Saturday, February 22, 2014

The art of persuasion


Persuasion is a process aimed at changing a person's beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivations or behaviours. In other words, persuasion is a communicative process of altering the beliefs, attitudes, intentions or behaviors of another by the conscious and unconscious use of words and non-verbal messages (Ilardo,1981). Persuasion is the ability to induce beliefs and values in other people by influencing their thoughts and actions through specific strategies. The skills of persuasion,negotiation and influencing are mind changing skills. Mastering of persuasion skills takes time, effort and a great deal of practice. Understanding persuasion skills is the key to becoming an effective advocate, lawyer, politician and a sales person.

4-step approach to strategic persuasion 

(Richard Shell and Mario Moussa, 2007)

  1. Survey your situation - goals and challenges
  2. Confront the 5 barriers - relationships, credibility, communication mismatches, belief systems and interests and needs.
  3. Make your pitch - your communication skills.
  4. Secure your commitment and consistency.

Laws of persuasion

Law of reciprocity -When someone gives you something of perceived value, you immediately respond with the desire of give something back.
Law of contrast -When two items are relatively different from each other, we will see them as more different, if placed close together in time or space.
Law of friends - When someone asks you to do something and you perceive that person to have your best interests in mind, and/or you would like him to have your best interests in mind, you are strongly motivated to fulfil the request.

Inspiring quotes on persuasion

"Character may almost be called the most effective means of persuasion." -Aristotle.

"Persuasion is often more effectual than force." -Aesop.

"Persuasion is the conscience of mind." -Nicolas Chamfort.

"Influence is the compass. Persuasion is the map." -Joseph Wong.

"The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity." -Zig Zigler.

"Not brute force but only persuasion and faith are the kings of the world." -Thomas Carlyle.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Human relations skill -Be my friend

Maintaining good human relations is a personal quality in a person for a social purpose. It is based on the fact that no man is an island. Human relations development aim at  better understanding and better relationship for cohesive functioning with people.
Human relations can be maintained at several levels:

  1. Human relations in family life.
  2. Human relations in social life.
  3. Human relations in student life.

Objectives of human relations

  1. understanding  human nature.
  2. influencing human behaviour.
  3. ability to get along with people.
  4. selling oneself for employment.
  5. motivating team work
  6. interacting with people and
  7. perpetuating humanity.  

Basics of human relations   

  1. call people by their names; elders and superiors can be called with respect by their titles.
  2. Be simple, approachable and keep smiling.
  3. Be concerned about others honestly; Don't be too selfish.
  4. get rid of your own crudeness and misunderstanding.
  5. Have a feeling that everyone is good in his own way.
  6. Be a listener.
  7. congratulate a person on his success and encourage him when he is disappointed.
  8. Behave in a moderate manner and help others to succeed.

Facts to be considered

A stranger  is a friend not yet met. Cheerful disposition is best. Intolerance is worse.
Admitting one's mistake is the mark of a great man. Prejudice is bad. No need to confront others as in a tug of war. The little touch, a pat or a stroke brings great benefit. One should not generalize without understanding fully well. One can paste everything except a broken heart.

Leadership skills

Definition of leadership

"A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved.
  He inspires the power and energy to get it done."  -Ralph Nader.
"If  your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more
  and become more, you  are a leader." -John Quincy Adams.
"Leadership shows judgement, wisdom, personal appeal 
  and proven competence."- Walt Disney.
"Great leaders are both idealistic and realistic. 
  They have a grand vision and great goals." -Michael Josephson.

Leadership and learning

"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." -John F. Kennedy.

Leadership and action

"Leadership  is action, not position." - Donald H. McGannon.
"Leadership is unlocking people's potential to become better." -Bill Bradley.
"Leaders become great, not because of their power, 
  but because of their ability to empower others." -John Maxwell.
"Action not words determines leadership." - Jeffrey Benjamin.
"Successful leaders have the courage to make action, when others hesitate." -John Maxwell.

Leadership and vision

"Leadership is the ability to translate vision into reality." -Warren Bennis.
"Leader live by choice, not by accident." - Mark Gorman.

Leadership and responsibility

"Leadership is about taking responsibility, not making excuses." -Willard Mitt Romney.
"Management is about arranging and telling.
 Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing."  -Tom Peters.
"The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership."-Harvey S. Firestone.
"Leaders must be dependable people -ALL THE TIME." -Charles C. Krulak.

Leadership and innovation

"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower." -Steve Jobs.

Leadership and success

"Successful leaders lead with the heart, not just the head.
They possess qualities like empathy, compassion and courage." -Bill George.
"Before your a leader, success is all about growing yourself.
When you become a leader, success is all about growing all others." -Jack Welch.

What is leadership?.

Leadership is the ability to inspire and align others to successfully achieve common goals. According to U.S Army Hand Book, leadership is influencing people - by providing purpose, direction and motivation - while operating to accomplish the mission and improving the organization. The effective building blocks of quality leadership are the skills of communication, motivation, organizational development, management and creativity. Generally, leaders have a complex mixture of many traits, values and perceptions. Leadership cannot be taught, but it can be learned.

Theories on leadership

Leadership trait theory says that there are defined personality traits that distinguish leaders from followers. In other words, leaders are different types of people from followers.
Behavioral theories of leadership state that it is the behavior of leaders that distinguishes them from their followers. In other words, leadership is a skill that can be taught.
Situational leadership theories state that a leader emerges to fit the situation. Different people will take the lead in different situations. This suggests that different situations require different skills.

Characteristics of a leader

1..Personal integrity
2.Personal responsibility
5.Good communication skills
6.Remain calm in crisis

Five qualities of a collaborative leader

  1. Willingness to take risks
  2. Eager listeners 
  3. Passion for the cause
  4. Optimistic about the future
  5. Able to share power and credit.

