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A concerted effort to resolve a Global Crisis

December 5, 2015

The launch of the International Solar Alliance by India and France at the UN Climate Summit four days ago stole much of the front-page news, probably being outdone only by the cordial handshake between US and Russian Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin.

Obama

(Photo Source: http://abcnews.go.com/International/check-obama-putins-handshake/story?id=35519379)

At about the same time, the impact of climate change reared its ugly head in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India where severe rains and floods have killed at least 280 people.  Scenes of flooded houses and floating vehicles are now commonplace as a result of the heaviest rains experienced in the last century.

Sceptics may argue that it is absurd to correlate the severe flooding in Chennai to Climate Change and let’s humour them –albeit just for a moment. Let’s take a step back to think about three questions that might shine some light to this discussion.

  1. Would the Chennai Downpours have occurred even without effect of Global Warming? Probably – the water cycle is an obvious answer.
  2. Could the floods be a result of poor urban planning, improper waste management and storm water drainage infrastructure that dates back to pre-historic times? Quite likely. (Refer to Unplanned development in Chennai causes floods by The Economic Times for a comprehensive discussion).
  3. Would we be witnessing this catastrophe at the scale at which it is happening now if not for Climate Change? Definitely not. Even for the staunchest sceptics of Climate Change, the basic logic of increasing global temperatures, melting ice-caps at the poles and increasing sea-levels have to make sense. One just cannot argue or ignore the impacts of climate change any longer.

flood

(Photo Source: http://photos.filmibeat.com/photo-feature/celebrities-contribution-towards-chennai-floods/photos-c63-e55955-p644466.html)

The earthquakes in Nepal that killed over 9,000 people earlier this year, heat-waves that killed more than 1,100 people in India alone and many other natural disasters with severe impacts on human-life, infrastructure and the environment are just a glimpse of what could arise if the climate crisis is not addressed immediately. It is inconceivable for global temperatures to exceed 1.5° – 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels and a dire injustice. Developing countries such as the above are the hardest hit from the adverse impacts of climate change which include food and water security, rising sea-levels, flood threats for low-lying regions and extreme weather conditions to name a few that scream out for our immediate action.

To quote UN Framework Convention on Climate Change’s (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres:

“We THE People caused the Problem and we THE people need to solve the problem”.

The climate crisis is a global problem created by man that necessitates ambitious targets and a concerted effort to achieve them.

If ever the negotiators and ministers needed an incentive or a clear sign to commit to a strong climate agreement in Paris, the story of the Chennai Downpour has to be it. The story has now been told and time is upon us. In your actions the future world depends and all that remains is hope.

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