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America discovered by Welsh Columbus Day now known to be a sham

As is well known by our American cousins Prince Madog ap Owain Gwynedd heir of Owain discovered America around the year 1200 some 300 years before Columbus and founded a colony near to Alabama (although the exact location of the earlier settlements is in dispute some claiming Tennessee a more likely location). Recent radio carbon dating evidence, and the discovery of ancient Welsh style artefacts (clogs and a leak peeler) and inscriptions in the American Midwest have provided proof positive that Welsh explorers, under the leadership of Prince Madog ap Owain (sometimes put as ‘ap Meurig’ due to name confusion) set up colonies there. There is actually a dispute over when exactly Prince Madoc sailed to America. some claiming that this was much earlier around 562 AD just after the Romans got fed up with the continuous rain in Wales up-sticks and left. This claim however does not stand up to scrutiny as it is known that Prince Madog was one of 19 children of Owain Gwyneth (the first true Prince of Wales) ‘the Randy’ who was an historical figure dating from the 12 century. A Welsh poem of the 15th century tells how Prince Madog sailed away in 10 ships and discovered America and whether truth or myth, was used by Queen Elizabeth I as evidence to the British claim to America during its territorial struggles with Spain. So there you have it the first link in the long history of the Welsh in America.

caracles

Old picture of coracles used in Wales

Mandan_Bull_Boats_and_Lodges-_George_Catlin

Bull boats used by first nation people based on coracles

I could say a lot more about the discovery (but you won’t because I am already fed up ed.) but I will sign off with some fascinating facts:

  • By proportion Welsh surnames dominate in eastern states (source National Geographic).
  • There have been at least 10 American presidents with Welsh ancestry (Mitt Romney the 11th!!). Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, John Adams, John Quincy Adams, James Garfield, Calvin Coolidge, Richard Nixon and Barack Obama.
  • Jefferson Davies the Confederate President (good Welsh name there).
  • Robert E. Lee – Confederate General
  • Benedict Arnold – Revolution general who defected from the Americans to the British side (oops!)
  • Signers of the declaration of independence: William Floyd, Button Gwinnett, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris and Robert Morris.

And last of all over 10,000 pages of memoires were written in Welsh that survive today from the American Civil War.

Just a little knowledge bomb to lay on you; the Welsh patronymic system describes family trees in terms of the male line and records the family association in the ‘ap’ or ‘ab’ prefix (ap is a contraction of the Welsh word ‘mab’, which means ‘son of’, ‘ferch’ means ‘daughter of’ incidentally) so Madog ap Owain means Madog son of Owain. Often a small epithet to the name like Llewellyn ‘the last’ (the last true Prince of Wales) is also used and so in a more contemporary context we might regard the real name of Mitt Romney (as he claims Welsh heritage via his wife) as Mitt Romney ap George the Gaff Prone in celebration of his recent gaff that the UK was not prepared for the Olympics (which is probably true actually).

For more information about the Welsh in America visit : http://www.alabamawelsh.com/ and if your interested in signing the petition to restore a monument to the great prince go here:

http://www.petitiononline.com/AWA0987/petition.html

Incidentally this age of heroic Welsh princes contrasts sharply with the assorted halfwit princes we have has since the fall of the last great true Prince of Wales here is a picture of the latest incarnation Charles ap Windsor the Half Wit – enough said!!

Prince-Chuck-240x300br

How can we judge if Euthanasia is morally right?

I saw a program the other day on British TV about people traveling to Switzerland to end their lives. Personally I believe we live in dignity and dying with dignity is simply not possible and before that time of confusion and fear comes one must live authentically, in the moment, and act morally as far as we are able.  However the plight of those who feel the need to travel to a foreign land, to a grubby garage, and to choke down a poison drink to end their lives struck me as an issue we should think about from a moral perspective.

