Global Warming

Extinction and Global Warming are actively progressing in their path and we are watching from the side lines, besides of course, contributing to it as well. Global Warming has already started showing devastating effects on livelihood and everything dear, whether it is the landslides in Uttarakhand or the tsunami in Tohoku, Global Warming lets its prevalence be known.

To get to the root of this phenomenon, lets start at the grass root level and understand what this simple yet complex word means and its implications:

Global Warming occurs when the excess heat from the sun’s rays are trapped in the earth’s thickened layer of atmosphere. This thickening of the atmosphere’s layers can be mainly attributed to the release of the greenhouse gases such as Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous oxide, Chlorofluorocarbons and Hydrofluorocarbons. The gases trap and absorb atmospheric heat, leading to an increase in Earth’s surface temperature. To further explain the extent of climate change:

Firstly, Global Warming has triggered off erratic global climate change that is affecting even the most primitive organisms in the ecosystem. It’s a domino effect; burning of fossil fuels leads to increase in the release of greenhouse gases that are trapped in the atmosphere and heat up the surface. Now when we use the term ‘climate change’, we are referring to a wide range of consequences such as the predetermined functioning of animal and plant ranges are being altered with and so is harvest and crop cultivation.

Secondly, sea levels have risen significantly in the past few decades, to be specific from 1880 to 2008, is when the records showed alarming results.  Raised sea level changes are subsequent to ice caps and glaciers melting, again as a result of a domino effect of rising temperature. Along with this, the coastal areas is where the brunt of this felt the most. The presence of more salt water on the shores will disrupt the ecosystem, resulting In the vanishing of different kinds of plants, and possibly partial or complete submergence of islands.

Thirdly, forest and wildlife will not be able to thrive well, if at all. Increased temperatures makes forests prone to heat waves, forest fires and heavy downpours. Displacement of fauna is a major concern as well since the possible damage to the fauna threatens their means of shelter, food and natural habitat that has been prevalent for aeons.

And lastly, human lives and livelihood will be affected as well. Health will be severely impacted due to increased growth of pollen-producing ragweed, higher levels of air pollution, and the spread of conditions favourable to pathogens and mosquitoes. Natural disasters are largely influenced by the changing climate conditions and in this case, chances of their occurrences are doubled.

All of this put together paints a very troublesome and disconsolate picture for our future generations as well as our current society. The constant threat to various aspects essential to sustain and maintain a society such as  human health, agriculture and food security, water supply, transportation, energy, ecosystems – is looming over our heads and needs to be overcome. To put this into perspective, we can examine the on-going civil war in Syria which can be majorly attributed to the “multi-year” drought that persisted from 2006 till 2010. The turbulent climate condition forced vulnerable Syrian citizens to migrate from rural areas to urban areas as well as toppled a micro-finance network that was a source of income. The accumulation of various problems stemming from a natural disaster lead to a much bigger and devastating issue: violence and conflict among citizens of Syria.

Therefore, it is heartbreakingly evident that nature has a significant impact on the lives of every organism around it.

Now that we have understood the consequences as well as causes of a global issue, lets talk about some ways to combat it:

The foremost and crucial step here is recognition. Recognising the fact that a problem such as ‘climate change’ exists and is affecting millions of lives each second will be a major development in itself as there are communities and groups of people that still believe it to be a hoax and turn a blind eye towards its consequences.

After addressing this issue, there are various ways to combat global warming such as:

  • Drive fuel-efficient vehicles
  • Minimise your carbon profile through carbon offset
  • Power your houses with renewable energy
  • Plant more trees
  • Help in reduction of burning of fossils
  • Invest in energy efficient appliances, and so on.

We, as a society, will have to start at the most basic yet fundamental unit i.e., with the individual. Each person should be well informed and instilled with the incentive to make a difference, no matter how big or small it might be.

India & Global Warming

To address an issue as vast as Global Warming, we’ll have to start at a much smaller unit first i.e., state(s) whose sum is the final product and some states contribute more to this phenomena than the others. To start at a more personal level, let’s examine and study the position of India and its states with regards to climate change.

There is something called as the ‘Indian Airpocalypse’ that is currently prevailing in the country, even though it is a casual and informal term, it sums up the basic idea. The problem begins with ignorance and lack of knowledge, as always. Most Indian states are documented and recorded in terms of climate conditions but there is still lack of data in 23 states and lack of captured data in many cities. India has only 80 monitoring stations and falls pale in comparison with China’s 1500+ monitoring stations. India is a developing nation and has prospered well so far in other crucial aspects such as education, job prospects, civilian rights but it has much space to grow in this particular aspect.

Another alarming fact is that India’s carbon emissions are rising and rose to almost 5% in 2016, although it is a tiny number and since India is only going to develop further in terms of infrastructure and industries, there will be increased number of carbon emissions. But India has the benefit of the doubt as it can rude its carbon emissions by improving equipment efficiency which happens to be the main character in release of GHG emissions. Hence, India’s contribution to release of GHG gases inevitably means that it will not remain unaffected by its disastrous effects. Let’s take a look at the severity of the situation:

India has been recognised as a disaster prone country and was ranked third highest in the world in number of significant disasters in the year 2007-2008, with 18 such events taking place and taking the life of a large number of people. The increased temperature has resulted melting of glaciers and expanding of seas which will of course influence the Indian climate and lead to incidence of floods, storms and hurricanes. This poses as a major threat to food security, livelihood, economies and everything concerned with human life. Even the slightest increase in temperature even by 3 degrees could lead to submersion of major cities Mumbai and Chennai, and the air quality will just worse in states such as Haryana and Delhi.

Cities and states that prone to droughts such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh will feel the brunt of it as well as the situation will worse and water availability would decrease and various river basins are likely to experience scarcity of water.

India is developing rapidly by the help of manmade efforts and mechanisms but one cannot put nature at bay, if precautionary measures are ignored or absent, there will be severe consequences that could wash out the progress this country has achieved so far and wreak havoc on its citizens. Hence, we should look at a few measures that can curb this issue one step at a time:

Thankfully, the Indian Government has always accepted as climate change to be an exponential threat to ecosystems, economies and its citizens and has taken measures to reduce its carbon footprint. Under the Paris Agreement in December 2015, India has made a commitment to reduce its greenhouse emissions and to have 40 percent cumulative power capacity from non-fossil fuel based sources by 2030.

India also plans to shift to cleaner modes of transportation and set itself a target that by 2030, not a single petrol or diesel car should be sold in the country. Along with this, The Supreme Court has imposed a ban on the sale of heavy diesel cars.

Besides the initiatives of the Indian Government, non-governmental organisations as well as individuals are contributing to the betterment of nature as well. There has been active participation to plant trees, reduce usage of coal in rural households by replacing it with an alternative and making the switch from petrol/diesel powered vehicles to ones powered by CNG.

Even a minute step such as switching off the engine at a red light makes a difference; it is a domino effect of sorts. A person seeing another person caring and being sensitive towards nature and monitoring their own doings will feel the conscientious need to do something for nature as well. We are not trying to save just ourselves, rather a state, a nation, a world.