Asoka Bandarage – Climate, Consciousness and Social Change

Climate change is a complex phenomenon involving unknown changes in planetary biophysical systems.  However, there is now scientific consensus, that climate change is caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Fossil fuel combustion is considered the primary cause of carbon emissions and climate change worldwide. Scientists warn that unless we are able to bring down carbon emissions rapidly to below 350 ppm in this century, the effects on planetary life will be catastrophic. We are at 400 ppm (parts per million molecules) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and are adding 2 ppm of carbon dioxide every year. NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) reports that last month, April 2016, was the warmest month recorded and that 2016 is likely to be the hottest year ever, surpassing the previous annual record of 2015, by the largest historical margin.

We are seeing the realities of climate change: rising temperatures, declining Arctic sea ice, extreme weather events, heatwaves wildfires, floods, droughts, stronger storms and hurricanes and so on. The number and range of species on Earth are expected to decline greatly as temperatures continue to rise. Biodiversity is declining at a rate of more than 100 per million species every year with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly headed towardextinction by mid-21st century. Due to rising sea levels, five islands in the South Pacific have sunk. The Pacific islands, Kiribati and Tuvalu and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean are also preparing for extinction seeking to relocate their populations.

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