Global Warming: As the Clock Ticks

As notions about the world nearing its end are doing the rounds, it is up to us to combat the challenge of global warming.

Melting glaciers, rising sea-levels, extreme temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, water table depletion, scarcity of fuel, endangered wildlife, floods, droughts…all these phenomena are alarm bells, signaling a much graver situation that awaits us all. Global warming, that is, the increase in the average temperature of Earth’s near-surface air and oceans, is indeed the most pressing challenge humanity is facing today. The primary cause of global warming is the increasing concentration of greenhouse gases, resulting from burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. Greenhouse gases, mainly carbon emissions, get trapped in the Earth’s atmosphere, causing temperatures to rise.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its Fourth Assessment Report stated that the temperature rise during the 100-year period between 1906 and 2005 has been the highest ever at 0.74 degree Celsius. And the situation is only getting worse. With the prolific increase in development activity the world over, more and more fossil fuels are being burnt and the forest cover is being destroyed recklessly. The glaciers of the world are receding drastically, causing sea-levels to rise. Many countries are already facing the threat of getting submerged under the rising sea-levels. So many species are on the brink of extinction. Floods and droughts have become more frequent.

In a nutshell, life as we know it is nearing its end. And yet we act so nonchalant. We rely on our governments and experts to come up with solutions when the truth is that as long as the common man does not take initiative, all solutions are futile. For the most part, humankind is living in denial. We treat global warming as just another scare story. But how can we afford to ignore the effects which are being felt the world over?

If we expect the myriad polices and agreements regarding climate change to take effect, we need to step out of our oblivion and understand the gravity of the situation. We, as individuals need to make the necessary changes in our lifestyle so as not to aggravate the problem. And in contrast to the magnitude of the problem, the steps which we can take are very basic.

The simplest thing you can do is to ensure that electricity is not wasted in your home and workplace. Majority of the world’s electricity comes from thermal power which is derived from coal. Make sure that all extra lights and fans are switched off and the television, computers and chargers are not switched on unnecessarily. Controlled use of air-conditioners, heaters, geysers and other appliances which consume large amounts of electric power and use of CFL bulbs are also simple yet effective ways of saving electricity.

We should also try and limit our consumption of fuel as much as we can. Making use of public transport, car-pooling whenever possible, walking or using bicycle for short distances, making sure your vehicle is pollution-free can significantly reduce fuel consumption.

Recycling is another way of reducing wastage. Rainwater harvesting and using kitchen waste as compost are easy things which can be done at home. Paper should also be used sparingly and recycled whenever possible.

In order to prevent the circumstances from getting worse we need to start doing our bit for saving our precious environment. The damage has already been done. But the damage control needs to start at home itself, before things get out of hand. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee!

Neehar Mishra

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