Columnist Muhammad Aqeel: The understanding of climate science being myth or reality has seen evolving. With the World celebrating Environment Day; lets talk about this fundamental debate again to understand the actual issue and get rid of speculations associated with it. In the beginning, climate science was dealt as anthropocentric view point, just like astronomy.
Later, collection of several regional climates was presented as a global climate. Process of learning regarding climate change as a physical phenomenon started from mid of 19th century. Fields of meteorology and oceanography were explored to explain science of climate change. With these new fields, a geographically bounded phenomenon became a physical scientific phenomenon. The evidence of changes in solar radiation, atmospheric composition and volcanic activity were presented. During late 19th century scientists came to know about the profound effect of CO2 and other Green House Gases (GHGs) on the Earth’s temperature. The hypotheses of fossil fuel being the major source of human induced CO2 in atmosphere, resulting in to global warming was first given by a Swedish scientist named Svante Arrhenius. This started a strong debate whether the main reason for Earth warming is human induced GHGs (climate change reality) or natural cyclic phenomenon (climate change myth).
With this debate, human induced climate change became a point of discussion amongst climate scientists by 1990. Due to vested interests, non-mathematical and inhomogeneous nature of climate science, the climate skeptics denied human induced climate change and reverted back to old anthropocentric views regarding climate change.
The skeptics (financed by industrial states) believe that climate change is a natural cyclic phenomenon, which is independent of human activities. They believe that ‘‘Sun is driving the climate and CO2 is irrelevant.’’ Additionally, they claim the Earth is warming due to natural phenomenon like El-Niño and that volcanos have contributed towards most of atmospheric CO2. Therefore, skeptics believe that change is an alarming myth and no human interference is required to reverse this change. On the other hand, climate scientists of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), claim it to be a ‘‘Human-Induced change.’’
Available scientific evidence disproves skeptical claims. First; satellite readings of solar activities proof that the solar activity has not been increased during last 30 years.
Second; increasing temperatures of ‘‘troposphere’’ (farther from Sun) and decreasing temperature of ‘‘stratosphere’’ (closer to Sun) also negates the earth warming due to the Sun activity.
Third; volcanic CO2 contribution is very less as compared to atmospheric CO2 contribution due to human activities. Human induced GHGs are creating climatic instability, ultimately disturbing global climate systems.
Moreover, human activities relating to conversion of natural rain forests into croplands have seriously contributed towards climate change by disturbing the natural cycle of reflection and absorption of sunlight. Climate change has been adopted as top agenda item by international community since the start of 21st century. Due to non-mathematical and Inhomogeneous (something of diverse character) nature of climate science, it is exploited by the skeptics.
The indispensable societal bearings is another complexity attached to climate science. An organised denial of climate change by the skeptics has been a major obstacle to establish an international consensus on this agenda point of international importance. Absence of international consensus has resulted in non-adherence to international frameworks, like Paris Climate Agreement and Kyoto Protocol. Therefore, in-effective climate policy making resulted in in-effective climate strategy and humanity is far from adapting to ever changing climate.
Although, climate change is an international issue but its butterfly effect is experienced at national and transnational level. For example; countries like Pakistan being the least Carbon emitter are on the most venerable list of countries due to climate change. Unfortunately, it is very rare for such countries to present their concerns in form of a cogent scientific argument during development of international environmental regimes. Therefore, to address the problem at a national level, international climate policies have to be debated and agreed and then implemented both on national and international levels.
It can be concluded that issue of climate change being myth or reality stemmed from biased interpretation of climate science evidence. Due to societal involvement and globalised effects, climate change attracted the globalised response in form of the development of different environmental regimes.
International politics on climate change has not supported effective implementation of environmental regimes rather supported organised denial regarding scientific reality of climate change. Free of cost unsustainable exploitation of global commons by industrial states has left developing states like Pakistan to face disastrous effects of climate change in form of melting glaciers and heat waves.
Credible scientific evidence show that global warming since industrial revolution can be accredited to human activities (climate reality) that increase the concentration of heat tapping GHGs into atmosphere. It is, therefore, concluded that climate change is a realty but not a myth, which has voyaged from ‘discernible’ human inference to ‘unequivocal’ human interference.
Following is recommended;
a. For effective climate change policy and strategy, a collective unambiguous effort by international and domestic research community is required.
The vulnerable developing countries like Pakistan should conduct domestic climate scientific research, so that their climate change concerns should be addressed during development of international environmental regimes/ policy, based on this domestic scientific research.
b. Vested interests of international politics regarding climate change are required to be denied by UN through effective implementation of environmental regimes, where compensation and climate mitigation/ litigation for of developing states like Pakistan has to be considered.
Muhammad Aqeel is MSc from NDU. He writes on blue economy, oceanography, meteorology and climate change.He is a Naval Officer