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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

The challenge of climate change lies in how to act

The world's population has already consumed the resources the planet had to offer for this year

This NASA image shows a massive fracture along Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf that has shrunk by about 10 per cent since a nearly 5,800-square kilometre iceberg broke away.  NASA / EPA
This NASA image shows a massive fracture along Antarctica's Larsen C ice shelf that has shrunk by about 10 per cent since a nearly 5,800-square kilometre iceberg broke away. NASA / EPA

Scientists have been raising the alarm over the environment for years. Yesterday marked this year's “Earth Overshoot Day”. This is the day estimated when the world’s population will have consumed all the natural resources our planet can produce in a year.

Environmental policies are essential, and though several countries have taken a considerable number of initiatives to bring about change, others seem reluctant to see the repercussions their current policies may have on their future economic interests. Recently, the US announced its intention to pull out of the Paris climate accords.

Over the past decade, the UAE has worked on launching various initiatives to raise awareness, and to diversify its energy use to include nuclear power and solar energy, with extensive research and development in the broad range of renewable energy. Despite the crucial role of governments in establishing environmental policies, initiatives should also engage at the community level. Each of us plugged to the power grid and living off the planet’s resources is equally responsible for our environmental footprint.

In July, a massive glacier broke off an ice shelf in the Antarctic. The rising sea-level that may result is not the only impact we must worry about. Climate change, global warming and how it affects agriculture and food security over the long term are some of the other concerns.

A fierce climate advocate, former US vice president Al Gore believes that "we still have the ability to slow it down”. And to do that, crucially, means addressing the root causes at an individual level. It requires a new sense of urgency and a shift in mentality to bring about a desire to protect the richness our planet, a willingness to moderate our consumption habits and a dedication to building a sustainable environmental legacy for our children.