Time to Take Action on Climate Change Before It’s Too Late

Bevei KS
Senapati

Introduction
Today climate change is one of the grave concerns for the entire planet Earth. Almost every day we hear the news of climate crisis and disasters induced by climate change across the globe. Recently, the fierce cyclone Remal affected the Bay of Bengal region and most of the northeastern states of India. Subsequently, incessant rainfall led to floods and landslides that displaced thousands of people, damaged enormous properties, affected transportation system, and claimed some precious human lives. Likewise, on May 24, 2024, in Papua New Guinea the deadly landslide buried more than 2000 people alive and caused major destruction.

On the other hand, many people are dying due to heat waves in various parts of India. The researchers’ analysis found that nearly 80% of the world's population experienced abnormal climatic warming since last May due to human-caused warming. However, despite witnessing all these effects, we human beings continue to exploit natural resources and destroy the ecological balance in numerous ways. Therefore, it is a prerequisite for all the concerned citizens and authorities to take some necessary action to protect our environment and ecology before it’s too late.

Global Warming
The study said that global warming is the main reason which led to imbalance and changes in climatic conditions. The burning of fossil fuels is one of the major reasons that add huge amounts of heat-trapping gases (GHGs) to the atmosphere. As a result, the world is experiencing more extreme weather events viz. heat waves, frequent cyclones etc. The aggressive development of industrialization, modernization, urbanization, unsustainable farming, and unconscious environmental lifestyles are some factors that mostly contribute to global warming. The outcomes affect the entire planet Earth. The melting of glaciers is another serious issue caused by global warming today.

Melting of Glacier
Venezuela was once home to six glaciers but the last one too melted this year. Now, Venezuela has become the first country in the Americas to lose all of its glaciers. Likewise, there is a rapid loss of ice mass melting in Antarctica and Greenland with an average rate of about 420 billion tons per year, adding to sea level rise. Then it increases coastal erosion and elevates storms to rise, as warming air and ocean temperatures create frequent and intense coastal storms like cyclones and typhoons. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) also warned that melting glaciers might also release many ancient viruses that were once locked up in glaciers and permafrost for centuries. When those viruses and bacteria are reawakened, they could infect the local wildlife and outspread to humans with the potential to affect global health. This may lead to the next pandemic. Some experts predict that it can be more deadly than COVID-19. Hence, they warn the people to pay enough attention to glacier's microorganisms and protect the environment. 

Action at the Local and Personal Level 
Many tend to think that global warming is only a world issue and fail to take responsibility at the local and personal level. Indeed, it is a global issue with a wide subject to cover, but there are some practical actions that one should be concerned about. One should take accountability for one’s action as we live together on this mother earth. For example, a simple irresponsible act of throwing trash into the river can affect many things like water pollution, annihilating the aquatic life or threatening the water ecosystem, and the possibility of causing floods that threaten the inhabitants near the river bank, lake, or sea. Wherein, one must understand that a little act of action towards the environment can impact climate change. So being a progressive society, one should change the mindset of throwing waste everywhere we like. One should inculcate to dispose the waste in a proper trash bin.

Today, our society has one serious problem that is many are now aware of the ecological crisis and they passed down catchy rules and regulations to protect wildlife and its environment. But practically many don’t follow the rules. The continuation of hunting wildlife, deforestation or wildfire, mining, and throwing garbage at the riverside or drainage is still excessively practiced in many places. Thereby, knowing awareness is still not enough but one needs action. Without it, many wild flora and fauna species will soon go into extinction, many freshwater bodies and land will be polluted which will cause huge damage to the ecological balance and our health. At the same time, to prevent floods, landslides, and soil erosion, nature needs grass, trees, and rocks/stones to control the fast-running water.

Action at the Government/Concern Authority Level
Despite having many preventive laws to safeguard the environment, the government doesn’t usually reach the grassroots level to implement them. On World Environment Day 5th of June, they used to plant trees, carry out cleanliness drives, conduct seminars, giving speeches to the public about the importance of saving the earth. But at the grassroots level, they need to sincerely examine and execute the work with the concerned local authorities. In many cities, towns, and villages there is a need to construct a proper dumping site that will be lasting and for recycling purposes. There is a need to employ sufficient waste pickers and trucks to maintain the garbage.

To prevent human-made disasters the improper construction of roads, bridges, houses, etc. should be checked. The factories/industries that do not follow environmental guidelines should be scrutinized and banned. There is a need to segregate the trash that are biodegradable and non-biodegradable. Using single-use plastics like disposal cups, plates, spoons, etc. during any function/program should be discouraged. Replacing alternatives like eco-friendly products or the traditional way of using banana leaves should be encouraged. They should also encourage the public to adopt the 5Rs principles (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Recover). These are a few practical things that will help to improve our environment, health, and ecological sustainability.

Action at the Religion/Faith Level
Although religions have differences in many things, yet we all share the same Earth. It is a common home for everyone. Therefore, all must learn to respect and safeguard the earth from excessive exploitation. Because natural calamities don’t differentiate anyone based on religion, caste, gender, race, color, ethnicity, tribe, class, etc. all face the consequences. The Acting General Secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) Rev. Prof. Fr. Ioan Suaca warned all the church leaders and some other religious leaders present at the 11th Assembly of WCC in Karlsruhe, Germany, saying that in COP26 the climate experts seriously warned all the world faith leaders that ‘if we continue to exploit the world like today then after 50 years this earth will become an uninhabitable world’. He strongly appeal to all the church leaders and religious leaders to take an active part in saving the creation as the faith community can play a tremendous role in imparting awareness. 

It is indispensable for all religious institutions to actively take part in saving lives and the environment. Since many diseases and deaths are related to climate change. Among them, the poor are the ones who suffer the most. So, they need to teach their congregation the values of love, respect, and care for nature. Even, for the Christian churches giving ecological sermons only on ‘Green Sunday’ is not enough. The role and responsibility for eco-sustainable life should be reminded often.

Conclusion
It’s good to remember that to change something, one needs to start from within oneself and one’s community. Individually, one should adopt the mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment: the sustainable and environmentally conscious way of living). At the community level, proper implementation of laws, good governance, and nudging the people to adopt an eco-sustainable way of life is the need of the hour. It is the law of nature that every creature should co-exist with one another for a better environment and ecological balance. Therefore, the action for ecological sustainability is no longer an option but a Survival Necessity to protect, preserve, and restore ecosystems, and natural resources.

The writer has done his Master of Theology in Social Analysis