Most of us have grown up reading about ‘Global warming’, the phenomenon of how greenhouse gasses lead to rise in Earth’s average temperature. More recently, however, I have heard more about ‘Climate Change’ and it made me wonder if these are related or have we moved to a newer issue. The answer to this can be found when we read about Climate Change in more detail.
So, it appears they point to the same phenomenon, though ‘Climate change’ better captures the broader outcomes from the long term increase in temperature like rise in sea level, extreme heat waves but also frequent droughts, forest fires etc. Thus, it has become the preferable phrase for the scientific community and in general.
Over the past couple of decades, many thoughtful people have dedicated their entire lives trying to make us aware of the risks we pose to our planet and the urgency of our actions.
But is this really as concerning an issue? Very unfortunately, it is, and to be honest it has always been. The next question then could be around urgency, why the paramount pressure on introspecting our actions and demand for changing our lifestyles? I believe that is because we can no longer continue tagging the ever increasing calamities like vanishing coastal areas, frequent floods, cyclones and many similar events as nature’s unexplainable happenings. We now have a much larger scientific base to prove the linkage between these events with human actions. Infact, scientists can now map anthropogenic emissions to the rise in temperature which is the main indicator of rapidly altering climate. With these insights into the drivers of climate change, scientists have been able to identify industries causing maximum damages, also chalking out pathways that we as entire humanity can adopt. These pathways could be our key to lead lives based on efficient utilization of resources, without compromising on the future generation’s ability to survive.
This brings us to the very simplistic yet profound idea of Sustainability. This terminology in itself seems to have the solution to all issues under the umbrella of climate change.
If, for example, we view every resource being consumed from the lens of sustaining it, the exploitative nature automatically subsides, opening doors to innovative ideas and practices of sustainable utilization.
Unfortunately, the current philosophy that many in power continue to follow is looking for alternatives as soon as one resource is near depletion. A tricky example of preferring alternatives, include the recent boom in investments in carbon capture technologies by big corporations with large share of emissions. Many appear to be using these futuristic, yet to be validated technologies as an escape from bringing much needed shifts in their businesses.
But no development can be described as true progress if it is not sustainable. Back in 2015, the UN launched the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 interlinked global goals, designed to be a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”.
These were created as a framework for global development, and intricately capture and weave together various aspects of sustainability. How well corporations and nations adopt these ambitious SDG’s will determine the future of humanity as a whole.
All in all, we may be on a borderline here, but I still have faith in humanity. We have found wonderful solutions to life’s toughest challenges, and we can together re-learn to live life as to have the minimum ‘human footprint’ on the vast nature that we are a miniscule part of.