SUBJECT : Facts of Natural World 

 

101 Facts Natural World

1.      

It’s a tree !

There is a tree that is only slightly bigger than your thumb! The dwarf willow is the shortest tree species in the world. Drwarf willow trees, found mostly in the Arctic region, are shorter than most potted plants. These trees grow no taller than two-and a-half inches!

2.      

The Stink of flowers

Flowers smell sweet, right? Not Rafflesia arnoldii…It smells like rotting flesh! Believe it or not, the rafflesia feeds on insects! It is also the largest known flower on earth. This huge flower has a diameter of almost 1 metre and weighs more than 11 kilogrammes.

3.      

Poison plant

You know that lots of insects and reptiles are poisonous. Some plants are poisonous too, and some are several times more dangerous than insects and reptiles! The castor bean plant is six thousand times more poisonous than cyanide, one of the deadliest poisons known! Just one or two castor bean seeds can kill an adult human beings!

4.      

Not Just for Thumbelina

Have you heard the story of tiny Thumbelina and how she lived on a lily leaf? There is a lily leaf on which even you could stand. The leaves of the giant Amazon water lily or the ‘giant water-platter’ grow up to 1.8 metres wide. These leaves are so strong that they can hold the weight of a grown up person!

5.      

Who do I look like?

Has any one told you that you look like your parents? May be your puppy resembles its mother too. Austrian biologist Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) was the first to prove that looks, behaviour, and mental abilities are passed on form one generation to another in all living beings. This is known as heredity. Famously called the ‘father of genetics’, Mendel loved nature and used a pea plant to show how heredity works!

6.      

Bamboo bulbs

Many things such as paper and furniture, which we use daily, are made from the bamboo plant. Did you know that Thomas Alva Edison used bamboo to make the filament of the first-ever light bulb!

7.      

Name that flower

Louis Antoine Bougainville was a French navigator in the eighteenth century. Do you know that he is most famous for? No, it’s not for wild adventures and treacherous voyages, but for the red-pink bougainvillea flowers that are named after him! Even the Bougainville Island in Papua New Guinea is named after this navigator.

8.      

Pay your ginger !

You must have seen, even tasted, ginger. One of the commonest herbs today, it has been cultivated in parts of India and China for thousands of years. In fact, ginger was considered so precious that Romans used it to pay taxes in the second century!

9.      

Rubbish this !

Have you noticed the hard fibre that is left behind after squeezing the juice from sugar cane? This is known as bagasse. The word bagasse derives from the Spanish Word bagazo, which means ‘rubbish’. This ‘rubbish’ can actually be used to make electricity that can power your house!

10.  

Pest-chasing plants

Insects cause a lot of damage to crops each year. When we spray chemical pesticides to get rid of them, we also harm the plants and other living beings. Neem seeds, neem oil, and seed cakes can be used instead! Neem not only keeps pests away, it does not harm the environment either!

11.  

Poisons that ours

Have you heard the idiom, ‘One man’s poison is another man’s meat? That holds true for curare! Curare is extracted from plants found in the rainforest and is used as poison for darts by some Amazonian people. However, when consumed in low dozes curare can help relax muscles.

12.  

Fungus Fruit

Name your favourite fruit. It’s probably apples or organs or strawberries. Is it a mushroom by any chance? Is mushroom even a fruit? It actually is! Mushrooms are the fruit of a fungus.

13.  

Last of the Line

Many plants around the world are the only remaining specimens of their species. They can no longer reproduce on their own. Through cuttings of such plants are being used to produce them, when the parent plant dies, the species will be considered extinct. An example of this is the Presidio manzanita, which is found at the San Francisco’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

14.  

I wouldn’t call it a diet !

Caterpillars can eat up huge forests. In the United States, The forest tent caterpillar-the caterpillar of the gypsy moth and the birch leaf miner may eat as much as 1.4 million square metres of forest in a year! In their original habitat-Asia and Europe-gypsy moths were not as destructive. They were brought to America in 1869 to set up the silk industry.

15.  

Breathe in Breathe out

Yu know that just like human beings, plants also take in oxygen and give out carbon dioxide when they breathe. But we breathe through our noses, while each part of a plant’s body takes in air separately! Have you ever thought how roots, which lie below the ground, breathe? They do so by taking in the air that is trapped in the spaces between soil particles!

