Indian Ocean region’s environment adversely affected

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By Bahauddin Foizee

Countries vulnerable to the rise in sea-levels should make sure that wars are brought to an end and future attempts of militarisation are prevented

The borders between states are unable to stop the effects of environmental deterioration from spreading from one country to another and from one region to another. Hence, the environmental impact of militarisation in one part of the globe easily reaches far away victim countries in another part of the globe — making the weather conditions of the victim countries deteriorate severely.  Similarly, the wars around the globe have been seriously impacting the natural environment of not only the war-torn countries, but also of the other countries around the globe. The wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen too adversely affect the climate of other regions beyond the Middle East. Some of the worst environmentally affected countries are Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand — all of which are geographically located in the Indian Oceanic Region.

Here’s how militarisation and wars in the Middle East adversely affect the environment of the Indian Ocean Region, including Pakistan and India; from 2011, the use of heavy weapons has been normalized in Syria. Tanks, artilleries, missiles, bullets and other weapons, have been, in effect, releasing harmful gases in the air that were previously locked up in oil, gas, coal and other fossil materials for millions of years.

Furthermore, the war planes of the Syrian dictator Bashar-al-Assad’s regime, Russia, Turkey and the US-led Western coalition have been dropping bombs, which also release harmful gases into the air. What’s more, the Syrian regime’s use of barrel and chemical bombs on civilian targets carries these harmful gases too. Harmful gases are also being released into the air by similar military activities in Iraq and Yemen.

The melted ice and glaciers turn into water — which then flows into the seas and oceans of the world, raising the average global sea-level. Thus, the coastal areas in Pakistan as well as Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Thailand are increasingly becoming vulnerable to a rise in sea-levels

When these harmful gases are released into the air, the global temperature rises gradually — making the planet’s atmosphere increasingly warmer.

This increase in temperature melts the mountain-ice and polar-glaciers in Arctic, Antarctic, Himalayas and other places. The melted ice and glaciers turn into water — which then spreads into the seas and oceans of the world, raising the average global sea-level. Thus, the coastal areas in Pakistan as well as Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Thailand are increasingly becoming vulnerable to such rising sea-level.

Already the coastal areas in Pakistan’s provinces of Sindh and Balochistan are vulnerable to the rise in sea-level — with the possibilities of decline in drinking water quality and decrease in fish and shrimp productivity. Moreover, freshwater sources in the coastal areas of Pakistan, including rivers and aquifers, face deep intrusion of saline water from the sea and the ocean due to mounting sea-levels — a problem that Bangladesh, India, Myanmar and Thailand also face during the dry season. Like Pakistan, India too is vulnerable to the rise in sea-level. With a 4 degrees Celsius global increase in temperature, a substantial portion of the Indian coastal landmass with 55 million inhabitants would be submerged under water, though the objective of the 2015 United Nations climate summit in Paris was to cap the rise to 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Even with a 2 degrees Celsius increase, around 20 million coastal inhabitants in India would still be affected adversely, as their homes would also submerge under water. In Bangladesh it has been predicted that around 6-8 percent of ‘flood-prone’ Bangladesh may be submerged under water by 2030. Bangkok (Thailand) is also at risk of being submerging into the sea within a few decades, as the city has been sinking 10 centimetres every year. As for Myanmar, a substantial portion of the country’s coastal areas is predicted to be submerged under water by 2050.

The only way to put an end to this alarming phenomenon of sea-level rise is to stop or reduce global warming. To achieve this end, the countries vulnerable to sea-level rise should make sure that wars are brought to an end and the future attempts of militarisation of any region are prevented. Otherwise, millions of inhabitants living in the coastal areas across the globe, including Pakistan and India, could face a survival threat.

Source: Daily Times

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