The simple meaning of climate change is a long term change in average weather pattern that have come to define earth’s local, regional and global climate. The recent snowfall in Kashmir had created a white blanket all around which was melting slowly from last month, now had taken a rapid pace in just a week of bright sunlight and all the snow got erased; not only this but the devastating flood in the northern state of the country, Uttrakhand, has killed around 38 people and has trapped the rescue workers in the tunnels. The team of scientists sent by WIHG, who were investigating the incident believe a piece of Himalayan glacier fell into water and triggered this huge flood. Climate change is the main cause for rapid temperature changes leading to freezing and thawing of ice, and snow fractures over time. There are over 10,000 glaciers in the Himalayas and Uttrakhand itself has 1495 glaciers and many of them are receding due to warming climate. It can cause even more floods like this in future, causing a greater risk to life and property. This is not just in India but all over the globe.
Worldwide the climate change related disasters have more than tripled since 1980. Antarctica’s ice is also melting, contributing to add massive amounts of water to seas, causing their levels to rise but study has shown that Antarctica’s ice is melting at different rates each year. Also the Arctic sea ice is shrinking and glaciers are retreating around the world. Seas could rise by 3 to 10 feet by 2100, or may be even more. The Arctic has warmed more than any other part of the earth. It’s ice cover is shrinking and thinning and shrinking. Melting of ice, very intense heat waves, acceleration in rising of sea level were also predicted by scientists in the past which are becoming true now. Scientists are having high confidence that the global temperature would continue to rise, mostly due to green house gases produced by human activities like generating electricity, producing food, transportation, heating houses/ buildings and making cement and steel. If our goal was simply to emit 10 percent less green house gas, one can imagine to limit all of the above mentioned activities but if we take the goal of zero carbon emission by 2050 into consideration, we need to find alternate ways to perform the activities while producing no green house gas and also which isn’t much expensive. We can compare the cost of doing it in current way to the way that creates no emission of carbon. The extra cost, called as green premium for things like green jet fuel, is very high. Taking an example of United States, on an average a gallon of jet fuel costs around 160 Indian rupees. By not digging out carbon from the ground we can use oil generated from plant material or bio waste. On an average bio fuel costs (in United States) around 388 Indian rupees, a premium of about 229 rupees if compared to green jet fuel, it is more than double the typical price.
The green premium gives us a way to look how far we are from making it easy and where the green premium is highest that’s where we need to think, develop and work more. We are living in 2021 but still we need a lot of research and development to get green premium down to zero and then only we can get reach to the goal of zero carbon emission by 2050. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) which includes more than 1300 scientists from many different countries, predicts a temperature rise of 2.5 degree Fahrenheit to 10 degree Fahrenheit over the next century. The IPCC predicts that increase in global mean temperature of less than 1.8 degree Fahrenheit to 5.4 degree Fahrenheit above 1990 levels will produce beneficial impacts in some region and harmful ones in other. Climate change is affecting all lives including of many different species. In 2016 scientists announced that the Bramble Cay Melomys, a rat like rodent found on low lying islands in Australia had vanished, the first case which was driven to extinction by climate change. More are surely following. Rising temperatures are depressing some plant and animal populations, shifting their migrations and behaviours. An Arctic shorebird called the Red Knot is getting is smaller. Ice loss is forcing walruses by thousands to move on land in Alaska. Alpine ecosystem from Rockies to Swiss Alps are being squeezed off from mountain tops.
Climate change has potential to cause more deaths than Covid-19 as it is the damage to environment and eco system. Climate change isn’t the only threat that spreading human population impose on other species, we are also fragmenting and destroying natural habitats. Some species may adapt to the changes but will all of them be able to do the same? One can also not self-isolate from climate. Even though United Nations has ordered all countries to make climate change as a matter of emergency concern but the governments across the globe are putting trillions of dollars in rescuing their economies. The economic gaps between the countries will also be increasing, not because of Covid-19 pandemic but because of climate change. The country to country gap has widened more because of the pandemic and climate change is widening it more. Economists, scientists and leaders have long warned that the climate change will hurt poor countries more than richer ones. When the resources are thin it becomes more difficult to recover from disasters like floods, hurricanes or drought. Climate change is a serious danger now. If one does not think so, then would 195 countries have signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to try to keep the warming below 2°C (3.6°F).
Now the question arises that what can you do for it? Here are some ideas:
● Make clean choices when you buy something. For example, if you order a plant-based burger, you are sending a signal to the market that there is a demand, which means more innovators will get to work. So we rely less on cattle, a major source of methane, which is heating up the planet. Plant based meat will taste better and get cheaper. It goes same for electric cars, energy efficient appliances etc. and dozens of innovations that’ll appear in next few years.
●Encourage other people to buy green products and services
●Businessmen can also invest more in development and research needed to invent new ways to replace the ones which we use today that generate emissions.
●Raise your voice. All of us have influence as citizens, consumers, employees and leaders. One of the ways by which we can solve the problem of climate change is if we do our part. Raise awareness.
The world needs to get from 51 billion tons of carbon emission to zero while still meeting our basic requirements. This means we need to change the way we do almost everything. Now government leaders need to impose new policies that drive the market for a clean energy. Activists need to keep their voices loud to hold everyone for a rapid progress. Avoiding a climate disaster is one the biggest and greatest challenge humans have ever taken, greater than stepping on moon, even greater than eradicating small pox.