ISLAMABAD: Nature bestowed mankind with ample bounties and an
ecological balance for its healthy and peaceful existence on mother
Fresh water resources, snow covered mountains, clean air to breathe, forests, pastures, food grains, wildlife, marine creatures and above all the balanced set of weather system.
But, human beings ruthlessly exploited these resources bringing the ecosystem at the verge of disaster and leaving mother Earth sobbing for its depleting beauty.
Then the most lethal phenomenon of our age emerged – the global warming, an outcome of harmful CO2 and greenhouse gases emissions. With its trans-boundary effects, no country is safe from its impacts.
Poor nations, although least responsible for these emissions as major portion comes from industrialised states, are the most vulnerable and will be paying for others’ follies.
A recent report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on top 30 CO2 emitting countries shows the United States atop with 6,046 metric tonnes (m/tonnes) of CO2 emission annually (20.9 percent of the total global emissions), with China 5,007 m/tonnes (17.3 percent), Russian Federation 1,524 m/tonnes (5.3 percent), India 1,324 m/tonnes (4.6 percent), Japan 1,257 m/tonnes (4.3 percent), Germany 808 m/tonnes (2.8 percent), Canada 639 m/tonnes (2.2 percent) and the United Kingdom 587 m/tonnes (2 percent). Remaining all states and areas emit less than 1 percent of CO2 individually.
Among the top 30 CO2 emitting countries, only five countries have shown decline in CO2 emissions: Russian Federation (-23 percent), Germany (-18 percent), Ukraine (-45 percent), Poland (-12 percent), and Kazakhstan (-23 percent), the report said.
With just five top countries emitting 52.4 percent of total CO2 emissions, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Chairman Dr Rajendra Pachauri has repeatedly warned of its devastating effect.
“The human race, have substantially altered the Earth’s atmosphere. In 2005, the concentration of CO2 exceeded the natural range, existed over 650,000 years,” Pachauri said, whose IPCC shares this year’s Noble Peace prize with former US vice president Al Gore.
“Eleven of the warmest years since instrumental records have been kept, occurred during the last 12 years,” he said and noted that 40 percent of the world’s population living in poverty was unable to meet daily basic needs and was at a risk to face human development reversal.
In the 20th century, the average temperature rose by 0.74 C, sea level increased by 17 cm and it is predicted for the current century between 1.8 C and 4 C. Even if the concentration of gases is stabilised at 445 to 490 parts per million of CO2 equivalent, it would limit the equilibrium increase to 2 to 2.4 C. Large parts of Northern Hemisphere’s snow cover are vanishing and reduction in mass balance of glaciers would affect 500 million people in South Asia and 250 million in China. The arctic region is warming twice as rapidly and in Sub-Saharan Africa, 75 to 250 million people would be affected by water stress by 2020.
“We need to ensure maintenance of the current emission level till 2015 and then bring it down substantially,” the IPCC expert noted.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has also warned of catastrophic floods, showing 38 percent Asian port cities and 27 percent in deltas more prone to it, out of total 136 cities. Mumbai, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Maimi, Ho Chi Minh City, Kolkata, Greater New York, Osaka-Kobe, Alexandria and New Orleans are the top ten cities exposed to this phenomenon with billions of dollars assets under threat in all 136 cities, by 2070.
China and South Asian countries are equally prone to this phenomenon for their dependency on the Himalayan glaciers.
A 2006 World Bank report has also warned of western Himalayan glaciers’ retreat for the next 50 years, causing an initial increase in flow in regional rivers followed by a decrease up to 30-40 percent subsequently.
But, experts in these countries desire the industrialised states to first cut their emissions. “Equity is a prerequisite for an effective climate change agreement. We need responsible and effective action,” said Sunita Narain, director of the Centre for Science and Environment in India.
She advocates to control global warming, but with the argument of India and China’s right to progress. Pakistan’s share in CO2 emission is just 125.67 metric tonnes annually - just meagre. But, whose follies the country is paying for? Certainly, the major share comes from the industrialised nations.
“We can mitigate the CO2 emission, but cannot reverse it because it is a universal phenomenon. Only the major polluters can do it,” said Pakistan Academy of Sciences President Dr Ashfaq Ahmed. Dr Ashfaq also advocated data and technology transfer and capacity building of developing nations. Pakistan on its part has developed a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and is the first country to form the Prime Minister’s Committee on Climate Change.
“Even then we need cooperation in food, fuel and conservation. We have to adapt, but we also need to grow crops, and avert floods and droughts,” he added.
It is unfortunate that human beings are inflicting severe injuries to mother Earth as this phenomenon would result in cyclones, floods, droughts, food and water shortages, and above all, reverse the human development process.
The time is ripe to listen to sobbing mother Earth and reach a global agreement on CO2 emissions. Let us act before it becomes too late.
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