Climate Change

Climate change is one of the biggest things ever done by humans on earth; the one thing that can be bigger is our movement to stop it.

Bill McKibben

Climate change is impacting human lives and health in a myriad of ways. It threatens the essential constituents of good health – clean air, safe drinking water, nutritious food supply and safe shelter and has the ability to cripple decades of progress in global health. The knowledge and understanding of climate change, its causes and impacts, are constantly growing based on Earth observation and scientific research by a large number of organization and thousands of scientific from around the world. Climate Change in today’s world is one of the biggest threat facing humanity, impacts of which are high. According to the latest IPCC assessment report, net anthropogenic emissions have continued to rise, in which average annual GHG emissions during 2010-2019 were higher than any previous decade (IPCC, 2022).

Climate change is one of the most pressurizing challenges faced by humanity today. Disturbing changes involving alteration in mean values of temperature, sea level rise, and occurrence of extreme events are on the rise. Anthropogenic activities are the key sources responsible for this disturbing climate. Increasing GHG (Greenhouse Gases) emissions from combustion of fossil fuels, changing land use patterns have emitted and are continuing to emit these gases in an increased amount, thus, enhancing the impact of climate change. Climate change refers to the variability in the mean temperature of the atmosphere prevailing for longer periods or decades. It is one of the dominant stressors leading to major changes in the distribution of species and ecosystem functions hence, making them vulnerable.

There is an increased risk of extinction of species with this abnormal change. An upward shift in tree line, loss of medicinal and aromatic floral resources, altered cultivation pattern can be seen in the fragile areas of the Himalayas. Climate change is not just affecting various ecosystems but is also posing an enhanced impact on the communities depending on these ecosystems. Decreasing freshwater availability and increase in number of glacier-melted floods is now a matter of concern. Disturbing change in climate is not just affecting these sectors but is also affecting the health sector, thereby posing greater threat. Heat stress, increase in endemic morbidity, mortality and vector-borne diseases is a matter to be tackled (UNFCCC, 2007).

Climate change can further increase the risk of flooding of low areas and threaten agriculture. Indigenous communities despite being the least contributors to climate change are the ones most affected; the flora and fauna being the silent sufferers.

With increased stress on various sectors due to unequivocal warming, it is high time for us to take adaptive and mitigative measures, not just coping with extreme climatic impacts but also reducing the impacts at the same time. Various measures that can be taken may include enhanced water management for drinking and agriculture, ameliorating forecasting of extreme events, disaster management, and improved land management, strict implementation of policies, enhanced afforestation and agroforestry practices (UNFCCC, 2007).   

Climate change impacts can be mitigated by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and by enhancing sinks that absorb greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Well framed and target oriented adaptation strategies will help reduce the stress of climate change. It is important to integrate adaptation strategies in mitigation projects. Few strategies include monitoring and management of forest areas, conservation, promoting silvicultural practices, land use planning. We lose forests; we lose our fight against climate change. Forests are the greatest defence against climate change. It’s time for us to combat climate change before it gets too late.

(Courtesy: Trishla Shaktan and Deevena Elias, Ph.D. Scholars, FRI Deemed to be University)

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