As extreme natural disasters are reported across the world with increasing frequency, His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Thursday issued a public statement in which he offered prayers for the suffering of those affected by the impact of the climate crisis.
“This year, we have witnessed a shocking series of natural disasters in many parts of the world,” acknowledged the Dalai Lama. “There have been floods, wildfires and hurricanes that have resulted in tragic loss of life, as well as damage to property and the natural environment. It is clear that the consequences of global warming affect us all. (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
His Holiness also expressed hope that he would be allowed to make a financial contribution to relief work in China, which has been hit by severe flooding that has displaced more than a million people and killed at least 60 people.
The world has witnessed an increase in extreme weather events this year, with Canada and Greece both reporting their worst wildfires on record, and Australia and Chile also reporting outbreaks of extreme wildfires earlier. This year. Southern Europe and large parts of Asia have experienced 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 Earth's oceans this year, with dire implications for marine life, for global weather patterns and for the health of the planet as a whole. The global risk of wildfires is also on the rise, as higher average temperatures make heat waves longer and more intense.
In a statement in July, World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas described the deluge of severe weather as "the new normal".
“Extreme weather – an increasingly common phenomenon in our warming climate – has a major impact on human health, ecosystems, economies, agriculture, energy and water supplies,” Taalas said. “This underscores the growing urgency to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and as deeply as possible. (World Meteorological Organization)
In his own statement, dated August 10, the Dalai Lama observed:
As I told a delegation of educators this morning, whenever such disasters occur in different parts of the world, I try to express my concern and offer my support to those who are suffering and to those who try to help them.
In recent days, floods in northern China and some Tibetan areas have resulted in loss of life and extensive damage to property and local ecology. I pray for those who 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 avoid such tragedies and in the context of the oneness of mankind, we all have the responsibility to help and support each other. Also on this occasion, as a sign of solidarity with the Chinese people, I hope to be able to donate to the relief efforts.
In these circumstances, I call on my brothers and sisters around the world to pray for all those affected by these natural disasters and to take all possible measures to address the climate crisis and its effects.
With my prayers and best wishes, Dalai Lama (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
The Tibetan spiritual leader released a follow-up statement today, in which he offered his condolences for the loss of life and property in Hawaiʻi in the wildfires that have been raging since early August.
In a letter to Hawaii Governor Josh Green dated August 11, 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 interest of the people of Hawaii in my efforts to promote basic human values and interfaith harmony. Additionally, during my interaction with the Hawaiian people, I have been touched by their deep devotion to their traditions and heritage. Therefore, I am particularly saddened to learn of the damage caused to the ancient capital by forest fires. I pray that you and the people of Hawaii will find the spiritual strength to deal with this tragedy.
Although damage to buildings may be irreparable, I understand that every effort is being made by the Federal Government, the State of Hawaii, and other agencies to provide the necessary assistance and support to those affected by this calamity. (His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet)
Destructive wildfires have spread rapidly across Maui, Hawaii's second-largest island, following a prolonged drought combined with strong trade winds across the archipelago, fueled by Hurricane Dora to the south. At least 55 people died in the wildfires, according to media reports, with local officials saying much of historic Lahaina was destroyed.
Authorities have declared a state of emergency on the island and non-essential travel to Maui, a popular tourist destination, is being discouraged. At a press briefing on Thursday, Governor Green described the situation as the "greatest natural disaster" in state history. The Big Island, from which the Hawaiian archipelago takes its name, has also reported wildfires.
“We've never had a wildfire hit a city like this before,” Green said, adding, “We're seeing this for the first time in many parts of the world. " (BBC News)