In 2009, Maldives, a small country became an attraction for rest of the world. For the first time, in history all the policy makers include prime minister of this country, held meeting under the sea against the climate change and future policies for their islands survival. In 21st century first time, the largest summit on climate change organised in the Denmark on December 18th 2009. It was attended by 193 countries’ delegates and participants from many international NGOs; this summit is popularly known as the “Copenhagen summit”. Interestingly after the summit, $ 30 Billion under the “Copenhagen green climate fund” was collected by all the developed and developing countries for the period 2010-2012 (Kala Namrata, Saxsena Alark, 2010).
Why there was this underwater meeting, why there was this summit after Kyoto protocol and Bali action plan, why there is this fund?, and what is climate change? What makes global warming is a hot issue, not only for all the policy makers of developed and developing countries but also for the simple human being who are still struggling for basic needs of survival? All these issues and climate change impact on development already set a hot table for discussion.
Before going further discussion, first we should understand what climate change is? According to Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC):
“A change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the mean or variability of its properties and that persists for an extended period, typically decade or longer. It refers to any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity (ipcc.ch/publications).”
Climate change is not only about the increasing temperature rate or sudden change in environment but more than that, it is largely result of present life style, consumption pattern, blind exploitation of earth resources, and industrial growth all over the world in last century, which is continuously going on.
Various IPCC study result shows that in last 100 years, the temperature has risen from average 2.5 to 5.0 degrees Celsius. The present understanding about climate change is that global warming and green house emission is directly proportionate to the increase the temperature. Inter Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); the United Nation body propagates this theory. Against this, a large group of scientists raised questions against this theory and they totally disagree with the ‘Global Warming’ term. Their point is, temperature rise in earth is quite natural phenomenon and temperature change is not because of human activities but because of solar activities and change in Hydrogen cloud activities in sun.
Now let us discuss about our earth and economical development in third world, where development fragrance is still unreached to all the countries. Our world is divided into 7 continents and 5 oceans. Out of total geographical area of earth, 70.8% area covered by water and remaining 29.2% area is available as land. Out of this 29.2%, a large part of total land is covered by forest, the North Pole and South Pole where human survival is almost impossible. This picture becomes worse when 37% population have survival on two countries India and China who collectively have only 8.8% land resource of total. Remaining larger section of population is in the African sub continent. With all these facts, the question emerges that when our human population growing exponentially and land demand is more and more, how we are coping with this situation in near future? For feeding this large number of population and providing them a better standard of life, obviously all the developing countries will run for higher economic growth. That same situation happened in all the developing countries after the Second World War or after their independence. All the countries heavily invested on infrastructure development, mechanization of industrial system, more exploitation of natural resources and made different treaties among them self for their requirement. During this whole process, we achieved many things but in all over the world only one thing sacrificed for economical growth; it was our environment. Today when we talk about Climate Change and its impact, we should recall our destructive activities and exploitative attitude towards nature.
Whatever the reason for climate change, as an simple human being we are observing the consequences and it is clearly visible that frequency of floods, draughts, cyclones, and melting of glaciers are many fold more than past. The change in climate is the leading factor for less and uncertain food production, food insecurity, less drinking water availability, acidic rainfall, more water diseases, elimination of many animals, and plants species.
Now the question is who is the most vulnerable section among us for this climate change? Those who have air conditioned buildings, surplus of food grains, enough purchasing power in dollars, economic growth rate in trillion dollars, and top rankers in HDI? Or those who are struggling for one time of food in a day, forced to live in plastic tents in refugee camps at 45-46 degree Celsius in Africa? Or those who are always waiting for Tsunami and cyclones near coastal areas?
Let us the Indian picture; at present our green house gas emission is far less as compare to the other four largest economic countries; In spite of that continuously India is moving forward with 8-9% growth rate, but still more than 50% population do not have accessibly of electricity. Still our per capita energy consumption is very less than neighbour country China. Not only has this, after 2005, data said that food production is almost stagnant (Rashmi.R.R, Satapathy S). Agriculture contribution in total GDP is continuously decreasing; more attack of new diseases, frequent uncertainty of rainfall is major challenge for food production. All the major rivers, including Ganga and Yamuna are almost dry during summers. There is no more surplus snow fall in Himalaya zone.
There is no more visible scope in agriculture and most of the people force to migrate from their origins to cities and trapped in slum areas. In that scenario how we can neglect the role of climate change in development? Ultimately development is enlargement of human capabilities but in that condition how it is possible when the struggle for basic necessities is continuously increasing. Farmers are forced to do suicide because of uncertain rainfall in many states, fisherman are forced to migrate from coastal region because continuous threat of Tsunami, cyclones and other natural calamities. Study report shows that every decade sea level raises 1 cm and with this rate, it is expected by 2050, sea level will increase 15-20 cm. Anyone can extrapolate its impact on our 7,516 Km coastal line and big coastal cities like Chennai, Mumbai, and Kolkata.
With this background how development can be drive for long term, it is a difficult question; but this we can learn from a small tribal village of Madhya-Pradesh state (Somkumar, Awanish). This village come with a traditional model of development against environment and climate change. At present all the villagers have livelihood opportunity in village itself with sufficient food, water and fresh air (Somkumar, p28). It is only a small case of sustainability. At global level now many of the countries are aware about this problem. Now climate change is not only a political issue between developing and developed countries but more than that around the globe, people are aware about their roles for environment conservation.
This is the reason that now all the countries are more focusing on renewable energy resources and other sustainable alternatives like nucleus power. Development should not consider only as full-fill the few basic needs; if a child is born in the earth then he has some rights, which are popularly known as Human Rights. Our focus should be providing the minimum right to every individual so he can live in the society with dignity.
Development is a responsibility of all and it can do by mutual support. As a county we Indian can think about human security in coastal regions, efficient use of natural resources on new infrastructure, health issues, water supply in dry zone of country, more focus on sustainability of agriculture, more plantation and increase forest area. These are few dimensions which need for consistent effort.
Everything as a human being we cannot do to control the climate change with our growing needs, but at least we can think for enhancing of our capabilities to cope with any uncertainty. International bodies are there, government is performing its role but ultimately I, as an individual identity what can do against climatic change and development, that question we should ask to our self. It is our responsibility to give a secure and healthy earth to our next generation.
IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007. (2007). IPCC.ch/publications. Retrieved February 4, 2011 from http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch9s9-1.html
Kala Namrata, Saxsena Alark.(2010,April). Maintaining momentum post Copenhagen: Yojana, 54, .2010, 14-17. Rashmi.R.R, Satapathy S. (2010,April). Facing the challenge. Yojana, 54, 5-10.
Somkumar Awanish. (2010,April). Community action to fight climate. Yojana, 54, 28-29.
Srivani K. (2010,April). Impact of climate change on human health on India. Yojana, 54, 30-33