This incredible 20 years old video that I have included in this post made a deep impression on me. I cried and sobbed listening to the 12-year-old girl.
Severn Cullis-Suzuk was born on November 30, 1979 and raised in Vancouver, Canada. Her mother is writer Tara Elizabeth Cullis. Her father, geneticist and environmental activist David Suzuki, is a third-generation Japanese Canadian.
While attending Lord Tennyson Elementary School in French Immersion, at age 9, she founded the Environmental Children’s Organization (ECO), a group of children dedicated to learning and teaching other youngsters about environmental issues.
In 1992, at age 12, Severn raised money with members of ECO to attend the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio Summit, Rio Conference, Earth Summit – a major United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 3 June to 14 June 1992, five thousand miles from their home.
Along with group members Michelle Quigg, Vanessa Suttil, and Morgan Geisler, Severn Cullis-Suzuki presented environmental issues from a youth perspective at the summit.
Severn spoke about the hole in the ozone layer, pollution, the devastation of the forests and extinction of many species of wild life and vegetation. She charged that we adults have no idea of how to fix these things, in fact can’t fix them, and that we must change our ways. “If you don’t know how to fix it, stop breaking it,” she pleaded.
Severn’s amazing speech left her audience completely stupefied and speechless. After she ended her speech she received a standing ovation.
She received a lot of praise for her speech in the press – even Al Gore Jr., 45th Vice President of the United States (1993–2001), under President Bill Clinton called it “the best speech at Rio.”
The video of her speech has since become a viral hit, popularly known as “The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 Minutes”. This video has 2,018,732 hits to date.
In 1993, she was honoured in the United Nations Environment Programme’s Global 500 Roll of Honour. In 1993, Doubleday published her book Tell the World, a 32-page book of environmental steps for families.
Here’s the transcript of her speech:
“Hello, I am Severn Suzuki speaking for E.C.O – the Environmental Children’s Organization.
We are a group of 12 and 13 year-olds trying to make a difference, Vanessa Suttie, Morgan Geisler, Michelle Quigg and me.
We’ve raised all the money to come here ourselves, to come 5,000 miles to tell you adults you must change your ways.
Coming up here today, I have no hidden agenda. I am fighting for my future.
Losing my future is not like losing an election, or a few points on the stock market.
I am here to speak for all generations to come.
I am here to speak on behalf of the starving children around the world whose cries go unheard.
I am here to speak for the countless animals dying across this planet, because they have nowhere left to go.
I am afraid to go out in the sun now, because of the holes in our ozone.
I am afraid to breathe the air, because I don’t know what chemicals are in it.
I used to go fishing in Vancouver, my home, with my Dad until, just a few years ago, we found a fish full of cancers.
And now we hear of animals and plants going extinct every day, vanishing forever.
In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see.
Did you have to worry of these things when you were my age?
All this is happening before our eyes and yet we act as if we have all the time we want and all the solutions.
I’m only a child and I don’t have all the solutions, but I want you to realize, neither do you.
You don’t know how to fix the holes in our ozone layer.
You don’t know how to bring the salmon back up a dead stream.
You don’t know how to bring back an animal now extinct.
And you can’t bring back the forest that once grew where there is now a desert.
If you don’t know how to fix it, please stop breaking it.
Here you may be delegates of your governments, business people, organizers, reporters or politicians. But, really, you’re mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles and all of you are someone’s child.
I’m only a child, yet I know we are all part of a family, 5 billion strong, in fact 30 million species strong. And borders and governments will never change that.
I’m only a child, yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal.
In my anger, I am not blind and in my fear I am not afraid of telling the world how I feel.
In my country we make so much waste, we buy and throw away, buy and throw away, buy and throw away and yet Northern countries will not share with the needy.
Even when we have more than enough we are afraid to share, we are afraid to let go of some of our wealth.
In Canada, we live a privileged life. We’ve plenty of food, water and shelter. We have watches, bicycles, computers and television sets. The list could go on for 2 days.
Two days ago here in Brazil, we were shocked when we spent time with some children living on the streets.
This is what one child told us, ‘I wish I was rich and if I were, I would give all the street children food, clothes, medicines, shelter and love and affection’.
If a child on the street who has nothing is willing to share, why are we who have everything still so greedy?
I can’t stop thinking that these are children my own age, that it makes a tremendous difference where you are born. And that I could be one of those children living in the favelas of Rio.
I could be a child starving in Somalia, or a victim of war in the Middle East or a beggar in India.
I am only a child, yet I know if all the money spent on war was spent on finding environmental answers ending poverty and in finding treaties, what a wonderful place this earth would be.
At school, even in kindergarten, you teach us how to behave in the world.
You teach us to not to fight with others, to work things out, to respect others and to clean up our mess, not to hurt other creatures, to share, not be greedy.
Then, why do you go out and do the things you tell us not to do?
Do not forget why you are attending these conferences, who you are doing this for.
We are your own children.
You are deciding what kind of a world we are growing up in.
Parents should be able to comfort their children by saying ‘Everything is going to be all right, it’s not the end of the world, and we are doing the best we can’.
But I don’t think you can say that to us anymore.
Are we even on your list of priorities?
My dad always says, ‘You are what you do, not what you say.’
Well, what you do makes me cry at night.
You grown-ups say you love us.
But I challenge you, please, make your actions reflect your words.
The year 2012 is a once in a lifetime centennial celebration year to commemorate the gift of 3,020 cherry blossom trees from the people of Japan to the people of the United States.
A century ago, a world-famous chemist and first president of Daiichi Sankyo Co, Ltd, Dr. Jokichi Takamine, played a pivotal role in arranging the gift of trees from the City of Tokyo to Washington, DC.
On March 27, 1912, Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo City donated the trees to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and to celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations.
First Lady Taft and the Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two cherry trees on the northern bank of the Tidal Basin. These two original trees are still standing today near the John Paul Jones statue at the south end of 17th Street. Workmen planted the rest of the trees around the Tidal Basin and East Potomac Park. Even after a century the trees have spread their roots and survived the elements, and have withstood the test of time.
