Climate Change: As a major threat to the existence of humanity

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The world is now warming, faster than ever which is a recorded history. This impact, over a time are altering, causing disruption of weather patterns and nature stability. This poses risks to human beings and all other forms of life on earth.

The major factors leading to climate change are generating power, manufacturing goods, cutting down forests, using transportation, producing food, powering buildings and overconsumption of products. The manufacturing industry is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Globally, residential and commercial buildings consume over half of all electricity. They continue to produce a significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions since they use coal, oil, and natural gas for heating and cooling. The growing energy demand for heating and cooling with rising air conditioner ownership as well as increased electricity consumption for lighting appliances and connected devices have contributed to a rise in energy-related carbon dioxide emissions from buildings in recent years. Our houses and use of power, consumption of goods such as clothing, electronics, and plastics, the food we eat, and the waste we generate all contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. A large chunk of global greenhouse gas emissions is linked to private households. The electricity generating and heat production by burning fossil fuels causes a large chunk of global emissions. The different way of generating electricity are burning coal, oil or gas produces carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide these are the powerful greenhouse gases that cover the earth and sun’s heat. The factories and industrial manufacturing products produce emissions mostly by burning fossil fuels to produce energy for making products like cement, iron, electronics, plastics and other goods.

Each year 12 million hectares of forest are destroyed. This increase the carbon emission and further on pastures overgrazing also contribute to it.  The emission of carbon when they are cut and clearing forests for farms or pastures increases emissions. Transportations like cars, trucks, ships and planes are major contributors of greenhouse gases. Transport accounts for nearly one quarter of global energy related carbon dioxide emissions. Food production releases carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases in a variety of methods, including land clearing for agriculture and grazing, deforestation, fertiliser production and use, and energy use to power farm machinery or fishing boats.

Hotter temperatures, more severe storms, increased drought, warming oceans, loss of species, lack of food, health risks, poverty, and displacement are all the major effects of climate change. The arctic temperatures have warmed at least twice as quickly as the global average, higher the temperature increase heat-related illnesses and make it more challenging to work outside, Impact of rising temperature include wildfires.

Destructive storms, cyclones, hurricanes, and typhoons feed on warm waters at the ocean surface, such storms destroy homes and communities causing deaths and huge economic loss. Increased drought affects agriculture and crops and increase the vulnerability of ecosystems. They can also stir destructive sand and dust storms that can move billions of tons of sand across continents. The oceans also absorb carbon dioxide which makes it more acidic and endangers marine life and coral reefs. A 1000-times faster rate of species extinction is being caused by climate change than at any prior moment in documented human history. One million species are at risk of going extinct within the next few decades. Another significant contributor to the increase in hunger and poor nutrition around the world is climate change. Fish, plants, and animals could all perish or become less productive.

Climate change also causes air pollution, extreme weather events, forced displacement, pressures on mental health, increased hunger and poor nutrition that can lead to poverty and disease. Floods can sweep away urban slums, destroying houses and livelihoods. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre(2010-2019) report, over the past decade, weather-related calamities have caused an estimated 23.1 million people to be displaced annually on average, making many more people vulnerable to poverty.

The world’s countries have come together, and they have taken various measures to combat climate change. In December 2015, 194 states and the European Union signed the Paris Agreement. By signing the agreement, the world’s nations have committed to limiting the increase in global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, with a goal of keeping it to 1.5 degrees. These countries have legally committed to reaching net zero emissions by 2050. By signing the agreement, countries have committed to submit and deliver on their own voluntary pledges that set out how they will lower their emissions and adapt to climate change. These are known as Nationally Determined Contributions. The Paris Agreement was an important step for global climate change action. By relying on voluntary promises and transparent review processes, it sidesteps the thorny question of how to reach an international agreement on legally binding targets for lowering greenhouse emissions.

Another major step towards tackling climate change is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It is an intergovernmental body of the UN that advances scientific knowledge about climate change caused by human action. They published a report on March 20, 2023, that states that there is a more than 50 percent chance that global temperatures will likely be at or above 1.5 degrees between 2021 and 2040. It emphasises that the world must rapidly shift away from burning fossil fuels, which is one of the major causes of the climate crisis, make urgent systemwide transformations to ensure a net zero climate resilient future, and reduce carbon emissions to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

Governments, the private sector, civil society, and individuals must all work together to ensure that the UN SDG 13 goals towards combating the climate change, and its impact are met. All this is a reminder for us to take immediate action and make continuous efforts, and there is not a microsecond of time to wait or ignore.

About the Author: Umu Salma is pursuing Masters of Public Health (MPH)

Disclaimer: Views expressed are the author’s own. Edward & Cynthia Institute of Public Health or Yenepoya (Deemed to be University) are not responsible for contents or opinions reflected in this article.

Umu Salma
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