by Mangala Singh
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘climate’? After annoying my friends and family into answering this question here is a bunch of responses that I got- Sustainability, hurricanes, and floods, “WE’RE ON THE BRINK OF CATASTROPHE”, Paris Agreement (for the uninitiated, In November 2015, 196 countries assembled in Paris and resolved to limit the temperature increase on our planet to 1.5℃, compared to pre-industrial levels.) and so on and so forth. What is noteworthy here is that even without the word ‘change’ next to climate, there is a negative connotation.
Now, what are some common misconceptions about climate change?
Earth has been through intense climate action before, in some cases leading to mass extinctions. So, this establishes that climate change isn’t new to the planet, but we are. In fact, climate change isn’t about the planet at all, it’s about our survival in conditions that we might not be able to endure.
The world is presently 1.1°C warmer than it was before the industrial revolution. This may not sound like much, but it effectively places us outside the temperature window that has encircled all of human history. Temperatures varied only within 1°C till now, but now we’re on a path of 3°C of warming by the end of the century if we do not change our devil-may-care attitude.
We are disrupting the climate that birthed us by exploiting the resources it had kept quietly encased for millennia. We treat the skies like a colossal sewer. The reason why we ignore the emissions is that they’re invisible, colourless. And so, it is perceived as a distant and abstract problem. We don’t see signs in our daily lives except for news about flash floods, heat domes, forest fires et cetera et cetera.
So, why exactly do we ignore this existential threat?
We are so much involved in our consumption that we feel like we don’t have the right to oppose it. There’s nothing really we can do about it, so why bother, right? No matter what we do, it would be like a tiny drop in a vast, expansive plastic ocean.
We did this to our planet, which proves that we have immense control over the climate. And believe it or not but nature is unbelievably resilient. If we give it time, we’d be surprised at how quickly it heals and flourishes.
What's the Solution?
Truth be told, I’m not a massive fan of this ‘doom and gloom’ messaging. When humans dread or feel penitent, they tend to disentangle from the issue. This is not a particularly conducive environment for people to take the initiative and work towards the problem. On the contrary, they become more passive and indulge in things that make them feel better.
To begin with, we must reward the people who contribute to reducing the emissions and their carbon footprint. Secondly, there should be personalized incentives for each individual to give them a nudge to make behavioural changes in their lifestyles. It is also imperative that their progress be highlighted because this subtle social pressure will urge others to become more receptive to the problem. We, as consumers, should be very cognizant of the products we use and the waste they generate. Try to paint your locality green with plants and trees. And most importantly, make your voice heard by
those in power.
Most of us live our lives complacent and deluded about the threats from climate change, but it’s about time we changed that. The prior generations put the existence of humanity in jeopardy, and now we’ve been tasked with securing its future. Sounds like a plot right out of a movie, doesn’t it? The fact remains that it is entirely up to us what kind of a planet we will bestow on the coming generations. Do we want them to inherit a damned, barren and desiccated one or a pristine, scatheless and infrangible earth?
About the Author
Mangala Singh is currently pursuing B.tech at BITS Pilani. Her interests primarily lie in climatic conditions, public policy, entrepreneurship, and web development.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ytharth.