The earth gives us everything we need - the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. But due to rapid industrialisation the consumption of energy has increased abnormally. Most (>80 per cent) of the energy is being generated from fossil fuel like coal, as well as from oil and gases. The burning of these fuels release large quantities of harmful gases which pollute the atmosphere.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a 1.5°C rise in the average temperature of the earth might put 22 to 30 per cent of species in risk of disappearance. The other threat is that of ice melting massively at the poles. In the last century, the sea level has increased by 18cm and is expected to rise up to 10cm by the year 2100. This has had a severe effects on the atmosphere, and more droughts, heat waves and natural disasters like floods, storms and wildfires can be expected. Rising sea levels also cause people living in small islands to migrate.
The use of fossil fuel can be minimised by the use of renewable sources of energy such as solar, wind, bio-mass and geothermal. The Indian government is taking many initiatives for increasing the renewable energy share with a target to meet 40 per cent, against the present 17.3 per cent, by the year 2030.
To reach the target, more encouragement and assurance is required for investors from the government. The use of efficient equipment and best practices have scope for energy reduction up to 30 per cent. Governments need to increase public transport and encourage electric mobility and hydrogen vehicles to curtail the use of petrol and diesel, thus reducing atmospheric pollution.
Reforestation is one more solution for reducing global warming. To have ecological balance, a country needs to have a minimum of 33 per cent green cover. India has a green cover of 21.67 per cent and Telangana 24 per cent. The waste generated in industries and agricultural farmlands need to be properly tackled as 75 per cent of waste can be recycled for various purposes like the generation of electricity, cooking gas, etc.
World Earth Hour
The Earth Hour is a global annual grassroots movement, unifying the people to take action on environmental issues and protect the earth. It is organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), with millions of people spread over 188 countries switching off lights and other unnecessary electric appliances.
Earth Hour is an initiative to encourage individuals, businesses and governments around the world to take accountability for their ecological footprint and engage in a dialogue that provides real solutions to our environmental challenges. In India, the Earth Hour is being observed at few government offices in Telangana. Raj Bhavan is also keeping its lights off during the event. More awareness is to be created among the public about the need for taking various measures to control global warming.
This year, an unprecedented health crisis came up due to the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Most families are indoors due to the nation-wide lockdown orders issued by the Central government, and as such it is the best time to observe Earth Hour 2020 by switching off lights for bringing awareness on energy conservation.
(The writer is Chairman, Energy Commission of India, Telangana State Centre)