I wrote this for ‘Climate Change Champions’ contest organized by British Council in 2008. This was my first attempt at writing. My entry was in semi-final among entries from all over .
Can you imagine, polar bears roaming in the rainforests, carcasses of camels floating in the oceans where we see deserts now, huge glaciers wiped out of the world’s map and all the rivers flooding the plains, causing the dams to collapse and turning residential colonies into huge lakes, this is not a prophesy, this is how our world seems to me after a few decades, if the climate changes that are occurring right now are not dealt with urgency.
Climate change, going by the definition, is the variation in the earth’s global climate or in regional climates over time. It involves changes in the variability or average state of the atmosphere over durations ranging from decades to millions of years. These changes can be caused by dynamic process on Earth, external forces including variations in sunlight intensity, and more recently by human activity.
In our solar system, Earth is the only planet supporting life; our Earth has an atmosphere of proper depth and chemical composition. About 30% of incoming energy from the sun is reflected back to the space while the rest reaches the Earth, warming the air, oceans and land, and maintaining an average surface temperature of about 15° C. the Earth’s climate is dynamic and always changing through a natural cycle when the above mentioned changes speed up, they are studied by the scientists, who find evidences from tree rings, pollen samples, ice cores and sea sediments.
In recent years, most dynamic change has been in the temperature, with measurement records suggesting that warming by 0.3 – 0.6°C has already taken place since the 1860s. The last two decades were the warmest in this period.
Moving on the Climate change effects, the effects of global warming or climate change are difficult to quantify because of the complicated relationships between air, temperature, precipitation quality and pattern, vegetative cover and soil moisture. But still several effects of global warming are steady sea level rise, increased cyclonic activity etc. Ongoing sea levels have submerged low-lying islands in the Sundarbans, displacing thousands of people. Temperature rises on the Tibetan Plateau, which is causing Himalayan glaciers to retreat, may reduce the flow rate of Ganges, Brahmaputra, Yamuna and other major rivers; hundreds of thousands of farmers depend on these rivers. According to a 2007, WWW (World Wide Fund) for Nature report, the Indus River may run dry for the same reason.
The causes of climate change can be divided into two categories Natural and Human. Natural causes include ocean currents, volcanoes, continental drift which changes physical features of mass, and the Earth’s tilt. All these above mentioned are involuntary and we have no control over them.
Human causes include, green house gases, carbon dioxide is undoubtedly, the most important, green house gas in the atmosphere. Changes in land use pattern, deforestation, land clearing, agriculture and other activities have also led to a rise in the emission of carbon dioxide. Methane is emitted from landfills and other waste dumps, also from process of oil drilling, coal mining, leaking gas and pipelines. A large amount of nitrous oxide emissions have been attributed to fertilizer application. Cement manufacturing is the third largest cause of man- made carbon dioxide emissions. Livestock contributes to 18% of the Carbon levels and about one-fourth of all the methane emissions in the world.
Fossil fuels, human consumption of fossil fuels has elevated Carbon dioxide levels from a concentration of 280 ppm to more than 380 ppm today.
Population and pollution has increased to an incredible extent. Industrial revolution in 19th century, industries created jobs and over the years, people moved from rural areas to the cities. More and more land cleared, natural resources being extensively used and consumerism (our increasing want for material things) has increased by leaps and bounds, creating mountains of waste.
Transportation is our basic need now-a-days; burning lot of fossil fuel has emerged as a major source of change in climate.
Practicing deforestation for clearing areas for our housing comforts; doing paper work like in offices and by students; construction; making furniture; all use up our fossil fuels.
All our gadgets run on electricity, generated mainly from thermal power plants, which in turn burn fossils.
Here on this problem, scientists have many suggestions and many steps have been taken but there is an invisible effect on the whole burning issue. The need of the hour is awareness. Ironically, in the name of spreading awareness many political leaders from different countries are just ‘showing’ interest, what they do is sit in airplanes and reach at the new destination of their meeting, for example the conference that held in Bali, Indonesia in December 2007, no major decision was taken but still they were discussing,
What? – Only God Knows!
India has got brain power, man power and we have natural resources like sun, wind and water. Developing countries cannot shy away from their duty towards environment by saying that developed nations have contributed more to aggravate this problem. We are a fast developing nation and need to spend, money, manpower and other resources to curb this problem.
What India can do, is far beyond the reach of western countries. We receive the blessings of the ultimate source of energy in our solar system, round the year.
The use of solar energy has been minimal till now because we always look towards the west for technology. It is foolish on our part to expect them to develop solar technology when they get the benefit of sun-god for few days in the year. We should our own ways of using solar energy for generating electricity, running transport vehicles, lighting our homes. Thus, reducing the burden on fossil fuel and electricity. This big leap towards environment protection, can take place with this switch. Similarly, wind energy and water energy are two major resources whose benefits are yet to be tapped.
Awareness about these issues in general public can help reduce level for emissions by promoting people to pool cars and use public transportation and using non polluting vehicles for short distance, instead of using their individual vehicles.
What I emphasis most is the need of a political and social determination to work together to curb this problem.
Government has made some half-hearted efforts in this field for the use and development of alternate energy but as pathetically as they are being run (as I have seen personally); they are not yielding any result.
Also the point to note here is the funding. There is no dearth of funds, for these projects aiming at climate change, sustainable development and global warming. Their main emphasis is on spending the fund rather than doing something fruitful out of it. Estimated cost of fighting climate change in India is 2% of GDP, according to UNESCO’s 2007 report.
The need of the hour is that we all now get up and start the fight for everyone’s right, of a better world to live in.
P.S.- Some facts might appear outdated, that is because it was written in 2008.