The rainbow war
Himmat Singh Gill

The Weather Makers
Tim Flannery
Allen Lane/Penguin Books. Pages 341. £ 6

The Weather MakersTHE impact and consequences of climate change on our planet, which many term as threats to civilization, form the basis of a frightful yet professional early warning of an impending disaster to the ecology and balance of nature in this century, according to Tim Flannery, scientist and author of this fascinating and useful book Each of us should take up the challenge to reverse manís willful march towards self-annihilation, for "now we are the weather makers, and the future of biodiversity and civilization hangs on our actions.

Journeying through millions of years of the Earthís composition and early history with authoritative evidence and detail, the point is well made that even a slight imbalance in the Earthís climate would have far-reaching implications for the entire universe. This is a clarion call for the mankind to either wake up or perish. There would be no better way to emphasise the urgency to change our lifestyles, as research by the best brains of the world would suggest.

For each degree of warming that we create, the world will experience an average 1 per cent increase in rainfall. The bad news is that this rain is not evenly distributed and will appear unseasonably, at unexpected places.

With the melting of the ice caps (after a few decades, the glaciers would greatly melt away in the American Glacier National Park), the sea level would rise and cover many of the coastal belts, submerging vast landmasses, implying that living along the oceanfronts will become a messy business, if it does not amount to virtual drowning.

Since the Industrial Revolution, global warming of 0.63įC has occurred, mainly because of the increase in the atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

This, coupled with the burning of fossil fuels, has affected life of all kinds on the Earth.

If we do not limit the emission of greenhouse gases, by the end of this century, there would be no summer ice in the Arctic, but just a "vast, dark, turbulent sea", affecting animal and human life. The heat and the melting ice have caused the oceans to expand and a day will come when low lying countries like Bangladesh and many island nations will cease to exist.

As coal was used excessively in the 19th century, oil in the 20th century, so should natural gas be in this century the main fuel of the world. While the solutions given in this book would indeed be useful for all of us, there are many who consider climate change just plain "hogwash". The good news is that leaving aside the USA, Australia, Monaco and Liechtenstein, 95 nations, including Russia have ratified the Kyoto Protocol.

Flannery recommends a two-prong attack to control adverse weather changes: a collective effort, as nations do and a more personal and individual approach, beginning with home, community and society. An Earth Commission for Thermostatic Control could grow out of the Kyoto Protocol to deal with carbon dioxide emissions, regulating the use and ownership of oceanic commons and an international court and armed force to deal with any recalcitrant.

A "carbon dictatorship", with its own army, currency and control may be something the world might see in the not too distant a future. Big oil and coal companies and their allied interests would need to be reined, if the world is not to meet a perfect disaster. Personally, each of us should switch to buying green power, solar panels, solar hot water systems and hybrid vehicles. Turning off bulbs and taps when not required would save energy and water. Buying fuel-efficient cars, car pools and using public transport more often, cycling or walking are the way to go, if humanity is to be saved.

Get your local politician to worry more about the environment and less about his next election. States and governments at the Centre could get books like this translated and distributed free of cost or give it wide publicity so that the largest chunk of defaulters, the middle class included, could improve their ways. Tim Flannery has done us a favour by writing a thought-provoking book; letís hope we take his warning seriously.