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(This essay was originally written for the World Essay Competition conducted by World Bank and was selected as one of the “Best 200 Essays” in the year 2009)
I) HOW DOES CLIMATE CHANGE AFFECT YOU?
“Man, proud man, Rest in a little brief authority, Most ignorant of what he’s assured, His glassy essence – like an angry ape – Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven. As make the angels weep.” – William Shakespeare ‘Measure for Measure’ 1. INTRODUCTION The climate change is variously described as the ultimate weapon of mass destruction and a threat worse than terrorism or nuclear war, is undeniably the catchphrase since last decade. The chaotic climatic behaviour perceptible on global scale during the past decade arising out of rise in average temperature of the earth due to large scale emission of green house gases (GHGs) is a matter of grave concern threatening ecosystems of our mother planet. However, ever since the Industrial Revolution began about 150 years ago, anthropogenic activities have supplemented significant quantities of GHGs to the atmosphere. Variations in temperature have also occurred in the history – the best known is the Little Ice Age that struck Europe in the early Middle Ages, bringing about drought, famines etc. Nevertheless, most of the warming observed over the last 50 years, undoubtedly, is enforced by activities attributable to slapdash human lifestyles. 2. IMPACT OF CLIMATE CHANGE “There is enough for everybody’s need but not for everybody’s greed” – M. K. Gandhi The impact of climate change is multifarious and has struck many facets of human life. From health issues to employment; from environmental degradation to the future obscurity; and from diseases to deaths is what can be stated in brief but the profundity of the negative alarm of climate change is prolix to be explained. It hasn’t spared any culture, community or country. The following pages are crammed how it has affected all and its aftermath.
metabolic processes and immune systems. This could inundate low lying areas. With erratic rainfall and decrease in precipitation levels India’s forest would deplete fast. In India. damage nursery areas for fisheries. 2 . Heat spells and heat waves have already become common over Northern India. Increased dry spells could also add to forest fires. A trend of sea level rise of 1 cm per decade has been recorded along the Indian coast. people in India.1 Impact of climate change: on my country India In a developing country like India. cause bleaching of corals. would result in shifts of lower altitude tropical and subtropical forests to higher altitude temperate forest regions. industrialization and economic development. resulting in the extinction of some temperate vegetation types. especially the poorest is considerably susceptible to the impacts of climate change. swamp mangroves. while storms and cyclones are becoming more frequent and intense. Any escalation of the monsoon is likely to contribute to deluge disasters in the Himalayan catchments. and damage physiological functions. a densely inhabited 7500-km long low-lying coastline. more than 56% of workers are engaged in agriculture and allied sectors. With its huge and growing population. climate change could embody an additional stress on ecological and socio-economic systems that are already facing terrific pressures due to rapid urbanization.2. Gangothri is rapidly melting. force coastal erosion. Medical Science suggests that the global warming and change in humidity will adversely affect human health in India. heat stroke. which originate and depend on glacial melt-water in the Hindukush and Himalayan ranges. most people live in rural areas. Some marine lives are already under threat. and increase the salinity of rivers. Extreme weather events and changing monsoon patterns already have threatened our farmers compelling them to commit suicides. and also for protecting its rich biodiversity and forest eco-systems. India uses perennial rivers. Climatic changes bring water scarcity in arid and semi-arid regions resulting in shortage of agricultural productivity and on generation of hydro-electric power. down coastal marshes and wetlands.7 million families depend on coastal resources and earn their living through tourism or fishing. Rising temperatures will also contribute to flash floods in the downstream villages during the wet season. Report says that extreme temperature would extinct flora and fauna by 2030. India is heavily dependent on the monsoon to meet its agricultural and water needs. Sea level rise in the Indian Ocean is expected to be about 25-40 cm by 2050. Heat stress could result in heat cramps. causing food insecurity and loss of livelihood. Decrease in rainfall and the resultant soil moisture stress could result in drier teak dominated forests. bays and aquifers. often causing loss of human life. In the coastline around 2. and an economy closely tied to its natural resource base. Ganga and Brahmaputra. The crop yield per hectare will be hit badly. heat exhaustion. submerge small islands and the deltas of Sunderbans.
