Climate Change and Happiness

A survey report by World Happiness Report 2020 says that 65% of respondents life would be harder with climate change and 74% believed that climate change is a serious threat. One in eight deaths in India are attributed to climate change and is projected to increase 10% of all deaths. Increase in pollution levels across major cities in the world has made poor air quality. The polluted air is hard to breath and the most vulnerable are children. The poor air quality is expected to decreased life expectancy by 7 years. Read my previous article on behaviour and climate change to understand how we are directly responsible for climate change. https://naikhere.in/2020/09/08/behaviour-and-climate-change/

Happiness, the instant remembrance is a smile on the face. Happiness is a positive emotion, joy or laughter or a well being. Climate change is also a factor in our happiness. Dreaming feels good to adults and remembrance of childhood to aged one when they see green villages in movies. Look at below pictures. For a few seconds, it gives immense happiness wish as if we were being there. If pictures can make you happy for a while, then what if your living area seem to be alike?

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How climate change makes us unhappy?

Air pollution, especially in children, is a severe problem. It is forcing children to be in indoors making them unhappy to play outdoors, away from school, etc. Poor air quality causes lung infections, allergies and breathing problems. It is proved to stop growth in brain cell in long term. Air pollution killed 1.2 million people in India in 2107. WHO says that 9/10 people breath air containing high pollutants.

Increase in temperatures and heat waves cause severe stress in adults. Dehydration, fatigue are common causes in scorching heat. Increase in energy consumption during this period increases the demand for more energy production, releasing more Greenhouses gases in the atmosphere. The rise in global temperatures raises sea levels by melting ice in the polar region.

The Rise in sea levels is drowning low lying and coastal areas. Deforestation of mangroves and infrastructure in coastal will further add to this havoc. Raise in ocean temperatures are bleaching coral reefs crucial for the ocean ecosystem. NASA predicts that the sea levels could rise 65 centimetres by the end of century drowning all the low-lying areas from Florida to Bangladesh.

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The Intergovernmental Panel on climate change (IPCC) says that climate change would be the greatest factor for human migration in the nearing future. About 200 Million people migrate by end of 2050 due to climate change. This would start another era of mass migration in human existence chapter.

Increasing infrastructure and urbanisation. Lands covering green are being converted to concrete jungles which reduce the required share of minimum 33% forest cover for ecosystem balance. Urbanisation is spiking the population density to make many people vulnerable to all kinds, affecting their wellbeing.

Being vulnerable to many natural calamities is heavily costing the pockets. Managing income and expenditure relatively causes stress, uncomfortable conditions in families making unhappy and harder. Pocket payments on health care make up to 75% and 40% end up in debts or selling assets. Also, the scarcity of resources is a concern to most families in developing and undeveloped countries.

Climate change has a direct impact on our living conditions because human existence was connected to the environment and nature. High GDP economies don’t mean a happy living. None of the top 10 GDP countries is in the top 10 in world happiness report 2020. Also, the top GDP countries are the top pollution contributors.

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India in world Happiness Report(WHR)

India ranked poorly in WHR 2020, i.e. 144 out of 156 countries. The ranking shows that higher GDP is not real happiness. India showed a negative index of 1.216 from 2008 to 2019 in happiness changes. We can consider the negative change as a decrease in happiness. In global cities ranking (in WHR) for current life expectancy, only Delhi could get any place i.e. 180/186 which isn’t a good rank. Further, Delhi showed a negative index of 1.020 for changes in life expectancy. India mostly relies on coal-burning for energy production (approx. 60%) which releases an exorbitant amount of GHG in the atmosphere. Indian agriculture is water-intensive and not climate-resilient. Vehicular and industrial emissions are high. 21 of 30 too polluted cities are in India. India is still a developing country and easily vulnerable to climate changes. If the situation continues then well being, life expectancy, scarcity of resources would further deteriorate.

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