ENVIRONMENT Cleo Paskal shares her concern about the disastrous impact of the changing climate patterns
Cleo Paskal is a green warrior who talks with intensity about the changing climate patterns and its geopolitical fallout. A lackadaisical attitude towards this enemy will soon leave us with warring nations, uprooted and dead people, she believes.
Cleo had earlier dabbled in films, the most well-known being the Oscar nominated “Lies My Father Told Me” (1975). She has had a fascinating career in journalism, adventure travel writing and reporting from war zones. Cleo distilled from the colourful life what is most exciting and close to her heart now: environment and geopolitical analysis. She’s now at Chatham House as Associate Fellow, Energy, Environment and Development Programme.
On a visit to Kerala recently, she says: “This southern state faces a big challenge because its development is right on the coast. It is severely affected by rising sea levels, rising temperatures and changing rain patterns, including monsoon. This in turn will affect its tourism and crops: coir and plantations.” But there are solutions. Soil erosion that is threatening river banks across the world can be handled the way Kerala has done in the past, with the use of coir matting to protect river beds.
Another traditional tool is the prediction of monsoon by tracking the movement of birds. With climate change birds move to a new area, where their language will not be understood. “Traditional knowledge is becoming obsolete,” she states. “Monsoon is the heartbeat of the region, but its rhythm is changing.”
Then is it a panic situation? “It is a situation that is out of control. It needs to be understood so that we can make better decisions, such as what crops to plant, where to build and place infrastructure and what kind of energy resource to use. If renewable energy resources are local, such as solar and wind power, they are easier to handle, easier to calculate.”
And on the general belief that research, projects and talks remain mere words, Cleo says that it needs political will, of course, but very simple solutions. “It is not a single problem but a million problems with a million solutions. I try to get the business community involved. In India, the business community is pretty good in making things happen, especially in their own sector. They will help build the defence.”“We need to climate-proof everything — business, infrastructure and economy.”PRIYADERSHINI S.