Global warming

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

The last decade has been the hottest decade ever recorded. 2016 was the hottest year till date. However, as per trends, 2020 is slated to be the hottest year ever. As per recorded data, the average temperature on earth has increased by 1 degree Celsius compared to a century back, leading to global warming. If the present trend continues, temperatures are predicted to increase by 1-2 degrees in the next 50 years.

Global warming is caused by increasing emission of greenhouse gases. The main causes of greenhouse gases are burning of fossil fuels for industries, transportation, households and massive deforestation. Massive usage of fossil fuels for industrial activity, transportation modes like vehicles, trains, aeroplanes, ships and increasing power consumption in houses and offices are the primary reasons for global warming.

The second major factor is massive deforestation. Between 2015 and 2020, globally 10 million hectares of forests were lost annually. India ranked 10th in the amount of forest loss, and though Arunachal has the second largest forest cover in the country, during 1989-2013 the forested area has reduced by 1,681 sq kms.

Global warming is leading to rising sea levels, extreme weather like heat waves, droughts, severe storms, increased flooding, etc. More extreme weather like severe storms, hurricanes and forest fires are occurring around the world. As per reports, due to the melting of glaciers and the Arctic ice, globally sea level rose by some 20 cms upto 2010 and is predicted to rise by another 26-77 cms by 2100 AD. If this trend continues, many low-lying countries and cities like Maldives, Bangladesh, New York, Bangkok, Shanghai, Mumbai, etc, may go underwater or severely affected. Environmental impacts include the extinction of many species due changes in ecosystems like coral reefs, the Arctic, etc.

The world needs to act immediately to reduce greenhouse gases and reduce deforestation. Greenhouse gases may be reduced by use of alternative sources of power like hydropower, solar energy, wind energy, nuclear power, and bio-fuels. Electric vehicles are already being developed as an alternative for vehicles using fossil fuel. Hydropower and solar power usage is already on the rise. Lesser power consuming items like LED bulbs and efficient fans must replace older inefficient appliances.

Many households, offices and towns are being constructed with solar power only.

Likewise, deforestation must be reduced at the earliest. Alternatives to wood products must be encouraged. Plantations must be undertaken and promoted on a war footing. Alternatives to forest products must be encouraged by reducing use of paper, wood-based doors/windows, furniture, etc. Use of single-use plastics like plastic water bottles, carry bags, etc, should be banned.

If humans do not act now to reduce global warming, the world may not remain suitable to live in for our next generations. The following quote sums up the global warming threat very aptly:

Only after the last tree has died

And the last river has been poisoned

And the last fish has been caught

Will we realize that we cannot eat money! (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)