Water, the missing link in climate studies


Dr Rash B Ghosh is a distinguished scientist who has worked, among many other places, at Stanford University conducting research on canopy chemistry, interactions of climate, nutrient cycling, and global warming for NASA. The views expressed are his own.


I happened to study global warming and canopy chemistry and nutrient cycling at Herrin Laboratories in Stanford University in the early 1980s, well before Al Gore’s campaign on global warming and climate change that resulted in the Paris Agreement, which was a significant achievement in the field of environment.

However, the climate study missed the important element of water and hydrological cycle, which makes the study incomplete. It appears that Al Gore’s study used my data, but I did not receive acknowledgement.

In the light of recent extreme natural disasters — the wildfires that blazed through California, Texas’s snowstorms and subsequent power outages, Hurricane Laura that devastated Louisiana — we must again talk about the ongoing and deadly climate crisis.

Human activities, such as the excavating and burning of fossil fuels, have changed the natural greenhouse of the Earth. The danger of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, water vapor, methane) lie in the fact that as their levels increase, these gases prevent Earth’s heat from escaping the atmosphere. This leads to what climate scientists call “global warming.”

The past seven years have been the warmest and the temperature is on track to continue rising.

However, it’s not just the heat that’s the problem. Rising temperatures have led to shrinking ice sheets and melting glaciers, which have in turn led to the rise of sea levels. Coastal cities and islands are in danger of becoming submerged.

The frequency and intensity of climate and weather-related disasters have also spiked, leading to numerous human lives and livelihoods lost.

The consequences of the climate crisis will be most felt by poor and vulnerable communities. The increasing severity of the climate crisis will rise in parallel with rising levels of inequality.

It has already shown to disproportionately impact communities in already-fragile ecosystems and institutional systems that do not seek to protect them.

Global warming is a reality but ignoring water or hydrological cycle in the study makes it weak and incomplete because they are interdependent.

The study of the climate crisis is continuous and many people believe that it is getting worse. We are all emitting carbon emissions, and the campaign of climate change did a good job globally. But we need a similar movement that focuses on groundwater depletion.

The study of water cannot be separate in the fight against the climate crisis.

It is not clear why scientists and politicians are not coming forward about the crisis of water. I have been fighting for global water crisis for the last 40 more years and invented Hydrogrameen, which involves injecting fresh, clean water to replenish depleted aquifers.

We must find out how we can increase the coolness of the Earth and how to flow with the nature, instead of relying on human action.

Our patterns of behavior must be changed and how we interact with the environment. If we are respecting our environment and working with the flow of our ecology, this can help reduce the impact of the climate crisis.

An example: production of toilet paper has caused mass deforestation. If we can reduce this behavior, we can save a lot of trees — making the Earth cooler.

This business flourishes particularly among western countries. The West consumed $25 billion annually for toilet paper alone. This money could be used to develop water infrastructure at a region where it is needed using American Technology.

Now, the use of paper towel has become popular and consumption is increasing, which results in elimination of more trees. As a student of science, I examined if we can change behaviors to avoid using toilet papers by using water as an alternative for washing in the toilet which is less expensive, more hygienic and environment-friendly.

Equipment have already been developed such as toilet bidet attachments.

The West tries to control the emerging economies to reduce their industrial activities to meet the West’s zero emissions goal yet it continues its unruly behavior to over exploit natural resources.

This thoughtless use of natural resources must be stopped if we have to reduce emission.

Zero emission goal is not possible because the universal plougher, the earthworm around the world, seal the carbon-dioxide in the soil during its activities and some of the CO2 are released to the atmosphere during the process.

Developed countries have yet to contribute enough money to help emerging economies and become a better partner in reducing global emissions. The Industrial Revolution made western countries richer and more powerful and now they are putting restrictions on emerging economies that have been following the path of industrialization followed by the West.

President Joe Biden’s administration has taken steps to reverse the damaging effects of the Trump administration’s stance on climate change, calling for the development of a global carbon market.

Climate envoy John Kerry explains that a global carbon market can push for a transition to clean energy sources. He has traveled to India and Bangladesh to campaign the goal of moving towards zero emission.

Bill Gates in his recent book, How to Avoid Climate Disasters, lays down the foundation on how to achieve zero emission. His plans makes sense and may be a better approach than the Paris Agreement findings. I recommend that you read this book.