A Global Warning for India

Posted on January 24, 2009 in Environment

-Anshul Tewari

There has been a great debate on the international front about Global Warming. A rather cliched topic, Global warming has been debated about in the UN General Assembly, international parliaments and by various Government and Non-Government bodies. There are a number of individuals, groups and NGO’s working to spread awareness about the issue and also to persuade us to contribute in lessening the crisis (the onset of which is bound to happen).

Climate change and global warmingExperts have estimated that the damage has already been done and after 4 or so decades the epidemic will occur. All that can be done now is lessening of the effect. In an earlier post we had discussed that why concentrating on Global Warming is essential and what are the differences in the thinking of various experts, concentrating basically on what is correct and what must be done. But this post is much about awareness. Awareness about how our race will end if we don’t wake up. Putting it this way, how we will die and our future generations will not be able to look at the morning sun. Sounds harsh? But this is the truth.

In the newspapers as well as the television we see the effects of Global Warming on states like the UK or the USA. This creates our mindset that India will not face much of damage. But the point is that India is not being concentrated on. Lets have a look as to what will India be facing:
According to the United Nations Environment Program in 1989, India has a vast coastal line and the rising sea levels caused by global warming will cause an ecological disaster. UN stated “In India, the signs already back up forecasts that as the mercury raise the Indian subcontinent, home to one-sixth of humanity; will be one of the worst-affected regions.”

The melting of the Himalayan glaciers has begun and the average rate of retreat is almost twice (34 meters) per year as compared to the 1971 levels of 19 meters. This will surely cause the temperatures and the sea level to rise and have a cascading effect on the crops and the monsoons. The islands which are a part of India will vanish. As a matter of fact two have already vanishes. Temperatures in the group of islands have already gone up by one degree centigrade.
There is debate between experts in which some say that the sea levels will rise by just 4 to 35 inches while many say that the rise will be from 20 to 55 inches.

Calculations at the Jawaharlal Nehru University held in 1993 have proved that as many as 7 million people would be displaced and 5,764 sq km of land and 4,200 km of roads would be lost!

Orissa is another state which is already being hit hard by global warming. The villages in the coastal regions are disappearing, Kendra Para district vanishes into the Bay of Bengal, the state’s geographical location at the head of the Bay of Bengal, with a landlocked sea and a deltaic plain, makes the state extremely vulnerable to rises in sea level caused by global warming.”

Representatives of indigenous peoples demonstrate in Paris, France, as the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) continues at Le Bourget, December 12, 2015.   REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol - RTX1YCM5
Representatives of indigenous peoples demonstrate in Paris, France, as the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) continues at Le Bourget, December 12, 2015. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol – RTX1YCM5

 

In September 2002, scientists at the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research conducted a people’s perception survey on climate-induced natural disasters in the Kendra Para district of Orissa. The results showed that the frequency and intensity of droughts have increased and so have the incidents of flooding. Also, the intensity of cyclones has increased and people believed that the sea-water had become warmer.

These poor villagers do not know why this is happening but climatologists know why. And the answer is Global Warming. Ironically these poor villages hardly contribute to global warming; they hardly emit any greenhouse gases. The countries which contribute the maximum to global warming per capita are Australia, Canada and the United States.

WHAT NOW?
The ice is melting, the sea is rising. Gases are being emitted and we are unaware. All we are doing is ignoring this major problem because it has not yet affected our country, but one day it will affect us badly. So badly that we will not be sure as to till when will we live.

Many debate that all this is negligible and people and economies shall not waste their time and resources on this. But the point to be noted is that all this is just their assumption.

It is true that investing on this epidemic (which about many are uncertain) will certainly be a waste of resources and time. So much so that economies might fall into depression, and if Global Warming has no effects then all the efforts will go waste. Who will repair the economic damage?
This is about the uncertain part. The part where experts say that Global Warming will do nothing. But what if all this turns the other way round and we are not ready? Lives will be lost, generations would end, and not a single piece of land will be left to live on. Who will repair the damage then? Even if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases (GHGs) today, the Earth would still warm by another degree Fahrenheit or so. But what we do from today forward makes a big difference. Depending on our choices, scientists predict that the Earth could eventually warm by as little as 2.5 degrees or as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

Read the following solution quoted by National Geographic:

A commonly cited goal is to stabilize GHG concentrations around 450-550 parts per million (ppm), or about twice pre-industrial levels. This is the point at which many believe the most damaging impacts of climate change can be avoided. Current concentrations are about 380 ppm, which means there isn’t much time to lose. According to the IPCC, we’d have to reduce GHG emissions by 50% to 80% of what they’re on track to be in the next century to reach this level.
Is this possible?

Many people and governments are already working hard to cut greenhouse gases, and everyone can help. Researchers Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow at Princeton University have suggested one approach that they call “stabilization wedges.” This means reducing GHG emissions from a variety of sources with technologies available in the next few decades, rather than relying on an enormous change in a single area. They suggest 7 wedges that could each reduce emissions, and all of them together could hold emissions at approximately current levels for the next 50 years, putting us on a potential path to stabilize around 500 ppm.

There are many possible wedges, including improvements to energy efficiency and vehicle fuel economy (so less energy has to be produced), and increases in wind and solar power, hydrogen produced from renewable sources, biofuels (produced from crops), natural gas, and nuclear power. There is also the potential to capture the carbon dioxide emitted from fossil fuels and store it underground–a process called “carbon sequestration.” In addition to reducing the gases we emit to the atmosphere, we can also increase the amount of gases we take out of the atmosphere. Plants and trees absorb CO2 as they grow, “sequestering” carbon naturally. Increasing forestlands and making changes to the way we farm could increase the amount of carbon we’re storing.

Some of these technologies have drawbacks, and different communities will make different decisions about how to power their lives, but the good news is that there are a variety of options to put us on a path toward a stable climate.

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