By Rabia Tariq
Highest temperatures for the past two decades have been recorded in major cities of Pakistan during this month. Winters are getting shorter and summers longer, cherry blossoms this year got an early start in Gilgit Baltistan a sign of summer arriving sooner than usual. Global warming is now too obvious to deny and many countries face the extreme consequences of climate change. Pakistan is among those countries.
Many of the worlds beautiful destinations and exotic species are endangered by global warming. Rising temperatures and deforestation destroys the natural habitat of exotic species endangering them. Glaciers and ice-caps are melting at a faster rate and sea levels are rising. This will cause loss of land of coastal areas and in extreme conditions whole islands like Maldives and Fiji may disappear. Occurrence and intensity of storms and floods are increasing across the world.
According to UNESCO, one third of the population on earth depends on water that flows from the Himalayas. The Himalayan range stretches from Tibet in the east to Gilgit-Baltistan in the west and consists of the world’s highest mountains. These mountains are the main source of water for people living in south-east Asia. This water resource is now at a threat because rising temperatures and changes in precipitation are causing glaciers to retreat and altering patterns of water run-off.
The main culprit behind global warming
Even though climate change does not solely depend on human activities but humans do affect the rate of changes that happen on the climate. Carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases in the atmosphere are known as greenhouse gases. Among these gases, carbon dioxide the most abundantly present greenhouse gas in atmosphere is a result of human activities. The main reason of human greenhouse gas emissions is use of fossil fuels, industrial processes, deforestation and intense livestock farming for human consumption. Greenhouse gases trap the heat inside our earth’s atmosphere and increase the temperature of our planet.
It is common observation that plants and vegetation grows better and faster in warmer climate. To mimic warm tropical climate a greenhouse is made to keep plants in this environment for better and faster growth. Greenhouse is a structure with walls and roofs made chiefly of transparent material such as glass. The interior of green house exposed to sunlight becomes warmer than the exterior climate protecting the plants within from cold weather outside. GHGs work in the same way around the atmosphere of the earth and keep the heat trapped inside earth’s atmosphere. Increasing concentration of GHG’s mainly carbon dioxide is the reason behind rising average temperatures around the world.
Accord de Paris
At a United Nations meeting in 2016, 195 countries signed up to pledges on environment in Paris. This agreement of world nations came to be known as Accord de Paris. Its goal is to limit the increase in global warming. If right steps are taken to slow down global warming the risks and impacts of climate change will also reduce. The goal of Paris Agreement is to decrease the carbon dioxide emissions by humans as much as possible.
The signatory countries of Paris agreement are required to take measures in their respective countries for environmental protection. Under this agreement, rich countries are also required to provide financial assistance to poor countries to help them in achieving their objectives. However this agreement is not binding and if a country fails to decrease the pollution it creates, it won’t face any repercussions. China is the biggest polluter of the world closely followed by USA and India. This year much to the dismay of other members and people around the world, USA pulled out of the Paris agreement.
Billion Tree Campaign and China
United Nations launched Billion Tree Campaign in 2006 to meet the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss. It calls upon individuals, countries and companies to participate in this campaign. More than 14 billion trees have been planted under this campaign worldwide, one billion of them are being planted in KPK under billion tree tsunami project launched by the provincial government.
Air pollution is one of China’s biggest problems. Several cities in China are stifled with thick smog at all times. Pre-mature deaths, death of children by lead poisoning, severe respiratory problems, death by cancer are frequent in China. Increasing population and rapid industrialization have also caused water shortages and water pollution in China and much of its aquatic life has been affected by water pollution. In recent years however China has been increasing its forest cover in an attempt to reduce air and water pollution as well as replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy. In 2008 China prohibited the use of plastic bags throughout the country. 2.8 billion Trees have been planted in China under Billion tree campaigns.
What we can do
In educational institutions education about environment and investment in renewable energy should be encouraged by government. Replacing fossil fuels with clean and renewable energy sources will significantly reduce carbon dioxide emission. Laws regarding protection of environment should be implemented. Proper disposal of wastes is also necessary. On personal level we can help the environment by using cloth bags instead of paper or plastic bags, reducing the use of energy, using less transport, planting trees, recycling and reusing products instead of buying new every time.