Climate Conference of Santiago, Chile
“A thermometer isn’t Democrat or Republican. It won’t give you a different number depending on how you vote.”
– Dr. Katherine Hayhoe
As we have scientists on both the sides of climate change, it is essential to mention that the scientists on one of the sides that agree that climate change is real and global warming is being caused by the human activities, are more than 97% of the total climate scientists. As the scientific debates is over, the world leaders now must think of shaping a healthier and safer planet for our children and the future generations where they could live together in peace with trust, respect and mutual understanding.
The very basic understanding of climate change comes from the study of external (climate) forcing mechanisms or anthropogenic factors that are mainly contributing to the climate change such as the ‘greenhouse effect’, which is caused a result of the emissions of gases known as greenhouse gases — the gases that absorb and radiate thermal energy. The more concentrations of such gases in the atmosphere will surely be the cause of rise in average global temperature. Also, the energy from the Sun that serves as the primary source of energy for our planet’s climate is trapped with these gases in the planet’s atmosphere that continue to radiate heat in different directions within the atmosphere and so the heat is distributed all over. Carbon dioxide is, however, the most commonly produced greenhouse gas by human activities and its emission is the major cause of global warming today. According to the European Commission, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased by 40% since the industrialization began.
This rising temperature will not only result in heatwaves, wildfires, droughts, crop failures and diminishing Arctic ice but also the rising sea levels by melting glaciers and water expansion as the oceans get warmer leading to floods in parts of the world, and this will continue to happen if emissions keep going unchecked. It is, therefore, understandable and scientifically proven how the world is hurtling towards catastrophic environmental changes, which is why every bit of warming matters.
What are the causes of rising emissions and warming apparently?
The real political agenda.
Corporations and industrialist elite of the world earning millions and billions of dollars from fossil fuels annually would never allow their business to be affected in anyway and therefore, will continue to disapprove the concept of climate change. Some would argue that it is not caused by the human activities, while some would argue that we just cannot do anything about it and that it is unpreventable, but the science says the otherwise. Profits being made at the cost of the survival of species by a handful of people dominating the larger planet unfortunately are aimed at destroying the planet and its environment. It is as same as the profits being made by the manufacturers of lethal and devastating weapons protecting millions of dollars instead of millions of human beings while benefiting from bloody conflicts around the world.
Quite like many corporations and firms, there are states with their ruling elite refusing to compromise on their ‘interests’ and may publicly accept the climate change and its causes, but practically do little or nothing as that will affect their business. Thankfully, the historic Paris Agreement binds almost all the nations worldwide. Because, if the measures are not taken effectively today, each one will have to pay a heavy price tomorrow.
Sustainability is a blessing.
It has been observed that renewable energy has produced even more jobs than fossil fuel energy in the recent past while indicating the fast-growing energy sectors. There are better and eco-friendly options available for energy production today that must replace fossil fuel rapidly with the fast transition of the world’s economy otherwise leading to environmental destruction. According to gatesnotes.com while citing UNFCCC, European Commission and UNFAO, ‘if cattle were a country, they would rank third in greenhouse gases emissions’. The heatwaves and heavy rainfalls because of such emissions also threaten the agriculture worldwide while the chemical fertilizers being employed by farmers pose triple threat for the climate. Climate-friendly farming is one sustainable way to get rid of nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and methane with clever soil management to trap emissions.
Let’s joins hands and act!
People who understand have got to do two things:
India and Pakistan are natural and cultural allies, and anyone coming in the way of peace is a foe to both. Besides shared history of almost 5000 years and culture, the impact of climate change also remains common. In the late September this year, Foreign Minister-level talks between India and Pakistan on sidelines of UNGA session in New York were disrupted after the tensions escalated in the disputed Jammu & Kashmir territory followed by the exchange of harsh remarks from both sides of the border on Twitter and through number of press conferences. The recent standoff between the two Asian nuclear-armed neighbors pointing out nukes at each other has already put the region at the risk of an apocalypse. Today, the world is not 196 countries, it’s just one country itself. ‘Our problems’ are no more ‘ours’, ‘their problems’ are no more ‘theirs’. Wars only (temporarily) benefit those selling weapons and not any of the parties involved. Unfortunately, South Asia is also among of the world’s most disconnected regions with very low trade among the countries despite appreciable potential.
What are the problems being faced by a common South Asian today?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 9 out of the world’s most polluted cities are in South Asia. The continuous greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are the reasons why the world is heading towards ‘global warming’. In 2015, about 1300 people died in southern Pakistan because of heatwaves according to the BBC World News while more than 1800 died in India’s deadliest heatwaves since 1979 as per a report by Quartz India. Hottest April day was recorded this year in Pakistan’s Nawabshah when the temperature exceeded 122 degrees Fahrenheit. The world’s climate continues to change, and hence, the situation continues to worsen.
What must be done?
Twitter war is a quiet impractical approach and will only lead to further tensions. The current situation is not helping either of the two countries in any way. Today, we must not talk about war, but nuclear disarmament of the planet. Our problems continue to increase, while we care less to resolve any of them through any means possible. The best way is to reach out to each other. We must talk about bridging the gaps between the countries through arts, science and literature. Dialogue is a way forward and is the best opportunity to resolve all the outstanding issues. Listen to others and have your say, and this will work. Criticism on the (regional) policies of a state by the other state is not unfavorable at all, but that must not bar the one criticizing from reaching out to the other being criticized.
Despite tensions, India has continued to easily grant visas to the Pakistani nationals for medical treatment and Pakistan has remained one of the largest markets for Bollywood, so to give coordination on climate change a chance must not be problem too. And, cooperation must not be limited to just the two countries.
Climate change knows no boundaries. Like international cooperation, regional cooperation to addressing the climate change and increasing pollution is the need of the time. The emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) can be reduced to new lower levels through partnerships, change in policies and literacy. It is possible to win without a war. The citizens of both the countries have the power to compel both the governments to continue to work together, and social media is one such platforms to voice.
Like European Union, Indian subcontinent can have its own emission standards endorsed by Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka that define the acceptable limits of exhaust emissions for passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, trucks and buses, heavy goods vehicles and off-road vehicles. Each region in the world is supposed to respond to the climate change adequately in the best ways possible and this struggle in abiding by the historic Paris Agreement is therefore, divided among the regions of the world. Annual regional summits organized under the banner of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to address the issues relating elevating temperatures of the region and the world, will be a means of communication and dialogue between the governments and to monitor the progress on knocking down emissions and analyze if the targets previously identified have been achieved or not. Through cooperation, mechanisms can be set to transform the economy of the region into more sustainable and ecofriendly one.
Education is the primary step in addressing the issues, because issues can never be resolved without being properly identified. Also, very unfortunately, many South Asians are unaware of global warming and its detrimental effects on us. Universities in India and Pakistan should build awareness among the South Asian students and sponsor them for climate change literacy projects, have short courses/programs on climate change education for all and run green campaigns.
By setting examples, South Asia might also be able to motivate the neighboring Middle East. But, all this is not possible without mutual understanding through better communication. Rather than heavily spending on its military, every state should spend more on education, science, human development and sustainability. The leadership of today’s world must think of shaping a brighter future together so that they can leave a healthier and safer planet for the future generations of homo sapiens. Because, those who know more are responsible more.
Global warming is a global challenge and cannot be adequately addressed without global cooperation and global will that would require global efforts.
“There are two problems for our species’ survival – nuclear war and environmental catastrophe – and we are hurtling towards them. Knowingly.”
– Noam Chomsky