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
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
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
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 September 13, 2007)