Updated: Jul 30, 2020
It is not rhetoric. It is not hysteria. It is a fact. For the past 50 years, the world has seen tremendous changes in its climatic pattern. With Greenland ice sheets and glaciers melting, oceans warming up and acidifying, droughts and desertification intensifying, severe heat waves; climate change has become our single greatest security threats. Not only is it threatening the innumerable species on land and underwater, but also the survival of the human race.
It is undeniable that our planet has undergone a series of alternating paramount climatic conditions, but these conditions were mainly driven by natural factors. Over the past five decades, the major factors behind the increased global temperatures and unprecedented rates of environmental degradation would be the industrial revolution, deforestation, burning of fossil fuels for energy and greed for more comfort. According to a WHO report, air pollution in 2012 caused the death of 7 million people worldwide. As per NASA, the profound effects of climate change on Earth in the future will be a continuous increase in temperature by 1°-2° C annually, changes in precipitation patterns, stronger hurricanes that will affect major countries, sea level will rise 1-4 feet by 2100, Arctic circle will become ice-free. These effects clearly suggest the extinction of polar animals, endangered species in the tropical regions along with the decline of our rich floral habitat.
Human population has far exceeded the earth’s carrying capacity; there are not enough resources for every person to survive. If human overpopulation and over-consumption is not put under control, more people will degrade environment at a large extent. The Paris Climate Summit 2017 specifies that loss and damage due to environmental exploitation can have immediate impacts from extreme weather events, and slow onset impacts, such as the loss of land to sea-level rise for low-lying islands. With the melting of snow from the hills, flash floods and cyclones have affected Bhutan, far from any sea. With the effects of climate change, a number of new diseases have cropped up, and combatting these is a challenge for UNICEF and UNFCCC. According to World Wildlife Fund, forests cover 31 percent land area of our planet, some 46-58 thousand square miles of forest are lost each year—equivalent to 48 football fields every minute.
To be clear, this is not about telling people to change their light bulbs or to buy hybrid cars. This disaster has grown beyond the choice that individuals make. This is now about industries and governments around the world, making decisive large scale actions. Introduction of price tag on carbon emission and withdrawing subsidies from oil, coal and gas companies should be implemented. The economy itself will die if the ecosystem collapses. Though this task is gigantic and difficult, yet it is achievable. Active conversion of energy consumption from non-renewable to renewable sources should be employed, which also proves to be a good economic policy. New research shows that by 2050, clean, renewable energy could supply 100% of the world’s energy needs using existing technologies, also creating millions of jobs. Clean air and water and a livable climate are inalienable human rights and solving these crisis is our moral obligation. We only get one planet. Humankind must become accountable on a massive scale for the wanton destruction of our collective home. Protecting our future on this planet depends on the conscious evolution of our species.
In the words of Gandhi, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed”. The time to answer the greatest challenge of our existence on this planet is now. We have to eliminate the risk that the world is exposed to due to environmental degradation and climate change, without procrastinating any further. We can act together and make history or be vilified by our future generations, in case we do perish. We are the last, best hope of Earth and we have to protect it, for the world is not a commodity, it is our responsibility. This is our moment for action; this is the most urgent of times, the most urgent of messages.
I am sure most of my readers believe that climate change is real and there's no second view on that. But I still urge people to understand the urgency of the crisis. Our Earth will survive. It has been through numerous environmental changes in the past and will face many more in the future. Our home has the ability to rebuild. That said, we do not get the right to destroy our home.
We fail to understand that no species is permanent here. Of all species that have existed on Earth, 99.9 percent are now extinct. Yet this planet has provided enough resources for the survival of humans. By exploiting the resources available to us, we are only heading to our inevitable mass extinction much faster.
Please try to create awareness about environmental degradation, in any way possible. Let's educate ourselves and people around us. I highly recommend the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth", written by former United States Vice President Al Gore, which has reenergized the environmental movement.