limate Change and Global Warming today pose a very existential threat to our planet. There is now proof that the multiple effects of Global Warming could have serious effects that may in the distant future, lead to the extinction of life on the Planet. Scientists have evidence to believe that this has happened in the past – as in the sudden disappearance of the Dinosaurs.
Experts from the University of Exeter, warn Earth’s climate has hit more than half of the tipping points identified a decade ago as points of no return for climate change.
Lead author of the report Tim Lenton says the growing threat of rapid, irreversible changes means it is no longer responsible to wait and see. The situation is urgent and we need an emergency response. The tipping points according to the report include reductions in the size of the Amazon rain forest and the great ice sheets of Antarctica. While sections of the US and its President Donald Trump continue to firmly deny climate change, the rest of the world has begun to take the threat much more seriously.
Anxiety is growing globally that governments are not doing enough to reach the Paris Agreement’s target of curbing emissions sufficiently to keep temperature rises to within 1.5-2 degrees Celsius of pre-industrial levels and 28-nation EU says it wants to be at the forefront of action. Reuters reported on Friday that in Europe the EU (European Union) executive will propose by March 2020 a new climate law to turn the bloc neutral in terms of carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and help lead the struggle against global warming.
Last week also saw hundreds of thousands of young people who have taken to the streets from Manila to Copenhagen as part of the latest student climate strikes to demand radical action on the unfolding ecological emergency. School and university students around the world walked out of lessons on Friday with large turnouts in Madrid, where world leaders will gather on Monday for the latest UN climate summit, and Sydney, where protesters demanded action following devastating wildfires.
Friday’s action comes after more alarming news on the scale and scope of the climate crisis. This week scientists warned the world may already have crossed a series of climate tipping points posing an “existential threat to civilisation”. Two days earlier a separate study from the UN’s World Meteorological Organization revealed that the concentration of climate-heating greenhouse gases in the Earth’s atmosphere had hit a record high.
But there are divisions. Some EU countries dependent on coal for energy oppose the 2050 carbon neutral target, saying they need help transforming energy production. To win them over, the Commission, whose proposed laws require consent of members and the European Parliament, wants to create a “just transition fund” to wean economies off coal.
In Sri Lanka, many of us remain complacent, living in a country that has more or less a stable climate throughout the year. We have no volcanoes and by and large have been lucky to have escaped the effects of hurricanes, whirlwinds and the likes. Yet, more recently our country has been subject to severe unseasonal rainfall, deluge, floods, landslides and long droughts, which are now becoming frequent occurrences.
Floods and landslides caused by torrential rainfalls during September 2019, The monsoon floods affected 13 districts and in its wake left at least two persons dead, while injuring six and another approximately 116,000 people displaced. Between December 22 and 23, 2018 saw more than 250mm of rain to the Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi districts. By January 6, 2019, more than 123,000 people were affected, with two fatalities reported.
The rate of these natural hazards have increased significantly over the past ten years, leading to Sri Lanka being positioned second in the recent ranking based on vulnerability to climate change. Germanwatch, publishing the 2019 Long-Term Climate Risk Index.
While our country has been placed second on the vulnerability list, we as a nation, do not seem to be sufficiently aware of the dangers that we are facing. Last week’s student strikes worldwide went largely unnoticed among students and adults alike. Our governments have done little or nothing to halt the illegal clearing of our forests, which continue to take place as pressures of agriculture and urbanization have caused heavy losses of forest cover.
However, small steps or experiments are taking place, A new concept termed “Agroforestry” has developed. Dr. Pethiyagoda writing in the Daily Mirror showcases the example of retired tea planter F. H. (Sam) Popham who resuscitated degraded forest land in the dry zone.
Will our governments promote such initiatives? Or will soon face the disastrous effects of climate change?