20 June, 2013 – Climate change is a hot topic as it should be, considering its about mother earth warming to a level that can no longer support life.Erratic climatic patterns and frequent natural disasters are, according to some climatic experts and economic scholars, warnings that mans ruthless exploitation of the environment to feed an excessive and wasteful lifestyle can no longer be supported.
Even for us in Bhutan, where the sanctity of the natural environment has been preserved to a large extent because of a Buddhist mindset and enlightened leadership, the threat of climate change is as real as it can get.
With our glaciers, the source of our perennial rivers, melting faster than ever, the threat of glacial lake outbursts is a disaster waiting to happen. It could also jeopardise our long-term plan to achieve greater economic prosperity through the production of clean energy.
In other places, the threat is even more imminent. The low-lying islands of the Maldives are saving a portion from their yearly national budget to buy a new homeland if and when their current home sinks beneath the waves.
While no one disputes that the globe is getting warmer, the North and South dont quite agree on whose and how emissions should be cut.
Developing economies that have just got a taste of newfound economic prosperity through industrialisation are not quite ready to let it go because the West, which has been polluting for a much longer time, says so.
Climate change is an issue today because it has emerged from the more prosperous part of the world. For poorer countries like Bhutan, riding the bandwagon could mean many other things. Like GNH, the issue of climate change is something that interests the world and therefore can be easily sold. Whether anything practical is being done is another thing.
There is a genuine realisation that global warming has a lot to do with the lifestyle of wanting more, consuming more and, in some parts of the world, people practice what they believe in. They bicycle to work, consume less processed food and their children are extremely aware of how the natural environment might be affected.
Many of us also believe in climate change but we are probably thinking of buying a bigger car, upgrading the cell and cant think of walking to work. We are non-practising climate change believers just like many of us are non-practising Buddhists.