Global Warming: Dimensions, Challenges and Beyond

By Dr. Rajkumar Singh | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 30 2021
Columns Global Warming: Dimensions, Challenges and Beyond

By Dr. Rajkumar Singh

Most recently, the United Kingdom, in partnership with Italy, hosted the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties, known as COP26, in Glasgow, Scotland, 31 October to 13 November 2021, to highlight the issue of global warming and other climate-related problems. Originally, the meeting was scheduled to be held in the year 2020 but due to worldwide negative effects of pandemic Covid-19, it was rescheduled and extended exactly by one year with no change in place and hosting countries. 

Unlike earlier ones, which were sponsored by fossil fuel companies, the Glasgow conference was sponsored by UK’s Ministry of Energy, and Clean Growth, and three British energy companies and a banking and insurance company, focusing on the renewed commitment of the Government to help them reach net zero in the near future. Having wide-ranging discussions and deliberations, the 197 participating countries agreed a new deal known as the ‘Glasgow Climate Pact’ to starve off dangers of climate change. 

The Pact, in the first place, reaffirmed the Paris Agreement which set the goal of holding the increase in the global average temperature below 2 Degree Celsius with efforts to limit the average increase of temperature to 1.5 Degree Celsius. It approved the goal of reducing the global carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030, equal to the level of 2010 and to net zero around 2050 with a general deep reduction in other greenhouse gases.

Deliberations and discussions

All discussions and deliberations centred around the growing intensity of climate change in which scientists and analysts have warned the countries of the world to limit the global warming up to 1.5 C as also mentioned in the Emission Gap Report 2021 that as per aspirations of the Paris Climate Agreement the world needs to halve annual greenhouse gas emissions in the next eight years. 

In particular, the report mentions that reduction of methane emissions from the fossils fuel, waste, and agriculture sectors could help close the emission gap and reduce warming in the short-term. In the light of the Emission Gap Report 2021, the participating nations of COP26 laid special emphasis on carbon emissions caused by various sources and more than 140 countries pledged to reach net zero emissions that includes 90% of global GDP, while about 100 nations including Brazil pleaded to reverse deforestation by 2030, but about 40 countries remained in favour to move away from coal. In the summit, India, agreeing to other positive moves promised to draw half of its energy requirement from renewable sources by 2030 and set a target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2070. 

Their discussions witnessed a hopeful sign when Governments of 24 developed countries along with a major group of car manufacturing companies from US, Germany, Japan, and South Korea assured to work towards all sales of new cars and vans having zero emissions globally by 2040, and by no later than 2035 in leading markets. The theme of deliberations reflected in the final agreement clearly which mentioned coal as the single biggest contributor to climate change while in earlier recent summits there was no discussion on coal, oil or gas or even fossil fuels which owe a major part of climate change.   

Profile of air pollution

Air is the second name of earth’s atmosphere which comprises a mixture of gases in various proportions and its major part is filled by nitrogen (78%), along with oxygen (21%), water vapour also called argon (0.9%), carbon dioxide (0.4%), and trace gases. Of all the gases, water vapour, carbon dioxide, ozone, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide are of principal importance despite their relatively small amount. 

They all make the life on earth possible while the presence of polluted substances is responsible for making the atmosphere harmful to the health of humans and other living beings as well as cause damage to the climate or materials. The air pollutants contain many types of substances, such as gases, organic and inorganic particles and biological molecules which cause a number of diseases, allergies, and sometimes even lead to death.

In addition, it has multiple effects on other living animals, food crops and natural environment, including a number of pollution-related diseases, such as, respiratory infections, heart disease, COPD, stroke, and lung cancer. According to an estimate conducted earlier about 90% of the world’s population takes dirty air to some degree and it causes the death of around seven million people every year and is considered as the single health issue of the world which has expanded more or less across the globe and affects human being without any discrimination. 

As it affects human health badly along with their productive capability, it causes loss to the world economy up to $5 trillion per year. Although, various technologies are available to check or reduce the air pollution and national Governments as well as international agencies are trying hard to lessen air pollution, their aims appeared out of reach due to various factors beyond their capacity and control. 

Several recent international conferences have highlighted its grave consequences but there is urgent need to come together and work with co-ordination to face this life-threatening global challenge. For the air pollution across the globe, there are two main causes which play a decisive role: a. anthropogenic or human-made sources, and b. natural sources. 

Other effects of global warming

The effects of global warming range from physical environment, ecosystem as well as human societies and also include a number of economic and social changes of short and long-term. Although, the beginning of the global warming is traced back to 1906 from where it has increased by 1.6-degree Farenheit and caused many visible and far-reaching impacts on human beings and wild life along with so many changes in seasons of the year and include extreme weather events, shifting populations and habitats and rising seas, there has been a significant development in sea warming since 1970s especially due to human-induced atmospheric carbon dioxide which has made food security in many places worse and also puts pressure on fresh water supply with a combination of all these negative factors leading to human health hazards of near devastating nature. 

In the situation, the only hope lies in national efforts to implement preventive measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other suitable steps to check its degradation immediately in the interest of coming generations. Apart from other reasons, the focus of today is on human activities and global warming as clearly indicated in the report of the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Author

Dr. Rajkumar Singh is presently Professor Head University Department of Political Science Dean Faculty of Social Sciences at B.N. Mandal University, Madhepura (Bihar), India. His 19 books and 900 articles published in national and international journals and daily newspapers in 25 foreign countries. His books published in 2021 are Pandemic Covid-19: Major Effects and Side Effects, and Social Justice and Reservation in Indian Polity.

By Dr. Rajkumar Singh | Published: 2:00 AM Nov 30 2021

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