The long road ahead in the battle against global warming - Hindustan Times

The long road ahead in the battle against global warming

May 27, 2024 09:54 AM IST

Authored by - Ananya Raj Kakoti and Gunwant Singh, scholars of international relations, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

As record-high temperatures and unprecedented heat waves sweep across Asia, the urgency of addressing global warming has never been clearer. This phenomenon has sparked a critical debate: Has the fight against global warming become a losing battle, or do we need to adapt more effectively to the changing realities of our environment? This article explores the impacts of rising temperatures, evaluates the current efforts to combat global warming, and considers the need for enhanced adaptability.

Global warming (Shutterstock)
Global warming (Shutterstock)

Countries across Asia are experiencing record-breaking temperatures and severe heat waves, disrupting daily life, straining energy grids, and threatening public health. In recent years, cities like New Delhi, Bangkok, and Tokyo have reported temperatures soaring above 40°C (104°F), with heatwaves lasting longer and becoming more intense. The consequences are dire: increased mortality rates, reduced agricultural yields, and heightened risks of wildfires are just a few examples.

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Despite significant global efforts to combat the climate crisis, the frequency and intensity of heatwaves suggest that these measures might not be enough. The Paris Agreement of 2015 marked a landmark commitment by nations to limit global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, with aspirations to keep it under 1.5°C. However, the persistent rise in global temperatures indicates that these targets are increasingly challenging to meet. Renewable energy adoption, reforestation projects, and international climate accords have made considerable strides. Countries like China and India have invested heavily in solar and wind energy, and global awareness about climate change is at an all-time high. However, despite these efforts, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. Economic growth, particularly in developing countries, often relies on fossil fuels. Political and economic challenges have slowed the transition to a green economy, and climate policies frequently fall short of their goals.

As the reality of global warming sets in, the focus is shifting towards adaptation. While mitigation efforts are crucial, enhancing our ability to adapt to extreme weather conditions is equally important.

· Urban planning: Cities must redesign infrastructure to withstand higher temperatures. For example, Singapore has implemented green roofs and vertical gardens to reduce urban heat. The city’s extensive tree-planting initiative helps cool the environment, providing shade and reducing heat absorption by buildings.

· Agricultural practices: Farmers need support to adopt climate-resilient crops and irrigation techniques. In India, the introduction of drought-resistant millet varieties and micro-irrigation systems has helped farmers cope with erratic rainfall patterns, ensuring food security and stable incomes.

· Public health initiatives: Governments must implement robust public health strategies to protect vulnerable populations during heatwaves. In Japan, early warning systems and public cooling centers have been established to prevent heatstroke, particularly among the elderly and children.

· Community engagement: Local communities play a crucial role in adaptation efforts. In Bangladesh, community-led mangrove restoration projects have not only protected coastal areas from storm surges but also created sustainable livelihoods for local populations by supporting fisheries and providing resources.

The battle against global warming should not be viewed as lost. Instead, it requires a dual approach that balances continued mitigation efforts with robust adaptation strategies. Policymakers, businesses, and individuals must work collaboratively to reduce carbon footprints while preparing for the inevitable changes that come with a warming planet.

The soaring temperatures and heat waves across Asia underscore the pressing need to rethink our approach to global warming. While it may seem like a daunting challenge, the fight against the climate crisis is far from over. By integrating mitigation with effective adaptation strategies, we can build a more resilient future. Embracing both technological innovations and traditional knowledge, we must adapt to the realities of our changing environment while continuing to strive for a sustainable and climate-resilient world.

It's imperative that we recognise the urgency of both mitigating the climate crisis and adapting to its effects. Policymakers must prioritise climate resilience in their agendas, businesses should innovate sustainable practices, and individuals need to adopt eco-friendly lifestyles. Together, we can turn the tide against global warming and safeguard our planet for future generations.

This article is authored by Ananya Raj Kakoti and Gunwant Singh, scholars of international relations, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

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