Abdulateef Al-MulhimAbdulateef Al-Mulhim
Commodore, Royal Saudi Navy (Retired)

During my childhood, while lying in bed I would stare at the millions of twinkling stars sprinkled all over the night sky. It used to be my favorite pastime in hot and sultry summers. I used to think about the vastness of the universe and many questions used to come to my mind before I would doze off. Don’t feel astonished if I tell you that we used to sleep under the open sky. It was a very normal thing in this part of the world. In the past, Saudis used to sleep on the open terraces of their houses. In Arabic we call it Sateh, meaning rooftop or roof terrace. Of course, I am talking about a time when not every house had air-conditioning systems. First of all it was not very common and secondly it was not very affordable due to high electricity tariffs. Yes, we had electric fans and strangely enough the air they produced would suffice even during hot summer nights. I am not talking about ancient times. It was just a few decades ago. Now I ask myself this question: How come electric fans were sufficient for us during those hot and sultry summers? Nowadays, even air conditioners sometimes fail to fight the heat wave. What has changed? Was our planet cooler in the past? Why are the world leaders meeting in Paris to discuss global warming and climate changes at the COP21 of the United Nations? Ironically, for the past few years all the meetings and discussion about climate change revolve around one magical number i.e. 2 degree Celsius. According to scientific studies, the average global temperatures fluctuate over a period of time. This change occurs over a long period of time. The change in temperature is usually very small but the post-industrial era has increased a hike of one degree Celsius. This increase has been recorded within the last 30 years. This increase is affecting our planet in more than one way. Now, scientists are observing the melting of ice caps. The ozone layer is expanding. This layer is very important for our planet because it is a shield that absorbs most of the Sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This means that every country and all inhabitants of the planet share the responsibility of taking measures to reduce the rate of increase in the global temperature. According to many scientists, the world with collective efforts needs just to reduce the global temperature by only two degrees. We can achieve this through collective efforts and by changing our habits. It is crucial to find ways to rely more on renewable and clean energy. In addition to these steps we need to decrease the amount of carbon emission. The constant increase of temperature no matter how small will cause more disturbances in movements of the ocean’s waters, which have catastrophic consequences. The world is also experiencing more violent winds in the inland. As a matter of fact, global warming can cause ice to melt that in turn will result in the rise of sea levels. Many scientists predict that temperatures of some enclosed waterways such as the Arabian Gulf can rise to such levels that can kill all marine life. Some scientists go as far as saying that even humans cannot survive the continued increase in temperatures in the Gulf region. The United Nations Global Warming and Climate Change (COP21) meeting in Paris is an important gathering that should come up with a comprehensive strategy to save our plant. Written by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim. 2ºC — The Magic Number reprinted with permission of Arab News and Abdulateef Al-Mulhim.