THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
THE BALANCE OF FACTS
The Dreamtime, or the Dreaming, portrays the Aboriginal beliefs in spiritual existence. According to the tribes that first settled down in the continent, the Dreaming's roots date all the way back to the very begging of the creation of the world. The meaning and ideology of the term is generally not so well-understood by non-indigenous people as it is referred to as part of the culture of one of the early nations, which differs from modern perceptions.
The Spirits were the creators of everything. They made the land and the seas, the rocks and the plants, the sky and the earth. They were the higher power and the Australian Aborigines spent their lifetimes honoring this power, which guided their path and shaped their way of thinking. Not only creators of everything, which could be seen as well as felt, the Spirits also gave the Aborigines the Dreaming.
The time when everything started existing according to the initial Australians, was called the Dreaming. This is the foundation of the continent's culture. The origin of the Dreaming goes way back - 65 000 years back in time to be exact. The Ancestors of the nation shaped the land, forming some parts of it as sacred. The Aborigines were very careful and overprotective of those places, strongly believing in their significance.
The Australian Aborigines are known to have believed that the world didn't have any shape and was therefore empty. Darkness dominated, and life was simply asleep, but this changed when the creation began happening. After the Dreaming and the influence of the Spirits, objects began taking shapes and came to be. They created the four elements: water, earth, air and fire, as well as all the planets, the Sun and the Moon. The Dreaming therefore is a continuous process, which never ended. It is a small cosmos on its own, unifying the past, present and the future into one.
The Australian Aborigines' home riches so many vivid areas of the continent, including Fraser Island, Tasmania, Palm Island, Groote Eylandt and Mornington Island. The Aborigines had very strong believes in relation to the powers of the land, claiming that they never owned it - it rather owned them. The only reason they were able to call it their home is because they were looking after it and the land was taking care of the people in return.
Equally important to the Dreaming was the tribes' understandings of the disappearance of the Spirits. There came a time, when the creators of everything vanished from sight. Some of them were thought to have started living in sacred places, which is why the Aborigines perceived their homeland to be so sacred. The ancestors of today's Australians used to believe that the creators started living in rocks, in water holes and some went up to the sky to guide the people from above and keep them safe. Others transformed completely, taking the forms of the rain, the lightnings and the thunderstorms so they could be part of peoples' life.
Among the hundred's different Aboriginal languages, there isn't a word to describe 'time', because to them this simply doesn't exist. Dreaming and Dreamtime are used to replace it and summarize the ideologies of the Aborigines about everything they knew, everything they could see, feel and experience. This is why the Dreaming has such a vivid, and overwhelming meaning and has survived the obstacles of time. For the past couple thousand years, the Dreaming has built a rich cultural heritage that can identify a whole nation.
Read more about the Land, its connection to people and the way it has been perceived from different generations in the very first print issue of ORIGIN. The Land Issue covers varied topics, most of which remain related to cultural aspects of the land and its importance.
A lot of people travel to explore places and learn about them which is the message that ORIGIN wants to spread. With traveling, however, comes certain responsibilities that we should all be aware of. Elephants riding has become a popular way to explore locations by land. People have been doing this as part of their trips, mostly to places such as Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia and other parts of Asia. It is a common thing to see in certain places in Africa as well. We investigated the activity to explain why it is wrong and riding elephants should be banned everywhere.
Our first print issue studies culture and traveling represented through the land. We explored various location around the globe and learned what makes the land so valuable, which nations cherish it and how it helps us establish an identity. Traveling is important to us but traveling responsibly and making an impact is what we feel proud to stand behind. This is why riding elephants as a way of amusement should be reconsidered.
Let’s talk about the details. Elephants are very caring and extremely intelligent animals. It is a well-known fact that they never forget anything. When kept in captivity instead of spending their life in the wild, elephants die younger. Unlike in other species, this is common for the gentle giants and is often a result for stress.
Many African cultures respect elephants, believing they symbolize strength, loyalty and power. However, power can be a very tender concept. Elephant used as a tourism tool suffer from great pain daily. Elephants can be hurt very severely from the weight of carrying people and a trainer on their backs. The reason for this is the design of their spines. They have sharp protrusions, extending upwards from their spine instead of having round spinal disks. The protrusions and the tissue that serves to protect them can be harmed easily from weight pressure. Once a damage to their spine has been made, there is no going back and sometimes the harm can be irreversible. While this can’t be physically seen, the harm that the chairs can do to the elephants’ skin is. It is often the case that the chairs and the weight on their back can damage the animal’s skin and cause pain to their body. The chair, called Howdah, that gets attached to their backs, rubs on their skin and can cause blisters, which can sometimes get infected.
The training that elephants are required to go through when in captivity sometimes adopts a traditional Thai ‘phajaan’ or ‘crush’ technique. Explaining the technique would compare it to the animals’ spirits constantly and continuously being broken by the means of torture and social isolation. This is done in order to tame them. Elephants are wild animals, this is their nature as they are born in such conditions. Making them safe and obedient around people requires them to go through such training. As horrible as it sounds, in some places young elephants are taken away from their mothers to be abused with nails, bull hooks and bamboo sticks to make them obey rules, given by people. The animals often lack sleep and are starved to become submissive.
Actions from such nature are cruel and harmful as the technique is used to crash the animals’ spirit. Once wild and free, elephants become a source of tourism and entertainment. Nobody, who cared about sustainable tourism should ever ride an elephant.
