Climate change refers to the varying changes in weather and weather patterns as noticed over decades and longer, and the effects of such changes. Climate change has been a growing concern for experts world over due to its high acceleration, which is primarily attributed to human activity. According to experts and analysts of the phenomenon, the change in climate that has become more noticeable with every passing year is much greater than the change expected as a result of natural activity and causes; and this accelerated change is mainly due to human activity. Climate change, therefore, covers the aspects of global warming, as well as all other activities that result in an increase in greenhouse gases, and the effects of this increase on the surface of the earth, as well as on groups and individuals.
Effects of climate change
Climate change is causing an alteration in the weather patterns, temperatures, sea levels, and even seasons of the world. These changes have a direct impact on the air, lands, and water around which life is based. Climate change has caused many problems at the global and local levels. Water resources are affected, altering the source of water for entire regions. This has a direct effect on agriculture and other life and livelihood conditions that are based around the water resources. Rain patterns are altering, causing problems in the livelihood of people in the rural regions who depend on rain water for activities such as agriculture. Overall, livelihood options are changing as the conditions for the existing options become more severe. Furthermore, the changing livelihood requirements, the changing lifestyle, and the changing weather patterns have an adverse effect on the health of the rural population. The rapid changes that climate change is bringing about are leading to a change in the way of life, one that may result in us leaving a planet to our children in which basic life is very different, and maybe even difficult. The following are the main impacts that climate change is having on current life:
- Increase in temperatures – click here
- Changing landscapes – click here
- Risk to wildlife – click here
- Rising sea levels –click here
- Increase in droughts, floods, and fires – click here
- Stronger hurricanes and storms – click here
- Illnesses and death due to increased heat – click here
- Economic damage and loss – click here
Effects of climate change on children
The question that Holistic Child Development India is most often asked is why, in spite of being an organisation focused on child development, we focus on climate change. The answer lies in the fact that climate change happens as a result of adult activity, but its effects are felt mostly by the innocent children who are forced to live in a world shaped by the mistakes of their parents that worsen their living conditions and in a world where they are forced to forego their rights due to disasters caused by such climate change. This means that children are forced to give up their rights and bear the brunt of the effects of climate change, even though they contribute very little to the phenomenon. Children are the future of the world, but climate change, caused by the actions of the past generations that bring up these children, is leaving a world in which they will face more difficulty than a holistic life. The effects of climate change are not allowing children the holistic environment that is necessary for their absolute development even today; and this case is the strongest in rural regions and regions where livelihood is greatly dependent on agriculture and other natural resources.
Droughts and floods have become too common in the rural regions as a result of climate change. The effects of these disasters are like any other catastrophes. Children are displaced along with their families. Schools are destroyed, forcing children to give up their education. Destruction of property leads to loss of the source of livelihood for the family, and children are forced into labour, migration, or worse, sold and abused for money. Often, financial constraints force them to leave their education and look after the family. Furthermore, lack of water and reduced crop yield force them to live in conditions of near starvation, causing illnesses and even death. The same problems surface as a result of the other effects of climate change which include phenomena such as rising temperatures and erratic weather patterns.
The main concern remains that children oftentimes have no indication as to why they are subjected to such problems. They have little to no contribution to the causes of climate change, and yet they are the ones who are forced to face the effects. In cases where children survive, they will grow up to live in a world that has faced great adverse effects due to climate change and that has little to offer them. HCDI, recognising this fact, focuses on climate change so that children and their communities.
- can be prepared to face the disasters that come as a result of climate change
- can be inculcated with habits to ensure greener living that reduces the impact on climate change itself
- can take efforts to counter the effects of climate change
- can be prepared to inculcate the changes brought about by climate change into their daily lives, without disrupting their lives
The projects carried out under the climate change programmes by HCDI and its implementing partners focus on the sectors of adaptation and mitigation. With a focus on rural regions who are the worst hit by the effects of climate change, HCDI and its implementing partners work towards reducing the effects of climate change and providing communities and children with methods to counter and reduce the phenomenon of climate change. This is done under the following two heads:
Climate change and its many effects have resulted in problems in the livelihood options of rural communities. These communities primarily depend on agriculture and other natural resources for their livelihood. Weather changes and change in landscape and soil fertility has led to reduced yield and, in some cases, an impossibility of cultivation. Keeping their sources of livelihood in mind, HCDI and its implementing partners undertake projects that involve providing these communities, especially the children, with knowledge and skills for alternate methods to carry on their current livelihood activities and establish new activities that supplement their present options. This has a direct impact on the children who may be forced to migrate, give up their education, undertake manual labour, or undertake any such activities that are necessary to contribute to the income of the household. With the implementation of the knowledge and skills imparted for adaptation, children are free from financial responsibility and to grow up in a safe, protected, and fulfilling environment.
Adaptation allows the rural communities to react accordingly to the effects of climate change so that their lives and livelihood are not affected. However, that only solves a part of the climate change problem. Children are forced to face the effects of climate change even thought they are not responsible for it. Yet, they are inculcated with knowledge on how to mitigate these effects and counter the habits that cause climate change. For example, children are given the responsibility to plant and take care of a number of trees every year. This ensures that the area is kept green and thriving, mitigating the effects of climate change such as increase in carbon dioxide levels. Children also participate in workshops that teach them about climate change. They are then encouraged to take up these concerns with the Children’s Parliaments of their villages as well as with the elders and come to solutions that they believe will help. These solutions are discussed upon in workshops and even implemented where possible and relevant.
The projects undertaken under the climate change programme of HCDI span across multiple years. A final target is set to improve the living conditions of the region through the implementation of various techniques and this target is maintained as the final goal at all times, with changes being made to it depending on the route of progress. HCDI and its implementing partners maintain records to analyse how accepting the villagers are of the adaptation and mitigation knowledge with which they are provided. Furthermore, a record is also maintained of the strategies implemented under the areas of adaptation and mitigation and the progress attained under each head. Carried out similar to projects under the community focused child development programme, the climate change projects involve the entire community, with a focus on the betterment of children, and are aimed at completion when the region becomes self sufficient and capable of development without external assistance.