The flooded Spolana chemical plant shortly after the explosion of chlorine gas
The first half of 2002 was the warmest in 143 years, and,
globally, the period from January to June was the second warmest on
record. While no single weather event or disaster can be directly
linked to global warming, a warmer world will see more floods,
droughts and heat waves. The current floods in Eastern Europe and
Germany have cost almost 100 lives and caused untold misery and
economic loss. It seems it is no longer only us 'radical greenies'
who are saying climate change could cost the planet and it's
inhabitants dearly if left unchecked.
"Warmer weather fuels natural disasters," said Pier Vellinga, a
climatologist at Amsterdam University. "Few places in the world
will be spared from climatic disruptions. We can say with
reasonable confidence that human-induced climate change is now
affecting the frequency and intensity of extreme weather
Soon it will only be those corporations and governments, where
the only green issue on their minds is the number of dollars on
their bank balance, who deny that the world needs to act now to
prevent global warming.
Surely the inhabitants of Prague in the Czech Republic cannot be
overjoyed at the looming prospect of more floods this century. Not
only has the flooding forced thousands from their homes, the waters
have inundated a severely polluted factory site, cancer causing
dioxin and deadly mercury could be washed downstream, spreading
these deadly poisons far and wide.
In Germany authorities fear further pollution if the chemical
plants at Bitterfeld, which lies on the swollen river Mulde's path,
On the other side of the globe, UN environment chief Klaus
Topfer announced that a massive cloud of pollution more than three
kilometres deep is covering part of Asia. The brown haze is caused
by dramatic increases in the burning of fossil fuels in vehicles,
industries and power stations, emissions from millions of
inefficient cookers, as well as forest fires and the burning of
agricultural waste. The haze, which is disrupting the climate,
damaging agriculture, affecting monsoon rainfall and contributing
to death rates from respiratory illness, is expected to intensify
as Asia's population increases.
Currently our ship, the Arctic Sunrise, is in Thailand to
promote clean renewable energy, such as wind and solar, and show
that dirty energy, such as coal and nuclear power has no future if
we want to leave an inhabitable planet to future generations.
Recent events should serve as a wake up call to governments
attending the upcoming Earth Summit in South Africa. They can
continue to listen to the vested interests of multinational oil
companies like Exxon who claim that we should 'study' the prospect
of catastrophic climate change for another 20 years. An outcome of
bickering, inaction and delay would amount to little more than
fiddling while the planet burns.
Alternatively governments could take the brave and visionary
step of listening to the people rather than vested corporate
interests and take the first step towards a cleaner, greener future
for the planet.
If they do not take any real action at the Summit, the events of
2002 could become sickeningly familiar in years to come…