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Human Beings Are The Biggest Threat To Our Planet, Says Environmentalist Vimlendu Jha On Climate Change

To understand climate change, it needs to be broken down into minor, small, specific resource management of water, forest, air, people’s right over these resources, says environmentalist Vimlendu Jha

Human Beings Are The Biggest Threat To Our Planet, Says Environmentalist Vimlendu Jha On Climate Change
Highlights
  • The global rise in temperature is about to hit 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040
  • Well-being should be the priority and not economic growth: Vimlendu Jha
  • It’s our responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: Mr Jha

New Delhi: Natural disasters are becoming a regular occurrence in India. Be it the latest floods in Uttarakhand and Mahabaleshwar and other places or cyclones that are hitting the coastal states frequently, be it Amphan that hit West Bengal in 2020 or cyclone Tauktae which hit Maharashtra in 2021, among others. Even now, over 1,200 villages in Uttar Pradesh are battling flood fury. All these events are a clear signal that the threat posed by climate change is for real. In its report titled ‘Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis’, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has clearly stated that scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system. The report flagged that some of the changes such as continued sea-level rise are irreversible over thousands of years. In the backdrop of the IPCC report and latest findings, NDTV’s Banega Swasth India team spoke to Environmentalist Vimlendu Jha to dissect the report’s findings and its implications for India. Here’s an excerpt from the interview.

Also Read: India Must Act Now, Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Build Climate Resilient Infrastructure: Experts

NDTV: What are your takeaways from the latest IPCC report?

Vimlendu Jha: The most important thing that the IPCC report tells is that now ‘if, but and maybe’ won’t work. There is no doubt about the existence of climate change. From a very decisive, data and science point, the IPCC report clearly states that climate change is happening and its impacts are visible. India and several other countries will definitely be affected severely by climate change in the years to come but the situation is already terrifying. It’s almost a code red that the IPCC report talks about that climate change is not an imagination or a possibility; it’s a reality. If we look at the main cause of the destruction or climate change, it’s economic growth. Human beings are the biggest threat to our planet and lastly, states, societies, and individuals should focus on well-being rather than working towards economic growth. The good thing about the report is that it has built multiple scenarios like if you will do this, then this will happen and there is data to back that. It also states the repercussions of not taking corrective measures. The global rise in temperature is about to hit 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040. This means, the temperature that was supposed to rise in 40-50 years will now worsen in 20 years. That’s the best case scenario that we are talking about. And the worst case scenario is that if we don’t take an action even now then the temperature will rise by 4.4 degrees and its impact will be seen on our air, carbon sink, jungle, rivers and everything else. It is being said that a lot of Indian cities will drown.

Also Read: Key Takeaways From The U.N. Panel’s Report That Raises Alarm, Says Time Running Out To Limit The Global Warming

NDTV: UN Secretary General has said that there is no time for delay and no room for excuses. India is among the top three countries when it comes to emissions. What can India learn from this report?

Vimlendu Jha: Per capita carbon consumption of an average Indian is less than various developed countries like America, Europe. But our greenhouse gas emission is number three because we have a population of 1.4 billion people. Though we have a smaller footprint, but when multiplied by 1.4 billion, it becomes a huge number. Therefore, for India, it is important to learn that it’s our responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, how we move towards a low carbon economy and how we make a transition in energy production. The second important lesson is that we come in a climate vulnerable region. The report clearly states that the Indian Ocean has warmed faster than the global average. India needs to build a roadmap and walk on the path of a low carbon economy. Infrastructure development is important but not at the cost of human life or tragedies or the environment.

We witnessed a cloud burst in Uttarakhand; heatwaves in various regions; extreme flooding in Kerala. These are not isolated events; they are all linked towards climate change and everyone will have to connect the dots. It’s important for us to understand that climate change in an inter-connected, comprehensive, collective and responsible way.

Also Read: Climate Change Is The Most Critical Challenge Before Humanity: President

NDTV: Who is responsible for the recent disasters in the country and what can we learn from those disasters?

Vimlendu Jha: It will be incorrect to blame any one individual, organisation or government for climate change. It’s a collective failure and it lies in two things – firstly, we are unable to make sense of the fact that all of this is because of our behaviour, actions, and infrastructure development. Secondly, we are not reacting to it quickly. We don’t have a mitigation plan. We cannot stop floods but if we have faced them once in 2018, then we can learn and be prepared for it by not violating the law of land. We can cut trees to build flyovers but, tomorrow the air that we will have to breathe will be polluted. We cannot breathe for an exhaust pipe. We need trees to breathe oxygen. We can reach the moon, but we need air and water on earth also. If 60 per cent of the surface water is polluted it is high time we wake up and do something about it. Climate change will have to be broken down into minor, small, specific resource management of water, forest, air, people’s right over these resources. It’s then we will understand climate change and combat it collectively.