16.  

Withering away

The World Conservation Union’s (IUCN) Red List 2007 has 12,043 plants on it. Of these, 8,447 are listed as threatened. That’s 70 per cent of the plant species! Wooly-stalked begonia, a Malaysian herb, was declared extinct this year. Magnolias, too, are in danger of extinction. Out of a total of 245 species, 131 are in danger of extinction. Some of these specimens are thought to be eight hundred years old!

17.  

As old as Methuselah

Have you heard the phrase, ‘As old as Methuselah,? Methuselah, in the Bible, was supposed to have lived for 969 years. The oldest tree in the world, a bristlecone pine, is named Methuselah. It is almost five thousand years old! Methuselah stands tall in the White Mountains of California.

18.  

Water in the trunk

The baobab tree, which is usually found in hot areas of Africa and India, stores water in its hallow trunk. It can store up to 120, 000 litres of water to last through the summers. And its wood, which gets damp because of storing so much water, can’t be used for fuel or furniture!

19.  

This meal won’t fill you up!

If the shortest tree is about two inches, can you imagine how tiny the smallest plant must be? Watermeal, a kind of duckweed, is the smallest flowering plant. The plant is only the size of the sprinkle on your candy and weighs as much as two grains of salt! It produces the world’s smallest fruit, called a utricle. The plant is found in quiet freshwater lakes or marshes. Since the plant has no roots, it can easily float on the surface of the water. This makes it look like corn meal.

20.  

Tall tales

The eucalyptus tree is found almost everywhere in the world, but it is originally from Australia ! Eucalyptus is one of the fastest-growing varieties of trees. It has fragrant, leathery leaves from which oil is extracted. The Eucalyptus amygdalin is the tallest known variety of trees and can grow as tall as 150 metres !

21.  

Mammoth mariner

Fish are found in small ponds and in large oceans. But you surely wouldn’t see a whale shark in a pond! The whale shark is the largest know fish. It is so named because although it is a fish, it is nearly the size of a whale! It is usually about twelve metres long but some may grow up to twenty metres. This mammoth fish can weigh up to fifteen thousand kilograms!

22.  

Flying backwards

The hummingbird is the only bird that can fly backwards! These tiny birds generally feed on flower nectar, soft-bodied insects, and spiders. Their tiny size doesn’t keep them from being big eaters. In order to survive, these birds have to eat as much food as their own body weight, everyday!

23.  

My skeleton’s outside

Some animals have a hard outer covering, which protects their bodies! This is known as the exoskeleton. Exoskeletons support and protect their bodies, and are most common in insects, spiders and crustaceans. The earliest fossil remains of an exoskeleton dates back 150 million years!

24.  

Killed ! By files

Tsetse is a killer fly that feeds on human and animal blood. This fly is found only in Africa. It can cause sleeping sickness in humans and a similar disease called nagana in domestic animals. The maximum numbers of deaths in the savannah grasslands are caused by the tsetse!

25.  

Oh my cat!

The people of ancient Egypt were the first to domesticate and worship cats. The cat was their most beloved animal. They were considered so sacred that anyone who killed a cat or caused any harm to it was put to death!

26.  

Blind as a fish!

The Gangetic dolphin, or the susu as it is known in parts of Nepal, Bangladesh, and India, is an endangered species of dolphin. It was very common in these areas till about a hundred years ago. It is among the oldest creatures in the world – millions of years old - but the building of dams has threatened its existence. Dam do not allow the dolphins to swim freely up and down the rivers. Believe it or not, the Gangetic dolphin is blind !

27.  

Currency shells

Cowries are a type of snails found mainly in tropical regions, places that are very hot and humid. Cowrie shells were used as currency in countries like India and China till about the fifteenth century. In African countries like Ghana, these were also used to make jewellery.

28.  

Real myth

An animal that does not have a backbone, or vertebra, is known as an invertebrate. The giant squid is the largest invertebrate on the planet. It may measure up to eighteen metres! The giant squid lives deep in the ocean where light does not reach even in the day. For a long time it was thought that the giant squid was just a myth. But in September 2005, Japanese researchers managed to capture the creature on camera in the Pacific Ocean for the first time!

29.  

