Two months ago, when the British parliament declared a 'climate emergency', we had noted that such a declaration was necessary here too. When the stability of the earth turns upside down, and when there are signs everywhere of species including man plunging into annihilation, no one can afford to remain indifferent.
Therefore, a declaration of emergency as an official recognition of the existence of such a crisis, is the first step towards taking urgent remedial measures at international and national levels. In the meantime, a general election took place in the country. Last week, the Union budget was also presented. During the election, climate change did not figure as a subject for any political party. Nor did the budget have any action plan in anticipation of the crisis. Even as any intervention on a daily basis will be crucial, a five-year government or a budget for a year remains silent on any fears about survival.
But the environment is giving us repeated warnings that there will be no mercy on neglect. The sizzling heat in northern India, the cyclone in Odisha and the flood in Kerala are all warning signs. The city of Chennai got parched. 17 per cent of India's urban areas are on the verge of a water crisis. As per some reports that have come out, in the last few decades the water along sea coasts have recorded a rise in temperature by half a degree celsius. Marine resources are depleting substantially. Along with a drastic fall in normal rainfall, damages by excessive rain in mid-seasons have also increased. Produce losses became common and some species got close to extinction. Not only in India, but even around the globe, the changes are clear and palpable. Countries are taking urgent steps for resolution. Canada, Ireland and France have already declared climate emergency. The largest city in United States, New York, has also made that declaration. While national governments sit inert, regional governments in Australia have been delcaring emergency. Across 15 countries, 670 governments have by now declared the same emergency. In India, there has not been any ponderance along these lines either at national or at state or local level. This speaks amply for how far our leders are cut off from day-to-day relities and people's issues. For them, flood or famine or typhoon or even water scarcity do not seem to be any disturbance.
It is not that a mere declaration of climate emergency is all that is to be done. But diagnosing the disease and having the urgency for treatment are the first steps towards the solution. The earth on fire is demanding from us an urgency similar to the one during a fire in a house when the occupants and neighbours all throw everything else and rush to douse the fire. When the critical question arises whether life should survive on the planet or not, even laxity, not to speak of inaction, will be disastrous. This is a stage when expeditious studies and research, resource mobilization and intervention right from government to individual levels, should be happening. The very recognition that climate change does exist, will help awareness creation and formulation of action plans plus the urgent changes in life styles. It will also facilitate policy formulations at national and local levels. In order to do away with carbon emissions entirely by 2050, and to eliminate polluting indistries by 2030, every day from now on is crucial. This struggle is of everybody, with no place for nationalistic boundaries, or distinctions of religion, politics or race. If our leaders become so small-minded, despite the onset of such a huge crisis as can unite humanity to such a scale, the onus of rousing them is on scientists, the public and the media. It is time that the crisis of climate has become the central theme of attention for not only our political and government activities, but of eveall that we do. Environmental awareness should become part of everything from curriculum, economy, upto energy policy covering our entire everyday activities. Scientists warn us that the only prospect of survival is through this narrow path.
On 23 September, the Climate Action Summit is going to be held in New York. The summit convened by the UN Secretary General Guterres, is expected to discuss the urgent steps to be taken to tide over the current crisis. It will also review the actions taken so far by the countries who had signed the Paris Climate Agreement. The fact that many countries are way below the target, and on the other hand the crisis is more grave and quicker than than expected earlier, invest the conference with prime importance. Given that wars, conflicts and excessive profit-motive of big industry all have a role in making the planet disaster-prone, factors beyond the ken of UN will also have to join in the effort for the solution. For, a summit alone cannot end the factors ranging from the bellicosity of big powers through the exploitation of corporates. Only when a mass movement involving the common man at the local level rises, can the climate crisis be ended. Such a movement founded on humanity and peace, can perhaps solve not only the problem of climate but other maladies of the times too.