Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What’s With the Weather?

Given the number of Special Days that abound nowadays, it has become difficult to keep track of which days are more than just the dates that the almanac announces them to be and which require more attention for specific issues. And because there are so many of such days, it is only natural that some pass away unnoticed. 23 March was World Meteorological Day and maybe because it was a Sunday, we don’t know of even a token observation by whichever agency is supposed to claim a celebration of the day through a press release. Be that as it may, meteorological issues and weather matters don’t seem to excite much interest anymore save for putting together bullet-points for a school debate or essay-writing competition. People don’t even talk about the weather any more it seems. But they should.
While one may have reservations over how effective such days are in generating interest and information on vital issues, it is time we accepted that we ignore weather at our own peril. Data bears out that earth’s temperature has risen in the past century. Scientists may differ on what caused it – man’s use of fossil fuel energy or the depletion in the green cover - but are unanimous in accepting that catastrophe awaits if global warming and climate continues unabated and unaddressed. And yet, climate change debates and environmental issues are being discussed in an increasingly disconnected way – from a sanitized distance in which arguments are accurate, but commitment to resolve issues only superficial. There was a time, which perhaps lasted till about five years back, when everyone was discussing global warming. No school examination was complete without a demand for an essay on global warming. Unfortunately, this did not help much because text books, those typically difficult reads and classrooms, those dangerously stifling traps to suffocate learning, ensured that what was learned by rote was never felt to the core. And as even rural areas have started living increasingly urban lives disconnected from the land and distanced from nature, the need for seasons and weather and what they mean for life is increasingly being lost. Not too many people are working in farms anymore, and that many fewer people are hence missing the benefits of a sustained monsoon drizzle or praying for sustained sunshine through the month of Mangsir. The winter sun is required for more than just enjoying oranges.
And because the young are growing up disconnected from such organic connections to the land, a day sounding as boring as the World Meteorological Day needs to be observed on a much larger scale. This year’s World Meteorological Day, for instance, was themed “Weather and climate: engaging youth." Today’s youth will benefit from the dramatic advances being made in science’s ability to understand and forecast the Earth’s weather and climate. More than that, they need to be pulled in to notice the weather, recognize climate change… get engaged in issues of weather and climate. This could save them given that most of them will live into the second half of this century and experience the increasing impacts of global warming that we have burdened them with…

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