Snake or Caterpillar

You might think it must be unsafe to be a caterpillar-always in danger of being swooped up by a hungry bird. Some caterpillars have eye-shaped spots on their bodies; their real eyes are very tiny and are located right at the front. The intelligent caterpillars make very good use of the big eyespots. They curl themselves in a way that makes them look like small snakes. This frightens birds away!

30.  

Tracking terns

Every year the Arctic tern files from the Arctic region to the Antarctic. How do we know this? Scientists use bird banding, or bird ringing, to study the migratory behavior and patterns of birds. Christian Mortensen in Denmark started this in 1899. He placed aluminium bands, stamped with numbers for identification, on the legs of 162 young birds. By doing this, the same bird could be found later and studied!

31.  

Fish nests

Its not just birds that make nests. Even some fish do! The male stickleback uses weeds and a gluey substance that it produces to build a tunnel-shaped nest. This is to attract females to come and lay eggs.

32.  

River horses

Did you know that the hippopotamus is a distant relative of the whale? For a long time people thought it was related to the pig. The word ‘hippopotamus’ actually means ‘river horse’ - a term coined by ancient Greeks.

33.  

Turtles tales

Turtles are fascinating creatures. They can live both on land and in sea. The Olive Ridley turtle is the smallest turtle in the world, with an average weight of just about fifty kilograms. The largest is the leatherback turtle, weighing up to 700 kg. The largest known leatherback turtle weighed an incredible 916 kg!

34.  

Otter matter

Sea otters are mammals like you and me. Like all mammals, they are warm-blooded animals. They belong to a group of mammals, which includes minks, weasels, badgers skunks. They are an endangered species. Do you know why? It is because they are hunted for their fur, which is the thickest among all mammals !

35.  

Black death

If you have rats living in unhygienic conditions near your house, you better beware. Rats living and breeding in fifth can spread a deadly disease called plague. Patients may suffer from high fever, blood vomit, pain in the limbs, and swelling of the lymph nodes. In the late 1340s, plague swept Europe and Central Asia killing almost seventy-five million people! This was known as ‘Black Death’.

36.  

Deer shoes

You must have heard of the shoes brand Reebok. Did you know that this brand is named after reebok, a species of the antelope deer that is found in South Africa?

37.  

Cured by a leech!

Did you know that leeches, those blood-sucking worms, have medicinal use? Hirudo medicinalis, which are native to Europe, are the most commonly used medicinal leeches. From earliest times, leeches have been used to suck out poison and ‘impure’ blood, to treat diseases of the skin, tumours, and believe it or not, even madness!

38.  

Going batty

Do you know how tiger moths save themselves from falling prey to bats? They have a Tymbal organ in their throats. With it they can hear the high-pitched sounds produced by bats and take out similar sounds. When the bats come near, tiger moths let out a high-pitched clicking sound that echoes in different directions and confuses bats about the location of the prey!

39.  

No more passenger pigeons

At one time, the passenger pigeon was considered the most populous bird on the earth. Numbering about five billion in the eighteenth century, the bird became extinct within just a hundred years! It was hunted and slaughtered in large numbers for its meat, which was cheap and good in taste. Martha, the last passenger pigeon on record, died in 1914!

40.  

Armadillo woes

The armadillo is the only animal on earth, apart from humans, that can get infected by leprosy! Unlike other animals, its body temperature is unusually low, which makes it more vulnerable to the bacteria that cause this disease.

41.  

As dense as the earth

The earth is divided into the inner core, the crust, the mantle, and the outer core. The inner core is made up almost entirely of iron and the temperatures in this region may be as high as 7,500 degrees Celsius. The earth is the densest of all the key heavenly bodies in the solar system!

42.  

Coral beauty

Coral reefs are the most diverse and productive marine ecosystems in the world. These are found in shallow, warm waters of the oceans. Coral reefs are formed only in the belt extending between 300N to 300S of the equator. Corals need a water temperature of more than 160 C, below which they die. They don’t even grow where the water is more than 30 metres deep!

43.  

Living on a volcano

Hydrothermal vent are openings on the ocean floor through which heated water, which is rich in minerals, flows. Scientist have discovered that life exists deep in the ocean floor near these vents. Since no sunlight can reach there, life forms depend on chemosynthesis-chemical reactions to produce energy-for survival. They make food by using chemicals that are produced by volcanic action!

