Climate Change – What can we do at an individual level to reduce its impact?

by Shayan Jamshed

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Mahodand Lake © Sana Ahmed / WWF-Pakistan

Climate is weather conditions which are constant for a long period of time. These conditions have to be stable as the organisms directly depend on it. Any sudden, or even gradual, changes experienced effects the whole ecosystems.

While visiting Matiltan near Mahodand Lake, Swat we were asked not to go forward, as the road was blocked by a slipped glacier, which melted into a considerably large area. I found out that it was not even a big glacier, which led me to realization that if a small glacier melting can cover such an area than what would be the impact of the big glaciers if they melt.

According to a survey, 52 big glaciers in Hindukush, Himalayas and Karakorum may possibly melt in the coming seasons due to recent fluctuations in the weather conditions (Pakistan Journal of Meteorology, 2015). This leads to the question that why are we facing such changes and why is the ice/snow in the cold regions on the verge of melting?  The answer is simple and clear – changes in climate are solely induced by anthropogenic activities.

Climate change has largely been influenced by ozone depletion in the recent decades. We have put a large amount of chlorofluorocarbons, also commonly known as CFC, which attract the oxygen from the ozone layer and break the O3 bond from it.

Increased amount of greenhouse gases (CO2, H2 SO4, SO2) in the atmosphere is one of the main causes of climate change, as well. These gases are known to increase greenhouse gas effect, which is a natural process without additional amount of such gases in the air.  In addition, we are losing forest which supply fresh oxygen to the atmosphere. With less oxygen in the atmosphere and increased greenhouse gases, the balance is upset which increases temperature. This way climate change which is a natural process, accelerates and disrupts balance within ecosystems.

Our visit to Swat was full of expeditions and during that time we talked to locals. They told us that the temperature is getting warmer as compared to previous years. It is interesting that, Swat also witnessed cool temperature on 28 May 2014, which according to the locals, have not been observed in the last ten years. This change is alarming as flora and fauna will surely shift in the north direction, according to many researches. But if they are unable to adapt to warmer climate or shift to cooler places than they will be extinct, at least locally.

Recently I also heard about the record breaking heat wave in Washington and many other places experiencing highest annual temperatures in the last decade only. Research also show that oceans are heating up at a higher rate. Pakistan, itself has experienced many floods in the recent years.

Realizing that we are actually responsible for such changes, it is also our responsibility to think of the ways we to control them. The solution, in my opinion, that can be most appropriate is planting more trees. Increasing forest cover can only control climate change otherwise we can only rely on divine intervention to save us from natural disasters.

Nature provides us resources to utilize and sustain ourselves. But, in fact through these resources we are choosing to make our lives easy for a short-term only, forgetting that problems such as climate change will have long-term impacts on the planet, and eventually on us.

There are many small changes in our daily lives which can make a large difference. In words of Nelson Mandela, “We can change the world and make it a better place. It is in our hands to make a difference.”

The only problem we have to deal with right now is climate change. It is not too late, we can still make a difference.

 This blog post was contributed through our facebook writing competition.        

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