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Climate Change & You – A Personal Take on Climate Change by Himani

The recent years have witnessed disasters of growing frequency and amplitudes. The wildfires of Europe, North America & Australia; the heat domes and the other end of the spectrum, i.e., the devastating blizzards & unnaturally low temperatures during winter months. The flash floods, landslides of Himalayas & flash droughts across Deccan, are the continuation of the same story as above. International consensus has long been drawn about the need for coordinated global action. Paris Agreement of UNFCCC has highlighted the principles of “Common but differentiated responsibility.” UNEP has pointed out the culmination of these crises as ‘triple planetary emergency’, namely pollution, climate change, and loss of biodiversity.

In a world where everything has a price, even the goodwill of recycling or turning to renewable energy or so on. Soon clean air and water will become a luxury unaffordable to many. In the moral pursuit of passing on the legacy of a healthy universe, for the generations to come, it is imperative that positive action be taken by individuals and organizations across the world without getting caught up into the politics of this debate. Some would say the Global South is at fault for unleashing the demon of climate change upon all of humanity and they would respond by saying that they are taking corrective measure but the Global South still fails to achieve its targets on emission reduction. Irrespective of who wins the debate on a media outlet, a crucial realization is that we will have to deal with it as individuals.

International organizations regularly air their concern in the form of big statistics and reading those we often would not understand the scale of impact these numbers will have on our lives as individuals. Let us dwell on this idea for a bit here:

“The most personal blows will be at the hands of increasing power needs: The common thread across the spectrum of temperature crises will also bring on deepening power crisis vis-à-vis the need for artificial cooling & heating. Anthropogenic emission is predicted to increase global temperatures by at least 1.5-2 degrees C, over the 20-25 years to come. The devastating loss of the ecosystem will have a domino effect on food prices and health outcomes, which will further be compounded by the degraded quality of land and water. These will cause the cost of living to shoot up with a sharp gradient, which is apparent even today. This has the potential to push millions below the poverty line. Global research has shown that it might undo over half a century's worth of welfare efforts taken by National & International bodies alike. Your kids or grandchildren might not have a chance to witness snow-capped mountains, Amazonian rain forests, glory of diving to coral reefs which our forefathers left to us. Cities that you call home might be erased off from the face of Earth.”

Since it will affect individuals so deeply, the solution to the crisis also needs to be more personal. The Indian PM had voiced the principle of a Global “LiFe” movement, during the Glasgow summit (CoP 26, UNFCCC), in lieu of igniting a positive global mass movement. LiFE stands for ‘Lifestyle for Environment’.

Reducing carbon foot-print is the key. While calculating our own carbon footprints we would often just account for the energy we use. A more comprehensive take would be to account for the emissions that support our consumption patterns. Often when the debate of carbon footprint is analyzed, criticism is all directed towards industry houses for larger-than-life carbon footprint. This is not completely wrong, but the basic principle of economy highlights that demand drives supply of the goods. The global supply chains are driven by the mindless consumption of individuals like us. We live in an age when products are first made and then demand is created via social media trends. The market of social media is driven by this urgency of consumption one feels when they see another having a new product.

Contrasting this phenomenon, LiFE principle highlights the need for: “mindful and deliberate utilization, instead of mindless and destructive consumption” to protect and preserve the environment. LiFE puts an individual and collective duty on everyone to live a life that is in tune with Earth and does not harm it. Those who practice such a lifestyle are recognized as Pro Planet People under LiFE.”, stated a government website on LiFE. The idea comes close to the construct of minimalist living.

NBS is another way to go. Nature-Based Solutions (NBS), describes the age-old solution for ecosystem restoration in the hope of preventing mankind from sliding down the slippery path of climate change. Nature-based solutions refer to a suite of actions or policies that harness the power of nature to address some of our most pressing societal challenges, such as threats to water security, rising risk of disasters, or climate change. A resilient ecosystem may be our only hope to tackle the crisis that is staring us in the face.

In an age of revolutionary technical advances, quick and investment-driven solutions often find the largest supporters. But is it a risk worth taking? These are large-scale projects working on CCUS i.e. Carbon Capture Utilization & Storage. This refers to machinery that will suck out Greenhouse gases from the air, with the aim to store or utilize them at a later date. The technology of this scale takes decades to design, implement & further research environmental & social implications. The sand clock will run out by then. Would it not be easier to turn our own lifestyles and surround ourselves with nature? Planting a tree in your yard will not only register your contribution to this fight, but also provide you with shade and fruit, and if you are lucky enough a songbird might make it their home and your children might have a swing in its shade, and so on. If we are to rise to the challenge, it is imperative that action must be taken. We need to look away from our screens and into our surroundings and ask ourselves - what can I do to improve my own home and community?

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