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Climate change crisis: A wake-up call to save our planet



By Aanchal Cheema

Did you ever wonder why 2021 was one of the hottest years on record? Why winters have become colder than before in some regions? Why some states are plagued by floods during monsoon seasons while others suffer from severe droughts? This is not merely a coincidence; it’s an alarming signal that demands our attention and action – it’s called ‘Climate Change.’ Climate change refers to long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns, primarily caused by human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, global warming, and more. A term that was once unfamiliar to many has now become a headline in news channels worldwide.

Climate change encompasses global warming and its far-reaching effects, including the rapid rise in temperatures across the globe. These effects are now so devastating that we can no longer afford to turn a blind eye to them. Deserts are expanding due to prolonged droughts, glaciers are melting because of rising temperatures, wildfires are becoming more frequent and intense, and heatwaves are more severe than ever. Powerful storms wreak havoc, and numerous wildlife species are teetering on the brink of extinction due to their inability to adapt to extreme conditions. Moreover, excessive rainfall leads to devastating floods, among other calamities.

“It is not a sudden effect, we have been igniting this fire since our very existence.”

The overuse of fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas, rampant deforestation, the increased presence of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that trap heat in our atmosphere, the growing demand for meat leading to a surge in livestock farming, and the release of fluorinated gases from air conditioners and refrigerators are major contributors to global warming. Economies, organisations, and governments worldwide are tirelessly working to find effective solutions to mitigate and rectify this problem.

According to data from the Government of India, thirty-four states and union territories have developed state-specific Climate Action Plans (SAPCC) aligned with the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC). Goals like achieving zero carbon emissions by 2070 are part of various action plans, including the National Water Mission and the National Solar Mission, which play pivotal roles in achieving these objectives.

You might be surprised to learn how simple and attainable these changes and goals are. From reducing energy consumption at home by switching to LED bulbs, using cold water for laundry, minimising the use of heaters and coolers, opting for public transportation, walking, or cycling for short trips, choosing a plant-based diet over non-vegetarian options, reducing food waste, transitioning to renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power, and following the principles of the “4 Rs” of the environment: Reduce excess consumption and waste, Reuse and Repair instead of discarding, and Recycle materials in your surroundings. These actions can help break the cycle of single-use products. Each one of us can become a climate activist, not by title, but by our collective efforts to protect our environment, heal our planet, and safeguard it from further climate changes. Only then can we see the light at the end of the tunnel that our mother earth currently finds itself in.

As Mahatma Gandhi aptly said, “The earth, the air, the land, and the water are not an inheritance from our forefathers but a loan from our children, so we must hand it over to them at least as it was handed over to us.”