My brother and I had visited Georgia in December last year. This is the country Georgia, not the state Georgia in the US. It is an extremely beautiful country, and during the December winter, some of the places we visited were mostly white, covered in snow. But apparently not as white as it needed to be. We stayed a few nights in a town called Stepantsminda. During that time of the year, the town is supposed to be teeming with people who come for skiing. When we arrived there, it felt more like a ghost town. During a specific hiking trip in the snow that travellers had raved about on online forums, we saw no other people for miles and miles as far as the eye could see. Lots of businesses there had shut shop – because of no visitors – because of not enough snow.
Later, we learned this was on account of global warming and climate change. The winter was quite cold as far as we visitors from the tropics were concerned, but apparently nowhere near necessary for ski resorts to function.
The world is heating up. The ice is melting, and water levels are rising. All those articles and videos we read/see are true. In the last Ice Age, when global temperatures were 4 to 7 degrees cooler than today, the city of Chicago was under 800 meters of ice (like an ice mountain)! We are now racing in the opposite direction – on track to become 3 to 4 degrees warmer than baseline, and already about 1 degree hotter than what is ideal. Every half-a-degree increment from now on could have a devastating impact.
What can we do? We can start small. Each of our actions can be guided by the thought “Do I really need this, or is this just a temporary want? Can I achieve this outcome in a better more sustainable way?” The extra minutes under the shower, the ACs, fans and lights running when not necessary, using too much plastic, driving solo instead of biking/walking/car-pooling among other things all add up. It has to be an individual effort from each one of us, but exercised collectively. The earth is not just a planet, it is our mother that gives us our life. We have only taken, taken and taken more from her since our birth – whether food, or water or oxygen. How can we ever give back to her? And will any amount of giving back ever suffice? Never, and what is done is done, but we can at least reduce the intensity of our taking in the future. Just being mindful of our daily activities is a good starting point.