The year 2020 began with mishaps such as Australian wildfires, then the outbreak of corona virus which has continued till this day. Every day we are waking up expecting something to go wrong and all those speculations are turning into reality. Nature has been wreaking havoc on us since this year began. From earthquakes to cyclones, to locust attack, to extreme heatwaves, we are having the worst of all this year. All of this might appear to be a glimpse of the future. All of these climate events are worsening with the supplementation of climate change. With the change in weather patterns, we will be facing extreme change in precipitation causing droughts and food shortages. The heatwaves will be even stronger. With the oceans warming up, cyclones are going to be more frequent. The period of rainfall will be shortened but the intensity of rain is going to be much greater, causing floods to be more frequent and intense. Not to say the least, sea level is rising and is expected to rise by 4-6 feet this century and this is not even the worst-case scenario.
In July 2015, many scientists including America’s most renowned climatologist James Hansen raised alarms that failing to curb carbon pollution could lead to 10 feet of sea-level rise by the beginning of the 22nd century. This fact alone is posing a threat to a great population living in coastal cities. The consequences are catastrophic as tens of millions of people will be forced to resettle inland. Desertification is another phenomenon which we will be facing. The shortage of drinking water and vegetation is also going to limit the scope of human settlement. We will be seeing even more climate change refugees which have been a reality in Syria which was facing prolonged droughts. The cost to repair the damage of climate hazards is going to outweigh the economic benefits if we don’t take action. Coastal real estate industry is going to take a hit as contrary to the present when retirees are investing in coastal real estate to make it their retirement home, in future, it will look like a bad investment to them if they do not wish to burn out their investment.
In the future, we might have to live in concentrated big planned cities with the right infrastructure, facilities, and services to act as a cocoon shell and protect us from climate adversaries. Even if not fully protected it shall be the most efficient way to mitigate the disasters. With the melting of glaciers, the viruses which might be trapped inside them for age will get exposed to the outer world and cause public health hazards.
Rather than being pinned down by the gloomy picture of the future, it is the time to take climate action. The first and foremost thing which we can do is reduce our carbon footprint. It can be done even at the individual level by making smart choices like using public transport more than private vehicles or reducing the consumption of meat. While buying new products as well we should be aware of its life cycle. Companies nowadays are also adopting ‘cradle to grave approach.’
Private-Public Partnership (PPP) is going to be key in establishing a check and balance mechanism to minimize the derogatory impacts of industries on the environment. Clean energy and the use of electric vehicles along with increased investment in research and development is the way to look forward into a hopeful future. This transformation has already started in countries such as Norway and France.
With the changing situations, the skills that people will need will change so we should expect a transformation in the education system which shall be crafted to provide the required skills at that time.
Presently, we have crossed four out of nine planetary boundaries and the changes in climatic factors are unprecedented. Climate change cannot be reversed as the tipping point is crossed but sustained efforts can limit the extent of climate change. It is the time for society to set targets and act on it.
Sayantan Mitra writes about society with touches of polity and politics. His main focus is on providing informative content with a unique perspective, but never at the cost of providing just mere entertainment.