World leaders, business tycoons as well as common people have still a chance to alter the direction of the climate change
Climate change is a significant variation of average weather conditions. It may become warmer, or may be having more humidity or moisture, or even dryness. So these are all the changes that we observe in the climatic parameters over a longer time period (about 30 to 100 years). Climate change and global warming are many times also interchangeably used by students and aspirants these days. But climate change is a broader umbrella under which both cooling and warming are factors.
Increased industrialization techniques, which started in the 1860s, were associated with the onset of climate change. However, since the 1950s, when industrialisation began to occur at a quick rate, the effects of climate change have been most perceptible. After analysing the surface temperatures of several oceans, scientists found the phenomenon of climate change and were able to link the marked rise to the development of urbanisation, industrialisation, and consumption.
According to NASA, the natural causes of climate change like changes in the sun’s intensity, volcanic eruptions and changes in naturally occurring greenhouse gases concentration are still in play today but they are too small and gradually i.e. it happens in millions of years but human beings have made it rapid that is why we are concerned about human action.
Intense droughts, water scarcity, destructive fires, rising sea levels, flooding, melting polar ice, catastrophic storms, and loss of biodiversity are some of the current effects of climate change. Over the past century, the global sea level increased by around 17 cm (6.7 inches) as the sea level has risen, the quantity of snow and ice has decreased, and the oceans have warmed. The average global sea level increased by 19 cm between 1901 and 2010 as a result of ocean expansion and glacier melt. Sea levels are expected to rise on average by 24–30 cm by 2065 and 40–63 cm by 2100 (UN Climate Report). An additional 250 000 deaths per year are estimated as a result of starvation, malaria, diarrhoea, and heat stress due to climate change between 2030 and 2050. By 2030, it is estimated that direct health harm expenses will range from $2 to $4 billion USD annually.
China is one of the top GHG emitters of the world accounting for about 28% of global emitters. The United States emits 12.74% of global greenhouse gas emissions and India accounts for 7.32%. Agriculture is the most significant contributor to the climate issue. It contributes approximately 30% of the greenhouse gases in the world, a percentage that might rise if other industries reduce their emissions. Businesses and homes contribute 13% of total greenhouse gas emissions most of these emissions come from heating sources like the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas are the largest contributor to global climate change, accounting for over 75% of global greenhouse gas emissions and nearly 90 %of all carbon dioxide emissions.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, increasing temperatures, droughts, floods, desertification, and other weather extremes would have a significant impact on agriculture, especially in poor countries (IPCC, 2009). Food availability will change as a result of the changing climate globally. Due to rising greenhouse gas concentrations and accumulated heat, the last eight years are on track to be the eighth warmest on record. According to the WMO Provisional State of the Global Climate report 2022, this year’s extreme heat waves, drought, and catastrophic flooding have cost billions and affected a large number of people. Currently, it is predicted that the average global temperature in 2022 will be 1.15 [1.02 to 1.28] °C higher than the pre-industrial average between 1850 and 1900. As a consequence of a rare triple-dip-cooled LaNina, 2022 is perhaps most likely to rank fifth or sixth in regard to temperature. It is only a matter of time before another record-warm year occurs because this does not alter the long-term trend. The Sixth Assessment Report of the IPCC, which was released in 2021, stated that since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, human emissions of gases that trap heat have already warmed the climate by almost 2 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 degrees Celsius). Within the next few decades, the average global temperature is predicted to attain 1.5 degrees C (about 3 degrees F). All areas of the planet will be affected by these transformations. According to Greenhouse Gas Bulletin 2022 atmospheric concentrations of the three primary greenhouse gases—carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide—reached new highs in 2021, with methane concentrations showing the largest year-over-year rise since systematic measurements first started almost 40 years ago. Likewise, the rise in carbon dioxide levels between 2020 and 2021 was greater than the decade’s average yearly growth rate.
Again, as per IPCC report 2022, lowering global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F) is impossible without significant and immediate emissions reductions in every field. Depending on the scenarios examined, in order to keep global warming to 1.5°C, greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 at the latest and then be lowered by 43% by 2030. Methane emissions would also need to be decreased by roughly one-third during this time.
Achieving climate goals and lowering environmental stress also depends on decreasing food loss or waste. In 2022 and the years that follow, climate change is only projected to intensify. For instance, there is a 93% possibility that one of the years between 2022 and 2026 would break the existing record held by 2016 for the warmest year so far.
Many steps are in place to assess, monitor, and prevent climate change. A number of treaties, conferences, and projects were held in 2022. Such steps include COP27 with UNFCCC, The Paris Agreement, Net Zero Emissions By 2050 and many more. Governments are required to cut GHG emissions by 30 gigatonnes annually by 2030, as stated in the Paris Agreement in order to keep global temperature increases below 2°C. Even if the appropriate solutions are present, more emissions are currently being released into the environment, making it more challenging to maintain a safe environment. However, these steps are not enough to fight climate change, many more steps are required at local, national as well as global levels. The most essential thing that organizations, nations, and communities everywhere can do is to work towards being more climate positive rather than just supporting the movement to go to net-zero emissions. Being “climate positive” refers to an organisation or person’s efforts to actively lower their own carbon emissions instead of buying carbon offsets to make up for the carbon emissions they generate. Becoming climate positive can also benefit commercial endeavours since consumers will desire to work for companies that are actively looking for strategies to directly tackle climate change. Moreover, changes made to our regular daily routine to combat climate change shouldn’t stop. Greener modes of transportation, plant-based diets, forgoing fast fashion in favour of sustainable alternatives, relatively short showers, turning off devices when not in use, and more energy-efficient gadgets are all excellent practices to adopt. Overall, the situation for climate change in 2022 isn’t excellent, but there are still plenty of chances for world leaders, business executives, and regular people like you and me to alter the direction of climate change and make the next five years less dire than the current one.
Shabnam Ara is a research scholar in Environmental Science and can be reached at [email protected]