Kathamandu: The rise of the sea level would be the greatest threat to the world in the days to come unless efforts are made to contain and mitigate the consequences of climate changes, according to 2007 Nobel laureate Rajendra K Pachauri.
Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an intergovernmental body that researches climate change and its potential consequences, is here to talk about climate change in the Himalayan region and ways to adapt and mitigate the adverse effects.
He has been invited by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, a regional centre with eight countries as members: India, China, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Myanmar and Bhutan.
The fourth IPCC assessment report in 2007 predicted that the global average sea level would rise between 0.6 and 2 feet (0.18 to 0.59 meters) in the next century.
Calling it the direst "irreversible and abrupt change", Pachauri said it would lead to the extinction of 20 to 30 percent of plant and animal species.
Saying that he had been to Rameshwaram, the coastal strip in southern India, last week, Pachauri said he had seen signs of people leaving the area.
Besides coastal regions, the rising sea level would impact other countries of South Asia in different ways, he said, triggering floods and droughts that would in turn impact agriculture.
The changes would affect a quarter billion people in China alone, he said.
An immediate change in lifestyle was needed to tackle the climate changes, which didn`t necessarily mean dire sacrifices.
Pachauri said it entailed simple things like switching off the lights in a room while going to another.