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Climate Karma—chickens come home to roost?

According to popular climate change lore, the continuous spewing of carbon and harmful greenhouse gases over nearly 200 years, primarily by western nations, is what has caused the earth to warm up irrevocably these past few decades. This warming has caused polar ice caps and continental glaciers to melt like ice cream on a hot tin roof. Different climate scientists have come out with different estimates at different times about how much this melting will cause sea levels to rise over the next century or so.

Estimates vary from a couple of metres to several tens of metres. Scary scenarios have been painted about what the world map and the world’s demographics will look like in 100 years. Famines, water shortages, mass migration, wars, natural catastrophes, even apocalypse have all been predicted with all manner of scientific modelling. At climate change meets down the years, small islands states and countries that perceive themselves as being vulnerable to rising sea levels have repeatedly complained that they are being made to pay for the centuries long abuse of the environment by the industrialised world.

Countries like Tuvalu have leveraged the emotive appeal of this argument to drum up support from governments and world development organisations. A few years ago, even Queen Elizabeth said in a speech that the world’s poor were suffering the effects of climate change for no fault of theirs and because of the industrial pollution caused by the relentless growth ambitions of the industrial western world. Rising sea levels have all along been seen as the single most devastating effect of climate change—and low-lying coastal areas and small islands states have been seen as those being the first to be affected.

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