kala-azar and chikungunya. With climate induced floods. Many died. malaria and chikungunya in our town and local vicinity. Lack of safe water will trigger outbreaks of diarhoea and other contagious diseases. solar and low-impact hydroelectric facilities are the fastest growing clean source of energy in the world that generates zillions of new jobs. and numerous waiting to be the victims despite taking precautionary measures. not only pregnant ladies of coastal areas are affected by consuming potable and salty water but also the normal life cycle of few unborn babies and also elderly with cardiac ailments have become silent sufferers. Besides problems earlier mentioned. Studies by Indian economists have concluded that emission reduction imposes costs in terms of lower GDP and higher poverty. many still affected.Furthermore. Likewise. Likewise. the initiatives to counter the climate change can offer plethora of opportunities and vocations to millions. Youths have 3 . Wind. the illegal immigrants and refuges to India would augment the burden already she faces. there are many green sectors and outlets getting opened bringing hopes to the jobless. 3. CONSEQUENCES The upshot and ramifications of climate change is diverse. Loss of agricultural productivity could reduce the employment rate in the agricultural sector and amplify abject poverty. safety and security.1 Consequences: on employment The negative corollary can take away the employment from us if there is a strict move to shut down the polluting power plants and other establishments. thus affecting pregnant women and their unborn children. 2. 3. increased temperatures can also amplify the range of vector borne diseases such as malaria. in contradiction. The atmosphere is so choking with the pollutants that it’s now embarrassing to call my native Kerala as “The Gods Own Country”. droughts and sea storms predicted at regular intervals the impact on the country’s economy will be far serious. global warming has aggravated vector-borne diseases like dengue. on their health care. Bangladeshis have nowhere else to go but India. hopefully. As sea-level rises. dengue. Nevertheless. on the environment and over the future of the planet itself. Moreover. Here. The State of Kerala has recently turned to be the hub of chikungunya. Governments are obligatory to wind up the polluting industries and other sectors and can lead to mass unemployment. Consequently. people in India’s coastal areas are forced to drink salty water.2 Impact of climate change: on my town and my local community My community near to the coastal area of Western Ghats has been affected in copious ways because of the climate change. It has a pessimistic demeanor over the employment of the people.
endangering of marine and aquatic living organisms. 3. malnutrition.4 Consequences: on our future Quo vadis humanity? How long will be our survival? Whether the evolutionary process last long? Do we have a destiny? If the trend of global warming continues. and increased deaths due to food and crop shortages making it as a recurrent phenomenon seen through out the world. and damage physiological functions. making the lakes and other water bodies uninhabitable for its resident fishes. the sea level would rise leading to submerging of low-lying islands and force people to evacuate.e. Climate change also causes acid rain and has drastic ecological impacts of altering the water's acidity. the scarcity of fossil fuels would lead to price rise and what not beyond. earlier drying of forests leading to increased forest fires. an increased frequency of catastrophic storms. 3. More recently. there would be food and water shortages. cost of insurance would ascend. are the ways climate change has affected. 4 .their duty i. nausea.3 Consequences: on environment & security With the rise in global temperature our environment and the eco-system is in jeopardy. melt of permafrost leading to destruction of structures. and avalanches. deserts get drier leaving to increased desertification. Because of earlier blooming of plants there is an increased allergy rates also. Climate change has brought starvation. An environmental apocalypse because of the climatic change with anthropogenic reasons haunts us in the near future. plants and animals. Heat stress could result in heat cramps and heat stroke. loss of habitats of animals and plants. metabolic processes and immune systems. Pregnancies of the coastal areas have been affected due to the consumption of saline water. The ocean circulation is getting disrupted having unknown effects on world climate. increased emigration of people from those poorer or low-lying countries to other countries would prevail. service to salvage the human race by spreading the message of how to hold the reach of climate change and its adversities. permanent loss of glaciers and ice sheets. landslides. cultural or heritage sites will get destroyed faster. In that way.2 Consequences: on health & safety The climate change can lead to grave human pathology. The incidence of asthma. our green planet is doomed by the devilish climate change. Ground level ozone (commonly called smog) has also been linked to a range of respiratory infirmities affecting the old people. extinction of species. Furthermore. damage to the lungs and premature death has been reported due to the climate change. 3. smog has found to develop chronic infancy asthma among children also. contribution of ground level ozone damaging forests and agricultural crops etc. inflammation.
