The Dark Reality of the Changing Climate
Among the various global environmental issues that has the potential to wipe out the entire life from earth, climate change has taken the lead and become the most menacing and challenging one. Climate change is the average change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns that extends for a long period of time on an area. The United Nations Framework Convention on climate change has defined it as a change of climate that is attributed directly or indirectly to anthropogenic activities which alter the composition of the global atmosphere.
The past few decades of research has shown that the earth’s climate is changing very rapidly and antagonistically, for example, extreme weather events such as deadly heat waves in India, Europe and flooding in south Asia, and deadly hurricane in America. Extreme climatic events have destroyed the livelihood of millions of people around the globe, of which the countries that incorporate the Hindu-Kush Himalayan region have felt most of the wrath. In South Asia 43 million people have been hit in August 2017 by heavy monsoon rains and intense flooding which in some places have been the worst in past 30 years. Death toll has crossed 600 in India, 150 in Nepal and 100 in Bangladesh. While some flooding is expected during monsoon season, this level is unusual and unheard of in most of the communities, according to a recent report of Oxfam.
Over the past few decades, we have altered the balance of our biosphere by asking for more than that is needed for our survival. We have used up the fuel reserves vigorously, raised methane factories which we know as livestock and carried out deforestation of rainforests with no regards to the future whatsoever. These imprudent anthropogenic activities have been the dominant determinants for the release of greenhouse gases which consequently has caused earth’s temperature to rise. Climate change has resulted in observable impacts in the biodiversity and ecosystems of different ecological regions such as mountains, glaciers, lakes, coral reefs and even in some cases released pests and viruses which were hidden beneath the ice of the polar region for centuries. It has caused discernible damage to the natural resources upon which human beings are totally dependent. Shrunk glaciers, erratic rainfall, droughts, forest fire, flood, landslide are some of the outcomes of climate change. Moreover this very issue is causing adverse effect on the human beings as well as all other living beings. It threatens our health by affecting the quality of food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the weather we experience. Examples of casualties due to heat waves have started to become more common in the recent years.
Along with the temperature increase, the habitat ranges of various species are moving northward in latitude and upward in elevation. While this means a range expansion for some species, for others it means a range reduction or a movement into less hospitable habitat or increased competition. Some species have nowhere to go because they are already at the northern or upper limit of their habitat (Land Trust Alliance, 2017). Range shifts disturb the current state of the ecosystem and can accelerate the population declining process of these already stressed species.
The vast amount of emission from various developed countries are taking a toll on countries like ours. We have been listed as 14th most vulnerable country in the Global climate risk index of 2018 even though our emission rates are lower than any other country. These alarming trends not only make Nepal's major sectors of economy such as agriculture and tourism more vulnerable but also endanger the health, safety and well-being of the Nepali people. To build the countries resilience towards climate change various strategies are adopted in Nepal. Several regulations such as the NAPA framework (National Adaptation Program of Action) which work as a requirement under the UNFCCC to access funding for the most urgent and immediate adaptation needs from the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and LAPA framework (Local Adaptation Plan of Action) to perform the same activities in the local level. However, the government’s preparation is not enough to help the communities withhold the effects of climate change.
Climate change has already shown its true face with the above mentioned extreme weather events around the world. It is high time that we accept the fact that our own deeds have given rise to this problem. Little changes in our daily activities, diets, consumption and lessening in the usage of carbon emitting products can bring significant decrease in this vigorously increasing climate change. We must realize that Climate Change has never been a hoax but a dark reality. (Bista is a student at Institute of Forestry, Pokhara Campus)