                               "The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards 
                                    they set for themselves." - Ray Kroc

Friday, February 14, 2014

Planning Skills

Planning is an intellectual process of thinking in advance. It is a process of deciding the future on the series of events to follow. It is a process of deciding in advance what to do (achieve), how to do it (achieve the task), when to do it and who does what. Thinking ahead is the privilege given to man alone.

Planning function 

 "Man learns from past experience, analyses the present and plans for the future."
Planning ahead is an essential ingredient in successful achievement of goals and objectives. Planning is an important management function. According to Alford and Beatt, Planning is the thinking process, that is required for intelligent action. Planning ahead is a continuous process and a conscious determination of course of action. according to Allen, plan is a trap to capture the future.

Planning has three major aspects

Objectives - to have a clear idea of the goals to be accomplished; the goals must be measurable and time bound.
Implementation - How are the people and resources to be utilized? What are the activities to be accomplished? and Within what time period.
Evaluation - how to monitor the implementation and evaluate the progress to ensure that everything is working out as planned?

Types of planning

Long -term planning - It is essential for the survival and growth of any institution or business. It can be with broad objectives.
Short - term planning - planning for short time period / step - by - step activities. It is aimed at better utilization of men and resources.

Benefits of planning

Planning ahead clarifies the objectives of various activities. Planning ahead  is usually done to capitalize on opportunities. Planning ahead is basically a decision making function which involves creative thinking and imagination. Planning leads to systematic and methodical work. Planning creates order, rationality and healthy attitude. Planning minimizes the uncertainties of future events. Planning ensures to better coordination of various activities. Planning improves the standard of performance and provides the basis for controlling.

Tips for better planning

Plan your task well in advance and after preparation, double - check your plan. review the plan often to get more insights and test your plan. Ask a question, Is the plan practical ? Streamline the plan and make it realistic. The timing of the plan is critical. Make room in your plan to accommodate changes that occur during implementation.

Quotes on Planning

"Failing to plan is planning to fail." -Alan Lakein.

"Proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance." -Stephen Keague.

"Map out your future, but do it in pencil."  -Jon Bon Jovi.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Optimizing personal performance

' Doing your best' means doing everything possible to make best choice every step of the way.' It is a person's best performance at a task to date.' Make use of your personal best in your challenging tasks. Distractions, discouragement, distrust, doubt and indecision can cause a negative outcome of one's personal performance. Focus your attention, your actions and your feelings on your goals. See your goals, thoughts and ideas as visual images in your mind. See yourself hitting the target on a daily basis. Success in any endeavor is based on finding new and better ways to do things. Jeffrey C.Wickey Sr. quoted,"Avoid bringing the pains of the past  into the present.It serves absolutely no purpose but to poison the mind and divert your focus from what is certainly more important, relevant and within your control ...your future."
 A 13th century poem quotes  the following:
You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dreams.
You were born with greatness.
You were born wings.
You were not meant for crawling, so don't.
You have wings
Learn to use them and fly.    (Rumi).

Understanding the performance variables

We are all performers. But the level of performance varies from person to person. There are successful performers and unsuccessful performers. The level of performance is based on 4 basic variables.
1. Your mental attributes – i.e., The knowledge you have about your field of performance. Talent, personality and motivation come under the mental attributes. The ‘smarter’ you are in your field of performance, the higher your output level of performance.
2. Your physical attributes – i.e., the physical capacity to carry out your performance. Strength, flexibility, posture, coordination and speed include one’s physical attributes. The better your physical ability in your field of performance, the higher your resulting level of performance.
3. External interference – events beyond your control. The more affected you are by external interference, the lower your resulting level of performance.
4. Performance arousal – your state of mind before and/ or during a performance. This can have a positive or negative effect on how you perform. An excitement at an appropriate level for your performance situation positively raises your level of performance. On the other hand an anxiety may lower your level of performance. Optimization of the performance arousal may improve the level of performance in any performing situation.

Human Performance Technology (HPT)

Peak performance is an internal experience of feeling when you have done your best. A successful performer knows how to do what is expected and when it is appropriate to do it. Performance is the product of two factors: capacity and commitment.  A positive attitude and a high level of self-esteem are essential to superior performances. Your performance is essentially within your control. The improvement of a performance emanates from one’s thoughts and feelings. Peak performers are more alert, focused, deliberate and passionate about their actions. Peak performers are able to concentrate on what they are doing. They pay careful attention to every situation. They possess a strong commitment to their work, their goals and their relationships. Peak performers motivate themselves internally. Motivation is what drives all of us. They are motivated by achievement, power, recognition, friendship and love. They also crave for external rewards.   Motivations are closely tied to emotions. A performer’s emotional state at the time of performance has a definite effect on that person’s expectations of success.  A positive emotional state will usually lead to positive expectations of success, while a negative state will do just the opposite. Peak performers are willing to learn from every opportunity and they are teachable (teachability is an openness to learn from every opportunity). Peak performers do honest self assessment. They think critically to make the best decisions and solve problems. Peak performers use reflection to consider previous knowledge and explore new alternatives and ideas. They use visual imagery and self-affirmations to strengthen their positive thoughts and feelings. Peak performers are masters at creating excellence by focusing on results. They are masters of life situations. They control the quality of their lives. 

Tips to live up to your personal best:

  1. Set realistic goals -Goals help you to understand and focus on what is most important to you.
  2. Never allow emotions to distract you - Emotions interfere with the efficient working of the mind and the body.
  3. Believe in yourself - Trust your judgement.
  4. Acknowledge your achievement - maintain a journal to write down your achievements. Count your blessings and achievements.

John Hays Hammond quoted,"To build a great building, start with the foundation. To build a great life, start with character. Character is the real foundation of all worthwhile success."

