The earth has already started showing a preview of climate nightmares with Cape Town approaching “Day Zero”, with no water supplies. Isn’t it alarming that as many as 1, 60,000 people may die every year in India by 2050 due to decreased food production, according to an Oxford study? Climate change will create a huge catastrophe, with migrants seeking asylum due to displacement. Farmer suicides will continue to ascend due to rising temperatures.
Representation challenges the status quo and by doing that, bring fresh ideas to the table. However, environmental journalism around the world is fraught with capacity challenges to cover complex issues.
However, one such representation that broke all barriers was “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power”, which established India as a dominant component in the Paris climate negotiations. The film narrates the politics of climate change robustly. India asks former US Vice President Al Gore, why India – a developing country – should not benefit from the same 150 years of fossil fuel usage that the US enjoyed.
Initially, the US had started the negotiations and India was referred to as the “biggest holdout”. The narrative has undergone a drastic change, with India exceeding in climate change goals set at Paris, and shifting away from coal towards renewable energy sources. This, at a time when the Trump administration has withdrawn its support from the fight against climate change, in spite of the US being the second largest greenhouse emitter around the world.
India is witnessing one of the worst agrarian distresses. Farmer suicide is the starkest manifestation of India’s agrarian crisis, with more than three lakh farmers having committed suicide over the past 21 years in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.
A study conducted by Tamma Carleton, a doctoral candidate in agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, draws a correlation between rising temperatures and farmers suicides in India. Carleton found out that for temperatures above 20 degree Celsius, a 1 degree Celsius increase on a single day causes 70 suicides on an average during growing season, as rising temperatures cause a decline or fall in crop yields.
It is important that India recognises the need for agricultural adaption to climate change and focuses on the agrarian crisis with climate resilience as part of the progressive agenda to avoid 50,000 farmers marching barefoot in searing heat to seek justice.
Another major humanitarian crisis due to climate change is climate migration, which occurs due to climate-induced events such as natural disasters, droughts, rising sea levels, etc. Climate change is about to force upon us an age of migrants. Already in Bangladesh, around 50,000 people migrate to the city ever month, as rising sea levels have made their villages uninhabitable. According to the internal displacement monitoring centre (iDMC), around 3,655,000 were displaced due to disasters in India in 2015.
The poisonous smog blanketing Delhi every now and then, largely due to pollution caused by carbon emissions, clearly indicate how badly we have been hit by climate change. Visibility has dropped, a health emergency has been declared, schools have been shut, road accidents have increased; however, solutions seem obscure.
According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2018 released at the COP23 summit, India is alarmingly vulnerable, resulting in many deaths and huge economic losses. For instance, more than 1,000 people died of hyperthermia as heat waves persisted in south Asia, breaking a record of 51 degree Celsius in Rajasthan in May 2016.
What’s crucial now is India’s commitment towards a bright future or as Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed in the International Solar Alliance, “Let us turn to the sun to power the future”.
The adoption of solar energy with 60 countries as signatories to the agreement formally launched by India and France could help India battle with climate change and this could also determine our fates.