Climate Change is Now

bhrahmaputra-flooding

Climate change is the stunned tears when a rural family in terai, the flat plains of Nepal, in the bank of Koshi river had to leave their dead infant to float away in the river when the flood did not leave even a burial ground. Climate Change is the utter despair the photographers and the world felt after seeing the picture of the starving polar bear minutes from its death. Drought, famine, sea level rise, water scarcity, climate refugees, extreme events, dying corals, wildfire, retreating glaciers, species extinction, infrastructure loss, ecosystem and most of all, our way of life is the cost of carbon. Climate change is the screams of people as their heritage was slowly swept away by the coastal tide. Climate change is the terror in people when they see their loved ones drowning and their home broken by disasters. Climate change is now.

Yes, the disasters have always been occurring in the world, but the frequency and intensity and even the duration has all changed considerably, due to the warming globe and the changing climate. According to Kevin Trenberth from U.S National Center for Atmospheric Research, “Global warming is contributing to an increased incidence of extreme weather because the environment in which all storms form   has changed from human activities.” All the extreme events that occurred in the face of earth in 2017 has cost the economic loss of around  $306 billion, as calculated by Insurance firm Swiss Re, which is almost double 2016’s loss of $188 billion. “Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” (IPCC). According to J. Eric Smith, CEO, Swiss Re, “What keeps us up at night is climate change. We see the long-term effect of climate change on society, and it really frightens us.” Typhoon Haiyan  killed more than 6,000 people in the Philippines, left four million people without houses, and caused $2 billion (1.48 billion euros) worth of damage. Similarly other coastal storms and disasters like floods have also caused damage all over the world. Kiribati has already become the first nation to buy land in another country for their climate refugees. 20,000,000 people were affected by flooding in the September 2010 flooding in Pakistan. Over a million were forced to flee their homes in the flooding in Assam, India. Up to three million people were affected by flooding in China in June 2014. In April 2017, it was revealed that two-thirds of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has been severely damaged by coral bleaching.

While studying my course in environmental Science, in 2016, I had visited one of the mountain village to learn about the impact of climate change in people’s livelihood as a part of my final year undergrad project. Most of villagers I met were farmers and their livelihood was dependent on agriculture. But, the change in rain pattern, especially causing from the delay in monsoon rains have largely affected the agricultural yield diminishing their ability to produce sufficient yields. And this has forced them to look for other income sources, which is why many of the adult male members of the families are migrating to middle east for labour jobs. Only the old men and women are left in the village, creating more work burden to women. These stories are not often reported in mainstream media or even discussed in the climate change debate. Most of the people and experts are obsessed with issues of snow melting and glacier lake outburst and often ignore these social issues. The impact people are feeling at the household level are often ignored more than we like, as the impacts from the changes occur in almost every communities of the world, and all of the effects require most immediate actions. What we need right now is no doubt the think global, and act local. Similarly, I have lived in the city of Kathmandu, and have the first hand experience of water scarcity. The traditional water sources are drying out in kathmandu. The water spouts (dhunge drara) which were once the key water source of communities in major areas of kathmandu valley are now dried up. The place Sun Dhara, which literally translates to golden taps, was a famous community tap for many decades, but now, are only reminiscent of the past. Because of the depleting water discharge in these stone spouts, the local people now rely on other methods. like paying water tankers to bring them water from other sources. This actually has created another pressure in other water sources nearby kathmandu valley where I often see water tankers queuing up in those rivers and springs putting new risks to these new water sources.  In the age, where we are constantly aware of what is happening in the areas of climate change locally and globally, these traditional knowledge systems and traditional water sources are slowing slipping out of our conscious minds.

While negotiations are going around in the world to combat the climate change, the scenarios of the climate change is taking turn for the worst in many places across the world. In regards to the international agreements pertaining to climate change, Nepal has also been doing works for the cause, major ones being the National Adaptation Plan (NAP), National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA), Local Adaptation Plan of Action (LAPA), which works for the adaptation and building resilience of the communities to the changing climate. Any delay in climate action is renewed risk to these community places, delay in negotiation is losing another species, delay in switching to renewable sources is the loss of biodiversity, delay in policy formulation is the loss of life. Because climate change is now.

 

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