Will power - the greatest human strength

"Will is the attitude of the mind which is directed with conscious attention to some action." Self discipline/control  is essential to will power to achieve goals. Self discipline  is the ability to control one's emotions, behavior and desires in order to achieve some goals. Willpower is the ability to control oneself and determine one's actions. Willpower is the inner strength (mental faculty) that  enables you to carry out one's decisions, wishes or plans. This  essential skill has a supreme effect on your ability to achieve goals or every day tasks. A volition is the willing power in action. The will may be regarded as both static and dynamic.One is said to be possessed of a strong will (static), when he is capable of exerting his mind with great force in a volition or in a series of volitions. The quality of his will is manifest in the force and persistence of his volitions or his acts.  The manifested will then becomes dynamic; his volitions are the actions of the mind in self-direction. The will is not only a dynamic force in mind, it is also secondly,but also a power of persistent adherence to a purpose.

Definition of will and will power

‘Will’ is the ability to make conscious choice. Will power is the inner strength (mental energy) that enables one to make decisions and determine one’s actions.  When there is will power, there is firmness, decisiveness, determination, assertiveness, persistence and the power to push oneself towards goals and achievements. The better definition of will power is “the power of self-direction.” 

Dimensions of  will power.

  1. ability to resist temptations.
  2. ability to do right things with right speed.
  3. the awareness of one's life goals and desires.

Implementing the power of  will 

  1. Select your objective 
  2. prepare a plan of action
  3. execute the plan with trust.

Benefits of will power

The cultivation of dynamic will is essential to a successful life. The will power connects the thinking with taking action. The will power furnishes perseverance to achieve either short-term or long –term goals successfully. The will power is the mental strength which provides assertiveness and courage to say ‘no’ or ‘yes’ without fear or shyness. It helps to overcome laziness and procrastination. It aids to overcome negative habits and enables one to do difficult things.

Final thoughts

The will power is the motivation to exercise will. In other words, willing is matter of mental states. Self-discipline is the companion of will power. The will power and self-discipline resemble two powerful engines that supply anyone with inner strength, energy and power. The will power concentrates one’s focus and is the spearhead of self-discipline. Vince Lambardi said, “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” A Chinese proverb quotes, “Great souls have wills, feeble ones have only wishes.” In general will power originates from physical, mental and moral health. The will power grants oneself with endurance and perseverance as well as the ability to deal with inconvenience, hardships or obstacles. 

Quotes for reflection

"Character is power."  -Booker T.Washington.

"Thought is the wind,
  Knowledge  the sail and 
  Mankind the vessel."  -Augustus Hare.

"The will to win, the desire to succeed,
  the urge to reach your full potential...
  these are the keys  that will unlock the door to 
   personal excellence." -Confucius.

"There is no such thing as a great talent
  without great will power."  -Honore de Balzac.

Life is a most priceless treasure on this earth

"The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination." -Carl Rogers.
Our journey through life is like travelling in a train.Every stage of the travel you reach is a station. It has been said that "everyone is on a road to somewhere". It is true. Life is just a journey (Diana, Princess of Wales).
Our life have many components which include personal life, family life, career life, spiritual life and our life related to relationships.
Another quote says; " Your fruits in your life are solely based upon the roots that have been developed by the seeds that you have planted".
Lou Holtz quotes: "Life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you respond to it".
Denis waitley quotes: Life  is about choices. "There are two primary choices in life: to accept the conditions as they exist or accept the responsibility for changing them."
"Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood" said madam Marie Curie.
Never run away from your  life. Face it boldly. Dare to be different in your life. Every thing in life needs time to mature. Timing is the key to almost every thing.
"Every successful person has a painful story. Every painful  story has a painful ending. Accept thr pain and get ready for success. if you miss an opportunity don't fill the eyes with tears. It hide guide another better opportunity in front of you.No one will manufacture a lock without a key. Similarly God won't give problems without solutions."
Jeffrey C. Wickey Sir quotes ; "Avoid bringing the pains of the past into the present. It serves absolutely no purpose but  to poison the mind and divert your focus from what is certainly more important, relevant and within your future."
Remember Life is a classroom, not a prison.Your are  the master of your fate and the captain of your soul.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Self improvement strategies

Self-improvement is the improvement of one’s mind, knowledge, status or character by one’s own efforts. Self-improvement can be realized through little planning, discipline and commitment. It requires focus and courage to make necessary changes. Most importantly, one must have honest and fervent desire for improvement. A self-improvement plan is a life- long process that changes with one’s growth and experiences. Self –confidence influences one’s ability to put his/her self-improvement in progress. Self-esteem brings about self-improvement, true self-analysis and determination. A self-awareness exercise can be helpful to identify personal and professional goals. Personal goals relate to you as an individual whereas professional goals relate to your carrier. Self-awareness is about understanding yourself, your actions, feelings, interactions and thoughts. Self-awareness requires reflection and the reflection can be undertaken by you or with others. One has to perform a SWOT analysis through which anyone can identify his / her strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats through reflection and analysis.

Self-improvement steps

1. Identify and define the characteristic to be changed. Do a self-analysis.
2. Gather information and formulate a strategy for this change.
3. Develop an action plan outlining the steps to be undertaken.
4. Practice this strategy actively. Make a consistent progress.
5. Evaluate your progress periodically. If your experience difficulty, revisit your action plan and adjust if necessary.

Self – improvement requires learning. Depends upon the characteristic to be changed, your learning activity must focus on learning new knowledge or new skill or a new attitude. Self-improvement may require hard work over a long period of time. More importantly, self-improvement needs genuine motivation and consistent effort.

Self-improvement goals

Self-improvement is a great goal. Setting objectives, both short- and long-term makes one feel both optimistic and in control. Goals give a direction to the enthusiasm and they point out to the end results. ABC goals are goals that are actionable, bounded and compelling. Actionable goals are goals that can be acted upon. They are behaviour related and are relative. You can plan a way to achieve them. Bounded goals are measurable. One can measure progress toward achieving them. One can develop a time frame for achieving these goals based on one’s actionable plan. Compelling goals compel or force one to action. Goals must truly be important for anybody towards achieving them.

