Parts of Asia face deadly climate changes and natural disasters caused by pollution and atmospheric warming, sooner than the rest of the world. Floods in Southeast Asia, glaciers melting in the Himalayas, islands disappearing in rising seas and huge dust storms in China are just some of the climate disasters caused by industrial pollution, car exhaust fumes and huge numbers of flatulent farm animals.

?All models say Southeast Asia would be the hardest hit by global warming. Levels of rainfall would be higher and more prolonged, and seasons would change,? says David Jezeph, chief of water and mineral resources at the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

?We have to strive to point out the problems that are associated with climate change and the responsibilities we feel lie with countries such as the US, particularly the US as a global leader,? says Ismail Shafeeu, the minister of environment for the Maldives. The country, consisting of about 1,200 islands in the Indian Ocean, will be a major victim of any rise in sea levels caused by global warming, since 80 percent of the islands are less than one yard above sea level.

Kiribati President Teburoro Tito says the US stance against the Kyoto treaty causes ?deepest disappointment? to low-lying South Pacific islands that are potentially threatened by rising sea levels. ?This amounts to greater despair and hopelessness on the part of the people living on small and low-lying atolls like Kiribati. It also sends a negative signal on the future of the planet if the other leading industrialized countries begin to follow the steps the United States is taking in putting economic wealth and prosperity over and above the dignity of human life.?

Researchers also say global warming threatens to increase flooding in low-lying areas of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, where more than 500 were killed and hundreds of millions of dollars of damage was caused from flooding last year. ?Most river systems coming out of the Himalayas – China and Tibet – flow towards Southeast Asia. Imagine what effect a two-degree temperature rise would have on melting ice and the water flow,? Jezeph says.

Environment experts in Bangladesh also say floods that affect the country almost every year have been made worse by global warming. Bangladesh and India share more than 50 rivers, many of them originating in the Himalayas and experts blame the country’s flooding mainly on melting glaciers. Rising seas could also mean large areas along the country?s coast will be drowned by higher sea levels. For this reason, the government is encouraging local communities grow coastal forests, which Forest and Environment Minister Begum Sajeda Chowdhury said could limit the loss of land to the sea.

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