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The reality of Climate Crises: What, Why & How – Part 1

What is Climate Crises?

The Climate Crises we are facing today is not just any crises but an absolute Emergency, the worst crises to face humankind in the known history. Why do I say so?

This existential crisis goes much beyond global warming and encompasses every sphere of ecology and human society with reinforcing loops. Let’s look at some facts

Ecological Crises:

  • Global Warming. Global average temperature increase from pre industrial levels is soon expected to cross the critical 1.5C degrees threshold, specified by IPCC, and race towards the 2C degree mark at the current level of greenhouse gas emissions, setting us on a sure path of global destruction of unprecedented proportions and causing irreversible damage with unpredictable consequences. As Greta says we just have at best around 8.5 years of carbon budget left at current levels of emission to have any realistic chance of arresting this runaway phenomenon.

  • Mass Extinction. We are in the midst of the 6th mass extinction the Earth has faced! There are 200+ species going extinct every day

  • Extreme Weather in the form of severe, unprecedented heatwaves, floods, droughts are happening with ever greater frequency and intensity. Abnormal weather of the extreme kind is becoming the new normal!

  • Deforestation. The forest cover is fast disappearing. Between 1990 and 2016, the world lost 1.3 million sq kms of forests! One football pitch of forest is being lost every second and the pace is only accelerating, as we have witnessed recently in Amazon rain forest! About half of the world’s tropical forests have been cleared and at the current rate of deforestation, the world’s rainforests may completely vanish in as little as 100 years!

  • Ocean dead zones with zero oxygen have quadrupled in size since 1950 increasing by millions of sq kms. Dead zones have been doubling each decade since the 1960s! Most sea creatures cannot survive in these zones and current trends would lead to mass extinction of sea life!

  • Ground water depletion. Ground water is fast getting depleted worldwide. The rate at which global groundwater stocks are shrinking has more than doubled between 1960 and 2000, increasing the amount lost from 126 to 283 cubic kms of water per year! Most of the major aquifers in the world’s arid and semi-arid zones, that rely most heavily on groundwater, are experiencing rapid rates of depletion. A third of the planet’s major aquifers are being unsustainably depleted! In India the Gangetic plain (the heartland of Indian agriculture since thousands of years) as well as several major cities are expected to run out of ground water in less than a decade.

  • Artic ice melting at an unprecedented pace. Between 1980 to 2019 the amount of September ice in cubic kms decreased by over 70%! Artic may be free of ice by mid-century if the current trend continues!!

  • Plastic Pollution. Non-biodegradable plastic waste, with a lifespan of 100s of years is accumulating all over the planet at an unprecedented rate ending up in landfills, rivers and oceans. We produce over 300 million tons of plastic every year, 50% of which is single-use plastic. More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year. 1 in 3 species of marine mammals have been found entangled in plastic litter. Over 90% of all seabirds have plastic pieces in their stomachs. The Great Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch, the largest of its kind, covers 1.6 million square kilometres with a concentration of 10–100 kg per square kilometre. It’s estimated that it contains around 80,000 metric tons of plastic in this patch alone. And there are several such growing patches. Micro plastics are ending up in ocean fish, cows’ milk, sea salt, drinking water and so on.

Economic Crises

  • Collapse of the Growth Model. The modern western (now global) capitalist economic model, built on the fundamentally erroneous premise of eternal growth, based on ruthless plunder of natural resources, mindless consumption, endless waste generation and runaway debt to support it – is imploding and falling apart on all fronts.

  • Resource Depletion. Finite natural resources are fast getting depleted leaving only the hitherto untouched reserves in pristine virgin natural abodes like deep under the arctic ice or ocean beds and hearts of rain forests. A mad rush has been unleased to plunder even these in an insane race to the bottom.

  • Obscene inequality. The systemic and immoral transfer of wealth from the bottom to the very top of the pyramid leading to unprecedented concentration of wealth where 1% of the global rich control over 80% of the global wealth has resulted in extreme impoverishment and serious imbalances across and within countries/regions/communities creating waves of social unrest, eroding of democratic political structures and increasing militarization of the state

  • The debt bubble on which the entire endless production and consumption model was built has reached totally unsustainable levels globally and is in the ICU with ventilator support. Global debt which stands at $250 Trillion and growing, has increased exponentially from $84 Trillion in 2000 to $174T in 2008 and $250T in 2018! So, the debt bubble has only ballooned further since 2008 and is on the verge of total collapse.

