Saturday, 29 January, 2022

Climate Change, A Global Crisis


Swikriti Bhandari

Climate change, a global issue that refers to the “long term shifts in temperature and weather patterns' ', caused by both natural and human activity. But you may ask, why is this relevant in my life?
Well, global warming is a repercussion of climate change where the average surface temperature of the earth has risen by more than 0.9 degrees Celsius, initiating the melting of glaciers, rising sea level, shifting in precipitation patterns and relocation of wildlife.

Human Recklessness
Our planet is being threatened by human recklessness such as the burning of toxic fossil fuels which produce heat trapping gasses, consequently increasing the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide thus impacting the safety of environmental conditions.
These rapid changes are a worldwide issue, although, ‘third world’ countries are the ‘prime target’ due to their weak living infrastructure and insufficiency of money to recover from the consequences. An example of a developing country that is suffering from the immediate temperature change is Kathmandu, Nepal where the global crisis has threatened the country’s essentials such as clean air, drinking water and food supply by affecting the mountain ranges like Mount Everest, hence leading to melting glaciers and disruption of river flows.

Mountains like these are known to be the ‘water towers’ of the world, as they provide half of the world’s population with freshwater and Mount Everest alone forms 10 major rivers that supplies freshwater to 1.3 billion people living in its watershed. For the majority of the residents, life revolves around the water flow of rivers and the support it provides towards their main sources of income; irrigation of crops, industrial activities and agriculture. However, the stability of their income is being jeopardized by the side effects of climate change such as retreating glaciers, which triggers irregularity in landslides and increases the commonality of flash floods. T
This usually occurs in monsoon seasons where the rain between June and September replenishes Nepal's groundwater but also causes deathly natural disasters, forcing the displacement of residents along the mountainous regions and as a repercussion destroying livelihoods.

After the monsoon season, individuals then face an opposite extreme during the dry season, where water becomes scarce in the foothills, hence arising difficulties in everyday living by forcing women to travel further to collect water for their households, farmers to find crops that require less water usage and others to look for job alternatives to make a stable income. As earth’s temperature continues to increase and the region’s water availability grows to be unpredictable, farmers’ livelihoods are being disrupted, leaving many vulnerable to the aftermath of the climate crisis.

But has any action been taken to resolve this environmental issue? Yes. On the 31st of October 2021, an international event was held, called the ‘Glasgow Summit’ (an United Nations climate change conference) which has been labelled to be the “pivotal moment in the fight against climate change”. For nearly three decades the UN has been working towards bringing together world leaders for the global climate summit, where thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens were present to discuss the urgency of finding effective solutions.

The Glasgow summit concluded with a set of commitments which includes the reduction of emissions within this decade, to accelerate momentum of limiting global warming to “well below 2°C” and aiming for the prime goal of 1.5°C but has failed to provide a solution for the financial strain on developing countries as wealthy nations have opposed to the idea of contributing towards the expenses caused by climate change.
The summit has been successful in addressing the difference half a degree makes in terms of rising sea levels, delaying the shifting of ecosystems to a new biome and controlling the decline in marine fisheries or coral reefs. However, global leaders did not commit to the proposal of eliminating coal, which is responsible for 46% of carbon dioxide emissions and also disregarded the decarbonisation of the transport industry that accounts for ¼ of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Global Warming To Exacerbate
Only 32 countries signed a pledge to stop selling petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, excluding major car manufacturing nations such as China, the US, Germany, and France. The 2021 climate conference was a historical movement towards recognising the issue of global warming, but the slow pace of political action is setting up planet Earth for irreversible damage and as a “existential threat to human existence”.

Global warming is projected to exacerbate in the decades to come, continuing to be one of the greatest threats in the 21st century. We as humans have a limited time until the effects of climate change become irrevocable, thus we must do everything in our power to mitigate the impacts, whether that's through saving energy in our households, using eco-friendly modes of transport, or spreading awareness about this crucial issue. Only then will our planet progress in terms of achieving an ecological environment!

(Bhandari is currently pursuing studies in Australia)