“We are using resources as if we have two planets, not one. There can be no ‘plan B’ because there is no ‘planet B’, said former UN Chief Ban Ki-Moon. Mother Earth is burning. People are dying, wildlife is extinct, and forests are razed over. What is all this? This is climate change. For many years, the planet Earth has been going through a lot. Resultantly, it is losing its natural beauty. Be it natural or man-made, all the causes are equally responsible for growing changes in climate worldwide.
Nevertheless, it is never too late to act! Some ways offer plenty of room to negotiate the climate changes. It is high time for the entire world to come together and save the planet for better future generations. The words of Francis Holland remind us to be alert, “We have a single mission to protect and hand on the planet to the next generation.” Act smart and save the globe! As it is rightly said, “Call it global warming or climate change, both are the same.”
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) defines climate change as: “A change in climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity, that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable period of time.”
The effects of changing climate are manifesting in the following ways:
First, the famous ‘Paris Agreement’ pledged to restrict the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, given the recent heat waves, with temperatures soaring to 50o C in many countries, the world has failed the planet. According to a May 2022 report by World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the temperatures will rise from 2022-to 2026 to 1.1oC and 1.7 o C than the preindustrial levels. This is quite an alarming situation!
Second, according to World Wildlife Organization, 95% of the Arctic ice has already melted with the growing pace at which glaciers are melting. The melting of glaciers raises sea levels and leads to ocean warming. This results in frequent flooding and intense storms occurring frequently. The hardest hit by this scenario are the communities living in coastal countries. One can forget the powerful Tsunami which wreaked havoc in Indonesia alone!
Third, natural calamities such as heavy floods, snowfalls, wildfires, heat waves, avalanches, storms, and droughts have become everyday phenomena. In Muree, Pakistan, the deadly snowfall forced people to remain stranded in their cars overnight and choke to death. Floods in northern areas of Pakistan have become a yearly event razing households and vital infrastructure. California wildfire burned everything that came in its way, including wildlife, flora and fauna. Heat waves in Asia and Europe are frequent, with temperatures soaring to 50o C, burning people alive.
Fourth, climate change has affected the natural ecosystems and biodiversity the most. Wildlife is a brutal hit looking for ways to adapt to climate change. According to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, 47% of different animal species have lost their population to changing climate conditions. American Pika, a specie habitual of cold conditions, is going extinct from their habitat in Californian mountains. Polar bears going extinct due to rapidly melting glaciers. 90% of Coral reefs are in danger, including the world’s largest, The Great Barrier Reef.
There is a famous saying, “What is the use of a house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?” This makes it quite evident that we humans bore significant responsibility for the causes of climate change.
Coal power plants:
Being a cheap source, coal is the top choice of many countries, including the USA, China and India, to produce electricity. When coal burns, it releases carbon, which after mixing with oxygen, has carbon dioxide. As CO2 is a heat-trapping gas, it forms a blanket around the Earth and warms it to an unbearable level. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), many power plants lack pollution control systems to reduce coal pollution. The Union of Concerned Scientists of America urges the governments to curb the use of cheap but deadly coal and implement sustainable development goals with complete sincerity.
Trees are the soul of the planet. They are a source of oxygen to survive. According to a report published by the scientists of California University, tropical forests can store about 200 petagrams of carbon. However, deforestation over the last many decades results in the release of around 1 petagram of carbon every year. The pace at which trees are razed over by mafias in many countries is of great concern. As per Brazil’s National Space Research Institute reports, the cutting of trees in the Amazon forest nearly doubled in the first two months of 2022. Trees spanning on average 430 square kilometres area were removed.
Cities are the hotspots of climate change, as per the report published by IPCC. The rapid but unplanned urban development is giving rise to sky rise buildings. Such concrete structures block the air circulation and give rise to warmth. The growing urbanization of green and vegetative spaces will have dangerous effects on the Urban Heat Island Effect (UHIE). Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) reports that currently, more than half the world’s population live in urban developments. By 2050, the number is likely to rise to 70%. Many Asian countries face hazardous consequences due to ill-planned cities like Karachi, Delhi, and Dhaka. As a result, these cities are frequent in highly polluted cities.
“Climate change is no longer some far-off problem. It is happening here. It is happening now.” Barack Obama
Strong political will is a must to tackle global warming. The Paris agreement was a breakthrough in dealing with climate change but what happened next was a mess. Correct this mistake! Climate change is not affecting any one country in particular. It is a collective fight! The leading powers like the USA and China have a moral obligation to be a party to any initiative that could minimize the effects of global warming.
It is the responsibility of each citizen in every society to behave gently towards the environment.
“We need nature, not the nature needs us.” Stop cutting trees, burning trees, and razing the green pastures to build magnificent commercial plazas. Avoid diverting rivers from their natural routes. Respect nature and don’t turn water resources into garbage bins.
It is a religious practice in many countries to cremate the dead. According to National Funeral Directors Association in the United States, lots of wood is required to form a pyre in cremations. Additionally, cremation needs a lot of fuel to burn, resulting in tons of carbon emissions every year. Countries like India are introducing eco-friendly crematoriums. Further, many companies are coming up with creative ideas like converting human ashes into vinyl records, compressing diamonds and creating a marine reef. Adopt the idea!
Plant more trees. Countries like Pakistan have initiated ‘Billion tree tsunami’ programs for greener Pakistan. Appreciate such initiatives and follow!
Use clean and green energy. The world should follow the example of Germany, which is set to reduce emissions by 40% through a clean energy transition. The zero-emission vehicle is a good choice.
Stop burning garbage and remains of field crops. The resultant smoke chokes the lungs of children and adults alike.
In the end, we should pledge to protect the planet. Humans are making the worst mistakes to enhance the damage done by climate change. It is highly ignorant to just sit and watch! We can be the saviours of Mother Earth. It is high time to stand and act. “We must not pause our action on climate change. The climate emergency remains one of the greatest existential threats facing humanity”, said Ban Ki-Moon.