This Time, it is for ‘Mother’ Nature
~ Disha Mishra
The year 2020, is unfortunately not a normal one. The entire world is battling a life-threatening virus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and disease has turned the earth upside down bringing most of the activities to a standstill. Everything is in doldrums but nature. The planet seems to have encountered a cure for its wounds. Rivers are getting cleaner and so is the air. This compelled me to scrutinize our methods of living before COVID-19. This Mother’s Day, I wanted to shift our focus towards our only life-supporting planet, Earth, which nurtures us with plenty of resources only to find herself getting robbed off by stingy occupants. There is a popular Indian Proverb that says, “Only When the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught, will we realize we cannot eat money.”
Greenhouse gases (GHGs) albeit of serving as a shield against the sunlight for the survival of species, also cause the temperature of the earth to rise. It is considered that two-third of the GHGs, Carbon Dioxide (CO2), is the product of fossil fuel burning, which has prompted apparent changes in the weather patterns along with severe floods and harsh droughts, causing major food production problems for the farmers. Meanwhile, the rise in the temperature has caused glaciers to melt resulting in the surge of sea levels. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment, in their Fifth Assessment Report in 2013 have clarified that climate change is real caused majoritively by human actions. The current increase in the planet’s average temperature is 1.1°C since the 19th century and according to the IPCC special report in October 2018 on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C, the rise of average temperature to the same would have far-reaching adverse consequences on the ecosystem.
Last year, Indian capital topped the list of the most polluted city in the world by being in AQI 301+ category. A report published by IQ Air Visual on 30th Oct, recorded the air quality of Delhi to be AQI 422. According to WHO, seven million people die every year due to the hazardous effects of air pollution. One-third of deaths are from stroke, lung cancer, and heart disease due to air pollution. The other life-threatening side effects are asthma, weaker immune system, early deaths, accidents due to lower visibility and breathlessness. Is shutting down the city for a few days a feasible solution? Of course, not! This brings with it other kinds of socio-economic impediments. We also witnessed the Amazon burning which devasted the habitats of a large number of species. The ecosystem which provides a buffer between the GHGs and Oxygen was found to be deliberately set on the blaze for clearing land for agriculture and construction. Furthermore, the Bush fires in Australia at the beginning of this year are accountable for the loss of around 1 billion mammals, birds, and reptiles according to an estimate from the University of Sydney. Not only these forest fires are a menace to the life of animals but also the smoke emanating out of it accounts for high pollution making the air quality more detrimental.
It is high time that countries act without being self-indulgent because the time is not distant when we might need to purchase pure air alike mineral water now! As Shirley Rodrigues, deputy mayor of London, points out while dealing with the London pollution, “We are tackling environmental issues together to ensure that our policies support each other. For instance, making sure that policies to reduce the use of diesel cars to cut air pollution do not lead to a switch back to petrol cars which contribute towards climate change. We have also drawn strong links between environment, health, social, fairness, and economic agendas”. The world needs to be cognisant of its intensity prior to shifting our attention towards finding solutions to this issue. By adjusting to a few manageable habits, we can bring about significant transformations. For the starters, there is an urgent need for mass cooperation within the community to speak up and raise awareness for this matter. Also, in this generation where everybody is a social media maven, it is easy to spread information. We can try reducing our water wastage and save water, for example by reusing the wastewater from the water purifiers to do domestic chores. Not to forget, Rainwater harvesting. Meanwhile, purchasing energy-efficient appliances like LED lightbulbs and others by looking at their Energy Star labels can be a prominent energy-saving initiative. We must also unplug the devices when not in use and operate gadgets in the lowest power mode to save energy. Slowly switch to a renewable source of energy to power the house as in, solar or wind energy. Avoid food wastage by buying and preparing the amount of food you actually consume. Spend less on clothes and wear the ones bought, more often because we do not apprehend but fast fashion is costing our nature as it takes tons of water and other materials for their production. Additionally, the disposal from the factories and the dumped apparels pollute the rivers, which are a major source of potable water for a huge population. Driving a fuel-efficient automobile, like electric or hybrid can save both fuel and money. Besides, the use of public transportation must be encouraged to lessen the number of vehicles on the road.
For the policymakers, the international platform unanimously needs to work on stringent environmental plans, abided by members as well as non-members of the United Nations. Sovereignty does matter and cannot be dismissed, hence realistic constraints should be legalized along with the adaption of eco-friendly measures of development. The developed nations must not retreat from the treaties but lead in order to set a precedent. The International Treaties such as the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement should bound nations to act responsibly in curbing Carbon emission and stand collectively for a wider global response to control the temperature rise below 1.5°C. Sustainable development is the demand of the hour because any development at the cost of our nature would risk the survival of our future generations. Perhaps, the global community needs to act before there is barely any time left!
On 10th May, let us pledge to save our Universal Mother and continue doing our part to provide a better environment for our younger generations and be a good ‘Mother’ ourselves!
“IF WE INTEND TO PROVIDE A BETTER LIFE, AND A BETTER WORLD FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS, WE CAN’T IGNORE THE QUALITY OF THE ENVIRONMENT WE LEAVE FOR THEM.” – JOHN KASICH
Hariharan, R. (2019, October 30). Delhi Is The Most Polluted City In The World Today, Says Air Quality Report. Retrieved from https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/delhi-is-the-most-polluted-city-in-the-world-today-says-air-quality-report-2124800.
Air pollution kills 7 million people annually: WHO. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/air/air-pollution-kills-7-million-people-annually-who-61984
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