Environmental change is to be determined with two values; one is 51 billion and the other is zero. Fifty-one billion tons of greenhouse gases are added by the world typically to the environment every year. Every year it’s increasing. And zero is the target to stop global warming and to avoid the dreadful effects of climate change.
These effects will be very bad. Humans need to stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and, “This is where we are today!” – Bill Gates, 2021.
To make mincemeat of the fact, humans have become supreme beings in regards to other animals. All in all, India is considered the land of diversity, but mordantly the kaleidoscope of anthropogenic impacts on the environment eventually turned into a local bully. Officially we are living in the Holocene epoch. But globally, for the last 70,000 years, it has been the Anthropocene epoch: the epoch of humanity.
But particularly to bring the context of my nation India, here, this Anthropocene epoch can be further sub-divided into Religiocenery echelon (processes and activities followed in the name of religion dominated by humans leading to Anthropogenic aftermaths) and the other one is Politicocenery echelon (policies and statements promised in the name of development and sustainability; which are meant to be broken highly, dominated by a junta of humans)
Religion and Politics are the two staples for Indians. With these two, humans have re-written the rules of the game. Two platforms subjugated by humans have managed within 7 years to change the ecosystem in unprecedented ways. Globally, religion and politics are seen as two different tenets, but the lion’s share of Indians are glad to blend these two, turning them into a cereal bowl of human-impacted environmental disasters and human risks.
Coming to politics, their act of duties have slowly eroded the lands in the foundation of rampant development. Slashing out a valley or a plain of greens for a huge political campaign have caused that region to collapse like a dominoes. The government has been busy for ages to blame the massive disasters and masking the deplorable neglect of disaster management systems and history of ignoring danger signs.
Indian politics is a chessboard of white lies. Promises made on developments have long contentious. Both the ruling political parties and opposition parties have been convincing citizens that they want and need development. And in this competition of bringing the burgeoning at the cost of environmental degradation and risks, we, the citizens, become vulnerable.
“While the Kings make war, the civilians die.” Nature alleges that both ends of the government are colluding with the land and construction mafia to skim off profits from construction. It is supremely convenient to argue that the nation wants development at any cost. But has anyone asked the citizens of India how they feel about environmental disasters every couple of years?
Meanwhile, not a single mind speaks about the fact that growing numbers of religious pilgrims are putting huge stress on the ecosystem, especially on the Himalayan ecosystem. The Hindoo shrines of Kedarnath, Badrinath and Gangotri were visited by more than 40 million people in 2019.
A move to restrict the entry of pilgrims would be immensely unpopular in such a religious country, which explains why political parties refuse to discuss it, followed by a trivial untruth by the government, “Nation must not compromise on its environment and ecology.”
The reckless greed for the evolution, the Politicocenery echelon has masked and clipped around my country. The worship of avarice has become the most religious of all.
One of the taboo deeds in this nation is to speak against the dreadful acts played within the circumference in the name of religion. Insurance companies talking about the “Act Of God”, which means environmental disasters that humans did not cause or could not have reasonably prevented.
Critically pointing out if God was behind the destruction, could he not discern between the guilty and innocent. This raises questions about God’s role in disasters against human sins. Human sins fractured the harmonious relationship between God and humans, among humans and between humans and the environment.
Human sins sheltered under religion (slaughtering of animals, devadasis of modern India involved as sex slaves, Female Genital Mutilation and Baby tossing) factorise the environmental disasters under the Act of God. Religiocenery echelon contributes rudimental agreement on nature having two sides: beauty and grace, terrifying and deadly. And the prospectus depends on us and our karma.
The COVID-19 pandemic lowered the atmospheric aerosols induced by anthropogenic activities which might have strengthened the recent environmental disaster battled by West Bengal, super cyclone Amphan. Due to reduced human economic activity, the amount of aerosols in the atmosphere plummeted, leading to surface warming that extended over the waters of the Bay of Bengal.
Therefore, the global warming effect, which brought an increase in the strength of the cyclone, if any, is now amplified due to this human-induced lockdown effect. This might be the reason why Amphan turned into a super cyclone. The new environment with much-reduced aerosols and greenhouse gases provides a new testbed for environmental change.
It might sound like reducing aerosol concentration could be a bad thing. But we must remember that the environment is a system constantly trying to find balance. It is a tug of war and global environmental warming is the biggest person in the crowd.
The question is: What should we do at this moment? To me, the answer is clear. We must spend the next decade focusing on policies, technologies and market structures that will put us on the path of eliminating greenhouse gases by 2050. This pandemic has wrecked the global economy, support for action on environmental change is just as high as it was in 2019.
It’s hard to think of a better response to a miserable 2020 than spending the next decade dedicating ourselves to this ambitious goal.