PLAN FOR CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate Change needs a Plan. That much is obvious.

Over years we have come across numerous amount of news that state how much damage Climate Change is causing to our oh so precious Earth. But at the end of the day that news becomes a stale story which is long forgotten by next morning. We cannot deny the fact that we are facing this grave issue that is probably going to be around us for a long time.

So instead of just chit chatting about how Climate Change is harming us, we should rather prepare ourselves for its impact.

Preparing for Climate Change — also known as Climate Change Adaptation — is about reducing the risk of climate change impacts to people, places and resources. We know that climate change is already occurring, and that additional warming is unavoidable. If we hope to limit the negative impacts of climate change, we must prepare by identifying vulnerabilities and by planning accordingly.

The science of climate change is clear. The climate is already changing, and additional changes are unavoidable. This is because greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide and methane, for example — persist for a long time in the atmosphere, which allows the gases to accumulate over time. This also means we will experience a lag between when we reduce emissions and when we actually feel the benefits of that emissions reduction. Even if we halted all climate changing emissions tomorrow, the world would continue to experience accelerating climate change for years to come.

Since we cannot stop climate change, we must embrace climate change adaptation. In fact, since we cannot stop all the impacts of climate change, sometimes the best action may be to reduce other stressors in the ecosystem. For example, we cannot prevent sea level rise from flooding coastal marshes, but we may be able to increase the resilience of those marshes by reducing water pollution or protecting nearby natural areas from development.

A PERSPECTIVE ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Leaders take responsibility. We know the futility of blaming others, however much we indulge in doing so.

We can’t change the past. We can, however, act in the present.

A leadership and business perspective can help a lot in climate change, and I don’t mean by promoting technical innovation.

Responsibility is a hot topic in climate change debates. Who is to blame for climate change? Who has the duty to do something about it? These questions are particularly relevant in discussions about climate change mitigation that is, about who should reduce their carbon emissions and by how much.

Because these arguments are entwined with the attribution of praise or blame for action or lack thereof, they can be framed as a question about moral responsibility. Climate change poses a deep moral challenge because it concerns a problem caused by those who consume most but whose consequences will be mostly felt by those who are most deprived. The question here is whether responsibility should be adjudicated on the merits of an action or on its consequences.

The attribution of moral responsibility to an action has most often been discussed in relation to individuals because it requires not only finding an agent, but also establishing the agent’s intention, capacity, freedom and knowledge to do such action. Indeed, much research on climate change has approached the problem of responsibility for emissions abatement from the point of view of individual responsibility. This can be seen, for example, in studies that examine the basis for establishing personal carbon budgets or in those that seek to explain why individuals do not perceive climate change as a moral imperative to change their actions. However, a strictly analytical take based upon individual responsibility ideas may lead to the conclusion that, since climate change is “a problem of many hands” (many people share in the actions leading to it), “nobody is (in some sense) responsible for climate change”.

Overall, we can attribute varying degrees of responsibility to different parties but the sense of collective responsibility remains. The problem of collective responsibility for climate change is not confined to the sphere of government, as it pertains to both the material economy and the broader society whose values underpin existing production and consumption patterns. However, this collective responsibility cannot simply be distributed among all individuals because there are great differences in terms of access and use of carbon sinks and capacity to act (not only between countries, but also within countries).

IS CLIMATE CHANGE TO BLAME FOR HARVEY AND IRMA?

Hurricanes Irma and Harvey have reignited discussions about link between global warming and extreme weather, with climate scientists now saying they can show the connections between the two phenomena better than ever before.

“A warmer ocean makes a warmer atmosphere, a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture,” says Gabriel Vecchi, a professor of geosciences at Princeton University who studies extreme weather events. “So, all other things equal, the same storm in a warmer planet would give you more rainfall.”

In a warming world the vapour capacity of the atmosphere increases, and more extreme rainfall, like Texas is witnessing right now, is to be expected as a result. This leads many to conclude that climate change exacerbated the impacts of hurricane Harvey.

It is very appropriate to highlight that this is the kind of event we expect to see more of in a warming world. However, to apply this argument directly and attribute (and quantify) the impacts from Harvey itself to human-induced climate change, neglects that climate change is not just about warming.

In a changing climate, two effects come together: not only does the atmosphere warm up (thermodynamic effect) but the atmospheric circulation, which determine where, when, and how weather systems develop, can change as well (dynamic effect).

Dynamical factors and thermodynamic aspects of climate change can interact in complex ways and there are many examples where the circulation is as important as the thermodynamics.

Hence, while it is very likely that climate changes played a role in the intensity of the rainfall, it is far from straightforward in practice to quantify this role. As such, determining the role of climate change in increasing or decreasing the present and future likelihood of a rain storm like Harvey presents a challenge.

CLIMATE CHANGE IS INFLUENCING INDIA’S FARMER SUICIDES

Financial distress, lack of timely help and crop failure has often been blamed for the spiraling numbers in farm suicides in India. Now, a US study has added climate change as another significant factor that is driving the disaster northwards.

