Combating Climate Change for Humanity - Daily Current Affair Article

CONTEXT:

Recently released Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) titled 'Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis’, has raised certain issues and concerns regarding climate change and reviewed our plans regarding the same.

INTRODUCTION TO THE IPCC'S SIXTH ASSESSMENT REPORT

  • Earth’s average temperature will reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels around 2030, a decade earlier than projected just three years ago, according to a new UN climate-change assessment

  • The report analysed that global warming of 1.5 degrees is imminent in the next two decades unless there is a drastic move to eliminate greenhouse gas emission while the crucial threshold of 2 degrees Celsius will be exceeded during the 21st century.

  • Exponential rise will be noted in annual mean precipitation, heat waves, hot extreme weather; all pointing towards increase in sea level.
  • The report enlisted some key takeaways from the report -
  • one, the world might be hurtling towards a 1.5 degrees temperature rise by 2040
  • two, the main trigger for climate change is, undoubtedly, human activities
  • three, the efficiency of sinks to absorb emissions is going down.

IPCC report key points

  • Global surface temperature was 1.09C higher in the decade between 2011-2020 than between 1850-1900.
  • The past five years have been the hottest on record since 1850
  • The recent rate of sea level rise has nearly tripled compared with 1901-1971
  • Human influence is "very likely" (90%) the main driver of the global retreat of glaciers since the 1990s and the decrease in Arctic sea-ice
  • It is "virtually certain" that hot extremes including heatwaves have become more frequent and more intense since the 1950s, while cold events have become less frequent and less severe.

Five future impacts

  • Temperatures will reach 1.5C above 1850-1900 levels by 2040 under all emissions scenarios
  • The Arctic is likely to be practically ice-free in September at least once before 2050 in all scenarios assessed
  • There will be an increasing occurrence of some extreme events "unprecedented in the historical record" even at warming of 1.5C
  • Extreme sea level events that occurred once a century in the recent past are projected to occur at least annually at more than half of tidal gauge locations by 2100
  • There will be likely increases in fire weather in many regions

VULNERABILITY TO ISLAND NATIONS

  • The report pointed that the global mean sea level in the Indian Ocean is rising at 3.7 meters annually, said the report, adding that extreme sea level events that previously occurred once every 100 years, will now be seen nearly every year, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion.

  • This seriously comes up as a major threat to the low-lying island nations of the Indian Ocean like Maldives etc.
  • Even the coastal areas of the nations like India and Africa gets a serious threat from the report.

NON-COMPLIANCE WITH INTERNATIONAL AGENDAS

  • The world's leading nations are showing the most irresponsible behaviour with regards to compliance and leading the march of green steps against Climate Change.
  • US's backing from the Paris Climate Agreement shows 'Crisis of Conscience' whereby it is ignoring its responsibility towards the globe being the superpower nation.
  • Published annually since 2005, the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI) 2021 indicates
  • No country performs well enough in all index categories to achieve an overall “very high” rating in the index. Therefore, the first three ranks in the overall ranking and the category specific rankings remain empty.
  • This year’s loser is the USA. The country is ranked last for the second consecutive year.
  • India is ranked 10th in this index.

THREAT TO BIODIVERSITY

  • The Arctic, Antarctic and high latitudes have had the highest rates of warming, and this trend is projected to continue, as the Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 notes.

The extent of floating sea ice in the Arctic Ocean, as measured at its annual minimum in September, showed a steady decline between 1980 and 2009.

Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center, graph compiled by Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2010) Global Biodiversity Outlook 3, May 2010 (above graph)

  • As the Global Biodiversity Outlook report explains, the water is some 30% more acidic than pre-industrial times, some marine creatures are growing thinner shells or skeletons, for example. Some of these creatures play a crucial role in the food chain, and in ecosystem biodiversity.
  • Aquatic dead zones often occur near high human population density.
  • Climate change is now the biggest threat to natural World Heritage, according to a report published today by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). A third (33%) of natural World Heritage sites are threatened by climate change, including the world’s largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef, assessed as having a “critical” outlook for the first time.
  • The latest update to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species shows that more and more species assessed are being threatened with extinction, whereby out of assessed 1,05,732 species - 28,338 species are threatened with extinction.
  • The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has released the UN report on species extinction. It is estimated that up to 1 million of the estimated 8 million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction within decades.

CORRELATION BETWEEN CLIMATE CHANGE AND HUMANITY

  • Values like humanity and ethical responsibility is the only way humans will ever understand their role for the conservation of the globe.
  • The recent trends which prove human activities to be detrimental for the world stems from human traits like selfishness, greed, no concern for fellow beings and disregard for other species present on Earth.

MORAL RESPONSIBILITY OF HUMAN RACE

  • As Evo Morales rightly observed “Sooner or later, we will have to recognize that the Earth has rights, too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.”
  • Ignorance by the humans towards environmental responsibility paved the way for an idea called as Ecosophy or Eco-philosophy which is a philosophy of ecological harmony or equilibrium.
  • Here comes the theory of Utilitarianism which holds that the most ethical choice is the one that will produce the greatest good for the greatest number.
  • It is incumbent on everyone to promote, preserve and protect environment against any kind of degradation. Beyond individual responsibility, the governments and international institutions bear the supreme obligation to take care of the environment.
  • Environmental ethics is the philosophical discipline that considers the moral and ethical relationship of human beings to the environment.
  • Human values become a factor when looking at environmental ethics. Human values are the things that are important to individuals that they then use to evaluate actions or events.
  • Sustainable use of resources is the primary responsibility of humans.
  • When Big industries and multinational companies are the ones leading to deforestation, then to compensate for the same, afforestation should be done at massive scale by themselves only.
  • The plants and animals that share the Earth with us too have a right to live and share the Earth’s resources and living space. This has to be understood by humans.

WAY FORWARD

As Gandhi rightly said, “The Earth provides enough for every man’s need but not for every man’s greed", it's high time that we foresee the disastrous future that we're creating and stop from making our own graves. As UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres called the report “a code red for humanity,” he rightly insists that it must “sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels before they destroy our planet.”

Sources

  • The Daily Pioneer
  • The Hindu
  • The Indian Express
  • IPCC Report
  • BBC
  • ICC
  • Times of India
General Studies Paper 3
  • Climate Change