Any substantial variation in the average weather conditions of a region or of whole earth over a long period of time is known as Climate Change. Since few decades scientists have been saying that the Climate Change is happening with a much faster rate and it is cause of much concern not just for the humanity but all the living creatures.
Intense spells of heat waves, more frequent Hurricanes, frequent droughts, rising sea levels etc. are just some examples of it. It is not like that for the first time on earth the climate is changing. In past also climate has overhauled multiple time. Different Ice Age and subsequent melting of ice is just some examples. The only cause of concern this time is the rate at which it is changing and the reason of its change. Previously climate change was due to natural phenomena and it was very slow. But now post industrial revolution change is massive and anthropogenic.
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a body of international scientists whose specific task is to monitor the climate related patterns, possible repercussions and if possible, finding way of mitigation. They have came at conclusion that if we will not limit the rise in temperature below 1.5-2 degree Celsius pre industrial era. Human Existence along with several species are under existential threat.
Enough has been already discussed and we have read and heard so much about the possible reasons and repercussions of Climate Change. In this writing I am going to be India specific. I will discuss the consequences of Climate Change on India.
India, being a tropical country, having much of dependence of Monsoon and having a coastline above 7,000 KM, would be among few countries which would be worst affected by Climate Change. Let’s discuss some of the area which would be under severe strain due to climate change:
Impact on weather:
Even when the average temperature hasn’t touched the alarming 2 degree Celsius higher compared to pre-industrial era, yet we have started to experience extreme weather events. Recent floods in Kerala, Intense cyclone in eastern coasts, frequent heat waves, rise in droughts are some of the examples of changing weather pattern. According to a world bank study India has experienced rain deficit since 70s can also be attributed to this.
Impact on Economy:
Even after 70 years of independence. More than 60% of the people are directly or indirectly dependent on Agriculture for their sustenance. Having failed to develop a sound irrigation system, Indian farmers are highly dependent on Monsoon. As we have already know CC can alter the pattern of Monsoon and also its rainfall, Indians will be severely Impacted. Rise in temperature will reduce the food production especially in rice and wheat, in turn food security will be severly impacted. Climate change also helps in raising the ocean temperature, which in turn affects the breeding pattern of fish and hence ultimately those who are dependent on Fishing sector
Impact on health:
Climate change brings rise in temperature. Many areas which experiences a relatively cooler temperature now will face the challenge of Malaria and other vector borne disease due to rise in temperature. Intense heat wave has already killed several people in recent past.
Impact on Coastal Area:
Rise in temperature will result in melting of snow caps on poles, which will lead to rise in sea level. India is having a long coastline, which will face the possibilities of deluge in coastal areas. The saline water which will inundate the coastal area can make the agricultural land unfit for agriculture at the same time making ground water unfit for consumption.
Impact on water resource:
Water is one of the most important sources for survival of human beings. South Asia is already a water stressed region. Many of the rivers are fed by Himalyan glaciers. Rise in temperature will result in melting of Glacier which will negatively impact the quantity of water and once a perennial river could be turned in to ephemeral. Longer dry spells and reduction on Monsoonal water will result in the reduction of already strained ground water.
Impact on Energy Security:
India is still energy hungry country. Till recently a vast majority was unelectrified. Energy demand in India is largely fulfilled by either Thermal or Hydropower. Both of them need fresh water for operations. But water stressed nation will face sever challenge to meet the demand.
Impact on Society:
India still house majority of its population of low to middle income earning group. Majority of them are vulnerable. So they are those people which will face the severe challenge in every aspect ranging from livelihood to health, from shelter to food.
Political Tussle and Instability: Since the vagaries of climate will result in scarcity of resources and this will result in conflict in South Asian Nation which is already world’s most dense place.
So overall climate change is a serious threat to India more than any other country of the world. Its geography, population and number of vulnerable people makes it much challenging. I hope our political leadership may pay special attention while formulating any policy. Our pledge at COP 21 is step in right direction, meeting those target is a huge challenge.