Climate change threatens one billion with drought

Feature story - August 28, 2009
BEIJING, China — One hundred ice children melting in the sun of a Beijing summer.

One hundred days before governments meet at the Copenhagen climate summit to decide what they will do to stop climate change.

One billion men, women and children in Asia facing drought from climate change.

Time is running out.

We need that climate summit to take fair and effective action to stop climate change, or like these ice children, our futures will melt away.

The big melt

Almost immediately the ice children began to melt under the hot midday sun, pools of water collecting at the bases and trickling into a drain.

See the slideshow here.

Each statue was individually handcrafted, some of the ice children were shielding their eyes with their hands, others had them crossed over their bellys.

It was surreal; 100 melting children with the sound of journalists' cameras clicking and the occasional squeal of delight as a human child stroked the icy surface of a statue.

An infant girl in a pink skirt and sandals tripped through the puddles.

These melting statues represent the melting glaciers in the Greater Himalayan region which are melting faster than ever before because of climate change.

And without these glaciers more than one billion people will go thirsty.

Western scientists and Chinese scientists agree on the accelerated melting.

The science is there, we need our governments to be there.

Wang Xiaolin was taking her two-year-old little boy, James, to visit the ice statues.

We asked her if she was worried about climate change.

"I am always afraid of climate change," she told us, holding her son's hand, as he struggled to play with the ice statues.

The story behind the ice sculpture

Greenpeace China and Greenpeace India collected water from the very sources of three key rivers from the Greater Himalayan region - the Yangtze, Yellow and Ganges Rivers.

More than one billion people in China and India depend on this water for their survival.

But these glaciers are the fastest melting in the world.

And scientists say that in 30 years most of them will be gone (80 percent) if nothing is done about climate change.

What will they do once the water runs out?

These bottles of glacial melt water were given to a team of sculptors in Beijing who chipped and shaped them into 100 ice children.

Today we watch them melt away in Beijing's Ditan Park as a ominous warning of what could happen to our future.

Diatan Park (literally the Temple of Earth park) is where Chinese emperors prayed for the well being of China and good harvests.

"We are here today to highlight the catastrophic danger faced by our planet earth," said Greenpeace China Climate and Energy Campaign Manager Yang Ailun.

"The disappearance of the Himalayan glaciers threatens the fresh water supply of the one fifth of the world's population who live in their watershed. If world leaders don't agree to stop runaway climate change, children of today will grow up facing a constant struggle to secure reliable access to drinking water." 

Today is also the launch day of the TckTckTck campaign, which is urging governments to agree a fair, binding and ambitious deal at the summit.

Join your voice to ours and sign up to be a climate activist. We will be calling on you closer to Copenhagen to help us push governments to make a planet-saving deal at Copenhagen.

The state of play pre-Copenhagen

The talks are currently deadlocked over two key questions

    • Will the developed world take on strong mid term targets?

    • Will the developed world provide enough money for the developing world to deal with and help stop climate change?

A good climate deal looks like this:

    • Industrialised countries to cut greenhouse emissions by 40% (from 1990 levels) by 2020

    • A fund of around $140bn a year for the developing world

    • The developing world commits to cutting their emissions by 15-30% from business as usual by 2020 (including China and India)

    • An end to deforestation by 2020

Climate change threatens one billion with drought

Climate change is not a joke.

Climate change is not art.

Climate change is not 100 ice statues melting in the sun.

It is your life, my life and our children's lives.

Please help us to push governments to take climate change seriously in Copenhagen .

Save the Climate

Be part of our Green Idol campaign urging Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to enact a Renewable Energy Law by 2010, in order to tackle climate change.


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