I once attended a 15-days personality development course. I distinctly remember the day a trainer asked us to suggest a topic for the debate. Being thoroughly disappointed with the lack of discussion about climate change, I immediately suggested it. Imagine my shock when the trainer in question refused to put the topic in front of the rest of the people. She gave the reason that the topic is boring, unrelatable, and it is not easy to find any data on it. This happened in 2020.
It is common for people to call climate change a hoax. In India, climate change is not a fact. It is not even widely discussed. Climate change is seen as something far away and not worth discussing, something that does not affect us. Apart from a small minority of people, no one has the time to think about something so ‘arbitrary.’
What is Climate Change?
As per the United Nations, climate change is the long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns. It can be natural, but it can also be a human-induced one. Understand it this way: Climate refers to the average weather conditions of a place over a period of time. Climate change is the change in these average weather conditions. Since the industrial revolution, the burning of fossil fuels has been increasing. This has led to the release of greenhouse gases into the earth’s atmosphere. These gases trap the heat from the sun’s rays inside the earth’s temperature, causing it to rise.
It is generally agreed that the earth has warmed 1.1 degrees Celsius since 1880. According to the IPCC (the principal authority that provides relevant information on climate change and its repercussions), the global average temperature should not rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. However, efforts should be directed toward keeping the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Why Do We Not Feel Climate Change?
Naturally, occurring climate change is a slow process. The changes that took hundreds of thousands of years before are now happening in decades. This increase corresponds with the beginning of the industrial revolution. However, the human-induced one is progressing at a much faster rate. It isn’t one flood, one earthquake, or one volcano eruption. It is the increase in intensity and frequency of every natural disaster that we face. You cannot identify the signs of climate change without comparing current records with past ones. Ask your grandparents about their summer and winter days. You will notice a stark difference in how the seasons have changed.
Effect on Different Parts of the World
Different parts of the world will be differently affected by 1.5 degrees Celsius rise in temperatures.
- Glaciers in Antarctica and the Arctic will melt, affecting the global sea levels. The rise in sea levels already presents a danger to coastal cities, making floods even more likely.
- Almost half of the coral reefs have already been lost to climate change. At 1.5 degrees Celsius, 70-90 percent are expected to die. At 2 degrees Celsius warming, we will lose all of them. Coral reefs protect coastlines from storms and erosions. They are an integral part of the underwater ecosystem. Without them, the marine ecosystem would be in danger, and our fishing industry will collapse.
- Europe will face floods because of heavy rainfalls.
- Island nations will disappear under the seas.
- Extreme heatwaves and heat in Australia will cause droughts.
- Many areas of the world, including India, will become uninhabitable.
Common Myths About Climate Change
Many myths surround climate change. Some of them are-
- One common myth is that since cold weather still exists, global warming doesn’t exist. Climate change doesn’t merely mean the warming of the earth. It also means that extreme weather conditions would become more frequent. Storms and hurricanes will be just as likely to happen as heatwaves and droughts.
- Many people believe climate change to be a problem of the future. However, climate scientists, in 2021, warned that human activity had changed the earth’s climate in unprecedented ways, and some of these changes are irreversible.
- Another myth plaguing climate change is that humans, plants, and animals can adapt to it. Given hundreds of thousands of years, plants and animals might adapt to these changes. But the rate of human-made climate change is too fast for all the species to adapt.