Humans belong to this earth, born from the extract of its soil and to return to soil after death. Humans should not, therefore, engage in activities that ruin the environment and disturb the natural balance. The root cause of the climate change is to be curbed by science and technology, writes KM Mahbubur Rahman
CARBON dioxide, a natural constituent of the atmosphere, has so long been playing a useful role in plant and animal life on the earth. The problem begins with the artificial emissions of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuel — coal, gas and fuel oil — for the generation of electricity to meet the ever increasing power demand in the industrial sector. Additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has created global warming and climate change that bring calamities to land and life.
It is painful to see that the climate change is the side effect of economic development. The industrially rich countries attained higher income, higher gross domestic product and higher living standards but all at the cost of climate change. Huge mass transfer is taking place on the earth in parallel with climate change. The mass transfer at a stage may disturb the dynamic balance of the planet and bring about a major disaster.
Benefits of carbon dioxide
THE naturally occurring carbon dioxide occupies only 0.04 per cent of the atmosphere. This gas is basically essential for plant and animal life. The trees and plants take in carbon dioxide which they convert into carbohydrates through a process called photosynthesis. We get the supply of carbohydrates, the main source of our body energy, from rice, fruit and vegetables. The trees and plants receive carbon dioxide that we breathe out and return oxygen that we breathe in. Thus, plants and animals coexist on this planet and nourish by the mutual exchange of carbon dioxide in a perpetual carbon cycle. We also find the use of carbon dioxide in soft drinks known as carbonated beverage and in safety applications such as fire extinguishers.
Harmful role of carbon dioxide
THE carbon dioxide from human activities is not recycled. Instead, it is discharged continuously into the atmosphere to form a dense layer of insulation around the earth. Being a greenhouse gas, it resists heat dissipation during night. It absorbs and retains heat and makes the earth warmer. The average global temperature is said to have increased by 0.8°C since 1880, following the industrial revolution, and the rising trend continues. It has changed the tune of climatic equilibrium. As a consequence, heavy rain, thunder bolts, snowfall and cyclone lash the earth in a rough and rude way. Flash floods damage the crops, rivers erode the locality and salinity spoils the land fertility. As a result, people in rural and coastal areas lose crops, houses and livelihood and face hunger, disease and death.
Stalemate in response of international community
A SIGNIFICANT decision was made in the Paris Agreement 2015 which sets the limit of temperature rise by 2°C but tries to lower to 1.5°C. (It is a conservative target; by other estimate, it is 3°C). The pledge is rather voluntary than obligatory. It proposes to create funds of $100 billion a year to fight the climate change by mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer and capacity building. The funds will be disbursed globally under the United Nations framework through international financial institutions. The fate of achieving the target now becomes uncertain as the United States, the major donor country, withdrew from the climate change agreement.
Climate change and Bangladesh
THE symptoms of climate change are visible in Bangladesh. Delicate specialities of six seasons are lost and the routine of natural events changed. A typical flower of one season is blooming in another. Cold waves and hot waves have now been regular features. Death toll by lightning strikes is on the increase. The salinity from sea is creeping into the mainland. The country had to bear the harsh blow of cyclone Sidr in 2007, haor flooding in 2017 and frequent inland tornadoes. Thus people bear the brunt of climate change for no fault of theirs.
Bangladesh is aware of the danger of climate change. The Bangladesh Climate Change Trust Fund has been created to implement climate-related projects with its own funds. As a vulnerable country, Bangladesh has the right to receive funds from the Global Climate Fund of the United Nations for adaptation measures and for the protection of infrastructure. But the availability of such funds is uncertain and irregular.
Breach of natural balance
THE earth is unique in environment and atmosphere where life can sustain. It provides the way of time count, day, month and year. The earth is a planet where each and every thing in and around has been created in right proportions for the sustenance of innumerable species of creatures. The atmosphere contains nitrogen 78.09 per cent, oxygen 20.95 per cent, argon 0.93 per cent and carbon dioxide 0.04 per cent, all naturally so proportioned as to support the plant and animal life. Any change made by human activities will fetch disasters. Carbon dioxide created by human activities is causing climate change calamities. Conversely, if the proportion of oxygen had gone high, it would also have been a disaster for mankind. Because the body would be more heated as more carbohydrate would burn and normal body temperature would cross 98.4°F. But actually the free oxygen is decreasing in the atmosphere as billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide already consumed double the amount of oxygen and the process continues. A day will come when the rarefied oxygen will give problems in respiration.
Loss of dynamic balance
THE earth is a rotating body and so is dynamically balanced since its creation, by high mountains, deep seas and glaciers at poles. A huge mass transfer on the earth is now taking place silently as billions of tonnes of carbon are being transferred from underground to atmosphere and the glaciers melt down to oceans. The mass transfer will have a repercussion on the dynamic balance. It is best understood when we look at the motor car wheel balancing and notice how a slight shift of a tiny piece of lead makes a difference in balancing. If the mass transfer continues, a stage may come when the earth will go for auto correction and the result will be a disaster beyond imagination.
Migration to alien planet
STEPHEN Hawking, the eminent physicist, predicted that the earth will be destroyed by climate change, if not by nuclear warfare. He advised that mankind should find and migrate, within next thousand years, to a similar planet in the outer space to save its species from extinction. He hoped that the technological development would find a way for the great escape. Whether migration is possible is a big question. Because the different mass, rotation, atmosphere and temperature of other planet will not support human life. Humans cannot live on food from a different soil mix as it will cause electrolyte imbalance in the body.
HUMAN being belongs to this earth, born from the extract of its soil and to return to soil after death. So during lifetime, humans should not engage in activities that ruin the environment and disturb the natural balance. The root cause of the climate change is to be curbed by science and technology. The earth is like a tree and humans should not cut the branch they are sitting on and fall in a catastrophe. The humans of this age have, in any case, the responsibility to leave behind an earth habitable for future generations.
KM Mahbubur Rahman is a mechanical engineer and energy consultant.
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