-By Suprina Shrestha
Everyone has heard about it. Most of us are aware of its cause, its impact on us now and on yhr generations to come. Some of us care about it while some assume it is not all that serious. But, whether we acknowledge it or not, we are heading towards the warmer, unhealthier world. The environment is getting hotter every year and not too much of surprise, 2012 has been predicted to be one of the top ten hottest years in history since 1980. Therefore, if you are sweating off your shirt and worrying how you are going to survive summer this year, you have a reason.
If the global temperature rise persists as predicted, which is most probable, all aspect of human life and its environment will be affected. How?! Here are some of the likely impacts of climate change.
Pic 1: Melting home! A penguin in Antarctic looking down at its diminishing world.
The Himalayas are melting and we may run out of a clean source of water someday. More than half a humanity is supposed to be relying on these ‘water towers’ for freshwater. The glaciers of the Himalayas feed nine of the Asia’s greatest rivers. Melting of the snow and glacier cause Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) bringing flashflood (a sudden local flood of great volume and short duration) downstream. In Nepal, around 20 glacial lakes are at potentially dangerous state of bursting. A study by WWF Nepal has shown that out of 103 glacial lakes at Kanchenjunga Area, 7 lakes could burst any moment.
Rising sea level may drown the vulnerable coastal communities. Asian countries face the greatest risk of the climate change. Many of the coastal cities in Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, China, and South Korea are vulnerable to the sea level rise and could be drowned if the rise continues. Sea level rise also lead to pushing of the salty water inland and back to the rivers, forcing the farmers to adapt by switching from rice crops farming to prawns. This has happened in Bay of Bengal. Have you ever wondered how life would be like if you have to survive on seafood alone?
Pic 2: Dramatic effects of global warming! The Glacial retreat! Years back and now!
Rainfall patterns have turned unpredictable and even the monsoons are starting late troubling the farmers. There are signs of changes in the dates of onset and retreat of the monsoon as well as the number and frequency of extreme precipitation events. To add to it, erratic flood and drought have been observed in recent times at the similar period of time in different places. Climate change has created havoc by giving too much rain to some and not enough to others. Change in monsoon regime has resulted in torrential rainfall in some areas while severe drought in the other.
Pic 3: No rain to some and too much to the other. The picture on the left is pond dried up due to lack of rainfall in Tangyin County in China in 2009. The picture on right is flood in Koshi River of Nepal in the same year.
Coral reefs are being stressed as well. Warmer water kills algae at that provide energy to these corals through photosynthesis at the seabed. This result to discoloration of the coral reef, makes them vulnerable to diseases, and may even cause mass die-off.
It may also cause disappearance of hundreds of species of birds and animals. Many birds are predicted to be gradually becoming lighter and growing shorter wings owing to climate change. Many may disappear by 2035. The warming poses threat to polar bears, penguins, seals, pika, snow leopards and many other animals. Also the survivals of plant species, especially the ones that prefer colder environment are highly affected by climate change. On the other hand, several insects and reptiles have increased in numbers and are becoming immune to the winters. Apparently, mosquitoes were found in cold place like Jomsom. That does explain the climate change, doesn’t it?
Pic 4: These colorful reefs we watch in Discovery and National Geographic Channels could turn black and white soon.
Global warming is real and it’s serious. We are causing it and we have to fix it. The powerful players like government and industries have to take the lead to cut the emission but we can contribute our bit too. Since each of us is creating the warming, our every individual effort will be counted to cut it as well.15 things we can do to cut the emission:
1) Plant trees and make your garden grow. These are the best-known carbon sinks. A tree can absorb up to a ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.
2) Turn your food into fuel. Sugarcane, grapes, coconut and corn can be used to produce ethanol-the bio fuel. Encourage the use of renewable and clean source of energy such as solar energy, wind energy and geothermal energy. For instance, next time you think of installing a water heater, opt for solar water heater to electric heaters or gas geysers.
Pic 5: Environment friendly CFLs
3) Change your light bulbs to the compact fluorescent light bulb whenever possible. CFLs last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, use two-thirds less energy, and give off 70 % less heat.
4) Change the way of living. Seal windows and doors in winter and emphasize on cross ventilation in summer to avoid heater and air conditioners. Turn down the heat while you are sleeping at night or away during the day and keep temperature moderate all the time.
Pic 6: Hang them up!
5) Hand wash and hang up the clothesline to dry in natural sun. Prefer warm water to hot as far as possible. This approach to laundry not only conserves energy, water, and waste, but also helps extend life of your clothes. This can reduce the carbon dioxide emission up to 90 percent.
6) Ride the bus to promote mass transit. Walk or ride a bicycle for short trips and take public transport for longer ones. This will cut off the pollution and greenhouse gases created and give energy independence. This cuts the carbon emission drastically.
Pic 7: Choose the transport wisely.
7) Support your local market. Importing them adds the amount of GHG emission during transportation. Consuming the products from local market cuts the petroleum miles than the ones trucked from other country.
8) Plant a bamboo fence. They absorb great amount of carbon dioxide. Longer the bamboo, greater carbon dioxide it absorbs.
9) Say no to plastic bags. Plastics are made of polyethylene that takes up to 1000 years to biodegrade in the landfill and emits harmful greenhouse gases while decomposing.
10) Shut off your computer, television, and lights when not in use. Reduce global warming by turning off the lights while leaving the room and using only as much light as needed, turning off the electronic appliances when you are done.
11) Save water. Improve wetlands to sponge up the floodwater. Wetlands prevents flood by absorbing the water. It can remove and restore Green House Gases from Earth’s atmosphere, slowing the onset of global warming.
Pic 8: Buy it from your local market area.
12) Control population. More people need more demand of energy for oil, gas, coal and other fuel mined or drilled from below the Earth’s surface to provide mechanized lifestyles to them. Evidently, they will generate huge amount of wastes, pollution and the green house gases.
13) Turn off your engine in signals and inflate the tire of your vehicle properly. Keeping your tires properly inflated will keep it energy efficient.
14) Even being vegetarian might help. Apparently, nitrous oxide in manure and methane that comes out during bovine digestion (methane and nitrous oxide are two major Green House Gases) produce the warming effect.
15) Promote the use of recycled paper to save trees. Print only what is necessary. Print on both sides of the paper. That might help in cutting down of more trees.
Pic 9: No plastics please!
We need to act before it is too late because for sure we do not want to leave an ugly world for our future generation-for those who are not even born yet. So, when Al Gore said, “Future generations may well have occasion to ask themselves, “What were our parents thinking? Why didn’t they wake up when they had a chance?” we have to hear that question from them now” in his box office hit documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, he must have meant the same thing.
If you care, act now!
Pic 10: Can you count the heads? People crowd a beach in Qingdao in eastern China’s Shangdong province
(About the writer of this article : Ms. Suprina Shrestha ( @Apocalyptyst on twitter) (Suprina Shrestha on Facebook ) is a Human Rights Officer at National Human Rights Commission of Nepal ! She has completed her Master of Science in Environmental Science from Tribhuwan University of Nepal.
· Newsweek magazine- 8th August 2005.
· TIME magazine- 9th April 2007, 29th October 2007, 28th April 2008, 28th July, 2008, 4th August 2008.
· Oxfam Report Summary 2009.
· Introduction to Environmental Engineering and Science (G. M. Masters).