Where were you….? : An Earth Day special! 

Yesterday was 22nd April, The Earth Day : The fanciful day that is in practice since the catastrophic oilspill in SantaBarBarack,  USA.


So the day was meant to create awareness. Awareness about the planet we live in. So, with that same intention, I am writing this blog.

According to National Geographic website the average surface temperature of the planet has increased between 1.1 and 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.6 to 0.9 degrees Celsius), even more sensitive in polar regions. The heat is melting glaciers, shifting precipitation patterns and setting animals on the move. Affects are like:

  • Many polar species have been affected. Like the breeding pairs of the Adelie penguins have declined from 32000 to 11000 in 30 years.
  • Some  butterflies, foxes and alpine plants have moved farther north or higher, cooler areas.
  • Some invasive species are thriving. For example, spruce bark beetles have boomed in Alaska. The insects have chewed up 4 million acres of spruce trees.
  • Sea levels to rise between 7 and 23 inches by the end of century.
  • Wildlife researcher Martyn Obbard has found that since the mid 1980s with less ice on which to live and fish for food, polar bear have gotten skinnier.

I guess seven out of ten people reading the above mentioned facts would not give a damn about it. C’mon who cares about penguins and polar bears, right?

Now let me put some other aspects of global warming/climate change to you(I hope readers do realise the co-dependence of these two phenomena). So a change in climatic conditions can lead to  : Drought in some areas, Floods in other, Food crisis, Wars, CHANGE IN EARTH’S ROTATION PATTERN(Yes people, even that too!)

Now let me explore through these, slowly :

Since 1970 there had been a continuous rise in rate and duration of droughts around the world, especially tropics and subtropics. In 2012, a severe drought in US had left 82 percent of the country in abnormally dry conditions leading to a loss of around 30 billion US dollars. And if you are thinking that drought will hit the place of emission only, then you are wrong(obviously!). According to a report in The Times Of India, dated 22.04.2017, in the year 2000, pollution in Europe triggered a severe drought in India.


That year, there was about 40% decline in rainfall in Northwest India, affecting 130 million people. That’s double the population of UK. Now if there’s drought, there must be flood. And there was. Around the world there are more than a hundred cities that are vulnerable to flood. In India, cities like Mumbai, Chennai were the worst hit. You need numbers? Chennai flood,2015, has cost around 3billion dollars to the country’s economy. Lives lost around 400(including some in Sri Lanka)  and affected in millions. Similar flood hit in China the same year, costing around $2 billion and in southeast of US the same year. Around the world, more than a billion people are at the risk of the floods due to climate change. Beside Asian cities of India, Bangladesh and Thailand, eastern cities like Miami with 4.7 million residents and $3.5 trillion worth of assets is also under threat. London, and many other Dutch cities follows the list. Talking of floods, there are island nations whose very existence is at risk. Kiribati Islands, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Palau(Pacific); Maldives, Seychelles (Indian Ocean); Republic of Cape Verde (Atlantic) and many more are the little places unsure of surviving even this century. Or even less. Rather Solomon islands has already lost its five islands, in 2016.

Now just take a wild guess, what will be the thing that will be affected by such abnormal patterns of flood and droughts (beside Your holiday plans)? Food, isn’t it? The productivity of crops and livestock will surely be hampered due temperature change and drought. The regions which till now were depended on rain fed agriculture are now switching to irrigation that definitely raise their production cost. Even fishery is adversely affected around the globe. These factors will amplify the food prices. According to a study, food prices may jump from 3% to 84% in next few decades. So, if our salary doesn’t increase at the same rate, then it’s surely going hurt.

And if there is a food crisis, conflicts are bound to follow. Africa is a burning example of that. There had been a reduction of around 50% of rain-fed agriculture production. The scarcity of food is leading to either malnutrition or war. In 2007, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, said that the tension in the Darfur region of Sudan was world’s first CLIMATE CHANGE CONFLICT. Even after that there had been a substantial increase in conflicts in the Sub-Saharan area. In numerical terms, a 1% increase in temperature leads to 4.5% increase in civil war. By 2030,according to a study based on 18 climate models, there might be about 54% increase in armed conflict in the African region. Even the intellectuals sitting in Pentagon felt this insecurity. In 2003, Pentagon commissioned a report on “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security.” In that the author had warned that such increase in drought and famines may lead to a widespread of riots across the world. It could lead to anarchy as countries develop nuclear threat to defend and secure the dwindling food, water and energy resources.

Even some experts claim that the famous ‘Arab Spring’ that had shook the Middle East, was faintly catalysed by the rise in food price and water shortage. Horrible, isn’t it? So if today, you are thinking of investing your hard earned money in land, shares or gold? Don’t do that. Buy some wheat sacks and water bottles, and lock it in a room for twenty years. Who knows, in 2040, that might make you a millionaire!

