15 of the worlds hottest cities were registered in India. 5 of these are in Maharashtra!
Many other cities recorded the highest temperatures in 100 years in the past week. These temperatures now border between discomfort and unsupportive of life.
Survival and economic activity in temperatures exceeding 43 degrees Celsius is difficult, if not approaching the impossible. The heat is unbearable. Going about day-to-day activities is increasingly difficult.
The water cycle is interrupted. Not only does the heat cause more evaporation from our reservoirs, our rain cycles are increasingly delayed and concentrated. Our groundwater is increasingly over-exploited and lost forever.
Our food security is endangered as crops fail, have lower yields and because food storage becomes increasingly difficult.
Our stability and security become threatened as we migrate in response to the climate breakdown.
If we are not able to move the temperatures back to comfort, or at least between comfort and discomfort, we will not be there to argue about development catch-up, progress, growth, or about GDP.
We have a climate emergency. If we do not panic and act when our only home is on fire, when will we?
Carbon accumulation in the atmosphere has been recognized as the single biggest contributor from human activity to climate breakdown. Scientists have highlighted that atmospheric carbon serves to trap the solar radiation in the earth’s atmosphere, thus causing warming.
Those governments or businesses that absorb less carbon than they emit are carbon negative. Those that absorb as much carbon as they emit are carbon neutral. Those that absorb more carbon than they emit are carbon positive. Most governments and businesses are still carbon negative.
In a climate emergency businesses and governments must not just move from being carbon negative to being carbon neutral, but to being carbon positive. To become carbon neutral and then carbon positive, governments and businesses must increase measures that will absorb atmospheric carbon as well as those that will reduce carbon emissions.
The installed carbon absorption capacity determines the rate of carbon absorption. The carbon absorption capacity includes the existing tree cover, the streams and rivers, the seas and the soil, that is free from debris and waste, exposed to the atmosphere.
The installed carbon emission capacity determines the rate of carbon emission. The emission capacity includes the existing government and businesses activities delivering goods and services by expending energy, transportation networks, agricultural practices that release carbon and methane, and individual activities that depend on energy.
The rate of adding or removing carbon absorption capacity determines what carbon absorption capacity will exist. Currently no government or business report their carbon absorption capacity, their carbon emission capacity, the rates of change of these capacities and the consequent rates of carbon absorption and emission. If they are not even able to report this basic contribution to climate breakdown, is it any surprise that they do not act to reduce their impact on climate change? Is it any wonder that they go about business as usual as if nothing had changed?
It is no wonder that we are in a climate emergency. How does one deal with a climate emergency?
Every government and business must report their carbon absorption and emission capacities and the rates at which they were added or removed. They must also report the consequent carbon absorption and emission that resulted from these capacities. A Carbon Emergency website should display all governments and businesses that are carbon negative, carbon neutral and carbon positive and highlight those with extraordinary positive changes, negative changes and those without any changes.
Budgets for governments should be decided by both, their being carbon positive as well as the positive changes they are bringing about to effect carbon positivity.
Tax rates for businesses should be decided by both, their being carbon negative and having negative changes towards becoming carbon positive. All energy using equipment for individual consumption must have a mandatory carbon meter. This carbon meter would display the emission contributed in every use as well as the cumulative emissions contributed since first use.
In an emergency we do not sit and discuss catch-up, progress, growth, or GDP. We declare an emergency and act to ensure we survive.
Unfortunately, that is not what our leaders in government or business are doing. They are doing everything to continue to increase carbon emissions and reduce absorption.
Governments and businesses do not think beyond the short term.
If you care about the Short Now, or the lifetime of a child born today, you need to panic and act. You need to make every Friday a Friday for Climate and have a satyagraha with your government and business to get them to declare a climate emergency and start reporting their Carbon Balance Sheet.
To protect our Short Now, move out of carbon negative governments and businesses in panic, invest in carbon positive ones.
#All views expressed in this column are those of the author and Pune365 may not necessarily subscribe to them.
He can be reached @AnupamSaraph
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