Time is running out on climate change front - GulfToday

Time is running out on climate change front


A climate activist has her face written with her demand to "act now" during an awareness rally in London.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released this week reveals that the dire changes caused by climate change are already to be seen in the cities, especially in coastal cities, and that one-third of the planet is vulnerable. The 3,675-page report calls attention to the huge losses that would accrue to agriculture, dairy farming, meat industry by 2050 and 2100.

The experts who authored the report have warned that it is not enough to take measures to avoid disaster, but there is need for adaptive measures. The argument put forward in the report is that money must be spent to help people to love through heat waves and other extreme weather events which have been on the rise in the last few years. The authors of the report have also pointed out that adaptive measures will only succeed if it is socially inclusive. The report has said that it is the poor and marginalised people who will be most affected by climate change, especially in South-East Asia, South Asia, and South America. It has also been pointed out that the costs of adaptive measures will be very high.

The economic consequences of the slow response to climate change challenges can push about 183 million people in poor countries into poverty, says the report. That is one of the many things that will impact the global economy negatively. The report pointedly says, “Individual livelihoods have been affected through changes in agricultural productivity, impacts on human health and food security, destruction of homes and infrastructure, and loss of property and income, with adverse effects on gender and social equity.” It said that rising temperatures would make agriculture labour less productive, and their shift away from farming and migration to cities will increase poverty levels and inequalities. And this in turn would decrease food production and increase food prices.

There are places in the report where the authors resort to exaggeration and rhetoric to press home the issue of the dangers lurking in the deteriorating climate scenario. For example, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO)secretary-general Petteri Taalas said, “Our atmosphere is on steroids, doped by fossil fuels. This is already leading to stronger, longer and more frequent weather extreme events.” While the consequences of climate change are fatal, what the world needs is more facts, numbers, and specific strategies. Rhetoric should be left to the politicians and advocacy groups. What the scientists, especially the author of IPCC reports, have to do is pile up credible evidence which can serve as a guide to policymakers and planners.

Climate science has so far given us the broad picture of climate catastrophe. What the governments and others need now is detailed planning. It is not enough for the authors of the IPCC to say that fossil fuels must be eliminated from the economy. It might be a necessary step, and even a good idea.

But given the state of global economy at present and its dependence on fossil fuels, it does not help if the climate scientists continue to denounce fossil fuel as evil. It is a plain fact that keeping in mind the energy needs of the global economy, ways must be found to sustain its present levels while looking for alternate futures. It would be disastrous to turn off the energy switches to avert climate change catastrophe.

The climate scientists must place in the public domain more numbers about climate change and give details of things that need to be done in sectors of the economy. It must be remembered that the critical condition of global climate is a consequence of the 150 years of industrialisation, and it cannot be undone.

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