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About : Climate Change

For 2.5 million years, the Earth’s climate has fluctuated, cycling from ice ages to warmer periods. But, in the last century, the planet’s temperature has risen unusually fast, about 1.2° to 1.4° F. Scientists believe it is human activity that is raising the temperatures up, a process known as ‘Global Warming’. Ever since the industrial revolution began, factories, power plants and eventually cars burnt fossil fuels such as oil and coal, releasing huge amounts of gases such as carbon-dioxide, methane and others into the atmosphere. These greenhouse gases trap heat near the Earth in a naturally occurring process known as the ‘Greenhouse Effect’. The greenhouse effect begins with the sun, and the energy it radiates into the Earth. The Earth and the atmosphere absorb some of this energy while the rest is radiated back into space. Naturally occurring gases in the atmosphere trap some of this energy and reflect it back, warming the Earth. Scientists now believe that the greenhouse effect is being intensified by the extra greenhouse gases that humans have released. Evidence for global warming includes a recent string of very warm periods. Scientists report that 1998 was the warmest period in measured history with 2005 coming in second. Meanwhile, radians taken from ice cores show that the greenhouse carbon-dioxide and methane have hit their highest level 420 thousand years. Arctic sea ice is also shrinking. According to NASA studies, the extent of arctic sea ice has declined by about 10% in the last 30 years. As long as industrialized nations consume energy and developing countries increase their fossil fuel consumption, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will continue to rise. Researchers predict that temperature will increase by 2° to 10° F. What is less certain is what rising temperatures mean to the climate. Weather patterns could change, making hurricanes more frequent, severe droughts could become more frequent and species unable to adapt to changing conditions may face extinction.

In India itself, global warming has already begun to show its effects. Himalayan glaciers have started to melt at almost twice the rate, from 19 meters in 1971 to 34 meters today. The melting glaciers and rising sea level will have a cascading effect on crops and monsoons. It anticipated that production of major crops like rice, wheat and barley will fall by 9% in the near future if sea-levels continue to rise at this rate. Worse- whole islands are expected to vanish. In fact, two islands in the Sunderbans (an area which India shares with Bangladesh) called Suparibhanga and Lohacharra, have already drowned under water as they cannot be sighted in satellite imagery and a dozen more are under threat. As a result of this, nearly 10000 people have become homeless. A study carried out by Jawaharlal Nehru University in 1993 reported that a mere 1° rise in temperature will lead to 7 million people being displaced from their homes and nearly 5764 km of land and 4200 km of roads being submerged in the sea. Another study showed that a mere 2° rise in the temperature will result in Mumbai and Chennai being drowned underwater. 

India’s GDP is anticipated to drop by as much as 9% in the future due to climate related factors. The impact of this on the poor, the illiterate, the uneducated and the entire economy as a whole is unbelievable and unimaginable. Villages after villages are vanishing into the Bay of Bengal in Orissa’s costal Kendrapara district. In September 2002, a survey carried out by scientists at the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research showed that the intensity of droughts and cyclones have rapidly increased over the past few years. Whilst the poor villagers did not know why this was happening, climatologists did: Global Warming. Ironically, these poor villagers hardly contribute to global warming, they hardly emit any greenhouse gases, yet they are suffering and dying for no fault of theirs.

It is time for us to stand up again to seize our future. After all, it is a PLANET ALERT!!!

 

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