(The first in a four part series whose purpose is to increase awareness and galvanize each individual into action.)
Melting glaciers in Greenland. Heat wave in Europe. Hurricane Katrina destroys New Orleans. Wildfire in California. Ice shelf breaks in Antartica. Somebody else’s problems we think, a passing glance at the news and then we concentrate on more important things like why Sachin Tendulkar has started getting out in the nineties and what he should do to reach the 100 mark.
Take a look closer to home.
- July 26th, 2005 – Mumbai records 950 mm rainfall in a single day
- Floods in Kurnool – semi arid region of Andhra Pradesh
- October 2007 – hailstorm in Chennai!
- November 2007 – sea level rises and waves pound the manmade rock barriers in Thiruvottiyur, Chennai
- Mercury crosses 42 deg C in Chennai at least 7 days every year
- 240 kmph winds cyclone in Bangaldesh
What happens when news of any such event pours in.
Those of us who have links to the concerned hotspot may frantically call and speak to our family or friends to confirm that they are safe. Those unrelated to it may watch the news for the visuals painting nature’s fury; some masala topic to have a time-pass discussion at school, college, office or at the evening gathering at the pub. News Channels and news papers will run donation and help campaigns and channel the collections to on site relief agencies that will use these resources to help people AFTER the event has occurred. And the more conservative, religious minded of us would shake our heads and say that nothing can be done about nature’s fury; it is all in GOD’s hands and he is punishing us.
How true and yet how far different from the reality that last sentence is – GOD is definitely punishing us and for something we have been doing and continue to do everyday of our lives. We are playing with the natural ecosystem of our beloved home – the Earth. We are changing the fundamental balance of the complex interrelationships that have existed between various natural elements since millions of years by the very nature of our existence, our life style. And the rapid growth and development which we are all so proud of – the rise in GDP, the infrastructure, the IT boom, the latest glitzy shopping malls have a darker underlying streak – a spew of carbon dioxide emissions into the vast aerial ocean above us which we call the atmosphere.
It is this very real by product of development that is changing the fragile natural balance of the earth. And when that changes beyond the tipping point, nature will crash down on one side and will do what it needs to do to restore the balance – even if it means questioning the need for human existence on this planet and acting on that.
And this phenomenon has been christened several years ago by leading scientists across the globe – GLOBAL WARMING. Already being monitored since the 1990s by UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and officially acknowledged by most of the world’s nations through signing of the Kyoto Protocol. Of course the world’s biggest cause of Global Warming, the USA, has not ratified it and developing countries like China and India have been given leeway to make up their contribution to the phenomenon as they have been lagging behind till now.
Our official whining position is that per capita emission is much lower than the developed nations so there should be no restriction on us. Forgetting that the globe is warmed by total emissions thrown into the atmosphere and that it does not recognize the economist defined parameters like per capita emission. And forgetting that in our effort to catch up with the world with our misdirected effort to improve the lives of our children through so called development, we are actually destroying the sustenance for the lives of these very children.
Can we do really do nothing about this nature’s fury and prevent the catastrophe of the near future (yes the future is in our lifetime itself and definitely in the prime of the lives of our children)? Of course we and only we can do something about it as we are the ones responsible for bringing it about in the first place!
But how can you say that an ordinary individual like me is responsible for events of this magnitude and also that I can do something about changing it for the better?
A well known management paradigm practiced with great success in Japan over the years says –
“First recognize that there is a problem, you are already half way to solving it. Analyze the problem and identify the root cause, the solution is attached to the cause and therefore self evident”
So, let us start by understanding what this phenomenon that we call global warming really is. Then we will understand how each of us contributes to accelerating it. And finally how each of us can do something to stop and reverse it to the required extent.