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(From the Trustees of SAI Sanctuary Trust)

BREAKING NEWS: The President of the United States today declared most of the southeastern and mid-western portions of the country ‘disaster areas’ after dozens of tornadoes packing winds up to 600 kph struck a number of large metropolitan areas in different states. The ‘twisters’ were spawned by the latest in a series of what have become known as ‘Super Hurricanes’ (storms with wind speeds exceeding 400 kph) that have caused havoc up and down the Atlantic coast throughout this hurricane season.

While the East Coast of the country is reeling under the effects of both horrific winds and torrential rains, the West Coast is still in the grip of the worst drought in history, with temperatures hitting record highs and forest fires ravaging hundreds of thousands of acres of land. Communities throughout the western United States have seen hundreds of homes go up in smoke as a result of these blazes. The number and severity of these and other recent natural disasters have not only crippled the Insurance Industry, but have brought the American economy to its knees.

Meanwhile, the death toll from the unrelenting heat wave affecting Europe reached 150,000 today as the continent continues to swelter under the scorching Sun. This was in sharp contrast to the area’s weather just a few months ago when tens of thousands died from exposure to record cold during December and January. Scientists believe the sudden drop in temperature was due to the complete shutdown of the North Atlantic Current (also known as the ‘Gulf Stream’), which normally brings warmer temperatures to Europe by dragging warm water northwards from the tropics.

Closer to home, cleanup has begun now that waters have finally started to recede from the worst storm surge on record to flood the eastern coast of India. The surge accompanied one of the most powerful cyclones in living memory, blowing in from the Bay of Bengal, smashing coastlines in several states and swamping 90% of Bangladesh, the storm dumping so much moisture on fields inland that crop loss from flooding is as high as 100%. Relief agencies are stretched to their limit trying to cope with the number of people affected by the disaster, not only Indians, but also the millions of refugees streaming over the border from Bangladesh as well.

Further north, rescuers have given up hope of finding any more survivors from the moderate earthquake that shook a wide area of the Himalayan region last week. While the quake itself did not cause much damage, it was strong enough to cause the collapse of several moraine dams—natural dams formed from the debris left by retreating glaciers—releasing large quantities of icy water that raced down the mountain valleys, scouring everything in their path. Himachal Pradesh and Sikkim suffered the greatest number of casualties as a result of these Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF).

Here at home, district officials are desperately trying to deal with the unending influx of people fleeing from the wave of violence that has griped both Bangalore and Mysore areas. The violence was sparked when tempers flared to a fever pitch over the lack of drinking water, with some areas like Hubli and Dharwad not getting water for over 6 weeks. With the Cauvery River shrinking to no more than a trickle and reservoirs almost empty, all hopes had been pinned on a timely arrival of the monsoon. But with monsoon clouds stalled over the Arabian Sea, even this hope has evaporated.

Authorities here in Kodagu too have no idea where they are going to get enough water or food to care for the swelling masses, as Madikeri in particular was already busting at the seams with people trying to beat the summer heat of the plains before the riots began. (END of News Report)

What was this ‘News Report’ all about? Was it a chapter from a science fiction novel? Was it a script from a Hollywood disaster film?

No; it was the future of our planet as predicted by the world’s leading climate scientists in their latest reports on the state of the world’s environment, predictions based on actual events that have already taken place around the world within the last few years, as the following facts show:



• Hurricanes/cyclones/typhoons around the world are more powerful and destructive than ever before, and are occurring more frequently and in places never visited by such storms in the past.
• In 2004, an all-time record of 10 typhoons hit Japan, and Brazil was struck by the first-ever hurricane in history for the South Atlantic.
• Following a horrible string of hurricanes in 2004, the USA was smashed by even more in 2005—an incredible 27 hurricanes—including Hurricane Katrina, the single costliest disaster in US history—over 60 billion dollars.
• The last two monsoon seasons have seen over 50% of Bangladesh under water, with Mumbai receiving the largest downpour of any Indian city ever—37 inches in 24 hours, and while Rajasthan’s desert became an inland sea, inhabited islands in the Sunderbans are being evacuated as one has already disappeared below the sea due to rising ocean levels.
• Following years of drought that ravaged both countries, Burundi and Mozambique (Africa) are now suffering over 90% crop loss due to unrelenting rains that have lashed them since December, swamping agricultural fields and bringing the scourge of water-borne diseases as well.
• Two-thirds of Jakarta—the capital of Indonesia—has been under 15 feet of water due to flooding from torrential rains.
• The 1990s was the hottest decade on record, but temperatures have continued to soar since 2000, with 2005 being the hottest year in recorded history.
• In 2003, over 35,000 people died from the stifling summer heat in Europe, but this doesn’t begin to count the thousands and perhaps tens of thousands that perished here in India itself.
• China is currently experiencing its warmest winter since records began to be compiled in 1840, with ice on lakes melting weeks ahead of schedule and magnolia trees starting to blossom in February—a phenomenon that normally takes place in April.
• On 4th August 1985, in the Mount Everest region of Nepal, the moraine-dammed Dig Tsho glacial lake burst, sending a torrent of icy water 10 to 15 meters high down the mountain valley for more than 90 kilometers, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake, a similar event occurring on 7th October 1994 with Lugge Tsho lake—one of Bhutan’s 2500 glacial lakes—with the Alps being visited by several such events as well. There are at least 30 glacial lakes that pose a similar threat in the Himalayas, and hundreds in mountain ranges around the world as glaciers worldwide continue to melt, forming lakes.
• Forest fires caused by relentless droughts are becoming larger and harder to control, not only in the US, but in parts of Europe, Indonesia, and Australia, causing severe shortages of drinking water that are forcing the residents of the state of Queensland, Australia to drink recycled sewage.
• Droughts have dried up vast parts of India, with Karnataka suffering its worst drought in the last 36 years, the state already having seen 3 successive droughts since 2000, leaving drinking water the scarcest and most precious commodity of all, with Madikeri itself suffering from a severe lack of drinking water.
• Already 1 billion people suffer from lack of adequate drinking water, with that figure projected to jump to two-thirds of the world’s population in less than 20 years.
• The North Atlantic Current (Gulf Stream)—the ‘engine’ that drives the world’s weather—has slowed down by 6,000,000 tons of water per second over the last 12 years—that’s more than 30% —coming to a complete halt for a 10-day period in November 2004.

All of these events are due to man’s activities that have caused global warming. However, the gravest warnings yet on the catastrophic effects global warming is already having worldwide have come from the UN-sponsored IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)—a panel made up of 2500 scientists from over 130 nations chaired by the ‘Padma Bhushan’ winning Indian scientist Dr. R.K. Pachauri—the findings of their three-year study being released on 2nd February 2007. In response to accusations that the report was ‘unrealistic’ and ‘alarmist’ in nature, Dr. Pachauri stated that, if anything, their conclusions are ‘conservative,’ adding that the future that we all face may indeed be far worse, the study being the most comprehensive so far.

The planet is on the verge of catastrophe, on the razor-edge of total environmental collapse. Millions if not billions are going to suffer horrifically, are already suffering horrifically. Is there then no hope? Have we condemned ourselves to suffer the full consequences that our own actions as a society have set in motion through global warming? No; we DO have a window of opportunity—less than ten years for the world, less than 2 years for the district—in which to act to change the course humanity is on if we wish to cushion the effects and mitigate these dire consequences. But WE MUST ACT NOW! For, there is no ‘tomorrow’—we must act TODAY! As Martin Luther King Jr. of the USA said:

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of NOW. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words ‘Too late.’”

Let this not be the epithet of our civilization. Let us join hands and work together to stem the tide of destruction and annihilation that is starting to sweep over the Earth. In this series, we will explore what global warming is, its causes, and the steps that we can take—individually and collectively—to save our planet and ourselves.

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