Global warming: An IITian’s perspective
“There’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than other, and that is the urgent threat of a changing climate”, said Mr. Barack Obama during Paris climate summit held in December, 2015. But are these two words actually as significant as depicted by the scientific community globally? To answer this question, I was asked to watch the films ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’ by a renowned professor from IIT Bombay. After going through both of these films, the only answer I have for the above question is that it is Global Warming for a majority of the nations while it is Global Arming for a select few!
One cannot deny the fact that by any measure, the belief that the earth faces an unprecedented threat from ‘human induced climate change’ has been one of the most extraordinary episodes in the history of either science or politics. In my opinion, the way it was seen as in the 20th century is not the same it is being seen in the 21st century. Back then it was a prediction, but now it has come out to be true. And it will turn out to be a harsh truth if we don’t act fast.
I am not saying the above thoughts vaguely. In the research publication ‘A safe operating space for humanity’, it has been stated that mankind has already crossed 3 of the 9 planetary boundaries defined for the sustainable existence of humanity. Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Increase in CO2 emissions into the atmosphere has led to an increase of more than 0.9 degree Celsius (most of which has occurred in the past 35 years) which has also led to ocean surface warming by about 0.302 degrees Fahrenheit since 1969. Data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment show Greenland lost an average of 281 billion tons of ice per year between 1993 and 2016, while Antarctica lost about 119 billion tons during the same time period. Satellite observations reveal that the amount of spring snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased over the past five decades and that the snow is melting earlier. Aren’t these sets of proven scientific data valid enough to prove my stance? And if some people believe that the earth is deemed to get warm over time, then I would say that we are simply accelerating this phenomenon.
The only thing which I think should not be linked to global warming is the allied politics. The way global warming is depicted in ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’ actually seems to be an outcome of certain politically motivated groups whose sole aim is to exploit mother earth the way they want to. Global warming is a fact and it’s up to the liberals to make it a reality. Hence there is an utter need in preventing powerful, greedy free market forces from getting in the way of worsening storms and rising sea levels.
People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change. However, it also needs to be ensured that emerging economies such as India and China do not face the wrath of the global sustainability measures which are quite expensive for these nations. The reason why most developed nations are in favour of global warming issue is that their economies will get an upper hand in exporting the technologies to tackle global warming.
And when it comes to the measures to tackle global warming, I believe that even if these measures do not succeed to tackle the aimed cause, they will definitely be beneficial to us in some form or other. Tree plantation, air quality monitoring, green energy and other efforts towards decarbonisation have gifted the mankind with much more benefits than expected. Had we not decided to tackle the use of CFCs in refrigeration, the situation of our protective ozone layer might have been worst than it was in 1990s. It is our money which is going to be saved when we use public transport. Our lungs will be healthy when we plant more trees in your surroundings. Which one will you prefer to live in; a concrete jungle or a green environment?
One of the reasons I’m excited by what visionary Elon Musk has done with the Tesla is to show that you can reduce global warming and drive a powerful, fun car. A cool car helps make a cooler planet. We need to remind ourselves that our ultimate goal is to improve and sustain the quality of life and the proven way to achieve that is to radically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. And believe me, preventing global warming from becoming a planetary catastrophe may take something even more drastic than renewable energy, superefficient urban design, and global carbon taxes. We are just at the beginning of exploring and implementing the ways to tackle global warming.
Coming to the end of this critique, I would like to conclude that collective human actions are transforming, even ravaging, the biosphere – perhaps irreversibly – through global warming and loss of biodiversity. Global warming is real. It is happening today. It is being charted by our satellites. It is being charted by our scientist and I think the real key is if we are ready to admit that fact and take the action to make the necessary conversion. We have a single mission: to protect and hand on the planet to the next generation. The time is past when humankind thought it could selfishly draw on exhaustible resources. We need to realise that mother earth is not a commodity. Instead of asking if we are alone, we should ask ourselves that can we survive? We have to wake up to the fierce urgency of now!
“We are the first generation to be able to end poverty, and the last generation that can take steps to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Future generations will judge us harshly if we fail to uphold our moral and historical responsibilities”
With WARM regards,
Dual Degree Undergraduate,
Department of Energy Science and Engineering,
Note- This is a critique on Global Warming based on the films ‘An inconvenient truth’ and ‘The great global warming swindle’. It was actually submitted as an assignment for an Environmental Science course in IIT Bombay. I would like to thank Prof. Virendra Sethi from Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering for inspiring me to write this article.