This year the centennial celebration of the gift of trees will be celebrated from March 20 – April 27, 2012, in Washington, DC.
On March 23, 2012, my wife and I were in Washington, DC. We felt blessed to be in US during this centennial of the gift of trees. I took countless photographs that day.
Here I have embedded a video that I created using my photos. It was an unforgettable evening that we spent surrounded by cherry blossom. The music playing in the background is one that I enjoy listening without tiring – Carlos Santana’s ever green “Flor D’Luna (Moonflower)“.
I read this article titled ” The Great Indian Nuclear Maya” by Saraswati Kavula, a Filmmaker-Activist and Farmer. She is also the Joint Convener, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Andhra Pradesh Chapter. A version of this article was published in Telugu Daily “Andhra Jyothi” -on 25th March 2012.
Like the philosophers say, we, the people of India, are surrounded by “Maya” – an illusion: and that illusion today is Democracy. Under this illusion we think, we the people are the ones who decide who “rules” us, we think innocently too that ‘we the people” are the decision makers, king makers. In our sad state of minds, we think that this great country has a democracy – that is “by the people, for the people, of the people’ – meaning the people are supreme. However, the Indian voter is supreme only till such time; he trudges to the electoral booth and makes his thumb print. In many a places, even that is a mere illusion, for the ones who have the ‘muscle power” will decide who wins – voting themselves to power. Then there is this greater illusion that is created…
Si iniquitates observaveris, Domine, Domine, quis sustinebit?
Quia apud te propitiatio est; et propter legem tuam sustinui te, Domine.
Sustinuit anima mea in verbo ejus: Speravit anima mea in Domino. A custodia matutina usque ad noctem,
speret Israël in Domino. Quia apud Dominum misericordia, et copiosa apud eum redemptio.
Et ipse redimet Israël
ex omnibus iniquitatibus ejus.
I searched for a listenable video clip of De Profundis. A few days ago a video clip 5′ 5” long on YouTube titled “De Profundis (Septuagesima Sunday, Tract)” uploaded by SGeorgeAZ on Jul 13, 2011 impressed me.
This video in addition to the music has Gregorian chant notation from the Liber Usualis (1961), p. 499 and Latin lyrics sung by the Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos.
The gist of the story, I have retold here, has gone on the rounds over the web for some time. I don’t know who the original author was. However, here we go…
Not long ago at a zoo in Asia there was a young lion that stood erect and proud. He commanded the respect of his fellow cell mates and all other animals in the zoo. Visitors to the zoo admired him for what he was – the king of the jungle. Even so, the dirty living quarters and meager meat just enough for sustenance frustrated him.
One fine day, an offer came from a US Zoo to the lion.
On arrival in the US, the young lion roared with pleasure when he saw his cell with facilities for an all year round environment – centrally air-conditioned to ward off both summer heat, and the chilly winter.
After the lion settled down they brought him food in an attractive sanitized parcel. A new experience for him. In his country, the meat was just thrown on the dirty floor.
The hungry lion opened the parcel in a hurry. He got a shock when he saw that the parcel contained only bananas. He became angry and wanted to roar out his disappointment. Being intelligent, he restrained himself for he thought the US zoo management cared much for his health, and they knew better.
The time for his next meal came. Again they delivered bananas wrapped in an attractive sanitized bag. Day in and day out they gave him only bananas.
After a few days, the lion, now lean and hungry, trembled with fury, lost its wits, and unable to control himself roared constantly at the zoo attendants.
A visitor seeing the lion’s fury and the bananas in front of him, asked the zoo manager, “Don’t you know that he is a lion, king of the jungle? Why don’t you give him meat instead of bananas?”
The manager politely said, “Sir, I know that he is the king of the jungle, but he came here on a monkey’s visa!”
Moral: Better be a Lion in your own country than being a Monkey in US!
I recommend Anil’s article to all people in Asian countries who aspire to come to the US, but have doubts in their mind about their future in this country.
Because, I feel that this story about the lion was originally written, out of frustration by a cynic who was not able to get an entry into US or into any other foreign country.
My wife and I are now here in the US for some time. Though, I love India, I can’t resist endorsing the Anil’s pointof view. Humorously and sarcastically, he has analyzed the way of life in the two countries – US and India. This person has not only stepped on but also has rolled on the grass, here in the US.
In the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1 is devoted to the story of Archangel Gabriel announcing the birth of John (the Baptist) to aged Zechariah and the birth of Jesus to virgin Mary.
In Abrahamic religions, Gabriel (Hebrew: גַּבְרִיאֵל, Arabic: جبريل, Jibrīl or جبرائيل Jibrāʾīl) meaning “God is my strength” is an Archangel who typically serves as a messenger to humans from God.
The first appearance of Gabriel is in chapter 9 in the Book of Daniel, delivering explanations of Daniel’s visions.
In the Gospel of Luke Gabriel foretells the births of both John the Baptist and of Jesus. Catholic traditions refer to him as Gabriel the Archangel.
Gabriel is referred to as “he” in the Bible, and in Daniel 9:21 he is explicitly called “the man Gabriel”:
I was still praying, when the man, Gabriel, whom I had seen in vision before, came to me in flight at the time of the evening offering. (Daniel 9:21)
Some moderns, especially New Age exponents, portray Gabriel as female or androgynous.
Androgyny is a term derived from Greek referring to the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics.
In Latter-day Saint theology, Gabriel is believed to have lived a mortal life as the prophet Noah. So, according to them Archangel Gabriel and prophet Noah are regarded as the same person; Noah being his mortal name and Gabriel being his heavenly name.
In Islam there are four archangels: Jibrāʾīl (Gabriel), Mika’el (Michael), Israfil (Raphael) and Malak al-Maut (The Angel of Death).
Although some islamic texts claim the Angel of Death’s real name is Izrael (Azrael), this is not confirmed in the Qur’an or hadith.
Jibrāʾīl is called the chief of the four favoured angels and the spirit of truth. He is Allah’s messenger to the prophets. At times Jibrāʾīl takes the form of a man. In Islam, he is also called the created Holy Spirit, which is not to be confused with the Holy Spirit of God in Christianity who is revered as God Himself.
