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Where is our climate heading?

Where is our climate heading?

The earth we live in is turning unlivable at a quick pace. Scorching droughts and disastrous floods and forest fires are at our door. The earth is not changing its nature by itself, it's the result of the thoughtless actions of its occupants. One cannot say occupants en-masse; of the 87 million species that live here, including plants, animals, birds, reptiles, microbes and insects, only one species - we human beings - is responsible for this destruction. The first part of the Sixth Assessment Report released recently by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will shock every human being who worries about the future. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's words are a stark warning to humanity, as they released a report put together by 234 scientists, analyzing climate trends in 195 countries and more than 14,000 reports. The report points out that the average increase in global warming will rise to one and a half degrees Celsius in the near future and above two degrees in 2100. The Arctic Ocean, the Alps and the Himalayas, which we have only seen covered with ice, are beginning to melt and take on another form. The Arabian Sea is becoming the hottest ocean in the world. Wildfires have engulfed tens of thousands of hectares of forest, including in India.

The uncontrolled emission of greenhouse gases is burning our present and future. All the environmental disruptions that we have been witnessing and experiencing for many years, including the devastating cyclones that came under various names, the catastrophic floods in Kerala and the landslide disasters and severe droughts are all part of this. Not only are human beings not trying to recognize and correct it, but they are violating the laws of nature more aggressively and cruelly than ever before. Consumer lifestyles and market practices are hurting the earth. In many parts of the world, people are recognizing the danger and trying their best to resist. They play their part in reducing fossil fuel consumption, resorting to travel by public transport, conserving limited resources, breaking free from the dumping culture, and recycling and reducing dependency. But the IPCC report reminds us that none of this will suffice to face the threat that is rapidly approaching us.

Even though the problem is a global one, India is one of the regions that is most impacted by the consequences of climate change. Every year, the sea takes over more land. The melting Himalayan ice caps will only speed this up further. Tornadoes, rain shortages, droughts, floods and heatwaves are all lining up to happen. Winters might become a thing of nostalgia. Even as we enter this crucial stage, we need to introspect if we have done anything serious to counter the issue other than as an essay topic for middle school students. Governments are doing all they can to circumvent environmental laws and mitigate environmental impact assessment. Authorities back the quarry mafia. When big industrial groups are allowed to start mining projects by evicting tribals and clearing forests, mass graves are formed for the benefit of one per cent of the population. To mention a case in point of Kerala alone, the situation is no different. There is no special department or minister in the state to envision and implement climate change mitigation measures. Be it the high speed rail network or the Athirappally power plant or the tunnel route, all permissions for projects that take over and destroy our shores, lakes, hills and forests are additions to the earth's epitaph. The state might be armed with rules and provisions to brand local and indigenous people who protest against the takeover of their land and the activists who support them as anti development, terrorists, or 'protest species' and imprison them. But what measures are they going to take to counter when the earth hits back at them?

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TAGS:Climate change global warming floods and forest fire UN warning IPCC 
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