On World Environment Day
June 5, 2011
Hotter summers, shorter winters, erratic rainfall and monsoon timings … more frequent and ferocious hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones … extreme, unpredictable global weather patterns are on the rise.
Last year, torrential monsoon rains in Pakistan affected nearly 20 million people and left one-fifth of the country submerged under water. This year, record flooding in Australia disabled 200,000 people for weeks and devastated Queensland’s massive coal industry.
Recent research suggests rising greenhouse gas levels and world-wide temperature increases are connected to severe weather events, like the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan and Australia.
It is expected that increasing temperatures will cause food and water shortages, melting of glacial and polar ice, rising sea levels, droughts, flooding and an increase in water-borne and vector-borne diseases like malaria.
The situation is predicted to only get worse. Developing nations like India will be hit the hardest.
The big question is, “Who is responsible for the current climate crisis?”
The answer? EVERYONE …
Developed countries like the U.S. caused most of the damage, but India shouldn’t follow their footsteps. Our growing economy today poses a big threat.
We need to know how we add to the problem, and what can be done to mitigate further climatic damage.
Climate change causing greenhouse gases are emitted when we travel, use electricity and generate waste.
Every time we fly, drive a car, take a train, bus or auto-rickshaw …
Every time we turn on a light, use an electric appliance, switch on the computer or an air conditioner, turn on the faucet and take an elevator or escalator …
Every time we buy a product, use it and then throw it away … energy went into its production, transportation, packaging and disposal …
Simple lifestyle changes are easy to make. One can switch off the light or the computer screen when leaving a room. It all adds up.
Yet, simplicity shouldn’t cause us to overlook the seriousness of the problem.
To slow down the rising temperature, we need to change more. At the rate we’re going, by 2050 we could see a national temperature increase by 2 C, a massive leap considering the .6 C increase since the 1800s.
This jump will speed up the melting of the Himalayan glaciers and cause the Ganga to first rise in volume and then dry out. Almost four hundred million people will lose their water supply.
Additional polar and glacial melting will lead to a minimum one meter sea level rise, causing the displacement of 7.1 million people and the loss of nearly 5.764 sq. km. of Indian land.
The citizens of India are slowly waking up to the reality of global warming. However, to make a lasting change, all sectors of society must adopt sustainable practices.
Even though India invested billions in renewables like wind and solar in 2010, it continues to import coal, build new coal plants and rely on this fossil fuel as its main source of energy. Coal is responsible for nearly 68 % of our country’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
Rajendra Pachauri of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change summarized his view of the situation.
“Unless we live in harmony with nature, unless we are able to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and adopt renewable energy sources, and until we change our lifestyles, the world will increasingly become unfit for human habitation.”
Our Chancellor Amma says that exploitation of nature by human beings is causing fluctuating and extreme weather patterns. To make a lasting impact she suggests, “Only by generating love and compassion in our hearts and coming together as one, can we hope to make a real change.”