Jan 21, 2007
Malaysians have always felt sheltered from global disasters in their little corner of the earth. But on Dec 18 climate change – a term previously so foreign – became all too real. More than 100,000 Malaysians in Johor had to be evacuated after the state was inundated with the heaviest rainfall in a century. Even before the umbrellas can be put aside, comes the awful prediction of severe drought that will affect Kuala Lumpur and Selangor in late February. "What on earth is happening to our weather?" “The winds have become forceful over the years, the waves unpredictable. We’ve come across many small, twister-like funnels out at sea. We used to be able to look at the clouds and waves and sense what weather is ahead before we set out to sea. Now, we can’t. We don’t know what’s happening with the weather anymore.” “These days, my house in Kampung Baru feels like it’s air-conditioned every night; it’s so cold!” The three predicted scenarios that will affect Malaysia are: increased severe rainfall, drought and rising sea levels.Britain’s Environment Agency Sustainable Development Unit paints a bleak picture - “Major floods that have only happened before every 100 years on average, many now start to happen every 10 or 20 years. The flood season may become longer and there will be flooding in places where there has never been any before.” There have been killer heat waves in soggy London; winter drought in northern China; barren ski slopes on the Alps; and North Americans sunbathing in a warm winter while Bangladeshis suffer freezing and flooding. The risks of major disruptions to economic and social activity could “reach a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century. Climate change will affect the basic elements of life for people around the world – access to water, food production, health and the environment. Hundreds of millions of people could suffer hunger, water shortages and coastal flooding as the world warms."