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Future of Earth 2020

Prelims – Environment, Mains -GS3- Environment

1. “The Future of Earth, 2020” report for South Asia was released by the South Asia Future Earth Regional Office, Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science.

2. It has listed out five global risks that have the potential to impact and amplify in different ways and may cascade to create global systemic crisis. They are:

a. Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation,

b. Extreme weather events,

c. Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse,

d. Food crises and

e. Water crises

3. The report was prepared with the aim of reducing carbon footprint and halting global warming below 2 degree Celsius by 2050.

4. It also highlighted the role played by the interrelation of risk factors like

a. Extreme heat waves can accelerate global warming by releasing large amounts of stored carbon from affected ecosystems, and at the same time intensify water crises and/ or food scarcity.

b. Loss of biodiversity also weakens the capacity of natural and agricultural systems to cope with climate extremes, increasing our vulnerability to food crises.

Highlights of the Report

1. Chapter on Climate Change: ‘Dialing down the heat’

a. Major assessments by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the US National Climate Assessment, and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, point that time is running out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

b. This has inspired declarations of a climate crisis or climate emergency by the leaders of more than 700 cities, States and governments.

c. Despite these efforts, during 2019, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached more than 415 ppm.

d. The five years from 2014 to 2018 were the warmest recorded over land and ocean since 1880.

2. Chapter on politics: ‘Populism versus grassroots movements’

a. Right-wing populism exploits people’s fears of economic decline and growing inequality.

b. Such populism focuses on nationalist tendencies to restrict borders and rejection of immigrants is on the rise around the world. This leads to a denial of climate change facts or impacts.

3. Chapter on Biodiversity - ‘The unravelling web of life’

a. Humans have now significantly altered 75% of the planet’s land area

b. About a quarter of species in assessed plant and animal groups are threatened

c. Reversing the trends of loss of life requires new ways of thinking about conservation.

4. Chapter on food: ‘Rethinking global security’

a. Strains on food production are expected to increase, as a result of various forces including climate change, biodiversity loss, and the rise of global population.

5. Chapter on role of Media: ‘Industrializing disinformation’

a. False news travels six times faster and can reach up to 100 times more people.

b. Flow of information is changing as about half of the planet’s population are online and deeply influenced by social media, search engines and e-commerce algorithms.

c. Tendency of digital platforms to favor the spread of information designed to engage with emotion over reason can cause the propagation of “fake news”.

d. It can lead to social harm like the erosion of trust in vaccines.

Report’s implication on India

1. The National Education Policy will address environmental health and education at the school level.

2. Children in the last four years of secondary education will have reasonable training to be sensitive towards the environment.

3. This is important as without education no government rules and policies can be helpful.

Source: The Hindu