“Climate change is the defining issue of our time. We face a direct existential threat. Climate change is moving faster than we are – and its speed has provoked a sonic boom SOS across our world” said the United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres. We are given to understand that humans have very limited time to act on climate change before it has devastating implications for our very existence.
However, what most scientists assert as science behind Climate Change has also come to be challenged by some groups. There are debates on the existence and perceptions of climate change.Like this page here:
that talks about some “250 peer-reviewed scientific papers” on climate change that support the premise that Earth’s climate is driven by natural factors and contradict the man-made global warming theory. The former US President, Donald Trump, had gone on to call Climate Change a hoax to damage USA’s economic interests.
According to some Hindu and Buddhist beliefs that do not view time as a linear process, an eventual global ecological decline is construed as an inevitable occurrence in the cycle of time. In these worldviews, while the immediate future is perceived as existing within a human realm, and manageable by us, the more distant future is controlled by the spiritual realm and outside human influence.
The Climate Change phenomenon is not just influencing but driving national policies and geo-politics alongside significant activities of people around the globe. How, then, is a commoner to look at ‘climate change’? On Golmej, we took up this study and debate.
Like each month, we met online on the 3rd Saturday, 20th March, 2021, to debate: “Climate Change: ACycle, ADamage or AHoax.” On the panel, we were joined by Rajashree, Aditi and Sayali.
Rajashree presented the science behind Climate Change with the ‘hockey-stick’ diagram to show how the concentration of carbon dioxide has changed in a very short period of time in the last 150-200 years due to anthropogenic reasons. She said the amount of CO2 concentration and the accelerated rate of increase now is causing a global temperature rise, is a defining moment in history and adequate evidence exists to show Climate Change is happening.
The Climate Change that is happening now is, in fact, a cycle. There have been 4 glacial cycles till now and we have seen correlated decrease in CO2 when we have had ice ages. There is also evidence to show solar irradiance is decreasing and yet we have warming on our planet which is a historic moment that shows it is happening due to human activity such as burning of fossil fuels which causes an increase in CO2, its byproduct, to cause temperature rise.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of 1,300 independent scientific experts from around the world under the UN, concluded after research of hundreds of thousands of research papers that there is more than 95% probability that human activities over the past 50 years have warmed the Earth. The industrial activities that our modern civilization depends upon have raised atmospheric carbon dioxide levels from 280 parts per million to 414 parts per million in the last 150 years. The consensus of 97% of scientists across the board showing that Climate Change is a damage was cited too.
Aditi opined that evidence of the existence of Climate Change is scientific and hence needs no defence.Action on Climate Change is not a prerogative but an urgency to act she said. To back up her argument, she cited examples of the impact on nature of human actions that have triggered Climate Change.
Sayali’s take brought in the aspect of scarcity of resources and how indiscriminate human activity to fulfil wants has caused climate change. Climate Change is a cycle which is resulting into a damage at this point according to her perspective. The discussion included the changes we are all experiencing first hand around us with Climate Change with untimely rains for instance.
There isnot just funding but also lobbying by certain entities for scientific research that happens and this has the potential to influence the research process.
In this Golmej, it was asserted that science gets compromised in the tussle for power, attributing a lot of misconceptions around Climate Change to political power-play. The discussion includedthe activities offossil fuel lobbies and groups profiting from public ignorance on climate damage to understand why the perception of Climate Change as a hoax or a natural cycle not attributable to human activities has been pushed from certain quarters.
We understood that Climate Change research, with its means, is a science of likelihood, i.e. predictions for the coming centuries with attempting to minimize error and this is where Climate Change deniers bring in the critique against the science to claim ‘discrepancies’ as evidence of absence of Climate Change caused by humans. A confusion between weather and Climate Change among common people also leads to holding of unscientific concepts among them as some observe weather changes to draw conclusions related to Climate Change.
As more and more entities understand ‘Bio-deficit or ecological deficit’ which occurs when the footprint of a population exceeds the biocapacity of their area, we have increasingly suitable policy-making in our countries to contain and reverse the increase in the carbon footprint.
The development versus environment discussion extended with talk on the concepts of income, energy, rights, inequalities, choices and responsible consumption and energy auditing and their implications for the environment.The current scenario of society and environment being looked at as subsets of economy is on its way to a required change. Now we must work with the rectified perspective of economy being the subset of environment.
Panelists discussed world politics that impacts our climate action and the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015 alongside India’s ambitious climate goals and delivery on it.
As the episode shifted gears to a solution-oriented talk, the market of green products took the centre stage. The role of governments at different levels and that citizensin encouraging and incentivizing such markets was deliberated.
This episode outlined the importance of climate action at international, national as well as local levels.Panelists agreed on setting the record straight that Climate Change is a science-backed phenomenon and adequate evidence exists to prove it is happening, giving humanity enough reason to act with urgency to save itself because, “the Earth will survive. We have to save ourselves.”