"The waters in the seas are high, and all the sand castles have drowned." When these words were penned by this famous band, I'm sure they didn't mean them literally. But I can imagine Reality now nodding profusely to their words, silently screaming for help. Climate Change, or to put it more realistically, Climate Crisis- the‘future’of our humankind that we hoped would never come in our lifetime, has now become our present. Driven by denial and fuelled by greed, it is now the elephant in the room that has started to stamp others. Droughts, floods, sinking coastlines, water scarcity, increasing number of deaths due to pollution, stronger hurricanes, erratic seasonal cycle, depleting biodiversity, dying rivers, and etcetera are just some of the direct effects of climate crisis that our race has started to suffer. The fact that we need urgent global actions to counter the most immediate risk humankind is facing shouldn't even be disputable. But scarcely has there been occasion when every global power has united unanimously for a just cause, let alone for an unacknowledged one. Looking at the wide variance of landscape, different regions in the world would have to adopt a different scheme to deal with the crisis. India is especially very vulnerable due to its peninsular territory and excess dependency on seasonal rivers and monsoons. We need to approach a two-lane scheme:
Prevent ourselves from the immediate ongoing damage of life, property and resources.
Take stringent climate action to ensure the damage already done shouldn't be furthered by our present actions. India's National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), which was released in 2008, is fairly comprehensive on paper. But lack of specificity and active implementation has rendered it slow and futile. Taking reference from it, below are some implementable and practical steps to be followed in order to tackle the crisis: ✓ Clean energy - development and use of solar energy for power generation; installation of solar panels for domestic and industrial use (The amount of energy we generate by fossil fuel in one year is equivalent to the amount of solar energy earth receives in one hour. Of course all of it cannot be tapped into a useful resource, but to say that we do not have sufficient supply of solar energy to power our industries is gross ignorance).✓ Active afforestation of 6 million hectares of degraded forest lands and expanding forest cover from 21.54% to 33% of India's territory, in compliance with the policy.✓ Mandatory installation of rainwater harvesting systems in urban as well as rural areas for increasing groundwater level and preventing soil erosion.✓ Banning single-use plastics all over the country and switching to eco-friendly material in every sector possible.✓ Making waste segregation mandatory, using biodegradable waste to harness biofuel and other useful resources.✓ Intensifying electric vehicles (EV) and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the market by every possible economic measure; setting up of EV charging stations across the country.✓ Strict penal action against industries violating pollution standards in fast-track courts (emission of greenhouse gases in particular).✓ Implementing only those developmental schemes that comply with nature; environment friendly economic growth (Green Economy); directing every corporation/organisation for the same.✓ Taking urgent and strictest action on a national scale against illegal mining, logging, wildlife trade and harmful use of agricultural areas; check on the usage of fertilizers that are damaging our water systems.✓ Building waste and sewage treatment plants for every city, especially those on the banks of rivers.✓ Checking volume of tourists in ecologically sensitive areas; making rules to make sure tourism does not interfere with nature and biodiversity. These are just some of the large number of steps we need to take to reverse the damage done by decades of ignorance and avarice. We have always been apathetic to change, let alone accepting that we need to. But we're now running out of time and slogans, and the beholders of future are starting to question their subsistence. But the question we should be asking ourselves is not what we should do, but rather what we need to stop doing. We need to STOP digging out fossil fuels from earth, we need to STOP damaging acres of forests on the pretext of‘economic development’, we need to STOP depending on traditional sources of energy for the sake of international relations and intransigence, we need to STOP intermixing politics with climate crisis because mixing politics in anything ever has only demeaned it. History is evident to that. And above all, we need to STOP expecting solutions that will enable us to carry on like before, like now.
Because those solutions don't exist anymore. Pragya Mathur