From a Utilitarian perspective euthanasia is acceptable as it minimises pain and looks at the balance of happiness and pleasure that will be gained from the situation. Considering this balance will be seen as a good way of deciding whether or not to allow someone to take their own life, as it allows not only the individual’s express desire to end their life, but also considers the others involved in the situation. It is also likely that a Utilitarian will say that, in the end, it is better to allow someone’s suffering to end painlessly than allow it to continue where there it little or no quality of life remaining.

On the other hand, Utilitarianism also tries to assess the consequences of each action so that the most advantageous overall can be chosen. This is likely to be a very difficult thing to do when death is involved, as there is no way of telling what they (the deceased) might be capable of in the future or how their death may affect others. Though it is good that the consequences are considered, it is much harder to consider long term effects or future consequences, and also to gauge just who particular consequences are good for.

Moral Choices

It could be said that euthanasia allows a person’s dignity to be preserved along with their autonomy and quality of life, however because the majority outweighs the minority in utilitarianism there are no guarantees that this will be so. Whilst it is important to consider the feelings of others, the patient themselves will ultimately have little real say and may consequently be forced into a decision – either through the preservation of the life they wished to end, or being forced into assisted suicide because that is what is better for the majority.

In contrast, an ethical theory such as Situation Ethics may be a better way of approaching euthanasia. This looks instead at the most loving thing to do in any given situation, regardless of law. Though it too considers the opinions of others, it is much more likely to look to the wishes of the patient and the most loving thing to do for them.

In conclusion then the best course of action when relating to euthanasia is to look to a relative moral theory so that each situation can be judged on its own merits rather than dictated by universal laws and maxims. However, though utilitarianism could be seen as a fair and democratic way of making such a moral decision, it also leaves way for the tyranny of the majority to take place, where the wishes of the individual are outweighed by that of the majority. Therefore, Situation Ethics or another such relativist theory could perhaps be a better choice of option, as this looks not at the quantity but at the quality and love involved in each given situation, ensuring that the wishes of the patient are taken into account and adhered to.

Towards Greener Environment by Anand Wadadekar & Monika Bhardwaj

Carbon Credit – For Environmental Management

Environmental Management:

Environmental management is not merely managing the environment but it’s the management of human interaction with; and impact upon the environment in order to conserve the environment for mankind’s sake. Managing environment is the biggest issue these days which is being faced by everyone everywhere across the globe. Initially, the Environmental Law was perceived as one of the most important tools of environmental management. However, Protection of environment from degradation has now not just remained a legal issue but a management issue as well.

It is observed that mere compliance of environmental law on paper does not result in effective control of pollution. An alternate paradigm for pollution abatement for more effective methods of environmental control beyond traditional “command-and-control (CAC)” style regulation is to use economic instruments (EIs) or market-based instruments (MBIs). Introduction of market based instruments will help to reduce emission of pollutants, pollution and will surely increase social responsibility of industries. Eco-taxes, tradable emission limits and negotiated agreements are some of the types of instruments which can be used effectively and efficiently.

In India, environmental management is largely carried out at the state level. This is true for natural resources such as forests and land as well as for air, water quality and solid waste pollution.

Green and Grey Products:

Almost every product has multiple environmental impacts. The products and their manufacturing processes, consume energy, use renewable and non-renewable material and generate emissions. A product is ‘green’ when its environmental and societal performance, in production, use and disposal, is significantly improved and improving in comparison to conventional or competitive product offerings, i.e. they are sustainable from the environmental point of view. A Green Product is environmentally preferable and leaves minimum environment footprints.

When a product is unsustainable from the environmental point of view, it is termed as ‘grey’.

Market Based Instruments (MBI) for Environmental Benefits:  “Market Based Instruments refer to the environmental policies which encourage change in technology, behaviour or products through financial incentives like subsidies, taxes, price differentiation or market creation.”

Carbon Credit – As one of the most effective MBI:

A Carbon CreditA permit that allows the holder to emit one ton of carbon dioxide; Credits are awarded to countries or groups that have reduced their green house gases (GHG) below their emission quota. Its goal is to stop the increase of carbon dioxide emissions. The Kyoto Protocol presents nations with the challenge of reducing greenhouse gases and storing more carbon. A nation that finds it hard to meet its target of reducing GHG could pay another nation to reduce emissions by an appropriate quantity. The carbon credit system was ratified in conjunction with the Kyoto Protocol.

