Addressing the climate tragedy

The world is in crisis. A whole month’s rain hailed in one day in London, with a reported three inches of rainfall in just 90 minutes. In western Europe, cities in Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, and Luxembourg experienced deluge, with a death toll of more than 200, and many still missing and displaced. In China, deadly floods salvaged the province of Henan, one of the most populous and backward provinces in China, with a population of close to 99 million. The floods displaced tens of thousands and the death toll is ever-increasing. Whilst these terrible events are taking place, scenes emerged from the Gulf of Mexico, with the ocean on fire as a result of offshore fracking, heatwaves across the globe, and a new study found that the Amazon Forest is now emitting more CO2 than it absorbs. These are terrible and shocking scenes of the challenges of climate change, which is a hard truth.

The problem is not human nature, as we are often told to believe. The problem is the profit-oriented economy and the society we are embracing. A lot needs to be done. Repainting old policies green is not enough – especially on the current timebomb we are sitting on. The reality is that the world has progressed, but no real progress has been made to combat the climate crisis, which is destroying the globe, especially vulnerable communities. The climate crisis will devastate our food production, water supply and other crucial resources. These will lead to more displaced persons seeking a better livelihood in least exposed countries to the climate crisis. Moreover, it is believed that this crisis will increase the risk of a war for resources. Research shows that the war for resources, especially water supply is inflaming age-old conflicts.

The Amazon Forest is now emitting more CO2 than it absorbs.

Indeed, Burke et al (2009) found that as temperatures rise, the outbreak of conflicts rises proportionally. Case in point is the current hostilities between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, over projects for the extraction of water from the Nile. Similarly, in Crimea, draughts reached extreme levels, resulting in Crimean farmlands becoming unworkable, and Ukraine reluctant to supply water, intensifying the Russia-Ukraine relations. Frictions between two states in India, Telangana and Andra Pradesh, over the Krishna River are also escalating, whereas a research paper has recommended that draughts in Syria in the years preceding the Syrian Civil War might have heightened ethnic tensions within the country, with draughts being one of the causes to the ferocious and ongoing civil war.

The planet is burning and flooding at the misery of vulnerable people. This should not be the new normal. Yet billionaires like Bezos go on joyrides to space in fossil-fuelled jets. Immiseration, environmental degradation and economic growth are the flip sides of the same coin, and as a small island, we need to strike a balance.

Hence, we should take every opportunity to mitigate and prepare to combat the climate crisis, expeditiously.We need to wager a program that is understood by many, that works for the many. We need a grassroots-oriented approach to the circular economy in which producers produce more durable and easily replaced products, sustainable development to minimise environment degradation and preserve our agriculture.

We need to adhere to international attempts to respond to the climate situation, as international solidarity is vital in responding to the greatest crisis of our times. Lastly, we need to be better organised to bring substantive change, as we are currently squabbling with each other over ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation, rather than taking action on climate change, which is challenging our livelihoods and that of the future generations.

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