Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Advances in Management Research, Volume 11, Issue 3.
Climate change and sustainability
In recent past, especially during last 40 years or so, the climate change and sustainability have emerged as important issues before the humanity as a whole. The solar radiation is trapped by the gases in the earth's atmosphere and, as a result, the earth remains warm for life to survive on it. In case these gases were not there to absorb the solar heat, the earth temperature would be sub-zero and the life on earth would not exist since liquid water would not be available. Here is the paradox: the same atmosphere which enables the earth to remain warm enough for life to survive is causing the earth to become too warm to sustain life in the long run. The basic cause is the generation of unsustainable levels of the green house gases (GHGs) which are released in the atmosphere due to the human activities. The gases are carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbon, nitrous oxide, ozone, water vapor, etc. Of these, the biggest culprit is carbon dioxide.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a world body formed to analyze causes and consequences of climate change, has warned that the planet earth is moving toward catastrophe due to the rise in global temperature, caused by excessive carbon dioxide emissions. Each of the last decades has been witnessing a rise in temperature and, by the end of the twenty-first century, there may be a rise of 4.8°C if the current trend continues!
Most of the greenhouse gases come from the combustion of fossil fuel. The scientists are not sure if any significant contribution to the global warming can be attributed to solar or cosmic rays or to volcanic eruptions. The GHGs, particularly carbon dioxide, are the culprit. The oceans absorb a good part of the carbon dioxide, resulting into rise in ocean temperature and ocean acidification. Due to the rise in temperature, the ocean levels have been rising gradually. The levels may rise further by 26-82 centimeters by 2100. The rise would not be the same everywhere. Many coastlines may see a significant rise. The rise will happen because arctic ice and glaciers will melt away in a big way.
Nature, since times immemorial, has been playing three roles. First, it brings forth creation, with all kinds of life forms. Then, it sustains the creation. And, finally it (the Nature) destroys it through a phenomenon called deluge. At the end of the cycle of creation, as some scriptures say, the earth and, obviously, all the life forms on it get submerged into the water accumulated due to torrential rains which last for long time. The supreme nature, in its infinite capacity, may do its part in creation, sustenance and destruction. But why should human beings take upon themselves the task of bringing about a catastrophe in the form of rising sea temperature and flooding of coasts or similar things that become a threat to humanity?
The issue is a global one but the solution lies in individual local actions at each level: the governments, industrial units, households and individual human being. The governments have to seriously work toward implementing the international agreements such as Kyoto Protocol, which stipulated mandatory emission cuts for developed countries and voluntary mitigation efforts for developing countries. Industrial units have to make sustainability issue as an integral part of their business plan. Each industrial unit and household has to work toward specific targets of cutting energy consumption, restricting water use and increasing re-use of waste material. Individuals could contribute to this effort by using public transport, bicycles and by walking, to the extent possible. Needless to say, the climate change and sustainability is a real case to test the slogan: Global Thinking and Local Action. Shall we all rise to the challenge?
We believe that these are potential research areas and academic world should address them.
Surendra S. Yadav and Ravi Shankar