The 1.5 Degree Conundrum
The story begins with a frog, in lukewarm water that is being heated slowly over a period a time. The frog being what it is gradually adjusts its core body temperature according to the heat of the water. There comes a point in time, where the frog can no longer adjust to the temperature that of the environment and eventually dies due to heat. The question remains, why didn’t the frog jump out of the pan? The answer is simple, it kept on adjusting to the extent that it consumed all its energy and had nothing to spare to even jump out and survive. This may be gruesome story to begin with but not at all far from reality. Remember, the frog had the option to jump out and one can argue that is not possible with the human case because of the superior intellectuals. But, what if, we don’t have the privilege of that option? Hence borne the realization, what if, we are the frog and the earth is the pan. How long can we adjust? For most of us, it would be like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. Although the top 1 % of the total population may opt for settling into new planets, optimistically if found on time, however, for the rest 99 % of us, the earth is the only place we can call “Home”. We will be analogous to frog with amputated legs in soon to be scorching water.
From boiling frogs to the melting snow caps, Nepal, victimized by the earthquake not long ago, soon will be facing threat from another element of nature: water, as the temperature rises up. Several of the glacier lakes are in grave danger of being overloaded and burst without a moment’s notice. The rising global temperature will soon be intolerable to high mountains which in turn would result in releasing a plethora of ice as water that had remained hidden under the snow for the last century. Similar to the Great Barrier Reef which saw one of the most worst bleaching event in the recorded history, rise of 1.5 oC resulting in meltdown of the glaciers causing overflow of water from snow fed lakes would be the best case scenario. However, in worst case scenario, lakes would completely break down the surrounding barriers resulting in high fatality of life living downstream of the water resources.
If getting drowned in the chilling water isn’t enough to signify the enormous significance for control of temperature, getting bitten by disease ridden pests should do the trick. As the temperature raises, the breeding habit and living habitat of pests such as mosquitoes that carries various disease causing viruses such as Chikungunya virus, Dengue virus, Zika virus and others increases dramatically. The country which is already having difficulty of controlling such neglected tropical diseases would leave it at the brink of breakdown if such diseases were to show up at once at our door.
Moving on with the series of problems following increase in average room temperature by a magnitude of 1.5 oC, the next set of problems would appear in the form of food shortage. And although starvation is a burning issue even now, burning temperature would further deteriorate the condition as fertility of land decreases with irreversible drying of the land. Similarly, decrease in the yield of plants explained through hormonal changes that occur due to increased temperature would also lead to decline in the food supply.
These are, to name a few, effects of the rise of temperature to our beautiful country, Nepal, where people are renowned world over for their resilience against natural calamities might not always be present there to survive the aftermath. Hence, it is my urge and obligation of moment that we start our campaign to rather contribute towards decreasing the temperature and fight the rise in temperature through awareness, science and innovation.
Senior Research Associate
Central Department of Biotechnology,