Climate change can no longer be ignored
From published scientific data, it appears that the world is paying for its inaction, or shall we say lack of appropriate action. For decades, environmentalists stressed on tree plantation as an effective means to maintain bio-diversity as well as combating climate change.
The rule of thumb was that 25% of all countries needed to be covered by forests. Countries either ignored or didn’t prioritize it.
Almost every government in the world has an environment ministry and many an agency entrusted with recommendations to support sustainable ecology. Yet, astonishingly enough, for all the research and studies undertaken, some at great expense and effort, the to-do list was never really addressed, save essentially for Europe, where the concept of sustainable forestry was introduced many years ago.
Their current focus is a determined focus on phasing out the use of fossil fuels and even nuclear energy, replacing the energy sources with renewable or natural ones. These have been backed up by recycling and banning one-time plastic usage.
Developing and least-developed countries argue that their social fabrics are unlike Europe, where the basic essentials of life have been ensured for citizens. As such, their priorities are different. While their contribution to carbon emissions is low, they too have been guilty of not focusing on sustainable forestry, even as they poach on nature’s resources.
Nonetheless, the Global Climate Change Fund was agreed upon to help countries most at danger from climate change mitigate the challenges. Industrialization is at different levels across the world and the outcome of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is yet to be clarified in terms of implications.
What can be expected is lowering reliance on fossil fuels. India and China haven’t signed up to this as of yet, though they were part of the global agreement. The US has chosen to withdraw from the treaty but President Trump recently declared that his country would plant or help plant a trillion trees.
In an ideal situation, this would come as very good news, but scientists are now telling us that even this won’t be enough and that a zero emissions strategy is the only way to go. A few countries, including the United Kingdom have set policy objectives towards zero emissions. But unless such strategies are globally agreed, the reversal of global warning will not be achieved.
Nationalist and populist governments may face major difficulties in getting their electorates to accept such strategies. For those like Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil who believe the Amazon forest is Brazil’s to do as it pleases, in this case, clearing more of the forest for agriculture, it will take a combination of hard convincing and bargaining.
Others, such as Bangladesh, must receive its share of climate change mitigation funds, but more importantly, it also has to hastily reduce its reliance on fossil fuels. Natural gas and furnace oil are the major fuels for energy in the country. Big industry are investing in power plants, again using fossil fuels. Bringing wholesale changes will require investments, and the economy is already under stress.
Nature has sent out its warnings. The worst bush fires in history for Australia and the United States, the unprecedented floods in Europe, are telling signs. The highest temperature recorded recently in Antarctica may be a one-off and require verification.
What it says is even one-offs can no longer be ignored.
Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.