ABU(Senior group) Excellent Work
“Climate change —meaning, Implications, suggested solutions”
Sri Lanka Anthony Bernard(68/Male)
Meaning: Climate Change is a complex phenomenon. Consequently, it is also a difficult concept to define. A general definition of this topic is a short-term or long-term alteration of the statistical properties of a climate system. Such a change can be temporary or permanent. It can occur regionally or globally. However, in recent times the main focus is on human activity that is responsible for climate change. Thus the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change defines this subject as "a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability Observed over comparable time periods." Currently climate change is synonymous with global warming. A study of climate change is important from this perspective because it is considered that if human activity that causes detrimental climate change is not curtailed, the survival of the entire human race is under jeopardy.
Causes for Climate change
Although scientists, environmentalists, politicians, economists and the general public are highly worried about the consequences of climate change caused by humans, there are also natural factors accountable for this occurrence. Therefore variations in solar radiation, deviations in the Earth's orbit, mountain-building and continental drift and changes in greenhouse gas concentrations are some of the other aspects that must be considered when discussing climate change. Natural factors that cause climate change take a long time (sometimes centuries or millions of years) to produce their impact. For instance the formation of an isthmus in Panama river million years ago prevented the mixing of the waters of the Atlantic and pacific oceans. On the other hand, the results of Human activity that influence climate change are observable in a relatively short period of time. It is also the actions off humans that are supposed to threaten their own survival. Accordingly the writer of this essay has decided to concentrate on the influence of mankind on climate change, consequences and possible solutions.
As has already been pointed out climate change is now regarded as identical with global warming. Deforestation, Industrial and domestic emission of toxic material into the atmosphere, oceans, rivers, and soil the rupture of the ozone layer due to the release of Chlorofluorocarbon gas are some of the factors that are attributed to global warming and other adverse climate changes.
Computer modules are designed to predict climate changes fifty or hundred years into the future. But climate change is the result of complex natural and human factors that the best computer modules can only make approximate forecasts at best. Accordingly some scientists question the validity of the hypothesis that human meddling has any impact on global warming. Such a sceptical view also supports the vested interests of those who would like to maintain the status quo and avoid incurring heavy costs to alterations to industrial infrastructure leading to possible high cost of production and loss of profit. But Environmentalists warn that even though climate change cannot be accurately projected, a complacent attitude should be avoided. They claim that the future can be worse than what industrialists Think. It must be remembered that although the future is uncertain, the risk must be recognized and disaster preventative measures must be adopted now. This is only sensible and discreet.
True, there is a controversy between manufacturers who consider collective action to prevent future tragedy a waste, and the environmentalists on the other who consider such precautionary action far-sighted and prudent.
One result of adverse climate change is the spread of diseases such as skin cancer, respiratory illnesses and food poisoning. The melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice due to global warming could lead to the submerging of low lying human habitations such as Jaffna in the north of my country.
It is suggested that the use of carbon and carbon monoxide emitting fuel consumption should be minimized. Instead substitute energy sources such as solar power, wind force, hydro-electricity, and subterranean steam power are harnessed.
Succumbing to environmentalist pressure 150 nations passed a resolution in Brazil in 1992 to reduce hydro-carbon fuels. This is limited to paper. The reduction of toxic fuels was left to voluntary action by the signatories. Instead of reducing the green house effect, it is increasing due to environmental unfriendly action by industrialists, oil companies and coal producers.
Having realized that volunteer action was a failure, mandatory action was demanded. But this is vehemently opposed by producers in the west. Even newly industrialized countries are reluctant to legislate against pollution and climate change causing action fearing that such measures may lead to economic downturns such as unemployment and reduction of production. Politicians are faced between policies that are environmental friendly and those that may limit economic growth.
Even the Kyoto Protocol, if implemented fully, will not reduce global warming significantly. It is estimated that the emissions of green house effect should be reduced by 60% instead of the 5% stipulated in the Kyoto Protocol to be meaningful. The green house effect is said to trap the infrared rays of the sun and send it back to earth causing health hazards to people and animals.
Perhaps the conflicts of interest between environmentalists and industrialists cannot be resolved. The controversy will rage on until finally the globe will be warmed to such an extent threatening the survival of life.
It is regrettable that such a cynical and pessimistic conclusion has been reached by the writer. But such is the real state of affairs.
What can then be done? Will mankind be wise AND FORESIGHTED enough to prevent their own destruction by following greedy COMMERCIALISM?
The writer is of the opinion that only a world government with sufficient coercive powers can implement benevolent policies. But that is wishful thinking. Perhaps only providence could intervene to ensure the survival of the human race.