View Full Version : Climate Change - Aima Khosa - 21st November 2012

21st November 2012, 09:23 AM
A reality that cannot be ignored, anymoreWhy don’t we talk more about climate change?Well, to be honest, it is, for the majority of us, a boring subject. In your everyday routine, climate change does not feature much. It is something that most scientists are yelling about, but their yelling seems to take up in a distant corner of your minds that we don’t pay attention to. Sure, there are many natural disasters occurring – but they are happening in another part of the world. Yes, they are a tragedy and it is all very sad. But do you really have the time to sit and think about it when you feel not much can be done and you have other things on your mind?It is time that you do. President Barack Obama, in his forward-looking (he used the word “future” eight times) victory speech, mentioned the threat of “the destructive power of a warming planet”. This is the president of the biggest super power and second biggest polluter in the world talking. It seems as if Obama, as well as many others, have just found out about climate change. But no, that is not the case. Environmental laws go as far back as 40 years ago. What is happening is that the world leaders have finally realised that they need to take the issue seriously. There are signs that can’t be ignored anymore, nor can scientists’ repeated warnings.In a report published by the World Bank, it was found that while all countries will face the effects of climate change, it will be the poorer countries that will be most affected as there will be severe food shortages, rising sea levels, cyclones and droughts. Do we realise what that means for a country like ours? Does this ring a bell? Haven’t we had some of the worst floods in Pakistan’s history in the last two years alone?The report, titled ‘Turn down the heat’, said that the world temperature was expected to rise by four degrees Celsius. Four degrees! And this is just the proverbial tip of the iceberg; climate change is something that is not going to start one fine day, it is something that has already started showing its effects. Arctic sea ice reached a record minimum in September, and extreme heat waves and droughts in the last decade have hit places like the United States and Russia more often than would be expected from historical records, the report said. What is even more alarming is that even if all the countries in the world pledge to curb greenhouse emissions, the world temperature will still rise by three degrees. How does this affect us? Sea levels will rise by three feet, flooding places like Bangladesh and Vietnam. In other places, there will be water scarcity. It is called extreme climate, and either way, it does not look good. Food scarcity, droughts and floods are going to lead to a historical pattern of mass migrations. In this day and age, no country receiving these mass migrations will take it very well. It could lead to wars over basic commodities humans need to survive.The fun part is we did this to ourselves; we cannot blame Mother Nature for rearing its angry head and showing us her wrath. The new consumerist cultures of both China and India have led to the biggest consumption and production of cars. Urbanisation – the need for accommodating increasing populations – has led to severe deforestation. We no longer have natural mechanics working for us – we chopped them down ourselves. The more cars there are on the road, the more fuel we are burning; and the lesser trees we have to absorb the carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuels being burned, the more extreme our climate gets. We literally took fuel from the ground and released it into the atmosphere. Makes you wish you had taken the tree-huggers seriously, right?The World Bank proposed an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, a debatable international, agreement already in place to curb greenhouse emissions. The question is will that be enough? How far will we have to go to cut down on our greenhouse emissions and what does it mean for the world economy, already in trouble with the greatest recession since the Great Depression? Who is going to agree to shut down car factories, steel factories, food industries and so much more when that is what forms the bulk of every economy in the world – from developing to developed nations?What other choice will the developing nations (who are being accused of being the biggest contributors to this climate change) have for energy production when the alternatives are expensive to get and technical training for maintenance is non-existent? The dynamics of curbing greenhouse gas emissions is not as simple as it looks. There are lobbies against it in every parliament of the world. Lobbies exist to push an agenda and in this case, the agenda is to continue feeding populations with things they do not need so the money keeps flowing and the economies keep functioning. Leave it to the hippies to protest. Sadly, it is not just the hippies who will face the repercussions of our ignorance and laziness. It is the entire world. In one week alone, one has heard of floods in Italy, super storms in the United States, and earthquakes in Guatemala.The worst part is that even if there is a strong movement to curb greenhouse emissions, it is doubtful that every nation in the world will accept it and implement it. There are bigger powers in play than a few minor earthquakes no one seems to be concerned about. Climate change has economical, technological, sociological and political dynamics to it and while we mull our heads over it, the fuel keeps on burning and the gases keep on filling up the atmosphere.If that is the case, are we doomed? Is it too late? We don’t know. What we do know is that it is time for the reality of climate change to be seriously discussed in every parliament of the world, with tangible laws as a result. It is about the fate of humanity after all. Aima Khosa is a staff member at Pakistan Today. Etienne Bodin is a political communication consultant in France.