For example, if an environmentalist group plants enough trees to reduce emissions by one ton, the group will be awarded a credit. If a steel producer has an emissions quota of 10 tons, but is expecting to produce 11 tons, it could purchase this carbon credit from the environmental group. The carbon credit system looks to reduce emissions by having countries honor their emission quotas and offer incentives for being below them.

Indian Initiatives for environmental management:

Comparing the globally placed carbon trade, India seems nowhere near. However, Policy Statement for Abatement of Pollution, 1992 by the Government favours the use of MBIs for pollution control, wherever feasible. In the recent years, compulsion to comply with Euro II emission norms is a very confident step towards controlling air pollution. It has now become essential for companies to make environmental considerations as a part of their business decision making.

The enactment of the Information Technology Act, 2000 has enabled the industry to kick-start the use of electronic mode as a valid legal medium for carrying out its business operations which were until now done compulsorily on paper. This includes initiatives like MCA e-filing, Income Tax e-filing, SEBI Reporting and other electronic communications via, emails and video conferencing.

What we professionals can do?

India is still not a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, which in a way, is a road-block for effectively carrying out environmental management by the industries. Currently companies like Jindal Stainless, Essar Steel, Hyderabad Chemicals, Paschim Hydro Energy P. Ltd, The Andhra Pradesh Paper Mills Ltd, have been making use of market based instruments like Carbon Credits in their businesses. It is a need of the hour for Company Secretaries, Chartered Accountants, Lawyers, Cost Accountants and other Management professionals to put up their say in the management of their respective organisations (financial, manufacturing or services) and be a part of the decision making more proactively & aggressively.

At the organisation level:

  1.  The various industry Chambers like FICCI, ASSOCHAM, CII should take-up the issue of introducing market based instruments like Carbon Credits through a legal framework with the Government. These trade organizations can also come up with some award program to the Companies which religiously follow the norms. Such award program will work as a motivating factor in the industry to adopt the norms suo-moto.
  2. Introduction of corporate-run carbon funds
  3. Introduction of Government-run carbon programmes
  4. We, professionals, should stress upon and make the company management aware of the benefits of such market based instruments
  5. Awards like ‘Best Green Idea’ for employees coming up with suggestions; ideas, ways, etc. should be introduced.
  6. Ask the management of our respective organisations to take help of the MBIs wherever feasible.
  7. Computer-based entrance tests for educational courses.
  8. Organizations can also come up with policies for reducing wastes like for encouragement of use of metal water bottle in the organization in place of plastic water bottles which is sanitary, easy to clean and is capable of being used over and over.
  9. Organizations can also encourage use of reusable lunch bags / cups etc. in their cafeteria / lunch rooms which helps in avoiding use of plastic / paper, use of hand towels in toilets and lunch rooms instead of paper towels and electric dryers.

On individual level, we professionals can contribute in the following way:

  1. We, professionals, can help our respective organizations in implementing effective waste management systems. We can also assist in registering our manufacturing units under Indian Green Building Council and products under Bureau of Energy Efficiency voluntarily; though for some the registration is mandatory.
  2. Internal policies may also help in encouraging paperless communications, use of common transport etc. as far as possible. Such policies may atleast ensure minimum use of paper (double side printing), avoidance of wastage and re-cycling of waste paper and therefore, saving trees – a natural resource.
  3. We can also assist in encouraging our fellows in full utilization of software applications, for example execution of daily work in soft copies rather than printing (Eg. Excel Macros for data processing, analysis, etc.). This way, we will solve two problems i.e. space for storage of physical records and availability/ accessibility of all records at a centralized server hence, reducing dependence on human factor. We all are aware that most of the official communications can be done through email/video conferences. We professionals can advise our managements / fellow employees to adopt such practices.
  4. We, professionals, need to refer to many laws for which we purchase bulky books every year. Here, we can purchase CDs instead of those books, which will reduce substantial use of paper and storage and will be easy to use.
  5. We can also adopt and advise good practices of reducing carbon footprint for example using CNG gas in our cars, maximum use of public transport system.
  6. We can advise our managements to come up with policies to reduce wastages, be it paper, electricity or any other. Policies on travels can also be modified to discourage air travel at all levels of management. A small change can add a big thing to the concept of “Go Green”.

