We need to mainstream the climate conversation
In an interview with The Guardian recently, one the world’s most eminent climate scientists Michael Mann said: “The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle…. We literally would not have seen these extremes in the absence of climate change” . While it is reassuring for climate scientists to see their predictions coming true, Mr Mann, the director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University added, “… as a citizen of planet Earth, it is very distressing to see that as it means we have not taken the necessary action.” The effects of this inaction are visible across the world. In India, in a span of two months, we have seen the severe impacts of extreme weather events: Higher-than-normal rains devastated southern India, and now it’s northern India that is facing the same challenge. In other parts of the world, Hurricane Florence flattened the Carolinas in the US and Super Typhoon Mangkhut did the same to parts of the Philippines.
While the science of attribution – looking at how much climate change increases the odds of any one particular event occurring – has advanced remarkably, it still takes time for scientists to determine the link between climate change and specific weather events. Yet there is ample evidence, as Mr Mann said, that shows that climate change is indeed the culprit behind such extremities. Since the world doesn’t have the luxury of time to wait for scientists to establish these linkages in each and every case, it is critical that the world’s -- and India’s -- priority be the reduction of the risks by making smart investments to ensure communities and expensive infrastructure are more climate-resilient.
One of the fundamental components of building this much-needed resilience is to mainstream the climate conversation, which unfortunately still remains an elite topic in India (though poorer sections will be hit much harder). So instead of only thinking about vehicular emission, green cars, and carbon footprint, there needs to be a conversation happening around better and equitable management of water and waste and building resilience of our cities and villages.