Make constant improvement, a way of life.

Life is a state of mind.You communicate through your mind to discover the world around you. And your world around you responds according to the manner in which you think, feel and believe.
Walter P.Chrysler said:"Some people create their own opportunities; Others go where opportunities are the greatest; Others fail to recognize the opportunity, when they are faced with it,"

Perspective (outlook)

Perspective is seeing things in their right prospect. It all depends on how you look at things. Learn to find the good in everything. Change your thoughts into more empowering ones.Look at the true nature of things. see them as they are.

Lifelong learning

Life wide learning is the ongoing and self motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. It is the learning that is pursued throughout our life. Life long learning is flexible, diverse and available at different times and in different places. As Thomas J.Powell said, "Education does not end at any point in our lives; it is a ongoing journey to be carried with us every day throughout our lives."

Self - directed learning 

The most essential component of the self in relation to learning is self-seen-as-learner. Self directed learners demonstrate a greater awareness of their responsibility in learning meaningful life lessons and monitoring themselves. Self directed learners are motivated, persistent, independent, self-disciplined, self-confident and goal - oriented . they are curious and willing to try new things.

Accelerated learning

Two skills – fast learning and clear thinking –are the key 21st century personal skills. Accelerated learning is the ability to absorb and understand new information quickly and retain that information. Accelerated learning makes learning an enjoyable, successful and satisfying experience. It includes both right brain processing and left brain processing. Accelerated leaning means learning faster and remembering more.

Quotes for self -reflection

"Learning is the beginning of wealth.
  Learning is the beginning of health.
  Learning is the beginning of spirituality.
  Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins." - Jim Rohn.

How to live a simple and peaceful life

6-keys to mastering  the art of living

1.Evaluate yourself.
2.Gather your soul mates.
3.Make sure your home is your castle.
4. Bring more prosperity into your life.
5.Seek more spiritual strength.
6. Maintain your emotional and physical health. 

The art of living is simply unpacking and repacking our bags

Unpacking means taking a long, hard look at what we are carrying and why. Seeing if our possessions, responsibilities and relationships are still helping us move forward or if they're dragging us down.
Repacking is the ongoing activity of reevaluation and reinvention. It is of rearranging our priorities. Then reframing our vision of the good life and recovering a new sense of being active. George Asaf (1915) said,"Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag. And smile, smile, smile..."

PEACE is possible only when Love is in the heart.
When love is in the heart, there is no fear, no anger,no guilt,
no worry, no judging, no criticism, no negativity, no envy,
no sorrow, no hatred, no unhappiness, no stress, no resentment;
only peace. So peace is possible only when LOVE is in the heart.
LIFE is a long succession of choices and decisions.
Put more simply:
Human nature---->Thoughts----->actions.

"Your life is your message to the world.
  Make it inspiring."  -Lorrin L.Lee.

"In matters of style, swim with the current;
  in matters of principle, stand like a rock." - Thomas Jefferson.

"Simplicity, clarity, singleness: These are the attributes that give our lives
  power and vividness and joy as they are also marks of great art.
  They seem to be the purpose of GOD for his whole creation." - Richard Holloway.

Restoring our damaged ecosystems

Ecosystems provide many products and services that are crucial to human survival. For centuries, humans have exploited the Earth’s natural resources without concern for the state of the original ecosystem or the impact of our footprint on nature. Humans have greatly modified the structure and function of global ecosystems. The earth is being subjected to many human-induced and natural changes. These changes include increased demand for resources by economic growth, increased human population, land- use and land-cover change, urbanization, industrialization, increased consumerism and environmental pollution contribute to an increased impact on global ecosystems. In many parts of the world, forests are shrinking, deserts are expanding, soils are eroding and agricultural lands are deteriorating. The emission of carbon dioxide and green house gases is almost certainly causing global warming. Discharge of pollutants has degraded the atmosphere, the hydrosphere and the geosphere in industrialized areas. Natural resources including minerals, fossil fuels, fresh water and biomass have been stressed and depleted. Human activities are destroying the earth’s biodiversity at an unprecedented and accelerating rate. Now the global ecosystems are suffering a critical stress. The degraded ecosystems do not provide the same quality of ecosystem services as fully functional and integral ecosystems. An effective strategy is to prevent further degradation or a loss of an ecosystem is counterbalanced by restoration.

Definition of ecological restoration

In 2004, the Society of Ecological Restoration defined ecological restoration as “the process of assisting the recovery of an ecosystem that has been degraded, damaged or destroyed.”Ecological restoration makes a substantial contribution to the ‘greening’ of the planet through Ecological Engineering (the management of nature) or Ecotechnology (the transfer of ecological principles into ecological management). Restoration ecologist attempts the disturbed ecosystem to reassemble it, to repair it and to adjust it so that it works properly.

Restoration goal

The goal of restoration ecology is the restoration of a degraded ecosystem to their natural condition or the creation of a new ecosystem to replace the one that was lost.Restoration has been called the ‘acid test’ of ecology because of the substantial challenge it represent.

Restoration approaches 

Restoration is the process of rebuilding a degraded ecosystem. Ecological restoration is an intentional activity that initiates or accelerates recovery of an ecosystem with respect to its function (processes), integrity (species composition and community structure) and sustainability (resistance to disturbance and resilience). It enables abiotic support from the physical environment, suitable flows and exchanges of organisms and materials with the surrounding landscape and the reestablishment of cultural interactions upon which the integrity of some ecosystems depends.
 It may have 3 – approaches:
Re-vegetation – re-establish the vegetation cover.
Reclamation – making the ecosystem more habitable to wildlife.
Rehabilitation – rebuilding essential structures and functions of degraded ecosystems.
Ecological restoration re-initiates ecological processes. The restored ecosystem in the course of time self-organizes and becomes increasingly self-sustaining. Restoration ecology and conservation ecology are related because the restored ecosystems provide habitat for species threatened by human impacts.

