Monday, May 31, 2010

Some interesting questions in climate debate

While listening to the introductory speeches of HRDN founder members (Mr. Rommi, Chairman and Mrs. Fauzia, Executive Director), I was getting excited that I am going to deliver Al Gore' slide show on climate change as the ever first capacity building session for this newly established HRDN city chapter Hazara. Of course it is an honor for me.

Human Resource Development Network is a voluntary network in Pakistan that provide a plate form for different professionals and organizations to share ideas, experiences and learn through different capacity building initiatives like trainings, exposure visits. The city chapter Hazara, which Saibaan is going to take the responsibilities of its secretariat, is the sixth forum of this kind in Pakistan. It is a great initiative of HRDN for Haraza region.

I was thinking if I am going to meet the expectations of this diverse group of audience. My presentation is going to be the first ever session for this newly established city chapter of HRDN. I was thinking that first impression is the last impression and I wanted to give a good impression, of course.

And then I left my chair to start my presentation. Interestingly my computer got hanged. Oooops! Is this the first impression?? Whatever it be, but one thing for sure, the slide show of years long work of Al Gore was quite enough to keep the audience attentive throughout the session. I observed this because of some very interesting
debate and question and answers on our today's issue of climate change.

Well, with a little bit wait I was on my track to introduce my self, The Climate Project and today's session objectives.

For many, the influx of information through the slides was quite new. However, for a few members, the term climate change was not new because of their past experience. The diversity of experiences and thoughts led us to some really interesting debate when I was going through the presentation slides. Few I remember to share;

Why if 2005 was the warmest year and why not 2006 then, if human activities are continue to emit more and more greenhouse gases", the first question I got from my audience.

It was good to clarify that climate change is not like what the temperature is this year and what will be in next year. Climate is never like constant, rather scientists analyze trends over decades and more. With all the variation in yearly temperatures, the long term analysis show that average temperature is on the way to rise.

And then another question "we are just poor and not aware of what this is all about. This is all in the hands of rich and influential countries like Australia and America",
asked same friend.

I remembered from one of the blogs from Copenhagen summit about Tuvalu when one of its country representative requested all before the start of summit to agree on binding agreement, however when he saw the outcomes of COP15 were not that he expected for his country, he simply refused and say "Tuvalu cannot accept this accord". And my point for the discussion was, if Tuvalu, being the 4th smallest country can argue then why not we.

Another question from a lady, "It is just some thing quite new for us, we dont know it is real or not. We only know if there would be food crisis, it will be because of poor policies of our government, and not because of climate change"
Of course, effective national policies are vital for food security but even if Pakistan is going to work on it, climate change would still be shifting the monsoon season that gives us more than 56% of total rainfall. Although current trend in crops productivity has increased but in longer term we are going to lose our food production. Already a study says, we are going to be more food insecure in South Asia by 2050, after Africa.

An important question come; "Of course, it is a comprehensive work of The Climate Project to make us aware of the climate change phenomena and to create awareness. However, it would be great if we know more about solutions that we direly need to respond to climate change. Adaptation would be the major focus for us. Secondly, we need research in Pakistan perspective to analysis problems and then to take actions". I really loved these questions.

And this make my mind to click about the Al Gore' new book "Our Choice". If we are contributing less than one percent but still are the 12th most vulnerable nation due to climate crisis, we really need ways and solutions. We know some limited traditional solutions- doing plantation, avoiding shopping bags, conserving water etc, but we really need comprehensive approaches and solutions on how we are going to protect our people from the catastrophe. "Our Choice" is really going to help us in this regard. We will however need to look for more research in Pakistan perspective and that we have already started working on in our campaign "Climate Project Connectors".

"Why not to emphasize our discussion about those countries like China and India who are now doing more pollution than many others", said one of the participants.

And I totally agreed with the question. Global warming has no boundaries. China is emitting more but on the other hand he is taking steps for emission reduction as well as amazingly enhancing resources in renewable energies, which isjust awesome. China really want to take a lead in green technology and thats what we all need to achieve.

Questions continued as I kept on presentation new slides. "We only attend such big events like Copenhagen and agree with what other strong nations say", said the HRDN member.

Well, this is what I wanted to discuss more. If Tuvalu, being one of the smallest Iceland, can reject COP15 then of course our government should also take a lesson from it. Our government need to ensure that what they are going to represent in Mexico should take into account the vulnerabilities of our people and their needs. Our government need to strengthen the advocacy on the issue among international community.

Here come a more scientific questions like "What factors destroyed ozone layer"

Thanks to TCP for sharing some good slides on CFC success story that make me able to present on how the ozone layer created a big hole due to CFCs but later on Montreal agreement led to control this amazingly. It gave me another good point to highly that people might say control over climate change is difficult. Well, initial talks and agreements have always remained weak, but later on things went on improving and Montreal agreement is one of the best case study for climate campaigners if they want to advocate for their fight against climate change.

And many more questions and answers....

With number of questions coming out from my presentation, I was happy that the slide show could keep the audience attentive although with my bit long presentation. It was amazing to respond to those questions and I tried to satisfy my audience with the slides in front of them, i hope so i did it :)

My last message for the audience was not to take the today's discussion as only new information, rather I encouraged them to take actions at personal and organizational level, spread the word and make those aware of all these issues who simply don't know this all. Because the fact is, our people don't know what is happening and what is going to happen with their future. If some one says, it is because of natural factors, we should tell them it is all because of human activities (burning of fossil fuel, deforestation, industries etc.) that emit more and more greenhouse gases into atmosphere and make our only planet warmer.

Nature contribute only 5% in global warming. Think about the 95% that we do our self.

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