Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009 - Climate Change

Climate Change
I was listening to the radio a few days ago and was aghast at what I was hearing. This on liberal NPR radio. The speaker was vehemently denying and calling climate change and Global Warming hocus pocus. By now even the most ardent of deniers should have no problem recognizing the effects of climate change in their own backyards. But politics and a blind belief in capitalism would make ostriches out of a lot of climate change deniers.

Climate change invariably hurts the people in the poor and developing countries more than the rich countries. Rising food prices further strains the ability of the poor to afford food. Food insecurity will perhaps be the most pressing problem that governments have to tackle because of reduced harvests a result of lack of rainfall in the years to come. In the US arguably the riches country in the World in 2007, 11.1 percent of the households were food insecure at one point. The statistics for this year could be even more stark. Source: FAO - 1.02 billion people are hungry of which 400 million are children. The financial crisis combined with climate change has exacerbated an already severe problem.

For most of us who have the choice of foods to pick whenever we visit the grocery store, giving a little thought to the path taken by the produce to reach the grocery aisle would certainly teach us a lesson or two. Just like global warming has reduced the species that inhabit the planet, a lot of crops would disappear too. The warming planet and the lack of rainfall in certain parts of the world, floods and storms in other parts of the world have reduced the ouput of wheat and rice - the staples that feed the planet. Time to act is NOW.

The reducing quality of life for the farmers in the far corners of the world because of the subsidies and trade agreements that the US government signs should also be in our consciousness. We have read and heard about what subsidized European and US food products hurting local farming and creating a dependence and leading to abandonment of local sustainable farming practices. The farmers who were never rich in the first place get poorer and poorer.

The failed monsoons this year in India and the rising temperatures have sent most farmers into deeper debt and some into suicide a direct result of lack of rainfall and drought which in fact is the direct result of ,you guessed it global warming. Thy have never heard of climate change but it hits them hard and they pay a huge price.

In Africa, droughts are common place because of the vagaries of climate change. Agriculture in poor and developing countries is practised the way they have been for many generations and it is based on the natural rain cycles. Climate change shifts these cycles and the variability could cause failure or complete failure of crops. Read this excellent article.

Scientists are warning of more violent storms and longer droughts which is going to directly affect food production around the world. Climate change and it effects on agriculture is most severe putting in jeopardy the ability to feed everyone. World population is expected to grow to 9 billion by 2050 but arable land and food production is expected to drastically reduce, confluence of which would be drastic.

In coming years the wars would be more about water than petroleum. The glaciers in the Himalayas are disappearing at a rate faster than any time in history. This would cause perennial rivers to become seasonal and put in jeopardy mainly agriculture and life that sorrounds these rivers.

The West Coast of the US is in the grip of a multi year drought that has made local jurisdictions to come up with novel water management schemes. But in water parched west the problems are more likely to aggravate than get better. Problems like these will be he norm than the exception if action is not taken NOW.

I doubt there is great debate about any of the facts. The challenge is getting the rich, poor and developing countries to come together to tackle the problems of climate change. Scientists warn that the window for effecting change is getting shorter and shorter. The developing countries are reluctant to make concessions in stalling development efforts in pulling their people out of poverty. On the other hand the rich countries are reluctant to give up the status quo.

This is where as citizens we can pressure our governments to do the right thing. We can pressure companies into doing the right thing by voting with our pocket books. Companies are starting to pay attention to demands from their customers. But first and foremost is for us to make a pact to understand the effects of climat change and do something about it.

I do not claim that effecting change is easy nor do I know enough to preach, but we can certainly do small things within our control. Carry cloth bags to shop, stop buying non-seasonal produce, pay attention to where the foods come from, supporting local farmers' movements.

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  1. Your post has really got me thinking. We do take a lot of things for granted and inspite of knowing and hearing so much about global warming not many are willing to accept changes.I think most everyone is just taking one day at a time little concerned about the surroundings. Anyway your post will make me write a post instead of a comment. Very thoughtful post.Thanks for sharing.

  2. I too read about this in a magazine that the future wars would be more about water than petroleum. In Chennai my parents back there are struggling with very very hot weather even during Oct. My father always says that any energy is for future generations and that we should not be abusing them. Very thought provoking post. Thank You.

  3. Kudos to you for writing such a well informed article on the issue and putting it out there. I work in the field of climate change and am engaged with vulnerability and adaptation issues in developing countries. It is always encouraging to see genuinely concerned and informed individuals.

  4. Great post. Very well informed and thought-provoking. I joined Blog Action Day too. Last I heard they had nearly 10000 posts today.

  5. I totally agree we all can do our bit.
    Wishing you and family Happy Depavali.


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