Jibrāʾīl is believed by Muslims to have been the angel who revealed the Holy Qur’an to prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).
According to the Holy Qur’an, Archangel Jibrāʾīl appeared to prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) in a cave where he went to pray. Here is the story that I read long ago. If my retelling of this encounter be wrong I stand to be corrected by my muslim bretheren.
Muhammad (s.a.w.) was a young man around forty and a well to do merchant in the city of Mecca. It was his habit to leave the city and walk up to to a cave in Mount Hira, to be alone and ponder over the day’s events and about the world around him. He would spend time there fasting, praying, thinking, and trying to find answers to the meaning of life.
One day towards the end of the month of Ramadan the prophet came back home exasperated and in an agitated state.
His wife Khadija was initially startled when she heard the prophet telling her that he must have gone mad for he had been visited by an angel. The prophet told her that while he was in a trance-like state, the Archangel Jibrāʾīl appeared before him holding a cloth of green brocade with writing embroidered on it.
“Read,” said the angel.
The Prophet was stupefied. He said, “I cannot read!”
The angel squeezed him, and then released him. “Read” the angel said.
“I cannot read” Muhammad said, a little louder this time.
The angel squeezed him again, harder than before, and commanded, “Read.”
“I cannot read?” Muhammad said, even louder.
The angel persisted, and the prophet repeatedly resisted, until the angel finally overwhelmed Muhammad and commanded him:
Read with the name of your Lord Who created, Created man from a clot. Read, and your Lord only is the Most Beneficent, The One Who taught to write with the pen. The One Who taught man all what he did not know. (Qur’an 96:1-5)
The prophet recited the verses after the angel, until he knew it perfectly, word for word.
Then the frightened prophet felt he was alone. The angel and the writing had gone. But the words stayed in his memory, and there was a strange sensation of having been squeezed very hard. Trembling, he stood up, left the cave, and began to walk, shakily, down the mountain path. He was very confused. Then a voice, the same voice, called to him: “Oh Muhammad! Truly you are the messenger of God. And I am his angel, Jibrāʾīl.”
Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) looked up, and saw the angel, who looked like a human, but so enormous that his two feet straddled the horizon. For a moment, the prophet was awe-struck. Then he tried to escape, but no matter which way he turned, the angel was there, filling the sky. The prophet could go neither forwards nor back until Jibrāʾīl had disappeared from the sky as suddenly as he had appeared. As it dawned the prophet made his way back to his home in Mecca.
Muslims also have a high esteem for Jibrāʾīl for a number of historical events predating his first appearance to prophet Mohamed (s.a.w.).
Muslims believe that Jibrāʾīl was the angel who informed two parents – Zakariya (Zachariah) and Maryam (Mary) of the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus. Also, Jibrāʾīl was one of three angels who had earlier informed Ibrāhīm (Abraham) of the birth of Isḥāq (Isaac). These events of Zakariya and Maryam can be found in Chapter 19 – surah Maryam in the Holy Qur’an.
HOLY QURAN – THE TREASURE OF FAITH
Chapter 19 – Surah Maryam (Mary)
(Revealed at Mecca – This Chapter has 98 verses in 6 sections)
Allah – beginning with the name of – the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
[These letters are one of the miracles of the Qur’an, and none but Allah and to whomever He reveals know their precise meanings.]
2. This is the remembrance of the mercy of your Lord upon His bondman Zakaria.
3. When he softly prayed to his Lord.
4. He submitted, “O my Lord – my bones have become weak and old age shines forth from my head, and O my Lord, I have never been disappointed in my prayer to you.”
5. “And I fear my relatives after me and my wife is barren therefore bestow upon me from Yourself one who will take up my work.”
6. “He being my successor and the heir of the Descendants of Yaqub (Jacob); and my Lord, make him a cherished * one.” (* Make him a Prophet among the Descendants of Israel.)
7. “O Zakaria! We give you the glad tidings of a son whose name is Yahya (John) before him, We have not created anyone of this name.”
8. He submitted, “My Lord – how can I have a son since my wife is barren and I have reached infirmity due to old age?”
9. He (the angel) said, “So it is; your Lord says, ‘This is easy for Me – in fact I created you before this, at a time when you did not exist.’ ”
10. He said, “My Lord, give me a sign”; He said, “Your token is that you will not speak to people for three nights, although in proper health.”
11. He therefore emerged upon his people from the mosque, and told them through gestures, “Keep proclaiming the Purity (of your Lord) morning and evening.”
12. “O Yahya – hold the Book firmly”; and We gave him Prophethood in his infancy. (Prophet Yahya was only 2 years old at that time.)
13. And compassion from Ourselves, and chastity; and he was extremely pious.
14. And was good to his parents and not forceful, nor disobedient.
15. And peace is upon him the day he was born, and the day he will taste death, and the day he will be raised alive.
16. And remember Maryam in the Book; when she went away from her family to a place towards east.
17. So there she screened herself from them; We therefore sent Our Spirit towards her – he appeared before her in the form of a healthy man. (Angel Jibreel – peace be upon him.)
18. She said, “I seek the refuge of the Most Gracious from you – if you fear God.”
19. He said, “I am indeed one sent by your Lord; so that I may give you a chaste son.”
20. She said, “How can I bear a son? No man has ever touched me, nor am I of poor conduct!”
21. He said, “So it is; your Lord has said, ‘This is easy for Me’; and in order that We make him a sign for mankind and a Mercy from Us; and this matter has been decreed.”
22. So she conceived him, and she went away with him to a far place.
23. Then the pangs of childbirth brought her to the base of the palm-tree; she said, “Oh, if only had I died before this and had become forgotten, unremembered.”
24. (The angel) Therefore called her from below her, “Do not grieve – your Lord has made a river flow below you.”
25. “And shake the trunk of the palm-tree towards you – ripe fresh dates will fall upon you.” (This was a miracle – the date palm was dry and it was winter season.)
