As climate change continues to grow worse, basic necessities such as food, water, housing and health have been threatened for millions of people around the world. Rising sea levels, rapidly melting glaciers on the mountains and shrinking ice cover and sheets in the Arctic, and extreme weather events such as drought, floods, heatwaves, wildfires and storms getting frequent in number — the repercussions of the climate change are patently already here. This has been pushing humanity on the brink of Climate apartheid where the poor across the planet have been left stranded to bear the brunt of changing climate while the rich with resources and money can escape the catastrophic events! This growing rift between ‘the haves’ and ‘the have-nots’ does not portend well for our future and unless some concrete measures are taken, the times ahead are rife with social and political unrest and chaos.
What’s ironic is that most of the greenhouse gases (GHG) emission — 50 per cent of the total GHG emission– is driven by the ten per cent of the world population who happened to be from affluent and developed nations, whereas, just ten per cent of the GHG emission is contributed by 3.5 billion people, most of them belonging to poor and developing nations. And yet, the worst affected would be the side which is least responsible for climate change and global warming! Even in the best-case scenario of just one and a half degree celsius rise in temperature, as per an estimate, over 120 million people would have to struggle with poverty, hunger, forced displacement, disease and death. Climate apartheid or a class war induced by climate change will only exacerbate the nationalistic, xenophobic and racist issues globally.
In the next few decades with the worsening weather events, many would have to migrate from their countries which would lead to a more hostile reaction from the citizens of the host countries. Island nations such as Tuvalu, Kiribati and the Marshall Islands have been struggling to survive with the rising sea levels and the associated challenges it brings along with it. The recent storms in Mozambique, droughts in Somaliland, heatwaves in India have caused fatalities and forced migration for the affected population to neighbouring cities and countries.
The response from the world leaders, international bodies like the United Nations, the big corporates have been inadequate considering the magnitude of the threat. What’s more, some of the leaders holding the apex positions have been denying the very reality of human-induced climate change which has negatively impacted the efforts of climate change activists and environmentalists. Politicians like Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro — often criticised for their policies against environment — have even rolled back many environmental regulations thus hampering the efforts to mitigate climate change. Researchers believe that as the situations are at present, Climate apartheid looks imminent and in the war between rich and poor, it’s the poor who would be struggling to survive. In the absence of a social safety net, the consequences of climate change would be far-reaching, making the future world inhospitable for mankind. The choice is ours — we must act now or suffer later!