A Tale of Two Words: Climate Change

There are ample things in the world- a mix of ideas, notions and facts that we dust off as ostensible, a fabricated theory or in the words of the President of the ‘Great’ nation of America, a hoax. And what tops this list is the acknowledgement (or lack thereof) of climate change across the globe.

If you set out to find how deep the reality of climate change has (or has not) seeped into our being, you’d probably roam forever like Diogenes of Sinope, holding up a lamp to people’s face, looking for a solution, a solace. Diogenes claimed that people were trapped in this make-believe world which they thought to be real and hitherto were living in a dream state. Although this is a myth which dates back to 445-365 BCE (number of years I can’t even count), it oddly makes sense even today. He stood for something that went above and beyond the bar of normality of our society; he challenged the society and thus was termed a ‘Socrates gone mad’. Mad or radical-liberalist is a term I hear almost every time I try to explain to someone how exigent the issue of climate change is.

Our society has tainted climate change as a secondary issue, an elitist issue that the first world countries fight for because there are more pressing issues around the world that third-world nations are grappling with- like hunger, poverty, unemployment and lack of healthcare. And I agree that these issues are foundational and require a country’s full attention- but whilst you’re making developmental plans and ignoring climate change, the world is becoming more predisposed to calamities, disasters and diseases, global warming is increasing alarmingly and destroying this intricately knit web that is our earth, one grain at a time. And what good is this cupidity that we’re after when you don’t have a planet good enough to inhabit anymore?

The famous ’12 years left’ statement isn’t a hoax, a notion or an arbitrary idea that someone woke up to. It’s based on empirical calculations by scientists around the world who claim that to avoid a scourge on humanity we have to be on a realistic path toward a carbon-free global economy by 2030. People take this to mean that we can live freely without any delimitation till 2030 and start alleviating our output of hazardous emissions after that. However, to keep the global temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees, countries would have to cut their carbon dioxide emissions to almost net-zero by around 2050. And to reach that goal, CO2 emissions would have to start dropping “well before 2030” so that it falls close to 45 per cent by around 2030. Even though such thorough studies have been conducted and there is no shortage of scientific evidence that we need to stop and listen to these words of caution if we want a future of any kind, let alone a sustainable one, many nations continue to live in climate science denial. President Trump is one of those many, who went so far ahead to claim that climate change was invented by China to disable American industry. (According to the very diffident American President every move of China alludes to a clandestine act towards the United States)

People turn a blind eye toward climate change, thinking how much it could possibly affect them. But the fact is that no one has the resources or the faculty to shield themselves from the wrath of climate change. It is biased to no one and would wipe out whatever comes in its way. The recent California wildfires, hurricane Dorian in the US, the Australian bushfire, and unprecedented heat waves sweeping Verkhoyansk- a Siberian town in the arctic circle weren’t a startling enough wake-up call for the world, because we continue to resort to our exploitative methods. Two of the most catastrophic cyclones hit India in the last couple of months, Amphan in Kolkata and Nisarga in Mumbai which was the worst cyclone to have hit the city of Mumbai since 1891.

The financial costs of these calamities aside, loss of flora and fauna and a colossal number of deaths reflect how the world’s poorest and most vulnerable pay the heaviest price for the consequences of climate change, be it the underprivileged in developing countries or the oppressed in first-world nations. It’s not just these drastic tragedies, but the actual danger can be traced from the little changes happening across the world as well, ranging from scorching heat waves in the northern parts of India worsening every year to a hail storm as closely tantamount to snow as the subtropical and semi-arid city of Delhi would’ve ever seen. It was enjoyed by the residents of the city, indifferent to how unnatural it was.

Climate change is not a stand-alone issue; it’s chained and linked to other societal maladies like a domino effect, be it infrastructure, economy or politics. This cyclic motion continues until we exert force to stop it, or at least ease it down. We’re now witnessing how humanity is paying a price for its benightedness over the last 200 years, since after the Industrial Revolution- as we have been driven by capitalism and materialism instead of welfare and rehabilitation.

After traversing halfway through a deadly pandemic, increased calamity, crime, racism and right-wing oppression, it’s time to stop and accept the fallacy in our system and pay our dues for the prolonged procrastination on accepting and abating climate change.

We can agree that climate change is here to stay. After hundreds of years of exploitation of resources and massive technological advancements that have left us wanting a life of ease and luxuries at the cost of our environment, nature cannot disappear into thin air. But the first step towards having a sustainable future would be to understand the gravity of this issue and not let it hang entirely on the shoulders of the Gen-Z. In recent decades, we’ve had to fight our own battle for a healthy world that we will potentially live in, that our forebears have set on fire, left for us to extinguish.

If Greta Thunberg, a 17-year-old soul, who deserves to be studying and living her life to the fullest, can leave her hedonic lifestyle and take to revolting on the streets for the right to have a sustainable future, then why can’t we support her and thousands of others fighting for the earth? If she can chant these two simple words and make them her anthem then how hard is it for our aged leaders to comprehend that this world that they want to dominate is withering one day at a time, and if climate change is not tamed now then all there will be left to reign over will be a kingdom of embers?


Poorvi Gupta

A struggling student at Delhi University, pursuing Economics honours. You'll find me mostly hibernating, during while I read and write. I love everything old, be it books, music or buildings.

The Pangean does not condemn or condone any of the views of its contributors. It only gives them the space to think and write without hindrance.