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Future of Earth 2020

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Future of Earth 2020

What to study?

For Prelims: The five risks and other key findings.

For Mains: Concerns and challenges ahead, ways to address them.

Context: The Future of Earth 2020 report has been released by the South Asia Future Earth Regional Office, Divecha Centre for Climate Change, Indian Institute of Science. The report was prepared with the aim of reducing carbon footprint and halting global warming below 2 degree Celsius by 2050.

Five global risks:

The report lists five global risks that have the potential to impact and amplify one another in ways that may cascade to create a global systemic crisis. They are:

  1. Failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  2. Extreme weather events.
  3. Major biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse.
  4. Food crises.
  5. Water crises.

Key observations:

Interrelation of risk factors: 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.

Biodiversity loss and it’s impact: The loss of biodiversity weakens the capacity of natural and agricultural systems to cope with climate extremes, increasing our vulnerability to food crises.

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

Concerns and Challenges ahead:

Major assessments in last two years have all argued that time is running out to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • This has inspired declarations of a climate crisis or climate emergency by the leaders of more than 700 cities, States and governments.
  • Yet, during 2019, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached more than 415 ppm.

Anthropogenic factors: Humans have now “significantly altered” 75% of our planet’s land area; about a quarter of species in assessed plant and animal groups are threatened.

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

Denial of climate change: Right-wing populism, a breed of politics that exploits people’s fears during times of economic decline and growing inequality, and that focuses on nationalist tendencies to clamp down on borders and reject immigrants, is on the rise around the world. This often leads to a denial of climate change facts or impacts.

The digital platforms such as social media, search engines and e-commerce algorithms, tend to favour the spread of information designed to engage with emotion over reason, which can cause the propagation of “fake news”, and can lead to social harms like an erosion of trust in vaccines.

Environmental health and education:

New thinking about conservation is needed. The National Education Policy will address the question of environmental health and education at the school level.

Children in the last four years of secondary education will have a reasonable grounding to be sensitive towards the environment. Without it no government rules and policies can be helpful

Sources: the Hindu.