ON GLOBAL WARMING
(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
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
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
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
• 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,
• 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
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.