26. “Therefore eat and drink and appease your eyes; so if you meet any person then say, ‘I have pledged a fast (of silence) to the Most Gracious – I will therefore not speak to any person today.’ ”
27. So carrying him in her arms, she brought him to her people; they said, “O Maryam, you have indeed committed a great evil!”
28. “O sister of Haroon, neither was your father an evil man nor was your mother of poor conduct!”
29. Thereupon she pointed towards the child; they said, “How can we speak to an infant who is in the cradle?”
30. The child proclaimed, “I am Allah’s bondman; He has given me the Book and made me a Herald of the Hidden (a Prophet).”
31. “And He has made me blessed wherever I be; and ordained upon me prayer and charity, as long as I live.”
32. “And has made me good to my mother and not made me forceful, ill-fated.”
33. “And peace is upon me the day I was born, and on the day I shall taste death, and on the day I will be raised alive.”
34. This is Eisa (Jesus), the son of Maryam; a true statement, in which they doubt.
35. It does not befit Allah to appoint someone as His son – Purity is to Him! When He ordains a matter, He just commands it, “Be” – and it thereupon happens.
36. And said Eisa, “Indeed Allah is my Lord and your Lord – therefore worship Him; this is the Straight Path.”
37. Then groups among them differed; so ruin is for the disbelievers from the witnessing of a Great Day.
38. Much will they listen and much will they see, on the Day when they come to Us, but today the unjust are in open error.
39. And warn them of the Day of Regret when the matter will have been decided; and they are in neglect, and they do not accept faith.
40. Indeed We shall inherit the earth and all that is on it, and only towards Us will they return.
41. And remember Ibrahim in the Book; he was very truthful, a Herald of the Hidden (a Prophet).
42. When he said to his father, * “O my father – why do you worship one which neither hears nor sees, and cannot benefit you in any way?” (* His uncle Azar.)
43. “O my father, indeed a knowledge has come to me which did not come to you – therefore follow me, I will show you the Straight Path.”
44. “O my father, do not be a bondman of the devil; indeed the devil is disobedient towards the Most Gracious.”
45. “O my father, I fear that a punishment from the Most Gracious may reach you, so you would become a companion of the devil.”
46. He said, “What! You turn away from my Gods, O Ibrahim? If you do not desist, I will certainly stone you, and keep no relation with me for a long while.”
47. So when he had separated from them and what they worshipped other than Allah, We bestowed him Ishaq and Yaqub; and We made each of them a
Herald of the Hidden.
50. And We gave them Our mercy, and assigned for them a true and high repute.
51. And remember Moosa in the Book; he was indeed a chosen one, and he was a Noble Messenger, a Herald of the Hidden.
52. We called him from the right side of the mountain Tur, and brought him close to reveal Our secret.
53. And with Our mercy We bestowed upon him his brother Haroon, a Prophet.
54. And remember Ismail in the Book; he was indeed true to his promise and was a Noble Messenger, a Prophet.
55. He used to command his people to offer prayer and give charity, and was liked by his Lord.
56. And remember Idrees in the Book; he was indeed very truthful, a Prophet.
57. And We lifted him to a high position. (Living with soul & body in heaven, after his death.)
58. It is these upon whom Allah has bestowed favour among the Prophets, from the descendants of Adam; and from those whom We boarded along with Nooh; and from the descendants of Ibrahim and Israel; and from those whom We guided and chose; when the verses of the Most Gracious were recited to them, they fell down, prostrating and weeping. (* Command of Prostration # 5.)
59. And after them came the unworthy successors who squandered prayer and pursued their own desires, so they will soon encounter the forest of Gai in hell.
60. Except those who repented and accepted faith and did good deeds – so these will enter heaven, and they will not be deprived * in the least. (* of their due reward.)
61. Everlasting Gardens of Eden, which the Most Gracious has proomised to His bondmen in the unseen; indeed His promise will come.
62. They will not hear any lewd talk in it, but only Peace; and in it for them is sustenance, every morning and evening.
63. It is the Paradise that We will bequeath to those among Our bondmen who remain pious.
64. (Said Angel Jibreel to Prophet Mohammed – peace and blessings be upon them) “And we angels do not come down except by the command of your Lord; to Him only belongs all that is ahead of us and all that is behind us and all that is between them; and your Lord is not forgetful.”
65. Lord of the heavens and the earth and all that is between them – therefore worship Him and be firm in His worship; do you know any other of the same name as His?
66. And says man, “When I am dead, will I soon be brought forth alive?”
67. Does not man remember that We created him before this, and he was non existent?
68. So by your Lord, We shall assemble them and the devils – all of them – and bring them around hell, fallen on their knees.
69. We shall then pick out from every group the one who was most arrogant towards the Most Gracious.
70. Moreover, We well know those who most deserve to be burned in hell.
71. And there is none among you who shall not pass over hell; this is an obligatory affair, binding upon your Lord. (Allah will make everyone pass over the back of hell – on a thin bridge.)
72. We shall then rescue the pious – and leave the unjust in it, fallen on their knees.
73. And when Our clear verses are recited to them, the disbelievers say to the Muslims, “Which group has a better home, and a better alliance?”
74. And many a generation We did destroy before them, who exceeded them in wealth and pomp!
75. Proclaim, “For one in error – so the Most Gracious may give him respite; to the extent that when they see the thing which they are promised – either the punishment or the Last Day; so then they will come to know for whom is the evil rank and whose army is weak.”
76. And Allah will increase the guidance for those who have received guidance; and good deeds that remain have the best reward before your Lord, and the best outcome.
77. So have you seen him who denied Our signs and says, “I shall certainly be given wealth and children?”
78. Has he seen the Hidden, or has he made a pact with the Most Gracious?
79. Never; We shall now record what he says and give him a prolonged punishment.
80. And it is We only Who shall inherit what he says (belongs to him), and he will come to Us, alone.
81. And they have chosen Gods besides Allah, so that they may provide them strength!
82. Never; soon they will deny ever worshipping them, and will turn into their pponents.
83. Did you not see that We sent devils upon the disbelievers, so they excite them abundantly?
84. So do not be impatient for them (O dear Prophet Mohammed – peace and blessings be upon him); We are only completing their number. * (* The number of days left for them or their evil deeds.)
