Let’s face it. Climate change is very real. No matter how much we debate on its implications, we can simply see the effects now, right in front of our eyes. We are living the change, breathing through it; And the whole ‘whether humans did it or not’ debacle ends right here because the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(IPCC), the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change,said in its latest report titled Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, that human activities are, without a doubt, the principle reasons for this rapid change in the environment .
The British Brodcasting Company (BBC) published this as an article titled ‘Code Red for Humanity’. Infact, climate change has progressed to an extent that the past 5 years have been the hottest since 1850!! IPCC’s report also highlighted the fact that global temperatures would rise by 1.5- 2 degrees Celsius from the pre industrial age by 2040,(which prima facie might not appear to be concerning but, it actually is.) if not before.The most frightening statement released by the scientists was, “ for many of these consequences, there’s no going back.” Another key point was that hot weather extremes have become more and more frequent than ever while cold extremes have become less severe.
What are we likely to experience now, if we don’t act fast?
- Apart from the unusual rise in global temperatures(fire weather) , we are likely to witness extreme rainfall patterns over the course of time. We saw an increased rainfall in certain parts of the world this year with China, Europe and Germany facing flash floods(almost like a rainfall which usually happens over a span of 2-3 months, poured in a single day) While certain regions battle floods, other regions are expected to suffer from droughts and famines.
- Another baffling consequence of climate change, as pointed out by the report is that the Arctic is likely to be practically ice free in September atleast once before 2050 !! Global warming is affecting the Arctic at a much higher pace than the rest of the world, resulting in the thawing of the permafrost which was not expected before.
- NASA used the IPCC report to assess the changes in sea levels in India. The findings point out that rising sea levels threaten to submerge about 12 coastal cities in the country by the end of the century, including Mumbai, Chennai, Vishakhapatnam and others. In accordance with this, melting of glaciers in the Himalayas will affect a large number of people as well since it’d have a differential impact on Indian rivers.
- India is on number 3 in terms of absolute carbon emissions, just behind China and the USA. These emissions are one of the major causal factors of global warming, thus harming our own country.
Talking of extreme heat, we are going to experience heat like never before. For instance, the world has witnessed some very terrifying wildfires in the past. In the 21st century itself, the 2003 Russian wildfire,claimed to be the largest wildfire in history, led to the burning of 200,000 square kilometres of area. Infact, the recent 2019-2020 Australian Bushfires burning about 180,000 square kilometres of land and killing more than 35 people were sure to leave everybody terror-stricken.
Currently, the raging fires in California have wrecked havoc on the lives of many people. The fire is ruining the area at a pretty quick pace, leaving about 54 square kilometres of area aflame in a single day. More than 3500 firefighters are out there extinguishing the deadly flames, with President Joe Biden declaring that a “major disaster exists in the State of California”. The fire started on July 14 and is still continuing . Knowing that such extreme phenomena are already taking place and there are worse possibilities, we need to pay heed to what we do and how it impacts the Earth, because it is our future and the subsequent generation’s future that’s at stake here. Swedish activist Greta Thunberg also said, “I need you to act as if your house is on fire. Because it is.”