The Time to Act is Now
It is beyond a doubt that climate change is real and the cause of this disaster is mankind. Studies show that carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere now stand at their highest in 650,000 years—already far higher than the level that can wipe out entire species and change the face of the earth. Time is running out; we must act now or never.
We have been cutting down forests, polluting water, and burning gas and coal for centuries without considering the long-term consequences for our planet and our society. The United Nations Conference for Climate Change in Paris this December is the opportune moment for the world’s largest industrial nations to reflect on this and show responsibility to preserve the planet from further warming.
From the European industrial revolution to present day, America and Europe alone have produced 45 percent of all greenhouse gases that still remain in the atmosphere. China and India, the world’s two most populous countries, are continuing to modernize and now produce nearly one-third of all new emissions. The reality is that the emissions per capita of both China and India remain far lower than those of other high-producing countries. Measured per citizen, the United States produces more than seven times the greenhouse gases of India and nearly three times that of China.
Around the world, green technology and innovations are creating new and more efficient ways to reduce these emissions, but developing nations are reluctant to invest in technologies that are not yet competitive. It is then all the more shameful for the United States that China is moving ahead with a national cap-and-trade quota system.
The developing regions of the world will suffer most from climate disaster, but it is the wealthy Western nations that have more responsibility to lead the way with large-scale tests of green technology, as Germany has done. Industrialized nations need to show culpability for the warming we have seen thus far and bear the lion’s share of the burden.
They will have their chance at the upcoming Climate Change Conference. But any agreement in Paris must include measures to ensure that countries implement the emissions reductions they promise. We cannot afford another Kyoto, agreed to and immediately disregarded. This is a matter on which all governments, whether on the left or the right, must act. The stakes of climate change are high, but a strong pact among leading nations will save our planet from calamity.
— Probir Kumar Sarkar
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