Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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IN LIGHT of the recently pronounced US government’s decision to pull out from the Paris agreement, there is need to revisit why the global change worked out after decades of multi-nation negotiations holds historic significance for everyone.

First and foremost, the Paris agreement was forged purposely to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Ironically, the United States is the second biggest polluter of the environment in the world, just next to China, accounting for 18 per cent of total global gas output. In contrast, our country has a miniscule 0.34% share. For the US to now abandon, as it did, what it had strived in the last two decades to enact in concert with developed and developing nations represents an environmental tragedy to the multi-lateral efforts of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by holding the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Centrigade.

As scientists the world over have been warning us, greenhouse gas in the earth’s atmosphere absorbs and emits radiation. Human activities since the year 1750 have produced a 40% increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, resulting from combustion of fossil fuels principally coal, oil, natural gas along with deforestation, soil erosion, and animal agriculture. The global warming we have been experiencing these past several decades would wreak havoc to our ecosystem biodiversity and the economic livelihood of people worldwide.

If unchecked, the impact of climate change resulting from global warming would bring earth to a dreaded doomsday scenario much closer than anyone would think. Even now, we are witnessing and experiencing the effects of nature’s response. Sea levels are rising, threatening to erode islands and coastal areas. Subtropical deserts are expanding. Arctic glaciers are beginning to melt down and ultimately disappear. Extreme weather events have become the new normal. Globally, we’ve been engulfed in heat wave, droughts, heavy rainfall with floods, heavy snowfall and other extraordinary climate occurrences.

If the present level of greenhouse gas emissions continues, even at just the current pace of carbon dioxide output from human activities, we are told by scientists that by 2047, the earth’s surface temperature would reach a level predicted to bring mankind to an irreversible fate: his own extinction.

Clearly, the Paris accord represents a huge global attempt to minimize man’s own folly throughout the ages. If we don’t take care of nature, it won’t take care of us, all of us. If we don’t work to manage our future, knowing what it holds for us by our inaction, singly and collectively, nobody else will. Even our inheritors will never forgive us for surrendering that future in the hands of hotheads who want to be first among unequals.

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