The Oceanic Group Seminar on Climate Change
As mentioned previously, The Oceanic Group had organised an Interactive Seminar Series (slated to be bimonthly) on Climate Change on the eve of the World Environment Day. Following are the proceedings of the seminar.
The Oceanic Group & Habitat Center Lecture Programme
With a Delhi bandh being called by a certain community, the attendance was relatively less in the beginning and the seminar itself started about 25 minutes late.
The stage was honoured by three eminent personalities viz., Prof. Syed Husnain (Senior Fellow, Center for Policy Research, former VC, University of Calicut & an expert on Glaciers), Dr. Prodipto Ghosh (Environment Secretary to the Govt. of India) and Mr. Bhure Lal (Member, UPSC and Former Chairman Environment Pollution Control Authority). While the former was the inaugural speaker, Dr. Prodipto Ghosh chaired the launch of the series and Mr. Bhure Lal delivered the concluding address.
The seminar began with a brief introduction of the guests on stage and then by an introductory speech by Dr. Prodipto Ghosh. Even before that media persons from Delhi AajTak and Jain TV surrounded Prof. Husnain and asked him questions regarding global warming and the impact of the melting of glaciers. Replying to a question raised by the reporter from AajTak, Prof. Husnain clarified that the most serious impact of all this will be on the availability of fresh water.
This was also stressed upon by Dr. Prodipto Ghosh in the introductory lecture who pointed out that the current trend is such that there may soon be a disruption in the water supply which will prove disastrous for us since our economy heavily depends on agriculture.
Prof. Syed Husnain giving the presentation with Dr. Prodipto Ghosh and Mr. Bhure Lal in the vicinity.
The stage was then handed over to Prof. Husnain who explained the entire glacier melting problem using a presentation. He talked of the temperature anomaly (hockey stick graph), ablation and the cause and consequences of global warming.
Mr. Bhure Lal was then called onto the podium where he declared Global Warming and Climate Change as the topic of the day. He said that the situation is frightening and mankind should be cautious about droughts, floods and extinction of a large number of species that may result owing to climate change.
He reminded everybody of the situation in Australia which has been facing drought for the last six years with little, if any rains and dry rivers.
The situation, he said was so severe and out of hand that the head of the state himself appealed to the public to pray to God for help. He also mentioned that snow has disappeared from Africa’s Kilimanjaro Mountain and that the River Nile and Lake Victoria have begun to dry up.
Asia, he said will be affected the most and that there will be floods first and a total dry up of all regions. The fact that a large population lives on the coastline is a matter of grave concern since a 7 meter rise in sea level has been predicted by the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). And that a 1 meter rise in sea level will uproot 7 million people. Sunderbans have already started losing some land mass. The situation, he said could go on to such an extent that we may have to start afresh.
However, he also indicated towards the light at the end of the tunnel. He mentioned that at present, the economy is in our favour and that to start with, we need to invest 3 % of our GDP towards environmental friendly decisions such as a shift to the renewable energy sources, particularly in solar energy. He also indicated towards biofuels and highlighted the importance of ethanol, derived from Sorghum as a good alternate source of energy. Sorghum can also be used as a source of food, while the plant parts can be used to derive the biofuel. Hydrogen was another alternate energy source mentioned by him and he mentioned that 10% of it will be mixed with CNG and sold as fuel in Delhi. FOSSIL FUELS, he said, “have been befooling us.”
Mr. Bhure Lal also commented on how the states of Australia and United States are not willing to sign the Kyoto Protocol until both India and China sign it. This, even when both the former two countries are two of the world’s biggest polluters. Clearly these countries are not willing to pay up for the damages they have done and still doing to earth’s environment.
He also mentioned about the TIME magazine’s list of 51 items that we can follow in order to contribute to bring down the pollution and sustain life on this planet. Car pooling and minimising the use of electricity were few of them. He concluded with saying that in the future, we do not want starving people with no food, water and natural resources but healthy populations of individuals; for which each of us needs to contribute our part.
With this, Mr. Bhure Lal waved at everyone and left the seminar room. The seminar was now open to questions from the audience. People were curious about the melt down of the glaciers and extent of the problem which was answered by Prof. Husnain in a rather smart way. One gentleman wanted to know if the melting of the polar ice would lead to a change in earth’s rotation! Dr. Prodipto Ghosh answered this question with a probable happening of the event but that nothing could be said until we collect regular and specific time series data.
The question was also raised on the threat to the upcoming Hydroelectric Projects in the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand of the melting of glaciers up North and the very logic of constructing such projects (dams, run-of-the-river projects) when there is a prediction of a drying up of the rivers in the near future.
The Programme concluded with a vote of thanks to the distinguished guests.
The Second Seminar of the Series will be held on 9th of August, 2007. Mr. Suresh Prabhu: MP & former Environmental Minister will chair, Mr. Nitin Desai: Secretary General , World Summit on Sustainable Development, 2002 & former Under Secretary General, United Nations will be the Distinguished Speakers.
Previously on DelhiGreens: