Manmade warming of the globe

Thursday, 25 October 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Oscar E.V. Fernando

That ecology is a burning issue affecting the world, as atmospheric pollution and poisoned water do not have frontiers, and therefore need no visa to enter other countries, was a concluding remark at a global seminar on environment. Protection and preservation of the environment, and promotion of sustainable development, meaning fulfilling human needs with an eye on an indefinite future, and attention to climatic change, have all become matters of concern to humanity. 

Scientists point out that haphazard treatment of the environment by human beings has brought with it impending crises, such as global warming which has melted ice caps and glaciers, causing an increase in sea levels, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis in quick succession.

Scientists have warned that there will be more severe effects if immediate steps are not taken to arrest further wanton damage to the environment by man. They say that natural emissions of carbon dioxide, water vapour and other natural gases arising from natural habitats, absorb the heat emanating from the sun-preventing part of it radiating to the lower atmosphere: if this natural flow is allowed free sway, without undue interference by man, it will result in maintaining a natural atmospheric temperature in the globe.

Scientists also point out that combustion, i.e. a process of burning coal oil and unnatural fuels, due to unbridled entrepreneurial and other human activities, destabilises the normal atmospheric temperature, causing irregular climatic patterns and disruption of oceanic life that had maintained its undisturbed equilibrium for centuries past. This has caused the presently witnessed climatic disasters and crises all over the world. 

It can be concluded that combustion of fossil fuel rapidly increased as an aftermath of the Industrial Revolution: this no doubt brought about socio/economic development to produce more for consumption. It can also be said that it had a negative effect, by producing much to cater to the crazy glamour of high and selfish living. 

With the rapid increase in the world’s population, there seems no alternative but to produce more essentials such as food to avoid malnutrition. The billion dollar question would be a priority in production - whether to cater to the glamour of high and selfish living with limousines galore, or produce more to feed the hungry and clothe the naked? Where a balance is necessary, the world is now facing a situation where scales are tilted on the wrong side, causing inevitable calamities, due to the pursuit of unbridled production by entrepreneurs with an eye for profit.

Is it not an irony that some countries that produce food in excess selfishly throw it away, without sharing it with the less fortunate of other countries that face a gloomy future of malnourishment?

Scientists and some world leaders point out that the impending crisis is very alarming, with no exaggeration of doom and gloom. It is an undoubted forecast with the present inertia and wanton complacency of the business entrepreneurs, leaders, and politicians the world over, who seem to selfishly stifle solutions, lured perhaps by financial gain.

Humanity is surely sitting on a ticking time bomb due to the greed of some, who stubbornly refuse to follow the ordained rules of nature. It is at this point that moral and spiritual thoughts come into the equation of global warming and resulting calamities.

There is hope.

Reportedly, engines that do not pollute could be built; sun and the wind can be harnessed for energy production; coal resources could be used without heating the planet. But there seems to be a selfishly impatient and hurried grab for profits, without waiting for the replacement of present eco-unfriendly equipment with safer equipment that will prevent climatic disasters. What is the cause for this pussyfooted delay in accepting safe equipment? It seems to happen the world over, in connivance with powers that be, who seem to join in complicity with selfish entrepreneurs in sharing the broth.

Al Gore, a former US Vice President, once said that it certainly goes beyond science to search for a better way of life for the common good of humanity, a search for an altruistic way of life. His thoughts are now rarely discussed.

Here are some altruistic affirmations on global warming that arose from various conference discussions: environmental issues have driven world leaders on the path of soul-searching, to find out to what extent the egoistical behaviour of business entrepreneurs and their cohorts contribute to escalation of climatic disasters. There appears to be a pursuit of profit only in business, without any altruistic thought. Mass migration due to landslides cause social and ethical issues such as famine and disruption of family values to both the rich and the poor, causing the youth to take to crime and other addictions.  

Where lies the paradisiac goal of the Industrial Revolution with no moral basis to guide it: a sound that was silenced by the avalanche of wealth and prosperity?

Even as we read this, we see some countries digging for coal, the burning of which propels engines for further production and profit. Produce what, and profit for whom, is a matter for altruistic consideration.

At present, it would seem that issues on global warming are in a state of conflict and flux, as it is discussed on a platform of economics, science, and politics only. The global fora increasingly feels that discussions should also be based on moral and ethical considerations, voices very often subdued.

Here are some points for Sri Lankans to ponder:

A recent World Bank report highlighted that around 17% of the Sri Lankan population is living in the ‘severe’ heat wave hot-spots, while 70% is living in ‘moderate’ hot-spot conditions. 

Apart from World Bank and other conference reports, we have ourselves witnessed in the recent past:

  • People trekking long distances to fetch drinking water
  • Severe landslides with residential houses sliding into lakes and rivers
  • A disastrous tsunami wiping away people, lands and homes to the sea
  • Suicides committed by farmers as the climate prevented them from harvesting what they sowed 
  • People wading knee deep in floods in search of other homes to live in
  • Parched land which had seen much greenery earlier
  • Frequent disaster management assistance from the Government and volunteers to those affected by climatic disasters
  • Experiences of strange weather patterns blowing hot and cold during day and night
  • Frequent lightning strikes at unheard of levels

All this and more: is this a global W-A-R-N-I-N-G for man’s selfishness and greed, continuing in a-“carry on regardless” style?