The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has come out with its new report on climate change that is ringing alarm bells for the planet. The latest report on climate change by IPCC finds that human activity-induced greenhouse gas emission has already warmed our planet by 1.1 degrees Celsius and without immediate sharp cuts to the global CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions we would reach the critical 1.5 degrees Celsius (over pre-industrial era) tipping point within the next two decades and it may also reach the alarming 2 degree Celsius within the 21st century. The report also warns that nations around the world have taken too long to curb global warming and some changes like rising sea levels or changes in the climate pattern around the world is now irreversible.
Human activity is responsible:
The IPCC report reveals how far industrialization and burning fossil fuels like coal natural gas and petroleum, deforestation and other human activities have cost the planet. The report says human activities have warmed the climate at such a pace that has been unprecedented in at least the last 2000 years. In 2019 the concentration of (CO2) carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were higher than at any time in at least the last 2 million years and methane dioxide and nitrous oxide were higher than at any time in the last 8,00,000 years. The global surface temperature has increased faster since the 1970s than in any other 50 year period and sea level has risen faster since the 1900s than any other century in the last 3000 years.
But even without any of these data the impact of global warming and climate change can be seen all around the globe. In the current year only we have witnessed extreme heat waves in Canada, drought caused water shortages in the USA, devastating floods in Europe and China and unprecedented wildfires in Turkey, Greece and Algeria.
Closer home, in India also we are seeing extreme weather conditions floods are getting deadlier while drought is causing agricultural devastation to the water crisis for millions of people, this year the north-eastern states including Assam is facing serious drought-like conditions due to decline monsoon rainfall. Monsoons are crucial to India and scientists are warning it is getting more and more erratic every year. Disasters like lightning are also increasing in the country with series of recent tragedies in Rajasthan in July this year.
Just going to get worse, if we do not act now:
Scientists have been warning for decades that what global warming would do to the planet. The report says what extreme weather we have witnessed till would get worse. If this rate of carbon emission is not sharply curbed now we would inevitably cross the tipping point where the damage would be irrevocable. The weather pattern would break down causing droughts and floods, leaving people without food and water displacing millions critical temperature extremes that are beyond human tolerance would occur regularly, melting of arctic and polar ice caps would threaten many highland cities and biodiversity. All these are without any doubt consequences of human activity.
A small window of hope:
The report paints a grim picture of the future of the planet which is fast becoming a reality and irreversible and unavoidable, does that mean there is no hope for us? The answer is, there is still hope but time is running out. The report says that hope would lie in reversing some effects of global warming by absorbing more carbon from the atmosphere more than the amount of carbon emitted. It would be a long shot and would take unprecedented cooperation among people and leaders all over the world. India is already recording the events IPCC warns in its report heavy floods to extreme heat waves forest fires and receding rainfalls in places storms if, the alarming rise of sea level is a threat to many cities. India is one of the top ten polluter countries in the world along with China USA Brazil etc. To save humanity from the inevitable danger we all need to act now, we have run out of time to cause any delay. Some technologies are emerging that can help us mitigate climate change up to a certain point but it is not enough to fully mitigate or reverse global warming or climate change. We cannot depend on technologies to undo the harm we have caused without changing our life styles permanently especially the richest ones. Last year Oxfam International and Stockholm Environmental Institute released a report named “Confronting Carbon Inequality”, in which it was found that world’s richest 10% caused 46% growth in global emission as opposed to only 6% growth caused by poorest 50%. The richest 1% population from North America and European Union with their privet jets and sports cars have caused more carbon emission than the bottom 3.5 billion people.
Humans to save itself from a horrific future, would have to completely switch from fossil fuel to renewable energy within the next few years conserving biodiversity and forest cover adopting sustainable agriculture practices. It would take a herculean effort from every individual. The obstacle to cutting fossil fuel has been political rather than technological, the fossil fuel industry is rich and it has been spending a lot of money on political leaders lobbying to maintain the status quo. Hence, we have delayed taking substantive action for so long that we have already caused too much damage to the environment that reversing them would take centuries to millennia. But not taking any action or maintaining the status quo would mean a future that would exceed all apocalyptic scenarios we have ever seen in any of the Hollywood flicks.