Time we cleaned up our act on climate change

The daily lives of 3.3 billion people are highly vulnerable to climate change and the poor are the worst-hit by this crisis


Published: Tue 1 Mar 2022, 11:11 PM

Extreme high temperatures on land and sea, droughts, torrential rains and wildfires being witnessed around the globe are a forewarning of the kind of dangers that threaten our world over the coming decades.

The latest assessment report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has just been released, highlights the trauma that millions are already experiencing and what many more will undergo in the near future.

The daily lives of 3.3 billion people are highly vulnerable to climate change and the poor are the worst-hit by this crisis, notes the report, brought out by 200 scientists.

Sadly, not many governments and policymakers are willing to accept the challenges that threaten the earth even as the number of those dying because of diseases, extreme weather including heat waves and pollution caused by global warming continues to rise.

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, rightly pointed out that the report is an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.

“With fact upon fact, this report reveals how people and the planet are getting clobbered by climate change,” he warned.

Unfortunately, there are government leaders in many countries who are unwilling to look at the threat that climate change poses to our entire civilisation. Warnings by experts are treated lightly and the perpetrators who contribute to climate change are allowed to merrily go ahead with their acts.

Environmental challenges and predictions about the ravaging damage caused by unplanned growth is never taken seriously by some countries, as it is felt that it will be future generations who will have to bear the consequences.

The authors of the report point out that many more people die from heat stress, heart and lung problems caused by air pollution, infectious diseases, mosquito bites and starvation with every tenth of a degree of warming.

By 2100, people will experience four times more climate extremes than now with just a few more tenths of a degree of warming over today’s heat.

But if temperatures rise by nearly two degrees Celsius, there would be a fivefold increase in floods, storms, droughts and heat waves.

At least 15 times more people are likely to die from extreme weather with the poor being the hardest hit.

Government and business leaders, policymakers, teachers, activists, labourers, students and people from all walks of life have to wake up to the grim realities that climate change will bring over the coming decades, wreaking havoc on the planet.

There is no easy way around this crisis, which has to be tackled with foresight, close coordination by all involved and at a pace that needs to be accelerated to ensure our earth emerges as a better and much cleaner planet.

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