Tuesday, October 23, 2007

More Ecogees (Eco - Refugees!)

The Rainbow Warrior sailed on past the east coast and docked yesterday at the Chennai port. There was also an amazing action last morning where the climate action team painted the message 'Cut Coal Save Climate' on the hull of a cargo ship (the INS Sridevi) laden with coal. India right now, (actually based on 2002 data) stands at fifth place on the list of the world's largest polluters. The current development plans envisage an addition of 73 new coal fired power plants. By themselves, these coal megaliths will raise India to the third position. Greenpeace and Solar Generation are strongly against this kind of blind development plans. We need clean power if we want to stick around long enough to see India as a world leader, in whatever field it is.

In the last post I mentioned how officials sent to survey the population of the Sunderbans were shocked to discover that an entire island had disappeared beneath the sea. A Kolkata based scientist, along with his team of oceanographers at the Jadavpur University have identified another island that submerged at about the same time, although there is no record of any human settlement on that island.

Around the same period, a series of cyclones and droughts battered the coastal state of Orissa. Although the Orissa droughts and Super-cyclone made it to media prime-time, little corrective actions can be said to have taken place. As of today this state continues to suffer from the effects of climate change. An already poor people (Orissa scores a meagre 1 - 1.5 on a scale of 5 in the economic development indices), the Oriyas today are struggling to sustain their lives. Orissa has to its credit several dubious distinctions, including supposed trafficking in women, highest numbers of infant mortality due to malnourishment and record numbers of migration due to rising sea levels eating into the coast.

If truly there are climate change hotspots in India, Orissa figures at the top of the list. Greenpeace and Solar Generation India have separately documented the effects of climate change already being experienced by the Oriyas.
Given below is the first video created, directed and shot entirely by the team of Solar Generation. Take a look:

One is forced to feel ashamed about the clueless leadership that seems to prevail in our country after one witnesses the suffering that these people seem to have accepted as part of their lives.

I didn't want to drag this post on for too much longer but couldn't help but share this story.

The region over which Orissa stands now is roughly the extent over which a medieval Indian kingdom, that of the Kalingas, once stood. The Emperor Ashoka waged a lengthy and bloody war on the Kalingas and defeated them. At the end of this war, the king who was known as Chandashoka, "the cruel Ashoka," was so moved by the suffering he had imposed on the Kalingas that he gave up all violence and adopted Buddhism, giving up his traditional Vedic religious beliefs. Later, Emperor Ashoka was rechristened, from "the cruel Ashoka" (Chandashoka) to "the pious Ashoka" (Dharmashoka).

I wonder if the descendants of the Kalingas will once again be forced to embrace oblivion in the face of senseless greed.

Monday, October 22, 2007


there's a tiny omission in the last post. The refugees from Lohachara are officially the FIRST climate refugees per se, anywhere in the world. The fact that Lohachara had sunk didn't even register with the authorities. It was during the 2001 census that the surveyors realised that one of the islands listed as inhabited wasn't to be found! The first islands to have submerged however are officially in the Papua New Guinea.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Updates.... Refresh your self here.

As of right now, one of the 'x'-solargen (x stands for extra talented!) members, our great guru of cool, Mr Amrit Bakshi is enjoying an amazing cruise aboard the Rainbow Warrior! Well, actually, he's only sailing from Kolkata (where he was part of all the Greenpeace (India) activities that took place in Calcutta and the Sunderbans) to Vishakhapatnam or Chennai depending on which port gives the Rainbow Warrior clearance to dock. For new readers, Amrit has been a member of Solargen India since it's inception and has been a moving force behind almost everything Solargen has achieved. He also represented SGi at the Montreal UNFCCC and then again there's his famous freak dancing; which I'm told floored quite a few at Montreal. Besides he's also like the 'as cool as they come' dude.
But this post isn't a tribute to Amrit. It's a report on the people who Amrit is trying to raise a voice for. While we sit and try to argue whether climate change is real or not, who's to blame for it and what corrective measures might work, there's already a lot of people who lives, livelihoods and cultures are already being washed away in the mighty tides of climate change.

