Friday, April 06, 2007
Seeking global warming's 'first refugees'

Chatting with villagers in the Sundarbans

How are some of the world’s poorest people dealing with the effects of global climate change? That was the question posed to us a few days ago.

In India there are a number of ways of looking at this story, but we decided to head out to meet the people living on a group of islands in the Ganges delta area known as the Sundarbans.

I’d read a lot about the Sundarbans - and knew it was home to the Bengal Tiger and a host to a diverse ecosystem. But some scientists and researchers are calling now the residents of the Sundarbans among the first "global climate change refugees."

This morning we woke up before dawn to take a several hour ride by car from our hotel in Kolkata to meet a small boat we had hired for the day to take us to Ghoramara Island. The boat that took us seemed to be barely rigged together. The "captain" leaned on a rusty old rudder and held onto a frayed piece of string in his other hand to regulate the speed of the boat.

Ghoramara Island was beautiful, though villagers told us (and satellite photos show) that the size of the island is shrinking. Local officials on the island estimate that more than half of the population of the island have left after losing their farmland to the surging water.

An environmentalist with the Wildlife Protection Society of India, traveling with us, says two (once inhabited) islands have already disappeared under water and there are about a dozen more threatened. The environmentalist also pointed to figures showing the sea level rising at higher-than normal rates in this region and suggested that global warming may be partly to blame.

For the villagers left on the island (just over 5,000 according to local official numbers) worrying about rising water is constant. We met families who told us they lost all of their land and were searching for other ways to make ends meet. We met former farmers –- turned fishermen ... who were trying to eek out a living catching tiny fish.

Even though these villagers were struggling to make it by (often on about $1 or $2 per day) everyone we spoke with said they felt lucky to just be able to stay on their island.

We put together the piece overnight, and now I’m heading to bed. You can watch my report in full.

-- From Seth Doane, CNN International Correspondent
Can I ask about what happened to reasoned debate on the topic of global warming? It's been shown that wine production was going on in London during the High Middle Ages - it was milder than it is now. Post-WW2 when were pumping out Co2 to rebuild out economies, the world got COLDER and we have BBC weather broadcasts warning of a mini ice age. Co2 is a negligible factor and I dont see why we should be giving governments another excuse to tax us. Global Warming has become the new fascism, the new religion. Every year the ice sheets expand and retract, and for thousands of yours seal pups have fell in the water and died. Environmentally we should be concerned about deforestation, oil spillage etc and not Global Warming which will go into a reverse trend eventually if the HUGE weight of history if any evidence.
The debate on global warming is indeed well- reasoned. The issues on climate variability (such as grapes being grown in England - see also the Dickensian winters) has permitted people to prevaricate, but the evidence is overwhelming. And yes, deforestation and pollution are all contributing factors. It is not about a single issue, but rather a whole raft of inter-related issues with one common factor: the effect of human (mis)management of the world's resources.
Science is science, it may be a good idea to ask an Engineer how to fix it, this way we can all maintain our current way of life and future aspirations for our children. Hats off to billionaire Richard Branson, his $25 million prize to reduce green house gas has already over 20 thousand submissions, this is the proactive response the world needs, not more finger pointing.
I hear a lot of talk about global warming being caused chiefly through to the activities of man.

But only if there was a highly technological civilisation in 15000 BC,then we can understand what melted the glaciers at the end of the last ice age?
Sadly this entry falls outside the contest parameters of the VIRGIN EARTH CHALLENGE but I wished to submit this anyway.

The solution for the modern world�s many problems is in the completion of a working Unified Field Theory. A functional unified field equation is the genie that would grant photonic engineering. The benefits are nearly endless for how such an ideal could impact our globe improving the standard of living in ways only imagined in dream and wonderment, but such mysteries revealed are equally as threatening in the wrong hands.

The Unified Field as a Mathematical model which combines: Gravitation, the Weak Force, The Nuclear Strong force, Electromagnetism, and Model Chemistry.

Such a principal will only be released in a united theatre for willing exploration like that of the United Nation. A war measures act ratified by The UN to combat Global warming with the scientific community formed, filed, and ranked to investigate for the force of humanity. It would take Years just too properly organized such a task and yet accomplished would generate Kilo-Quadrillions (US) for the gross national product of a world combined in two centuries.

The offered prize might be used for the promotion of such an ideal in finding the solution woven into a motion picture format in present context produced to make the masses understand while being entertained and so drive global morality to universally participate and so conquer our common foe.
The most common causes for flooding of land in a delta is subsidence of the great thickness of sediment, not a rise in sea-level. The causes of the subsidence are mainly isostatic depression of the crust due to weight of sediment and dewatering/compaction of the deposited sediment. While one part of the delta may sink another part will be created by sediment deposited from the river(s). Man's greatest influence is probably interference with the vegetation which traps the sediments, dams affecting waterflow, and other engineering projects affecting waterflow and sediment deposition.

A eustatic (worldwide) rise in sea-level will increase the weight on the earth's crust and cause some additional subsidence.

Before attributing this to global warming I would like to see some figures on global sea-level rise versus amount of local subsidence.
I don’t know how anyone with even a modicum of a moral conscience could politicize scientific data when it supports the care and sustainability of our environment. If I know anything to be true, it is that all of us in this world share one common relationship with each other whether we like it or not. We are all brothers and sisters in a shared womb called Mother Earth, dependent on her for our lives. And, depending on where we call home on this earth, many of us are suffering from or know people who are suffering from diseases caused by exposure to environmental toxins, while others are starving to death as a result of lack of available food or potable water.
Perhaps, these catastrophic climactic events could metaphorically be considered our Mother’s attempt to get our attention once and for all. Our overindulgence has become a threat to our very existence and Mother Earth will continue to wield some punishing blows to us if we do not change our ways.
According to Major General Smedley Butler there are only two things we should ever fight for and “one is the defense of our homes”. Mother Earth is fighting for her home, the home she shares with us. This is an important war to fight and one that we should fight with the help of all who share our globe. It is the one issue that we can all agree that we have a collective vested interest in. The enemy is our own ignorance and excess. The weapons of choice are knowledge, discipline, science and technology. The use of this arsenal for a just cause has the potential to create a nobler and more peaceful society.
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