National Multimedia: Climatologist James Hansen has long been vilified as an alarmist by climate-change sceptics.
Critics see work done by activists like him as providing scientific legitimacy to eco-fanatics who would bring modern economies to a standstill with their extreme demands on conservation and other pro-environmental measures.
To the chagrin of his detractors, he has now gone farther, asserting that much of the extreme weather that the world has experienced in recent years almost certainly includes a human-induced factor. This appears more of an assertion rather than a scientifically established deduction to some. It also carries a morally laden warning that humanity must do something immediately to avert climate disaster.
Still, regardless of what nations and citizens make of Hansen’s latest conclusions, there is no denying that the environment is a matter of urgent concern. The framework for that concern is not one that has to choose between economic growth and the environment. The truth is that, since the world’s resources are finite, it is only their judicious use that will make growth sustainable. The alternative is environmental degradation and more outbreaks of extreme weather, such as wildfires and droughts. More insidiously, rising seas threaten island-states.
The impact of climate change on food production is another cause for concern. Shortages have followed in the wake of the erratic patterns of weather associated with global warming, from serious drought in the United States and floods in Europe to insufficient rain in Africa and India.
An expected shortfall in food grain output is making experts warn of a repeat of the global food crisis of 2007-2008, when international prices reached a 30-year high. Such a scenario is particularly worrying for a heavily import-dependent country like Singapore, although its worst effects will be felt by poor countries that do not grow enough to feed their hapless people.
Callousness towards food is unpardonable not only in itself but also as an indicator of a general apathy towards the environment. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that 1.3 billion tonnes of food are lost or wasted globally every year, representing almost a third of all food produced for human consumption. Poor infrastructure and post-harvest losses are the main reasons for the wastage in the developing world; in many countries, much of it boils down to human carelessness.
A greater awareness of the need to safeguard precious food and water resources would be a good step towards promoting respect for an increasingly fragile environment.
Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on the mountain and climate related issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last two years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>