Climate Crises: A Battle That Can Be Won

Climate Crises: A Battle That Can Be Won

The 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) must be taken seriously

Climate change is wreaking havoc in the lives of millions and is leading to destruction of our planet. It has become the greatest challenge to the survival of future generations. The signs of climate change are everywhere around the planet and are more complex than just climbing temperatures. What exactly do we mean by climate change and what are its driving factors? Climate change refers to long-term changes in Earth’s temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind, clouds, and precipitation patterns over time.
Earth’s atmosphere contains various gases that act as a blanket to trap heat from the sun and prevent it from escaping back into space. This process is known as the greenhouse effect, Without the greenhouse effect, the planet would be too cold to support life. Over time, the amount of greenhouse gases trapped in Earth’s atmosphere has increased significantly, causing worldwide temperatures to rise.
Natural processes on this planet constantly produce and eliminate greenhouse gases. The rotting of plant and animal matter and the Volcanic activity also affects the climate because eruptions unleash greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the atmosphere. Climate change researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and international agencies recognize that these natural factors continue to play a role in climate change but affirm that the impact of these factors alone does not explain the significant rise in Earth’s temperature. There is a strong scientific consensus that 80 percent of the change in climate is by human-driven activities. The temperatures are on rise, rainfall more and more erratic and the majority of the land under the threat of desertification and loss of biodiversity.
One of the prime reasons that contribute to climate change is poverty and deprivation, without adequate resources and means poor people are compelled to adopt unsustainable and environmentally unfriendly practices like slash burning agriculture. On the economic front globalization and the urge for development are posing a severe threat to this green planet. As forests are cleared and the ecosystem is disrupted which in turn disrupts the carbon cycle of the earth, this vicious cycle is produced which leads to global warming and climate change. Several agricultural and industrial activities, such as the use of certain fertilizers in farming, generate nitrous oxide. Methane discharges come from the production of fossil fuels, from landfills, and from livestock. These gases may cause even more damage than carbon dioxide. Human activities like handling of these dangerous gases are also responsible for the depletion of the natural atmosphere. Beginning in October 2015, a methane gas leak disaster from a California storage facility unleashed about five billion cubic feet of gas into the atmosphere. The leak took more than three months to seal. This event constituted the largest accidental discharge of greenhouse gases in the history of the United States.
In recent times, many are of the understanding that climate change is a reality we cannot reverse and there are no takebacks for our environmentally unethical and unconscious blunders. It is no surprise that inaction on climate change is hurting the planet and the many living things that inhabit it. The blue planet is warming, from the North Pole to the South Pole. Since 1906, the global mean surface temperature has increased by more than 1.6 degrees Fahrenheit (0.9 degrees Celsius)—even more in sensitive polar regions.
The State of Climate report, released by the World Meteorological Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, has found that four principal indicators of climate change — greenhouse gas concentrations, ocean heat, sea-level rise, and ocean acidification — had climbed by record margins in 2021.
As glaciers disappear and the sea levels rise, local infrastructure and farmlands in cities around the globe are being impacted. Some climate scientists argue that the 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 2005. the Earth continues to evolve into a dangerously inhospitable environment. And it is our collective fault. This past year was, in essence, in a statistical tie with 2016 for the hottest on record, with temperatures driven upward by the warming effects of human activities that spew carbon and other greenhouse compounds into the atmosphere. Emissions of greenhouse gases have seen a constant increase in the last three years; 2021 recorded the highest-ever global mean sea level, while ocean heat and acidification have spiked.
Climate change has led to an unprecedented challenge to our biomes. The rise in temperature constantly has led to the desertification of farmlands and the depletion of groundwater tables. UN agencies estimate that 60 percent of farmland faces the threat of desertification by 2030, this poses a serious question on the availability of food. Similarly, glaciers are melting at a very high speed thereby increasing the level of water, thus putting island nations on the brink of Submergence. Researchers predict that future refugee crises will not be due to wars but due to climate change. The Syrian, Libyan, Afghani, and Ukrainian refugee crises tell us how the displacement of people poses a major threat to social order and global peace.
The primary sufferers of the effects of climate change so far have generally been the poor — particularly developing-world citizens wrecked by droughts and floods. In the last few years, we have seen how flooding has wreaked havoc on the lives of millions of people across Asia and Africa. The latest is the record floods in Pakistan, droughts in Australia, and heatwaves across Europe. Last year, an analysis of 36 countries and the European Union found that only one African nation, The Gambia, appeared to be on track to meet its targets — India fell under the category of “highly insufficient”. Climate change-driven flooding and wildfires scorched the Earth’s surface from Australia to America and up to the Arctic, these wildfires have not only impacted flora and their diversity but also have a long-term impact on fauna including wild endangered species, and climate change has definitely its hand in it by adding yet more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
Even though nations are trying to limit the temperature hike to 1.5 degrees Celsius under the 2015 Paris Agreement. There are problems on other sides as well. Climate change is a global phenomenon and it needs to be solved globally, however, the world came together at Rio in 1992 to craft the UN conviction on sustainable development and subsequent climate protocols such as the Kyoto protocol and Montreal protocol have been signed in order to mitigate the climate crises but the experts say the current pledges are not enough to prevent catastrophic warming. Behavioral change is essential for effective solutions to climate threats. People must be made aware of their lifestyle and its impact on the ecosystem. The 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle) must be taken seriously. There must be a worldwide movement to educate people about climate change and the practices they should adopt to mitigate the crises. Innovative measures such as vertical farming, energy efficient buildings, electric vehicles and solar energy can go a long way in making our lifestyle sustainable. Thus, policy-relevant behavioral science studies are needed for a shift toward human-centered climate actions. When it comes to climate action, there seems to be a tendency to focus either on the consumerism perspective, such as on climate-friendly purchases or on grand national-level policies. But there are many different levels in between that can also make a substantial difference.

The writer is a civil service aspirant.

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