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Climate change: obstructing the path to a liveable tomorrow?

Climate change has been growing evident every day and causing the temperatures to fluctuate. From scorching heat and pollution playing a role in the air quality index deteriorating and causing breathing health issues

It is about time we realise that something that seemed “a little off” has grown into a full-blown calamity with casualties more than just the environment and the lush green covers. However, there are still amends we can make as a community and lessen the blow, writes Dr. JP Gupta

We have been accustomed to sitting in our rooms while discussing how it is time to switch to a bigger apartment, a better job or confining ourselves to our rooms with our air conditioners on their maximum cooling temperature. Enjoying the rain while we shoot up our laptops seems like a regular day in our routine lives. However, what we fail to notice is the fact that a bigger apartment is costing deforestation, the air conditioner emitting carbon footprint and the untimely monsoons — a sign showing the catastrophic consequences of our actions. Climate change has been impacting the nations across the globe and reaching an irremediable state by the passing day. With temperatures rising, glaciers melting and floods causing destruction by sudden advances in the shore or connected regions, the concern only seems to be amplifying.

It’s time to realise that something that seemed “a little off” has grown into a full-blown calamity with casualties more than just the environment and the lush green covers. Most of the people are not acknowledging the concern, tagging it as a side-issue as they turn a blind eye; however, the truth lies far away from it.

Climate change: a real threat?

Climate change has been growing evident every day and causing the temperatures to fluctuate. From scorching heat and pollution playing a role in the air quality index deteriorating and causing breathing health issues, the concerns are on a rise. One of the major factors playing an evident lead in the entire problem is the increase in greenhouse gases contributing to greenhouse effect that is growing intense. The effect is making the heat of the sun get trapped in the earth’s atmosphere and skyrocketing the temperatures to a whole new level.

The change is hitting India along with others as well and resulting in tragic consequences with flora and fauna, businesses, economy and more playing a part as the collateral damage of the anthropogenic activities. Our country is blessed by numerous environmental covers and terrains including glaciers, high mountains, long coastlines as well as massive semi-arid regions thus, making it a hotspot for climate change. There is no doubt that global warming is adversely affecting the Indian ecology, as backed by many surveys. In fact, India has already made it to the top 10 most affected countries in the Global Climate Risk Index 2021 as per a report published by Germanwatch. The report further states how vulnerable people in developing countries suffered the most from extreme weather events like storms, floods and heat waves, while the impacts of climate change are visible around the globe. The threat of climate change is as real as it gets and is seen moving gradually towards the D-day.

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Factors contributing to climate change

We, as a society, have been ignoring the signs of global warming warnings over three decades, which has further led to this adversity brewing on an exponential scale. Human interference has been one of the major factors contributing to the global challenge of confining the effects of global warming and minimising its impact. Other factors include:

  • Fuel emissions due to exploiting natural gases
  • Overusing resources that take hundreds and thousands of years to get renewed
  • Excessive residue of carbon footprints
  • The agricultural practices using both commercial and organic fertilisers along with increase in livestock farming and others

These combined with an inexhaustible list of other factors are bringing an age of disruption and adding to global warming. The factors are not only a result of human initiations and interruptions but are further being triggered intensely to cause more havoc by the day.

How is it impacting the world?

Human intervention has resulted in putting the entire ecosystem and the life forms sustaining in it in a tough spot. Our activities have led to the temperatures shooting up and the ocean and the land along with our atmosphere to get affected. The cryosphere, the water bodies and the environmental covers are depleting due to the increase in anthropogenic activities with the impact growing irreversible if not interrupted with an emergent series of action. Climate change is giving rise to several issues such as ice sheets turning to water, marine heat waves, heavy precipitation, floods, tropical cyclones, permafrost and ecological droughts becoming more frequent than ever.

Turning away from the consequences of our activities in the past millennia is setting into motion a series of catastrophic events such as intensifying the global water cycle and the severity of wet and dry events. The conspicuous effects are becoming more evident and thus requiring us to take significant steps to curb the problems.