Also Read: World Must Remove 1 Billion Tonnes Carbon Dioxide By 2025 To Meet Climate Goal: Report

NDTV: What do you think is the cause of floods in Uttar Pradesh during this time of the year?

Vimlendu Jha: Clearly, it’s climate change. As in the extreme weather condition, extreme flooding, extreme rainfall in a short span of time and bad floodplain management that is what is leading to erratic flooding that we are actually seeing in villages of Uttar Pradesh. You also need to understand that if you cut a tree next to my house, I won’t get an asthma attack within the next one hour. The cutting of a tree won’t impact only me. If someone sitting in Haryana pollutes the air, it will affect Delhi’s air as well. It’s an air shed, watershed, shared carbon and climate that we are talking about. People in Uttar Pradesh are facing floods because of people like us, the high carbon footprint individuals, and the incompetency of the government. There is still a window of opportunity to fix it if we want to fix it.

Also Read: Despite COVID Pandemic, Carbon Dioxide In The Air At Highest Level Since Measurements Began

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

24,24,98,327Cases
20,40,54,102Active
3,35,14,449Recovered
49,29,776Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,24,98,327 and 49,29,776 have died; 20,40,54,102 are active cases and 3,35,14,449 have recovered as on October 22, 2021 at 5:24 am.

India

3,41,43,236 15,786Cases
1,75,7453,086Active
3,35,14,449 18,641Recovered
4,53,042 231Deaths
In India, there are 3,41,43,236 confirmed cases including 4,53,042 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,75,745 and 3,35,14,449 have recovered as on October 22, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,98,218 1,573

27,899 1,434

64,30,394 2,968

1,39,925 39

Kerala

48,88,523 8,733

82,093 1,240

47,79,228 9,855

27,202 118

Karnataka

29,84,849 365

9,017 86

29,37,848 443

37,984 8

Tamil Nadu

26,91,797 1,164

13,790 268

26,42,039 1,412

35,968 20

Andhra Pradesh

20,62,303 493

5,500 66

20,42,476 552

14,327 7

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,068 10

107 5

16,87,062 14

22,899 1

West Bengal

15,83,646 833

7,535 44

15,57,090 775

19,021 14

Delhi

14,39,488 22

311 1

14,14,087 21

25,090

Odisha

10,37,056 524

4,336 51

10,24,422 573

8,298 2

Chhattisgarh

10,05,773 38

206 21

9,91,995 16

13,572 1

Rajasthan

9,54,395 2

36 2

9,45,405 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,353 13

156 20

8,16,110 33

10,087

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,721 12

88 6

7,82,110 6

10,523

Haryana

7,71,125 9

131 2

7,60,945 11

10,049

Bihar

7,26,042 6

30 0

7,16,351 6

9,661

Telangana

6,69,739 183

3,967 1

6,61,829 183

3,943 1

Assam

6,07,811 384

3,762 152

5,98,087 228

5,962 4

Punjab

6,02,135 22

226 6

5,85,358 27

16,551 1

Jharkhand

3,48,526 40

166 24

3,43,225 16

5,135

Uttarakhand

3,43,787 14

176 0

3,36,213 14

7,398

Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,386 87

814 14

3,26,143 73

4,429

Himachal Pradesh

2,22,138 202

1,452 58

2,16,955 140

3,731 4

Goa

1,77,765 59

618 21

1,73,790 35

3,357 3

Puducherry

1,27,564 43

454 7

1,25,258 50

1,852

Manipur

1,23,051 81

1,346 14

1,19,800 94

1,905 1

Mizoram

1,15,944 737

10,034 229

1,05,510 962

400 4

Tripura

84,369 18

105 10

83,448 8

816

Meghalaya

83,210 52

735 26

81,034 76

1,441 2

Chandigarh

65,315 3

26 2

64,469 1

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,065 22

140 2

54,645 20

280

Sikkim

31,819 19

185 10

31,241 9

393

Nagaland

31,670 11

250 5

30,743 15

677 1

Ladakh

20,896 10

43 9

20,645 1

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,678 2

4 2

10,670

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

0 0

10,314

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,646

7 0

7,510

129

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