THE CRUX: Climate apocalypse stares mankind in the face

Shihab Sarkar   | Published: December 13, 2018 21:41:08 | Updated: December 15, 2018 21:13:17

Climate change: Urgency the main theme as COP24 opens.            —BBC News, posted on December 03, 2018  

Amid repeated predictions about the disastrous impact of the global climate change came yet another prophecy of doom. The dreadful warning of David Attenborough, the British naturalist, 92, at the opening of the ongoing (December 03-14) climate summit, or COP24, in Poland appears to be the most horrifying of those uttered in the last couple of decades. He was point blank in his words. The nonagenarian climate observer has said, "Collapse of our civilisations and extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon, if no urgent action is taken against global warming." Attenborough blamed humans for the disaster of 'global scale', our greatest threat in thousands of years. Given the unabated aggravation of the world climate by human imprudence, the experienced naturalist had little scope for toning down his forecast's ominous air. Climatologists have already found the greenhouse gas emission set to hit a level which the Earth experienced 3 (three) million years ago. During that time the seas rose by 10 metres.

In the 21st century, humans have been fated to a terrible goal. Since the erratic behaviour of the global climate is now nakedly visible worldwide, they are aware of what awaits them in the near future. Regardless of their socio-economic status, nations are feeling the heat in their typical ways. The island-based or 'low-lying' nations like Fiji, Nauru, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or Maldives etc are bracing for devastating sea-level rises. They are increasingly being made to turn to the richer polluting nations for compensating funds, euphemistically called the 'climate fund'. These industrialised countries are unequivocally blamed for all environmental pollutions that have led to the present threatening form of the global climate. The prominent of these environment-hostile acts include greenhouse gas emission, which has been occurring mostly in some countries over the decades. This widespread injustice making the poorer nations --- geologically located in a vulnerable state, helplessly meet their doom, witnessed the creation of a climate fund in 2015. The venue was Paris. The French capital that year hosted one of the largest and the most critical climate meet in the 21st century. Heads of state and government and representatives of different countries and environmental activists participated in the conference. A major outcome of the meet came in the form of the rich nations' pledge to mitigate the worries and sufferings of the climatically vulnerable countries. The modus operandi of the way out was not daunting. Finance emerged as the dominant issue. Almost all of the rich nations agreed to put in their contributions to the fund. This 'historic' step came up as a new lease of life of sorts for the climate-victim nations. Following days of deliberations, the financial pool came into being visibly on assurance of the affluent nations.

Three years into the event, the ambitious mission is veritably in limbo. Foot-dragging and offering one or another ruse, as well as blunt refusal, dominates the scene. The climate summit in Poland, in a sense, is being held to ensure that the rich nations that participated in the Paris event do not renege on their lofty pledges. But the signs are grim. In the run-up to the Poland summit, US President Donald Trump has flatly denied the existence of any climate abnormalities in his country or elsewhere in the world. In the meantime, super-storms, heat waves, droughts and deadly floods continue to ravage the world, the US and the mainland Europe not spared. However, as has been seen in the recent past, the less advanced nations in South, Southeast Asia and the Pacific emerge as the worst victims.

The commotion and misgivings which have created a fraught situation prior to the Poland meet are not abrupt. They have been long in the making. In the climate treaty signed at the Paris conference in 2015 the ceiling for global temperature rise was fixed at below 2-degree Celsius. The capping, however, was described by scientists as some goal that risked spiralling out of human grasp inviting calamities in a row. The likelihood depended on the extent of wisdom on the part of humans in handling the global warming factors. That mankind had performed miserably in the test became clear in the startling finding of a research made public recently. As the scientists have predicted, emission of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning is feared to rise 2.7 per cent in 2018. Last year carbon pollution increased by 1.6 per cent. The scientists have aptly echoed the warning of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who a few days earlier had sounded an alarm by saying the present world was on "way off course" in facing the climate crisis. In their recent study, scientists portrayed the present world as "completely off course" in the fight against climate-spawned disasters. The worldwide rise in CO2 emission puts the goals spelled out in the 2015 Paris Agreement in jeopardy, a scientist involved with the research says.   

The initial uproar over climate change began to make rounds among the experts level in the 1970s. In those days, the nature-spurred phenomenon remained generally limited to global warming, the sea level rise, polar ice and Himalayan glacial melting etc. Upon in-depth studies, those were followed by other climate-change fallout. Those chiefly included ozone depletion, displacement of sea-level rise victims, floods and droughts. As decades wear on, climate change occupies a wider focus in the environment-related summits and conferences, the most notable of them being the event marking the signing of the Kyoto Protocol in Japan in 1997. This was an international treaty setting mandatory limits on the industrialised nations on emission of greenhouse gases.

To a lot of people, the Polish climate conference might appear to be another addition to the largely non-binding agreements now in force. Many doubt its efficacy in stemming the ferocity of the full-scale strike of a climate catastrophe. But despite a few chauvinistic and arrogant governments' stance, the global efforts to avert an apocalyptic event are set to get going. As part of these initiatives, the World Bank has promised $200 billion in 2021-25 climate funds. The onslaughts of climate change have long started being felt worldwide. The spectre of sea level rise has already prompted poorer and vulnerable nations to go on for arranging climate funds. As a flipside, proper utilisation of the fund money and keeping it free of the clutches of vested interests are emerging as added national imperatives for the eligible countries.

No matter how ritualistically the Polish conference draws to a close, it will at least remind the nations of the global-scale calamities haunting mankind. Moreover, without conferences like it, today's consumerist societies cannot be expected to sensitise themselves to the imminent climate-induced doom. It's a truth few people with the virtue of prudence can afford to keep aside. The crux is that climate disasters stare mankind in the face. There is little time for rhetoric, tall promises and pseudo-serious negotiations --- or being in the role of a sitting duck. As a heroic and disaster-resilient nation, Bangladesh might be the last nation to remain idle and keep enduring the assaults of climate change.



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