44.  

Desert ocean

The Sargasso Sea, in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, derives its name from’ sargassum’. Sargassum is a kind of seaweed that floats over the entire expanse of this sea. The Sargasso Sea is often referred to as ‘oceanic desert’! This is because, apart from the vast blooms of these seaweeds, the sea has practically no life at all!

45.  

Deep and dark

Mariana trench is the deepest part of the Pacific Ocean. The deepest point in this trench is called the Challenger Deep. It is located 11,034 meters beneath the surface of the ocean! Now that’s really deep considering that the average depth of the oceans of the world is about 4000 metres.

46.  

A lake? or a sea?

The Aral Sea was once the fourth largest lake in the world and covered about 68,000 square kilometers. Since the 1960s, when the main rivers that fed the sea were diverted to irrigate cotton farms, its area has shrunk by more than 75 percent. Today, the Aral Sea is split in to two water bodies- the large North Aral and the small South Aral. Scientists believe that it may completely disappear by 2020.

47.  

Sea shock

Have you ever wondered why fish and under water animals do not get electrocuted when lightning strikes water? When lightning strikes water, it scatters very quickly on the surface. Since sea creatures usually live much below, they escape the current. Moreover, fish are able to stand a mild current because their bodies are able to conduct electricity better than humans.

48.  

The great desert

Spread over eighty-six million square kilometers, the Sahara Desert in North Western Africa is the largest in the world. That is nearly the size of the United States! Sahara in Arabic means ‘the great desert’. It covers more than one-fourth of the entire continent! Did you know that the Sahara Desert receives more solar radiation than any other place in the world?

49.  

The hot sea

Located between North Eastern Africa and Saudi Arabia, the Red Sea is the warmest sea in the whole world. It is a part of the Great Rift Valley. The surface temperatures of the Red Sea range from 200C to 300C. The Red Sea, formed 55 million years ago, is also the saltiest sea in the world!

50.  

Oasis in the ice?

Polynyas are sea lakes on the polar ice cap. Also known as an ‘Arctic oasis’, a polynyas can remain unfrozen through much of the winter. Polynyas are very important for the ecosystem. It is because of these that life can thrive in this part of the earth during the biting cold winter months.

51.  

Ice, ice, baby!

The horribly cold continent of Antarctica is almost completely covered by ice sheets. The volume of ice on the continent is more than eleven million cubic kilometers. That is nearly 90 per cent of the total ice cover in the world! If all the ice in Antarctica melted down, the sea level of the world would rise up by more than 60 metres!

52.  

Freezing cold? Think again?

Which is the coldest continent on the planet? You may have guessed it right; it is Antarctica, the ice continent. Antarctica is almost entirely covered by ice. On July 21, 1983, Russia’s research station in Antarctica, the Vostok Station, recorded the lowest temperature ever on earth. Mercury dipped down to an astonishing - 89.20C !

53.  

To the pole!

Till the early years of the twentieth century, the South Pole was inaccessible to human beings. This ice-capped region, which lies at the bottom-most tip of the globe, was first scaled by Norwegain adventurer Roald Amundsen (1872-1928) in 1911. Amundsen is known to be one of the most successful pole explorers the world has seen.

54.  

Crater blast!

The Barringer crater in the Arizona desert, United States, is one of the best-preserved craters on earth. Named after its discoverer Daniel Barringer, this crater measures more than a kilometer across and is 175 metres deep! It was created when an iron meteorite weighing 300,000 metric tonnes collided against the earth’s collided against the earth’s surface.

55.  

Maximum snow

The mountains of Washington state, United States, received the highest recorded snowfall in the world. In 1998-99, the Mount Baker Ski Area, outside of Bellingham in Washington recorded the highest total snowfall ever measured. In just one season an unbelievable twenty-nine metres of snow fell in the Mount baker area!

56.  

On the route

The Mesopotamian civilization is said to have arisen along the rivers Tigris and Euphrates. These rivers, in Iraq, form a large part of the key migratory route of many birds! These migratory birds fly to Africa in winter and go back to Europe and western Russia in the summer months for breeding.

57.  

Cutting down homes

Forests are home to many animals and plants. When forests are cut down a number of plant and animal species die out too. Scientist believe that more than fifty thousand species go extinct every year!

58.  

