A Personal Reflection on Climate Change
Maliha Khan | Delhi, India
What would one do if one’s house was on fire? A few obvious reactions would be,
panicking or trying to set the fire out. But why are we not seeing this reaction when our
only home, planet earth, is indeed on fire?
When on the Internet I see people debating over climate change, it puzzles me. Why
is there a need for discussion over whether climate change is real or not? It’s not an opinion,
but a fact and stands true no matter what we choose to believe. Climate Change is our reality and to deny it would be an action of absolute ignorance and utter cruelty towards our environment and ourselves.
Humanity may have witnessed many successes throughout the ages, but today we are
witnessing what is possibly our biggest failure. Ice caps are melting, the Amazon Rainforest is
on fire, our oceans are filled with toxic waste, and ecosystems are collapsing. We are
moving towards a mass extinction phase. What makes it worse is that we only have
a few years left to correct our mistakes. To quote Mr. Barack Obama, “We are the
first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last one that can do
something about it.”
Much of the older generation does not understand the gravity of the situation or some
don’t even care. Perhaps, that’s because they are not the ones who will face the
consequences. There’s this immense ignorance on this subject; people have no idea what effects of climate change are. Our education systems lack awareness over climate change.
Though I was taught about global warming in school, the idea was presented as something that takes place in a foreign country where things happen differently, which had no direct bearing on me as an individual. Talking about climate change was a mere activity held on
environment day. Wasting loads of paper to make posters for the art room and making
paper bags for the craft class was all the day was about. Encouragement to incorporate
solutions into our lives, was absent from school and home. It was not until I started
experiencing the effects of climate change first hand that I understood the gravity of the situation.
We have to inform people about its urgency. Our future is in danger. If we do not take action fast, it will not be long before ours will be a story of extinction like that of thousands of species before us.
What is shocking is how our leaders are lackadaisical in their approaches to climate
change. In fact, many world leaders have turned a blind eye to the crisis. Such
an issue transcends nationalities, and we need to unite for this cause. We need to raise
our voices and they must be heard. Against the backdrop of failing, (in fact, the absence of efforts from leaders), children, and teenagers all across the world have come on the streets. Students who should be in classrooms studying, are calling for strikes because their future is in danger. Young activists like Greta Thunberg and Anuna De Wever are bringing a wave of change and inspiring thousands. Although it is a good thing that they are having this impact, it should not have needed to happen in the first place as Greta explains. A youth climate activist or Fridays for Future shouldn’t have existed. It is because of the reckless and exploitative attitude of our previous generations towards the environment that has led to this disastrous state. While the world leaders are sticking to their guns about industrialization, capitalism and a market-driven economy, an increasing need has been felt to hold our leaders accountable for their indifferent attitude to such an alarming issue.
A climate emergency needs to be declared globally. To quote Anuna De Wever “We need brave leaders to take brave decisions.” The fact that I am focusing on political action more than individual efforts is because our daily lives depend on the decisions our leaders make. I encourage discarding single-use plastic and adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle. But we can only accomplish this when the system supports it. The things we use every day come in plastic packaging and these are the necessary things. I can choose a cloth bag for shopping but the
packaging of the products isn’t up to me. I can choose not to pollute the water bodies
but whether the factories continue to do so, or not is not under my control. I cannot cut global carbon dioxide emissions all by myself. When a law is made and strictly implemented, it alters our decisions regardless of our personal preferences. The profit-oriented capitalist
companies have to understand that money will be of no use when you won’t have air
to breathe and water to drink, and our leaders need to stop defending and protecting them.
We need laws to protect our environment, not companies. We have less than 8 and half years for a 67% chance of preventing global temperature to rise above 1.5 degrees and yet the political acumen required for achieving such targets are nowhere to be found.
Change is a necessity at this point; it has to be brought one way or another. So to all
those who think that climate change is a hoax or not as big a deal, I say, if you choose
to ignore climate change, then you are willingly choosing extinction.
Note from Editors: For more information on the science behind climate change, please visit the following links: