There is no doubt that the world is warming up. And it is true that humanity has had a very negative influence on our planet’s environment over the years.
The world’s temperature has been rising steadily since around 1910. And now it is clear to many people that climate change is one of the largest and most intractable problems confronting us.
Global warming is our current international concern. But what puzzles me more is that some world leaders have been refusing to listen when warned by environmentalists, activists and the international science community about this reality as it unfolded many years ago.
It is very clear that the subject of climate change is still a bewildering domain for them despite so many informative books that have seen the light of day on the issue.
Now it has taken the efforts of a teenage girl, Greta Thunberg, to wake them from their sleep. But the more she pours light into their eyes, the more they close them.
The US President, Donald Trump, should be ashamed of his sarcastic comments on the young girl’s drive to mobilise the world to her great cause. However, this is not surprising as in 2001, George Bush, after taking over from Bill Clinton, officially rejected the US’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol despite the fact that the US is one of the countries with more than 55% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.
Now, the former Top Gear host, Jeremy Clarkson, has entered the fray by telling the young climate activist to “be a good girl” and “shut up”.
Talk of dinosaurs who have failed to keep pace with change.
It was John Keynes, the former British economist, who advised that, “the difficulty lies not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones”.
What the two men should know is that Greta is the heroine of the world whose cause is to save humanity and the planet from the greatest challenge our world has ever known. But the two are not the only people who take global warming for granted.
As far back as 1896, Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius predicted that the Carbon dioxide that was being added to the atmosphere by the factories springing up across Europe could raise the earth’s temperature and he submitted that coal-burning would raise the concentration of the gas by 50% in 3000 years.
Few gave him an ear. And what happened was that the gas increased by some 35% in a little more than a century and is still rising to this day.
When Arrhenius also predicted that carbon dioxide might drive up temperature, his findings were given scant attention.
And as Milankovitch’s astronomical theory gained support, the idea that atmospheric composition might influence ice ages was forgotten.
Hence, as 2006 came to a close, Lohachara, a small island in the Bay of Bengal, disappeared under the waves.
In February 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed that the earth’s rising temperature and associated climatic anomalies are a result of human activities: the ever-increasing number of factories, refineries, power stations, cars, and aeroplanes that have enhanced the natural greenhouse effect. Signs have long been there that there is an urgency to tackle global warming.
In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana and Mississippi, causing one of the most destructive disasters in US history. urricane Rita also caused severe damage in Louisiana and Texas.
In South America in the same 2005, Hurricane Stan took 2000 lives while Hurricane Wilma ravaged Yucatan, Mexico, before striking Florida. Again in 2005, tropical storm Delta was to strike the Canary Islands. And in Spain in 2006, hotel owners in southern Costa del Sol began asking for permission to bring in their own sand as beaches around the Mediterranean coast were predicted to narrow by 15m by 2050. All skiing areas in Spain and Andorra were ultimately closed because of lack of snow and temperatures too warm for snow machines to function.
And in 2006 in Sri Lanka, in coastal areas, salination from the rising seawaters forced some families to abandon fields for the first time in centuries. In South Asia in 2005, 400 deaths were reported following a heatwave. And in the same year, drought and water shortages affected an estimated nine million people in Thailand alone.
We shall move quickly to a non-carbon-based global economy if the nations of the world do everything in their power to mitigate the impacts of global warming.