Restoration components

Generally this can involve many different elements, depending on the ecosystem and the degradation that has occurred. Essentially the process needs attention of 3 aspects:
1. Re-modelling the physical aspects of the habitat;
2. Re-modelling the chemical aspects, nutrients and toxicity; and
3. Replacing missing species or removing undesirable exotics.

Restoration benefits

Ecological restoration helps protect biodiversity, mitigate climate change, sequester carbon, reunite indigenous peoples with their landscapes and cultures and restore a healthy relationship between people and nature.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Global depletion and conservation of natural resources

Natural resources are the materials which are required for the survival and prosperity of human beings. They are objects, materials,creatures or energy found in nature that can be used by humans. A Resource is something that is useful and valuable in the condition in which we find it. Natural resources are not equally distributed in or on the earth. All resource use bears a cost to nature. Human activities have misused, abused and over-used the natural resources.
Perpetual resources -  are not affected by human use   E.g., sunlight and wind .
Renewable resources –are replenished through biogeochemical and physical cycles.
Renewable resources are  of two types : 1.Critical  and Sustainable renewable resources e.g., forests. 2. Non-critical and Everlasting renewable resources e.g., water
Non-renewable resources - do not replenish themselves, or, do so  at a very slow rate.

Forest resources 

A forest is an area with a high density of trees. The trees grow to different heights. Forests are home to 50-90% of earth’s species. Forests meet the social, economic ,ecological, cultural and spiritual needs of human society.
 Functions of Forest Resources
Productive functions - timber, bamboos, food, essential oils,resins,  alkaloids, latex, medicines etc.
Protective functions - conservation of soil and water; Prevention of drought ; Protection against, wind, cold, radiation, noise.
Regulative functions - Absorption, storage and release of gases, water, mineral elements and radiant energy; Regulation of floods, droughts and biogeochemical cycles.
Effects of deforestation  - Unregulated precipitation, runoff water and floods; Influences of rainfall pattern; Increased soil erosion and decreased soil fertility; extinction of organisms; Induces regional and global climate change; reduces forest resources; threatens the survival of tribes.

Water resources 

Water is an essential natural resource for sustaining life. Water forms 60% of our body weight. Water is a renewable and limiting resource. About three – fourth of earth’s surface is occupied by oceans. About 97.5% of the earth’s water is strong saline. The rest 2.5% is fresh water. Pure, usable water on land is only 0.3%.
Conservation of water resources –
- increase irrigation efficiency and reduce water wastage.
-recycle industrial waste water.
-construct waste water treatment plants.
-reduce domestic water wastage.
-adopt rainwater harvesting methods.
-protect watersheds and afforestation to improve water economy.
-never dump wastes and garbage in streams and river.

Land Resources

Land is one of the major life supporting systems. It forms about one fifth of the earth surface. Soil covers about four fifth of the land area. A fertile soil is a living soil containing billions of living organisms in every cubic centimeter. Solar energy is the natural fuel that drives the soil cycles. The activities of living organisms all sizes are interdependent and combine harmoniously to provide the nourishment that sustains all life on earth. Soil erosion is the removal of top soil by physical agents like wind, water, ice etc. Depletion of soil fertility is caused by removal of vegetation, water logging and application of non-degradable chemicals.
Soil conservation :
Conservational tillage – Ploughing improves soil permeability, soil moisture and nutrients.
Organic farming – More organic inputs to soil.
Crop rotation – Growing legumes after cereal crops.
Contour ploughing – Ploughing with alternate furrows and ridges.
 Mulching – Soil is allowed to remain untilled and is covered with plant litter.
Strip cropping – Planting in rows or strips.
Terrace farming – Slope is converted into terraces.
Agrostological methods – Grasses are grown in rotation or along with agricultural crops (lay farming).

Afforestation – Trees or wind breaks are planted in deserts.

Food resources

The major source of our food are plants / plant products and animal meat / animal products.
Major problems of modern agriculture - Intensive farming reduce fertility and productivity of soil. Increase soil salinity. Over use of chemical fertilizers contaminate soil and ground water. Excessive use of pesticides and herbicides kill beneficial soil organisms.

Air resource 

Air is one of the natural resources and is a life-supporting system. It forms the immediate environment of the earth and biosphere. Organisms can respire oxygen and survive in the world. Rainfall in any area depends on wind or air current. Wind has been used to generate electrical energy. Ozone protects the earth from Ultra violet rays. Nitrogen is an important mineral nutrient for plants. Air acts as a medium for some microorganisms. Water vapor maintains atmospheric humidity and in precipitation.

Mineral resources 

Minerals are exhaustible, non-renewable. Minerals are relatively plentiful. Minerals are extremely expensive. Minerals are extremely expensive. Disposal of minerals have negative effects on environment. Metallic minerals - e.g., iron, copper, silver, gold etc. Non-metallic minerals -e.g. Sand, stone, salt, phosphates.

Energy resources 

Life depends on energy flow through ordered structures of matter. Energy is produced usually from fuel burning and atom splitting. About 70% of the world population has no sufficient access to energy.
Types of energy resources
Renewable an energy source that can be replenished in a short period of time.  e.g. solar energy, wind energy, hydro-energy, tidal energy and geothermal energy.
Non-renewable –  some energy sources cannot recreated in a short period of time.  e.g. Coal, petroleum and natural Gas

Sustainable Conservation

Stabilizing population growth
     The relentless growth of population has been a critical factor in over utilizing natural resources. Human race must willingly practice population control.It should be stabilized at the level of carrying capacity.
2. Change-over in energy use
     A change – over is necessary from non-renewable polluting energy to renewable and non-polluting.
3.Change – over in technology: Change is needed from resource – intensive and pollution – prone technologies to environment – friendly technologies.
4. Change – over is economy: The economic development must be environmentally sensitive and sustainable.
5. Scientific conservation: Conservation is the “global of efficiency”. Scientific methods should be followed to manage nature and natural resources efficiently.