85. On the day when We shall assemble the righteous towards the Most Gracious, as guests.
86. And drive the guilty towards hell, thirsty.
87. People do not own the right to intercede, except those * who have made a covenant with the Most Gracious. (* The Holy Prophets and virtuous people will be given the permission to intercede. Prophet Mohammed – peace and blessings be upon him – will be the first to intercede.)
88. And the disbelievers said, “The Most Gracious has chosen an offspring.”
89. You have indeed brought an extremely grave speech!
90. The heavens are close to being torn apart by it, and the earth being split asunder, and the mountains succumbing and falling down.
91. Due to their ascribing of an offspring to the Most Gracious.
92. And it does not befit the Most Gracious to choose an offspring!
93. All those who are in the heavens and the earth will come to the Most Gracious as His bondmen.
94. He knows their number and has counted each one of them.
95. And each one of them will come before Him on the Day of Resurrection, alone.
96. Indeed those who believed and did good deeds – the Most Gracious will appoint love for them. (In the hearts of other believers.)
97. We have therefore made this Qur’an easy upon your tongue, (O dear Prophet Mohammed – peace and blessings be upon him) for you to announce glad tidings with it to those who fear, and warn those who are quarrelsome.
98. And many a generation We did destroy before them; do you see any one of them or hear their faintest sound?
Open letter to Kalam on Koodunkulam Nuclear Plant shutdown response time
By Sasi Kumar
December 22, 2011
Honorable Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
Former President of India
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Scores of Indians have admired your contribution to the growth of India. Your tireless efforts in the past to raise the Indian security apparatus has earned an esteemed position in the hearts and minds of thousands of Keralites /Tamils /Indians who are proud to cite your name in all walks of their life from entertainment to education. Your dedication and work ethics are unparalleled and monumental for the next generation to energize and focus to expand their engineering acumen. Above all, many of our younger generations are your students and loyal followers who desire to replicate your success for developing stronger India.
Recently in the media conference on Koodunkulam Nuclear Power Plant, You have declared “Koodunkulam reactor will be shutdown in three minutes flat in case of natural disasters like Earthquakes or Tsunamis”. Though we are excited to hear such a strong soothing statement from you, yet as Engineers we are baffled. Many of us are raised from the school of thought “Even Einstein asked questions?” So some of us Engineers have questions too.
As Engineers know to kick start the shutdown procedure of nuclear reactor chain reaction a signal must be initiated as a first step. It is imperative to drill down the sequence of events that should be followed during those flat three minutes. The focus will be on how those signals will be created in case there is an Earthquake or Tsunami. Any Technocrat will agree to the fact that Earthquake severity can be measured in the Koodunkulam region and if and when those measurements are beyond the design basis, a signal can be created to activate the emergency shutdown system. However many are puzzled about how Koodunkulam plant will initiate a signal when there is a Tsunami?
According to plate tectonic theory, Earth’s surface is divided into various mosaic of moving plates. Boundaries between the plates are actively spreading submarine ridges in the middle of the oceans, sub-duction zones in ocean trenches in which the plates slide past one another. Though most of the world’s earth quake happens at plate boundaries there were some precedence that it had happened in other locations without plate boundaries like in the United States – New Madrid, Missouri, Charleston, South Carolina and elsewhere. Apart from the circum-Pacific seismic belt, the second important earthquake belt is Alpide that extends from Java and Sumatra via the Himalayas, the Mediterranean, and extend into the Atlantic. The attached image show the plate boundaries.
Classically Tsunami is generated due to large earthquakes in the ocean bed or due to the movement of the Earth plates under the ocean. Geographical location of Koodunkulam power plant makes it open to the vast stretch of water – the large Indian Ocean that stretches all the way to Australia.
Earthquake can happen in any place in the wide Indian Ocean bed. Interestingly all the Earthquakes are not generating Tsunami. Thus based on Earthquake occurring in a remote location one can’t initiate the shutdown procedure of nuclear power plant. Koodunkulam needs to have the foolproof Tsunami measurement system that will accurately measure the intensity of the Tsunami and feed signals to the Reactor control system to initiate the Emergency shutdown of nuclear chain reaction. This system should work every time when there is a possibility of Tsunami in Koodunkulam region. As location of the Koodunkulam plant is at intersection of the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal one has to handle complex scenario of protocol and broad area of Tsunami measurement and monitoring system. The feedback mechanism must be designed to intercept such a way that plant should undergo safe shutdown before waves reaches the plant premises.
In recent times, in 2004 Southern India was swept with the huge Tsunami triggered due to underwater earthquake which happened near Indonesia (more than 1000 miles away). Several observers are wondering why no warning system had been issued to alert the public during that Tsunami?
In Japan Fukushima nuclear disaster, again no such Tsunami detection signal has been generated to start the reactor shutdown? Sadly there were some reports that claim reactor fuel rods have been melted within few hours of the impact of Tsunami waves and uncontrolled chain reaction has been unleashed in one of the reactor.
It is nevertheless to say Japan is one of the top technology country in the world with abundant men, materials and superior army in its disposal. Yet they were not able to alter the path of destruction and radiation exposure of its citizen.
Some of the questions in the minds of Engineers are; Dr. Kalam,
What made you to believe Koodunkulam plant posses superior Technology and Techniques to mitigate the risks associated with the Tsunami? If so what are they?
In Koodunkulam plant is there any backup system in case Tsunami monitoring signal fails to kick in?
How Koodunkulam plant will maintain the quality of Tsunami measurement system over the years?
Lastly have you “watched and verified” the successful Tsunami warning measurement and shutdown process demonstrations yourself?
When you reiterate during the press conference, “the reactor will automatically shut down in three minutes flat in case of natural disasters like Earthquakes or Tsunamis” it is the expectation of general public that you have to certify only after verification of facts but alas did that happen?
We love India the same way you love it too. The people of Koodunkulam love their birthplace the same way you love yours. Dr. Kalam – Keralites and Tamils will continue to admire your talent, competence, sacrifice and will groom next generation by quoting you as a role model.
