Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 10

CLIMATE CHANGE: THE GLOBAL APOCALYPSE! Suvidutt M.S.

(This essay was originally written for the World Essay Competition conducted by World Bank and was selected as one of the Best 200 Essays in the year 2009)

I) HOW DOES CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECT YOU?


Man, proud man, Rest in a little brief authority, Most ignorant of what hes assured, His glassy essence like an angry ape Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven. As make the angels weep. William Shakespeare Measure for Measure 1. INTRODUCTION The climate change is variously described as the ultimate weapon of mass destruction and a threat worse than terrorism or nuclear war, is undeniably the catchphrase since last decade. The chaotic climatic behaviour perceptible on global scale during the past decade arising out of rise in average temperature of the earth due to large scale emission of green house gases (GHGs) is a matter of grave concern threatening ecosystems of our mother planet. However, ever since the Industrial Revolution began about 150 years ago, anthropogenic activities have supplemented significant quantities of GHGs to the atmosphere. Variations in temperature have also occurred in the history the best known is the Little Ice Age that struck Europe in the early Middle Ages, bringing about drought, famines etc. Nevertheless, most of the warming observed over the last 50 years, undoubtedly, is enforced by activities attributable to slapdash human lifestyles. 2. IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE There is enough for everybodys need but not for everybodys greed M. K. Gandhi The impact of climate change is multifarious and has struck many facets of human life. From health issues to employment; from environmental degradation to the future obscurity; and from diseases to deaths is what can be stated in brief but the profundity of the negative alarm of climate change is prolix to be explained. It hasnt spared any culture, community or country. The following pages are crammed how it has affected all and its aftermath.

2.1

Impact of climate change: on my country India

In a developing country like India, climate change could embody an additional stress on ecological and socio-economic systems that are already facing terrific pressures due to rapid urbanization, industrialization and economic development. With its huge and growing population, a densely inhabited 7500-km long low-lying coastline, and an economy closely tied to its natural resource base, people in India, especially the poorest is considerably susceptible to the impacts of climate change. India is heavily dependent on the monsoon to meet its agricultural and water needs, and also for protecting its rich biodiversity and forest eco-systems. Climatic changes bring water scarcity in arid and semi-arid regions resulting in shortage of agricultural productivity and on generation of hydro-electric power. In India, more than 56% of workers are engaged in agriculture and allied sectors; most people live in rural areas. The crop yield per hectare will be hit badly, causing food insecurity and loss of livelihood. Extreme weather events and changing monsoon patterns already have threatened our farmers compelling them to commit suicides. In the coastline around 2.7 million families depend on coastal resources and earn their living through tourism or fishing. A trend of sea level rise of 1 cm per decade has been recorded along the Indian coast. Sea level rise in the Indian Ocean is expected to be about 25-40 cm by 2050. This could inundate low lying areas; down coastal marshes and wetlands; swamp mangroves; submerge small islands and the deltas of Sunderbans, Ganga and Brahmaputra; damage nursery areas for fisheries; force coastal erosion; cause bleaching of corals; and increase the salinity of rivers, bays and aquifers. Some marine lives are already under threat, while storms and cyclones are becoming more frequent and intense. India uses perennial rivers, which originate and depend on glacial melt-water in the Hindukush and Himalayan ranges. Gangothri is rapidly melting. Any escalation of the monsoon is likely to contribute to deluge disasters in the Himalayan catchments. Rising temperatures will also contribute to flash floods in the downstream villages during the wet season. With erratic rainfall and decrease in precipitation levels Indias forest would deplete fast. Report says that extreme temperature would extinct flora and fauna by 2030; would result in shifts of lower altitude tropical and subtropical forests to higher altitude temperate forest regions, resulting in the extinction of some temperate vegetation types. Decrease in rainfall and the resultant soil moisture stress could result in drier teak dominated forests. Increased dry spells could also add to forest fires. Medical Science suggests that the global warming and change in humidity will adversely affect human health in India. Heat stress could result in heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and damage physiological functions, metabolic processes and immune systems. Heat spells and heat waves have already become common over Northern India, often causing loss of human life.

Furthermore, increased temperatures can also amplify the range of vector borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, kala-azar and chikungunya. Lack of safe water will trigger outbreaks of diarhoea and other contagious diseases. Likewise, people in Indias coastal areas are forced to drink salty water, thus affecting pregnant women and their unborn children. With climate induced floods, droughts and sea storms predicted at regular intervals the impact on the countrys economy will be far serious. Studies by Indian economists have concluded that emission reduction imposes costs in terms of lower GDP and higher poverty. As sea-level rises, Bangladeshis have nowhere else to go but India. Consequently, the illegal immigrants and refuges to India would augment the burden already she faces.

2.2

Impact of climate change: on my town and my local community

My community near to the coastal area of Western Ghats has been affected in copious ways because of the climate change. Besides problems earlier mentioned, global warming has aggravated vector-borne diseases like dengue, malaria and chikungunya in our town and local vicinity. The State of Kerala has recently turned to be the hub of chikungunya. Many died, many still affected, and numerous waiting to be the victims despite taking precautionary measures. The atmosphere is so choking with the pollutants that its now embarrassing to call my native Kerala as The Gods Own Country. Here, not only pregnant ladies of coastal areas are affected by consuming potable and salty water but also the normal life cycle of few unborn babies and also elderly with cardiac ailments have become silent sufferers. 3. CONSEQUENCES The upshot and ramifications of climate change is diverse. It has a pessimistic demeanor over the employment of the people, on their health care, safety and security, on the environment and over the future of the planet itself. 3.1 Consequences: on employment The negative corollary can take away the employment from us if there is a strict move to shut down the polluting power plants and other establishments. Governments are obligatory to wind up the polluting industries and other sectors and can lead to mass unemployment. Loss of agricultural productivity could reduce the employment rate in the agricultural sector and amplify abject poverty. Nevertheless, in contradiction, hopefully, the initiatives to counter the climate change can offer plethora of opportunities and vocations to millions. Wind, solar and low-impact hydroelectric facilities are the fastest growing clean source of energy in the world that generates zillions of new jobs. Likewise, there are many green sectors and outlets getting opened bringing hopes to the jobless. Moreover, Youths have

their duty i.e. service to salvage the human race by spreading the message of how to hold the reach of climate change and its adversities. 3.2 Consequences: on health & safety The climate change can lead to grave human pathology. The incidence of asthma, nausea, inflammation, damage to the lungs and premature death has been reported due to the climate change. Because of earlier blooming of plants there is an increased allergy rates also. Ground level ozone (commonly called smog) has also been linked to a range of respiratory infirmities affecting the old people. More recently, smog has found to develop chronic infancy asthma among children also. Heat stress could result in heat cramps and heat stroke, and damage physiological functions, metabolic processes and immune systems. Pregnancies of the coastal areas have been affected due to the consumption of saline water. Furthermore, Climate change has brought starvation, malnutrition, and increased deaths due to food and crop shortages making it as a recurrent phenomenon seen through out the world. 3.3 Consequences: on environment & security With the rise in global temperature our environment and the eco-system is in jeopardy. The ocean circulation is getting disrupted having unknown effects on world climate; deserts get drier leaving to increased desertification; an increased frequency of catastrophic storms; extinction of species; loss of habitats of animals and plants; endangering of marine and aquatic living organisms; earlier drying of forests leading to increased forest fires; melt of permafrost leading to destruction of structures, landslides, and avalanches; permanent loss of glaciers and ice sheets; contribution of ground level ozone damaging forests and agricultural crops etc. are the ways climate change has affected. Climate change also causes acid rain and has drastic ecological impacts of altering the water's acidity, making the lakes and other water bodies uninhabitable for its resident fishes, plants and animals. In that way, our green planet is doomed by the devilish climate change. 3.4 Consequences: on our future Quo vadis humanity? How long will be our survival? Whether the evolutionary process last long? Do we have a destiny? If the trend of global warming continues, the sea level would rise leading to submerging of low-lying islands and force people to evacuate; increased emigration of people from those poorer or low-lying countries to other countries would prevail; there would be food and water shortages; cultural or heritage sites will get destroyed faster; cost of insurance would ascend; the scarcity of fossil fuels would lead to price rise and what not beyond. An environmental apocalypse because of the climatic change with anthropogenic reasons haunts us in the near future.

