THE end may very soon be near if we earthlings do not mend our ways. And we have until 2040 — a mere 22 years — to do this before disaster hits us, a period well within the lifetime of most people living today. The warning comes from no less than the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change in the form of a 400-page report released on Oct 9. The Earth’s surface has warmed by 1°C — enough to cause storms, floods, droughts and fires of monstrous proportions. And if that is not enough, the temperature is heading towards a 3°C rise, an increase that climatologists term unliveable. What do we do to avoid such a calamity?
At a global level, nations must cut carbon emissions by half by 2030 and be carbon-neutral by 2050. This will be difficult in a world where leaders want out of the Paris Agreement that aims to fight global warming. United States President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he would take the US out of the global compact, a country that is the second highest contributor to global warming. Others even question the science behind climate change despite the army of scientists from 40 countries lending their expertise to the findings. There will always be some who will never be convinced because there are private agendas to be pushed. The world must not be so unwilling. There is plenty of evidence all around us to show that global warming is real. And all that has happened within a generation. Just look at the melting glaciers, the rising sea levels, hurricanes, storms, droughts and fires. Who would have thought of forest fires in the Arctic?
Yes, global warming is real and it is making its presence felt everywhere. Let us not be comforted by Elon Musk’s and Richard Branson’s promises to take us to Mars. The Earth is the only planet we have. Besides, there is no guarantee that our environmentally unfriendly habits would not follow us to the red planet. Saving Planet Earth also means making drastic changes in our attitudes and behaviours. For starters, we can choose to be low-carbon consumers. From the food we eat through the clothes we wear to the energy we consume, all should be low-carbon items. In this, we will be well advised to follow the clarion call of climate change campaigners: Recycle, Reuse and Reduce. It is common knowledge that the transportation sector is the greatest contributor to global warming. We can help mitigate its harmful effects by opting for public transport. Taking non-motorised transport is even a better choice. Given the short window we have, we need to seriously look at how we get from point A to point B and by what. One may think that all this is too small a step to stop something as humongous as global warming. One cannot be more wrong. As the English playwright John Heywood said: “Rome wasn’t built in a day, but they were laying bricks every hour.” One small step by us may be a leap for humanity.