason. Perhaps, Climate Change is to blame – easy? Wow! That’s my next story.
Over the past few months we have witnessed weird weather stories bursting around the world: the Americas, North Africa, and Europe saw deadly heat waves and wildfires – America met with a lot of hurricanes; Asia saw pluvial floods and landslides caused by extreme rainfall; Australia too saw lots of water and we read stories of snakes, mice, and spiders spreading all over dry land.
We have become clever enough to acknowledge that climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying. That’s exactly the key finding of the latest scientific report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It finds changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system. Many changes are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years. Some, such as a continued sea-level rise, are irreversible. That’s a great word pregnant with meaning. More boys tumbling out?
What do we do? The only way is to do whatever is required for sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Benefits for air quality would come quickly, while global temperatures would take 20 to 30 years to stabilize.
The IPCC was created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as an organization of Governments that are members of the United Nations or WMO. It currently has 195 members. The IPCC has the objective of providing Governments at all levels with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. It’s reports are also a key input into international climate change negotiations.
That’s a code red alert on climate change. And ‘it promises’ that things will only get worse unless nations of the Earth get their heads out of the clouds and start on an action plan at the soonest.
The Coronavirus is still as bold as ever and surging in the United States, especially in the Sunshine State of Florida. That thing called the Delta Variant is shining the most, but other variants are on the prowl and looking to grab a throat-hold on defenceless passers-by. Please Get Vaccinated.
India is doing good bringing down the cases to around 30,000 per day, but the State of Kerala is an outlier owning more than the 50% cases of all India. Once it was was on a different league altogether, a Model worth emulating across the country, but then they have swing to the other extreme end – not worth liking or sharing, at all!
Following up on his announcement, last month, to get people into the vaccination mode, French President Emmanuel Macron introduced a Health Pass in France. Starting on 9 August 2021, French citizens will have to show proof of vaccination, immunity, or negative COVID-19 test for outdoor activities such as, riding on trains, dining in restaurants, and going to various kinds of venues. While post-announcement the vaccination rates did rise up considerably, it in turn brought more than 230,000 people – anarchists, far-right activists, and anti-vaxxers – across France on to the streets to protest the Health Pass. It is now a fourth straight weekend of demonstrations. Many have decried the Health Pass as a violation of freedom and Government overreach.
France is not alone, with Italy and Germany also having faced similar protests. While health experts are driving themselves to bring the virus under control, many others are finding fault lines, to nudge open.
In these weekly posts, I often worried that variants of the coronavirus could outnumber the 24 letters of the Green Alphabet. Well, The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Technical Chief of COVID-19, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, seems to have heard me. The WHO is already looking at new names for mutations amid fears there will be more variants trying to get past out steadily improving defences. Star Constellations are the front runners to take over the baton in what is turning out to be a relay race. And we could see variants known as Aries, Gemini… Greeks Gods and Goddesses have also been lined-up, but they are being discussed with the Gods themselves – copyright issues!
Thus far, 11 mutations have been named: four ‘variants of concern’, including the infamous Delta, and Beta; four ‘variants of interest’, such as Eta and Lambda; some which have since been downgraded, on losing the spike momentum and fizzling out, such as Epsilon, Zeta, and Theta.
I reckon that by the time the pandemic turns endemic we could all be full of the Greek Alphabet and the Stars in our heads! And surely we don’t want to think beyond the Greek, should we?
Curtains on The Tokyo Olympics 2020
The Olympic Fire is out in the cauldron, with the Games coming to an end on 8 August 2021. The United States (US) won the most number of medals, 113 (and most gold, 39), followed by China, Britain, Japan.
Tokyo 2020 saw world records broken in 24 events, with swimmers and rowers making the most breakthroughs, shattering six world records each. Four world records were broken in weightlifting and three in athletics and cycling track events.
With no spectators being allowed in the vast majority of the venues, the Organisers resorted to digital engagement to create an atmosphere which made athletes feel they were not alone. A cheer wall was established in the stadiums with more than 250 million videos coming from different corners of the world, supporting athletes from their National Olympic Committees.
Tokyo 2020 social posts have generated more than 4.7 billion engagements, with the majority of them happening during the Games time.
Twenty-seven year old Australian swimmer Emma McKeon’s seven medals (4 gold and 3 bronze) win, stood-up as the most among all athletes in the Tokyo Olympics.
Some US highlights are: track star Allyson Felix is now the most decorated US track and field athlete in Olympic history; Caeleb Dressel took home the most gold medals with five victories from men’s 50m and 100m freestyle, 100m butterfly, 4x100m freestyle and medley relay. He is the most successful male swimmer in the pool in Tokyo; the US women’s basketball team won its seventh gold medal in a row.
After decades of trying, India finally won a Gold medal in Athletics with Neeraj Chopra throwing a winning distance of 87.58 metres, in the Javelin event. Neeraj is only the second Indian athlete ever to win individual Olympic gold. Indians are traditional javelin/spear throwers and finally it’s showing, why not?
India ended the Olympics with its best ever haul of 7 medals and while Indians were enthralled, it rained cash and goodies on the medal winners.
On COVID-19, it’s not clear that the Games served as the super-spreader event as many in Japan had feared.
The Summer Paralympics will be held between 24 August and 5 September 2021, 16 days after the completion of the Olympics.
Up next: The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, kicking off in February.
I would give a huge Gold Medal to Japan for fearlessly conducting the Games. Keep it up Japan.
See you in Paris 2024.
New York and America
With the Olympics having concluded and the weightlifting events having different winners, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gave up lifting weights on the sexual harassment charges. Of course, he thought about this three daughters and their future and said he will resign in two weeks. A new Governor – in a first, a woman – New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, is getting ready to pick-up the broom and clean-up the toxic environment. Good luck to her.
Keeping the story running on the United States, its decision to quit Afghanistan is turning out to be disastrous, as the very Taliban they sought to annihilate are making a ferocious comeback. The Afghanistan Army that America nurtured and trained for over a decade is unable to offer resistance and Towns and Cities are being flooded with the Taliban. Another Climate Change effect?
While climate change induced fires engulfed many countries, India’s Upper House-Rajya Sabha, and Lower House-Lok Sabha, of Parliament, saw Opposition Party fire freeze serious business leading to a lock-jam for most of this Monsoon season. This was to protest alleged snooping by the Government on its citizens and a demand to repeal already passed laws. The Chairman of the Upper House tried to douse the fire with his tears – but such clouded thinking didn’t work. He should have called for Hercules to divert River Yamuna to fight the fires – and clean-up as well.
More herculean and fighting stories coming up in the weeks ahead. Stay locked to World Inthavaaram.