Would you agree that the entire mankind is indebted forever? The entire human race is guilty of repeated encroachment, exaction and mass abuse of nature. The highest virtue of the universe, “Humanity”, has failed in upholding the condition and sanctity of the ecosystem. We have uncovered, groped, ripped apart mother nature, committed unimaginable offences and left her to languish in deep depravity. Imagine mother nature appearing in front of us in her grave deformity, weeping inconsolably, seeking answers from all of us and our progeny. Imagine her fighting for justice, for her right to stay uninjured, reacting with vengeance, demanding trail and punishment to her offenders.
We all are facing it already. We are the casualties of the very nature we exploited. Have you observed the unpredictable weather patterns? Have you ever pondered over number of deaths due to heatstroke and cold waves? Why is there so much water shortage? Why are countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh importing food grains despite being agrarian societies? We have entered in to a pathetic status where the political parties in the country are debating over auctioning of water resources. The reason is not something we aren’t aware- Global Warming. The rise in temperatures due to greenhouse gases alters the climate of India in many ways. Less than 4 degrees warming the east coast and southern India will experience high temperatures in the coming years. Urban areas are prone to converting into ‘heat-lands‘, a dangerous development. 2 degrees rise in world’s average temperature will make the Indian summer monsoons highly unpredictable which could trigger frequent droughts or greater flooding. Crops yields are expected to fall drastically by 2040 due to extreme heat, which could lead to a food crisis situation in turn effecting food prices. Global warming generates a vicious cycle where no aspect is to escape, it effects economy, health, water security, energy security, food security and impacts lives to a remarkable extent. Despite facing repercussions year after year we haven’t yet amended our culture, our household practices. The way we dispose waste, the fuel consumption, electricity consumption, non-implementation of no-plastic policy says it all. Off course we are no way going to compromise on our extravagant lifestyle.
India is surely proud of her long east coastline, but there are reasons to be worried as well. This year has been the most intimidating for those living along the coast, three cyclones and many more yet to hit the coast. The Bay of Bengal has shown a long history of intense tropical cyclones. The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has ranked India to be highly vulnerable to extreme weather disasters. The families of fishermen and farmers are on repeated evacuation and restoration disaster after disaster. India is particularly vulnerable to climate change due to its high population density and increasing pressure on resources to sustain growth.
Climate change and poverty should be studied together, they are inseparable. Each time a calamity occurs, people are ripped off their shelter and livelihood. Resilience to hazards in rural areas is minimum. Those living in deadly poverty will be further impoverished. There’s absolutely no security to their lives. Most of the farmers do not own land of their own; they work on lease in other’s farms. Fishermen on the other hand cannot hope to cope without financial aid from the state. Floods and droughts are going to be more frequent and down the years the area of land under influence of disasters is expanding. The sea levels effect salinity levels in turn. Studies say that around 125 million people across Bangladesh, India and Pakistan could be rendered homeless due to rising sea levels.
Different South Asian countries have drafted their own National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA), such as Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Srilanka, Pakistan. Adaption to climate change has a close relation to sustaining livelihood. It involves identifying different types of hazards by collaborating scientific and local knowledge. Analysing the impact caused to different groups within that community. Above all, the biggest challenge is to see the capitalization of action plans both in policy and practice. Lobbying for political will and conviction is a task to accomplish primarily. Strengthening collaboration between various stakeholders working on disaster management, such as NGOs, local government and private sector is most needed. In order to treat the issue from its roots, analysis on the cause behind disasters should be done, to reduce the risk, preparedness and management, addressing current hazard, increasing adaptive capacity of communities. There is a need to address poverty and vulnerability in public policy and climate resilient livelihood strategies should be drawn.
Apart from these, to build make communities resilient, local people living in disaster prone areas should be mobilized. They should be called for effective participation to achieve adaptive capacity. They should be educated on sustainable water management, water storage, flood regulation through growing mangroves, effective management of grasslands to improve resilience to drought and flooding. The village level administration should be guided in setting up local action plans called ‘community based planning’ which involve the local people in important decision making.
While all this is a functional approach towards resisting a climate change development, the perpetual action is promotion of best practices in land, water and natural resources management. General awareness should be disseminated among all sections of society about green habits and the importance of transforming to conservation. Every one of us leading comfortable, less vulnerable lives in urban areas have every scope in contributing towards improving the situation. Simple habits which can be incorporated in to our daily life, such as responsible usage of water, fuel and electricity, minimal usage of air conditioners, disposal of waste in a smart manner, that is by arranging separate bins for organic and inorganic waste, carrying our own cloth bags each time we go shopping, recycle and reuse of objects etc. Disaster management does not only mean to deploy the state machinery in saving a drowning life but also in restoring the ecological balance through ecosystem based approaches and invoking a sense of social responsibility in all towards our environment through persistent campaigning. Individual cognizance and responsibility is the need of the hour, change shall embark first from households, so let us all pledge towards an emission free, sustainable and green future.