Clamor around climate change has increased in manifold ways over the last few years, courtesy of relentless efforts by environmental organizations. It should continue to do so, and rapidly so, coupled with actionable steps to mitigate and adapt, if we are to have a shot at salvaging the crisis that we have created.
Climate change has adverse consequences for all life on earth. Research predicts rising temperatures leading to heat waves, increasing health concerns in the tropics, loss of agricultural productivity, rising sea-levels that mean small island nations like Mauritius and Maldives might be completely submerged in water. A few with access to power might fare better in that they could migrate to the relatively better off North, others will try and get access into borders which, if the ongoing refugee crisis is any proof, will not be the most welcoming, passing around the burden of more lives in an increasingly resource-scarce world. This paints a very dire, grim picture of the crisis. And yet people don’t seem to care enough.
The human population at large has remained woefully indifferent to the climate change phenomenon. We continue to take resources for granted and haven’t made any radical change in our actions with respect to climate change. And then there are the people who believe that climate change is a Chinese hoax.It is appalling how people can have the audacity to refuse the reality, despite proof by scientists and the rapid changes whose ill effects are clearly already being faced by the world’s most vulnerable people.
There could be a few possible reasons behind this detrimental indifference:for many across the world,climate change seems like a distant storm that can be seen and understood like the stars, but is light years away from affecting their lifetime. Hazards of climate change might not mean a wake-up call for the rich,because they have the power to secede. A sense of dejection leading to an absence of active participation might arise from the common narrative of doom woven around climate change. The problem can feel too huge to be solved by individual effort, or too out of hand to be fixed.
To take issues of the environment seriously,a radical re-conception of our place in nature and our relationship with our environment is required. For too long now,technology has given humans the sense of being a species that can use its genius to get around any environmental limits to growth.We fail to recognise that human growth itself is dependent on ecology: the inextricable interrelatedness between different species and their environment that ties the fate of one with another. The civilization project of modernity, and its idea of human emancipation depicts human beings as isolated individuals, apart from nature, who can conquer their ecological surroundings with the application of reason.
Admittedly, there has been a steady increase in awareness, research and academic work across varying disciplines and professions about climate change, and theenvironmental consequences of a materialist culture thatborders on the obnoxious. Many NGOs and governments have(half-heartedly)adopted the cause. We have seen a shift in moorings enough to start tomake the necessary shift from an anthropocentric view of the environmentto an ecocentric one.
However increased awareness and half-hearted action is far from enough in the face of rapid changes. A radical re-conception that brings humans andenvironment closer together is needed, to guide our policy at the national and international level in climate change mitigation. There should be a greater focus not only on reducing carbon emissions, but also on adapting to environmental changes that have already been fomented by humans. Education of childrenneeds to not just inform them about our relation with the environment, but also provide experiential learning to translate that abstract relation into a lived experience. Introducing E.V.S at different educational levels to teach about the food chain isn’t enough; it has to be guided by bringing to light the socio-political and economic consequences of climate change. It has to become a way of life.
Success stories like Singapore’s water management system and countless stories of rural India’s successful community-based water conservation techniques must be highlighted to encourage people to come together and contribute their efforts in mitigating the issues. Governments and political parties must adopt climate change adaptationand mitigation as part of their core agenda.The politics of a country determines to a great extent which issues become important. Money should be given to research organizations to produce more work that will improve our understanding of climate change and create eco-solutions. Green entrepreneurship must be promoted.There has to be greater government effort in addressing climate change consequences, and promoting projects that engage greater participation of the public and their ownindividual responsibility.
The clock is ticking. We must get together and make use of every minute we have.