Plus & Minus

“A weekly column: Plus&Minus will be published in Hindustan Times, Jaipur Live. This will speak to the ordinary reader on contemporary economic issues in a simple format”.

    Efforts continue to arrest global warming
    Hindustan Times Jaipur Live, November 09, 2009

By Pradeep S Mehta

On 17th October, the ministerial cabinet of our small neighbouring country, Maldives held its meeting underwater in the beautiful sea of the Indian ocean where it is situated. It was not a stunt but a demonstration of the horrible prospect of becoming an underwater nation if the current global warming trend is not arrested. It was also the International Day for Action on Climate Change to draw global attention to the perils of climate change which is now affecting all of us. Inspired by this, the Nepali cabinet has proposed a meeting at the base camp of Mount Everest sometime in the near future. While Maldives will be affected badly by the rising seas, Nepal will be adversely affected by the melting mountain glaciers.

Everyone in Jaipur can see that climate patterns are no longer the same, though people may not have known that it is an International Day for Action on Climate Change.

Climate change is happening rapidly and it is not only Maldives which will sink into the ocean but several island nations and parts of land will also go underwater if the current rise in sea levels continue unabated. Nearly half of another neighbouring country, Bangladesh may also go underwater. It is forecasted that by the end of the century the sea levels could go up by three feet. As a result of global warming, glaciers too are melting faster than they ever did over the past millennia. Thus, leading to disasters like storms, floods and tsunami.

It is not only land mass sinking but the adverse effect on climate can lead to a huge loss in production of farm and food goods which in turn will cause huge social upheaval.

In a public hearing in Jaipur organized by CECOEDECON and Oxfam India last week over 300 people from grassroot and activist community too voiced their fears about the dark future unless something was done without any delay and that the world should wake up.

The international community is addressing the issues in as much as they can. There is a big meeting planned in Copenhagen this winter to get countries to bind their carbon emissions, which cause global warming and changes in climate patterns.

Our environment minister, Jairam Ramesh has stirred up a controversy on his recent letter to the Prime Minister suggesting a new path for India in global climate change negotiations. He has recommended that India should not support the developing countries’ demands only but should also make an effort to bring countries like US into the mainstream to resolve issues blocking effective actions against climate change. Ramesh’s brilliant ideas hold an effort to initiate a global battle against environment deteriorating practices of entire humankind.

The climatic changes are irreversible. What we can see, in the form of changes in local city weather, is only the tip of the iceberg and to predict what may face us tomorrow is beyond any scientific studies in the world.

Repercussions for developing world are even worse due lack of economic strength to deal with these alterations. Problems like shortage of rainfall, rising temperatures, inevitable changes in crop patterns are bound to worsen the situation for countries with high economic dependence on agricultural occupation. Results which can be forecasted are high unemployment, lack of food, increasing poverty and hunger and thus increased dependence on foreign countries, who themselves will be at the brink of collapse.

It is therefore in our self interest that we join hands to tackle this problem before it assumes gigantic proportions. Economic growth at present should not be ranked above human existence. Only foresighted activism of both the local and the global community can help avoid the natural holocaust that awaits us.

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