Climate Change: Why It’s Now Or Never
By Shreya Sherkhane
Do you remember when we had a whole of 12 years to save the planet?
Not anymore, no.
Now we only have the next seven months until it is irreversible forever. If we continue down this road where there is not an inkling of change, glaciers will keep on melting; global temperatures will exceed every single year, sea levels will rise, rainfalls will cause floods at one place and droughts at another. In the smaller picture, agriculture and the economy will be heavily hit due to climate change. Heath of the people, public safety, transportation, tourism and housing and resources such as water and oil will also take a blow.
The year 2020 began with the devastating news that that the continent of Australia was on fire. Wildfires have become too common as predicted. Australia faced one of the worst wildfires in history. It rendered hundreds of species of animals dead, thousands of inhabitants to relocate and uncountable square kilometres of vegetation infertile. Widespread bushfires began burning in December 2019 and were finally doused in late March. Although the bushfires have always been common in Australia due to immense forest cover and heat present, this season has been worse. A total of 10 million hectares of land was affected. Bushfires are hazardous on their own, but they have the capacity of creating their weather. The smoke formation from the burning rising into the sky and can develop into thunderstorm clouds which can cause heavy downburst and lightning, which are equally as threatening.
Global warming is a defining issue of our time- hence requiring a defining and swift action starting now. It is defined as the long-term heating of the Earth’s climate and has been observed since the 1850s. Since then the Earth’s average temperature has increased by 1 degree Celsius which makes it 0.2 degrees per decade. This figure may not seem as much, but the environmental impact is inconspicuous. A significant cause of global warming is the release of greenhouse gas concentrations due to the burning of fossil fuel. It governs the cause of the depletion of the Ozone layer by breaking down the O3 molecules. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reported to that to enter the safe zone and to keep the rise of global temperatures below 1.5% and the CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions to be slashed by 45% by 2030. The depth of the effects that global warming can cause is far-reaching improbable. Glacial retreats, the sinking of coastal regions, ocean acidification, polluted air, diminishing coral reefs, changes of seasonal events are just some of the simple examples of the after-effects.
The current pandemic of COVID-19 has not helped in climate change in many ways. The fighting of the virus has certainly derailed the fight against climate change. Rules and regulations were set up and followed by corporates and organisations about single-use plastic straws, water bottles, poly-bags, etc. However, every item used to protect ourselves from the virus is made of non-recyclable plastic, be it masks, personal protective equipment (PPE) kits, gloves, etc. The bottom line is that all these items are going to end up in landfills and oceans and other water masses. It is reportedly said that 12 billion pieces of non-recyclable will accumulate till 2050. It is also noted that poaching activities have increased in this subsequent period of lockdown. It is shocking to see people use such a sensitive time to maltreat animals. Some of the African countries have also seen inflation of bushmeat poaching.
Nonetheless, all is not lost. Due to decreased economic activity, production and travelling, nature is cleaning itself up. Rivers are looking cleaner and more pristine than ever. High tourism places like Venice, Italy have seen a reduction in tourists visiting the canals which have brought bigger fishes and jellyfishes closer to the shores. This also caused a cleaner water flow due to lesser disturbance of sediments. Demand for seafood has also decreased, which undoubtedly has increased the marine population. Due to travel restrictions and beaches mostly being empty, turtles were seen laying eggs and marking habitats.
Change can only happen if we all have a shared vision for the future and follow the concept of sustainable development. Self-realisation is vital; however, we should appeal to leaderships, governments, politicians, citizens and scientists to take effective actions. We should be setting short term and long term goals and taking necessary action and providing a follow-up. Regular evaluation of the progress should take place to check the efficacy of the system with the changing challenges and circumstances.
McGrath, Matt. “Climate Change: 12 Years to Save the Planet? Make That 18 Months,” July 24, 2019. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-48964736.
Barnes, Greg. “New N.C. Climate Change Report: Act Now.” North Carolina Health News, June 15, 2020. https://www.northcarolinahealthnews.org/2020/06/16/new-n-c-climate-change-report-says-the-time-to-act-is-now/.
“Australia Fires: A Visual Guide to the Bushfire Crisis.” BBC News. BBC, January 31, 2020. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-50951043.
Dar, Vaishali. “Plastic Challenge: Covid Derailed Fight against Climate Change, but Saving Planet Is as Important as One’ s Health.” The Financial Express. The Financial Express, June 21, 2020.