Forced to Pay Heed by MOHAMMED ATAUR REHMAN (JANUARY 07, 2008)

The recent Bali conference on environment was notable at least in one sense. America, which has been pretending to be the leader of the world, was led by the world for a change. Forced by rest of the international community (including Europe) to jettison its selfish stance on global warming it agreed to reconsider its policy and its self-exclusion from the Kyoto Protocol.

Within the United States itself there is a growing demand for factoring climate change into the country's economic and foreign policy. The point that the Bush administration refuses to see is quite clearly visible to most Americans. And that is, if the world is destroyed by cataclysmic climate change America cannot hope to keep afloat.

The human civilisation is reckoned to be roughly 10,000 years old, starting from the time at which agriculture began and human beings passed the hunting-gathering stage to settle down. Thus came the beginning of civilisation as agriculture provided some measure of food security, which was not possible through hunting-gathering. All this was possible because after millions of years of extreme climatic conditions the earth's temperature had stabilised at a point where agriculture was possible.

That, in a nutshell, means climate changes made agriculture possible. By the same logic, if the present climate changes are allowed to continue the earth may once again become unfit for agriculture. Already major changes have occurred that put a question mark on the capability of the earth and its natural resources to sustain life, human animal or plant. Sustaining civilisation is even more remote.

The Hurricane Katrina, which paralysed the US administration in 2005 and caused economic damage estimated at $124 billion, was only one example of the shape of things to come in future. A natural phenomenon does not recognise the might of the Hyper power. The world community must not allow things to drift any further. Even America has to be reminded of its obligations to the survival of the earth and its people.



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