drought

Raising Awareness of Famine in the Thar Desert

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Dead cattle in the Thar desert. (Source unknown.)

It’s incredible to me, the degree to which the Western media nitpicks its news and reportage. The world could be beset with biblical-scale floods of diarrhea and nacho cheese, and most of our news organizations would still be yammering on about Kim Kardashian’s ass. Indeed, Arctic clathrate meltdown could easily decimate civilization as we know it, but you won’t hear about that when a crack-smoking Toronto mayor is in the headlines, and the meaningful stuff is otherwise lost in a sea of celebrity divorces.

That being said, I feel that it’s necessary for some of us to, at least once in a while, utilize the Internet for personal reporting and the spread of more important news.

Something I’ve been following for the past few weeks is the ongoing drought and subsequent famine in the Tharpakar region of Pakistan. As it stands, 294 people have died (as of January 2, 2015). SAMAA TV reports that, “… children have died in Mithi, Chhachhro, Islamkot, Nangarparkar and other areas of the district, where death has become a routine, unfortunately… The number of dying children is increasing especially after the onset of winter, as they are affected rapidly by chest infections, like pneumonia.”

Thankfully, one non-profit, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) in Canada is taking donations to help relief efforts. You can donate to help the people of the Thar desert HERE.

While I know  that I have maybe only a handful of readers, if ANY of you, or ANYONE, comes across this post, PLEASE share the above link and spread the news about this ongoing disaster.

Now, I don’t want to politicize such a disaster, but I will put in my two cents about potential causes. I will end this article by letting you know that much of the change in the monsoon season that many people in Pakistan depend on is correlated with global warming and climate change. (This is also reported here.) The IPCC has stated that, as the planet warms, dry areas will undoubtedly become drier, and agriculture will thus be affected. If we want to prevent future disasters like this, we need to drastically step up our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and scrub carbon from the atmosphere.

With that in mind, let’s make 2015 a year of much-needed progress. Here’s wishing the people of the Thar much love and quick relief, and wishing you all a happy, and fruitful, new year…

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We’ll All Learn to Love the Cold

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(From Alpha Coders.)

This past year, it became clear to me that the vast majority of the world’s leaders are either suicidal, insane, or both. And not only that! When they go, they want to take you and me with them!

In the face of the current climate crisis very little is being done. It seems that presidents, prime ministers, kings, and chancellors would much rather take short-term economic ease over the long-term survival of the human species. This really is insanity—self-destructive, masochistic, damning insanity—considering that the IPCC’s warming limit (2°C) for dangerous climate change is perhaps only two to a few decades away. (And, according to at least one report by the IPCC, even if we stopped all greenhouse gas emissions today, we would still be “locked in” to a global temperature rise of 1.45°C above the pre-industrial average. (And considering that at the current 0.85 degrees (mean surface temperature above the pre-industrial) we’re already witnessing hugely detrimental effects to agriculture and the environment, a 0.6 degree increase will undoubtedly bring much more chaos.)

Granted, the view that what’s helpful to the environment always comes at the expense of the economy is decidedly wrong. (It seems that way to me, at least. Not to mention a growing number of politicians and corporations…) And it must be! Because we aren’t going to convince billions of people to revert to hunter-gatherer survival, or communal simplicity, when the alternative is a fucking flat screen and a smartphone and a dollar for a McDouble.

This is where anarcho-primitivists (who want or promote said reversion—effectively modern Luddites) and ultra-environmentalists (notably Derrick Jensen—although, to be fair, his critique of civilization is also bound up with notions of anthropocentrism and other, extraneous philosophical stuff) think the world should head (or should’ve stayed) if we want (or wanted) any kind of sustainable, and meaningful, future. They should, however, be aware that they are up against over a billion Chinese and Indian nationals eager to live the kind of unsustainable lifestyle enjoyed by most Westerners at this time. They should be aware that stopping this is next to impossible, and that the best that can be done is to adapt and mitigate NOW, to the best of our abilities.

This whole conundrum, of course, is alarming. And I agree with many of those concerned that modern civilization, especially with its hyper-capitalist bent, is clearly unsustainable. But what can and should be done, instead of a reversion, is an attempt at education, reformation, adaptation, and—as I say—mitigation. “Think globally, act locally,” the mantra goes. Yet the world is in dire need of a global answer to a global problem such as climate change, a problem which is both propelled by the unsustainable scramble for finite resources, and at once also accentuates the current and future lack. (Food and water scarcity seems unavoidable with current projections (including 9 billion+ people on the planet) unless something drastic is done.) The United Nations and the slew of experts behind the IPCC seem to have little effect on the policies of individual nations, and most of these countries are unwilling to do what it takes to save humanity from the inexcusable drove of suffering and death that climate change is sure to bring, should they not act.

It seems, then, that more than ever the future is in the hands of individuals. If we cannot rely on our governments to do anything useful, then it is up to us to make a change that is both local and global in its scope.

If we don’t do anything—and, actually, terrifyingly enough, even if we do something—we ought to learn to love the cold. Because it will get much, much hotter, and much more dangerous. People will be much thirstier and hungrier and the seas will rise and the world will burn. All the more so, I’m just saying, if nothing is done. We ought to take what we can get, you know? Even if we can’t completely stop climate change in its tracks, it’s just sensible to do what we are able to in order to make the future as bright as possible, under the conditions we’ve already brought upon ourselves. (And the rest of the planet’s biosphere.)

My fear is that even the most minimal efforts to combat this won’t really materialize. (Yes, the current pledges by world governments and business leaders amount to less than zero, as far as I’m concerned.) And why, then? Because no one gives a shit. In a lackadaisical epoch of Call of Duty and Oreos, very few muster the courage, resolve, and willpower to tackle the future. And if there is a future to tackle, it certainly is the one just ahead of us.

In summation: Let’s not crash head-on into oblivion, but ease ourselves into the world we want to have, and that we want future generations to have.