4. CONCLUSION Climate change has capsized the mankind ecologically, economically, socially, medically, culturally, geographically, politically and through all walks of our life. Therefore, the industrialized countries have a moral obligation to take the leadership role and work in tandem with the developing countries, progressing in a greener path to economic prosperity. With concerted and collaborative action by government, community and the youth, a real difference in the next quarter century can be made. After all, this is the only world we have!

II) HOW CAN YOU TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE THROUGH YOUTH-LED SOLUTIONS?
The world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplationthe hand is the cutting edge of mind. Jacob Bronowski The Ascent of Man 1. INTRODUCTION Global warming and climate change are the buzzwords that reverberate in every corner of our planet. Climate change is no longer an environmental issue rather its a global phenomenon affecting our security and survival. Hence, we should seek ways and take mitigation steps soon to deal with the impacts of climate change and variability. In this concerted green battle, every individual, particularly, youths has a cardinal role to play. Remember: Its now or never! 2. SOLUTIONS The enormity of global warming can be daunting and disappointing. Climate change could turn catastrophic if efforts are not made to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. Every person and every nation have the obligation fundamentally to find solutions on their own to slow and reverse climate change and salvage the planet we live on. 2.1. Solutions: What can I do myself? Individual actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can facilitate to make climate change sluggish. Many actions have synergistic, or "win-win" effects. If the life style is in the following ways then a reduction in climate change is for definite: 1) Drive less and drive smart I will walk, ride bicycle, form carpools, or explore communitys mass transit system or use public transportation; consider vacationing close to home; would avoid air travel. If shifting my home, I may choose a home near from my daily destinations; would choose to purchase cars with greater fuel efficiency or with good gas mileage; will keep the tires of my car properly inflated; follow the emission rules etc.

2) Reduce, reuse and recycle I would take care of my trash by choosing products that are organic waste instead of disposables; would buy products with minimal packaging and whenever I can, recycle papers, plastics, newspaper, glass and aluminum cans etc. 3) Reduce home energy I would replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs to conserve energy; would purchase energy-efficient home appliances, electronics and office equipments; employ more efficient refrigerators, air conditioners and other devices; add skylights to improve natural lighting or consider solar panels, reflective roof or a vegetated roof ("green roof"). I will retrofit my home with efficient insulation, doors and windows and would get an energy audit for my home to find weaknesses in the insulation. Apart from that, I would install a solar hot-water heater; use sensibly the thermostat; install a water-saving showerhead; clean or change the air-filter of the furnace regularly; would use cold water to do laundry instead of hot; and hang my clothes to dry whenever possible. 4) Consume less, wisely and go veggie I would choose foods that are local, organic and low on the food chain; limit consumption of overly-processed food; make the most of seasonal foods and will have less meat; would support local farmers or street vendors by shopping at farmers markets reducing the food miles and helping the local economy. I would buy less stuff; think green when making purchases; paradoxically, when purchasing essentials, such as groceries, I would buy in bulk reducing the amount of packaging plastic wrapping, cardboard boxes and other paraphernalia. 5) Plant a tree I will plant a deciduous tree so that it shades west-facing windows in summer; also plant a pesticide-free vegetable garden at my back yard. 6) Use the Off switch I would turn off the lights when I am leaving my room; turn off all electronic equipments including television, video player, stereo and computer when I am not using them and use only as much as I need. Furthermore, investing in energy conservation and by a spiritual-eco awakening any individual can make a change to reduce GHGs and ultimately containing the climate change. Last but not the least, by a positive frugality I would plan a green low-carbon wedding in future. 2.2. Solutions: what can I do in my country India being the largest democracy and densely populated, requires strategic measures to restrain the explosion and expanse of climate change. The actions are like the following:

