We cannot blame sun for global warming

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By: Sheikh Nissar

The unabated global environmental change is posing a serious threat to the survival of man. Weather and climate, the dynamic aspects of physical environment affect wide range of human activities. Its influence on human welfare range from immediate effects of weather to long term responses associated with climate change. Over the billions of years of existence of planet earth, it has changed many times in response to natural causes like ice age, steady increase in the number of sun spot, etc. The oceans are warming faster than previously estimated, polar ice caps are shrinking, alpine glaciers are receding resulting in serve water shortage and there is great habitat loss—aquatic and terrestrial habitat. Similarly, the warming Himalayas are also posing a serious threat to the monsoon circulation because whole monsoon system exists due to thermal contrast between the land and the sea and the great barrier of cold Himalayan mountain chain therein. Meanwhile, the immediate effects of warming Himalayas have been witnessed in the form of the disturbed habitat of number of indigenous species like Kashmiri Hangul, Markhor, Snow Leopard, etc.

The steady increase in green house gasses, though, a large part of heat it is absorbed by oceans that in turn are forcing fishes to flee cooler waters, are also deteriorating global climate. What actually happens, the extra warmth can reduce oxygen in oceans and thus lead coral bleaching that are nurseries for fish breeding. Warmer ocean waters also raised sea level by melting ice around the ocean edges. But the overall, temperature in the oceans down 2000 meters rose about 0.1˚C from 1971 to 2010 (CNBC, 10 Jan 2019). Thus man not only disturbs his own environment through non-judicious use of resources provided, but also disturbs marine as well as terrestrial life. Moreover, human society developed to such an extent that human activities unintentionally disturbed weather and climate setup, locally as well as globally on a large scale. Few decades ago, global warming was considered as a European abstract idea. But with the growing environmental awareness, whole world is concerned about it and number conventions were held to cope up with growing threats. Global warming is not an abstract idea; it is real and is showing its impact but we cannot blame sun for global warming and there is none else to blame than the man.

The effect of man’s unjust attitude towards his environment is felt in every nook and corner of world. Kashmir valley is cradled in lofty snow covered mountains, Lush green forests dwell in valley, gushing streams flow, alpine meadows adorn her, sparkling lakes, etc all make Kashmir “the paradise on earth.” Known for its scenic beauty and dynamic weather, valley of unmatched beauty is also called by number of geographical epithets like Venice of Asia, Switzerland of Asia, etc. Since last two or three decades, Kashmir valley witnessed uneven climate, this can also be depicted by changing life style of people. Shrinking wetlands, falling snow cover, thinning of glaciers, disappearance of different species, reduced water level in Jhelum, Chenab and Indus, all warn us about the ill consequences of effects of global warming. According to Prof. Shakeel Ahmad Romshoo, loss of glaciers in Upper Indus Basin (Hindukush Himalayas, Karakoram and the Himalayan mountain ranges) could be highest among those in the Kashmir valley. The data also revealed that glaciers in Lidder valley have shrunk by 17%. In 2016, Kashmir valley received its lowest rainfall in 14 years. Similarly, untimely snowfall of April 6, 2017 and the record dip mercury in December 2017 are both outcome of our unjust attitude of human nature towards its environment. Climatologist and meteorologists admit that the snow fall has drastically decreased and snowline had also fallen. The paper “winters aren’t same” published in an international journal ‘Environmental Monitoring and Assessment’ co-authored by Prof. Shakeel Ahmad Romshoo elaborated how temperature has drastically increased since 1981 in famous hill stations of valley—Gulmarg and Pahalgham—in winters. Gulmarg received 40 times lower rain fall in 2016 (1.2 mm) than 1998 (48.4 mm). The impact of climate felt in Kashmir also witnessed record low water level in Jhelum since past 61 years in 2016 which ebbed – 0.5 meters at Sangam monitoring station (Dept. of Irrigation and Flood Control).

The strong winter winds blowing from Mediterranean Sea bring snow and rain to valley. These winds with them bring severe cold which suspend all rural employment and a substantial proportion of earning is utilized to purchase fuel-wood and coal. J&K, which rely much on tourism, is a paradise for winter tourism. The revival of skiing as a sport (Gulmarg—paradise for skiers), mountaineering, ice hockey or famous Gulmarg gondola ride all gave impetus to growing tourism of state but the changing weather pattern is a hurdle that cannot be overcome without cooperating nature. The months which bring enough rainfall bare dry and the months which were required to stay dry receive rainfall. Man as a destroyer of ecosystem is responsible for changing pattern of seasons. Deforestation, querying, use of chemical fertilizers, burning of fossil fuels, etc all cause enormous damage to natural environment in turn nature repays us in form of uneven precipitation, storms, earthquakes etc. 2014 floods demonstrated the wrath of nature and showed us how nature can turn furious and would spare nothing which would come in its way. It is found that the temperature of the valley is likely to increase and precipitation is going to decrease with each coming decade. According to DNA the average temperature of valley had increased 1.2 ˚C over the last century, higher than global average of 0.9 ˚C.

We cannot blame sun for global warming because sun is a medium sized illusion happening in milky-way galaxy constantly emitting since its formation and the solar radiation is reaching surface of earth since the formation of earth (4.7 billion years) at the rate of 1.366 kilowatts per square meter. Then what happened wrong with planet earth? The earth that nourishes us, bosom beautiful landscape for us and provide a wide range of flora and fauna is destroyed by the man. Forests—lungs of earth and purify air to main oxygen-carbon dioxide level—have been cleared. The use of refrigerators which release CFC and air conditioners which release HCFC react with ozone in presence of sunlight causing holes in protective shield against UV rays—Ozone layers. We have given agriculture and turned vast fields into attention-grabbing concrete jungles that distract us from the real essence of natural environment. The irreparable damage caused by man to his environment has caused irreparable damage to his health, way of thinking, social contact and culture. We are living in an electronic zoo where we are slaves of technology.

As a product of earth, we should be concerned about our environment. We should look beyond our greed. The sunshine of winter would not benefit us but the snow clad peaks of winter would let our rivers flowing. Fortunes may rise and fall, but it is impossible to regain the zenith of planet earth. We cannot rewind the clock but we can stop further deterioration of environment. Therefore, it is our obligation to protect further deterioration of environment.

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