Saturday, November 9, 2013
Good weather - definitely on your wish list. Isn't it?
We all love a good warm sunny day; a pleasant winter afternoon and even enjoy a cozy raining Sunday. Good weather and climate is an integral part of our worldly needs. A hurricane, typhoon, landslides, volcano or an earthquake – definitely not on our wish list! Or is it?
This earth’s climate has continuously changed throughout its million year long history. Right from the ice age, right through the great deluge of the bible to the present day, if there is one thing that has been best documented by mankind – it’s the climate / weather around him. Historically the earth’s climate continuously changed due to geophysical factors prominently the oscillation about its axis as it travels around the sun. However since the last century the climatic changes have had a new and more profound influence The industrial and agricultural revolution fueled a greater reliance on fossil fuels, accelerated deforestation and intensive agriculture and has led to an increase in Carbon dioxide and methane levels in atmosphere which is at its highest since the last 800,000 years! Now this will have a profound impact on the climate.
Throughout the world, precipitation patterns have dramatically changed this year. I hail from a small coastal city of Mangalore on the west coast of India. Our traditional rainy season was for 4 months from June to September. This year, it’s still pouring here in November! Meteorological and climatological measurements of climate change show that precipitation world around have become severe and more intense and extremely irregular. In lay man’s language – it’s simply going to rain more, rather irregular leading to widespread destruction and loss. We may soon see long spells of dry weather with sudden heavy downpours.
This year can be infamously dubbed as the year of the typhoons (or cyclones as some call it). This year the world witnessed a record 65 tropical cyclones. With two more months left, climatologists predict that this number is going to rise by the year end. As you are reading this, more than 10,000 people died overnight as typhoon Haiyan swept through the Philippines. Strangely just like how there isn't a definite rainy season left, there no longer exists a definite cyclone season.
The best way to quantify the impacts of climatic changes is to look at the economic damage cause. And the best people to give an accurate measure of the economic damage caused are the insurance industry. Last year the insurance industry reported that there has been a significant increase in claims over loss of life and property due to climate related incidents such as floods, storms etc. Their report categorizes Europe as the most effected of regions. Let us consider Portugal, the nation that stands to lose out the most – its coastline is eroding at an alarming rate of 9 meters per year at some places. Southern Europe and the Mediterranean regions are losing their tag of having a favorable climate with an increase in the annual precipitation levels and average temperature. Central Europe which was generally dry has begun to experience longer periods of dry, draught like climatic conditions. The overall observed dryness in Northern Europe is reflected in the annual flow rates of the rivers.
Europe is getting all the attention because it is rich and it funds most of the research required to understand and mitigate climate change. CNN recently came up with a report that listed 10 countries that would be devastated by the effects of climate change. They are Ethiopia, Philippines, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Sudan (both north and south), Haiti, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and at the top of the list is Bangladesh. Are you a citizen of one of these countries?
The present system of society, the political establishment and economic model are all designed to ensure that they are not questioned and overthrown. We do not see any government pressing the panic button on climate change. We do not hear of any official acknowledgement of the fact that there is something called as climate change. In this system the media is powerful enough to control the knowledge of the majority. In this system the political establishment is shameless enough to conspire with the super-rich and not come forth and act on climate change. In this system the common man is filled with problems beyond comprehension that he sadly has no time or interest to foresee a devastating future. This system is a farce.
We need to change this system. I proposed a new socio-economic model in 2007 called the ‘Society without Selfishness’. If this article touches you, then y;ou should go ahead and read my book ‘Shall we save the Earth?’ in which I have explained in great detail about this new model of society.
Well, even if we wanted we cannot change this system over night. But then what are our options? A good climate is definitely on each of our wish list. But the events of this day cast doubt on that wish! Let’s not panic, instead let’s pledge to do our part.
Yes – the simple deed of protecting the delicate local ecology around us.
So what’s it going to be dear friend?