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Climate Change: Accept, Adapt, Advance


By Hugh and Colleen Gantzer

Climate Change comes as a physical, mental and emotional shock. We experienced it on a flight from Paris to Havana. We had been fed on jaw-stretching Soviet steak sandwiches washed down with superb Cuban Rum. When we began to land after a seeming long flight we looked forward to disembarking into the warm greenery of Jose Marte Airport. But it was snowing outside and a chill draught rushed in as a hostess opened the exit. The disorientation was terrifying. Had we been hijacked?

Later we learnt that our airline had not been given permission to fly in US airspace and so we had landed in Gander in Canada’s far north!Climate change can come as suddenly as this had. In fact, it did strike the earth overnight at least once. At that time, our earliest ancestors were small animals weighing less than 6 kg. They were meat eaters and had a bite more powerful than a hyena. It is likely that they dined off the largest prey species then available: monster lizards called dinosaurs. These cold-blooded animals ruled the earth for 165 million years. Then, out of the blue, a giant meteorite hit the earth in the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico near the present day town of Chicxulub. The smoke, dust and ashes it threw up caused a global climate change. There was mass-scale extinction of the dinosaurs after dominating the globe for 165 million years. The little flesh-eating Didelphodon gorged themselves and, eventually, evolved into humans.
As humans began to spread across the earth, they changed their lifestyles from hunter-gatherers to agriculturists about 7,000 years ago. Villages grew into hamlets, towns and cities. The word Civilization is based on the word civitas, meaning city. The steam engine needed the first available fossil fuel, Coal, which is the wood of ancient forests processed by the heat and pressure deep within the earth. So are oil and natural gas. But when these are consumed by energy-hungry civilizations, they produce gasses which the trees of the earth cannot convert into oxygen and wood fast enough. They accumulate in the atmosphere and reflect the heat of the sun-warmed earth back, creating the greenhouse effect. This accumulating heat causes wind and ocean currents to change their flow as water heated in a cooking pot swirls and begins to emit steam.

This is the cyclonic force of Climate Change.  We do not need an asteroid to hit us. We are more than capable of boiling and barbecuing ourselves into the extinction that hit the dinosaurs. Unlike those dim-witted lizards however, we do have the intelligence to avoid a climate disaster but we need swift and concerted human action to overcome the evils of Climate Change. This must be the prime objective of our netas. We elect such leaders every five years to take the right decisions. But are they up to the job? Some are, but too many are not. It is very easy to identify the buck-passers. They rely on such mysterious entities as the Double Engine and the High Command. They should be told loudly and clearly not to evade their responsibility. We elected them.

And if you, dear Netaji, think you have no expiry date please look carefully at Russia, France, USA, Israel and the UK. Their present big bosses or immediate predecessors thought their seats were firmly established. They were wrong. Remember the words of a great circus owner: ‘You can fool some of the people all the time; all the people some of the time; but you can’t fool all the people all the time.’

Finally, get rid of your Spin Doctors, Costume Designers and Hair Dressers. Roll up your sleeves and tackle the problems of those who elected you. And if you, Netaji, think that you are too big to collapse then remember that the largest dinosaur was Supersaurus, 34 metres in length and weighed 40 metric tons. It fell to Climate Change! It had no time to Accept, Adapt and Advance. We have.

(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 halfhour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 first-person articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who was a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.)