Catastrophic Warming

Global WarmingHis suicide note read, “Tomorrow is the end of the world. I kill myself before that.”

I wonder, what must have made him feel that the world was going to end the next day? But then I realize that by this time, all of us must be aware that we are in an even worse situation, because we know that the end of the world is nearing, but we don’t know ‘when’.

My hometown, situated close to the hills, was well known for its pleasant weather all year round. But now it has unbearable summers and harsh winters. The weather of the place has undergone such a drastic change, that sometimes it is difficult to register the fact that it is the same place.

What is this that is happening all around us? As we are rapidly progressing towards technical superiority, the natural world seems to be rebelling against us. The entire world has been threatened by the whims and fancies of nature since times immemorial. But now, it is affecting our very existence by infecting the earth like a pestilent disease. We give it a name. “Global Warming”.

Scientists believe that the earth is currently facing a period of rapid warming brought on by rising levels of heat-trapping gases, known as the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere, but human activities have added more and more of these gases in the atmosphere. For instance, the level of carbon dioxide, a powerful greenhouse gas, has increased drastically by the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, natural gas. With more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, it acts like a thickening blanket and traps more heat.

Scientists project global warming to continue at a rate that is unprecedented in hundreds of thousands, or even millions of years of Earth’s history. They predict considerably more warming in the 21st century, depending on the level of future greenhouse gas emissions.

For a scenario (possible situation) assuming higher emissions—in which emissions continue to increase significantly during the century—scientists project further warming of 2.4 to 6.4 Celsius degrees (4.3 to 11.5 Fahrenheit degrees) by the year 2100. For a scenario assuming lower emissions—in which emissions grow slowly, peak around the year 2050, and then fall—scientists project further warming of 1.1 to 2.9 Celsius degrees (1.9 to 5.2 Fahrenheit degrees) by the year 2100.

Melting polar ice and glaciers, as well as warming of the oceans, expands ocean volume and raises sea level, which will eventually flood some coastal regions and even entire islands. Patterns of rainfall are expected to change, with higher latitudes (closer to the poles) projected to receive more rainfall, and subtropical areas (such as the Mediterranean and southern Africa) projected to receive considerably less.

Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns may damage food crops, disrupting food production in some parts of the world. Plant and animal species will shift their ranges toward the poles or to higher elevations seeking cooler temperatures and species that cannot do so may become extinct. Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere also leads to increased ocean acidity, damaging ocean ecosystems. Apart from the climatic changes, various health related issues are now threatening the very existence of man.

Man is himself responsible for this epidemic that has set forward to strike us. Cutting down of trees, emission of poisonous gases from cars and factories causing air pollution and burning of fossil fuels; all add on to the damage that is destroying earth’s atmosphere. We are causing our own destruction. The time has come when we should finally take a decision, become responsible citizens and nourish our atmosphere. Say no to such a “living death”.

The end of the world is still far far away!

Arunima Chandha