The melting of ice caps, the change of gulf streams, erratic monsoons, floods and droughts – these are one of the many things that threaten to erode the benefits accrued by mankind. All these natural calamities owe their origin not to God almighty, but to another catastrophic phenomenon; Global Warming.
This phenomenon, in simplistic terms, implies a in rise in the global temperature. The global temperature is the standard scale used to measure the impact of global warming. It is discernable that the earth is warming. The figures say it all. The average global temperature has increased by.7 degree since the onset of Industrial Revolution. We also know that this trend is on an upward rise, with an average increase pegged at .2 degree. The world is facing the warmest weather spell in the current interglacial period which began 12000 years ago. The core of this problem is the fact that the earth’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide is limited, and we are gradually exceeding that limit. Since industrialization, the atmospheric CO2 has increased by one third, which has no precedence in the past. It is accompanied by increase in green house gases, which earlier insulated earth and kept it warm.
A protracted debate is going on to establish the causes behind the global warming. Some attribute this rise to ‘climate forcing’– a seemingly complex term used for a simple phenomenon. It includes orbital variations, solar fluctuations, volcanic activity, water vapor and atmospheric concentration of gases, and some of it is attributed to human activities like industrialization.
The uncertainty over the causes came to a definitive conclusion when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in its report, cleared the doubts which earlier existed and ruled out any foreign hand (Read: Climate forcing) as the principal offenders behind this phenomenon. The reports squarely puts the blame on incessant human activities which gobble energy and releases CO2 and other green house gases as the by product. The burning of fossil fuels, land use changes like deforestation; all these contribute heavily to make the earth a warmer and precarious place.
The future of the temperature rise hinges on the pace, at which the green house gases get stabilized, which, in its entirety, depends on the emission of green house gases. All the attempts to draft a workable consensus proved to be futile. The recommendations of Kyota protocol are unmet by the participating countries. The developing countries continue to evade the responsibility, citing uncertainty of the outcomes as the main reason. Meanwhile, it is worth mentioning that the United States is the largest emitter of green house gases, contributing to one fifth of the total. Overall, the richest 10% contribute to more then 60% of the total.
This is where the irony of the situations rests. The world is a divided place and now, another divisive variable is emerging. The world is now polarized on the basis of ‘energy divide’. There is one faction on the globe which is economically independent, enjoying the fruits of the labor and perniciously damaging the ecosystem of the planet, and on the other hand exists a world where people are barely able to keep food on their tables. Death and disease plague their existence, and this side of the land bears the maximum carbon footprint. They will be the first victims when the calamity strikes, adding another chapter to the global woes.
The world is edging on the brink of total collapse. Some countries will be the first ones to go down and others will follow the route eventually. There is an immanent urgency in this situation, which will only get worse in the future. The climate change is irreversible and will affect the whole world. The solution to this problem should involve every nation, irrespective of its GDP contribution or its geographical size. This is the problem which demands serious action on the ground, and not the perfunctory lip service speeches which it is getting.