4. would avoid air travel. I may choose a home near from my daily destinations. If the life style is in the following ways then a reduction in climate change is for definite: 1) Drive less and drive smart I will walk. Climate change could turn catastrophic if efforts are not made to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. or explore community’s mass transit system or use public transportation. Solutions: What can I do myself? Individual actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions can facilitate to make climate change sluggish. 5 . form carpools. 2. With concerted and collaborative action by government. ride bicycle. geographically.” – Jacob Bronowski ‘The Ascent of Man’ 1. INTRODUCTION Global warming and climate change are the buzzwords that reverberate in every corner of our planet. we should seek ways and take mitigation steps soon to deal with the impacts of climate change and variability. progressing in a greener path to economic prosperity. medically. or "win-win" effects. the industrialized countries have a moral obligation to take the leadership role and work in tandem with the developing countries. will keep the tires of my car properly inflated. Every person and every nation have the obligation fundamentally to find solutions on their own to slow and reverse climate change and salvage the planet we live on. youths has a cardinal role to play. politically and through all walks of our life. CONCLUSION Climate change has capsized the mankind ecologically. community and the youth. Climate change is no longer an environmental issue rather it’s a global phenomenon affecting our security and survival. every individual. After all. If shifting my home. follow the emission rules etc. would choose to purchase cars with greater fuel efficiency or with good gas mileage. socially. this is the only world we have! II) HOW CAN YOU TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE THROUGH YOUTH-LED SOLUTIONS? “The world can only be grasped by action. consider vacationing close to home.1. In this concerted green battle. economically. Therefore. a real difference in the next quarter century can be made. particularly. not by contemplation…the hand is the cutting edge of mind. culturally. Many actions have synergistic. Hence. Remember: It’s now or never! 2. SOLUTIONS The enormity of global warming can be daunting and disappointing.
5) Plant a tree I will plant a deciduous tree so that it shades west-facing windows in summer. wisely and go veggie I would choose foods that are local.2. I would buy in bulk reducing the amount of packaging – plastic wrapping. I will retrofit my home with efficient insulation. employ more efficient refrigerators. 3) Reduce home energy I would replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs to conserve energy. cardboard boxes and other paraphernalia. 6) Use the “Off” switch I would turn off the lights when I am leaving my room. Apart from that. 2. newspaper. by a positive frugality I would plan a green low-carbon wedding in future. stereo and computer when I am not using them and use only as much as I need. install a water-saving showerhead. Furthermore. and hang my clothes to dry whenever possible. would support local farmers or street vendors by shopping at farmers markets reducing the “food miles” and helping the local economy. turn off all electronic equipments including television. 4) Consume less. recycle papers. make the most of seasonal foods and will have less meat. would use cold water to do laundry instead of hot. would buy products with minimal packaging and whenever I can. video player. also plant a pesticide-free vegetable garden at my back yard. requires strategic measures to restrain the explosion and expanse of climate change. reflective roof or a vegetated roof ("green roof"). think green when making purchases. reuse and recycle I would take care of my trash by choosing products that are organic waste instead of disposables. glass and aluminum cans etc. I would buy less stuff. air conditioners and other devices. doors and windows and would get an energy audit for my home to find weaknesses in the insulation. organic and low on the food chain. investing in energy conservation and by a spiritual-eco awakening any individual can make a change to reduce GHGs and ultimately containing the climate change. paradoxically. The actions are like the following: 6 . Last but not the least. such as groceries. electronics and office equipments. clean or change the air-filter of the furnace regularly. would purchase energy-efficient home appliances. use sensibly the thermostat. limit consumption of overly-processed food. add skylights to improve natural lighting or consider solar panels. Solutions: what can I do in my country India being the largest democracy and densely populated. plastics.2) Reduce. I would install a solar hot-water heater. when purchasing essentials.
