Saturday, February 20, 2010

As one Sunderban island disappears under the waves, another grows (& a journalist has fit of scruples!)

The disappearance of the island of Lohachara from the Sunderban chain was of course trumpeted by the media as "the first inhabited island to be claimed by climate change".

Except it wasn't.

And then there is New Moore island...
Journalist Richad Orange confesses to trying to feed one of the most popular warmist hoaxes:
You couldn’t hope for a more perfect climate change victim than Ajay Patra, the head man of Ghoramara — the island in India’s Sunderban chain that is next in line to be submerged beneath the rising sea. The hungry tide has already claimed all but seven of the 100 hectares his family had once owned, Ajay told me…

As we sipped tea outside Ajay’s large mud bungalow, I excitedly scribbled notes, imagining how all this would go down in the Ecologist magazine, or perhaps the London-based Independent. It had already run an article reporting the disappearance of the next-door island of Lohachara, “the first inhabited island to be claimed by climate change”. I felt sure they’d love this too. But when I asked Ajay what he made of the fact that all of his troubles were the direct result of heavy industry thousands of miles away, he looked at me like I was mad.

“It’s not because of global warming, it’s because of natural erosion”, he said…

I smiled inwardly. It was, perhaps, too much to expect a simple village leader to have a full grasp of the science of global warming. But later, as I examined the dramatic waterline of Ghoramara, I began to have doubts… Then there’s New Moore Island, which appeared in the Sunderbans for the first time in 1970 and has been growing apace ever since… It’s around 10,000 square metres today, and such is the scale of the sedimentary deposits building up around it that it’s expected to hit 25 square kilometres in a couple of decades.

To my shame, I must confess that I still tried to make the story work long after all this was apparent. And I imagine every other journalist who has arrived on these islands with global warming in mind has done exactly the same thing.
His exhausted body a prisoner to the Bay of Bengal’s violent tides, Dependra Das stretches out his bony arms to show his flaky, ravaged skin. He is covered in raw saltwater sores…

Alongside him, stretched across the beach in long, thin lines, the villagers of Ghorama Island – including the women, elaborately dressed in their purple, orange and green saris – work daily to prop up the same black mud-and-sand fortress.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

No comments: