Global warming and disasters

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

The last decade has been the hottest decade ever recorded. The seven hottest years in recorded history include 2016, 2019, 2020 and 2021. As per recorded data, the average temperature on Earth has increased by 1 degree Celsius compared to a century back. If the present trend continues, temperatures are predicted to increase by another 1-2 degrees in the next 50 years. Global warming is caused by the 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 reduced by 1,681 sq km.

Global warming is leading to rising sea levels, extreme weather like heat waves, droughts, severe storms, and increased flooding around the world. Australia, USA, China, Bangladesh and many parts of India have experienced devastating floods this year. Europe is suffering a heat wave with temperatures above normal by 5-10 degrees Celsius. Even Arunachal and NE have experienced flashfloods and landslides destroying lives and property.

As per reports, due to the melting of glaciers and arctic ice, globally sea level rose by 20 cms upto 2010 and is predicted to rise by another 50 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 under water. Environmental impacts include the extinction of many species due changes in ecosystems like coral reefs, Arctice ice, etc.

The world needs to act immediately to reduce greenhouse gases and reduce deforestation. Greenhouse gases may be reduced by using 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 usages are already on the rise. Lesser power consuming items like LED bulbs and efficient fans must replace older inefficient appliances.

Likewise, deforestation must be reduced at the earliest. Alternatives to wood products must be encouraged by reducing use of paper, wood-based door and windows, furniture, etc. Plantations must be undertaken and promoted. Use of single-use plastics like plastic water bottles, sachets for gutkha, 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 realise that we cannot eat money!

 (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)