Recently Climate change was in the news because of US President Donald Trump’s decision to walk out of the Paris Climate Agreement. The Paris Climate Agreement was adopted on the 12th of December, 2015 and as of 2017 June, 195 countries have signed it. With The US pulling out of it, it has joined Syria and Nicaragua as the only countries that haven’t signed the agreement. Much was talked of the implications of this decision and its impact on the developed and developing nations and the world as a whole. A lot was also talked about the Political motivations regarding the same.
The Paris Agreement aims at preventing the global average temperatures rise to less than 2 degrees till the end of the century. It also states the need to curb the greenhouse emissions to a large extent in order to achieve climate change resilience and reduce the impact of climate change, to lower fossil fuel production and divert finances towards harnessing Renewable sources of Energy. This was stated as one of the main reasons for Trump to back out of the Agreement. One cannot stress enough on the Danger the world faces because of the bad decisions of an ignorant leader of a “Developed” Nation who refuses to accept the pleas of the Scientific Community and chooses to remain ignorant. The Agreement also urges the Developed Nations to help out the poorer countries in this bid to slow/prevent climate change. The Paris Agreement is an entirely Voluntary agreement that relies on the Good sense of the administrators and legislators of the countries that have signed it, and talks of no penalties to countries which fail to stick to the agreement. Whether this makes the Agreement a weak one or a cause driven one is something that only time will tell. But what can surely be said is that Climate Change is real and it is happening now and it is happening fast. Ignoring it will not prevent it or stop it, so it is time for the people of this world to come out of their bubbles and face reality.
Unlike 20 years or even a decade back, when Climate Change/Global Warming was spoken of as a change that would be faced in the coming decades, by the future generations; today it is spoken of as a change that is happening at a rapid rate and is being faced by the present generations. If you want evidence for climate change you only need to look around you. Soaring Temperatures each year, unexpected rainfalls and lack of it where it is expected, climate related sickness are all telling us that the world is burning and we need to quench the fire. I’m writing this post from Delhi which only last week had a heat wave that caused the temperature to rise to a dangerous 48 degrees. It has become a common sight in summer to see people vomiting and suffering from faint attacks because of the unbearable heat. It has also become second nature for many people to wear masks while travelling in order to protect from the unhealthy air that we breathe every day. Let me tell you if you don’t already know it, this is NOT a normal way to live and breathe every day. But people are being driven to such extreme measures as respiratory ailments are on the rise like never before. NASA has stated that the carbon-dioxide levels are at a peak of 406 parts per million, global temperatures have been 1.7F higher since 1880 and there has been a 13.3% decline in the Arctic Ice in the past decade.
Many of the “Critics” of climate change and the Paris Agreement have stated that the Agreement is unfair for the developing nations. The developed nations have long since enjoyed the liberties of Fossil Fuel Consumption and have contributed the most in the greenhouse emissions. The Developing Countries like India, who have only now begun to enter into the comfortable world of fossil fuels (and yet we have become the third biggest carbon emitter after US and China) and still have about 300 million homes without access to electricity, are now being told to curb their consumption and make their economy grow in a carbon-restricted environment. This may seem a tad bit unfair, but these nations must realize that renewable energy is the new way forward and a Healthy Planet is in the interest of all Nations in the long run and it is better to make this transition at a nascent stage than realize the need to do so later like USA and China do now. Also, if not realized soon, the planet may not survive long enough to sustain it. Also, when Climate Change strikes at its worst, it is the developing countries that will suffer more and their economies will be hit the most.
A lot many political comments have followed the Paris Agreement and the subsequent pulling out of Trump from the agreement but if we are to Act upon the Climate Change, one must rise above the Vested Political Agendas and go beyond mere Climate Activism to make changes. I feel all hope is not lost yet as despite Trump walking out of the agreement, most US states have resolved to strive to move towards renewable energy and reducing their carbon footprint. Many NGOs in India are already working on lighting the unlit villages using Solar energy and are doing so successfully.
However, I believe Tackling Climate Change is like Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. Government Policies and Backing is important but collective will of the people is equally important if we are to see some positive results. So what can we as individuals do to reduce our Carbon Footprint and slow down Climate Change? Here are a few small but effective steps:
- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. Wherever possible re-use your plastic bags and articles and recycle whenever possible.
- Reduce the plastic usage and replace it with bio-degradable and nature-friendly materials.
- Reduce your air travel and opt for greener modes of transport like buses and trains as air travel increases your carbon footprint massively.
- Use fuel efficient vehicles and wherever possible Walk, cycle or use a public mode of transport.
- Choose Locally Available food rather than Processed and Packaged Food Products. The processing and packaging increases the Carbon Footprint of the food that you consume.
- Go Vegetarian. I know this statement will anger many, but the fact remains that it is scientifically proven that Vegetarian food is not only green symbolically but also Greener for the Planet. Non-Vegetarian food, especially beef contributes to more than 15% of the methane emission.
- Say no to processed food made from Palm Oil. Palm Oil plantations have been a major contributor for the release of greenhouse gases and loss of some precious rain forest areas that are greenhouse protectors of the world.
- It is not only about what you eat, but how much you eat. Be mindful of the quantity you serve and consume and reduce your food waste. Every Food Waste that goes in the bin overtime as it degrades adds to the carbon released.
- Switch from your regular light bulbs to LED bulbs. It may be a small change but every effort counts.
- Wherever possible switch to Renewable sources of energy such as solar energy, wind energy.
- Be mindful of the electricity that you consume as each wasted energy is adding more harm to the environment. A simple step as switching of the electricity when not needed helps and doesn’t require a great deal of effort or sacrifice.
- Try to be in tune with the natural climate of the place you live in. One may not be able to do away with the comfort of our air-conditioners or heaters completely but that doesn’t mean there is a need to be always in the made up environment of these devices. Also it is healthier for your body if you’re acclimatized to the natural weather of the place you are in.
- Try to wash your laundry and dishes at an average room temperature rather than opting for a warmer temperature of water. Also try to rely on traditional hand washing instead of washing machines and dishwashers.
- Save Trees, Plant Trees. Trees are our biggest assets and our greatest protectors from climate change. Save the planet by planting more trees.
- Be informed and educate others. Needless to say one must not only make efforts but also encourage others to do so.
These steps may seem like small and insignificant steps but it is necessary that it becomes a part of the collective consciousness of our society so that we can rise above petty political motives and armchair activism and help save our Planet from burning any further. After all, we only have one Planet that is capable so far of sustaining life optimally. Let us keep it a happy,healthy and liveable planet for a longer time. Let us give back our Earth what is her own right- Her Life.
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpWlzFJw3v8 (Before the Flood-Documentary)