Amrit (along with the others from Greenpeace India) was protesting against the apathy of Governments with regards to climate change issues. Most the of anti-climate change lobby refuses to accept the reality of the climate change refugee. Well, like it or not, we have some of our very own climate change refugees. Right here, in India. They are the inhabitants of one of the of the Sunderbans. Sunderbans, incidentally is the largest mangrove forest formation in the world, strecthing from Indian territory to Bangladesh. It is also home to Royal Bengal Tiger, which already facing near-extinction. Apart from tigers, the Sunderbans are home to several species of birds (including the magpie robin - the national bird of Bangaladesh) and crocodiles. It has also been identified as a major mating spot of the endangered Olive Ridley Turtles and is home to the River Terrapin, the Gangetic Dolphin and the Horse Shoe crab among others . Apart from the flora and fauna the Sunderbans are also home to some 4.5 million people. Of these at least 7000 are eco-refugees, who lost their homes when the island Lohachara was lost to rising sea levels in the year 2001. An estimated 15% of Sagar Island, the largest in terms of land mass and human population, is already under water or erdoded.

Shown here is an infrared map of the Sunderbans.A rise of 3.5 mm (0.13 inches) will lead to a loss of 15% of the total land mass of the Sundarbans and will displace a further million people from there homes. These are conservative estimates.
A large part of the effects of climate will be suffered by people who are aged less than 25 years today, i.e., the youth. 53% of India's population is less than 25 years of age. That means a lot of us. A LOT OF US. It's time we demanded our rights and took an active role in the climate change dialog.
So will you wait till the sea's at your doorstep? Or do you want to make a change now?

Wildlife Institute of India
Project Tiger
Population Census of India

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hey people, this is an article I picked while browsing around. Sorry about the cut and paste job :p

Dean Williams and the Science of Climate Change
By Roger Witherspoon
Oct 12, 2007, 14:29

When the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change contacted the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and asked for help there was, at first, consternation.

Dean Williams, senior research computer scientist at the Laboratory, recalled “Our program director, Dave Bader, came to me and said they want us to coordinate and standardize all this data from around the world. Can we do this?

“I said we can not not do this. And then we set out to figure out how and it led to the creation of the Earth System Grid.”

The awarding of the 2007 Nobel Peace Price to both former Vice President Al Gore and the International Panel on Climate Change has cast an international spotlight on the behind the scenes work of Williams, one of the world’s most influential black research scientists.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the prize jointly for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.

It is difficult to envision the impact of global warming – or to determine its existence and causes – considering the disparate impact it has on climate conditions around the globe.

Parts of Texas this summer had 18 inches of rain a few hours while much of the southwest was experiencing record setting drought and fire conditions, and the northeast was wet and unseasonably cool. On a global scale, the disparate impacts are even greater.

It would have been impossible for the International Panel on Climate Change -- IPCC – to have come to the unanimous conclusions on trends in the earth’s climate and the impact of human development were it not for the contribution of Dean Williams, whose work over the past 15 years has provided the computational underpinnings of global climate science.

Williams’ first contribution was the development of the Climate Data Analysis Tool – CDAT – an open source analysis and visualization software package which allows researchers to simultaneously look at multiple climate models and compare observed results.

This was followed by the development of the Earth System Grid, which standardizes how data is collected and provides a common framework for the world’s climate modeling centers. It has changed the way the world’s climate scientists operate.

During the development, Williams sent out terabyte discs to every major climate modeling group, and has since uploaded more than 300 terabytes of data into the Earth system Grid for the IPCC.

At Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Williams said, “we are a neutral climate model center. All the world’s models come in to get vetted. We do comparisons of all the climate models and inter-comparisons around the world.

“The works is scientists will run a model at their site, and then run it through our filter to get a standard format.”

It was this system which provided the world’s scientific community with the certainty exhibited in the current IPCC panel on climate change validating the human cause of global climate disruptions.

The Earth System Grid has been expanded to provide operational nodes at 23 climate research sites around the globe so new information can be downloaded directly for all climate researchers to use.

When informed of the Nobel Prize Award to the IPCC Williams, stunned, at first could only keep repeating “Wow! This is awesome!”

“I’m speechless at this award,” he said after a few minutes reflection. “Everyone in the climate community is a winner today. Our whole team should be jumping up and down.”

Williams grew up on South Central Los Angeles knowing the direction he wanted to take in life at an early age.

“I was always best in my class in math,” he said. “I told myself in fourth grade I’d be a master in math one day.”

He earned a bachelors degree in applied mathematics and statistics, and then a master’s degree in computer science at California State University at Chico and then joined Lawrence Livermore. When he is not standardizing the world’s climate research, he coaches high school track.

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