Climate change and Global warming are not new to us, but what about people like Sheikh Alauddin living on West Bengal’s Moushuni Island? It is people like him who have to bear the brunt of climate change first. Living on the shores gives them sleepless nights. Nightmares of the sea drowning them keep them awake. The island is a part of the Sunderbans national park and the world’s largest mangrove forest.
It is extremely serious thinking on the part of the oceanographers who say the sea is rising at 3.14 millimeters a year in the Sunderbans against a global average of 2 mm, threatening low-lying areas of India and Bangladesh. A United Nations climate panel meet that included 130 countries, recently concluded that human activity was the major factor behind global warming. It predicted more droughts, heat waves and rising seas. With crop failures due to scanty rainfall and parched landscapes, the writing is on the wall. It is a sea saw game with copious rains at one time followed by a drought period, furthering the woes of the people like Alauddin. The aftermath is an increase in soil salinity that makes it impossible for any crop to be grown. Following such spells, the people have to shift to fishing, even which is not easily available. Time is not far when the fish will have to brave such enormous changes in climate, which is destined to make life miserable for Alauddin and the islanders.
Then it is not just the human population that is suffering, but for the Sunderbans, home to many of India’s dwindling tiger population, the threat is more immediate. Climate change, Global warming and rising sea levels are already having a telling effect on the tiger’s habitat. The land has eroded rapidly due to invasion of sea, destroying the mangrove cover up to 15 meters inland on several islands. Rapid deforestation on the islands — in part to fuel two small power plants — is furthering erosion woes.
It is high time; the government take up the cudgels to fight the menace called Global Warming. Right now, it is simply a warning, but if proper action is not taken that time is not far when it would be warming only. Innumerable plantation of mangroves has to take place along with other trees which keep the soil tight in their roots and not let the soil creep. Mud embankments have to be constructed to prevent further drowning of islands. At this time, it is in our hands to keep the environment clean and prevent a further holocaust.