Climate Change: World Faces a Catastrophe
The world is not sleepwalking towards catastrophe. It is already on a catastrophic pathway. Global heating is affecting the earth. The evidence is irrefutable; the damage irreversible. Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning are choking our planet. Human activity is the main cause of climate change. Changes in climate have been witnessed in just recent years. The changes are widespread, rapid and unprecedented.
What is the “greenhouse effect” that leads to global warming? : When the sun’s rays hit the earth, the majority of the heat bounces right back into space. But a small portion is absorbed by chemicals in the earth’s atmosphere. These are known as “greenhouse gases”. Under normal circumstances, this is actually a good thing. The heat trapped in our atmosphere by greenhouse gases helps keep the earth warm enough to sustain life when the sun is not shining. It only becomes a problem when we start messing with the formula.
Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, human activity started to change the delicate balance of chemicals in our atmosphere. By using fossil fuels like coal, petrol, oil & gas production etc. excess greenhouse gases got emitted, mostly in the form of carbon dioxide. More greenhouse gases mean more heat trapped in our atmosphere, and over time, a warmer planet. That’s how we get global warming. Raising the average temperature of our planet, even by a few degrees, some pretty dramatic effects can be seen. Rising temperatures cause a rise in ocean temperatures which lead to extreme storms and flooding. As oceans get warmer with the world getting warmer, it expands. Sea levels begin to rise. In other areas of the world, global warming has the opposite effect. Prolonged droughts lead to crop shortages or widespread forest fires. All the problems start with the greenhouse effect.
Many people think climate change mainly means warmer temperatures. But temperature rise is only the beginning of the story. Because the Earth is a system, where everything is connected, changes in one area can influence changes in all others. As emissions continue to rise, the result is that the Earth is now about 1.1°C warmer than it was in the late 1800s. The last decade (2011-2020) was the warmest on record. The internationally agreed threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius is perilously close.
Due to its scope and intensity, the climate crisis makes the world looking desperately for answers. Environmentalists are warning of certain devastation from climate change. They have dubbed this as humanity's "final wake-up call".
The changes in climate are not going to heal with words alone. They will heal only if actions are taken. The atmosphere and oceans are already full of greenhouse gases. They can’t take any more. Nature has already been too damaged to continue meeting human needs in the long term. People are beginning to feel that “nature is hitting back.”
It is up to the world leaders now to act. In the past, governments were letting vested interests call the climate shots rather than serving the global community. Leaders must now work with the goal of serving the people of the world.
Solutions: Many climate change solutions can deliver economic benefits while improving our lives and protecting the environment. We also have global agreements to guide progress, such as the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. Three broad categories of action are: cutting emissions, adapting to climate impacts and financing required adjustments. Switching energy systems from fossil fuels to renewables like solar or wind power will also reduce the emissions driving climate change.
The alarm bells are deafening. We are living in a state of climate emergency now. It is clear we are at a precipice. We can no longer pass the buck to the future generation. That has got to stop. It is our time now to set the course correct towards a safer and better future for all.
The race to zero emission is on! Every individual must act in his own way to save the planet.
Remember: There is no Planet B.