Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Climate change, Pollution, Deforestation; Cancun - A ray of hope?

Kabwe (Zambia)
Its not long time back when i read the news, "earth don't care about climate change in long term". Earth may not care about climate change in long term, but human being who live here have to care about it - deforestation, environment degradation, pollution etc to make sure that we will be here for a long term.

Its not long time back when we lost our southern most point of India to sea (Yes the Indira Point submerged after the 2004 Dec 24th 9.1 magnitude earthquake). If I quote from the Pankaj Sekhsaria's report on Indian Express "Parts of Nicobar group of islands went significantly under - four feet in Car Nicobar and nearly fifteen feet of submergence at the southernmost tip, Indira point at the Great Nicobar Islands". In fact many of the island chains in great oceans are so vulnerable to a rise in sea level rise that, they will loss considerable amount of land (if not the entire island) in case of a rise in sea level even by a few feets.

Maldives are going to import sand from Bangladesh - not for building high rises - but to protect their shores. If sea levels are continuing to increase - because of melting ice shelfs - then people living in the small island nations - like Maldives - will be forced to find some other country to survive. Even with out rising sea level people who are living in the big industrial areas are forced to find some other places for survival.

Sumgayit (Azerbaijan)
Deforestation, melting ice shelves in the poles, pollution by large and small scale industries, rising emissions from automobiles and fossil fuels and numerous other pollutions are degrading our planet and making it as not suitable for life.

It is already predicted that by the end of this century Artic Sea region will be free of ice. This already created a rush for the natural resources in these areas. According to National Geographic report new shipping routes in this region may be more than three times faster than that of shipments through Panama or Suez. But the cost will be the submerging of a lot of sea shores and end of island nations.

Take the case of deforestation. We are quickly losing the forest cover over the earth, which were once the source of pure water. According to Guardian report on 2008, "between 2000 and 2005, at least 27.2m hectares (68m acres) of tropical forests were cleared to make way for farming. Almost half of the deforested land was in Brazil, nearly four times more than the next most deforested country, Indonesia, which accounted for 12.8% of cleared land." The reports further says that "According to the map, over the five-year period, Brazil lost 3.6% of its forest cover, Indonesia 3.4%, Latin America 1.2%, the rest of Asia 2.7% and Africa 0.8%. The study appears in the US journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."

Apart from the already dwindling pure water resources, already existing ground water and air is getting polluted but the ever increasing rush more more industrial output. According to World Bank, per-capita we are emitting 4.63 metric tons of Carbon Dioxide. Apart from Carbon Dioxide we also pushing numerous other gases to atmosphere, and at the same time we are reducing the absorption of these gases by reducing the forest cover.

This is already affecting the people around the world. The Economist recently reported that "A leaked statistic from the health ministry said that 3,600 people had died from air pollution in Tehran in the first nine months of the year. At the peak of the latest crisis, hospital admissions were said to have risen by at least a third and the corridors of local clinics were full of wheezing old people and pregnant women waiting for oxygen."

Is it limited to Tehran? the answer is an obvious no. The reports of Blacksmith institute are really a shocking one, no matter whether it is Linfen(China), Sukinda(India) or Dzerzhinsk(Russia), pollution is affecting the people badly.

It is in this situation we went for Kyoto protocol and after a long chain of events we reached Cancun. If we made progress in reducing emissions? the answer is yes, we made a lot of improvement in talks but on grounds? But nations are yet to commit a legally binding targets for reducing emissions. Developing countries is asking for developed countries to reduce the emissions, take the historical responsibility for emissions, funding and transfer of clean energy technologies. But the developed countries are not fully willing especially in the case of historical responsibility. In this situation of arguments and counter arguments, one can only hope that the original agenda will not go tot he oblivion, island nations are more worried as this is a question of survival threat for them.

In Cancun we made some progress. As The Economist put it out "But even the appearance of progress constitutes a progress of a sort." According to  Wall street Journal report "The agreement calls on rich countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions by amounts nations pledged a year ago, although the cuts aren't legally binding. Developing countries are to come up with plans to cut their emissions in a worldwide effort to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. The agreement includes plans for a green fund and $100 billion a year that wealthier countries would provide by 2020 to help poor countries finance programs to cut emissions and cope with drought and other effects of global warming."

But is it enough? Making not so water tight agreement on paper is different and actual agreement on ground level is different. We can say that we made some progress when we can see a ray of hope in not only in the eyes of the people of Sukinda(India), Kabwe(Zambia), Sumgayit(Azerbaijan) etc...(The list is long)


Photo Courtesy to Time and BBC

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