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December 13, 2018

The climate change is menacing the world

  • Khin Maung Myint

After I had written quite a number of articles related to the climate change and its impact on the environments and its adverse consequences, I had wrongly thought I had written enough on that issue and turned my attentions to other subjects. Lately, however, as many places around the world are being hit by flooding of great magnitudes, I cannot ignore them any longer and thus decided to write this article.
This year, while our country and many other countries are reeling under the heavy rainfalls and extensive flooding, some places are being hit by extreme high temperatures and severe droughts. These are concrete proofs of the effects of the climate change and are wake up calls for every nation to participate in the fight against global warming. These adverse climate conditions are creating great inconveniences and also severely affecting the well beings of the humans and the wildlife and are also affecting the agricultural, fishery and animal breeding industries.
Experts around the world had for quite sometimes, been wary of the deteriorating climate conditions that can cause devastating effects on the environment. Since they had identified the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions as being the main culprits behind the global warming, which is the main cause of the climate changes, they had been endeavoring to curb the CO2 emissions to save the world.
It is common knowledge among those who have the slightest interest in the climate change, that a temperature rise of more than 2°Celsius above the average temperature of the pre-industrialization period could be very devastating. Thus the Paris Agreements reached in 2015 had required the reductions of the fossilized fuel consumptions to reduce CO2 emissions and maintain the temperature at not more than 2°Celsius above that of the mentioned period and to eventually bring it down to 1•5°Celsius.
Year after year the global warming is becoming worser. The extreme temperatures had caused pasture lands to be turned into deserts. Because of the rising temperatures the glaciers around the world are melting and decreasing in sizes. Even the permafrosts or the frozen grounds, that consist of rocks or soils that are formed at or below the freezing point of water and are usually found in high latitudes or at very high altitudes in lower latitudes are being extensively thawing. These conditions caused the rocks and the soil, that were frozen to form the permafrosts, to loosen up and caused the grounds to collapse and the shorelines of some places in the Artic and Antarctic regions to recede inland. People living in those areas are facing the dangers of being displaced as the grounds on which their houses were built are collapsing. The permafrosts on the high mountain ranges such as the Tibetan Plateau and the Alpines are also facing the same fates. The ice caps that covered the North and South Poles, too, have diminished in sizes due to the melting caused by the rises in temperatures. If these conditions cannot be checked and brought under control in time, the world would be headed for doom.
To date, 157 countries out of the 197 signatories to the Paris Agreements had ratified it. I understand that Myanmar too had signed the ratification not long ago. If only these countries comply wth the agreements in earnest and do their share of duty to curb CO2 emissions, the goals set are quite attainable and the above mentioned disasters could be avoided. Thus every country that had ratified has the obligation to endeavour to curb the temperature rises by reducing CO2 emissions or by growing more trees to absorb the CO2 and create carbon sinks.
Bhutan had committed to conserve its forests by enacting a law to have at least 60 per cent of its land covered with forests at all times. It had not only achieved that goal, but surpassed it by quite a large margin and had become the first country in the world to be officially recognized as the most forested country and was commended for their achievements at the Paris Conventions in 2015. Today 72 per cent of the land in Bhutan is covered with forests. All other countries should take Bhutan as an example and do what they can to control the temperature rises.
There are many ways to do that and the easiest would be to control the deforestations and grow more trees, avoid using woods as fuels and stop the practice of slash and burn agricultures. Preventions of wildfires could also be greatly helpful too. More complicated and difficult way would be to reduce the use of fossilized fuels, such as: gasolene, diesel and coal.
Lately the news that India, Britain, France and Norway intend to ditch gasoline and diesel cars in favour of the greener ones, was a very welcoming one. Their target dates to end all sales of gasolene and diesel cars may differ from one another, but anyhow, these are encouraging developments. At least 10 other countries have also set targets for sale of electric cars. More countries should follow their examples, especially the largest emitters of CO2 gases, which are the most industrialized countries. However, for the developing countries including ours’, such transitions should take much more time. Furthermore, as the largest emitters of the CO2 gases, like the United States America and the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) are being mum on that move by the those four countries, we have every right to continue the use of fossilized fuels for sometimes into the future.
One regretable thing is, while the US is encouraging productions of coal and the PRC is building one coal-fired power station every week, some foreign-funded activists under the guise of environmentalists or human rights NGOs are opposing the constructions of coal-fired power stations in our country. I wonder why these people are so ignorant of the advancements in the technologies of the coal-fired engines today. They are nothing like those of the past and are even far less damaging to the environments than some that run on gasolene or diesels. Today such coal-fired power stations can be found in many locations in Laos, though that country is producing hydroelectricity in abundance and are even exporting the electricity to the neighbouring countries. As a developing country, whch is just about to emerge from the threshold of poverty, we should be given a chance to use the coal-fired power stations to boost our economy. However, I agree that these coal-fired engines must disappear one day.
Though, at the present we may not be ready to follow the examples of some countries to abandon the use of gasolene and diesels for the motor vehicles, the least we can do will be to preserve our forests, revitalize our once lush green dense rainforests, conserve our teak plantations to minimize the CO2 presence in the atmosphere. This would definitely contribute significantly to the commitments our country had made in ratifying the Paris Agreements. It would even be better if we can grow more trees as much as possible to be able to absorb more CO2 gases than we emit, we might be able to trade off the excess. For the time being we should be spared from making such transitions to other forms of fuels like the developed and rich nations as we are still rehabilitating our country. In conclusion, I would like to say that only if all the countries that are party to the ratification of the Paris Agreements honor their promises and fulfill ther pledged commitments, the world would undoubtedly become a much safer and pleasanter place to live in for humans and animals alike.
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