Why We Need To Take Climate Change Seriously

Why We Need To Take Climate Change Seriously

Climate Change is the long-term shifts in weather patterns and global temperature primarily caused by man-made activities (anthropogenic activities). These shifts brings variability in the weather patterns due to which untimely precipitation, intense heat waves, and severe droughts have become a new normal. Its threats are felt everywhere in the form of droughts, floods, heat waves, glacier melting, and torrential rains. Consequently, the changes affect everyone irrespective of individual contribution to the emissions of greenhouse gases. As it is a man-made calamity, its effects can only be mitigated by collective human efforts.

Pakistan's contribution to the GHGs emission is 0.8 percent but it is the fifth most vulnerable county to climatic impacts. In this year, in Pakistan the months of March and April were recorded as the hottest after 60  years while July has been recorded as the wettest after 62 years. A sudden increase in the temperature badly affected wheat, millet, and mango production in Pakistan. This year Britain recorded highest its highest temperature and exceptional heat. The current floods in Pakistan are also due to the variability in weather patterns.

The Global Climate Risk Index has ranked Pakistan, Haiti, Nepal, and Myanmar to be severely impacted by climate change. Glaciers in the Himalayas and climatic variability in the mountains of Hindu Kush could prove catastrophic for Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan, and Nepal.

Extreme weather in less developed countries causes climate migrants and climate refugees, which is an emerging source for conflict on multiple levels. It causes a disruption in the local and national supply chains, which rises the cost of living in the affected areas. Till the fresh reports, more than 3k km of roads and 129 bridges have been destroyed in Pakistan, which creates a massive disruption in the supply chain.

Climate change needs a huge joint effort to mitigate its devastating effects. In the short run, like the emergency situation in Pakistan, the problem can be mitigated by taking some urgent and effective steps. A timely and coordinated response from the government to give early warnings, evacuate the stranded people, provide safe shelter and edibles to the climate refugees. Instead of blaming Climate Change, the government is required to speed up its functioning and show its presence in every affected area. Furthermore, it is the State's responsibility to provide cash grants for a minimum of two years to those, who have lost their livelihood in the recent floods.

In the long run, the foremost step is to accept the reality and also accept the grand failure of public infrastructure in Pakistan. A shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy is the need of time, wherein solar energy and wind turbines are the cheaper sources of clean energy.

The Global North has introduced a Climate Change resilient infrastructure, which can withstand for a long time the Climatic effects. Developing countries in the global South especially the countries, which are most vulnerable to Climate Change effects need to develop Climate Change resilient infrastructure.  The most important step is the political will of the leaders of the developed nations and industrialised world to fight collectively the looming threats of Climate Change. The major carbon-emitting countries need to abide by the commitments made in the Paris Climate Change agreement to keep the temperature 1.5 degrees Celcius by end of this century.

Global temperature rise is due to the rampant emissions of greenhouse gases namely Carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, methane  and others. These greenhouse gases form a layer in the atmosphere, which doesn't allow the bouncing back rays back into space. The rays are trapped and absorbed by GHGs, which results in the warming of the earth and atmosphere.

Since the industrial revolution, the use of fossil fuel (oil and gas) in ever-increasing quantities resulted in the rise of global average temperature. Global temperature rises by 1.1/1.2 degree Celsius since then, which doesn't make a big difference but still, it makes a huge difference.

More than 85 percent of greenhouse gases are emitted by counties of the Global North in which the USA, UK, and Europe are taking the lead. China and Russia are also the major contributors to GHGs emissions. Africa's total GHGs emissions are 3 percent but it is one of the vulnerable continents to Climate Change effects.

Deforestation and the squeezing of green land have also contributed to the rise of global temperature. Widespread forests and green fields are the natural carbon sequesters.  Before the industrial revolution, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere was 280 PPM (parts per million) but now CO2 concentration is 420 PPM. The concentration of methane has doubled and in the same vein, the other GHGs have also increased considerably in the atmosphere.

Since the 1900s the global sea rise has reached 20 cm, which has caused massive floods in the coastal areas and it can be more devastating in the future.  Many islands and low-lying countries such as Maldives, Bangladesh, Thailand, and the Philippines are in the red zone.

According to the IPCC report, the past five years have been recorded as the hottest since 1850 and each of our successive decades is warmer than the previous one. An estimated one million species have disappeared due to intense heat waves and ocean acidification across the globe. Such changes are also a major threat to the economies of the global South, wherein by 2050, the South Asian economy is estimated to be impacted by 5 percent in a good-case scenario and 26 percent in a worst-case scenario.

According to the World Economic Forum report, if the world fails to achieve net zero by 2050, it will still cost 4-18 percent of the world's GDP. Moody Analytics has estimated that if the temperature rises 2 degree Celsius by 2100, it will cost 69 trillion dollars to the world economy. In 2020 only in the USA, hurricanes, and wildfires caused billions of dollars in damages to property, business, and infrastructure.

Climate change is also a threat to the State's internal and external security. USA security thinking has three C's in their policy-making (COVID, Climate, and China). This year Japan has included Climate security in its defense white papers. US intelligence think tanks now focus on the melting ice in the Arctic region and also view the potential competition for resources in the Arctic sea.