“ It’s Getting Hot in Here! ”

The idea that the earth is getting warmer may have the scientific community rushing off to conferences, but it’s left the general public sitting at home wondering what the fuss is all about. So let’s just clear some ‘hot’ air.


The growing incidence of unpredictable weather is mostly blamed on rising global temperatures. An unprecedented increase in green house gas emissions in the atmosphere, driven by deforestation and unmitigated use of fossil fuels is believed to be the root cause by many scientists. Pollutants like carbon dioxide are accumulating in the Earth’s atmosphere and are now functioning like a blanket, trapping the heat of the sun and causing temperatures to rise dangerously.


With rare exceptions, studies report that climate change will cause harsher droughts, heavier floods and recurrent storms in the subcontinent. A UN study also identified India as one of the “hot spots”, particularly vulnerable to an increase in natural calamities in the coming decades.


The world needs to immediately reduce Greenhouse gas emissions, which is the main culprit behind the climate change, in order to curb global warming and hence avoid the impending climatic catastrophe on Earth.


Closer to home, Mumbai and Chennai held a lights out campaign in December 2007 and August 2008 respectively, all to create awareness about global warming and encourage people to use fewer resources at home to help the environment.


The Dial-a-Rickshaw facility in Punjab is an intelligent contribution to the “Go Green” cause. Brought together by former IIT Roorkee Professor Bhupinder Singh, a local NGO called Graduate Welfare Association of Fazilka (GWAF) and Czech Republic-based World Car Free Network, this simple innovation has resulted in satisfied commuters, happier rickshaw pullers and decrease in cab usage. The recent ban on the usage of plastic bags in New Delhi is another addition to the list of attempts to reduce environmental ill effects.


Among little things that we can do to help combat the climate is not washing jeans too often. According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), washing at a lower temperature and elimination of tumble drying reduces environmental impacts. By following these practices, people can consume up to five times less energy.


Did you know that white surfaces reflect more sunlight than dark ones? And that reflected sunlight doesn’t add to the greenhouse effect, as compared to the heat energy emitted by dark surfaces which are heated by the sun? This is precisely the logic behind an interesting study in which Dr. Akbari, of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California, proposed painting of roads and buildings white as a means to reduce global warming.


As it is human activities that are responsible for most of the recent warming, taking initiatives, irrespective of small or big, like using environment-friendly lights, carpooling or preferably using the public transport, planting more and more trees, using reusable products to reduce waste, recycling as often as possible, buying energy efficient products, saving electricity and mostly encouraging others to conserve energy is the least we can do to help our planet remain blue and ‘green’.


Vandita Naroola

[Image source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/urvish/535045024/]