Climate change is real.
What we might or not have realised yet is that climate change would affect more than just our environment and temperatures. Our global economy and a large number of jobs across the world depend on climate systems and biodiversity for existence. Given the current state of emergency of climate change, it is pretty evident that the world has little time to tackle the depletion of natural resources, not only for our survival physically, but also economically.
The United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE) held in 1972 was the first International convention held on environmental discussions. While the consecutive versions of this conference have been held in the years to follow, the agenda of the conference discussions have varied right from the reduction of the extraction of non-renewable resources, to smarter management of the planet’s natural supplies of biodiversity and freshwater.
According to the current estimates of the International Labour Organisation, it has now become essential to reduce businesses that involve emission of carbon dioxide as part of their functioning, since continued emission would lead to decrease in labour productivity due to extreme weather conditions, and lead to an average decrease of 7% in economic growth in the next decade.
Our inefficiency and insufficiency in curbing waste production will lead to an extreme amount of waste accumulation, which will further pollute the air, water as well as the soil. Once these are polluted we will become more prone to facing premature illnesses and deaths due to exposure to poor quality air, contaminated water, and nutrition-compromised food.
While curbing the depletion of natural resources becomes an obvious issue of extreme importance, we have to also focus on the fact that hundreds of millions of people around the world depend on agriculture, forests, and seacoasts for their livelihood. With the rapid extinction of species and reduction in viable landscapes, there are hundreds of millions of people who are exposed to unemployment.
Just to ideate on a few sectors that will be affected:
China and India alone constitute about 60% of the world’s total agricultural labour force of over 1 billion people. With drastic changes in the weather conditions, rain patterns, incidences of droughts and floods, it is inevitable that the agricultural workforce would have to identify parallel agricultural techniques or transform into labour with a separate set of skills.
The travel industry employs 8% of the global workforce directly or indirectly. With the melting of glacial ice, changes in sea levels, and extremism in temperatures, the coastal countries that heavily survive on tourism would have to find alternate modes of income.
Regulations on fossil fuel extraction would heavily affect the lucrative business of coal, oil, and gas, thus heavily affecting the workforce involved in it.
The beverage industry (both non-alcoholic and alcoholic) at various magnitudes depend very heavily on natural water as a key raw material and for their processing. With the depletion in the quantities of potable and groundwater, this industry is bound to be affected.
Commercial fishing is a highly lucrative business, but ironically, even with the rise in sea levels, this industry is going to be adversely affected owing to the addition of pollutants to the water, the acidification of the oceans makes it hard for a lot of edible species to survive.
Now, when we say we are exposing millions to unemployment, one situation that becomes mandatory to solve is to provide replacement jobs to the staff of such industries. For many recent years, creating jobs that are sustainable and ‘clean‘ have been misconstrued as jobs that have to be created with a compromise on economic growth as a means of conserving the environment. Today, we have got to know better.
With every difficulty, comes an opportunity. The simple solution to the loss of jobs caused by the alarming rate of depletion in the natural resources is to promote more and more industries that offer sustainable solutions since such industries become powerhouses for the provision of clean and lasting jobs. They not only provide heterogeneous work environments but also ensure that environmental integrity is maintained while we are busy worrying about the socioeconomic perspective.
It has now become more necessary than ever for efficient governance to ensure that manpower that is lying dormant with this necessary transition is trained well to possess skills to easily fit into the economic migration and be future-ready. The loss of jobs provides the global economy with tremendous potential of quality labour and it is highly essential to harness this potential to ensure economic stability while ensuring environmental stability.
A substantial number of oilfield and coal miners have lost their jobs in the last decade, with the reduction in the availability of resources, but solar and wind energy companies have had a significant rise in their outspread employment opportunities.
Since 2014, hydroelectric, solar, wind and bio thermal energy industries have churned out a large number of jobs. There were 11 million people employed in clean energy jobs just in 2018. In the same way that employees are slowly shifting towards green energy jobs, we will have to put the right people with the right set of skills in the right industries across the world.
Well, easier said than done.
The governments and global institutions will have to chalk up policies to ensure social and economic securities to mitigate the effects of such migration. Educating the masses and building required skill sets in them would be a challenge that will have to be taken in the stride, given the age-old history of humankind adapting to changes, be it agriculture and crop patterns, alternate means of energy production and utilization, development of biodegradable daily-use items, to name a few.
It is essential to seek and earn the interest of the workforce to ensure that our economy that is having a downfall due to the destructive effects of climate change and global warming, can spring back up with the advent and advancement of clean and green jobs.
The only way to have a future with stable economic growth and a good standard of living would be to do every little thing in our power to preserve and conserve the natural resources that keep us going. When we have economical trade wars dividing us, what we need to understand is that the most urgent emergency is to unite as one big family to fight the alarming rise in global temperatures, because there will be no economy without a planet.
It’s now or never. Climate change is real. If you still don’t want to believe in it, and you still want to act like ignoring it would make it go away, then you should rather study or work for a future you won’t even have.