GLOBAL WARMING AND THE ENVIRONMENT

For several years we have been hearing the words “global warming” but what it means has not been clearly
made out for the minds of the general people to understand. In India it has become a taboo word in the
newspapers as if its very mention may bring down the heavens upon us. In fact it is just the opposite, for
global warming is the greatest threat to the natural environment and the human race ever confronted in the
history of the planet, and in five to ten years promises to lay waste the entire ecosystem of the world, not
only India. Already around the world the mangrove forests and coral reefs are dying, glaciers melting, rivers
drying up, seasons changing, everywhere drought, frequency of earthquakes, warming of oceans, forests
disappearing, reservoirs drying up leading to loss of wildlife. We have all along been complacent and are
careful never to discuss global warming or its effect – climate change – as if they are the plague.

The science is clear as the Prime Minister has accepted, and a great threat faces the nation and the planet.
Recently, delivering the Richard Dimbleby Lecture at St.James’s Palace on 8 July in London, Prince
Charles drew attention to the fact that “We have 96 months to save the planet.. If we don’t face up to this,
then Nature, the biggest bank of all, could go bust”. That is, in eight years. The piece was on the front page
of the Times of India, Ranchi (10 July, 2009) and the reporter’s note was “Prince Charles, heir to the British
throne, has “calculated” that humans have just 96 months left to save the planet. It was, however, not clear
on what basis he had arrived at the estimate”. That reporter was hiding global warming, and he should be
fired, because the facts about the threats of global warming are screaming out at the whole world to
anybody who cares to Google the following, Al Gore, Steven Schneider, James Hansen, Bill McKibben,
IPCC, UNHCHR, Dr.James Macarthy (Chairman, IPCC), UNEP, etc. who are the fire-fighters in the world’s
scientific crusade against unstoppable global warming which is approaching the planet at a fantastic rate of
billions of human lives a year within the next ten years if we believe scientist James Lovelock’s model of
climate change, or even look carefully at the London based Hadley Centre’s statistics used for the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). And what else could our negotiators from India ask for
at the recently concluded G-8 Summit at L’Aquila, Italy than refusal to lower emissions, and ask for more
from the rich nations to deal with floods, heat-waves, storms, and rising sea levels. The G-8 itself was a
ridiculous affair targeting emissions at 2050 in which India declined to halve emissions by 2050, holding on
to accepting a 2 degree Centigrade which is the present level of the 385ppm danger-zone when a
suddenrise to 5-6 Centigrade is expected. We urgently need a different kind of long-term planning which
sees the interests of the future in the context of immediate changes required. There is no more time for
procrastination. We are aware that coastal cities like Mumbai are about to be submerged due to climate
change with sea-rise caused by breakaway ice-melt of the West Antarctic(6m). The North Atlantic Current
or Gulf Stream is about to switch off with the ice-melt from the Arctic smothering it and leading to more sea-
rise (6m) and the freezing of Europe as in an ice-age. The whole of Greenland is in danger of melting with
release of unprecedented emissions from the peat bogs. In this scenario the Indian government is bringing
in an open-bidding regime to open up coal mining with guaranteed environmental and forest clearance
within six months hoping to add an additional Rs.118,000 crores to take coal production to over a billion
tons by 2025. But where will we be in 2025, that is the question. If the masses get to know the mining and
fossil-fuel policies of the government are leading to the failure of monsoons, heat-rise, and sea-rise, drying
up of rivers etc. there will be a revolution across the country.

Newspapers in the United States are full of the threats and impacts of global warming. But what of India
?Some recent headlines from Jharkhand newspapers, “400,000 leave homes after Quake in China”,
“Citizens must protect Animals (Mumbai’s stray dogs)”, “MP declared drought-Hit”, “ 75 dead in China
floods, 938,000 homeless”,”Latest climate change fallout: Smaller sheep in Scotland”; “Climate talks jam
over Emission Cuts”; “4 Districts declared Drought-hit”, “Govt: Situation in 16 tiger reserves alarming; “No
monsoon panic yet for FMCGs “; Sindri Sizzles at 45C”;Palamau Farmers write to Prez for “Mercy Killing”;
“Hirakud Dam dries Up”; “Drought cloud over Palamau”; Monsoon late but not to worry :Pawar”; Delhi
refuses to toe West line on Emissions”; Open bidding in Coal by Year-end”; “Invoking the Rain-god”;
Panthers found dead by waterhole” So, what is the cause for alarm ? Just a whiff of smoke ? Pray tell us,
where is the fire ?

The sun has warmed up a little (0.5 percent), they say, what else ? Well, we have taken pre-industrial
levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from an equilibrium state of 280 ppm (parts per million) clear to
285 ppm, which is according to two thousand scientists 35 ppm above the maximum the atmosphere can
tolerate. This atmosphere, as the late Carl Sagan told us is as thick as the varnish on a football, or 500
times less in volume than the oceans. And yet for 150 years we have been steadily pumping into it billions
of tons of carbon dioxide yearly (some scientists say 40 billion tons a year by 2020). So we have managed
to bring about a massive heat-stroke to the planet in 200 years compared to the last heat-stroke in the
Eocene which took ten thousand years to develop. The rate of man-made global warming has thus made it
impossible for life and species to adjust to change. Speed has destroyed everything. According to David
Suzuki the UNEP has found that 55,000 species a year are dying due to global warming, or one species an
hour. Compare that with the rate of extinctions in the past – one species every 10,000 years ! Our
cleverness has been in destroying life, that most precious of all creations in the universe, and in that
process we are about to destroy ourselves. Nobody is willing to admit it, the more elderly being more silent
about it for obvious reasons, deceiving the youth, many who take their silence for wisdom. The whole thing
is criminal. There is universal denial and collective amnesia.. Perhaps an answer was given by the great
British psychiatrist Gregory Bateson for our pathology when he observed of a personal paralysis occurring
in our race in our collective relationship to eco-catastrophe. That is how civilizations collapsed in the past,
and how ours being a global one, will collapse globally.

