Greenhouse gases produced as a result of anthropogenic activity such as the burning of fossil fuels and industrial processes are being emitted. This is at rates higher than at any point in the past 800,000 years. The resulting greenhouse effect is destabilizing the planet’s climate in hazardous ways. Extreme weather events are now more frequent and violent than ever. Heatwaves, droughts, hail storms and floods are occurring with greater intensity. This is exacerbating poverty and forced migration. 2019 was the hottest year on record. It has nearly 400 unprecedented instances of high temperatures reported in the northern hemisphere last summer alone.
Aside from the loss of biodiversity, the disappearance of small lakes and rivers and the proliferation of new diseases, climate change is currently responsible for the death of 150,000 people annually. It will also expectedly produce 250,000 fatalities per year between 2030 and 2050. This is a wake-up call for societies, lured into complacency by technological advances. Our lifestyle and consumption patterns are not sustainable.
Professor Ashok Swain, UNESCO chair of International Water Cooperation at Sweden’s Uppsala University discussed about the human rights impacts of climate change, the ensuing conflicts over resources, and the interplay between global warming and poverty.
How covid-19 is connected to Climate Change
He says both climate change and COVID-19 are global crises and [are] interconnected. Degrading ecosystems, unsustainable lifestyles and declining natural resources have led to a pandemic like COVID-19. Thus, the world should not forget the threats of climate change while confronting the pandemic. In addition to these two serious crises, human rights are increasingly under threat. The civil and political rights of people are growingly compromised in a world that is witnessing a democratic decline. Climate change has multiplied the human rights crisis in a more unequal and undemocratic world. It is causing threats to human health and survival, food and water shortages, and weather-related disasters. All these are resulting in death and destruction of property. A healthy and robust environment is fundamental to the enjoyment of human rights.
How the world can remain committed to the climate change course
The world has been committed for 72 years to the observation and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms. These principles have been at the heart of international agreements. Unfortunately, there is a huge gap that exists between the international commitments on human rights and climate change. Climate change and policy responses to meet its challenges will have a significant impact on the human rights of millions of people.
The world is also witnessing the climate justice movement in a big way. Only comprehensive and collaborative actions by the nations in line with protecting human rights will make it possible for the planet to meet these unprecedented challenges. Countries must commit to ambitious climate mitigation targets to keep the global average temperature increase within a manageable limit. Countries providing climate mitigation assistance and those receiving the support must commit to protecting human rights.
They must incorporate human rights norms into their domestic legal frameworks. Countries need to take important steps toward fulfilling their obligations at home. To achieve this, they need to work cooperatively with other countries to combat climate change. They need to ensure the protection of the human rights of people across the world.
How climate change affects the development of agricultural economies
Though the impact of climate change is very comprehensive, its effects on the agriculture sector are easy to notice. Changing rainfall patterns and rising average temperatures affect agriculture and those who are dependent on it in a very big way. Floods, droughts, new pests and weed problems add more to their woes. Climate change brings food insecurity through its impacts on all aspects of global, regional, national and local food production and distribution systems. It severely affects the people who are already poor and vulnerable, and dependent on an agriculture-based economy. However, the risk and vulnerability are gradually going to shift to other economies.
However, while most tropical, arid and semi-arid regions are likely to experience further agricultural production losses due to rising temperatures, scientists expect food production in the temperate-developed part of the world to benefit in the short term from a warmer climate and longer growing seasons.
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