Monday, 30th October 2017

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Age of fire

Countries across the world are still busy debating accountability to agree on reducing greenhouse gas emissions

  • Published 12.01.20, 12:34 AM
  • Updated 12.01.20, 12:34 AM
  • 2 mins read
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An intentionally lit controlled fire burns intensely near Tomerong, Australia, in an effort to contain a larger fire nearby. (AP)

Sir — Close on the heels of the forest fires that have destroyed vast stretches of rainforests in the Amazon, bushfires have been raging through Australia, causing immense damage to the environment and wildlife. It is agonizing to learn that six million hectares of forest and more than half a billion animals were lost in the bushfires. This is one of Australia’s worst fire season; worse, the fires are showing little sign of letting up.

It is no secret that the primary cause behind the magnitude of the wildfires is climate change. But the Australian government has turned a blind eye to it. Greenhouse gas emissions have a huge impact on climate change. But countries across the world are still busy debating accountability to agree on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These fires, then, should serve as a warning. There is an urgent need for joint efforts globally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to bring down temperatures.

Venu G.S.,

Kollam, Kerala

Sir — Countries are busy playing diplomatic games while the world continues to burn. The news of bushfires coming out of Australia is nothing short of apocalyptic. The Australian administration’s apathy must shoulder most of the blame for this situation. While firefighters are doing their level-best to fight the fires, steps could have been taken much earlier to minimize the extent of the catastrophe. Creation and maintenance of fire lines are key in verdant areas prone to fires. Further, this would have restricted fires to small zones, allowing them to be nipped in the bud.

The administration is equally clueless when it comes to climate change and the ways of tackling its effects. This must change at once or darker days lie ahead.

P. Senthil Saravana Durai,

Mumbai

Sir — It is not without reason that the Anthropocene age is being hailed as the ‘Pyrocene’ age. Unstoppable fires — take the Amazon, California, Indonesia or Australia — fire deaths and fire refugees, smoked-in and incinerated cities, economic crunches from infrastructural losses and lost tourism are just some of the traits that characterize this age. World leaders will do well to recall the ‘curtain of fire’ that is said to have caused the last mass extinction. This could well be the start of something similar.

S.K. Saha,

Calcutta

Royal paradox

Sir — The declaration of Harry and Meghan, the duke and duchess of Sussex, to “step back” from their roles as senior members of the royal family reeks of an attempt to have their cake and eat it too. Since they are not giving up their titles, they will be entitled to all the perks of being members of the royal family, without having to fulfil the tiresome duties that the other members have to undertake. If they are indeed intent on being financially independent as they claim, why not renounce their titles and focus on the charitable organizations that they are already a part of?

Anitha Oomen,

Kozhikode

Parting shot

Sir — The Pollution Control Board, on inspecting the Poush Mela grounds on December 24 and 25, stumbled upon several instances of non-compliance. A number of food stalls were found using coal-fired ovens within the fair venue; sanitation was not maintained; and fire-fighting arrangements in the stalls were also inadequate. This is the state in spite of the fact that the National Green Tribunal had set several preconditions for holding the mela in order to make it more environment-friendly.

There is a tussle among the university, the government and the public, especially intellectuals, regarding who is responsible for organizing and maintaining the fair as per regulations. This year, an action plan was prepared for mitigating pollution. The PCB has thus rightly issued a show-cause notice to the Visva-Bharati authorities for their failure to comply with the NGT action plan. Shifting the mela venue from the university campus to elsewhere in Bolpur may be a better solution, but all stakeholders must agree with this.

Khokan Das,

Calcutta