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Verisk Maplecroft, a global risks analytics and research organization, published a Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI) in 2010, ranking Nepal as the fourth most vulnerable country to the impacts of climate change. Recent estimates show that Nepal, in the past few years, has already been facing an annual economic loss of 1.5 to 2% of GDP due to climate change events. One may argue climate change to be a natural phenomenon but environmental and climate researchers think otherwise.
Air, water and soil are being polluted left and right. Many developed and industrialized nations are heavily emitting greenhouse gases day and night. Businesses are not performing enough for environmental good and rather seem busy lobbying against it. Very little is being done to manage ever growing garbage, pollution and toxic wastes. This in turn is causing environmental degradation, global warming, climate change and chronic health hazards around the world.
Environmental degradation along with increased rate of global warming gave rise to climate change, an accumulated result of human activities in just over the last few centuries. Although it may not be local, direct or prompt but the climate change effects are showing up in global scale, as weather patterns are changing all over the planet, several species are going extinct, ozone layer is depleting, earth’s temperature is rising, glaciers and polar ice caps are melting rapidly and sea level is rising faster than ever before.
According to a report, submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), the mean annual temperature projections for Nepal are 1.3-3.8 degree Celsius by the 2060s and 1.8-5.8 degree Celsius by the 2090s. Meanwhile, the World Bank report indicates that the mean annual temperature of the entire globe is projected to increase by 1 to 5 degree Celsius by the end of this century, placing us towards the higher end of the projected spectrum globally.
Nepal’s topography and socio-economic conditions make it even more vulnerable to climate change induced disasters. The negative impacts of climate change in Nepal have been rapidly translating into reduced annual precipitation, decrease in Himalayan ice reserve, receding glaciers, drying up of water sources, rapid formation of glacial lakes, erratic rainfall pattern, increased threats to run-of-river hydroelectricity projects, etc. As a result, increased risk of disasters, in the form of more frequent avalanches, floods, landslides, droughts, forest fires, epidemics, etc., cannot be ignored anymore.
If we fail to handle them tactfully and in a timely manner, climate change driven disasters and its widespread economic impacts certainly paint a rather bleak future for Nepal, as agriculture, hydroelectricity and water-induced disasters are going to be of greatest concern for us in coming days.
Although major proclamations such as, “Climate change is for real” and “Urgent risk mitigation actions are indispensable” are quite consistent globally, compelling concrete actions are largely missing or are unable to produce definitive results.
Due to the global nature of the crisis, it is impossible to alleviate the problem by any one nation, organization or a certain group. Climate change threat demands coordinated participation and genuine collaborative efforts of every possible stakeholder to rescue the planet, we call home.
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