Climate Change is Not A Hoax

Climate Change is Not A Hoax

I am not writing a scholarly report filled with facts and figures researched by various agencies. There are countless reports on climate change, but the reality is we often lack interest in reading them. Personally, I never paid much attention to the subject. I believed that climate change didn’t affect me and that my life remained unchanged because of it. This perception is shared by billions of people worldwide, leading them to think they are not stakeholders in the issue. However, experiencing the devastating effects of climate change firsthand was a wake-up call for me. I am now fully convinced that climate change is not a hoax but a painful reality, regardless of whether one accepts it or not. This is a global issue affecting us all, and only a few individuals in governments and non-governmental organizations truly believe in and address this subject.

Let me explain the reason for my belief in this subject. I have been living in Mumbai and abroad for the past one and a half decades. We had access to all the amenities, such as 24-hour air conditioning in our homes, offices, religious places, and cars. Consequently, we never felt the impact of climate change to the degree that made us take notice or buy into concepts like Climate Change, Zero Emission, or Net Zero. However, recently, after almost eight years, I had the opportunity to spend some time in my native place, a pure village in Bihar. Our state is located in the subtropical region, which experiences a humid subtropical climate and a subtropical highland climate, resulting in warm to hot summers.

Until March, everything seemed normal. March falls in the spring season, and the climate usually remains quite cool during this month. Two decades ago, when we were children, March nights were cold enough to require blankets and quilts, and we needed woolen and warm clothes in the mornings and evenings. However, this time, I noticed a significant change. March wasn’t as cold, and the days were considerably hotter in the latter part of the month. April marks the beginning of Summer in the subtropical climate zone, and during our childhood, average temperatures ranged from 20 to 35°C (68 to 95°F). Nights in the village used to be cool, and we would cover ourselves with a sheet while sleeping. The mornings and evenings were very pleasant.
Back then, most villages in Bihar did not have electricity. People used hand-driven fans, which sufficed for their needs. During the daytime, when the sun was at its peak and temperatures rose, people would sit under banyan trees in the locality. The gentle breeze would cool their faces and exposed skin. Goats, dogs, and other animals would also seek shade under the trees and fall asleep. People would gather in the guest rooms outside our homes, discussing politics, the economy, and social affairs over tea and all. On holidays, when we visited our village, we eagerly anticipated sleeping on the terrace. Our grandmother and parents would instruct us to take sheets to protect ourselves from the dew and cold at night.

This year, during my visit, I experienced that everything has changed dramatically. Villages have transformed into concrete jungles, with only arable lands remaining untouched. All houses are now built with cement and iron rods, roads have been constructed, and the number of houses has proliferated, encroaching on agricultural lands and leading to deforestation. Electricity is available for almost 20 hours a day, and during the remaining hours, inverters and batteries supply power. Homes now have fans, coolers, and, in some cases, air conditioners. However, we have lost the pleasant coolness of March and April. This April saw temperatures rise to 43°C (109.4°F), making it the hottest April in five decades, according to the meteorological department.
The house where I am staying has limited air conditioning. My family and I are experiencing the heat firsthand, and it is challenging for us. It’s probably equally challenging for the people here in this part. They claim they have never experienced such a hot April in their lifetimes, and this sentiment is echoed by many who are under 50-60 years old. I see animals gasping in the scorching heat, grass turning grey under the sun, and birds frantically searching for shade and trees. Often finding myself questioning who is responsible for this and why it is happening, I have come to accept the harsh reality of climate change.

Twenty to thirty years ago, villages didn’t have refrigerators, coolers, air conditioners, or a large number of gas-powered vehicles. These modern conveniences emit significant amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2). I remember when there was hardly a motorcycle in the village; people traveled by bicycle, bullock carts, and horse-drawn carts. For longer distances, they relied on trains and buses. Back then, cell phones were nonexistent in India. Although amenities were fewer compared to what we have today, life was much more peaceful and healthy. The climate was predictable, enjoyable, and aligned with nature. Things have changed drastically. Yes, it is no longer the same. Alas!

In the past, air conditioners were rare in any city in the country except for the metropolis cities. Now, almost every home has at least one. The number of vehicles has grown exponentially in both cities and villages. Many households have more than one vehicle, sometimes as many as there are family members. India has approximately 1.5 billion mobile phones, over 326 million vehicles, and approximately 80 million air conditioners in use, just to name a few factors that contribute significantly to the rise in temperature and pollution levels. Imagine the mass production of these components and the harmful emissions they generate. All these factors have significantly contributed to the destruction of the natural environment and the climate ecosystem. Temperatures are rising unpredictably, and the air quality in both cities and villages has degraded significantly.
I remember waking up early in the village during my childhood, feeling an abundance of energy. Now, that feeling is gone. It seems there’s less oxygen in the air, which is, of course, depleting.

I struggle to envision what the future will look like in two or three decades. I worry about the world our children and grandchildren will inherit. While growth and development are necessary, they must be pursued mindfully. Each of us needs to seriously consider how we can contribute to preserving our earth, climate, and atmosphere. The water level is depleting rapidly, and we need to think about what we can do to address this issue. Although governments and organizations are working on it, we all have roles to play in this mission.
For instance, we can reduce the number of mobile phones, vehicles, air conditioners, electricity consumption, and plastics we use. By adhering to and supporting environmental policies and initiatives, we can make a difference. Many of us will eventually realize the severity of this catastrophic problem, just as I have now, by experiencing the heat firsthand. However, it’s crucial that this realization comes before it’s too late. The universe is ours, and we belong to it. Let’s protect it; let’s do our bit!

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