President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso has made a most sensible statement, perhaps, in the controversy about whether the industrialised states, which are largely responsible for causing the global warming, should take the lead in taking steps to reverse the trend or wait for the big emerging economies to join up. Talking of the G-8 summit that was being held at that time on the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido, with the threatening climate change as a priority item on the agenda, he said, "We have to get real. It is quite wrong to see this in terms of a confrontation between developed and developing countries. Of course we accept the responsibility but this is a global challenge, which requires a global response." The ground realities strongly endorse Barroso's view and hold out the warning of greater catastrophes than the earth has of late to contend with, in case the major polluters of the atmosphere continue to put off measures designed to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases till "culprits" own up the blame and start making moves to counter the situation. Even an apparently insignificant rise in global temperature of less than one degree Centigrade in the past hundred years is making itself felt in the form of more frequent and severer hurricanes, floods, droughts and forest fires. The disturbance of ecological balance has affected the food crops and is partially responsible for the current price hike and shortages. Out of the 20 warmest years in the past hundred years, 19 have occurred since 1980, and three warmest ever during the last eight years. The melting of the Arctic snows is not only raising the sea level, flooding coastal areas and endangering lowly situated islands with submersion but also, according to the scientists, contributing to greater global warming. There is fear of "health pandemic", for instance surge in waterborne diseases following the flooding of lands and respiratory problems caused by the dust from the forest fire areas carried by the winds. The most painful effect would be a marked increase in poverty, both in number and extent, dealing a serious blow to the worldwide efforts to improve the general standard of living. This is no longer an issue of a recurring cycle of nature; it is human activity that is responsible. Immediate concerted efforts by all nations alone can avert the dreadful prospect. Needless dithering, the experts predict, would lead to a further rise of temperature of about 1.4 degree Centigrade by the year 2100, with the above disastrous consequences multiplied several times over. In view of this prospect staring humanity in the face, one should have expected the leaders of G-8 to come up with some definite decisions. The hope was that since the Bush administration, which to ward off the pressure to ratify the Kyoto Protocol at the time the president began his first term in office, used to maintain that there was no conclusive scientific evidence of human-activity driven climate change, has changed this perception, the outcome of the conference would be positive was dashed. Despite keen attempts at persuasion by the Europeans to agree to a 25 to 40 percent reduction in emitting harmful gas, the US stuck to its stand that it could not agree to binding targets "unless big polluters like China and India rein in their emissions too." Thereafter, the G-8 thought it fit to announce reduction in greenhouse gases by 50 percent by 2050, interestingly, without mentioning any base year from which the quantum of emission was to be halved and without specifying any medium-term target. The announcement, therefore, makes little sense and was rightly termed by environmentalists as "meaningless". The G-8 leaders also called upon countries involved in UN negotiations on climate change to also "consider and adopt" the 2050 goal. This was part of a worldwide agreement that the G-8 leaders hoped to secure at Copenhagen in December 2009 when the UN-led talks for a new framework to tackle the looming disaster are supposed to be concluded. The base year would then be decided, but a crucial year and a half would have gone by. The host Japan has taken a positive step, setting a national target of between 60 percent and 80 percent reduction by 2050, but again without mentioning a medium term goal. The Japanese announcement that individual countries of G-8 would set their own targets came as a disappointment. The virtual inaction portends the onset of ecological disaster of immense proportions sooner than expected and when reversing the trend could prove to be far more painful, if successful. The inexorable reality of rising temperature with all its fall-out makes a clarion call on all big economies, whether developed or developing, to sink their differences and join hands to saving humanity from a possible extinction. E-mail: