Sunday, September 27, 2009

How Climate Change Affects Civilisation; What Are the Effects of Global Warming? Will We Become Extinct?

Ah the October heat is almost upon me. The mind goes dithery, the body sweats a lot of fluids, a vague disorientation, the mouth dries, the fingers don’t move on the keyboard, mistakes are made and generally speaking, October heat is here.

Read a book “The Long Summer” by Brian Fagan about how climate changed civilisation which is about the dramatic changes the environment made in entire civilisations with people progressing from hunter-gatherers to subsistence farmers and then to organised citizens living in city-states and then into kings and kingdoms. The book was an eye-opener in that it chronicled how the species originated in Africa (I had my doubts, but it has been set right by this book), moved to Europe and Central Asia, then to Siberia and through the Alaskan tip to North and South America. Yes the entire landmass then was one. There’s no justification in thinking that the Indians of America were a different species of people, they are actually originated from the same genes as ours. One breakaway faction came to the Indian peninsula and moved to Australasia through the Malaysian isthmus. (There still are hunter-gatherer people in the Andaman and Nicobar islands, now part of India, who live the way their ancestors did thousands of years ago.)

The first city-state was situated in modern Iraq and its name was Ur and from this we got our city names: Kanpur, Nagpur, Solapur, and even my native village name of Kidangannoor. Ur simply means in Tamil, native village. I don’t know in other languages. So we aren’t a racially disparate people as we once thought, at least, I thought, though external characteristics would make us think so. Scratch the surface of certain acquired customs and beliefs and we are still one. Pretty obvious, isn’t it?

Now an important observation here: if climate changed civilisations as we know it, will the present warming give rise to huge repercussions and lifestyle changes for our progeny, even threaten its existence? Yes it will. During the last Ice Age millions perished, even hundreds of species became extinct. If heating of the landmass and icecaps continue (the earth's temperature would rise by 6 degree C by end of the century, according to today’s newspaper), the melting ice would lead to inundation of most of the world as we know it. But civilisation will adapt and survive for many centuries more. Most of our major cities are built around the sea or rivers (Bombay, New York, Tokyo, London, etc.), due to proximity to ports and access to aquatic life. This would mean, with rising sea levels, we would be deprived of most of our modern cities and civilisation will continue with the progeny of farmers in remote hilly areas, who have learnt to adapt to climatic changes as the inhabitants of the Steppes and Tundras did during the Ice Age in northern Europe.

Not very happy thinking, especially for my friend Anthonybhai. He says, “Eat, drink and be merry, men, who is bothered about what will happen a hundred years from now. I, tho, don’t care.”


ms said...

years ago i read "dune". many other books and movies later, it still fascinates. it foretells a future without water, flora and fauna. bleak prediction the scientists have been warning us all about, for years. but it took the celebrity of al gore and his inconvenient truth to make us all sit up. now we have political lobby that says that it is all nonsense, scientists are modern-day cassandras. can't escape the fact that for the last 15 years, winters have become shorter and milder, monsoons non-existent. looks like we are akin to antonybhai - we ate and made merry, consequences be damned! the world is one big smoldering heap of "garbage", not enough re-cycling. our minister says that developed countries (read-the west) must curb burning fossil fuel and generating waste. they have the advantage of fewer people, not countries like ours (read-overpopulated poor nations). when china announced the introduction of their budget car and india launched their "nano", the entire world blanched. my colleagues thought it was the end of the world, going-green-wise. quite a few cultures and species will be lost forever, especially those that are fragile and still living their lives out with frugality and without any electronics and chemicals, like the world's tribals. they are still living in virtually untouched surroundings. what a nightmare awaits.

Hari Batti said...

I think the situation is very serious as you point out. I read Jared Diamond's book COLLAPSE this summer and he argued convincingly that things can fall apart much faster than we think: 100 years maybe more time than we have. In any case, anyone who has a child or knows a child should be concerned, if only for that reason.

John said...

ms, the situation is very very serious and not enough seriousness is being given to it.

Hari, yes, things can COLLAPSE sooner than we think. We are going ahead like a runaway train, at present.