The first-ever UN Youth Climate Summit is now over. Will the self-proclaimed masters of the world at least attempt a global climate plan?

September 24 has come and gone without the most ardent of climate activists recognising in any significant manner that they had no views on the Youth Climate Summit at the United Nations (UN). The three-day-long United Nations Climate Action Summit culminated on September 23 and thousands of young people also marched and rallied for urgent corrective action.

The Youth Climate Summit was the first time that the UN got involved with a generational issue. The debate was not just about development, equity or climate change, it was and remains about something much deeper. It continues to deal with paradigms of human welfare, development and one could add, happiness.

The global leaders of so-called significant economies meet ever so often in different exotic locations to discuss issues which they consider grim. What these dialogues achieve is a well-kept secret because the statements post these events are full of claptrap, self-approving, ambiguous and trite phrases. No country seems to be keen to reduce its own carbon emission. The stronger ones urge the weaker ones (who depend upon them for economic support) to behave themselves and help the globe. No significant breakthrough in industrial strategising, of say, even the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, is ever evident. The outcomes are there for all to see.

The newspapers report that the Santiago Climate Change Conference that will be held in Chile from December 2, 2019, will heed the recommendations of the Youth Climate Summit. From the day this writing appears in the columns, the Climate Change Conference will once again be charged to take bold and concrete steps.

In the meanwhile, an individual called Greta Thunberg has become a global sensation, surely, a heady experience for a teenage girl. The slogan is about future generations. In the meantime, the world rocks along and the rich and the powerful count the booty without recognising that even the identified paradises of recreation and indulgence may soon be needing not just bottled water but possibly bottled air.

The Youth Climate Summit had all the trappings of an extravaganza. Words like “unveiling” and even “act now platform” were thrown up. Interestingly, the UN Secretary General’s envoy on youth is Jayathma Wickramanayake and she was, as would be expected, quite upbeat. No prizes for guessing how the rhetoric unfolded: rising temperatures were cited and impact of climate change on various facets of life was reported.  The World Meteorological Organisation was quoted and heat waves and record-breaking fires were cited. The truth is the changing climate has not only affected ease of living but the food chain itself.

Ever since, Glacier ‘OK’ (Okjokull) disappeared in Iceland due to climate change, the talk of warming gained attention. Interestingly, even a monument was placed at the site, in memory of the glacier that disappeared. As of today, the rainforests of Amazon are on fire and nations are proclaiming their sovereignty on the Amazon regions in their territory. A political blame game is on, full throttled. Jair Messias Bolsonaro, the Brazilian President, even proclaimed in his address at the UN that the Amazon is no heritage of humanity and further, the rainforests were not the lungs of the world.

He called it all sensational reporting. In the meanwhile, air pollution from the Indonesian forest fires is currently putting nearly ten million children at risk. The blazes were reported to be releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases. Could all this be mere sensationalism or is something really amiss? The media has it that about 10 million people under the age of 18 live in Sumatra and parts of Borneo, where this will have a major effect.

In Sri Lanka, dryness and rising temperature have caused serious erosion of potential soil moisture. This is going to affect irrigation requirements for field crops, including paddy.

 Will the self-proclaimed masters of the world at least attempt a global climate plan? To do this, however, one need not come face to face with a genuine crisis in several parts of the world of nearly irreversible environment depredation.

One wonders how science has been used. It is no prudishness to point out what the ‘Shanti Paath’ of Yajurveda — in a free translation — has to say on this: “Peace to all. Peace to the sky and the outer space, the Earth, water, medicinal plants, all other plants, the gods of the world, creation and rebirth. May peace come to me.” In another reference, the Rig Veda wishes “The winds to bring sweetness for the truthful and rivers to bestow sweetness.”

The plants were seen as having some consciousness and the animals were known to co-exist with the humans. That is India’s heritage thought on climate, culture and nurturance.