Chinese Floods

Throughout history, floods have proven to be the deadliest of natural disasters. And a country that has suffered a lot because of floods since the fifteenth century in China. Do you know that the river Hwang Ho, caused the worst flood in China in 1931? The Hwang Ho, which is infamously known as China’s sorrow, claimed nearly 3.7 million lives!

59.  

Quaker shaker!

The most devastating earthquake ever recorded was the one that rocked the Shaanxi province of China in 1556. The earthquake is believed to have been so powerful that 830,000 people perished and many hundreds of thousands of people lost their homes and property!

60.  

Not bagged down by carbon!

Peat is partly rotted vegetable matter, which build up in damp, marshy areas, and airless conditions over long period of time. Peat bogs, the area where peat is formed, are important because they act as carbon sinks, that is, they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it. In the United Kingdom, 90 per cent of peat bogs have been lost over the last hundred years.

61.  

Red Skies

Have you wondered why the sky looks red during down and dusk? During sunrise and sunset the sun is lower in the sky and light takes longer to travel towards us. On the way, six of the seven colours in the spectrum of sunlight get scattered and only the red colour reaches us. This makes the sky look red.

62.  

Hail storm!

When precipitation falls in the form of spherical or irregular lumps of ice, it is known as hail. Hail develops in clouds known as cumulonimbi. Hailstones could be five millimeters or larger in diameter. The largest hailstone on record fell on June 22, 2003, at Aurora in Nebraska, United States. It was seven inches in diameter and had a circumference of almost nineteen inches!

63.  

Beauty from the sea

Located at a depth of almost 418 metres below sea level, the Dead Sea, fed by the river Jorden, is the lowest lake in the world. The water of the Dead Sea has the highest density among all Sea has the highest density among all seas in the world. The minerals in the water make the skin soft and clear and its sediments are used as mud packs!

64.  

The year files by on Mercury

Mercury is the planet closest to the sun in the solar system. Mercury goes around the sun once in eighty-eight Earth days. In the time that it takes to complete one year on Earth (three hundred and sixty-five days), four years would have passed on Mercury! But the days really drag on that planet. A day-from sunrise to sunset-lasts 176 Earth days on Mercury!

65.  

Roman God day

You know well that Saturday is the sixth day of the Sunday. But what you probably do not know is that Saturday gets its name from Saturn, the Roman God of agriculture and vegetation! Saturday is also the only day of the week named after a Roman god.

66.  

Bomb the clouds!

In some cold countries, there is an interesting way of breaking the storm clouds that would otherwise fall to the ground and ruin the crops. Rockets or anti-aircraft shells are fired into the clouds. The icy clouds are disintegrated into tiny particles and the crops are saved!

67.  

World radio

We all listen to music on radio AM. The broadcast takes place from different locations in the country. One of the farthest layers in the atmosphere is the ionosphere. When radio waves pass the ionosphere, the waves bend, or refract. This makes it possible for you to be in Jaipur, yet listen your favourite music on radio that is being broadcast from Delhi

68.  

Centre of the world

The ‘geocentric theory’ was propounded by Claudius Ptolemy about 1,900 years ago. According to it, the earth is the centre of the solar system. It was fourteen centuries later, in 1543, that Nicolaus Copernicus put forwards the ‘heliocentric theory’ that says that the sun, and not the earth, is the centre of the solar system!

69.  

Sea storms

A waterspout is a tornado over a water body, like a sea, river, lake, or pond. These occur most often in oceans and seas. Fast swirling winds moving at more than 95 kilometres an hour; throw the water upwards in a spout. Waterspouts are quite common in tropical areas where thunderstorms occur very frequently.

70.  

Glass is from Egypt

It was thousands of years ago that man learned the art of making glass. The basic material used to make glass was the same at the time of its invention in Egypt, as it is now! The only differences is that nowadays cullets, or broken glass, is added at the time of manufacturing  to make sure that the glass can be recycled.

71.  

Eight-country river

The Nile is the longest river in the world. It travels 6,700 kilometres through almost half of Africa and into the Mediterranean Sea in Egypt. The river begins in the tiny country of Burundi and flows through eight countries before reaching its final destination.

72.  

Colossal current

The North Atlantic current is special. It is anything but the size of a mere water current. Believe it or not, it carries twenty-five to thirty times the water carried by all the rivers in the world put together!

