Millennium Post

For sake of our children

A good part of our lives is spent on amassing inheritances for our children. Our earnest attempt is aimed at making our children's lives better; at least better than our own selves. We persevere so that one day they can prosper. But there is a fundamental flaw in the way we pursue such prudent measures for our children. In all our concern for them, we act on a local scale. Wealth is the single, most important chunk of the inheritance that we leave behind. While money is an inseparable part of this world, we often forget that money cannot necessarily make the world a better place for our children. With climate change no more a dreaded scientific theory, we ought to realise our responsibility of limiting the damage rather than propagating the planet towards perpetual doom. The industrial age was a boon for humankind. While we laid down an unprecedented path to progress, the same came at the cost of environmental damage. Nonetheless, our collective ambition as the dominant species of this planet was to innovate and exploit all resources available to us in our bid to satisfy our limitless curiosity. What was the price? Global warming. Millions and millions of tons of carbon dioxide were emitted in the atmosphere for the Earth to absorb and it even did so unless our effort to create vast urban centres saw the reduction of vegetation cover. Rest is just a downfall as far as the environment is concerned. It was not until the late 20th century and early 21st century that environmental awareness started making headlines. With the advent of IT and the boom of social media, we plunged into an age where environmental concern took centre stage. Today, the world is well versed with erratic wildfires, unpredictable downpours, frequent hurricanes and cyclones, intensified droughts and non-seasonal rain showers. The adverse impact of these varying natural phenomena is borne by our underprepared kind. Crop production is hampered and so is infrastructure. The economic loses due to wild environmental trends have only risen with time. United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is an international environmental treaty which was adopted on May 9, 1992. Over the course of time, several conventions, conference of parties (CoP), etc., have taken place and whatever mitigating measures that humankind can boast of are a due outcome of these meetings. And yet, we are on course to script our own decline. The world that we are leaving for our children is precariously balanced with a downward trajectory. In the 2020s, global order needs to expeditiously limit CO2 emissions to ensure a secure future for our children. Time is ripe for a shift to renewable sources of energy. But our tragedy is that while some countries want to adhere to the cautions raised by scientists regarding average temperature rise in the absence of mitigating measures, others — both developed and developing — are relentlessly heading with their traditional ambitions of development at the cost of the environment. Carbon emissions seem unstoppable, at least for developing nations. But it must change. A superb example sits in India's capital city. New Delhi's degraded air quality explains the environmental concern that awaits us all. Nothing short of a dystopia in winters, New Delhi experiences spike in AQI that breaches the alarming levels due to rampant stubble burning and perpetual vehicular emissions. Despite a good size of green belt present, the city perishes under poor air quality which is increasingly toxic for its residents, especially the children and the elderly. Delhi has struggled to mitigate this phenomenon of winter dystopia, coming up with short-term to emergency action plans such as Odd-Even and GRAP respectively. In its attempt to remedy the situation, Delhi has somehow failed to make hard decisions like banning vehicular entry in the central part of the city or even making Odd-Even scheme permanent.

A WHO-UNICEF-Lancet authored report titled, "A Future for the World's Children?" released on February 19, has found that the health and future of every child and adolescent worldwide is under immediate threat from ecological degradation, climate change and exploitative marketing practises that push heavily processes fast food, sugary drinks, alcohol and tobacco at them. The report ranks India at 131st position for the best chance at survival and well-being for children. It further notes the headways India has made in health and sanitation but reserves that the country has to increase its expenditure on health which remains less than one per cent of the country's GDP. There is no rocket science in grasping the underlying recommendation here and acting fast. While a concerted effort is required for global mitigation of CO2, local efforts to ensure a sustainable society will serve our children in vast measures. With the advent of FAME scheme, it is expected that a smoother transition into e-mobility by at least 2025 will greatly relieve our local environment. Delhi desperately requires the expedited implementation of FAME scheme to allow e-mobility network to thrive and become a role-model for the entire country to emulate. Apart from increasing our health expenditure and shifting to cleaner fuels, priority demands to be laid upon best practices for our children's health and well-being. Leaving monetary assets would be of no use if we cannot leave a clean environment for them to be healthy enough to cherish that wealth. Inheritance is not about the tangible human wealth but the intangible environment which ensures life on the planet. We ought to safeguard that for our children.

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