The timely implementation of appropriate measures will minimise the impacts of natural disasters
or a very long time, climate change was dismissed by many as a myth. These people did not care about the changes. Today, climate change has become a reality most people recognise.
According to the United Nations, “the oceans are getting warmer 40 percent faster than the forecasts made five years ago”. A study published in April 2019, Environmental Research Letters, says the Arctic biophysical system is trending away from its Twentieth-Century state into an unprecedented one.
The world is experiencing a rapid increase in deforestation as the bulging population needs land for food and shelter. Climate change can no longer be dismissed as a myth. Every one of us must respond to it by following the mitigating and adapting measures vis-à-vis stopping the degradation of the environment.
The global temperature has been increasing since the pre-industrial revolution era. The main driver for this increase is the burning of fossil fuels as it increased the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
These gases form a cloud trapping the heat reflected by the Earth. Resultantly, the ambient temperature goes up. This is evident in the increasing duration of summers lately. It should be noted that climate change exacerbated by human activities has degraded 75 percent of the land and 40 percent of the oceans.
Climate change was discussed at the COP26 held from October 31 to November 12, 2021. Leaders from 197 countries participated in the talks.
The dinosaurs became extinct due to anthropogenic activities. Nevertheless, humans alone will be responsible for their potential extinction. Globally, the US is the second-largest fossil fuel user in terms of volume. It is the largest in terms of per capita use. In 2015, the Paris round of talks identified a target which if missed would have devastating consequences like extreme weather events, droughts and floods.
All these consequences are everyday news now. Climate change is one of the most connected risks that the world faces. Industrial countries are responsible for nearly half of the emissions even though they represent only 20 percent of the world’s population.
Globally, the US is the second-largest fossil fuel user in terms of volume and the largest in terms of per capita use. In 2015, the Paris summit identified an emissions reduction target which if missed will have devastating consequences including extreme weather events, droughts, and floods.
To save this world, we should adopt suitable measures to stop threatening changes and mitigate the effects in the long run. Environmental degradation has a very close link to both adaptation and mitigation measures. It is anthropogenic activities that affect the climate the most.
The REDD (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation) is an adaptive measure where GHGs and fossil fuels emissions are countered. Similarly, CCS (carbon capture and storage) is another way of dealing with CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.
In this technique, the carbon released is dumped technologically into a large hole. This is an expensive method which the poor countries cannot afford. Hence, the poorest countries are the most vulnerable to climate change. One of the points pertinent to adapting to climate change amidst COP26 was to secure global net-zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.
The mitigation measures are equally important. One of the key measures according to IPCC (intergovernmental panel on climate change) is the reduction of carbon emissions and efficient use of energy. It includes switching to nuclear energy, bio-energy and renewable energy as well as forestation.
Likewise, CO2 emissions should be reduced in transport modes via technical improvements, behavioural changes and urban development. The next option in the mitigation measures is the replacement of coal-fired power plants with efficient natural gas power.
Pakistan has a very small contribution to total GHGs emissions, yet the country is one of the most vulnerable to climate change. In Pakistan, freshwater comes from snow and glaciers melt and monsoon rains. Both are highly sensitive to climate change.
Climate change is a cross-border problem. It is a common responsibility of every country.
Adapting to climate change is the need of the hour. It is even more important to stop human activities that downgrade the environment. The developed countries should take the lead in practicing mitigation measures.
Timely implementation of appropriate measures will reduce the impacts of natural disasters. Otherwise, the time is not far when we will be saying that once upon a time we had blue skies, green lands, breathable ambient air, and clean water. Therefore, in all our life choices we should have climate change in mind. Climate change will not be prevented or cured through vaccines. Smart choices can help.
The writer is a final semester civil engineering student at UET, Taxila. He can be reached at email@example.com