Saturday, October 20, 2007
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
Population Census of India