Conclusion:

It’s the need of the hour to think very seriously on reducing environment loss by religiously following & implementing and innovating techniques & ways to contain the same. This is a high time to call a revolution for reducing carbon footprint in order to preserve what’s left of the ozone layer, which is a protective layer between sun’s harsh ultra violet rays and the living beings. Otherwise, the day is not far when the world will be full of hunger; sun burnt, blind people, scary sounds and many more incurable diseases.

About the Author

Monika Bhardwaj, B.Com, ACS, Gurgaon Anand Wadadekar, M.Com, M.A (Eco), MBA, AMFI, Pune

What is sustainable development?

Brundtland Commission report published ‘Our Common Future, was published by Oxford ‘University Press in 1987defined the differences between sustainability and sustainable development:

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Accordingly SD a pattern of resource use that preserves the environment but meets human needs now and in the future. It about striking a balance between economic and social aspirations and the environmental limits to growth. It suggests modes of operation that can be maintained indefinably. It encompasses notions of diversity and replenishment and at its simplest can be regarded as a form of human that can be maintained within a self replenishing contxt.

The terms ‘sustainability’ and ‘sustainable development’ are increasingly becoming part of our everyday language, but even those well informed on the subject sometimes have difficulty articulating what they mean. It’s really not that difficult. Sustainability is the destination, an end-state, and sustainable development is a means of getting there. It’s all about striking the right balance when making decisions, ensuring that our economic and social aspirations are achieved within environmental limits.
Put simply, it’s about leaving the world in a better condition than we found it in.

Planning a Green Christmas

Planning a Green Christmas

The song tells of a white Christmas, but that refers to the weather and the Christmasy atmosphere that snow can bring. Planning for a green Christmas is all about being environmentally active and aware while saving money as well. In times of economic uncertainty that must surely be a good thing. And of course, if the weather brings a little bit of white covering too, then that makes a green Christmas perfect!

Exchanging gifts is a common practice at Christmas, and this is an excellent place to start our green Christmas habits. The gift wrapping paper sold in stores is usually not recyclable. Most of it is immediately thrown away to end up in landfills. This makes gift wrapping with store-bought paper expensive and very unfriendly to the planet – not what we want for a green Christmas.

A much better alternative, and one that close relatives will appreciate, is to use your children’s artwork to wrap gifts. You could also use your children’s comic books, or the comic sections of newspapers as a bright and colorful alternative, thereby recycling old paper. You can explain to the recipient of the gift in a positive way why you are doing this and perhaps make them feel guilty for not having a green Christmas as well.

It has been calculated by the Sierra Club, America’s oldest and largest environmental organization, that if every family in the country gift wrapped just three gifts by recycling existing paper they already have, the paper saved would be enough to cover 45,000 football fields. Now, that’s a green Christmas and a whole lot of trees saved too!

If you plan to hang a wreath on your front door. consider making one yourself. It’s easy and very environmentally friendly – and you’ll save money too. Go into the forest, or even a nearby park, and find evergreen branches and dried twigs. These can be wrapped in a circular fashion with cranberries strung together to add a splash of bright color. You’ll surprise yourself at how good you are, it won’t cost you anything but a little time, and the materials are all fully biodegradable. Your green Christmas can’t get much better than that.

There are many more things you can do to make this a green Christmas. Consider making your own cards, for example. Use your children’s artwork again – it’s perfect for this and grandparent will love it. You can use LED lights on your tree (which should be a real one that can be planted out later) and you will save 90% on your green Christmas electricity bill. If you start thinking about it I’m sure you will come up with other great ideas for a green Christmas.