Climate Change – How can we make a difference?

We have all been talking about climate change for sometime now. The world began from the ‘Little Ice age’ to the warm, warmer, warmest… what happens next??

Climate has changed since the beginning of human existence. In the early 14th Century, Europeans lived through a condition when there was an extreme dip in temperature, known as ‘The Little Ice Age’. The little ice age wiped away a considerable amount of European population by famines that occurred due to extreme weather condition. The dip in temperature made the climate cooler in most parts of the world. This lasted for several years and then perished with the advent of melting glaciers. In a century, our Universe has warmed from 0.8 degree centigrade to 1.44 degree Fahrenheit. Global climate has undergone a sea change and we have evidenced the other extremity – the warmest year 2005.

It is evident now that climate change is human induced and no matter how much we deny, this is a real fact.
“You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality.”
– Ayn Rand

Now that we know that we are the cause of this catastrophe, we have pulled our thoughts together to build up a strong defense to save ourselves from being carried away by a gust of heat waves or the melting glaciers!

An individual can make a difference like the way we all made a difference to witness this catastrophe- Climate change and global warming.
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
– Mahatma Gandhi.

Climate crisis is imposing serious threat on availability of basic necessities of human beings like food, air, water and energy resources. At this time of recession even if we cannot invest abundantly on latest climate control technologies, we must to protect our natural ecosystem. Here is where the role of an individual begins…

– ‘Let’s reduce wastage’
Scare resources such as water, electricity, food materials etc must be used with care and responsibility. I switch off the electrical devices I am not using them. At my workplace I have noticed numerous electrical switches are turned on 24/7 for no rhyme or reason. No one bothers to turn them off… ‘I don’t pay the electricity bill here so why d I care!’ People don’t shut down their computer and simply switch off the monitor when leaving for the day. Let’s be a little more responsible and shut it down when we are not using it. Electricity is a scarce resource and production of it generates GHG emission that is ruining our environmental standards. We take out loads of printouts and discard more than half of the papers. ‘Oh! Dear, I took out wrong print outs’ and we throw stacks of papers into the garbage bin which are later burnt or just ignored. Wastage of paper is a sin. The trees that are being felled mercilessly every moment at some corner of our world are being used to produce these papers. In fact we should try to recycle these papers to make maximum utilization of them.

– ‘Let’s plant a tree’
In my school, our environmental club projects included plantation of trees shrubs. I now realize the serious necessity of this activity. When a tree is chopped down or burnt, it releases the stored carbon into the atmosphere. Deforestation is responsible for around 20% of carbon emission every year. One tree that we plant can suck up tons of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.

– ‘Let’s vouch for recycled products’
At this hour of climate threats we should think of various ways to reduce the exploitation of our natural eco system. Our resources are scarce and these resources can be saved by preventing wastage. The utilization of our existing resources can be derived from total utility of them and to recycle them thereafter. For instance, 80%-90% of energy is saved in the process of making recycled paper.

– ‘Let’s make amendments as a consumer’
Many departmental food stores have been established in my country within the last decade. These are convenient buying spots for any consumer who can afford to spend a little extra cash and avoid the local markets. Henceforth, we started buying frozen fruits, vegetables, meat and other edibles. Many perhaps don’t know that these frozen edible need 10%-30% more energy to be produced. Quit this luxury and buy fresh edibles which are healthier and environment friendly although they don’t come in attractive packages.

– Let’s spread our knowledge’
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

When I walk down the lanes of Saltlake IT sector in Kolkata during the winter nights, I have often noticed roadside tea stall vendors light up a late night fire and sit around the fire to keep themselves warm. It will probably sound unbelievable to many but I have eye-witnessed them burning plastic tea cups to make the fire! I can’t walk past the fire as the hideous odour of burnt plastic is exposed in the air but I see them sitting there and chatting merrily. They do not realize that their little chat session is costing the environment and their health a fortune by emitting GHG in the air for no productive reason. I approached these men one night gutsily and explained to them the health hazards of burning plastic. If I would have explained to them the environmental hazards, I would have had no audience to lend me their ears till the end! The next day they were burning papers!

This appalling behaviour of our citizens is an aftermath of ‘lack of education’. High illiteracy rate still prevails in India. It is indeed imperative to spread our knowledge with any stranger who has an unknown need of it. Today ‘green entrepreneurs’ are born from among us- ‘the youth’. They are blooming with environment friendly business ideas. Recycling projects have been set up by many young students from my city university. These efforts make a big difference which is why we are still surviving. The question however still remains ‘from the ‘Little Ice age’ to the warm, warmer, warmest… what happens next??’

• Source of statistical information collected from environment based articles.

Upasana Mallick

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