Once upon a time, there lived six blind men in a village. One day the villagers told them, "Hey, there is an elephant in the village today."
They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, "Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway." All of them went where the elephant was. Everyone of them touched the elephant.
"Hey, the elephant is a pillar," said the first man who touched his leg.
"Oh, no! it is like a rope," said the second man who touched the tail.
"Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
"It is like a big hand fan" said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
"It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
"It is like a solid pipe," Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.
They began to argue about the elephant and everyone of them insisted that he was right.... The Blind Men and The Elephant
Hard Rain Journal 10-1-06: Climate Crisis Update -- Xangsane and The Elephant in the Dark
By Richard Power
The rampage of Xangsane, which means "elephant" in the Laotian language, has subsided. Two hundred thousand people evacuated in Vietnam, forty thousand people in temporary shelters in the Philippines. Yes, there are typhoons every year. No, Xangsane was not the worst one to hit either country in recent years. But the annual typhoon season has been breaking records in recent years. The trend will continue. Typhoons will increase in intensity and frequency. And lurking in the dark behind Xangsane, there is another elephant, one that will not dissipate after a few days, a great bull that will rip into the hearts of all peoples in one way or another: global warming (aka climate change). In the dark, some grab the tail and call it desertification, some grab the ears and call it rising sea levels, some grab the tusks and call it melting glaciers and drought, some grab the trunk and call it the extinction of species. But no aspect of it exists in isolation, nor is it is merely the sum of its parts. Those who refuse to understand it as a whole are just like the groping blind men in the ancient legend.
Here are excerpts from three Reuters stories, two on the impact of Xangsane in the Philippines and Vietnam, and one that provides an overview of the profound impact of Global Warming on Asia as a whole:
Typhoon Xangsane, which hit Vietnam after slamming into the Philippines, killed at least 10 people, injured 99 others and damaged more than 10,000 homes in central provinces before weakening as it moved inland, state-run radio quoted the government as saying.
The casualties were caused by lightning, flying debris, electrocution and drowning in floodwaters, officials said....
It was too soon to estimate the cost of the damage of the typhoon, which moved westward across Laos and into Thailand as authorities in communist-run Vietnam began a clean-up....
Every year tropical storms or typhoons kill thousands of people and cause millions of dollars in damage to the centre of the mostly rural, densely populated country of 83 million....Xangsane...spurred Vietnamese authorities into a massive evacuation of 200,000 people in the central region to safer areas. Typhoon hits central Vietnam, at least 10 dead, 10-1-06, Reuters
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo sent 2,000 soldiers on Saturday to help emergency workers clean up wide areas south of the Philippine capital after typhoon Xangsane left 61 people dead, 81 injured and 69 still missing.
About 40,000 people remained in temporary shelters two days after Xangsane...shut down Manila's financial markets, public offices and schools and left a trail of death and destruction in the Philippines....
Arroyo ordered troops to help clear roads of fallen trees, billboards and power lines and posts as the Philippines braced for another approaching storm spotted thousands of miles away in the Marianas islands in the Pacific.
The National Disaster Coordinating Council said about 15,000 houses had been either destroyed or damaged and nearly 300 million pesos ($5.9 million) worth of crops and fisheries lost.
Around 20 percent of the sprawling capital of 12 million and nearby towns in four provinces remained without electricity, water and communication services, hampering relief efforts in remote villages still under floodwaters....
Of 61 people killed in the Philippines, 19 were buried in landslides on Thursday in Laguna province. Six crew were also missing after winds and waves sank three boats in Manila.
Officials said it could take up to a week to clear and repair the capital at a cost of 210 million pesos ($4.2 million). Economic losses from the power outage alone could reach about 4.2 billion pesos ($84 million), the national grid operator said....($1 = 50.2 pesos) Manila sends troops for typhoon clean-up, toll rises, Reuters, 9-30-06
Asia, home to more than half the world's 6.3 billion people, could be badly affected by climate change, many experts warn, as the predicted rising sea levels, melting glaciers, droughts, floods, and food and water shortages take their toll.
Here is an overview of how climate change might affect Asia:
- The western Pacific already experiences more typhoons than any other part of the world. Scientists fear Asia will be hit by more frequent and severe storms, the U.S. Climate Institute says....
- India and Bangladesh will have to draw up permanent relocation plans for millions of people as sea levels rise. Around 15 percent of Bangladesh would be under water if the sea level rose by a metre in the next century, a leading climatologist said last year. Japan's major coastal cities, and island nations are also threatened...
- Water scarcity will worsen because seven of Asia's main rivers, including the Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra and the Mekong, begin in the Himalayas. Summer glacial meltwater is crucial to hundreds of millions of people downstream, who rely on it for irrigation and hydroelectric power.
- Northern China, already threatened by the advance of Mongolia's Gobi desert, faces the further loss of arable land to desertification. Warmer winters and less rainfall make topsoil more susceptible to being blown away by strong winds...
- Climate-related risks to Asia's rich array of species are climbing. As many as 1,250 of India's 15,000 higher plant species are threatened, and similar trends are evident in China, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand, the IPCC said in 2001.... Climate change predictions for Asia, Reuters, 8-14-06
There are some profound issues to be debated and decided upon -- if the human race is going to mitigate the impact of global warming and adapt to its consequences. Unfortunately, in many nations, the political establishments and news media organizations have failed to lead. In both cases, this failure is most egregious in the USA.
Want to participate in the effort to mitigate the impact of global warming? Download "Ten Things You Can Do"
There is a powerful magic in personal commitment.
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Hard Rain Journal 8-2-06: North Korean flood toll thought to be 10,000, Agence France Press reports
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Hard Rain Journal 7-26-06: NRDC Reports on Global Warming's Direct Threat to 12 National Parks in Western USA
Hard Rain Journal 7-24-06: Five Stories about the Reality of Global Warming, Is Continued Denial Criminally Insane?
Hard Rain Journal 7-21-06: Heat Waves in Europe & US are Direct Consequences of Global Warming
Words of Power #25: Lost Symbols, Part II -- The Rainbow Serpent Hisses, Lessons about Sustainability & Survival from Darfur, Senegal and Ecuador
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Words of Power #20: Cusco, Kyoto and The Yellow Sand Storm
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Words of Power #1: Truths Salvaged from Post-Katrina Debacle
Global Warming, Energy Security, Environmental Security, Alternate Energy, Sustainability, Renewable Resources, Climate Change, Weather, Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth, Extreme Weather, Crisis Management, Typhoons, Asia, Vietnam, Philippines, Richard Power, Words of Power