Let me start by writing about how climate change has taken a toll on one of the biggest cities of India, Chennai situated in the south east coast of the Bay of Bengal where the city’s four major water reservoirs have dried up resulting in lack of drinking water for millions of houses.
The searing hot spell has led to a shortage of water sources reaching a point of crisis where citizens are desperately waiting for rain water, the only source of hope for the entire city.
Unfortunately monsoons are predicted to arrive a little late making the struggle a lot more gruesome, affecting the lives of 4.6 million people for whom surviving everyday without water is a life threatening challenge. Locals are blaming the authorities for their ignorance and their inefficiency to deal with water management. The most one can get access to is just 4 to 5 pots of water which is insufficient for a family of five.
Each morning sees hundreds of people fighting for water while standing in a queue in blistering heat and waiting for their turn to fill their pots from the water supply tank which barely has a capacity of 10,000 litres.
This acute water shortage problem is fuelling anger within the citizens spiralling the city into utter chaos, but what makes it worse is that the government has reached a point where even they are helpless because of unpreparedness despite early signs of an impending catastrophe.
According to the Niti Aayog report, by the year 2030, 40% of India’s population will not have access to clean drinking water which includes cities like New Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad and many more.This will also affect the economy with a drop of 6% in GDP being predicted. Every year around 2 lakh in India people die because they don’t have any access to clean drinking water. These figures should be enough to create awareness among us and to resort to methods of water conservation.
This isn’t just one of the daunting instances of climate change as it has also affected several lives in the West where we have more developed organisations to deal with such problems. Regardless, we have to recognise that climate change is a nationwide problem.
Another reported incident talks about 40 million Americans caught in the storm zone in Tennessee extending right up the east coast in Pennsylvania with heavy rainfall and damaging winds. With EF-2 tornadoes with winds up to 125 miles per hour, and not forgetting about the flash flood emergency in the midwest homes in Anderson, Missouri, there is widespread devastation and fear in the country.
This fear was aggravated by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that hit Southern California on July 5 causing structural damage, fire and serious injuries. The Washington Post quotes that the “whole town is on the edge” and this is considered one of the most powerful earthquakes to hit the coast.
The earth’s temperature is increasing at a really fast rate and due to increased emission of anthropogenic greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. According to the ongoing temperature analysis conducted by NASA, Earth’s temperature has increased by 0.8° Celsius (1.4° Fahrenheit) since 1880 and this year’s June was recorded as the hottest month of the year as climatologists observed a substantial increase in the likelihood of a heatwave.
The recent heatwave saw France with the hottest temperature in the country reaching a peak of 45.9 degree celsius which caused major wildfire across Spain where temperatures exceed 40 degrees celsius.
With an increase in the temperature the average sea level rises causing extreme flood conditions and areas which have become a victim to this environmental catastrophe are the South East Asian Islands which are at the brink of submerging, with the constant inflow of sea water in the cities. One of such cities is Jakarta where flooding continues even in the dry season. About 1/3 rd of Jakarta is below sea level and incidents of heavy rainfall and flooding have become common.
People in huge masses are forced to leave their country and migrate to other countries not realising that Mother Nature is not partial to the better developed countries.
Pertinent to solving this problem is defining climate change. Climate change is a phenomenon where the Earth’s climate changes rapidly at irregular intervals of time. Earth’s climate has experienced extreme variations throughout the 4.6 billion year history resulting in high temperatures melting the ice sheets spread over the globe. Most of these changes a result of a variety of reasons.
1. Changes in the radiation output of the sun.
2. Shifts in the Earth’s Magnetic Poles.
3. Variation in the composition of Earth’s atmosphere.
These are natural factors over which humans don’t have control and we have entered a new stage of rapid climate change which is irreversible accompanied by temperatures climbing quickly from normal to extreme temperatures largely due to human interference with nature.
In this era of globalisation we as nations have become bearers of capitalism where profit guides strategies and plans to boost the economy. With the growth of private sector and Industrialisation every remote space of the globe, has been touched by the ill effects of factories and production centres. These factories use fossils fuels which emit greenhouse gases which directly contribute to global warming increasing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere heating the earth’s surface.
As I have started this topic by giving a catastrophic connotation to climate change talking about how the human race is endangered and living in fear as future generations are being deprived of an equal right to the Earth’s resources. The International institutions have been working round tirelessly in generating a global awareness about the consequences of rapid depletion of Earth’s resources and subsequent changes to the climate.
One of the earliest, most comprehensive and effective steps taken by these institutions is the Kyoto Protocol which is an international agreement where it had legally set binding targets for developed or industrialized economies to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. This resulted in a few mitigation technologies.
– Fuel switching from coal to gas.
– The wider use of nuclear power.
– Greater use of renewable power and heat.
The same agreement has brought about relocation of settlements across coastal zones, improved sea walls and storm surge barriers, expansion of rainwater harvesting and improved water storage and conservation techniques.
The work of environmental NGOs cannot be ignored as it had strengthened the International cooperation and launched various campaigns on this issue. It wouldn’t be right to say that we have achieved a milestone in addressing this issue as we still need to take strict measures and make enforceable environmental laws to make this a reality so that in the long run we can save our planet and mankind from nature’s rage.