Quote for self-reflection

"Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land." -Aldo Leopold.

"Green economy is not a luxury of the rich,
 but an imperative of the poor." -Nick Nuttall.

Water crisis and Human water footprints

The earth is  the only planet  with water and supports life. The planet earth is also  called the  ‘blue planet’ due to the  presence abundant water on its surface. Water covers approx.71 % of the planet earth and constitutes 60-70 % of the living world. An average adult human body contains 42 liters of water.Water is a common good that belongs to all living beings. It is the duty of human beings to ensure a collective management in its use, conservation and protection.

Water crisis 

 Water is facing a crisis today. Water scarcity affects all social and economic sectors. There are concerns that water will increasingly be the cause of violence and even war. Water is recognized as one of the key limiting resources of this millennium. Approx. 700 million people in 43 countries  suffer as a result of water scarcity. Nearly 1 billion people lack safe drinking water. Half of the world’s 500 major rivers are polluted. About 75% of India’s lakes and rivers are too polluted for safe use. Each year, there are about 250 million cases of water- related diseases. It is estimated that at least 1.5 million children under the age of 12 die annually due to water pollution.About 1.4 million people die each year in India from water pollution.

Global issues of water :

Water shortage – the levels of available water do not meet minimum requirements.
Water scarcity – the relationship between demand for water and its availability.
Water stress – the decline in water quality.
Water security – secure access to adequate quantity and safe quality water over time.

Water shortage is used to describe an absolute shortage where levels of available water do not meet certain defined minimum requirements. By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may be facing water shortages.
Water scarcity is either the lack of enough water (quantity) or lack of access to safe water (quality). Water scarcity is caused by low rainfall, high population density, tourist inflow, intensive agriculture and more water demanding industries. About 1.1 billion people lack access to water and 2.7 billion people experience water scarcity at least one month a year.
Water stress is caused by the demand for water far exceeds the available amount. The term is analogous to the common use of the term ‘drought’.
Water security can be defined as access by all individuals at all times to sufficient safe water for a healthy and productive life. In other words, water security is defined as the availability of an acceptable quantity and quality of water for health, livelihoods, ecosystems and production.
Pollution of sea water 
About 50% of the world’s population lives on or within 160 miles of shore. Fourteen billion pounds of garbage, mostly plastic, is dumped into the ocean every year. For every 1 million tons of oil that is shipped, about 1 ton is spilled. More oil is seeped into the ocean each year as a result of leaking cars and other non-point sources
Pollution of river water
 Asian rivers are the most polluted in the world. River  Ganges in India is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. Approximately 46% of the lakes in America are too polluted for fishing, aquatic life, or swimming.
Water pollution by plastic wastes
 The amount of plastic waste has been increasing about 10% each year for the past 20 years. Over 1 million seabirds are killed by plastic waste per year. Over 100,000 sea mammals and countless fish are killed per year due to pollution.

Human water footprints

Water footprint measures the consumption and contamination of freshwater resources. It was first introduced by Hoekstra in 2002 to provide a consumption-based indicator of water use. Water footprint  differs around the world and depends on climate, soil types, irrigation methods and crop genetics. Your water footprint extends beyond the average 80-100 gallons of water you use everyday. A product water footprint is the total volume of freshwater consumed, directly and indirectly, to produce a product. Each person daily  needs 20 to 50 liters   for drinking and hygiene. Since 1970, global demand for water has risen nearly 2.4 % per annum. Nearly 20 developing countries  are classified as ‘water scarce’.

Types of human water footprints

Blue water footprint : the consumption of ‘blue’ water resources e.g.surface and ground water.
Green water footprint : the consumption of ‘green’ water resources e.g.rain water stored in the soil as soil moisture.
Grey water footprint : this refers to pollution and is defined as the volume of freshwater

Remedial measures for water crisis :
  1.  Locate the point sources of water pollution
  2. Work against acid rain.
  3. Educate your community about water crisis
  4. žEnsure sustainable sewage treatment.
  5. Watch out for toxins in water.
  6. Be careful what you throw away on water resources.
  7. žUse water efficiently.
  8. Spread the word to your community. 

Quotes on water

"Water is the driver of Nature." -Leonardo da Vinci.

"Water is the Hub of life." -Albert Szent-Gyorgyi.

"When the well is dry, we know the worth of water."-Benjamin Franklin.

"Pure water is the world's first and foremost medicine." -Slovakian Proverb.

"Filthy water cannot be washed." -West African Proverb.

Human Ecological Footprint

Planet Earth is the Home for human beings, animals and plants. Man dominates the world and exploits all available resources. He works as the agent of all environmental degradation. He also becomes its prime victim. Overshoot growth is beyond an area’s carrying capacity, leading to crash: die-off. The WWF's Living Planet Report 2004 confirms that humanity is now consuming over 20 % more natural resources than the Earth can regenerate. August 22, is Earth overshoot day, marking the date when humanity has exhausted nature’s budget for the year.