Social, Spiritual & Cultural Crises

  • Societies, communities and individuals have been violently torn apart from their natural roots, spiritual connections and community life

  • The worst of human emotions of greed, lust and hatred are being consciously unleashed and celebrated leading to tension and conflict based on religion, race, caste, … across the globe.

  • The rich cultural and linguistic diversity is being systemically destroyed with corporate driven monstrous homogeneity.

Health Crises

  • Systemic poisoning of the air, water and soil over the past several decades in the name of industrialization and industrial farming, coupled with highly unhealthy, unnatural and synthetic food habits of junk and processed foods, deliberately promoted by corporate vested interests, has created entire sick societies with ever increasing presence of diseases like obesity, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and so on

  • Societies cut off from their natural and spiritual roots and community life are creating serious mental imbalances leading to an epidemic of mental illnesses.

  • The pharma and medical industries have been pumping all kinds of synthetic toxins into our bodies in the name of ‘health care’ keeping us permanently sick

  • Rampant use of anti-biotics and steroids is leading to emergence new strains of evolving bacteria and viruses resistant to any treatment

What we are seeing now is the increasing convergence of these dynamically interlinked crises, with reinforcing feedback loops, fast pushing us towards a tipping point – a point of no return. We are facing an all-round civilizational crisis, an existential challenge to the human race and this planet as a whole! The time to act is fast running out.

Why – What are the root causes?

It is an irrefutable fact that this unprecedented crisis facing humanity today is the result of human actions and not any natural phenomenon. That said let’s look at the causes at a deeper level as to what and how of the human actions have brought us to this situation.

We all know that the ever-increasing Greenhouse gas emissions due to burning of fossil fuels is the cause of global warming, which is at the core of the climate crises. But why are the greenhouse gas emissions going up by leaps and bounds, despite our scientists and world political-business leaders being aware of the dangers posed by such emissions from the 70s? And despite mounting scientific evidence in the last couple of decades? What has prevented us from taking timely action to reverse the trend?

Why has such dire information and knowledge been largely hidden from the public at large, with a conscious effort being made to lull us into sleep with fairy tales and sweet stories as Greta says?

Why are we, the people, even when we become aware of the gravity of the situation, are unable to act even at personal level?

To answer these questions and to understand what is driving this mad, all-round, systemic natural destruction we need to look at the two-core underlying, mutually reinforcing factors, the root causes.

  • The Monster Economic model Our current post industrialization economic model, based on the foundation of perpetual growth, is at the heart of the problem. Its this model that requires companies, industries and countries to perpetually grow and expand, which is completely and fundamentally alien and contrary to the laws of nature where nothing grows perpetually.

Such growth requires ever increasing plunder of scarce and finite natural resources; never ending supply of cheap energy, supplied by – directly and indirectly subsidized – highly polluting fossil fuels; continuous supply of cheap labour by impoverishing entire rural population leading to mass migration to cities; creation of unlivable and monster mega cities; unsustainable expansion of debt at all levels – individuals, organizations or governments; unparalleled concentration of wealth and capital; mindless expansion of global trade and globalization; highly unhealthy eating habits and health destruction industries in the guise health care; and so on. Growth becomes an end in itself creating a monster economy destroying and devouring everything around it. Just to give an example of how ridiculous this system operates – in a GDP growth driven model a tree is useless when its left untouched but leads to GDP growth when cut, a cyclist has negative GDP impact while a person driving a car promotes GDP growth.

  • The consumerism driven lifestyle But the essential prerequisite to sustain this monster economic model is constant and ever-increasing consumptive-acquisitive lifestyle actively and systemically promoted manipulated by the very forces of this monster economy. Here consumption and acquisition of material goods and services – be it cars, houses, phones, other gadgets, clothes, holidays and travel, eating out and ‘entertainment’ – becomes an end in itself engulfing our entire life and lifestyle. In other words, we and our actions on this front are the fuel that keeps this monster economy growing in a reinforcing loop, causing utter chaos and destruction in every aspect of our life and natural systems.

Unless we address these two core underlying causes, any effort at arresting and reversing the current climate crises is bound to fail.

To be continued ….

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