The unpopular fact

One of the lesser-known aspects of climate change is that it impacts us physiologically, eventually affecting our psyche as a by-product and causing more damage than we, as a community, realise. The rise in global temperature reflects upon the fact that people’s bodies, as suggested scientifically, cannot handle heat beyond wet bulb temperatures; a combined measure of heat and humidity — of around 35° Celsius, or about 95° Fahrenheit. Researchers across the globe have worked relentlessly to draw evidence that shows when heat taxes people’s bodies, their performance on various tasks, as well as overall coping mechanisms, suffer.

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This further accelerates negative traits, including fuelling aggression, lower cognitive ability and plummeting productivity. The global weather station data also portrays how the human survivability limit has been briefly surpassed at least a dozen times in the last four decades at sites along the Persian Gulf and especially in the Indus River Valley in India. These facts give us all the more reason to act urgently and bring a reform to immediate effect. The need of the hour is to serve as devout environmentalists and not only acknowledge the threat to our planet but also resolve it tout de suite.

The significance of climate finance

Climate finance revolves around the fact that there is a need for strategic planning when working on minimising the impact of global warming. It helps the nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions such as by funding renewable power like wind, solar or hydrogen. Furthermore, it enables the people of the affected regions to adapt to the situation such as droughts while allowing them to earn and produce food via effective methods etc. Climate finance is responsible for strengthening their communities and providing them a little bit of stability amidst the chaos.

Public and private finance in this area also plays a critical part as it helps the countries set a green economy while making them have an inclination towards workable systems built on renewable sources, meanwhile eliminating exploitation of the exhaustible ones. The fact that as a country we have a long way to go, only makes climate finance more important at the moment. India has been working on making it to the list of developing green economies, but the road to that passes through a hydrogen-led ecological system. Utilising green hydrogen to curb the carbon footprint and holding summits such as India’s Climate Summit to educate people about the problem and discuss effective strategies and possible solutions, is the way ahead.

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India recommended to adapt a hydrogen-led economy

There has been an evident increase in the global energy consumption and thus the dire need to harness alternative energy sources that are not just green, but also renewable and plentiful. One such source with a substantially higher energy output per unit mass is hydrogen.

Hydrogen, used as a fuel in the production, transport and energy storage. It has the potential to play a crucial cross-cutting role in the future low carbon economy, with applications across the industrial, transport, and power sectors. There has been a growing appreciation that complete electrification of our current energy systems could be prohibitively expensive and technologically challenging, given the important storage, flexibility, chemical, and heating attributes of current fossil fuels. Based on this, the experts have predicted that the hydrogen demand could increase five-fold by 2050, with use in the industry sector being the major driver. In power, hydrogen could be a cost-effective way of providing inter-seasonal storage in a highly variable renewable electricity system from 2040. Scaling up the use of domestically produced hydrogen can significantly reduce energy imports.

Hydrogen development is at its nascent stage and there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding its safety. Therefore, it’s imperative to understand the legal and regulatory requirements, investment cases, financing structures, operational requirements, revenue stream, sharing and other elements that need to be considered to formulate an effective acceptable commercialisation model. A gradual transition with adequate policy and safety standards will help build confidence among stakeholders and provide a conducive environment for a Hydrogen based economy. To accelerate the adoption of hydrogen technologies in India, a step-change in government policy and business actions is required.

Planning ahead

Forming a blueprint and administering the implementation of robust strategies to eliminate the challenges of climate change, is becoming imperative for a developing country like ours. The emphasis should switch from “what’s wrong” to “how to make it right with immediate effect.” With India planning to take a step towards a green hydrogen economy, setting other initiatives in motion along with climate panels hosting summits and creating awareness will lead to a better tomorrow. Climate change might be obstructing our path to a liveable tomorrow, but there are still amends we can make as a community and lessen the blow. All we need is the determination to make things better and the realisation of the fact that, Richard Branson (Entrepreneur, Adventurer and Environmentalist), put forth: ‘There is no planet B. We have to take care of the one we have.’

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