Concept of ecological footprint

It is a standardized measure of demand for natural capital that may be contrasted with the planet's ecological capacity to regenerate. It is a measure of the demands and the consumption of natural resources by people. The sizes of ecological footprint vary from country to country and from person to person. The ecological footprint compares human demand with planet Earth's ecological capacity . Per capita ecological footprint (EF) is a means of comparing consumption and lifestyles, and checking this against nature's ability to provide for this consumption.The ecological footprint can also be a useful tool to educate people about carrying capacity and over- consumption , with the aim of altering people behavior and life style. EF is a performance measure of productive capacity of the biosphere used to provide natural resources and absorb wastes. In 2006, the average biologically productive area per person worldwide was approx. 1.8 global hectares (gha) per capita. For 2006, humanity's total ecological footprint was estimated at 1.4 planet Earths. In other words, humanity uses ecological services 1.4 times as fast as Earth can renew them. EF is the amount of resources needed by a single individual to survive. The current human population’s ecological footprint is equal to 1.5 Earths. Ecological footprint analysis is now widely used around the globe as an indicator of environmental sustainability. We have one planet, so we must find ways to live within earth’s limits. Global ecosystems have a limited ability to supply us with natural resources (e.g. water, food, solar energy). This is called biocapacity. When a population’s ecological footprint exceeds the biocapacity, biological resource “overshoot” occurs.
A global ecological footprint is defined as the average global capacity to produce resources and absorb waste products. There are only 2.1 global hectares of biologically productive area/ person available on the planet. But the average global ecological footprint is 2.7 global hectares / person.

Impact of ecological Footprint

Every living organism consumes the Earth's resources in order to survive. The consumption of natural resources and subsequent waste has an impact on our ecosystems. When the consumption and waste activities extend beyond the earth's carrying capacity, ecological degradation occurs. Since the mid 1980s, humanity has been in ecological overshoot with annual demand on resources exceeding what earth can regenerate each year. It now takes the Earth one year and four months to regenerate what we use in a year.

Concept of carbon footprint

It is a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted through fossil fuel combustion.The carbon footprint has become a popular tool to estimate GHG emissions related to human activities (Moss et al 2008,Wiedmann 2009). Carbon footprint (CF) – also named Carbon profile - is the overall amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with a product. The primary footprint is a measure of our direct emissions of carbon dioxide e.g.the burning of fossil fuels for domestic energy consumption and transportation. The secondary footprint is a measure of the indirect carbon dioxide emissions from the whole life cycle of the products. An average Carbon footprint of a British citizen is about 10 tonnes of CO2. An average Carbon footprint of an Indian citizen is round about 1.5 tonnes of CO2.
Human activities that cause Carbon footprint - use of transportation (planes, cars, trains);burning of fossil fuels (petrol, coal);process of manufacturing products (clothing, food, personal products);use of household electricity (computers, lights); use of pesticides;Heating and cooling – hot water showers, central heating, air conditioning.

Kyoto Protocol

Six greenhouse gases are regulated by the Kyoto Protocol, as they are emitted in significant quantities by human activities and contribute to climate change. The six regulated gases are Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

Types of carbon emissions as “colors of carbon”

Brown carbon refers to industrial emissions of GHGs. Green carbon refers to the carbon stored in terrestrial ecosystems-e.g. plants, soils, wetlands grazing lands. Blue carbon denotes carbon stored in ocean ecosystems- e.g. mangroves, marshes, sea grasses, coral reefs, macro-algae. Black carbon is the carbon from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels.

The living planet index

LPI It is a measure of the change in the health of world’s natural ecosystems. The global living planet index is a measure of overall trends in populations of terrestrial, marine and freshwater vertebrate species. The index declined by 27 per cent from 1970 to 2005. The living planet index measures trends in the earth’s biological diversity - Terrestrial Living planet index showed a decline of - 33% between 1970-2005. Marine living planet index showed a decline of - 27 % between 1970-2003. Freshwater living planet index showed a decline of - 50% between 1970-1999.

Concept of Ecological integrity, EI

 The Aim of EI is to sustain life on earth. It is a measure of ecological health.

There are 3-facets in ecological integrity -It is the ability to maintain optimum operations under normal conditions; it is the ability to cope with stress in environmental conditions and it is the ability to continue self-organization, evolve, develop and proceed with cycle of birth, death and renewal. EI describes the functioning of nature and human relationships with nature. It includes physical, chemical and biological integrity. Global ecological integrity is the ability of nature’s life support systems to withstand perturbations and continue to provide their usual life – sustaining services.

Global ecological dis-integrity

Environmental degradation is the loss of integrity. Ecological imbalance is the destabilization of fragile environment .
Causes of disintegrity- 1.over – consumption;2.population growth;3.misuse/abuse of technology.
Health effects of global ecological disintegrity - 1.low life expectancy at birth; 2.high infant mortality rate; 3.percent of low birth weight babies

Green technology

Green technology is environmentally friendly technology and is created and used in a way that conserves natural resources and the environment. It's main goal is to find ways not to damage or deplete the Earth's natural resources. The use of green technology (clean technology) reduces the amount of waste and pollution that is created during production and consumption.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Vaccines and biological therapy

Disease prevention is the key to public health. Immunization is the means of providing specific protection against most common and contagious  pathogens. vaccination is called active immunization because the immune system is stimulated to develop its own immunity against the pathogen. Vaccination is a much safer way to induce immunity, which provide artificially acquired immunity. Vaccines cannot only prevent a disease from occurring but also decrease the risk of complications and risk of transmission. Every year vaccines prevent up to 3 million deaths and save 750,000 children from disability.Vaccines are a safe, cost-effective, and efficient way to prevent sickness and death from infectious diseases.

 Discovery of  Vaccines

The word vaccine is derived from the word vaca, meaning a cow in Spanish. Edward Jenner discovered a vaccination for smallpox disease in 1796. Jenner used cowpox to protect against small pox. Jenner scratched some pus from a Cowpox sore into the arm of a boy James Phipps to see whether exposure to the virus protect the child from the smallpox virus. Phipps was became immune, proving that inoculation with cowpox provided resistance against smallpox. Louis Pasteur performed first experiment in immunology in July 6,1885. Louis Pasteur treated a boy against rabies by injecting spinal cord fluid of a rabid dog. The spinal cord fluid stimulated the production of antibodies against the rabies virus. During 1950 to 1970, vaccines for polio, measles, mumps and rubella was developed. This period is called Golden age of vaccine technology

Principle of vaccine 

 A vaccine stimulates the antibody production and formation of memory cells without causing  the disease.  Vaccines are cheap, cost – effective , easily administered and adoptable to mass immunization. In general, Vaccines are  thoroughly tested and monitored.  Vaccines  provide  protective immunity and immunological memory  to individuals, families and communities  against any infectious disease. Vaccines stimulate both cell mediated and humoral immunities. Generally viral diseases are managed through vaccination. Vaccines are effective in preventing disease not only in individuals, but also in communities. This type of protection is called "herd immunity."

