• Factivists

Climate Change and the Future of Mankind

By Rohan Ray

There is no time to lose. It is time we wake up to the reality of the climate catastrophe! We cannot let our future be stolen!

We are recklessly changing the earth’s climate through the waste products of our evolution, such as methane, carbon dioxide and the greenhouse gases. Each year seems to be the hottest year on record, indicating that climate change is coming much faster than we anticipated. This is witnessed through unusually extreme weather patterns (floods, droughts, wildfires)-decades ahead of scientific projections. How can we intentionally continue to damage ourselves? We need to be aware that as the earth sinks, we sink with it, in the storm of climate change!

Unpredictable weather patterns have made it challenging to grow crops and sustain farms, as the temperatures and rainfall are no longer reliable. The resulting rise in sea level, due to the melting of glaciers, have damaged coastlines by causing flooding and erosion. Fossil fuels destroy forests, poison stream and river water and have a severe impact on biodiversity. This disaster, accelerated by pollution and the industrial revolution has made me realize that we need to respect and safeguard our planet for future generations and developing countries.

Being a sportsman has taught me to respect my teammates, adhere to rules and take responsibility. Hence, the lack of restrictions and laws seem senseless. How can multimillion-dollar companies get away without any consequences? How can foul play be overlooked when it comes to deaths?

Did you know that half a pound of a beef burger is equivalent to 24 hours of window air conditioner use?  Awareness of the youth will diminish the damage caused by the extremely impactful methane emitted in beef production.  The educated youth can empower the government to integrate climate change measures into national policies and strategies. Apart from the education of issues like the carbon footprint, the government needs to intervene and impose a carbon tax on the companies that damage the environment, thus making them more accountable for their actions. President Barack Obama famously said, “We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it.”

In my opinion, since nature and technology are deeply intertwined -the substantial damage caused by technology can be reversed exponentially by technology alone. Isn’t that ironic?

Eco-friendly technological advancements such as renewable sources of energy like solar, wind and hydroelectric power have become much more affordable. For instance, at MIT, the ‘SunSaluter’, is a cheap solar panel rotator which increases efficiency by 30% and produces four litres of clean drinking water each day!

Climate Crowd, a global online crowdsourcing tool, allows participants to collect and share data on how people are coping with climate change. This knowledge can be used to find eco-friendly solutions that help ecosystems adapt to climate change.

By using digital technologies like computers, smartphones and cloud storage, trees can be preserved and paper conserved. Student reports, bills and newsletters are sent over email, documents are stored on the cloud, schedules and notes are managed by the smartphone. Smarter workplaces, offices and schools using devices like motion-activated lighting and smart thermostats conserve both money and energy. The government can also mandate a green information technology industry!

Digital learning and the sharing economy reduce the environmental impact drastically by enabling individuals to purchase less and use fewer materials. Ride-sharing companies like Uber enable us to travel without owning a car. Movie rental services that use online streaming, as opposed to DVD rentals have reduced the cost of postage and transport related to the physical copies of movies. The plummeting prices of electric cars and buses, coupled with tax breaks, have made them attractive.

Additionally, technology ensures that environment-related laws are being followed, for instance, by monitoring the quantity of pollutants released into the atmosphere. Drones and security cameras can cover large distances thus tracking and preventing illegal hunting of endangered species.

Nascent technologies continue to hope alive. Kelp is known to sequester five times the carbon as land-based plants and can be used to feed cows! A restorative farm growing seaweeds and farming shellfish helps to reduce the carbon dioxide levels through photosynthesis. Artificial photosynthesis transforms carbon dioxide into fuels.

In the words of Ban Ki-Moon, “Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth... these are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women's empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”

Clean air and a liveable climate are human rights. We need to weigh the stakes at hand, create new rules and a framework that will arrest the damage and restore our future to us!