Climate change and extreme weather events dominated national and international headlines in 2015. A year that has been the warmest year, globally, on record, ended with a December and Christmas witnessing storms of epic proportion and resultant flooding across the globe.
The Chennai floods and the flooding of Northern United Kingdom occurred almost simultaneously. Ireland was also affected. According to one headline, “Cost of UK floods tops £5bn, with thousands facing financial ruin.”
There was flooding in Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee and tornadoes ripped through the Midwestern states of the United States in large numbers devastating lives and livelihood.
Flooding and storms on the one hand and forest fires and drought on the other.
We are facing extreme weather and extreme pollution even as world leaders and international organizations ushered in the Era of Sustainable Development Goals (September 25, 2015) and the agreement of the COP21 – Paris Climate Change Conference (December 12, 2015).
India this past year has witnessed flooding and storms as well as cold waves and smog. Yet our Environment Minister denied that the Chennai floods were due to Climate Change! A century’s record in rainfall shattered but not a “change”!
Yes, policy is a big step to control pollution and Green House Gases (GHGs) that are warming the world but the change must start from within each and every one of us. Only a mass movement can save our planet.
While many reports spoke of the resilience of the people, another trait that emerged was our short memories. We repeated the actions that caused hardships; we forgot the lessons learnt during the floods. Improper disposal of plastics, return of massive number of cars [that survived the flooding] onto the roads, return to encroached lakes, waste of milk over cardboard cut-outs of actors within a week of severe milk shortage!
As 2015 comes to an end and 2016 dawns, let us include care for our environment, sometime even when the action causes us discomfort. As the year changes let us change for the better.
Our lives and livelihoods are at stake! And it’s no laughing matter despite one of this month’s Graffiti cartoons featuring this:
“World Population 2050: Double or Nothing”
Here’s to a happier and healthier 2016 for us and for our planet.