“All nature is bound by law, the law of its own action; and this law can never be broken. If you could break a law of nature, all nature would come to an end in an instant. There would be no more nature”
Spirit & Nature (Notes of class Talks & lectures),
…….Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Volume 6
The inherent warning in the above quote by Swami Vivekananda is slowly & apparently beginning to come true. Climate change is becoming the greatest challenge of the 21st century & is casting doubts over the very survival of human race. Nature is defined by climatic patterns prevailing over a region & governed by complex climatic systems or laws. This system is so delicate & intrinsically complex that even a slight disturbing trend can upset the natural balance.
Disturbed nature can rage havoc across the globe & going by recent trends we are already at the receiving end. There are numerous changes in climatic patterns that are being observed in recent times such as heavy precipitation (Mumbai 2005), heat waves (Europe & Australia) & increased intensity of tropical cyclones (Gulf of Mexico & Japan). Each of these events has resulted in deaths of hundreds of people and rendered many more refugees. Rigveda has also emphasized the importance of “panch tatva” (5 elements namely namely Prithvi (earth), Pavan (air), Jal (water), Tej (solar energy) and Nabh (sky) and has maintained that the entire life systems on earth are based on harmonious functioning of these five elements. It seems we have knowingly or unknowingly disturbed this intricate balance.
As per an estimate by NASA, global average temperature over the past 100 years has increased by approximately 0.6 degree Celsius and is projected to follow an increasing trend. The underlying cause behind this is the trapping of more & longer wave infrared radiations reflected from the earth’s surface. This increased trapping is in turn caused by the thickened blanket of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere of which carbon dioxide in the major culprit.
As per the current estimates, Human race has poured nearly 40 billion tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere. Considering the respective contributions, the share of developed countries is significantly larger then that of the developing countries. This is due to the early arrival of industrial revolution in these countries. However, the circumstances are changing and many developing countries are on track for accelerated industrialization such as China & India. Even if we say that per capita emissions for these countries are significantly lower then that of OECD countries, going by the larger population base they too make significant contributions to the global carbon emissions.
Trying to take this global challenge head on countries across the continents came together in the year 1997 at Kyoto, Japan and an agreement was signedwhich came to be known as Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol came into force on 16 February 2005. Some of the key concepts underlined under this protocol include: Legally binding GHG reduction commitments for developed countries (Annex I), Implementation of GHG reduction policies & measures by (Annex I) countries and a provision for an “Adaptation Fund” which will help developing countries to minimize the impact of climate change. Under the Kyoto Protocol, three flexibility mechanisms were suggested for developed countries; these are Joint Implementation, Clean Development Mechanism & Emission Trading Scheme. Till Today various mechanisms outlined under Kyoto protocol have prevented millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere. The climate change scenario as we are witnessing today could have been much worse in the absence of Kyoto Protocol. However, the current Kyoto Period is coming to end in 2012 after which it has to be either renewed or replaced with other such plant saving post-kyoto commitment. There are differences of opinions amongst the countries across the globe over the shape of the new strategy but we must know that our mother earth which has always nourished us with its natural resources & wonders is under crisis. It is our responsibility as global citizens to raise ourselves over and above national & personal goals for a much larger global benefits.