Wednesday, March 26, 2008

An Indian artist responds to climate change

The Statesman (India): Renowned sand artist Mr Sudarshan Patnaik created the miniatures of popular heritage monuments like the Jagannath temple in Puri, the shore temple in Mammalapuram in Tamilnadu, and the Gateway of India in Mumbai along the sea beach here, with an aim to highlight the threat to India's cultural heritage sites along the coastline from global warming induced sea level rise.

Mr Patnaik used about seven tones of sand and took almost two days to prepare the seven feet sculpture. “The issue of global warming is close to my heart. I imagine the kind of ruin temperature rise would bring to the live of millions of people. Flood, draught, water shortage, sea surge all combined would devastate everything we have.” Mr Patnaik said. “The impact of climate change is already evident and must not be allowed to go out of control. It chills my spine to even think that Orissa will create 4 million climate victims as estimated in Greenpeace report,” he added.

Meanwhile, the environment activists’ group Greenpeace released “Blue Alert” yesterday and alerted the Indian government and people of the subcontinent to the massive humanitarian crisis the South Asian region could face if global cross two degree tipping point. “Blue Alert ~ Climate Migrants in South Asia: Estimates and Solutions”, a paper authored by Dr Sudhir Chella Rajan , professor of Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Madras, and a climate expert, estimates the number of people who could be displaced from their homes at 125 million in India and Bangladesh alone.

The report warns that if greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow under the business-as-usual scenario as projected, leading to global temperature rise by four-five degree centigrade, the south Asian region could face a wave of migrants displaced by the impacts of climate change, including sea level rise and drought associated with shrinking water supplies and monsoon variability.

Dr Chella Rajan, the author of the report, recommended that “India should seek policy options that are proactive in terms of developing international strategies to reduce the risk of destructive climate change. “We cannot wait for the inevitable to happen and hope to adapt to it.”

Photo of the Jagannath Temple, which Patnaik has replicated in a sand sculpture to dramatize the dangers of sea level rise. Photo by Shiva-Nataraja, Wikimedia Commons

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