Man was in denial at first. And then when reality hit, 30 years had passed. We are now facing the horrific effects of climate change. Some, however, are still in denial.
Our planet is paying a massive price for our negligence. Three-fifths of animals with a backbone — fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals — have been wiped out since 1970 because of us. If these trends continue, global wildlife will plummet two-thirds by 2020.
The five main factors for this huge decline in wildlife are — habitat loss, over-consumption, pollution, invasive species and disease. Some animals are dying because of climate change — the rising temperatures and changing weather patterns taking their toll. Coral reefs have been ruined because of El Nino caused by global warming. Coral reefs support an abundance of sea life. They are perishing with rising temperatures. This will critically affect the ecological balance.
Even if we meet the ambitious climate goal — keeping global temperatures within a strict 1.5 degrees Celsius of their preindustrial levels — there will be consequences. These effects will last for years after we stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Extreme El Nino events — which can cause heavy rain, flooding and other severe weather conditions — will occur more and more as long as we produce greenhouse gas emissions.
And now even more shocking data has emerged. A study on climate says weather-related disasters could kill around 152,000 people every year in Europe if climate change is not curbed. Heat waves will be the cause of 99 per cent of those deaths. Europe, especially the southern areas, has been seeing searing heat as countries such as Italy recorded temperatures above 44 degrees Celsius.
Another study warns that venturing outdoors may become deadly across regions in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh by the end of the century. It said climate will drive heat and humidity to new extremes. The Indo-Gangetic plain, home to 1.5 billion people, will face the brunt of climate change.
Climate change is no longer an abstract notion. It is staring us at our faces and telling us about the havoc it is wreaking. It is destroying our planet and will continue its rampage unless governments and societies across the world act in concert and arrest its effects. This will require us to protect the environment and change the way we do many things. It will require a change in lifestyles too.
The need of the hour is to educate people and spread even more awareness. It must begin at homes, schools, colleges and work places. Governments must pass legislation to will help save our planet. And it must be done now before it is too late.