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India's kerosene stoves a climate hazard: Al Gore

Last updated on: October 28, 2009 16:37 IST

Image: Left to right: John Kerry, member of US Senate; Steven Israel, member of the US House of Representatives; Jairam Ramesh, Minister of State for Environment and Forests; Farooq Abdullah, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy; Al Gore, former US Vice President; and Dr R K Pachauri, Director General, TERI.
Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC

Nobel Laureate Al Gore has warned that black carbon emissions from the kerosene powered lamps and stoves of the subcontinent will adversely impact the great rivers that are the lifeblood of India's agrarian economy.

Keynoting the gala Lighting a Billion Lives reception and dinner in New York recently, the former vice president said, "One of the scientific realities that has become ever more clear, partly as a consequence of the work of the eminent Indian-American scientist Dr V Ramanathan (of the University of California, San Diego's Scripps Institute of Oceanography) is that the so-called black carbon, which is different from the other global warming pollutants, is probably the third largest cause of global warming."

Gore pointed out that black carbon emissions from the subcontinent settle on the ice and snow in the Himalayas, in the foothills and on the Tibetan plateau.

By darkening the surface of all that ice and snow, the emissions cause more of the sun's heat to be absorbed by the ice and snow, tremendously accelerating the melting process. "The great rivers of India -- including the Indus, the holy Ganga and the Brahmaputra -- originate in that ice and snow, thus impacting on the water a large percentage of Indians use both for consumption and agricultural use," he pointed out. Read on. . .

India's kerosene stoves a climate hazard: Al Gore

Image: Al Gore with Indian Ambassador to the United States Meera Shankar.

Gore said he was not suggesting that more conventionally recognised causes of global warming -- industrial emissions from the United States, deforestation in Indonesia and Brazil, etc -- did not apply.

He merely intended to point out that the use of kerosene as fuel 'is the proximate cause of a water shortage and the unfolding potential catastrophe that completely defies the human imagination.'

Lauding the shift in emphasis made by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, Gore said, "In our world, more global warming pollution anywhere is a threat to the future of civilization everywhere, and we all have to be a part of the solution."

India's kerosene stoves a climate hazard: Al Gore

Image: MIC Electronics' LED-based solar lanterns endorsed at Indo-US Energy Partnership Summit 2009 at Washington DC, USA

Reminiscing about his decades-long relationship with Pachauri, Gore said, "What Dr Pachauri is doing in leading the scientific community of the entire planet to a realisation of what needs to be done is just fantastic, and in the capacity that brings us here, I am so proud and honored to support enthusiastically and wholeheartedly the Lighting a Billion Lives campaign."

He characterised the initiative as an effort to "transform people's lives and lift their prospects, and simultaneously reduce this deadly global warming pollution".

Gore rounded off a wide ranging speech by citing an old African proverb: If you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. "We have to go far, quickly," Gore said, "and that's what Dr Pachauri's Lighting a Billion Lives programme is making possible."

India Abroad