Climate Change: Why you should care
In 2012, climate watch group, DARA released a report which estimated that the deaths related to climate change and fossil fuels were roughly 5 million in 2010. The World Health Organization (WHO) also predicts that an additional 250,000 people will die annually between 2030 and 2050 from conditions caused or exacerbated by climate change. But despite several actions on climate change, some people still don’t believe that the Earth is undergoing a global warming trend or climate change, including more than one-quarter of Americans. There are climate change skeptics, even in Pakistan, where a heat wave had just killed more than 500 people.
Pakistan has suffered extreme change in the climate, resulting in early monsoon, floods and sharp temperature rise, in recent years. However, only 15 percent of Pakistanis perceive climate change as a major threat. While 25 percent calls it a minor threat, 20 percent thinks it’s no threat and 40 percent either deny or are unaware of the global phenomenon, according to a study. More people perceive climate change as a major threat in China (40 percent), the country with the world’s most polluted air. Two-thirds of South Koreans see climate change as a major threat.
According to the study, these perceptions “are shaped by broader knowledge and belief systems, including religious convictions and political beliefs.”
The ignorance in Pakistan does not extend to its neighbour, India, where heat wave killed nearly 1,700 people last month. India’s Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr Harsh Vardhan has blamed the heat deaths on climate change.
“It’s not just another unusually hot summer − it is climate change,” said Vardhan while launching a supercomputer at the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting. The technology is expected to improve understanding of climatic changes.
“Let us not fool ourselves that there is no connection between the unusual number of deaths from the ongoing heatwave and the certainty of another failed monsoon.”
According to studies, human-induced climate change has increased the frequency and severity of heat waves across the globe, with extremely warm nights that used to come once in 20 years now occurring every 10 years.
Just as heat waves are wreaking havoc in Asia, Africa has had its own share of the effects of global warming. Flooding has led to more than 400 deaths across Africa this year. Almost all states in Africa are signatories to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which aims to combat global warming. But more decisive actions need to be taken in Africa and globally to mitigate the risks associated with climate change.
A WHO-backed report produced by the Lancet/UCL commission on health and climate change concluded that the health benefits of slashing the use of fossil fuel (the chief driver of climate change) are immense. It pointed out the direct risks to health, including heatwaves, floods and droughts, as well as indirect risks like air pollution, spread of diseases, famines and mental illness.
It is therefore very important for the world to work towards phasing out coal from the global energy mix, especially due to the millions of premature deaths from air pollution.
According to the report, the major barrier is the political will to deliver a low-carbon economy.