or it can be sequestered by plants. 7 . New technologies and techniques can significantly cut energy use. tidal. 5) Future fuels Ethanol derived from crops to hydrogen electrolyzed out of water. Hyper efficient photovoltaic cells. 2) Guidelines for industries Give financial incentives to encourage energy efficiency. Biomass can create lots of jobs especially in rural areas. The advantage of biomass over other renewable energy sources such as wind and solar is that it can be easily stored and used when needed. enforcing the lowering of speed limits to reduce fuel consumption. CO2 can be sequestered as a gas by pumping it underground or into the ocean. 4) Carbon Sequestration Sequestration or the long-term trapping of CO2 before it enters the atmosphere. nuclear and geothermal energies which are clean alternatives and considered totally energy efficient. wind. given the energy density of diesel and the carbon neutral ramifications of fuel from plants as well as the emissions of electric engines. with better bike paths and pedestrian friendly walkways has top priorities. 6) Biomass usage Energy from biomass can be generated from organic matter of vegetable or animal origin. It can provide a constant. non-fluctuating supply of electricity and heating. is an intermediate step along the way. production costs. eliminate subsidies that encourage fossil fuels etc.1) Forego fossil fuels The country must declare a ban on fossil fuels and promote the natural and renewable sources of energy like that of solar. 3) Infrastructure improvement Investing in new infrastructure or radically upgrading existing highways and transmission lines would help cut GHGs emissions and drive economic growth in developing countries like India. could bring a change. An anti-urban sprawl resulting in more dense and compact cities. Sources emitting less than their cap could sell these “surplus allowances” to others. A cap and allowance emissions trading system providing strict limits or “caps” on the emissions must be practiced. government grants for natural energy projects depending on the location must be available. This can include forestry products such as sawdust and bark. solar energy stations in orbit or even fusion – may ultimately be required. A gradual introduction of tax increases on gasoline and diesel. hydro. greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. It must educate visitors to the importance of renewable energy sources. It could provide new income for farmers who can grow crops such as switchgrass for bio-fuel and use manure in anaerobic digesters to generate heat and power. Indian Government can play an active role in sequestering GHGs and impede the climate change. biodiesel hybrid electric vehicles (that can plug into the grid overnight) may offer the best transportation solution in the short term. as well as agricultural residues like straw and manure. but is not a solution in and of itself.
a one child per couple rule would be the alternative though not the best to reduce climate change. encourage friends. activate Civil Societies. It is clear that more humans mean more GHGs emissions.6 billion people living today in the world and of which 1. post banners. pressure politicians to enact legislation regarding carbon neutral and carbon trading. to start a recycling program at my workplace and in my community. Environmental Program estimates that it requires 54 acres to sustain an average human being today – food.3.7) Promoting forest and bio reserve Government must protect and restore forests and bio-reserves so that it becomes a major storehouse of CO2. get a Report Card from my Utility Company and to offer rebate programs to help pay for the cost of energy-efficient upgrades. I will campaign to plant trees all over my city.028 million are Indians as on March 2001 census.4. conduct poetry. Solutions: Role of youth-led initiatives in ‘Green Economy’ Youths are defined by the UN as between the ages of 15 and 24. 2. Continuing such population growth seems unsustainable. Hence. The role of youth "culture" and lifestyle are factors that determine the future of climate change. host drama on stage and street plays on climate change and its evils.N. to make our economies flow 8 . connect decision-makers. It is clear that per capita energy consumption must go down if climate change is to be controlled. distribute pamphlets in bus stations and railway stations. encourage public officials to establish programs and policies that are good for the environment. we must make the move to harmonize with natural systems. symposiums and seminars. The U. Solutions: what can I do in my town or local community I am apprehensive about the impacts of climate change on my community and would express my concerns at community board meetings. paintings and photos in my street. promote the inclusion of climate change education in schools curriculum geared to help young people develop into responsible global citizens. Non Government Organizations and Self-Working Groups to take measures. encourage the city officials to expand transit and other alternatives. clothing and other resources extracted from the planet. Ultimately. reduce impacts from air travel by using video-conferences for meetings. make city operations more energy efficient and encourage compact development instead of sprawl. 2. organize workshops. painting. neighbors and coworkers to conserve energy and to go carbon neutral. vote for politicians who on their agenda have a progressive stance on climate change. awareness camps. as well as local businessmen and neighbors to take step to reduce community's contribution to climate change. share information about recycling and reusing. The United Nations predicts the number to grow to at least 9 billion by mid-century. elocution and essay competitions for children and adult as well. 8) One child norm There are at least 6.
