Humans are the major (or the only) cause of climate change and they are the ones who have to suffer the most from it. Yes, some people have started making noise about the impending threat to Mother earth but it might have come a little too late in the day. Even if we stopped (big if is there) emitting greenhouse gases today, global warming would continue to happen for at least several more decades, if not centuries. That’s because it takes a while for the planet to respond, and because carbon dioxide – the predominant heat-trapping gas – lingers in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Remember that the Earth’s surface temperature does not react instantaneously to the energy imbalance created by rising carbon dioxide levels. There is a time lag between what we do and when we feel it.
But there are some moderates who feel that it can never be too late to avoid or limit some of the worst effects of climate change. In other words, there need to be behavioural change on our part and at the same time we need to learn to live with the climate change that has already been set in motion. Recycling and using fuel efficient cars and equipment are some of the easiest and the basic things one could do to prevent the disaster or at least postpone it infinitely. Even if all emissions were to stop today, the Earth’s average surface temperature would climb another 0.6 degrees or so over the next several decades before temperatures stopped rising. So, learn to live with the evil.
The above fact also brings home another truth that the time lag is one reason why there is a risk in waiting to control greenhouse gas emissions until global warming becomes worse or its effects more serious and obvious. If we wait until we feel the amount or impact of global warming has reached an intolerable level, we will not be able to “hold the line” at that point; some further warming will be unavoidable which may be unbearable also.
One should always bear it in mind that the problem of climate change is a truly global and complex one with economic, social, political and moral ramifications and solution for the same requiring both a globally-coordinated response and local efforts on the city- and regional-level.
However, optimism stems from the fact that there are many nations now who generate more power from renewables than from coal. And in the coming years many more nations will be added to this list. However, that may not be enough and we may have to set a new record every moment! To put it simply, we need to triple wind and solar construction overnight and sustain that new growth rate for decades. The biggest question is that are we on track to achieve this? We may not get a perfect answer for this and even if we get one that may not leave us optimistic about the future.
In this context the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has rightly said at the Climate Action Summit 2019 during 74th session of UNGA that what we are doing at the moment is just not enough. What is needed today, is a comprehensive approach which covers everything from education to values, and from lifestyle to developmental philosophy. What we need is a global people’s movement to bring about behavioral change. Unfortunately, we have put ourselves into a situation where no setbacks can be accepted. We need to stop telling fairy tales and start accepting the facts around us. Nor is there any chance or possibility of divine intervention. So, we have to switch over to clean energy and also should learn to live with consequences of our past excesses.