George Bush is Singin' in the Rain in this Greenpeace mockery of US inaction on climate change.
We toured coastal Orissa, in eastern India, and found many
people still traumatised by memories of the 1999 super cyclone.
These people live in dread that such a cyclone will happen again
but most don't have the means to move elsewhere. We also came
across a lot of people who'd lost their land to encroaching seas
and were struggling to feed themselves and their families - and
many were losing their homes.
It was a 10km hike to the village of Kanhapur, which sat on its
own in the middle of nowhere at the end of an isolated stretch of
beach. We walked kilometre after kilometre through what looked like
rice paddies. We later found out they weren't rice paddies at all.
That serenity masked the scenes of past devastation.
entire area used to be inhabited by Kanhapur's neighbours. All of
those villages have been totally swept away by the sea. There's no
sign of them at all. In one village, a sea surge (like a tidal wave
but the wave doesn't break) not only took the entire village but
killed thousands of people. Now it looks so beautiful, it's hard to
imagine so much suffering happened here. At the end of the beach,
Kanhapur is on its own, clinging to the last piece of slightly
higher ground. Half of it has already been washed away. You can see
signs of the stilts on which houses once stood all along the beach
and the old village water pump, once the heart of the village,
stands comically in the middle of the beach.
I was told it was unlikely that the people I'd meet would know
anything about climate change - but it couldn't have been further
from the truth. They couldn't talk of anything else. They're
terrified of the weather and of the sea. They talked about how
temperatures have increased since the 1999 cyclone and how the
seasons have changed.
Environmentalists and development agencies as well as the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are all concerned that
millions of people are at risk from climate change and that it will
have the greatest impact on the world's poorest people - such as
the people in Orissa - because they don't have the means to adapt
(for example, to build sea defenses). But these villagers have no
choice but to lose the land on which they depend. Many people have
had to leave their homes time and again to escape the rising tide.
Now they're accepting they must give up everything they own yet
again and leave their village to its watery fate.
Here, some of them tell their stories.
Murali Dhara Malick, 30, Casual
"When I was a child, the village of Kanhapur was not on the
beach, but among paddy fields. I know that my grandfather was born
in this village and that people have lived here for at least one
hundred years. Until two months ago, I lived in a house my father
built 20 years ago. It used to take us a whole day to go out to the
sea and come back home.
But the sea moved nearer and nearer to our home until it was
only 100m away. On a full moon night two months ago, the whole
house was destroyed by a huge wave. My wife and I had no time to
save anything. Once the water washed over the house, it collapsed.
One of my sons became trapped and I had to pull him from the mess.
We ran for our lives.
I'm afraid of the sea and want to find high land. We're still
searching for a safer place."
Bhagwati Pradhan, 28, Collector of
"The tube well nearest to our house can no longer be used
because the land around it has been washed away. The salt water has
affected the soil to the extent that we're no longer able to grow
vegetables. We used to cultivate bitter gourd, aubergine and
plantain and eat them everyday. Now we're eating a lot more fish
and have become more dependent on potatoes and lentils. Vegetables
have to come from outside the village so we can only afford to eat
them a couple of times a week.
The sea's movement inland has also made it harder for the
village men to marry. People are reluctant to marry their daughters
to these areas because we're known to be prone to calamities that
lead to a shortage of income and insecure lives."
Panchahan Sahu, 38, Farmer and
Survivor of 1999 'Super Cyclone'
"Sea water was coming from all sides even though we were 15km
away from the sea. I couldn't see anything and could hear only the
whistling of the wind. I knew the tree was not going to save us and
I managed to hold onto a branch of bamboo. All of my family died.
Out of 482 people living in my village, 227 were killed. More than
200 of our livestock were washed away and 147 acres of our land was
My two acres of land became salinated.
Since 1999, the temperature here has risen dramatically and
malaria has increased by 10 percent. I'm afraid that the changes in
weather will create storms that will force us to migrate from this
place to yet another."
Life or death
For the people of Orissa, climate change is happening and is a
matter of life and death. Taking action against the problem is not
about abstract numbers or if rich countries and companies might be
a fraction less rich - waiting is not an option if your life is
being washed away around you.
Watch the video of the threat of raising sea levels to villages
in Orissa -
Quicktime (15.4 MB) |
Real (8.5 MB) |
Windows Media (10.3 MB)
and background from the climate meeting in Buenos Aires,
Greenpeace is campaigning for action not words to combat climate
change. Right now we are pressuring politicians at the climate
talks to do something to help people, like those in Orissa
threatened by climate change. Help us by giving today.
Background on our