My interest in nature dates back to the school days when I used to paint landscapes and get appreciation through awards at various state and national levels. The curiosity to know more and more about nature started manifesting through my avid interest in photography and bird watching that led towards becoming the State Coordinator for an annual Campus Bird Count Event,which was dedicated to my dad who is a polar scientist and has worked extensively in understanding the impact of climate change in polar region.
The passion for bird watching and indulgence in the event helped me understand various facets of the avian life including the distribution across the country, the consequence of urbanisation across Delhi/NCR on the bird population, the impact of changing climatic conditions on the ecology of birds and the effects of changes in habitat and weather on the migration patterns. The apparent increase in the frequency of the extreme climatic events like cyclones, tsunamis, storms, cloud bursts, caught my eye, and my attention was drawn towards the global focus on climate change. Receiving a prestigious mentorship by the renowned environmental activist and noble prize winner, former Vice President of America, Mr Al Gore as a climate leader (Climate Reality Leadership Corps 2015) at that juncture proved to be a turning point.
The news on the extreme climatic events, the increased frequency of the high heat spells, rising ocean temperatures and shrinking of glaciers have become so common that these are initiating cultural and spiritual imaginations. These disastrous events have always evoked strong human emotions in terms of mythologising and gaming of the natural forces. For example, in the Indian context, the culmination of the Indus Valley civilisation is also related to a drastic event resulting in the major rivers changing their course.
However, there is one common thing that emerges beyond any doubt that human experience of climate has evoked strong emotions that can either be very benevolent in a normal climatic situation or threatening on a disastrous event. Thus, the climate is seen entangled into human cultures and as a justification and conveyor of ideologies since our past.
However, climate change has become a universal and a pressing issue now as it was never before, and solutions are being sought at all levels. However, I look at it with a different perspective and feel that this has to be tackled at the grassroots. Bringing awareness amongst the communities that are going to be affected the most should not be left only to the governments. Designing campaigns for the hill dwellers, coastal people, desert inhabitants, agriculturists and so on is an important facet that needs to be taken care to curb the menace of global warming, rising carbon emissions and above all the adaptation to the extreme weather events. Even if the most idealistic standards are adopted globally to put a control on the warming earth, we are in an interglacial period, and the earth on its own has seen several ice ages and warm epochs. How long this period would continue before the earth starts a self-correction and proceeds towards a glacial cycle is anybody’s guess.
In my opinion, while the legislation across the world takes its own course of action, as an individual and a climate campaigner lot of work can be done towards adaptation. It can help the societies in combating the impending changes and protect their livelihoods. Societies should also be armed with knowledge on the vagaries of the natural agencies to help them in the selection of suitable and safe habitat. In a nutshell, it could be said that the amount of money that is currently being spent on the mitigation of the disastrous event—a part of that should continuously be earmarked for the adaptation aspect of the climate change.