Climate Change: Not an environmental problem alone, but also a Social Menace.
If you read a chapter on climate change in your environmental studies book or a geography book, its time that you see it as an issue that concerns all of us, thereby suggesting that Climate Change is essentially a social problem. One would get a better understanding why this is so if one sees this phenomenon rather as ‘Global Change’ as also held by PS Ramakrishnan in his book ‘Ecology and Sustainable development’. We have been using word ‘Climate Change’ synonymously with ‘Global Warming’, we need to understand here things in widened perspective. How do you get to know that ‘Climate’ is changing? Roughly, with rise in air temperature, rise in levels of humidity, rise in sea level, receding and melting glaciers and most significantly rise in oceanic temperature.
While the major factors behind this much talked about phenomenon remains ‘anthropogenic’, the impact has been of immense concern as it hasn’t been same everywhere and ‘risks’ clearly showcase the differences. This was also held by UNEP and IPCC who came up with the idea of ‘Common but differentiated responsibility’ meaning that developed countries have greater obligation to take stern steps in this regard than the developing ones. It has direct impact on the basic human needs particularly of that of food, as agricultural patterns get affected, which in turn posits greater risk to developing nations. This again becomes a case of widening gap between rich and poor and its fallouts. It has much visible impact on livelihoods of the people specially for those engaged in agriculture, fisheries, horticulture etc again being more burdensome for developing countries. This gets evident with erratic rainfall patterns and instances of desiccation. There are higher incidences of vector-borne and contagious diseases such as Malaria, Dengue, Cholera etc subsequently higher mortality rates that yet again highlights the divide between the so called first world countries and third world countries. Also, if you remember about the freaking high pollution levels recorded last winter in Beijing you must also know that Beijing (or China) is still industrializing while London has been emitting huge amounts of GHGs for past some 250 years!! As a consequence of varied impacts of ‘Climate Change’ devastations also get recorded in terms of damage to places that hold immense cultural value, infrastructure and so forth. This short discussion must have brought into light a glance over the multidimensional effects of ‘Climate Change’.
This also signifies the need for a more responsible and informed social response to ‘Climate Change’. Equal attention needs to be paid towards adaptive as well as mitigation strategies. Developed countries with more capital in hand must invest heavily in renewable energy sources that in a way are also responsible for being the highest contributor to GHG emissions. Nevertheless, while developing countries are still struggling to provide their people with basic needs must also reorient themselves to tread on the path sustainable development rather than simply emulating of what their developed counterparts did in past to ensure a better standard of living!
Article by Reeti. Do visit her blog: WINGS TO FLY HIGH