Engineers will not believe the words rather will convince themselves through experiment and demonstrations of actual performance. We are pleased to hear from you specifics regarding the three minutes flat shutdown time to Tsunami.
This Downhilling Mountain Bike ride video made a very good impression on me. This video clip is terrifying and is the most viewed Downhill video on YouTube with a whopping 2,191,963 views to its credit.
Alejandro Paz is from Peru. He is the National Downhill Champion of his country. This video clip was made by Alejandro himself. It shows Alejandro fleeting on a boulder-strewn footpath along a mountainside heading for disaster. But Alejandro rides on at high speed despite the rugged coarse terrain with varied sizes of stones and boulders strewn in the narrow path due to a recent landslide.
If you are interested,Alejandro Paz has a page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pazdownhill
From October 2011 onwards, thousands of protesters and villagers living around the Russian-built Kudankulam nuclear power plant in the southern Tamil Nadu state, are blocking highways, staging anti-nuclear demonstrations and hunger strikes, preventing further construction work of the nuclear power plant, and demanding its closure.
Because they distrust the assurances given by the Central Government regarding safety, and fear the disasters that could arise from
environmental impact of nuclear power generation
The phrase “nuclear accident“, immediately brings to our minds the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant also known as Fukushima Dai-ichi (in Japanese dai-ichi means “number one”), after the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. This disaster culminated in a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and release of radioactive materials into the environment.
The devastation at Fukushima Dai-ichi is the largest nuclear disaster since the catastrophic nuclear accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine on April 26, 1986.
The agitation in Kudankulam
The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP), which was initiated in 1988 by an Inter-Governmental Agreement signed on November 20, 1988 by former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi and former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, for the construction of two nuclear reactors.
The agitation against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project started as low-key protests by anti-nuclear protesters. About 20,000 residents of Kudankulam and surrounding villages marched out to show their support for the activists. More than a thousand local fishermen joined them and announced a strike in support of the protests.
The anti-nuclear protesters have stated specific reasons for opposing the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP). They say, “More than 1 million people live within the 30 km radius of the KKNPP which far exceeds the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board’s (AERB) stipulations. It is quite impossible to evacuate this many people quickly and efficiently in case of a nuclear disaster at Koodankulam“, etc.
“Fukushima has greatly helped our agitation,” said S.P. Udayakumar, activist and leader of the voluntary People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE). For 20 years, Udayakumar has led PMANE on a campaign against the Koodankulam project.
“The nuclear plant is unsafe” and “the safety analysis report and the site evaluation study have not been made public. No public hearing was held. It’s an authoritarian project that has been imposed on the people,” he said.
The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), the top government agency to ensure safety standards, conducted a safety audit of India’s NPPs a few months back. Despite all clear certificates, anti-nuclear activists and experts have called for an audit by an independent body. They say that given the non-transparent nature of India’s state-controlled nuclear energy sector, there is no way to estimate whether safety issues will be carefully followed.
Anti-Nuclear protests and Hunger Strike
An indefinite hunger strike was started by the anti-nuclear protesters on September 11, 2012. With the hunger strike becoming a serious threat to the health of 127 participants, negotiations between the protesters and the state government of Tamilnadu began on September 15, 2012, but it soon reached a stalemate. The protests and the hunger strike ended twelve days later with J. Jayalalitha, Chief Minister of Tamilnadu, announcing that the state government would adopt a resolution against launching the nearly completed nuclear power plant. She fulfilled her promise the following day.
On Thursday, September 22, 2012, the Tamil Nadu Cabinet passed a resolution urging the Center to halt the work on the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project until the fears of the local population over the safety of the plants are allayed. The 12-day fast by the anti-nuclear protesters came to an end following assurances by Ms. Jayalalitha.
Rt. Rev. Yvon Ambroise, Bishop of Tuticorin Roman Catholic Diocese, came to the protest venue at Idinthakarai on Thursday and offered fruit juice to those who were on hunger strike. He addressed the gathering and explained in detail the demands put forth during their meeting with Ms. Jayalalithaa in Chennai on the previous day. The Bishopsaid:
“We urged the Chief Minister that the State Cabinet pass a resolution demanding the permanent closure of the KKNPP and appealed to her to withdraw cases against some of the protesters during the agitation. We also appealed to her to draw a comprehensive alternative energy policy, which should make sure tapping of non-conventional energy sources at the optimum level so that the environment and people living near such power generation units do not get affected. Since the Chief Minister’s replies satisfied us to the maximum possible extent, we agreed to withdraw the ongoing indefinite fast.”
S.P. Udhayakumar, leader of PMANE gave the details of various meetings to be held in Madurai and at Samithoppu in Kanyakumari district to decide on the future course of action against nuclear programmes in the country. “We’ll even lay siege to the KKNPP in the near future to ensure its permanent closure,” he said.
Before the protesters left the venue they vowed that even though the fast had come to an end nevertheless they would intensify their struggle against the Union government in the days to come.
However, the sprawling pandal erected for the protest is yet to be dismantled. “It will be there till the Union government gives a satisfying reply to our demands. If not, the pandal will come in handy for us again,” said S.V. Antony, president, Uvari panchayat.
This agitation by the anti-nuclear protesters forced Ms. Jayalalitha to make a u-turn on her plans to add six reactors to the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant which already has two reactors constructed, though not yet operating.
Ms. Jayalalitha wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging the government to put the expansion on hold until local concerns were addressed. People have been “agonized, disturbed and gripped by a fear psychosis due to the scope and magnitude of the issue in the wake of the Fukushima mishap,” she wrote.
Dr. A.E. Muthunayagam, convener of Government of India’s Experts Group (EG), which did a survey of the safety features in the plant, expressed his willingness to hold discussions with the anti-nuclear protesters.
On December 2, 2011 PMANE released a press statement welcoming Dr. Muthunayagam’s willingness to hold discussions with them.
The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) welcomes the statement of the Central Government’s Experts Group (EG) convener, Dr. A.E. Muthunayagam, that expresses the group’s willingness to hold discussions with the scientific team of the PMANE.
