Monday, February 2, 2009

Extinction of the pencils

Mumbai, Feb. 2nd

With all the hoopla over global warming, efforts are now on to help the environment. People are (assumed to be) doing all they can to reduce the harm that they are causing to nature. Although I had heard this from my grandmother long ago, it seems that only recently have scientists been able to prove that deforestation is contributing to global warming. Efforts are on to stop the irresponsible cutting down of trees. This, many scientists claim, will slow down global warming and thus avoid extinction of several species. Ironically though, the fall out of this step is the extinction of an entity dear to each one of us, sometime or the other in our lifetime - the pencil.

Until a decade ago, there were two main varieties of pencils - colour pencils and the boring ones. Only the boring ones now survive. Colour pencils lost out in the race for survival to fitter competitors such as markers and felt tip pens and the last confirmed account of a colour pencil sighting was in 1995 in 'Manibhai Steshanari - SSC books is on diskont' beside the Municipality school in my locality. Sparse sightings of colour pencils have been reported later on, but none are yet confirmed.

The boring pencils (those ones that are white outside, but black within - a fact that has also led some civilisations to name these pencils as 'politician pencils' or as the scientific name goes pencilus cheaterous) are facing tough competition from the digital revolution. Schools and offices are going digital, thus inevitably leading to wiping out of pencils in their boundaries. Other traditional habitats for pencils are now being overtaken by pens, xboxes and playstations.

To get an idea of what the world's reaction is to this calamity, I undertook a series of interviews, asking my audience what they think about this decline of pencils. A one and a half year old kid (who did not know his name) responded with a "Da da.... ga!" thus highlighting the seriousness of this issue. A six year old's mother responded "Good only no... now my beti use pen! I not uses pen in ischool. We usering chalk." These same thoughts were echoed by a teenager who was in a hurry and didn't say much - "Wtf?". Overall, all respondents agreed with one fact in particular - the world is more concerned with the paltry problem of global warming over the dire consequences of the mass extinction of pencils.

By now we all know that we live in an interconnected world and the extinction of pencils will have far reaching consequences. One species that would be directly affected is the pencils' main predator - the pencil sharpener. Sharpeners have already gone extinct in areas where pencils no longer exist and they are not expected to survive long after the last pencil is sharpened and worn out. The eraser won't be spared either. The pink coloured parasite that attaches itself to the top of each pencil won't find a host once all pencils are wiped out. This is expected to add to the boredom of school life which currently claims eraser chewing to be a major pastime activity.

Awareness of the dangers of pencil extinction are now growing and scientists are trying to invent some new theories (read, lies) to justify deforestation. One such claim has been made by a group working in a local college in Mumbai that says that replacing forests with grasslands will help reduce global warming, as the lighter coloured grass blades will reflect more light into space than do the dark green leaves of trees. This, they say, will cause lesser heating of the atmosphere than what is currently observed. In a recent experiment, the group (details witheld due to confidentiality issues) also demonstrated a large white colour plastic sheet reflects even more sunlight than do grass blades, thus setting in motion events that could lead to all forests on earth being replaced by white plastic sheets. When asked whether they have done no more than proving the already well established facts about light and heat, the scientists dismissed the meeting and invited me to a party in the adjacent room with free booze and Himeshbhai songs. I don't recall what happened next.


multYple said...

surprisingly enough, the article makes equal sense when read either ways... it, however, raises an important issue of extinction of fountain pens (or Pen-icillium bilaiae - which is not a fungi!) and links it to the alarming levels of chlorine on moon's surface. ( or was it pencil!? ) :D

Tallur said...

Yup... another perplexing issue, isn't it? :)