73.  

Expanding universe

You may have heard of the Hubble Space Telescope. American astronomer Lyman Spitzer proposed the idea for this telescope in 1946. It is named after the legendary Edwin Hubble who showed in 1929 that the universe is expanding! The speed at which the galaxies are moving away from us depends on their distances from us.

74.  

Falling from a height !

The world’s highest waterfalls are the Angel Falls located on the Gauja tributary of the river Rio Caroni in Venezuela, South America. With a height of almost 975 metres and an uninterrupted drop of 806 metres, the Angel Falls are an absolute natural wonder! The falls are named after Jimmy Angel, who is credited to have discovered them. However, these were actually discovered by Ernesto de Santa Cruz in 1910 !

75.  

Rock water

Have you heard of a water source known as the artesian well? It refers to a hole drilled deep into an underground layer of rock, where the pressure of water is high. From here, the water is pulled up. You may also find such a well, occurring naturally at places on the earth’s crust where the thick rock layers are broken.

76.  

And explosive from China

The ancient Chinese were the first to invent, as well as master, the technique of making gunpowder. The explosive mixture was manufactured by mixing sulphur, honey, charcoal, and saltpeter. A Taoist warning in the tenth century was against the mixing together of these substances as many people had accidentally been burnt by gunpowder!

77.  

Dangerous man!

Human activities have been one of the major reasons for many different species of birds and animals becoming endangered or extinct. Large scale felling of trees as well as the rising temperature of the earth due to global warming have been responsible for this state to a large extent. The hoolock gibbon, the only ape species in India, is now listed as an endangered species.

78.  

Softening  rubber

When natural or synthetic rubber is heated in the presence of sulphur, it becomes more elastic and resistant to a greater range of temperatures. This is known as vulcanization of rubber. Charles Goodyear discovered this in 1839 when he accidentally dropped rubber mixed with sulpher into fire. The new rubber is of better quality and easier to use.

79.  

Butterfly sight

Ultraviolet (UV) radiations from the sun are harmful for human beings. Direct exposure over a long time can even cause skin caner! UV light is not visible to the naked eye. However, butterflies can see ultraviolet light! They see the ultra-violet designs on some flowers and petals, to which they get attracted !

80.  

Silicon for the sun

The sun’s energy is converted into electricity for our daily use through solar cells. Solar cells are manufactured from the element silicon. After oxygen, silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust!

81.  

Sun in the night

Do you know the sun’s energy is converted into electrical energy? This is done through photovoltaic cells. A photovoltaic cell is used predominantly for use during night time. During the day solar energy is put to use as it is, but at night it is used through these cells in which the electricity is stored. Photo electricity may be used for street lighting, pumping of water, and even for lighting our homes.

82.  

Virus alert !

The fatal condition AIDS is caused by the micro-orgsnism Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). The virus damages the patient’s immune system, thus making him or her more vulnerable to diseases. The immune system of the body is unable to fight against diseases. The most unfortunate part is that there is no known cure for AIDS.

83.  

Toy train

The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Line in the state of west Bengal is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Popularly known as the Darjeeling ‘Tay Train’, the train still runs and is a major tourist attraction.

84.  

Poison in your phone

The element cadmium is used extensively in manufacturing batteries and mobile phones. Are you aware that cadmium is listed as the seventh most dangerous substance known to man? It can mix with the soil, contaminate it, and enter the food chain through plants, which can prove very dangerous for human beings and animals.

85.  

Saving the environment

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading body that assesses the environmental conditions on a global, regional and national scale and works towards environment management and protection. UNEP a headquartered at Nairobi in Kenya, Africa.

86.  

Traffic Signal Pollution

Have you heard of the phrase ‘jack rabbit acceleration’? It is the phrase used when one hits the accelerator hard as soon as the traffic light turns green! This is not good for the environment as a lot of fuel is wasted and there is increased emission of pollutants from the vehicle!

87.  

Long live the revolution!

The Green Revolution in India between the 1940s and the 1960s brought about a sudden transformation in agricultural production. There was large-scale modernization of agriculture and different varieties of crops were developed that gave higher yields. Even since, there has been a massive increase in food production, particularly wheat and rice.

88.  