In a sense, elephants have a human soul. They socialise and feel everything – pain, happiness, grief, sadness etc. They spend their life building families and finding friends. The largest land animals are a gift from nature and it is our responsibility to take special care of them and make sure they live according to their nature. Many animals, who are kept in captivity, are forced to live in isolation and carry heavy loads all day long, which is a wrong way to treat them. Their strength and power shouldn’t be abused but treated gently and celebrated by people. Elephants require minimal care to stay happy and healthy, which comes from giving them freedom to behave naturally and socialise. It is our responsibility to be culturally aware while traveling and make sure to spread awareness about the problem.
You can read the rest of the article as published in the LAND issue.
'LUNGS OF THE WORLD' BURNING
We are living through a climate emergency and the time to act is now!
Words: Aleksandra Georgieva
29 August 2019
Unprecedented wildfires are ripping through the Amazon rain forest in Brazil and deforestation is to blame. Fires are common during the dry season in the Amazon (between July and October). Yet, the world's largest tropical rain forest holds a lot of moisture and fires of the current scale are not a natural occurrence. This year’s situation is the most intense in almost a decade. The largest state in Brazil has declared a state of emergency.
The National Institute for Space Research (Inpe) registered more than 75,000 forest fires in Brazil over the first eight months of the year. The data for the same period in 2018 stated 40,000 fires, which comes up to an 85% increase. The north states of Brazil were affected the most. An increase in forest fires was registered in all north regions compared to the same months between 2015-2018. Amazonas fires increased with 81%, Rondônia’s with 115%, Acre’s with 138% and Roraima faced 141% more fires than the previous four years.
Global Importance of the Amazon
Known as "the lungs of the world," the Amazon is home to one of the greatest ecosystems on Earth. It plays a vital role at limiting the global warming crisis by absorbing millions of tonnes of carbon emissions each year. The Amazon hosts 3 million plants and animal species. The world’s largest tropical rain forest is also homeland to 1 million indigenous people, who rely on its resources to survive.
While the Amazon naturally absorbs harmful greenhouse gases, the current fires restrict that ability. As a result, large amounts of smoke and carbon are spread across and beyond the region. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (Cams) estimates that the smoke has travelled so far, it darkened the São Paulo skies (more than 3,200km away) and reached the Atlantic coast.
Cams is part of the EU’s Earth observation programme. Data from the monitoring service calculates this year’s Amazon fires have released the equivalent of 228 megatons of carbon dioxide so far. Another threat to the environment is the release of carbon monoxide – a gas that is toxic at high levels and occurs when wood is burning, leaving no access to oxygen.
Cause of The Fires
From farmers, who clear land for crops to lightning strikes, a forest fire can occur in many ways. However, the case with the Amazon is different and unarguably alarming. Inpe links the natural disaster in the region directly with deliberate deforestation. The institute uses satellites to track deforestation in real time. In July over 10,000 alerts were sent and the numbers of deforestation were 278% higher than those of July 2018.
Business prospects for the Amazon result in people clearing the land to make room for agriculture and cattle raising. They cut down entire sections of the forest, either leaving the trees to dry or setting them on fire. While this is illegal, the country’s government looks the other way. Activists put the blame on Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for encouraging anti-environment, tree-clearing practices.
Apart from harming the global state of the environment, the Amazon fires inevitably affect the indigenous people, who inhabit the region. Not only has the quality of the air they breathe worsened, but their ability to live their day-to-day lives has been negatively affected as well. Some locals’ lands have been badly damaged, as the fires bring death to the flora and fauna alike. Emergency workers, attempting to limit the damage in the region, are setting up sanctuaries across the area for the scared animals that run wild to escape the flames.
More Than the Amazon
Other countries in the Amazon basin have also faced a recent increase in the forest fires. An area of 7.4m km2 (2.9m sq miles) has been burning amid the largest tropical rain forest on the planet. Venezuela experienced more than 26,000 fires this year. Bolivia holds the third place with more than 17,000 fires registered so far. The situation in the east of the country is getting out of hand and a fire-fighting air tanker was hired in attempt to limit the spreading of the flames.
The Amazon is the largest tropical rain forest on Earth, covering 5.5 million square km of the planet’s surface.
According to the World Wildlife Fund 17% of the Brazilian Amazon is already deforested.
The Amazon fires hugely contribute towards the melting of the Greenland’s ice, declared as a “major melting event” by NASA.
The Amazon alone contributes to 20% of the world’s oxygen through photosynthesis.
Burning the “lungs of the world” means that humans are sabotaging the entire support system of the planet.
By absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, the Amazon plays a vital role in reducing the climate change.
Mass deforestation occurs throughout Europe, Malaysia and Alaska as well. Similar to the scale of the 2019 Amazon fires is a phenomenon happening every year in Indonesia too.
Forests cover around 30% of the land area on the planet, but deforestation is happening globally at an alarming rate.
Between 1990 and 2016, we lost a forest area larger than South Africa. According to the World Bank the numbers equal to 502,000 square miles (1.3 million square kilometres) of deforestation.
What You Can Do to Help
Sign WWF’s Amazon Emergency Petition requiring the UK government puts the Amazon fire crisis at the top of the G7 agenda.
You can sign a petition to demand that the United Nations and the EU put sanctions and force the Brazil government to address the issue with deforestation.
You can also contact your member of parliament to state your concerns.
Ensure the paper and wood you use are sustainable through the Rainforest Alliance.
Donate to the Rainforest Action Network to protect an acre.
Amazon Frontlines is an activist group fighting to stop the oil drilling and agriculture’s negative effect on the people, who rely on forest resources to survive. Consider donating to help fund these causes and making sure such voices are heard.
Control your consumption of meat and animal by products – agriculture is the main cause behind the Amazon deforestation. Soy also creates a huge profit to Amazon farmers.