The No 1 glacier on Tianshan Mountain in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region is receding at an annual rate of eight meters, according to the latest report from research authorities.
Such a speed of meltdown is appalling. But Tianshan glacier is not alone. Elsewhere in the world, all glaciers, and the polar ice, are also melting at an accelerating speed.
Global warming is sounding an acute alarm.
Various disastrous consequences will ensue as the earth's climate grows warmer and warmer. Oceans will rise to submerge large expanses of land. Floods and droughts will increase to cause more human and economic losses. Agriculture will be impacted to aggravate hunger in Africa. Diseases and viruses will become more capricious to control. More species will become extinct. All these changes will find their final consequences in the human race's economic, social, cultural and political lives, resulting in a more turbulent world.
From the time of pre-industrialization till now, the global temperature has risen about 0.75 C. The rate of rise in the past 50 years has been twice as fast than in the past 100 years. The rise is obviously accelerating, following an upturning rather than a linear curve.
The future of the earth is worrying to everybody. In the not too distant future, the global climate and the consequent changes will become too disagreeable for the human race to bear. And the changes will happen to every nation, whether they are developed or developing ones.
The whole world should take joint actions to curb the worsening situation, for no single nation can do it alone.
Different countries, however, see the problem from different perspectives. Developed countries, having long accomplished the process of industrializing their economies and rectifying environmental pollution, tend to blame the current worsening climate on developing countries, who are desperately tapping resources for fast economic growth. The developing countries argue for their right to development.
Admittedly, developing countries should not follow the old path of developed countries, namely developing the economy first and then tackling pollution. But it is unrealistic, and unfair, to ask them to slow down, or even stop their development to reduce CO2 emissions and other forms of pollution.
Developing countries need to follow a new mode, namely growing the economy with the least possible threat of pollution to the air, water and land. This obviously calls for advanced technologies and more capital investment. Developed nations can help in this regard. They have both the ability and responsibility to do so.
It has to be pointed out that the global warming is largely the result of developed countries' industrialization during the past two centuries. They contributed 95 percent of the CO2 emissions during the 200 years before 1950 and 77 percent from 1950 to 2000. They should undertake their historical responsibility. What is more, their current per capita emission levels are still higher than that of developing countries.
Cooperation between developed and developing countries is needed. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders' Declaration on Climate Change, Energy Security and Clean Development issued on Sunday in Sydney set a good example.
More important, however, is action. Global climate changes have left us little time to dawdle. And to tackle climate change is no less important an issue than the anti-terrorism campaign.
(China Daily 09/12/2007 page10)