We request Dr. Muthunayagam to suggest a few possible dates and venue for such a meeting as soon as possible. We would also request him to arrange a visit of the KKNPP site for all the 28 members of our scientific team.
It is also pertinent to remind him of our request for some of the basic documents on the KKNPP project such as the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Site Evaluation Study, Safety Analysis Report, VVER Performance Report, Detailed Project Report (DPR) and all other relevant documents for reactors 1 and 2 in order to facilitate our scientific team’s meaningful dialogue with the Central and State teams.
We would also take this opportunity to insist that the work on the two reactors be halted as demanded by the Tamil Nadu Government’s Cabinet Resolution even as we are engaged in a dialogue process.
S. P. Udayakumar, Ph.D. Coordinator People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy
A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has also been filed against the government’s civil nuclear program at the Apex Supreme Court. The PIL specifically prays for the “staying of all proposed nuclear power plants till satisfactory safety measures and cost-benefit analyses are completed by independent agencies“.
In February 2012, Mr. Udayakumar sent a legal notice to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for insinuating that the anti-Kudankulam protests were funded by United States and Scandinavian non-government organisations.
The pro-government scientific community
The anti-nuclear protestors themselves have enough detractors who rally and protest in favor of commissioning this nuclear power plant. Here are some views by the scientific community on this issue.
Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former President of India, after visiting the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant on November 6, 2011, asserted that there is no need for any panic. “The third generation nuclear reactor is totally safe and is a boon to the people,” he said.
He emphasized, “I am a scientist, I am a technologist, I support nuclear energy along with solar and wind power as it is a clean and green energy which is very much required for the country’s rapid growth now”.
He further added that the reactors located at 13.5 m height would not be effected even by a Tsunami nor would an earthquake threaten them, as Kudankulam is not within any seismic zone. The scientists have taken into account all these natural calamities before designing and fabricating the plant. While 99% of the spent fuel would be processed for reuse in the reactors, the remaining one percent would be converted and protected within a thickly walled underground concrete containment and no waste from the reactor will be dumped in the sea.
Former chairman of Atomic Energy Commission of India Dr. M.R. Srinivasan said that one should never compare the Fukushima plant with Kudankulam and added “The Fukushima plant was built on a beachfront, but the Kudankulam was constructed on a solid terrain and that too keeping all the safety aspects in mind. Also, we are not in a tsunami prone area. The plants in Kudankulam have a double containment system which can withstand high pressure. At least, Rs 14,000 crore has been spent. If we don’t operate the plant immediately, it will affect the economic stability of our country.”
In mid-November 2011, Mr. Srinivasan speaking on the ‘Current scenario of nuclear power‘ at a meeting organized by the Press Information Bureau said that since options like gas, solar and wind energies are expensive, one should never say ‘no’ to nuclear energy, “If we don’t go ahead with nuclear plans, we wont be able to supply electricity to an aspiring population of India. So it’s necessary that the 15-member committee, appointed by the Centre, discuss every point of it with the people,” he said.
A center panel constituted by the Government of India, which did a survey of the safety features in the plant, said the Kudankulam reactors are the safest and fears of the people are not based on scientific principles. The panel’s convener Dr. A.E. Muthunayagam, also added that the protesters have asked for some documents which are not related to the safety of the reactor hence he suspects the very nature of their questions.
Nuclear scientist and principal scientific adviser to the federal Government of India Rajagopala Chidambaram has said “We have learnt lessons from the Fukushima nuclear accident, particularly on the post-shutdown cooling system,” and added Fukushima nuclear accident should not deter or inhibit India from pursuing a safe civil nuclear program.
In early January 2012, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) for the first time admitted that the deaths of some employees and their dependents at the Kalpakkam nuclear site situated about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Chennai, were caused by multiple myeloma, a rare form of bone marrow cancer linked to nuclear radiation. The DAE acknowledged that nine people, including three employees working at the Madras Atomic Power Station at Kalpakkam died of multiple myeloma and bone cancer between 1995 and 2011. The DAE did not willingly divulge the details. This information came to light in response to a Right to Information inquiry from October 2011. The DAE had previously stonewalled all previous requests for information.
“While the prime minister (PM) accuses NGOs funded from abroad of trying to sabotage the ‘state-of-the-art’ Kudankulam nuclear power plant (KKNPP), various studies carried out by government agencies as well as experts suggest that the site is unsafe for a nuclear project.
“The studies reveal potential threats to the nuclear reactor campus from near-shore tsunami, volcanic eruptions, and Karst (vulnerable landscape). DNA has a copy of the reports submitted by the agencies and experts,“
An expert committee appointed by the Tamil Nadu government on Tuesday submitted its report on the safety aspects of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNNP) to Chief Minister Jayalalitha, marking a crucial stage in the debate over the project. Ms. Jayalalitha in the wake of the acute power shortages in the state, which certain quarters say has been artificially created (see Press meet – Artificial Power cuts in Tamilnadu), has made a u-turn once again by favouring the commissioning of the plant. “In accordance with (today’s) cabinet decision, immediate steps will be taken (to facilitate commissioning) of the plant,” she said in a statement, breaking her silence over the issue.
S.P. Udayakumar reacted:
“Of course, we feel cheated by the chief minister J. Jayalalithaa. She has been using us. She encouraged us all these days and allowed us to carry on with the protest. I visited the chief minister’s office twice and met her and also visited the collector’s office. Even then, there were cases against me. Why didn’t the police arrest me then? She has let us down… But yes, I felt we were deceived. We were tricked. But I could a sense a pattern, a build-up in the direction of the state government’s reversal of its decision to support the protesters. When I met the chief minister for the first time she was very cordial. I had a one-on-one talk for 45 minutes. But the second time she did not even talk to me. So the state government’s decision was not entirely unexpected. It was only delayed by seven months.”
There is a general opinion in Tamilnadu that to win the Sankarankoil by-poll Ms. Jayalalitha acted as a sympathizer of the anti-nuclear protesters and now that her party (AIADMK) had won the by-poll she doesn’t need them anymore.
India has 19 online nuclear power plants generating 4,560 megawatts of electricity. Electricity generated by thermal, hydro and wind power exceeds more than what nuclear power generated. Even so, to meet the soaring demand for electricity, the government of India seeks the development of the nuclear-power industry.
On March 11, 2011, the tsunami developed after a tremendous earthquake of magnitude 9.0 on the Richter scale, devastated Japan’s Daichi nuclear power plant complex. It took all six Tokyo Electric Power Company’s reactors offline.
“THE LIGHTS ARE not going off all over Japan, but the nuclear power plants are. Of the 54 reactors in those plants, with a combined capacity of 47.5 gigawatts (GW, a thousand megawatts), only two are operating today. A good dozen are unlikely ever to reopen: six at Fukushima Dai-ichi, which suffered a calamitous triple meltdown after an earthquake and tsunami on March 11th 2011, and others either too close to those reactors or now considered to be at risk of similar disaster. The rest, bar two, have shut down for maintenance or “stress tests” since the Fukushima accident and not yet been cleared to start up again. It is quite possible that none of them will get that permission before the two still running shut for scheduled maintenance by the end of April.” – Oliver Morton (in “The dream that failed” – www.economist.com)
Since the coastal areas in India are prone to both earthquake and tsunami, certain sectors of the public in India have now raised objections to the proposed nuclear-power generation programs.
The antinuclear protests staged by the local villagers spearheaded by the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) has prompted the government to put on hold the commissioning of the nuclear power plant in Kudankulam, in the Tirunelveli district of Tamilnadu.
PMANE, an antinuclear group in Tamil Nadu led by Mr. S. P. Udayakumar, a teacher, which urges the government to shut down the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant to preserve the ecology of the largely untouched coastal landscape also educates the locals about the harm nuclear power could cause.
Mr. Udayakumar and his PMANE group beleive that nuclear power benefits “industrial India” only and not the average person. “Our end game is to close down this nuclear power plant. We think that this (the nuclear power plant) will have a disastrous impact on our livelihood, on our future generations. Because the Indian government never talks about waste, never talks about decommissioning. It does not tell us the full story,” he said.
In early March 2012, Udayakumar said: “We have been carrying out hunger strikes, rallies, public meetings, seminars, conferences, and other demonstrations such as shaving our heads, cooking on the street, burning the models of the nuclear plants. This struggle has been going on for the past 197 days and the morale of the people is still very very high”.
In Early February this year, Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Srikumar Banerjee told a gathering in Indore, “All atomic energy plants in the country are totally secured as per international standards and are also capable of dealing with natural calamities like tsunamis or earthquakes.”
But amidst the bland assurances lurks a darker reality.
The Madras Atomic Power Station is located at Kalpakkam, situated about 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Chennai, India. In 2012, the Department of Atomic Energy for the first time admitted that the deaths of some employees and their dependents at the Kalpakkam nuclear site were caused by multiple myeloma, a rare form of bone marrow cancer linked to nuclear radiation. The DAE acknowledged that nine people, including three employees working at the Madras Atomic Power Station at Kalpakkam died of multiple myeloma and bone cancer between 1995 and 2011. The DAE did not willingly divulge the details. This information came to light in response to a Right to Information inquiry from October 2011. The DAE had previously stonewalled all previous requests for information.
“The report paints a troubling picture of the policies at the DAE, which sends out high-ranking officials with bland assurances for the public about the nation’s NPPs while privately compiling reports about their health effects, concerns that can only grow as New Delhi presses forward with its nuclear program. Furthermore, the statements that Indian NPPs can withstand earthquakes and tsunamis, made in a country vulnerable to both, smacks of more than a little hubris, as Tokyo Electric and Power Co. made similar pronouncements before the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami destroyed its Fukushima Daichi nuclear power complex.” – John Daly, Sun, 26 February 2012, (in “The Darker Reality of India’s Nuclear Power Goals” oilprice.com)
The following documentary video produced by the Tamil news paper Nakkeeran of Chennai affirms the concern of the people living in and around Kalpakkam. Though all reporting and conversations are in Tamil, the images tell the story vividly.
1:12 – 1:33 Shows the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project
1: 34 – 1:58 Atomic Energy Township, Kalpakkam in Kancheepuram District,Tamilnadu. There are many vilages surrounding Kalpakkam.
1:59 – 2:58 shows 13-year-old mentally retarded Arjun from birth and born with 6 fingers on his right hand. His father was a contract labourer at the nuclear power plant. Arjun speaks like a 5-year-old.
2:59 – 3:20 3-year-old infant Bhuvaneswari born with a stump for a right hand.
3:21 – 3:46 Gokhul, the son of a temporary supervisor, born with a stump for a left hand.
3:47 – 4:04 Jothika studying in standard 3, mentally retarded. Her father Venkatesan worked at the nuclear power plants.
4:05 – 4:50 Suriyaprakash with a deformed left leg.
4:51 – 5:12 A woman king coconut vendor with a gout like swelling.
5:13 – 8:15 A woman complains about breathing, throat infection and swelling of limbs. She further tells about children being born with stumps for limbs, deaf, dumb and other abnormalities. She also says can’t do any agricultural work because the crops are attacked by radiation. The air that she and others breath makes them ill.
8:16 – 8:58 Another woman complains about radiation affecting their health.
8:59 – 7:16 A man says that the birth of deformed and retarded children can be due to the radiation.
7:17 – 7:31 Another man says that plants don’t grow well. Trees don’t bear fruit.
7:32 – 7:56 A young man says that the Kalpakkam plant has been shut down for repairs very often. He says that he has worked there for the past 18 years. He says that there is a rumour that many have died due to radiation but he is not sure whether its rumor or fact. But he affirms that the people of the villages around Kalpakkam are being affected due to radiation.
7:57 – 8:14 – Another young man affirms that children are born deformed, deaf and dumb.
8:15 – till end people living in Kalpakkam talk about the hardships they face and talk vehemently against the Kalpakkam Nuclear plant.