Strategies of disease prevention by vaccines
 Primary prevention  is an intervention before the biologic onset of disease e.g. prevention of infectious disease by vaccination. Secondary prevention  is an intervention when disease can be detected at a stage before it becomes  symptomatic e.g. AIDS.

Kinds of Vaccines 

Prophylactic vaccines  are used to prevent the effects of a future infection by any natural or wild pathogen. e.g. anti-rabies vaccine.
Therapeutic vaccines  are devised to harness the immune response to treat diseases ranging from cancer to multiple sclerosis. E.g. cancer vaccine.
Monovalent (univalent) vaccines are designed to immunize against a single antigen or single pathogen. E.g. chicken pox.
Multivalent (polyvalent) vaccines are designed to immunize against two or more strains of the same microorganism or against two or more microorganisms. E.g. DTP vaccine – (Diphtheria- tetanus- pertussis  vaccine). MMR vaccine – measles-mumps-rubella vaccine.

Kinds  of traditional vaccines 

1.Killed (inactivated) Whole cell  vaccines 
The inactivation process is aimed at destroying the pathogenicity of the  microorganism while retaining its immunogenicity. Usually the pathogenic viruses are chemically inactivated.  Killed vaccines induce higher antibody titres  but not effective as live vaccines. Killed vaccines are safe with respect to residual virulence. Since antibody titres diminish with time, repeated vaccinations are required. E.g.Viral vaccines- polio, hepatitis A, rabies, influenza ; Bacterial vaccines – pertussis, typhoid, cholera, plague
2. Live attenuated(weakened) vaccines 
The live vaccine usually contains an attenuated non-pathogenic microorganism able to replicate in the host and produce long term protective immunity. Single dose is effective. No booster dose is required. Live microorganism tends to survive longer  in the host and provide a wide range of immune responses. E.g.Viral vaccines – measles, mumps, rubella, vaccinia,  varicella / zoster, yellow fever, oral polio; Bacterial vaccines-BCG, Oral typhoid.
3. Toxoids (inactivated toxins)
 The toxins of microorganisms are treated  with formalin and incubated at 37 0C for 3- 4 weeks. The denatured  toxin  is called a ‘toxoid’.  Toxoids  induce low levels of immune response and are often administered with an adjuvant. Toxoid vaccines often require a booster every ten years. Toxoids e.g. the diphtheria and tetanus vaccines are usually combined with pertussis vaccine as DPT immunization. When more than one vaccine is administered together it is called ‘conjugated vaccine. E.g. Diphtheria vaccine,Tetanus vaccine; 
4. Subunit vaccines (purified immunogenic proteins)
Biotechnology and genetic engineering techniques have been used to produce "subunit vaccines". To create a subunit vaccine, researchers isolate the  genes which code for appropriate subunits from the genome of the infectious agent. This genetic material is placed into bacteria or yeast host cells which then produce large quantities of subunit molecules by transcribing and translating the inserted foreign DNA. These subunit molecules are isolated, purified and used as a vaccine.  e.g. Hepatitis B vaccine.
5. DNA vaccines 
With DNA vaccines, the individual  is not injected with the antigen but with DNA encoding the antigen. The DNA is incorporated in a plasmid containing  DNA sequences encoding one or more protein antigens. DNA sequences are  incorporated with  a promoter  that will enable the DNA to be efficiently transcribed in the human cells. The DNA vaccine can then  be injected into a muscle just as conventional vaccines. DNA vaccines elicit cell-mediated  and antibody-mediated  immune responses. DNA vaccines has been  developed against tuberculosis, SARS, smallpox, and other intracellular pathogens.
Properties  of an ideal vaccine 
The vaccine  should  provide long lasting immunity. It should  induce both humoral and cell mediated immunity. It should not induce autoimmunity or hypersensitivity reactions. It should be inexpensive to produce, easy to store and administer. It should be safe  and effective.
Problems in vaccine development 
Many kinds of viruses may cause similar diseases. e.g. common cold. A single vaccine may not prevent such diseases. Diseases caused by RNA viruses may not be controlled because of  antigenic drift and shift. Diseases  present in large animal  reservoirs may re-infect after elimination from the human population. Integration of viral DNA into host chromosomes may cause problems. There is possibility of recombination and mutation of attenuated viruses in vaccines.

Vaccines of the future

Edible vaccines 
Edible vaccines are cheaper and easier way to immunize people against diseases. It involves introduction of selected desired genes into plants and then inducing these altered plants (GM plants) to manufacture the encoded proteins. The antigens in transgenic plants are delivered through bio-encapsulation. Edible plants are very effective as a delivery vehicle for inducing oral immunization. Edible vaccines are composed of antigenic proteins and do not contain pathogenic genes.

Cancer Vaccines 

Biological therapy involves the use of living organisms or substances derived from living organisms to treat a disease. Biological therapies for cancer use vaccines or bacteria to stimulate the body’s immune system to act against cancer cells. These types of biological therapy, are referred to as “immunotherapy”. Cancer treatment vaccines contain cancer-associated antigens to enhance the immune system’s response to a patient’s tumor cells. Oncolytic virus therapy is an experimental form of biological therapy that involves the direct destruction of cancer cells. Oncolytic viruses infect both cancer and normal cells, but they have little effect on normal cells. In contrast, they readily replicate or reproduce, inside cancer cells and ultimately cause the cancer cells to die.