it may not be the last. Social. It is primarily about “use-value”. By purchasing these credits it can be applied on our own emissions to reduce the net climate impact. by voluntarily calculating and assigning a cost to carbon emissions. while supporting eco-friendly. The adding emissions to the atmosphere are effectively subtracted by purchasing “carbon offsets”. Carbon offsets are simply credits for emission reductions achieved by projects such as wind farms. promising transformation of humanity’s very notion of wealth and economic development. climate change represents humanity's first planet wide experiment. quality and regeneration of individuals. are a potential 9 . As it is impossible to reduce our carbon emissions to zero. political and economic boundaries tend to coincide with ecosystem boundaries. That is. radical interventions to either block sunlight or reduce GHGs. We need a value revolution. rock bands like the Rolling Stones and Coldplay has gone carbon neutral. By integrating economy with natural processes. an emission reduction made elsewhere has the same positive effect as one made locally. Purchasing high quality carbon offsets from projects such as wind farms also helps support the transition to a sustainable energy economy by providing an additional source of revenue to developers of renewable energy. Here the youth have a major role to play while purchasing commodities sensibly. going carbon neutral by purchasing carbon offsets is a practical and affordable way to reduce emissions. Despite. For that green pioneer enterprises and MNCs must increasingly come up considering green alternatives and making money by doing green business. Green Economics should be our preference. It requires great human creativity. and become important goals in themselves. or energy efficiency retrofits. since climate change is a global problem.benignly. society becomes more ecological. Consumer support comes next. Poland. Many people and organizations are going carbon neutral: from World Cup Soccer to airlines. So-called geo-engineering with the help of nanotechnology. redefining progress more positively. from Google and MTV to HSBC and Nike. solar installations. it becomes bioregional. Green economics is the economics of human needs and environment. Thereby. why wait more? 3. one can begin to prepare for the inevitability of an economy in which CO2 and other GHGs are regulated and taxed.5. if all else fails. But. CONCLUSION From The Rio Summit of 1992 to Kyoto Protocol to the recent held conference of UNFCCC at Poznan. 2. no matter how hard we try. In addition. communities and ecosystems. Now. tremendous knowledge and widespread participation. eco-saving and eco-preserving processes. aesthetic and spiritual capacities become central to attaining economic efficiency. Solutions: Go carbon neutral Going carbon neutral (also 'climate neutral') is an easy way to take responsibility for the greenhouse gas emissions. we have traversed discussing and debating climate change. It's based on the principle that.
placing millions of small mirrors or lenses in space to deflect sunlight. Among the ideas: releasing sulfate particles in the air to mimic the cooling effects of a massive volcanic eruption. and increasing cloud cover or the reflectivity of clouds that already form etc.last resort for addressing the challenge of climate change. covering portions of the planet with reflective films to bounce sunlight back into space. could defeat the climate change. fertilizing the oceans with iron or other nutrients to enable plankton to absorb more carbon. Humanity must triumph! Youths must be remembered! 10 .
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