It’s a beautiful day in August of 2017. Three children in different parts of the world are going about their daily life as they do every day and as their parents has done for countless generations. Meet Mari in Japan, Mari wants to be a successful businesswoman one day, just like her father; but right now she’s more interested into spaceships and planets. Awad lives in Sudan with his parents and grandparents. One day he wants to travel the whole world in his own little sail boat. Ankit lives in India with his big happy family. When Ankit grows up he wants to be the world’s greatest chef. and so life goes on. Mari becomes an astronaut much to her father’s surprise. Awad travels the world in his sailboat and Ankit opens up his own restaurant in his home town. They grow old and pass on having a fulfilled life. Their children follow and their children’s children until one day in the August of 2100…
Mari and her family is crammed with thousands of people in Oshima airport hoping it’s not too late. Sadly the people of Tokyo never had a chance. The once proud city is reduced to rubbles by a tsunami, the likes of which have never been seen. Awad lies in the dark of his quiet home and he knows his time has come. It hasn’t rained in months, all the crops and livestock have died and the water dried up long ago. The people of Sudan suffer the slow death of starvation and dehydration. Ankit draws ragged breath in his hospital bed, his body ravaged by diseases. He’s the last living member of his family. The population of India has fallen drastically.
These are a few hypothetical scenarios from various parts of the globe. While they may seem unrelated they all share a common catalyst Climate CHANGE. The climate warming trends over the past 100 years are caused largely by human activity. The largest contributing factor to the climate change is animal farming, and the burning of fossil fuels. Oil, coal and natural gas all release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burnt. Animal farming on the other hand is the major water pollutant, and produces significant amount of methane (a four times more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide). Methane (produced extensively by the Livestock Industry worldwide), traps up to 100 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide within a 5 year period, and 72 times more within a 20 year period. The good news is that methane also leaves the atmosphere within a decade. The bad news is green house gases like methane and carbon monoxide tends to leave the atmosphere by reacting with other atmospheric gases to form carbon dioxide water vapor and other greenhouse gases, thus dealing more damage. this temperature increase then causes other problems such as melting of glaciers and polar ice. As Arctic ice melts, it releases carbon dioxide and methane, compounding the problem by making the atmosphere even warmer thus melting more ice. It’s a vicious cycle.
Since 1750 mankind has added 520 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases and we are on a verge of adding that much again by 2050. As the end of 2016 carbon dioxide levels are up by 405 parts per million, the highest in 650,000 years. Global temperature is up by 1.7 degrees since 1880 and 9 of the last 10 hottest years on record happened since 2000, the 10th being 1998.Arctic ice is shrinking at a rate of 13.3% per decade, and land ice is disappearing at a rate of 281 billion ton per year. Greenland ice loss doubled between 1996 and 2005, the global sea level has risen 7 inches in the last 100 years. You would probably be thinking, well that doesn’t sounds too bad. Let’s look at all the consequences by category.
The melting of polar ice: At the current rate of melting which is likely to increase, the Arctic is projected to see its first ice free summer by 2050. Imagine that! All of the ice, gone in next 33 years. That means the
extinction of polar bears with in a hundred years. Some species of ice dependent seals will die off if they can’t adapt including harped, ringed, ribbon and bearded seal. Ivory gulls have already suffered a population reduction of 90% in the past 20 years. Then there’s walrus, the arctic fox, small plant eaters like ground squirrel, hare, lemming. Large plant eaters like moose, Reindeer and musk ox, and meat eaters like wolf, weasels, wolverine, foxes, bears and birds of prey. The melting ice will cause a domino effect, knocking out species which other species depend upon for food.
Rising sea level: Over the past 100 years global sea level has risen approximately 7 inches. The more alarming fact is that the rate of rise in the last decade is nearly double the rate of entire last century. As sea water
reaches further in land it can cause destructive erosion, flooding of wet lands, contamination of aquifers and agricultural soil; and lost habitat for fish birds and plants. Most projection shows the sea level will rise between
0.8 to 2 meters by 2100, which would be catastrophic for many low lying
islands and much of the coastal areas throughout the globe.
Global temperature rise: The annual temperature increase is measured at
roughly 1.7 deg. Fahrenheit. This increase in temperature could cause
the most drastic immediate effect of all three categories. The list is long and distressing, global warming will cause droughts and heat waves which are already responsible for killing more people than floods, hurricane, lightning
and thunderstorm combined. It will aggravate the spread of diseases. Warmer weather allows disease bearers to be active longer and further abroad. Warmer ocean temperatures will allow pathogens to flourish, as we have already seen with the widespread coral bleaching of the great barrier reef. This coral houses 25% of all marine diversity, and the reef has already declined by 50% in the last 30 years. When the coral goes we’ll lose hundreds of thousands of species dependent upon it for shelter, which will collapse much of the marine food chain. Back on land fishing will suffer, droughts will destroy crops and livestock and create a water scarcity, pushing farmers and people in rural areas into the city. this will cause overcrowding and helps spark civil wars. GDP is expected to fall by 23% by 2100 due to property damage from flooding, droughts, wildfire, storms, loss of productivity, loss of tourism and illness. You can see how quickly the situation can snowball wildly out of control, is it too late to stop the change we have put in motion? It’s hard to say for sure, but the effect humans have had on the earth is sever and the
changes have indeed been set in motion. Even if we stop emitting greenhouse gases today global warming would continue for at least several more decades since carbon dioxide linger in the atmosphere for up to centuries. Some experts believe we are approaching a tipping point. A point at which abrupt and perhaps irreversible changes would tip our climate into a new state. However it may not be too late to limit some of the worst effects of climate change, and to do so three important steps are required.
Mitigation: The reduction of greenhouse gases emission into the atmosphere.
Adaptation : Learning to cope with and adapt to the change in climate that have already been set in motion.
Plantation: The act of planting trees,trees act as a natural scrub for the
carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere, the Rain Forests act as the lungs of our planet purifying the air we breathe.
Trees are an important part of the rain cycle and helps in restoring the ground water and bring rain. Just above 1000 years ago the earth’s biomass comprise of 10% of humans and 90% of free animals living in their natural habitat. We have reduced it to 98% humans and 2% free animals. 2,16,000 new human beings are born on this planet every day, to feed this newly added population. 34,000 acres of farmable land is to be added each day, and we all know this addition of land mass is not possible with current technology.