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Almost Too Horrible to Contemplate: Global Warming Could Destroy the Lives of 750 Million People in the Short Future

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Organic Transitions page.

Three quarters of a billion people is a lot of people.

And that's how many people, within the next 22 years, will almost certainly run low on water - a necessity of life - in just the regions whose rivers are supplied with water from the glaciers in the Himalayas.

To put that in perspective, 750 million people is more than twice the current population of United States. It's about the population of all of Europe. In the year 1900 there were only 500 million people on the entire planet. Seven hundred fifty million people is a lot of people.

The IPCC - the international body of scientists analyzing global climate change - is releasing its new report in stages over the next week and this early piece was reported on by the Financial Times on Monday. Under the headline "Climate Change Chief Sounds Alert on Himalayan Glaciers," the opening sentence of the article by Pilita Clark summarizes a very tightly:

"The glaciers of the Himalayas are melting so fast they will affect the water supplies of a population twice that of the US within 22 years, the head of the world's leading authority on climate change has warned."

And that's just the Himalayas and the rivers flow out of their glaciers toward South Asian regions including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and China. There are similar glaciers along the mountain ranges of western South America that supply water to other hundreds of millions of people - they are all at risk, too. We're even seen it here in the United States, with last year's drought in the West. Glaciers are changing in Europe, and the regions of Tanzania supplied by the famous "Snows Of Kilimanjaro," are drying up in ways that are creating serious drought problems for the people in those parts of Africa.    


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