Climate change may have contributed to the suicides of nearly 60,000 Indian farmers and farm workers over the past three decades, according to new research that examines the toll rising temperatures are already taking on vulnerable societies.

It’s a widespread and intensely personal issue, one that has been difficult to tease out the root source. Debt, mental health, lack of social services, weather vagaries and even media coverage have all been put forward as part of the problem. Now, recent research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that climate change could also be playing a role.

Just a degree rise in temperatures above 20 degrees during the crucial crop growing season (June-September) could push up the number of suicides by 70. In the last 30 years, a total of 59,000 farmer suicides in India have been attributed to the direct cause of rising temperatures by the study published by the University of California, Berkeley researchers.

The striking correlation between the rising temperatures — dropping yields — suicides established by the researchers in the 13 States studied (1956-2000) is both disturbing and could be critical in formulating preventive strategies in future. Maharashtra (especially Vidarbha region), Telangana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu clearly demonstrate that when temperatures rise, crop yields drop and higher numbers of suicides are reported.

Because of climate change, India is only going to get hotter. Starting in 2014, each subsequent year has shattered the previous year’s record as the hottest ever. Scientific consensus predicts average global temperatures to rise as much as 3°C by 2050. Carleton says that interventions have been either wholly absent or woefully insufficient over the period of time her study covers, and without an increase in measures like subsidized crop insurance, worker retraining, or low-cost loans available to farmers to keep them afloat when harvests suffer, India is looking down the barrel of more frequent hardship and, sadly, more lives lost to self-harm.

The authors say the relationship between economic shocks and suicide is controversial and, in India, the effect of income-damaging climate variation on suicide rates is unknown. Though, the Centre has announced a $1.3 billion climate-based, crop insurance scheme motivated as suicide prevention policy, evidence to support such an intervention is still lacking. Previous studies of income variability affecting suicide are mostly anecdotal or qualitative and do not attempt to identify and synthesize quantitative relationships between climates, crops and suicides, they claimed.

Farm loan write-offs by Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh recently and even by the UPA government have been resorted to as means to alleviate the problems, help farmers distress and in a way gain political mileage. Even subsidies on inputs like fertilizers and easy loans have not halted the growing demands from farmers for more soft loans and better minimum support price for the crop.

With Indian agriculture continuing to be dependent on timely rains, landholdings being small and farmers struggling for finances, the challenge to face the consequences of the growing impact of climate change is indeed daunting. Forecasts predict a temperature rise of at least 3 more degrees by 2050.

This implies urgent and increased measures to improve rural farmer’s credit, crop insurance cover and preventive strategies both at policy and ground level to avoid disastrous consequences in the long-term.

DOES OVER-POPULATION IMPACT GLOBAL WARMING?

According to the United Nations Population Fund, human population grew from 1.6 billion to 6.1 billion people during the course of the 20th century. (Think about it: It took all of time for population to reach 1.6 billion; then it shot to 6.1 billion over just 100 years.) During that time emissions of CO2, the leading greenhouse gas, grew 12-fold. And with worldwide population expected to surpass nine billion over the next 50 years, environmentalists and others are worried about the ability of the planet to withstand the added load of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere and wreaking havoc on ecosystems down below.

In 1970, when worldwide greenhouse gas emissions had just begun to transgress the sustainable capacity of the atmosphere, the world population was about 3.7 billion; today it’s about 6.1 billion — an increase of 86 percent.

In that same period, worldwide emissions from fossil fuels rose from about 14 billion tons to an estimated 29 billion tons — an increase of 107 percent.

Population growth is not the direct cause of global warming, burning fossil fuels is.

Where some of the confusion comes from is that CO2 emissions are reasonably well correlated to population.

It’s not a one-to-one relationship, but there is a solid relationship. For a couple of centuries, more people meant a great deal more CO2 which more closely tracked gross domestic product on a one-to-one ratio. As countries became richer, that was reflected in their GDP and also in their reduction in fertility. More GDP equals flattening population but still increasing CO2 emissions.

“Population, global warming and consumption patterns are inextricably linked in their collective global environmental impact,” reports the Global Population and Environment Program at the non-profit Sierra Club. “As developing countries’ contribution to global emissions grows, population size and growth rates will become significant factors in magnifying the impacts of global warming.”

According to the Worldwatch Institute, a nonprofit environmental think tank, the overriding challenges facing our global civilization are to curtail climate change and slow population growth. “Success on these two fronts would make other challenges, such as reversing the deforestation of Earth, stabilizing water tables, and protecting plant and animal diversity, much more manageable,” reports the group. “If we cannot stabilize climate and we cannot stabilize population, there is not an ecosystem on Earth that we can save.”

Many population experts believe the answer lies in improving the health of women and children in developing nations. By reducing poverty and infant mortality, increasing women’s and girls’ access to basic human rights (health care, education, economic opportunity), educating women about birth control options and ensuring access to voluntary family planning services, women will choose to limit family size.