1) Forego fossil fuels The country must declare a ban on fossil fuels and promote the natural and renewable sources of energy like that of solar, wind, hydro, tidal, nuclear and geothermal energies which are clean alternatives and considered totally energy efficient. It must educate visitors to the importance of renewable energy sources; government grants for natural energy projects depending on the location must be available. A gradual introduction of tax increases on gasoline and diesel; enforcing the lowering of speed limits to reduce fuel consumption; eliminate subsidies that encourage fossil fuels etc. could bring a change. 2) Guidelines for industries Give financial incentives to encourage energy efficiency. New technologies and techniques can significantly cut energy use, production costs, greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. A cap and allowance emissions trading system providing strict limits or caps on the emissions must be practiced. Sources emitting less than their cap could sell these surplus allowances to others. 3) Infrastructure improvement Investing in new infrastructure or radically upgrading existing highways and transmission lines would help cut GHGs emissions and drive economic growth in developing countries like India. An anti-urban sprawl resulting in more dense and compact cities, with better bike paths and pedestrian friendly walkways has top priorities. 4) Carbon Sequestration Sequestration or the long-term trapping of CO2 before it enters the atmosphere, is an intermediate step along the way, but is not a solution in and of itself. CO2 can be sequestered as a gas by pumping it underground or into the ocean, or it can be sequestered by plants. Indian Government can play an active role in sequestering GHGs and impede the climate change. 5) Future fuels Ethanol derived from crops to hydrogen electrolyzed out of water; biodiesel hybrid electric vehicles (that can plug into the grid overnight) may offer the best transportation solution in the short term, given the energy density of diesel and the carbon neutral ramifications of fuel from plants as well as the emissions of electric engines. Hyper efficient photovoltaic cells, solar energy stations in orbit or even fusion may ultimately be required. 6) Biomass usage Energy from biomass can be generated from organic matter of vegetable or animal origin. This can include forestry products such as sawdust and bark, as well as agricultural residues like straw and manure. The advantage of biomass over other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar is that it can be easily stored and used when needed. It can provide a constant, non-fluctuating supply of electricity and heating. Biomass can create lots of jobs especially in rural areas. It could provide new income for farmers who can grow crops such as switchgrass for bio-fuel and use manure in anaerobic digesters to generate heat and power.

7) Promoting forest and bio reserve Government must protect and restore forests and bio-reserves so that it becomes a major storehouse of CO2. 8) One child norm There are at least 6.6 billion people living today in the world and of which 1.028 million are Indians as on March 2001 census. The United Nations predicts the number to grow to at least 9 billion by mid-century. The U.N. Environmental Program estimates that it requires 54 acres to sustain an average human being today food, clothing and other resources extracted from the planet. It is clear that more humans mean more GHGs emissions. It is clear that per capita energy consumption must go down if climate change is to be controlled. Continuing such population growth seems unsustainable. Ultimately, a one child per couple rule would be the alternative though not the best to reduce climate change. 2.3. Solutions: what can I do in my town or local community I am apprehensive about the impacts of climate change on my community and would express my concerns at community board meetings; vote for politicians who on their agenda have a progressive stance on climate change; encourage public officials to establish programs and policies that are good for the environment; pressure politicians to enact legislation regarding carbon neutral and carbon trading; get a Report Card from my Utility Company and to offer rebate programs to help pay for the cost of energy-efficient upgrades; connect decision-makers, as well as local businessmen and neighbors to take step to reduce community's contribution to climate change; activate Civil Societies, Non Government Organizations and Self-Working Groups to take measures; reduce impacts from air travel by using video-conferences for meetings; to start a recycling program at my workplace and in my community; encourage the city officials to expand transit and other alternatives, make city operations more energy efficient and encourage compact development instead of sprawl. I will campaign to plant trees all over my city; encourage friends, neighbors and coworkers to conserve energy and to go carbon neutral; host drama on stage and street plays on climate change and its evils; conduct poetry, painting, elocution and essay competitions for children and adult as well; post banners, paintings and photos in my street; organize workshops, awareness camps, symposiums and seminars; distribute pamphlets in bus stations and railway stations; share information about recycling and reusing; promote the inclusion of climate change education in schools curriculum geared to help young people develop into responsible global citizens. 2.4. Solutions: Role of youth-led initiatives in Green Economy Youths are defined by the UN as between the ages of 15 and 24. The role of youth "culture" and lifestyle are factors that determine the future of climate change. Hence, we must make the move to harmonize with natural systems, to make our economies flow

