by Prince Adzivor
Planet Earth is sitting on a ticking time bomb. A toxic mixture of greenhouse gasses, smog, soot and several other harmful tons of carbon emissions is being released into the atmosphere daily. This phenomenon threatens the existence of human lives globally. It is also a brazen attack on our ecosystem, biodiversity and food security based on noticeable impacts and numerous findings.
According to a special report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a diplomatic body of the United Nations (UN), human actions resulted in nearly 1.0°C of global warming in 2018. The report further projects global warming will hit 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if current trends continue. Many researchers have described this as catastrophic, calling for urgent action.
Interventions like the Paris Agreement have emerged, which is being championed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) with 195-member states signing the accord and 184 countries becoming party to it since November 2018. This pact, among other ambitions, aims at keeping the rise in global temperature below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, in order to alleviate the effects of global climate change. Despite the effort, the agreement lacks the necessary legal framework to whip inline flouting countries with sanctions.
This piece explores some of the challenges and recommended solutions of global climate change.
1. Over Dependence on fossil fuels
One of the challenges fueling global climate change is the persistent combustion of fossil fuels and coal for industrial purposes. Unfortunately, the world has largely overlooked clean energy alternatives since the inception of the industrial revolution in 1760. Although the benefits of the revolution to global economies are enormous, the long-term negative effect on our climate is beginning to manifest in equal measure. The International Energy Agency (IEA) also faults global apathy towards advanced and sustained energy efficiency policies. The IEA reports that energy related carbon discharges shot up by 1.4% in 2017 after the emission rate slowed tremendously between 2014 and 2016 to hit a record high of 32.5 gigatons in 2018.
In solving this, we must conscientiously substitute the use of fossil fuels with clean energy in a sustained manner to curb the devastating effects of global climate change. Additionally, sanctions on unrepentant nations could be introduced to deter breaching the relevant roadmaps contained in the Paris agreement.
2. Carbon emitting transport
The global transportation system requires urgent attention since it is also troubled with increasing carbon emissions. This increases the health and vulnerability risks of people, especially users of public transports in developing countries. These people and other pedestrians inhale the polluted air from daily carbon emissions, which fuels outbreaks of communal and related air-borne diseases. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 4.2 million global premature deaths are linked to ambient air pollution. These are lives being wasted!
This can be moderated by resorting to electric vehicles as part of a clean technology campaign. Chile for instance, has embarked on an agenda to drastically cut down on the release of greenhouse gases. Earlier this year, they out-doored some modern electric buses in the capital, Santiago. This exemplary initiative is to phase out diesel buses by switching to clean bus technologies. Interventions such as cycling, urban rail and carpooling can also go a long way to reduce carbon emissions.
3. Irregular global precipitation
Excessive greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere has been fingered as the main cause of disruption in global precipitation patterns. The fall of snow, sleet, hail and especially rain has become irregular stifling crop production, and ultimately, global food security. The people at the receiving end of these hard-hitting effects are mostly rural communities in Africa.
In the absence of rain, rural farmers depend on dams and dugouts which in some cases, are shared with animals. Extreme famine arises when these dams and dugouts dry out because there’s no irrigation system in place, let alone, safe drinking water. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates 75% of the world’s poor and food insecure people rely on agriculture and natural resources.
Clearly, the panic button ought to be pressed for urgent attention to our food system.
We must strive to reduce heat-trapping emissions, invest more in climate related projects, educate farmers and provide them with timely and accurate weather tips to help them plan agricultural activities better. Learn more about how CGIAR/CCAFS and Esoko are helping farmers in Ghana with climate smart agricultural information via mobile.
4. Rising global sea levels
Reports concerning the fast melting ice in Antarctica are terrifying. According to Eric Rignot, a Professor of Earth System Science at the University of California, the melting could lead to alarming sea levels in coming centuries. Other researchers have indicated that the Antarctica has lost 252 billion tonnes of ice annually between 2009 – 2017 due to global climate change. This revelation means more deadly superstorms, high rising sea levels, flooding of coastal areas etc. It is also retarding agricultural production in some areas because of increased soil salinity and acidification of our oceans, contributing to the destruction of the aquatic ecosystem.
Many solutions have been agreed upon but have been woefully adhered. Key amongst them is the Paris Agreement. Commitment and boldness is required from the global leaders who are party to this accord, to rectify the worst effects of climate change. This is achievable with urgent social and economic deployment, swift conversion to cleaner fuel with its accompanying technologies and universal education.
In the face of the glaring dangers, we need not further prompts but extra props. It is our world! Let us protect it! We owe it to our own safety, survival and incoming generations.