Thursday, January 18, 2007

Your tomorrow...

[ 10 Jan, 2007 0000hrs IST TIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

The Day After Tomorrow, the Hollywood film portraying a future where global warming causes freaky weather, is playing not in a cinema near you but right in your backyard. Even as Delhi woke up yesterday to near-freezing temperature, and Chandigarh recorded zero degree Celsius, a balmy Washington experienced the flowering of cherry blossoms and chirping of birds bang in the middle of winter, the season of ice and snow.

Whether or not climate doomsayers are right — that the planet is headed for sure disaster — there is no doubt that weather patterns worldwide are indeed changing. Only, this time, it is not due to natural reasons but because of human activity releasing high volumes of heat-trapping gases like carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. International initiatives to deal with climate change are well-intentioned:

A Kyoto Protocol that exhorts member countries to cut back their emissions, an AP6 (Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate), or a Montreal Protocol that restricts release of ozone-depleting substances. But global treaties and annual conferences don't matter that much if, on the ground, little is accomplished. Great planning doesn't translate into great results unless the macro gets translated into the micro.

Micro-management is the key to both adaptation and mitigation. Often the sum of individual action has far-reaching results. Conservation is best implemented when it begins at home: Turning off lights and other electrical appliances when not needed, recycling things, enrolling in car pools, opting for smaller, eco-friendly vehicles, using public transport oftener and capturing solar energy to heat water — all these help minimise consumption of energy.

At the community level, each residential zone could set up a wind farm where conditions are suitable. Tree planting in common areas, maintenance of public parks and woodlands will create carbon sinks that absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Residential and office buildings built with green technology will make maximum use of natural light and air to minimise use of electricity.

In the final analysis, you are the environment; what you do affects your immediate environment. Constructing a macro picture of the world's climate pattern is a tedious and often elusive task, and it involves studying innumerable parameters and probabilities. However, at the micro level, freaky weather can be countered with individual action. In totality, this might help us buck the trend of global warming.

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