Prevention Is Better Than Death
By Kamal Sunavala

Here’s something the Czechs can be proud of. They are not complaining vociferously about the heat. Instead they are taking the opportunity to walk into their offices, dressed dangerously close to, well, undressing. I notice the boys are certainly getting to the office on time, these days.

Every news site or paper or magazine talks about how Europe and America are wilting under a heat wave. The Radio Praha site carried a report about how Czechs are dealing in common sense, practical ways with the heat. No hullabaloo, they are just dealing with it. Perhaps so, because no one has died, not that we know of, due to the ‘heat wave’ like they have in France and Germany and the Netherlands. In fact, most of the Czechs I spoke to, including the very old ones in my building, were amused by the reactions of West Europeans and dismissed the reactions of the Americans, as is fashionable to do, these days.

While the rest of Europe and America whines about the heat in summer and people literally keel over and die and put out ‘Orange Alerts’ and shudder at the thought of 38 degrees centigrade, supposedly run out of purchasing power and stock for fans and air-conditioners, let’s get a little perspective in life, shall we?

In the last ten days or less:
Indonesia had yet another tsunami; latest toll figures show nearly seven hundred accounted deaths.

Lebanon and Israel have burst into flames; people are dying left, right and centre, some of them being literally charred to death, body parts flying around like confetti, the last breath squeezed out from under a seven-storey building.

Bombay had its metro system blown to bits with at least four hundred people dying on their way home from work, just like the London and Madrid bombings.

Ethiopia and Somalia, countries that have literally nothing, have embarked upon a war with each other, in addition to the thirty thousand preventable deaths of children on their continent, everyday. Everyday.

A storm in China just wiped out five hundred people but who knows with the Chinese government, what the real numbers may be.

Entire villages and hundreds of people have just been swept away in North Korea because of torrential rains and flooding.

Iraq- who can even count the daily numbers of dead people now?

Death is cruel, spares no one and is deserving of some sympathy for the family members who lose a loved one. There is no question of nationality, race or economics. Death binds us all in the same unmerciful way. This is not intended to belittle the deaths that have been caused due to the heat waves. But instead it is meant to shine a lamp under the dark reasons. Everyone knows by now that world weather has been drastically changing, causing death and destruction on account of global warming and the climatic changes it brings about. It’s ironic then that the US has refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, which essentially means the cutting of emissions does not apply to them. They continue to emit dangerous gases, their climate continues to change and people continue to die. And Bush says that ratification of the Kyoto Protocol would imbalance the economy at this point. Of course the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq did nothing to imbalance the economy.

The European Union has ratified the treaty and worked hard to get other nations to support it but still has a long way to go. However, it seems that European nations with their ‘green lungs’ are doing their bit towards halting a dangerous slide into total annihilation through pollution. Australia, one of the highest emitters of poisonous gunk, has refused to ratify the treaty, claiming small nation status. China and India have ratified the treaty and have emphasised, much to the world’s surprise, but true enough, that it is America and Europe who have over the years, produced the greatest emissions, which are now showing themselves in the form of flooding, drought, tsunamis, earthquakes and acid rain.

So let’s understand one thing clearly. Yes, people are dying. Yes, we’re sorry. But let’s not get into self-pity mode and blow a little piece of news like this out of proportion. Not when you cannot possibly compete with the larger scale of destruction around the globe, a lot of which you have helped to cause.

After all, what goes around, comes around.