In our present age of information what has been the cause of our collective stupidity ? How was it that with
so much information we could let global warming take us unawares
 like this? The reason seems to be that scientists have their own different models and areas of investigation,
but do not have a holistic awareness of the results of these combinations. It is the same with ordinary
modern people in their semi-western Cartesian – dualistic intelligence -- they can see certain problems,
but they are unable to see all the problems together so that they could in a certain arrangement create

 The distinguished climate researcher Dr James E. Hansen (known as “the grand father of global warming”)
who is currently the Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, with an inter-
disciplinary team of nine scientists had recently announced in January of this year (2009) “We have ten
years to contain climate catastrophe…the countdown begins now.” Let us not forget that scorching heat will
first hit the tropics and India will be among the worst affected by heat waves when the temperature rises 5-6
degrees Centigrade in a few years. Some scientists are suggesting we move up to higher latitudes in
Europe and Siberia. I believe the wealthy will do just that, and leave behind the poor to die. This will be no
time to talk of the WWF Red Data List. This will be no time to talk wishfully of what might have been. This
will be a time to adjust to a new environment, and in a new climate, to try and begin the building blocks of
human civilization again. Psychiatrists have known for long that when people become aware of their exact
moment of death a certain light-headedness, even gaiety, comes over them. It is so at present for those
who have the knowledge of our immediate future. But it would be immoral to allow our personal sickness to
overlook the pain and suffering of millions. Action is the first duty.

The context of our mental and social state as the world’s first global civilization is that we are now unable to
face the enormity of what we have done. And what have we done ? We delayed the possibility of change for
over twenty-five years to Kyoto in 2005; we did not heed the advice given a century ago by Swedish
chemist and Nobel Laureate Svante Arrhenius that industrialization caused the accumulation of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere which would give rise to global warming. We ignored in large measure THE
ECOLOGIST’s 1999 DECLARATION ON CLIMATE CHANGE signed by a host of scientists , activists and
leaders which accompanied this eminent journal edited by Edward Goldsmith (Volume 29 No.2) on the
Climate Crisis (Special Issue). And India even now refuses to reduce emissions and abide by a temperature
rise of 2 degrees Centigrade which is the most dangerous 385 ppm level we are currently at.

Aside from the petty and frivolous demands made at the G-8 Summit recently we are still in India prepared
to fast-track new coal mines with “deemed” environmental clearance in the most sensitive forested river
valleys although everyone including the Prime Minister and Finance Minister of this country are fully aware
of the social and environmental implications : that coal combustion leads to putting more and more amounts
of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and adds to global warming which is already dangerously above
danger limits. The warming has gotten worse with the Antarctic ice-melt and the seas and oceans getting
fifty percent warmer and when their hydrological cycle may suddenly stop according to scientist James
Hillman, leading to the greatest carbon dioxide emissions since God created water. In this event, Stephen
Hawking from Cambridge University has warned that this could lead to a steady rise from 5 degrees
Centigrade expected in a few years to 250 degrees Centigrade in a century. James Lovelock says the

party’s over and that humans should enjoy life while its there. His suggestion to build mega-cities in Europe
to accommodate billions of environmental refugees from China and Asia is more frightening than ever.

So ? Where do we go from here ? I request readers to see the films on global warming (Al Gore, AN
INCONVENIENT TRUTH; Leonardo di Caprio l l th HOUR; Franny Armstrong, THE AGE OF STUPID). Al
Gore has said that coal mines are the main source of carbon dioxide and global warming. My campaigning
for 23 years has been against opencast coal mining in my region of northern Jharkhand state in the
catchment valley of the upper Damodar river threatening two hundred Adivasi and Peasant villages and
which will damage or destroy upto 3000 sq kilometers of rich forests and tiger/elephant corridors and the
richest agricultural lands. For those interested they may visit my campaign website and sign-on petition
against environmental and forest clearance which has been assured by the Jharkhand Government within
six months to thirty-one new massive opencast coal mines in Karanpura, in the upper Damodar river
catchment in Jharkhand . Campaign website
Sign-on petition Our campaign is supported by Dr James
E.Hansen of the Goddard Institute of Space Studies, NYC,USA , and Dr.Vandana Shiva of Navdanya,
New Delhi.

We’re losing the battle but we must remain positive and hope that once we all wake up together maybe
there’s just a chance for someone to have a brilliant idea or get those in power to act wisely. But we first
and foremost have to bring down carbon dioxide levels through an immediate halt to carbon dioxide
emissions, and second, try to love back the green mantle of our planet. For supporters I suggest they go to
Bill McKibben’s campaign 350.ORG, which brings the world together on 24 October this year (2009) to
display solidarity in stabilizing carbon dioxide at 350ppm. It’s a do-or-die world. Lets DO something. Thank
you for listening to me rant …and – good luck.

                                                                                          Bulu Imam

Sanskriti, Hazaribagh, Jharkhand

1lth July 2009


To top