There is no planet B

by Tirzah Shams

There is no planet B: How will climate change affect you and your community?

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”- Greta Thunberg

With her environmental activism this 17 year old Swedish student shook the world with her impassioned speech about Climate Change that has become one of the world’s most pressing issues.

What is climate change? When the average climate of a place changes with new weather patterns, usually through the effect of greenhouse gases, it is known as climate change. Today, because of the excessive release of carbon dioxide in the air, the earth is warming up at incredible rates and the melting of icecaps, surge of heat waves and other climatic disasters have become normal. New climatic disasters have spread fear among people. A great example of this would be the fire tornadoes observed during the worst ever wild bush fires of Australia and turbulent wind conditions. Millions of people are already suffering from the disastrous effects of climate change, from the droughts in Africa to tropical storms in Southeast Asia. Not to forget the extreme heat waves in countries such as Pakistan.

It is a fact that we don’t have a planet B and that this earth is the only one we have. Though efforts have been made to find another planet with a similar climate as our earth, or to colonize other planets like Mars, this is still a far-fetched dream. The earth is deteriorating fast and we need to save it since we have no other options.

Now moving to the topic at hand. How will climate change affect me and my generation and the generations to come? I am an early teenager, yet to explore the world and just beginning to start my journey in this amazing game of life. But life’s opportunities are being taken away from me, from us, from children. We are being stripped of our future and the government is ignoring our cries. Today, it’s the kids, the “careless” teenagers that are fighting for the future of this planet while “responsible” adults turn a blind eye and ignore the issue, putting it on the back-burner. That young activist Greta Thunberg made her transatlantic carbon-free voyage on a yacht just to raise awareness in the media and government sectors through more than 60 world leaders who attended the UN Climate Summit in New York. It shouldn’t be so that youngsters have to leave their education to fight for their future. You say we kids don’t know what we are talking about; that we don’t understand the issues of this world. Then, may I ask you to make us understand. Explain what could possibly be more important than saving our planet from this impending destruction? But you don’t care. You adults will not be here when the air is too toxic to breathe or when we run out of drinking water. You won’t be here to witness the destruction that you and the generations before you have brought to this planet. I won’t have a future because of the destruction which you my fathers and forefathers have caused.

Now how will climate change affect my generation? I am from the sub-tropical country of Pakistan and our economy is dependent on our agricultural sector. To look at it this way, with an increase in temperature, change in precipitation pattern and more extreme weather conditions the production of agriculture will decrease. The loss of GDP will in turn increase the debts we owe to other countries and will be a source of escalating problems. Melting of glaciers in the Himalayas will be a cause of land sliding and multiple disasters in the foothills. This will also increase the volume of the rivers in Pakistan, threatening flooding and increase in the flow rate. Pakistan is not the primary or a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, yet, we have to bear the brunt of the crisis. The fear of extreme weather, droughts, erratic monsoon rains that will cause flash floods, increased health risks and climate induced migration, increase in saline water in the Indus delta, etc. are also major issues. The elevated sea level will threaten the coastal areas.

Climate change is a big issue, affecting each one of us in a personal, national and international way. Our dear planet, the epitome of life is sinking under water and we are doing nothing about it. There are actions and measures that we can undertake to help save our planet, such as walking instead of driving, reducing and reusing things as much as possible, washing your clothes in cold water as well as hanging them out to dry, unplugging electronic gadgets when they’re not in use, eating less meat and dairy, finding alternatives to indoor heating and air conditioning, etc.

“Carbon is rising,
Our planet is dying,
We need to save it,
We aren’t even trying,
Oh dear adults,
Just quit lying,
The earth is slowly burning up”

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