An environmental account on Rainbows

by Prithvi S.

People say, “ Rainbows are the eyes of nature”. When it comes to rainbows, this statement cannot be more accurate. When viewing rainbows from an aesthetic perspective, there is nothing purer and prettier. Nevertheless, rainbows have shaken their roots as a natural phenomenon and are now considered a symbol or a trope. For instance, the rainbow is the principal symbol of many noteworthy movements like the LGBT. Additionally, they are used in several flags representing various communities ranging from small tribal communities in the Andes to the national flags. Apart from this, rainbows also play a significant role in multiple mythologies in different cultures. Furthermore, there is no doubt that rainbows embody a part of nature that possesses substantial environmental importance. This article aims to explain the ecological significance of rainbows and elaborate on it to achieve a more profound understanding of what makes the “rainbow trope” that significant. 

Firstly, when pondering the reason for the popularity of rainbows as a trope, the answer is simple and obvious. The reason is that rainbows simply hold an aesthetic value so high that people do not regard them as a natural phenomenon but as a symbol. We can find evidence of this paradigm across history in the form of myths and folklores. Not to mention, rainbows are used as celestial objects are ubiquitous in each story. Rainbows have such extensive ecological proof that they are regarded as “pure” and “benevolent” things in these stories. For example, in Norse mythology, a rainbow was considered a bridge that connects the heavens and the earth. Also, in Hindu culture, for instance, the god Indra uses his rainbow bow to shoot arrows of lightning. 

Secondly, when looking from an ecological perspective, a rainbow is always at a place filled with moisture content. A rainbow can be scientifically defined as a multicoloured arc made by light striking water droplets. So, the main prerequisites for rainbows are water and light. Nonetheless, it is far more complicated than it seems. For example, the water droplets that diffract the light into seven colours must be pure to a certain degree. The purity of the water is the reason why ocean water cannot diffract light effectively. Kauai is a stormy island and home to Mount Waialeale, one of the wettest spots. So, people can spot rainbows frequently in Kauai. Hence, it is safe to assume that a rainbow manifests at a place filled with natural resources. In other words, rainbows are a by-product or a symbol of an abundance of natural resources in an ecological space.

Thirdly, there are also variations to consider when it comes to rainbows. These so-called variations of rainbows manifest due to the anomalies in the causative factors of rainbows. Some of the most significant variations of rainbows are the glow, the double rainbow, twinned rainbow, red rainbow, fogbow, moonbow, etc. Alternatively, the variations of the rainbows can also depend on environmental factors and individual aspects such as perspective and geography. The glow is a type of rainbow where the atmosphere opposite a rainbow facing the sun is often glowing. These glow rainbows appear when rain or drizzle is falling between the viewer and the sun. The glow is formed by light passing through raindrops, not reflected by them. Some scientists call this glow a zero-order glow. 

In conclusion, with the advent of the 21st-century, people have become more aesthetic oriented. As a result, people have an inclination towards rainbows. However, it is worth noting that aesthetic aside, rainbows held an immense ecological and cultural significance to our ancestors. Thus, our responsibility as the next generation is to preserve these extraordinary phenomena called rainbows by afforestation and promoting natural awareness.

Society, National. “Rainbow”. National Geographic Society, 2013, https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/rainbow/. Accessed 21 Aug 2021.

Published by LakesOfIndia

Lakes of India is an E.F.I initiative aimed at sensitizing the larger public on freshwater habitats across the country. A blog platform where one can read about lakes across India. You can become a guest blogger to write about a lake in your hometown and initiate an action to protect that lake.

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