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01 31/10/2021 The event horizon moment for climate change and the lifestyle conundrum Click Here

The event horizon moment for climate change and the lifestyle conundrum

Humankind as a specie has reached the pinnacle of food chain leaving behind all other species. The gap between humans and other species is so large that it is unlikely it will be surmounted anytime in the near or far future. Humankind has been able to scale the pinnacle of food chain largely on account of the ability to harness energy in general and fossilized resources, in particular. This ability to harness fossilized energy in solid, liquid, and gaseous form, has enabled humankind to supplement inherent natural abilities and circumvent limitations by using fossilized energy guzzling machines and hence derive specific advantages over other species. The ability to harness fossilized energy has endowed humankind with such a distinct edge and transformed humanity to such an extent that the use of energy was extended to every possible facet of life, without even a momentary pause to understand the potential implication. Over the past two centuries, the use of energy has been spreading far and wide, touching every aspect of life and in the course, has resulted in overexploitation of fossilized energy. Fossilized resources primarily being Carbon and Hydrogen based, and combustion being the primary route of energy release, unrelenting Carbon Dioxide release into the atmosphere has resulted in unprecedented accumulation of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere, enforcing green-house effect and warming of the atmosphere.

The warming has been to such an extent that by the turn of the century (year 2100) the average temperature is expected to rise between 2.6 deg C and 2.9 deg C over pre industrial levels. It is interesting to note that over a year or so earlier, the rise was pegged at 1.5 deg C with some constraints over fossilized energy use but new estimates indicate the temperature rise to be close to 2.6 deg C under the business-as-usual scenario. The 1.5 deg C temperature rise has been established as a critical threshold considering that beyond that, weather events will be so extreme that humankind, with all its technological advancement, will not be able to survive the vagaries of nature in terms of extreme weather. Basically, today we are at, what can be described as the event horizon moment for climate change and drastic measures are mandatory to limit the damage to the climate and start a journey away from the climate event horizon. Actions need to be initiated in the hope that we have not yet crossed the event horizon and are hurtling towards annihilation.

Considering the criticality of the situation, it is imperative that immediate action(s) be initiated to reduce Carbon Dioxide from atmosphere through whatever means necessary. It is sought to be reemphasized that Carbon Dioxide needs to be reduced and not the rate of Carbon Dioxide emission, that has been the plan all along. This basically means, we need to not only eliminate completely any more Carbon Dioxide emission but also act proactively to remove a substantial amount of Carbon Dioxide from the atmosphere. It is only this two-pronged strategy of zero Carbon Dioxide emission coupled with extraction of Carbon Dioxide from atmosphere that can offer a remote chance for humanity to reverse the path of climate change and move away from the hypothetical climate event horizon. While removal of Carbon Dioxide from atmosphere is a technical challenge, the bigger conundrum is how to satisfy the unrelenting energy hunger (to a significant extent a lifestyle issue rather than survival issue) of the world or rather humanity. At the current levels of technological advancement, it is practically impossible to completely eliminate the use of Carbon based resources unless there is a drastic drop in the energy demand. There in lies the acid test for humanity and policy makers. Will rational decision be taken in terms of sacrificing short term comforts to ensure long term survival of humanity or is it going to be business as usual with lobbyists holding fort with the climate change is a hoax slogan?

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