Combating climate change Role for all

Climate change is happening. It is real and we human beings are responsible. Now the debate whether the climate change is human induced or not is over, and it is time for real action from each and every sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions responsible for global warming and consequent climate change.

Our world is in the grip of dangerous carbon habit. By burning fossil fuels and clearing forests, we have dramatically increased the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. Of course, some are more responsible for emissions while others are more exposed to their impacts.

The rich countries of the world, which industrialized a while ago, are predominately responsible for causing the climate change problem, while the poorest communities and countries will be impacted the most, since they are typically the hardest hit by increased floods, droughts, storms and other predicted changes and do not have the means to cope adequately. Climate change is already threatening the lives, health and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people worldwide who lack the financial, technical, human and institutional resources to adapt.

The environmental, economic, and political implications of global warming are profound. Eco-systems from mountains to oceans, from the poles to the tropics are undergoing rapid change. Low lying cities face inundation, fertile lands are turning to desert and weather patterns are becoming ever more unpredictable. Climate change is expected to increase the risk of forest and rangeland fires. More severe and widespread impacts lie ahead.

Between 1850 and 2005, the average global temperature has increased by 0.76oC. Warming is projected to be between 1.4 and 5.8 oC upto the end of 2100. According to scientific study, decade of 1990 is the warmest decade and year 2005 is warmest year till now. Likewise, average rainfall of earth has been found to increase by 0.5 to 1 percent annually. Between 1961 and 2003, the sea level has risen 1.8mm annually, and, at the end of 2100, it has been projected to rise by 0.18 to 0.59m.

According to one study, the average temperature of Nepal is increasing at a rate of 0.06C per year. Another study suggests that Nepal’s temperature has increased by 0.4C per decade. Likewise the average rainfall of Nepal has been increased by the rate of 13mm per year whereas the number of rainy days has reduced annually by 0.8 day.

Climate change is already being felt, and its effects are expected to continue and to increase. In Nepal, the effects of climate change are seen in many ways. The country’s glaciers are retreating and discharges of snow rivers have fluctuated. One result of glacial retreat has been an increase in the number and size of glacial lakes. These in turn give rise to an increase in the potential threat of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) occurring. Rising temperatures are having a positive impact on agriculture in some areas. Farmers in high altitudes areas can now comfortably grow two crops per year. But, increasing agricultural production in these areas is threatening the local biodiversity and affecting forests. As most farmers rely on the monsoon rains for production, the change in rainfall patterns is making agriculture more difficult. Climate change is resulting in intense and frequent water-induced disaster such as landslides, debris flows and floods. These hazards wipe out entire villages, wash out roads, bridges, canals and hydropower plants and damage hectares of valuable agricultural land during the monsoon season.

The impact of global warming and climate change will not only be on water resources like glaciers or glacial lakes, but also on soil, vegetation, sustainable farming, industry and tourism. A combination of these various impacts can aggravate both the life and livelihood securities of mountain people.

While the estimated costs of climate change are incalculable, the price tag for fighting it may be less than any of us may have thought. Technologies already exist or are under development to make our consumption of carbon-based fuels cleaner and more efficient and to harness the renewable power of sun, wind and waves. Planting trees can slow climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide as they grow.

Adaptation involves taking measures to prepare for the impacts of climate change. This includes improving education, awareness and training on the impacts of climate change, as well as taking tangible steps such as planting drought resistant seeds and creating better coastal protection. There must be identification as well as prioritization of vulnerable areas and communities to climate change. In order to help communities build resilience, a single sector or program approach does not work. Adaptation of climate change should therefore be integrated, multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral.

Each of us, no matter where we live, can help

to combat climate change by lowering carbon emissions at an individual

level. Our planet needs more than just actions by governments and corporations. It needs each of us.