Nightmares aren’t done yet. There is an very interesting fact I came across while researching. Can you imagine that global warming can LITERALLY shrink a country? Or global affect the Rotation of the Earth? I couldn’t. So it was a shock for me. My country, India, is actually shrinking due to excessive drawing of ground water. Being a country of more a billion people, we need huge amount of food. Food is produced by agriculture. That needs water. Water usually came from rain. But as said earlier, rain got diverted due emissions. So we pumped out water from the land. We had to. As a result the landmass shrunk due to fall in ground water table. Now beside the receding water table of the subcontinent, there’s also a catastrophic melting of the polar ice caps. Leading to shift of mass, huge amount of it, away from the poles. The Greenland ice sheet is melting at a rate of 250 gigatonnes a year while loss of ice in Antarctica is about 194 Gigatonnes  per year. Now these two physical factors are actually affecting the Earth’s rotation!


Now whom to blame? The poor farmer for earning his bread? The countrymen who are feeding their bellies? Government of India? European Union? US, China for the highest emissions? Or any other nation?  Their are numerous participants of this blame game. Arranged like little dominoes. You topple one, it will pass it on to the next.

In midst of this pessimistic environment, there are glimpses of hope too. There are people standing for it. Little, but investments are being made for greener energy. Celebrities lending their voices. I couldn’t help but mention about a documentary by National Geographic called Before the Flood. I loved it. In this, the Titanic star Leonardo Di Caprio explores many aspects of this problem.

In that video some instances stunned me. That includes the stand of many powerful people in America.  There are people (I guess educated) who are saying that the Global warming is a  propaganda!A Hoax! A ‘Conspiracy Theory?! In one scene, there’s a highly ignorant(Or highly corrupt) politician(senator), standing in some court, was denying the authenticity of climate change. And to prove his point, he took out a snow ball and threw it to the judge and said, ‘If 2014 is the warmest year, then catch this!’
What an illogical and lame justification! I mean, I believe that US has a high education standard. And why won’t it? After food, clothes and shelter even a poor Indian invest in education. Then the land of MIT shouldn’t be an exception. Every year hundreds of Asians are moving there to pursue higher studies. Then how can, in such an  educated society, senators like that can move around denying the most significant scientific and natural phenomena? Rather, How can they be the senator in the first place? What? Did anyone said bribe? By who? The oil firms? Then why isn’t Tesla bribing them back (Good bribing, you see! )

I was even more shocked to see the reflection of that same attitude in US president Trump’s move. We know that last year 196 countries around the globe united for a greener world. They decided to restrict their carbon emission in order to keep the increase in global temperature below 2 degree Celsius. The agreement was a hope for countries facing extinction threats like Fiji.  It took 20 long years to put in, and we witnessed President Obama agreeing to reduce Greenhouse Gases emissions by 26% over the next decade.

But then Trump happened to America. And to the world. He is someone who loves to put politics before science. According to him, plan to cut down greenhouse gases will impact on US’s job and economy. Can anyone please tell me is it totally impractical to make money in a greener way? Look at Elon Musk! His Gigafactory. His electric cars. And not only Tesla. Traditional motor giants such as Volkswagen, BMW, Toyota and many more are investing in new cleaner greener technology. Aren’t they making money? All we needed is a Demand. Demand of greener energy, cleaner planet. Supply will follow.

Our little acts can lead to great outcomes. If tried. Otherwise, fifty years from now, the new generation will ask you: “Where were you, when they were ruining the planet?”

And in the end, I would end with some extracts of the great speech by Leonardo Di Caprio at United Nations

I am not a scientist, but I don’t need to be. Because the world’s scientific community has spoken, and they have given us our prognosis, if we do not act together, we will surely perish.

Now is our moment for action…

…We need to put a pricetag on carbon emissions, and eliminate government subsidies for coal, gas, and oil companies. We need to end the free ride that industrial polluters have been given in the name of a free-market economy, they don’t deserve our tax dollars, they deserve our scrutiny. 

For the economy itself will die if our ecosystems collapse….We only get one planet. Humankind must become accountable on a massive scale for the wanton destruction of our collective home. Protecting our future on this planet depends on the conscious evolution of our species.

This is the most urgent of times, and the most urgent of messages…

Honoured delegates, leaders of the world, I pretend for a living. But you do not. The people made their voices heard on Sunday around the world and the momentum will not stop. And now it’s YOUR turn, the time to answer the greatest challenge of our existence on this planet … is now.

I beg you to face it with courage. And honesty. Thank you.”


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