Global warming activists turn up the heat on government

As a water shortage hits several townships in Burma’s commercial capital and farmers nationwide anxiously await the upcoming rainy season, environmentalists are calling for more government support in the flight against climate change in the country of 60 million people.


While Burma’s nominally civilian government has earned international praise for its program of political and economic reforms after decades of military rule, environmentalists say climate change is a pressing issue that has been pushed to the back burner for too long by the nation’s leaders. “The new government is trying to solve poverty and civil war, but unfortunately climate change has never been well acknowledged by our decision makers,” meteorologist Dr. Tun Lwin said on Saturday in Rangoon at roundtable discussion about global warming in Burma, as temperatures in the country’s biggest city soared to 38 degrees Celsius.

Tun Lwin, the founder of Myanmar Climate Change Watch, a private nonprofit that monitors climate change in the country and shares weather information with the public, said global warming had contributed to the water scarcity in Rangoon and droughts farther north.

“If it [climate change] continues, it will continue to have consequences in the coming years,” he said. “That’s why we’re asking for more government support, because we can’t handle this issue alone.”

The country’s monsoon season has also been affected by global warming. Since the late 1970s, Tun Lwin said, Burma has lost about 40 days from the historic average duration of its rainy season, usually about 145 days from May to September.

“The rains come late and leave early,” he said, adding that deforestation and excessive logging had also disrupted monsoon patterns.

Burma was rated the second-worst country, only behind Bangladesh, among seven Asian countries in a “Global Climate Risk Index” by the climate change watchdog Germanwatch. more…