Flood fury and climate change

Several States this year have received excessive rainfall like Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Maharashtra and Kerala. Kerala have been the worst hit. Already 164 persons have been killed and the death toll is mounting. Twelve out of the State’s fourteen districts have been affected, bringing normal life to a standstill. Nearly 2.23 lakh persons have been forced to abandon their hearts and homes and take shelter in relief camps. Extensive damage has been caused to crops and property. Roads and bridges have been washed away in the fury of the floods. It will take time to repair them. While some States have had excessive rainfall, some others have not had adequate rains, like West Bengal.
For the last few years monsoon has been erratic in India, some parts receiving excessive rainfall, some very little. The question arises whether these are just vagaries of Nature or it is the effect of something more basic, like irreversible climate change as a result of global warming. The question is not purely conjectural. Last year in a paper titled “Effect of Global Warming on Indian Agriculture”, a research scholar in the Petroleum University, Gandhinagar (Gujarat), pointed out that the rising global temperature is not only causing climate change but is also contributing to the irregular rainfall patterns. Uneven rainfall patterns increased temperature, elevated carbon dioxide content in the important climatic parameters which affect crop production. The researcher went on warn that “the weathering parameters influence strongly (67%) compared to other factors like soil and nutrient management (33%) during the cropping season.” 
It is for the Government to find out whether the erratic rainfall is just erratic, happening in a year or a number of years, or whether it is indicative of permanent climate changes due to global warming. It is the industrialized countries of the West which are contributing most to global warming through carbon emission. And it is these countries which refuse to bring down carbon emission and consequent atmospheric pollution. They make the absurd demand that the developing countries reduce their carbon emission to the same percentage as they are doing. They forget that the effect of five or six per cent reduction in a developing country will be much more than in an industrialized country, because the latter’s total carbon emission is much higher than in developing countries. In the circumstances, India will have to evolve a strategy along with other underdeveloped countries to put pressure on the Western countries and tell them bluntly that in the long run they will also not be able to avoid the disastrous effect of global warming.

Saturday, 18 August, 2018