For global residents such as us, a few terms, for example ‘global warming’ and ‘greenhouse gas effect’ which hold a bigger meaning in real life, seem to remain mere clichés. As the environment around us transforms, and we witness severe natural calamities, we tend to forget that it is time to gear up and acknowledge that global warming is a real phenomenon, and only we can reverse its changes.
A report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released on Monday, had a shocking statement that a rise in the global temperature by only half a degree in the next few decades will “significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people”. These devastations will also affect insects, birds as well as the marine species. Extreme weather changes such as the recent earthquake in Indonesia, the flash floods in Tamil Nadu, the heat waves in Canada all point towards the same thing: the consequences of global warming.
Before embarking on a journey to save the earth, recognising these changes and working on feasible solutions should be the priority for any country. Environmentalists are sometimes put in the wrong group and termed more as extremists despite their positive intentions. What is rather disturbing is that climate change or global warming is often termed as ‘hoaxes’ to frighten the mass. However, there is no denying that glaciers are melting, the sea level is rising, animals are becoming extinct with passing time, habitats are fading and global average temperature is increasing. We cannot keep ignoring these facts.
In Bangladesh, although there has not been extensive research or polices structured, one can tell the differences in the climate that has occurred in the last twenty, thirty years. If closely observed, one can notice that the country which would proudly call itself the queen of six weathers hardly has any variations in them left. Summers are scorching, monsoons are prolonged and unpredictable whereas winters are hardly cold. The once magical fall or spring is barely felt. Habitats are also rapidly dying in our Sundarbans and the coral islands such as St Martins.
For years we have exploited Mother Nature and paid little or no heed to scientists and experts. Not only that, the very basis of Economics has been taught to us for years which is that we have limited resources and natural reserves are slowly dying out and we must find alternative sources of power and energy. Industrial revolutions therefore have been the greatest blessing and at the same time, the biggest curse on human beings. The positive externalities of it have been gradually choked by the negatives ones.
The issue of global warming is more technological than political, and in this regard, the major cities which are also major creators of pollution need to be pushed to change. The economic giants who run on oil and fossil fuel may be reluctant to change their environment and compliance laws, but for the greater good of the other nations and their own, they should consider immediate changes.
The developed countries should assist their less developed neighbours in the battle against global warming and ensure that constitutions specifically mention the environmental causes, consequences and policies to mitigate the problems associated with them. Budgets should reserve a significant amount solely for global warming or climate change. The governments should imply green taxes, promote and foster the use of solar, wind, hydro and other renewable sources of energy, build awareness against depending on fossil fuels and uphold the importance of clean energy. Individuals can also begin with small steps and make energy conservation a part of their daily habits by cutting down on waste and using less electricity, gas and water.
The nature is much like a baby in womb, if you nurture it, it grows healthily and if you don’t, you harm its existence. The nature-human balance will only bear fruits if it is maintained and taken care of. We talk about Noah’s Ark in our religions yet we forget that nature’s anger, once lashed out, can very well end our earthly lives. If imminent measures are not undertaken, our world may not remain ours for long.
Promila Kanya is working with Bangladesh Post