save the Buddha!

Like any historical monument, Indonesia’s magnificent Borobudur temple in central Java has suffered the ravages of time.

But now conservationists fear the world’s biggest Buddhist temple, topped with stupas and decorated with hundreds of reliefs depicting Buddhist thought and the life of Buddha, faces a new threat: climate change.

As global temperatures rise and rainfall patterns change, the dark stone temple, which dates from the 9th century, could deteriorate faster than normal, Marsis Sutopo, head of the Borobudur Heritage Conservation Institute, told Reuters.

Although no direct link has been found between climate change and the damage to Borobudur, Sutopo said a two-year study by Italian stone expert Costantino Meucci showed that higher precipitation is affecting the temple’s volcanic stone.

Humidity allows moss and algae to grow on the stones already more than 1,000 years old. The stones have been exposed to the heat and humidity for so long, they have reached a critical point where deterioration is going to happen faster, he said. We suspect changing climate will make it happen faster.

Reuters, 6 Sep 2007