Forced To Suffer For No Fault Of Ours
Nepal needs no introduction to global warming. We have been at the receiving end of the climate sins of other countries for decades. Our mountains are literally melting away, causing our rivers to dry up. Our forests are burning from fires, which are increasing in intensity every year. We do not get rains for months on end and then suddenly get dumped with gallons of water. Every succeeding year is the hottest on record and we are at risk of losing our immense biodiversity.
Most recently on March 31, a tornado with winds up to 330 km per hour, struck the districts of Bara and Parsa. It was the first officially recorded tornado in Nepal that killed 28 people and injured over a thousand others. No tornado has ever occurred in the recorded history of landlocked Nepal and experts believe that climate change, caused by global warming stands to blame here.
While not entirely blameless ourselves, by and large, we have been the victims of climate ignorance of the international community, one that is only looking to get worse with rising nationalism worldwide.
The global community is just beginning to fathom the planetary scope of global warming and the array of extreme weather patterns it is bringing. Global records show that there were 282 natural disasters worldwide in 2018, many of which were caused or made worse by man-made global warming. These include heatwaves, hurricanes, floods, droughts etc. Global warming is not simply a rise in temperatures, it leads to the larger phenomenon of climate change.
But climate change is still some years off, right? WRONG! It is here and it is now, to consider otherwise would be as moronic as an ostrich hiding its head underground to avoid danger. In a special report, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that the world only has 12 years to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C. In order to meet this target, worldwide carbon emissions need to drop by 45 per cent by 2030. This shows just how drastically everyone needs to change their actions and how urgently they need to do so. Therefore, it should be disgustingly appalling for we Nepalis as the victims of climate change see other nations dragging their feet in implementing their commitments within the Paris climate deal. America has even pulled out with other countries thinking of following suit.
As mentioned above, the rise in nationalism is partially to blame here. It views any supranational agreement as a threat to national sovereignty and self-determination. Combine this with the climate scepticism present at the leadership levels of some of the major countries and the international solidarity required to tackle global warming is decimated.
Paris agreement calls for global cooperation on nations setting carbon reduction standards and other countries ensuring they do so. But it isn’t possible when nations put supposed “national interests” ahead of international solidarity. The biggest problem here again is the US with Donald Trump, an aggressive climate-change denier, as its president. While the entire world is pondering on how to reduce carbon emissions, his administration is introducing one policy after another in favour of fossil fuels and rolling back environmental deals.
And the problem here is that America paves the path for other rogue nations to backtrack on their environmental responsibilities as well. For instance, the oil-exporting Saudi Arabia was emboldened by an anti-environment America to try to sabotage the “welcoming” of the IPCC report by the COP24 summit in Poland. Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has also repeatedly cited Trump and his “America First” policy for his inaction on climate change and his denial of its existence. He has chosen a fellow climate-change denier as his foreign minister and has pulled Brazil out of hosting COP25. And they can do so completely unhindered because Europe is focused inward, facing an existential crisis of its own with the fiasco of Brexit, the Greek economic crisis and the rise of Eurosceptics all across the 28 nations of the European Union.
Russia will never hold anyone accountable because it is a large natural gas exporter itself. No country in Asia, except China, has the international weight to stand up to countries like the USA.
However, there is some hope, stemming mainly from the public themselves. Though the American leadership may deny climate change, more than 80 per cent of Americans, including Republicans, believe it is happening. There are near daily environmental marches in Europe. The students’ protest that began in Sweden, calling for a reduction in greenhouse gases so they have a planet left to live on, has spread all around the world.
Indeed, the climate crisis has permeated the public consciousness and they want something done about it. So, not all is lost. The public can pressure their leaders to action, they can reflect their climate consciousness at the ballot box by not choosing climate-change deniers and voting for climate sensible legislation. Short-term national interests no longer justify grave ecological costs, it is no longer worth jeopardising the environment in the name of development. After all, where will the nations exist when there is no planet left?
Of late, our universities are losing the public trust because of the various malpractices existing there. There is confusion among the public as to which...