Earth’s climate has changed relentlessly since its creation 4.5 billion years ago, as has the biodiversity that has thrived on the planet for billions of years. For more than five million years since the emergence of the first hominids in East Africa’s Rift Valley, the power of adaptation has helped humans continue to win the race of evolution and survival.
However, at present, are we really adapting to the situations in which we are thrown? Or do we just tackle one problem at a time and make the rest worse? And does our coping mechanism compromise the ability of others to survive?
Over the past two summers, COVID-19 has caused major trauma in our lives claiming thousands of lives and destroying our livelihoods. This year, although the pandemic still exists, India’s unbearable heat waves have drawn global attention.
As recently as last week, the maximum temperature in Delhi and several parts of northwestern India hovered nearly around 45C, and experts believe climate change has a definite role to play in the deadly heat waves. To avoid heatstroke, the privileged reduce exposure and opt for air conditioners and coolers in enclosed spaces. But what happens to the economically weakest sections of society?
Dr Chandni Singh of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Bengaluru recently posted a Twitter thread on this same dilemma: COVID-19, climate crisis, social inequality or heat stroke. The thread immediately grabbed attention and was highly praised by netizens on the social media platform.
“No one seems to realize that in extreme heat, COVID protocols take a back seat. This is what the compounding risk looks like. At 43-44°C, the heat outside is stifling, and a mask is the last thing you want to wear,” said Dr Singh, who is also one of the authors of recent IPCC reports on climate change adaptation and mitigation.
If the combined risks of COVID-19 and extreme weather give you nightmares, think of the disadvantaged people who suffer from “climate injustice” and risk succumbing to both?
In his thread, Dr. Singh also emphasizes the search for multidimensional approaches, since all questions are directly or indirectly related. With the climate constantly “changing”, the dilemma remains unanswered and our climate anxiety only increases. She also highlighted the importance of climate action – finding sustainable mitigation measures to protect our people and our planet – which, in turn, will also protect us from extreme heat waves and zoonotic diseases.
“So when people ask me about climate grief, climate anxiety, I’m not sure. I feel angry and disarmed that the best we can do is leave the most vulnerable behind. Our best is actually broadcasting our worst,” Dr. Chandni concluded.
The common thread was appreciated by Internet users around the world. Here are some thoughts on this thread:
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