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2 Degrees of Separation: Between Catastrophe and Our Lives as we know it

By Alif Satria
Twitter: @alifstria
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Since 1977, scientists have continually stressed the danger of a 2 degree rise in the average world temperature. They noted that such an event would lead to unprecedented catastrophe to the environment and, subsequently, humans. The first most impactful to me is the extremity of regional precipitation. Theory and observations agree that every 1 degree increase would increase precipitation by 7% in regions that already have high precipitation and decrease precipitation by 5% - 10% in regions that already have low ones. This means, in Yogyakarta, rain would decrease; drought in Gunung Kidul would worsen for many families; fields in Bantul and Kalasan would dry, and farmer’s yield would decrease. This would mean Bandung and Jakarta would have heavier and more frequent rain, risking heavier and more frequent floods, dragging away more and more frequently of the lives, property, and livelihood of the people. The second most impactful effect, would be the increased frequency of extreme heat in summer seasons. It is estimated with the rise, extreme warm summers that one might feel every 20 years would now be felt twice every 2-10 years. This would firstly mean an increased chance of heatwave in Indonesia. Heatwaves such as those that killed 2500 people in Pakistan, 1000 in Britain, and 2330 in India. But secondly, wildfires. Such as the wildfires of Indonesian peat land in 2015, or the wildfires of palm oil plantations in 2013, and even wildfires of forest and crops, costing farmers of Indonesia millions.

The question is then not whether we should prevent it, but how? The average layperson scan contribute to the cause on 3 fronts. First, by decreasing electricity usage (which comprises 41% of 2010 carbon emissions). This can be done through decreasing electricity usage, using more energy efficient light bulbs (95% of energy is lost in turning on a light bulb), or changing to more ecofriendly electricity sources. Second of which, by decreasing transportation emission (which comprises 22% of 2010 carbon emissions). One can decrease their transportation’s carbon footprint by using fuel efficient cars, or by using public transportation to decrease the overall transportation and thus carbon on the road, or by using carbon free transportation such as bikes or simply walking whenever you can. Lastly, one can help in regards to structural change. A layperson may not be able to directly change structures, but they are important in giving support to those who can. So vote and demand for eco-aware politicians, support petitions from and donate to green NGOs so they can make a stronger push for policies, and share the information and awareness through social media on the importance of “below 2 degrees”.

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