benignly, while supporting eco-friendly, eco-saving and eco-preserving processes. Green Economics should be our preference. Green economics is the economics of human needs and environment. It is primarily about use-value, quality and regeneration of individuals, communities and ecosystems. It requires great human creativity, tremendous knowledge and widespread participation. By integrating economy with natural processes, society becomes more ecological. Thereby, political and economic boundaries tend to coincide with ecosystem boundaries. That is, it becomes bioregional. Social, aesthetic and spiritual capacities become central to attaining economic efficiency, and become important goals in themselves. We need a value revolution, redefining progress more positively, promising transformation of humanitys very notion of wealth and economic development. For that green pioneer enterprises and MNCs must increasingly come up considering green alternatives and making money by doing green business. Consumer support comes next. Here the youth have a major role to play while purchasing commodities sensibly. 2.5. Solutions: Go carbon neutral Going carbon neutral (also 'climate neutral') is an easy way to take responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions. It's based on the principle that, since climate change is a global problem, an emission reduction made elsewhere has the same positive effect as one made locally. The adding emissions to the atmosphere are effectively subtracted by purchasing carbon offsets. Carbon offsets are simply credits for emission reductions achieved by projects such as wind farms, solar installations, or energy efficiency retrofits. By purchasing these credits it can be applied on our own emissions to reduce the net climate impact. As it is impossible to reduce our carbon emissions to zero, no matter how hard we try, going carbon neutral by purchasing carbon offsets is a practical and affordable way to reduce emissions. In addition, by voluntarily calculating and assigning a cost to carbon emissions, one can begin to prepare for the inevitability of an economy in which CO2 and other GHGs are regulated and taxed. Purchasing high quality carbon offsets from projects such as wind farms also helps support the transition to a sustainable energy economy by providing an additional source of revenue to developers of renewable energy. Many people and organizations are going carbon neutral: from World Cup Soccer to airlines; from Google and MTV to HSBC and Nike; rock bands like the Rolling Stones and Coldplay has gone carbon neutral. Now, why wait more? 3. CONCLUSION From The Rio Summit of 1992 to Kyoto Protocol to the recent held conference of UNFCCC at Poznan, Poland, we have traversed discussing and debating climate change. Despite, climate change represents humanity's first planet wide experiment. But, if all else fails, it may not be the last. So-called geo-engineering with the help of nanotechnology, radical interventions to either block sunlight or reduce GHGs, are a potential

last resort for addressing the challenge of climate change. Among the ideas: releasing sulfate particles in the air to mimic the cooling effects of a massive volcanic eruption; placing millions of small mirrors or lenses in space to deflect sunlight; covering portions of the planet with reflective films to bounce sunlight back into space; fertilizing the oceans with iron or other nutrients to enable plankton to absorb more carbon; and increasing cloud cover or the reflectivity of clouds that already form etc. could defeat the climate change. Humanity must triumph! Youths must be remembered!

10