The answer is giant cookie monsters

gray and black galaxy wallpaper
Photo by Pixabay on

(This is not meant to be taken seriously. But then again, who knows?)

As we all know, the earth revolves around the sun. The sun and our solar system revolve around the Milky Way galaxy, and each complete turn around the galaxy takes about 200,000 years, which is quite a long time. What we commonly acknowledge as our own human history is around 5,000 years, beginning with the start of writing at maybe around 3,000 BCE.

We have no idea what awaits us on the long journey around the Milky Way, and no idea what may have happened on previous revolutions. It’s a bit like early explorers sailing around the globe – where would they encounter choppy seas, where would there be huge waves – or giant squids waiting to attack – or a hot baking sun, unrelenting?  No one knew.

We kind of imagine that stars are stars, and that’s pretty much what’s out there in outer space – just stars, clusters of stars, nebulous clouds, crowded spots and less crowded spots, but really, we haven’t a clue.

Apparently, our sun is currently about halfway out along the spiral arms and seems to be in a less traveled space in between one spiral arm above and one below. So, round and round we go. We move forward as part of the spiral arms of stars that circle around the galaxy.

What if there is a patch where there are unforeseen hazards?  Maybe there are some ultra weird vibrations from a strange kind of star – or a whole bunch of strange stars?  Maybe extra gamma rays or quarks or super strange neutrinos or something that speeds things up or slows things down or, like a ship at sea, is suddenly really, really bumpy, or extra windy (with solar wind), or filled with unpredictable magnetism? Or something that shakes everything up or that spins things round and round? Then what? 

Or what if it’s something that creates effects, but that can’t be seen at all? Like big giant goblins with fiery breath?  Or invisible monster spiders waiting to trap us in spidery webs?  Or wispy, ghosty things that glow in the night? Well, you say, these things don’t exist. Really? Can you prove that they don’t exist?

What if we travel through a really hazardous, uncomfortable patch that lasts a couple of thousand years? What then?

Things have gotten quite uncomfortable lately:  floods and mega-droughts, natural cataclysms (this isn’t, in any way, to deny human-caused climate change, but sometimes there can be more than one cause for an effect). As for how humans are doing, part of our American population might be described as violent and delusional – another part as feeling victimized and a tiny bit self-righteous. (No one will agree with this, because we each see our own viewpoint as the correct one.)

In the meantime, much of the U.S. workforce has either gone on strike or gone AWOL.  It has vanished. No one quite knows where or how, but one can see the consequences – shortages, unexpected and inconvenient. There are not enough people to move merchandise that is bought – so it sits, piled up, unable to get where it is going, unable to reach customers.

Meanwhile, rates of mental ill health are soaring – depression, violent crime, murder.

And then, of course, there’s the pandemic – such an odd virus.

It is almost as if great hordes of giant demon cookie monsters have been lying awake, clustered by the starry roadside, waiting to pounce upon us unsuspecting earthlings just as we sail innocently by, on our 200,000 year-long wheel around the galaxy – casting our health and our civilization into disarray.

I think giant cookie monsters lying in wait is as good an explanation as any. What do you think?

World Environment Day – Think before you eat



By NANDITHA KRISHNA, Director, CPR Environmental Education Centre

First published by The Hindu, June 5, 2013



This year’s World Environment Day message is targeting food wastage and campaigning for correct food choices.  This is a problem of nations in North America and Europe, East Asia, and urban India.  For every child who goes to sleep hungry, an urban child probably throws away his plate of vegetables.


It is estimated by the FAO that approximately 1.3 billion tonnes of food is being wasted every day throughout the world.  This is equivalent to the entire annual agricultural production of sub-Saharan Africa.  It is also estimated that one in seven people in the world goes to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of five die daily from hunger.


India was a food deficient country till the 1960’s when a terrible famine engulfed the whole country.  The Green Revolution made the country self-sufficient in food grains. India’s food grain output for the year 2011-12 was 252.56 million tonnes.  The stocks of food grain with the government reached 82.4 million tonnes.  However, the lack of adequate storage facilities and the absence of a proper distribution system meant that much of the food did not reach those who really needed it.  First and foremost, urgent action should be initiated by the Government to prevent wastage.  But it is more than food grains.  Our consumption of meat is growing.  One billion people worldwide do not have access to clean drinking water.  Yet the chicken industry uses 3,900 litres of water to produce 1 kilogram of chicken, while only 900 litres is required for 1 kilogram of grain. India is now one of the world’s largest producers of milk, with an annual production of about 127 million tonnes, much of which is exported.  The effect of this cattle population on our land is disastrous.  It takes more fossil fuels (diesel/petrol) to produce and transport animals and animal-based food than locally procured grains and vegetables.  The ecological consequences of our insatiable appetite for meat, which has grown 500% since 1950, is frightening.


The intensive farming of animals negatively impacts biodiversity through habitat loss, climate change and the introduction of alien species which compete for limited natural resources.  For example, although the capacity of the world’s fishing fleets has increased five-fold in the last 40 years, the productivity of the world’s fishing grounds has declined. 15 out of 17 of the world’s major fisheries are either depleted or over-exploited. Prawn fisheries on the Tamilnadu coastline have resulted in saline groundwater.  And so on.


Today, rice output is growing.  The consumption of cereals and pulses is going up.  India has been able to meet the demand for rice, wheat, and sugarcane.  Production is now adequate to meet the domestic demand.  However, a growing population requires a continuous augmentation of food production.  In the case of pulses and vegetable oils there is the gap between supply and demand. Hence, during the year 2010-11 India imported about 8 million tonnes of vegetable oils and 3 million tonnes of pulses.


Simultaneously, our eating habits are becoming unhealthier.  Problems like obesity, diabetes, cancer, and other lifestyle diseases are a direct result of poor food choices.  A hearty meal of pizza and coke is not conducive to good health.  Child obesity and diabetes are becoming more common in the world and among affluent Indians.  Good health is directly linked to our food.  If we think before eating, we can make a difference and reduce our “food” print.


The world is home to more that seven billion people.  Feeding such a huge number of people is a gargantuan task.  Sub-Saharan Africa is still subject to periodic famines.  In this scenario, it becomes imperative on our part to eat correctly, avoid wastage, and ensure that every hungry person on this planet has food to eat.  If precious natural resources are protected, and correct food choices are made, there will be enough food for everybody.


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