“Climate change is a real and undeniable threat to our entire civilization. The effects are already visible and will be catastrophic unless we act now. Through education, innovation and adherence to our climate commitments, we can make the necessary changes to protect the planet. These changes also provide huge opportunities to modernize our infrastructure which will create new jobs and promote greater prosperity across the globe.”
Climate change is a hotly debated topic. Whether or not you agree climate change is real, it’s a fact that our planet is getting hotter by the decade. Environmentalists have been drawing our attention to climate change for years. Greta Thunberg’s ‘Fridays for Future’ climate strike had once again foregrounded the issue in the public imagination. The image of Greta sitting alone on her strike moved millions around the world, and got people curious about climate change again.
Here are some facts about the change in our climate from the UN SDG website, sourced from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change:
- Oceans have warmed and snow and ice in the oceans have melted. They found that the Arctic Ocean has faced ‘07 million kilometres of ice loss every decade.’
- Crop yields are reducing: ‘For each 1 degree of temperature increase, grain yields decline by about 5 percent. Maize, wheat and other major crops have experience significant yield reductions at the global level of 40 megatons per year’ in the past two decades’
- Carbon dioxide emissions have increased by almost 50% since 1990
The UN SDG 13 aims to ‘Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact’. As environmentalists like to say, ‘there is no Planet B’. It’s important for us become cognizant of our actions and the effect they are having on the environment around us. A lot of the increased emissions in the air, depletions in fossil fuel in the ground are due to human activity. Our behaviour over the past decades has resulted in an increase in climate hazards like extreme weather, topsoil erasure, natural disasters that threaten life on Earth.
Countries have committed to keeping a global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and even 1.5 degrees if possible. Collective action can increase the pace at which we achieve these goals.
The collective efforts of scientists, farmers, consumers, citizens and governments can vastly reduce the pollutants we release into the atmosphere. In fact, Elon Musk recently threw his hat into the climate change ring. He’s offering $100 million for effective solutions to carbon reduction. In India, Sonam Wangchuk (the inventor portrayed by Aamir Khan in 3 Idiots) has come up with an eco-friendly solar heated tent that will keep army troops warm while not releasing any emissions! There is no fossil fuel used by the tent as it taps solar energy trapped during the day. Wangchuk also won the Rolex Award for Enterprise for his ‘ice stupa’ invention for the mountain areas of Ladakh. The ice stupa was designed to freeze glacial meltwaters that would melt in the heat, irrigating crops even in the absence of rain or other running water. His 2015 prototype provided 1.5 million litres of meltwater to 5,000 saplings without other sources of power.
NGO Sevalaya in Tamil Nadu is demonstrating how to incorporate these practices into their daily operations in an integrated manner. They segregate waste on their campus and convert degradable waste into rich organic manure. This manure is used as a bio-fertilizer on their organic farm. Students at their school for underprivileged children learn the value of these activities by practicing them. 80% of operations in their Kasuvu campus are powered by solar energy. They use biogas instead of LPG. All of these activities vastly reduce their carbon footprint.
There’s a lot to be done in this area. Fortunately, it seems like when put our minds to it, there’s no shortage of ideas, initiative and results that we can achieve! Here’s hoping that our blue planet will go back to being a cooler place to live in.
PS. You can read our blogs on the other UN Sustainable Development Goals here.
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