Safeguarding Earth: Crash Course On Climate Change And Its Consequences
Climate change is real. It is happening right now, it is the most urgent threat faced by our entire species and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.
-Leonardo Di Caprio, Actor & Environmentalist
2020 has been an unprecedented year for people and the planet. The COVID-19 pandemic has distorted lives worldwide. At the same time, heating of the planet and climate disruption has become a major problem. Emissions are heading once again to the pre-pandemic levels following a temporary decline caused by the lockdown and economic slowdown. According to multiple reports from various International Organisations, the world is set to see warmest 5 years on record in a trend which is likely to continue. We have plenty of reasons to take climate saving actions for improving and nourishing our mother earth.
Entailing The Climate Reality Project’s initiative for 24 Hours of Reality 2020: Countdown to the Future regarding a global discussion on the challenges and threats concerning climate crisis, COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice and opportunities for a transformational and sustainable change, National Institute of Technology, Rourkela in the capacity of Regional Coordinating Institute (RCI-Odisha) in association with the Department of Biotechnology and Medical Engineering, Unnat Bharat Abhiyan and Genesys club (A Bioengineering club of Biomedical Department under the aegis of SAC, NIT Rourkela) have come up with this initiative on “C5: Crash Course on Climate Change & its Consequences”.
The event started with the presenter of the webinar, Miss Bunushree Behera, a PhD scholar, giving a short introduction on the climate change issue. Prof. Rajkishore Patel, Nodal Coordinator (Unnat Bharat Abhiyan, NIT Rourkela) was then invited to present the welcome address. He thanked Chief Patron, Prof. Animesh Biswas, Director, NIT Rourkela for his unwavering support to conduct the workshop. He also welcomed Head of the Department of Biotechnology and Medical Engineering Prof. A. Thirugnanam and specially thanked Prof. P. Balasubramanian for conceptualizing and conducting the workshop. He also thanked Prof. Mahabir Panda, Regional Chairman, UBA and the UBA Nodal coordinating Centre, IIT Delhi which helped them to conduct all regional workshops. He also appreciated the student coordinators and convenors who worked hard for conducting the workshop.
Miss Bunushree then invited Prof. A.Thirugnanam, Head of the Department of Biotechnology and Medical Engineering to give the Keynote Address. He welcomed all the delegates and research scholars to the webinar. He gave the brief gist of the Department and how it is the counterpoint of advanced studies and research facilities. He was quite sure with proper planning and execution, the challenges of global warming and climatic changes can be conquered.
The main event was started by Prof. P. Balasubramanian (Assistant Professor in the Department of Biotechnology and Medical Engineering). Firstly, he started with the photo of the Earth from the Apollo 17 mission and explained to us the significance of the atmosphere. The webinar session was based on three questions followed by significant insights to understand the climate issues and procedures to solve them. They are as follows:
MUST WE CHANGE OUR OUTLOOK AND COURSE OF ACTIONS TOWARDS CLIMATE CHANGE?
We are polluting the atmosphere of the earth to a large extent. The depletion of the Ozone layer is of a huge worry. In the coming future, humans will be exposed to a high amount of Ultraviolet rays which would cause skin cancer. The Infrared radiations are trapped by the earth atmosphere due to which the Earth remains warm and suitable for habitat. But, due to entering of Greenhouse Gases in the atmosphere, more infrared radiations are trapped which makes the earth warmer to a large extent which is not needed resulting in global warming. According to Prof. P. Balasubramanian,
There are many sources of greenhouse gases like coal-based industries and transport vehicles. But most of the people would be shocked to know that one of the major sources can be Agricultural activities as well. Crop burning is one of the major contributors to global warming.
After the Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century, the global surface temperatures are getting deviated from the usual estimates. Nineteen of the hottest twenty years on record are from the year 2001. The global average surface temperature shooted by 0.95-degree Celsius in the year 2019 which is way higher than the average increase of the 20th century.
93 per cent of the extra heat trapped by manmade global warming pollution goes into the Ocean which disrupts the water cycle. Due to the warming of oceans, there will be a series of reactions that we would not be able to control and the equilibrium is disturbed. Ocean temperatures set a new record in the year 2019 which is likely to set a new record again. According to Prof. P. Balasubramanian,
People think that during lockdown the pollution is decreased. It is to some extent true but people fail to understand that it will take a long time to reverse the damages caused by us on nature which has been dating back from nearly two centuries.
Warming of oceans is devastating the world’s Coral Reefs. Coral Reefs are some of the most biodiverse habitats on the planet, home to nearly one-quarter of ocean species. Prolonged high water temperature can cause coral polyps to expel their symbiotic algae partners that help them produce food. This results in Coral Bleaching which puts the health of the whole Reef system at risk. The world’s largest reef, the Great Barrier Reef of the Australian Coast, frequently suffers from catastrophic bleaching events.
As temperature increases, the oceans evaporate more moisture into the sky and it intensifies the water cycle, increasing the likelihood and ferocity of downpours which results in floods and many natural calamities. Climate change can influence tropical cyclones in several ways. Warmer ocean temperature can result in more intense storms, rapid intensification of storms and higher wind speeds. There is a huge loss of crops, trees and livelihoods due to the cyclones. The melting of glaciers and polar ice caps are increasing the sea level which will result in many big cities like Miami, Tokyo, Mumbai, Hongkong getting submerged into the sea. According to Prof. P. Balasubramanian,
Climate change will likely lead to food and water shortage, pandemic diseases and many more devastating consequences in the coming decades.
CAN WE CHANGE OUR OUTLOOK AND COURSE OF ACTIONS TOWARDS CLIMATE CHANGE?
We have to take various measures to protect our environment. Wind energy can be an excellent alternative to fossil fuels in producing electricity.
Solar energy also plays a huge role in fulfilling our energy demands. Enough solar energy reaches the earth every hour to fill all the world’s energy needs for a full year. We have to find ways to enhance our storage capacity for solar energy. In the transportation sector, we are seeing the beginning of a massive shift to electric vehicles which can cut the global warming pollution here. This is another positive sign.
WILL WE CHANGE OUR OUTLOOK AND COURSE OF ACTIONS TOWARDS CLIMATE CHANGE?
Yes, we will surely change our outlook and course of action towards climate change in the near future. In the 2015 Paris Agreement, every nation in the world agreed to work together to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the mid-century.
Over 240 global companies have committed to going 100 per cent renewable and more companies are adding their names and pledges to this list every single day. The young generation is leading the way and they are demanding a better world as they have the right to do.
The webinar ended with a short question-answer and feedback session and a short video on climate change presented by the Genesys club.
Student Convener Nageshwari K. extended a hearty Vote of Thanks to all the respected dignitaries of the session. She was thankful to Prof. Animesh Biswas for his mentorship and guidance. She thanked Head of the Department of Biotechnology and Medical Engineering Prof. A. Thirugnanam for his support and Prof. P. Balasubramanian for conducting the session well. A special vote of thanks went to Prof. Ritvic Sarkar, Mr. M.N. Anand Babu, Prof. Mahabir Panda and Prof. Rajkishore Patel for extending their support for organizing the event.
Team MM hopes that people become more aware of the climate changes and it’s consequences so that they can take better measures to protect the Earth.