Protected areas on earth

Covering an enormous area of 972,000 square kilometers, the Greenland National Park in Greenland is the largest protected area in the world! It covers more than half the total area of Greenland ! It is also the only national park on the island country. The protected areas cover more than five per cent of the earth’s total land area.

89.  

River on fire

The Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, Ohio, United States, has been subject to several oil slicks. Beginning in 1868, the river has caught fire many times, because of the floating oil, causing damage worth many thousand dollars each time! After the river burst into flames on June 22, 1969, Time magazine called it the river that ‘oozes rather than flows’!

90.  

Humans for trees!

Have you heard of the Bishnoi community of Rajasthan? Bishnois are famous for protecting their trees and wildlife, especially the wild black buck in their area. In 1750, more than 350 people from this community sacrificed their lives trying to protect the Khejri trees!

91.  

Fuelled by the earth

Most fuels come from fossils, which are found inside the earth. However, burning these fuels can pollute the environment. There is another source of energy that comes from the centre of the earth. The heat inside the earth-the earth’s core-is hotter than the sun’s surface and can be used to make electricity. This form of energy is called geothermal energy.

92.  

The village bank

In 2006, Mohammad Yunus of Bangladesh received the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing about a near revolution in his country. His extraordinary success has been the Grameen Movement in Bangladesh, which he founded in 1976. Yunus set up the Grameen Bank to uplift the condition of the poor by giving them small loans. He has helped change the lives of many people in Bangladesh.

93.  

Archie recycled

The process by which waste material is collected, processed, and recycled for use is known as waste management. Reduce, reuse and recycle are the three ‘Rs’ of waste management. Did you know that Archie Comics were one of the earliest comic books to be printed on recycled paper!

94.  

Harvesting water

Water is precious, and we have to do all that we can to save it. Harvesting of water and putting it to use is essential. Rajendra Singh has done pioneering work in the field of water management in Rajasthan. Singh received the Magasaysay Award for Community leadership in 2001for his efforts.

95.  

Metal mining

Have you heard the phrase ‘as good as gold’ ? But how good is gold for the planet. Metal mining is one of the most polluting activities in the world. For every ten grams of gold extracted, about twenty tonnes of waste is created!

96.  

Environment emergency rooms

Conservation International, an organization that works to protect plant and animal life on the earth, has identified thirty-four of the world’s biologically rich areas. These areas are called ‘hot spots’ and cover just 2.3 per cent of the earth’s surface. The ‘environment emergency rooms of our planet’, these are home to 75 per cent of the most threatened plants and animals in the world.

97.  

German Wind Energy

The world’s largest installed capacity for generating wind power is in Germany. There are 23,000 wind turbines in the country for wind power generation, which employ thousands of people! Even the world’s tallest wind turbine-the Fuhrlander Wind Turbine-is in Germany near Laasow, Brandenburg.

98.  

Life in the mangroves

Mangroves are made up of evergreen trees, shrubs, and thickets that grow along tidal areas. These plants are adapted to salt water and act as a barrier against tropical storms. Spread over ten thousand square kilometers of land and water, the Sundarbans are the largest mangrove forests in the world. They are home to several bird species, offers, spotted deer, wild boars, fiddler crabs, mud crabs, three marine lizard species and five marine turtle species. They also host threatened species such as the estuarine crocodile, Indian python, and the Bengal tiger.

99.  

Go Suez !

The Suez Canal, which connects the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, was built in 1869. The 163-kilometre-long canal made it easy for ships to travel between the Atlantic and the Indian Oceans. Earlier, ships had to go around the entire coastline of Africa to reach from one end to the other. This wasted a lot of precious time and money. When the distance was reduced, it saved fuel and helped in cutting air pollution as well.

100.         

Save the world !

You don’t have to be a conservationist to save the environment. You can do a great deal just by recycling! Recycling aluminum cans can save 95 per cent energy compared to manufacturing new ones; recycling glass saves 50 per cent energy compared to manufacturing from scratch; and recycling paper saves 60 percent energy compared to manufacturing afresh.

101.         

Cycle away !

There is no better sport than riding one’s own two-wheeled vehicle. Yes, we are talking about cycling! This wonderful sport is an excellent form of exercise and even helps lower pollution. Did you know that Japan has the largest number of bicycles per person!

 

 

Source: ENVIS Library