With extreme natural disasters being reported across the globe with increasing frequency, His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Thursday issued a public statement in which he offered prayers for the suffering of people affected by the impact of the climate crisis.
“This year we have seen a shocking series of natural disasters in many different parts of the world,” the Dalai Lama acknowledged. “There have been floods, wildfires, and hurricanes that have resulted in a tragic loss of life, as well as damage to property and the natural environment. Clearly the consequences of global heating affect us all.” (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
His Holiness also expressed hope that he would be permitted to make a financial contribution to relief work in China, which has been hit by heavy flooding that has displaced more than a million people and killed at least 60.
The world has witnessed an uptick in extreme weather events this year, with Canada and Greece both reporting their worst wildfires on record, and with Australia and Chile also reporting extreme wildfire outbreaks earlier this year. Southern Europe and large parts of Asia have recorded extreme heat waves this summer, while large areas of China, India, Japan, South Korea, and elsewhere have experienced extreme seasonal torrential rains and flash floods.
Scientists have also recorded record temperatures for the Earth’s oceans this year, which carries with it grim implications for marine life, for global climate patterns, and for the health of the planet as a whole. The global risk of wildfires is also on the rise, as the higher average temperatures are making heatwaves longer and more intense.
In a statement in July, the secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, Petteri Taalas, described the deluge of acute weather conditions as “the new normal.”
“The extreme weather—an increasingly frequent occurrence in our warming climate—is having a major impact on human health, ecosystems, economies, agriculture, energy, and water supplies,” Taalas said. “This underlines the increasing urgency of cutting greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and as deeply as possible.” (World Meteorological Organization)
In his own statement, dated 10 August, the Dalai Lama observed:
As I told a delegation of educationists this morning, whenever such disasters take place in different parts of the world, I try to express my concern and offer support for those who are suffering and those striving to help them.
In recent days, flooding in the north of China and in some Tibetan areas has resulted in the loss of life and widespread damage to property and the local ecology. I pray for those who have lost their lives and express my sympathy and concern to all those affected by this calamity. We are all the same as human beings. We all wish to be happy and to avoid such tragedies and in the context of the oneness of humanity we all have a responsibility to help and support each other. On this occasion too, as a mark of my solidarity with the people of China, I hope to be able to make a donation to the relief efforts.
Under these circumstances, I appeal to my brothers and sisters across the world to pray for all those affected by these natural disasters, and to take whatever steps they can to address the climate crisis and its effects.
With my prayers and good wishes, Dalai Lama (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
The Tibetan spiritual leader issued a follow-up statement today, in which he offered condolences for the loss of life and property in Hawaiʻi to wildfires that have been raging since early August.
In a letter to the governor of Hawaiʻi, Josh Green, dated 11 August, His Holiness lamented the tragic loss of life and destruction of property, including heritage buildings. He offered prayers and good wishes for the people of the islands, especially Maui.
I have had the privilege of visiting Hawaii several times and have also visited Maui. I deeply appreciate the people of Hawaii’s interest in my efforts to promote basic human values and inter-religious harmony. Also, in the course of my interaction with the Hawaiian people, I have been touched by their deep devotion to their traditions and heritage. Therefore, I am particularly sad to learn of the damage caused to the former capital in the wildfire. I pray that you and the people of Hawaii will find the spiritual strength to deal with this tragedy.
While the damage to buildings may be irreparable, I understand that everything is being done by the federal, State of Hawaii and other agencies to provide necessary help and support to the people affected by this calamity. (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Destructive wildfires have been spreading rapidly on Maui, Hawaiʻi’s second-largest island, as a result of a prolonged drought combined with powerful trade winds across the archipelago, fed by Hurricane Dora to the south. At least 55 people have died from the wildfires, according to media reports, with local officials saying that much of the historic town of Lahaina has been destroyed.
Officials have declared a state of emergency on the island, and nonessential travel to Maui, a popular tourism destination, is discouraged. In a press briefing on Thursday, Governor Green described the situation as the “largest natural disaster” in the state’s history. The Big Island, from which the Hawaiʻian archipelago takes its name, has also reported wildfire outbreaks.
“We have never experienced a wildfire that affected a city like this before,” Green said, adding: “We’re seeing this for the first time in many different parts of the world.” (BBC News)
His Holiness’s Statement Regarding Recent Natural Disasters (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Offering Condolences to the People of Hawaii (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
His Holiness the Dalai Lama Issues Statement Regarding Recent Natural Disasters (Central Tibetan Administration)
What caused the Hawaii wildfires? (BBC News)
Exceptional heat and rain, wildfires and floods mark summer of extremes (World Meteorological Organization)
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