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Editorial - Save the world from self-destruction

29 November 2012 07:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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More than 17 thousand delegates are in Doha for the crucial United Nations climate change talks. A snapshot of the current situation is like a page from the book of Apocalypse.
 
The global average temperature has risen 0.74 degrees Celsius in the century to 2005, according to a benchmark 2007 report of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The decade 2001-2010 was the hottest since records began in 1850, says the World Meteorological Organisation. 2011 was the hottest year. Most scientists believe the main reason is greenhouse gas released by burning fossil fuel, trapping solar heat in the atmosphere. The IPCC, which is to bring out a new, updated report in 2013/14, has predicted further warming of between 1.1 degree C and 6.4 degrees C by 2100 from 1980-1999.  
 
The UN Environmental Programme said on Wednesday that the goal had moved further out of reach and temperatures would rise by 3-5 deegree C on current reduction pledges.
 
Since the start of the industrial age in about 1750, some 375 billion tonnes of carbon have been released into the atmosphere and will stay there for centuries, according to the WMO. Scientists say climate change is already visible in sea-level rise.
 
The trend is likely to continue, and the IPCC predicts that 20-30 per cent of plant and animal species will risk extinction once temperatures rise by 1.5-2.5 degrees C from 1980-99 levels. Up to 250 million people in Africa may be exposed to water stress due to climate change by 2020, and crop yields could be slashed in half in some countries. A global temperature rise of 3-4 degrees C could displace more than 300 million people through sea level rise and flooding - inundating coastal cities and small islands, according to UN figures.
 
While the Rajapakse regime in Sri Lanka is focusing attention or boasting about the building of super-highways and beautiful cities, the country has been seriously affected by changes of weather patterns which have led to the worst-ever droughts and the worst-ever floods. With the number of motor vehicles increasing tenfold in recent years and more factories being set up without curbs on carbon emission, our beautiful cities may turn to graveyards because of the effects of global warming. Instead of focusing so much on an impeachment motion, which has put the Legislature and the Judiciary on a coalition course, Government needs to give highest priority to ways of curbing global warming.
 
Individually civic-minded people could also take steps to reduce their carbon footprints. We need to think of ways of reducing fossil fuel usage by using public transport more often than private transport or even by using bicycles or taking a walk for short-distance trips. In these and a host of other ways we could contribute little drops of water that could make a mighty ocean to save this world of more than 7,000 million people from the hell of self-annihilation.
 
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