The Day After Tomorrow. Showing Across Orissa Today.

Feature story - August 17, 2005
BHUBANESHWAR, India — When six members of the Greenpeace SolarGeneration team went to Orissa last month, they created history of sorts. This was probably the world's youngest climate change fact-finding team, bearing witness to one of the most horrific crime scenes of our time.

The Solar Generation team : the entire solar generation team at Bhubaneshwar before the expedition. From left - Amrit Bakshi, Salil Mukhia, Shashank Srinivasan, Kruttika Vishwanathan, Soumya Tripathi (local guide), Radhika Timbadia, Akshay, and Anmol Basnet.

That crime is climate change. The perpetrators are industrialised nations. Their weapon is global greenhouse gases. The victim is our planet. And the investigators are a group of young clean energy activists, just back from the SolarGeneration HotSpots Tour of Orissa.

"If we turn a blind eye to this crime, we are perpetrator, accessory and victim, all rolled into one," said Salil Mukhia, co-ordinator of the Solar Generation HotSpots Tour. "The planet simply can't afford that indifference. So we've documented everything, and we're presenting our findings in Montreal this November."

The team travelled from Bhubaneshwar to Konark and then on to the coastal districts of Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpura, Puri, and finally to Chilka lake, Asia's largest inland salt-water lagoon.

The mission of the HotSpots Tour was to record what climate change meant to the common man in real terms. The Tour documentary captures the hardships faced by people due to rise in sea levels - entire villages are on their way to getting submerged. Already, there's a fall in agricultural productivity due to saline and sand ingress, and crops traditionally grown here can no longer by produced due to the dramatic change in climate.

The SolarGeneration also estimates that health problems in effected areas can only be further compounded, since the incidence of vector-borne diseases like malaria is expected to rise sharply. And the first to feel the full, unfettered impact of climate change will be local fishing communities.

"It's mind-numbing how, in the face of such dire warnings from the scientific community, the US and Australia continue to stand out as rogue states when it comes to recognising the Kyoto Protocol," added Salil. "We'll be pressurising them in Montreal to ratify Kyoto because it's the only treaty we have that objectively addresses the issue of climate change. Any other plan drawn up behind closed doors by a select club of the world's biggest polluters just doesn't have any legitimacy."

To the SolarGeneration weaned on standard shock-horror fare from Hollywood, one thing is painfully clear: The Day After Tomorrow might have come and gone from screens across the country. But across the scorched back of Orissa, it's a reality inflicted in slow and painstaking detail, day after day.

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