Friday, June 12, 2009

Yes, I am freaking out over climate change

I’ve been watching a series of documentaries on climate change and the environment and I thought maybe I should finally write about what I’ve been thinking for a really long time now.

Where do I start?

Everybody knows what the problem is, but I feel not many of actually realize how huge it is. That is why we are living the way we are when actually, it will take nothing less than a gigantic, worldwide revolution to stop the catastrophe we are facing.

I know that we are changing our habits in little ways, by switching off the lights when not in use, or using cloth bags instead of plastic ones whenever possible; but really, this is not enough. Not even close.

Everytime I buy a packet of milk, or use a plastic straw, I feel guilty. Everytime I take a slightly longer shower, I feel guilty. Everytime I switch on a 60 watt bulb instead of a tubelight, I feel guilty. But I still do it.

Guilt is not the answer and I know it.

But why is it that people like me are not changing?

It will be much easier if things will be forced on us. Why can’t our country invest a really large amount of money in setting up renewable sources of generating energy? Or impose laws and punishments regarding optimum use of resources?

That brings me to another point – that developing countries do not want to change their ways. I don’t understand how people can’t see that climate change is affecting EVERYONE without exception! It doesn’t matter who caused how much harm; it is too late for all that. What matters is that who can do the most in combating climate change.

From what I learnt in those documentaries is that one degree Celsius increase in the ocean surface temperature caused Katrina, a grade 5 hurricane. Just one degree. And a 4.2 degree rise is predicted within the next 100 years. One can only start to imagine how much worse it can get.

Rising temperatures are depleting forests, which in turn brings about more increase in temperature and it just goes on. Melting perma-frost increases emission of green house gases like methane, which increases the temperature, which melts more perma frost. It is all a chain reaction which has STARTED already!!

Yes, I AM panicking. And why shouldn’t I?

Whenever I speak to people about global warming and pollution, most of the times I hear, “ya, but what can I do? No one is going to listen to me” or “ya, but changing myself is not going to effect anything” or “everybody wastes resources, so why should I deprive myself?”

We all just pass on the responsibility to “everyone else”, but eventually it is the only one earth that we have, which is home to my own body which is the home of my soul, which is in danger and no one, except me, can save it.

Then why can’t we just change ourselves single mindedly?

I think I need to become more self disciplined in my ways and really, really train myself to make minimum use of resources, recycle more and waste less. And be strong, so that people around me have to accept me the way I am.

Change is hard work. And we have to do it. There is no other choice but to stop being scared little escapists about the whole dark future that lies ahead.

On the bright side, imagine how exciting it will be. The whole world, together, fighting for a cause, hoping, dreaming, changing… Everyone passionate about a better future and all of us finding a purpose in life. Isn’t that what we spend our entire lives looking for? A purpose?

8 comments:

Naman Thakar said...

By a rare coincidence i have been watching many climate-change documentaries too! i think its becoming the spirit of the times, the talk of the global town.

but it is worth talking about. awareness spreads, everyone does something adds up to something big, drops make the ocean.

however this current crisis ends, in a sustainable earth or in tidal waves and destruction of the world as we know it, these are extraordinary times to be alive in.

we humans are a smart race, and we should be able to sort this out.

:-)

Sanjay said...

You have always asked the right kind of questions. I have seen it since the first semester.

I am reading your blog for the first time and this post on global warming is like a do-something-poke for all of us.

You should open a new blog which focuses on practical ways on countering global warming in an Indian context. Some people who realize what global warming can do to this world, don't know how to go about it. Your blog can be an action site.

Keep writing!

armeen said...

Its true, climate change is real, and its frightening. What is more frightening is, as you say, the slow response of humans. We still see so many people asking for plastic bags in stores. There are small changes happening on individual levels, but it has to build up to a national and global level as well.

While developing countries may be unwilling to change, I think developing countries are actually the key to change this scenario. There is still a lot of scope to change things here. We as citizens, need to be more active in creating awareness and putting pressure on the government for cleaner transport etc.

I think there is some glimmer of hope, as more people are at least becoming aware of this issue. But as u say, awareness is not enough, the awareness has to translate into action. I so identify with that 'guilty' feeling too, when I forget to turn of the light, or take a plastic bag cause I have none.

Lets hope for the best. And start acting for the best too, and tell others to act for the best.

The human spirit is an amazing thing. The global warming crisis is a real test for the human spirit, of whether we can be unselfish, and put the greater good over individual gain, or whether we continue like zombies till a mega-disaster. I like to think we will take the first path :)

Neelam Prabhu Gaonker said...

we all make our own little contributions..but most of the times these contributions involve little or no sacrifices on our part. we always stay clear of more drastic changes in our lives that will cause a major shift or readjustment...and usually these happen to be the maximum impact areas...that i guess is something we could be looking at...

Shivani Gakhar said...

@ naman: most of us don't even realise that it IS a crisis. i just hope our greed doesn't outsmart us..

@sanjay: i've been thinking about opening a new blog about ideas on what can we do... thanks for your "do-something-poke".. i think i'll start the blog :)

@armeen: i totally agree. i think developed countries have a lot to learn from developing countries. after all, we the the experts in "jugaad" or reusing and recycling and making the best of available resources. we should really stop aping the wasteful consumption pattern of developed countries.

@neelam: exactly. we have to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. it is hard work, but it is for our own survival...

evilian said...

Its probably not going to happen in my or your lifetime, and what's the big deal if the humans become extinct? We are the source of problem in the first place. Besides, life is pointless anyway, isn't it?

By the way, watch the last five minutes of the TED talk by Karry Mullins (http://ashams.wordpress.com/2009/03/04/karry-mullis-talk-on-tedcom/) The papers he refers to are here (http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2002/2002_Chen_etal_2.pdf). This should soothe some of your agitation. As everything else there are two sides to each debate - and the debate on climate change is far from being settled despite what is now the mainstream opinion.

armeen said...

We humans going extinct is not the problem. That's a narrow way of looking at things. If we go extinct, all species will definitely flourish. The point is, we are ruining their world right now. And if any one species goes extinct, even the tiniest, the repercussions can be huge. Its in our own interest to keep the balance on earth.

Thinking that climate change is 'debatable' is living in a bubble. The crisis is pretty real.

Shivani Gakhar said...

@ evilian: those claims about global warming being a figment of scientists's imagination is made by NASA. do you really think NASA is the most trusted source of any kind of information?
meanwhile, check this: http://www.storyofstuff.com/