For each of us, this shift in our climate will be the most serious ecological, economic and social challenge that we may have to face. Without sound and far-reaching timely intervention from us these changes will rapidly alter the geography of our land including the lands and waters we all depend upon for survival, leaving our children and grandchildren with a very different world far less hospitable.
The gradual rise in temperature, the slow melting of the glaciers and the rise in sea level are all alarming indications of this global change. Not all changes however, are caused by climatic variations. Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had observed that this is due to global warming.
In parts of Asia, crop yield will decrease between 2.5 to 10% by the year 2020s and 5 to 30% in 2050s.
120 million to 1200 million people experience increased water stress by 2020s and 185 million to 981 million people by 2050s
Predicted significant sea level rise results in greater risk of flooding and sea water intrusion, loss of coral reefs estimated at 24% in the next ten years and 30% within thirty years
Increase in coastal water temperatures could lead to causes of cholera in South Asia. Increase in mortality caused by diarrhea disease in East, South and South—East Asia.
Within next 20-30 years, glacier melt in Himalayas will lead to increased flooding and avalanches and reduced river flows and increased extinction rates.
Impact of climate change in IndiaIndia, the seventh largest country in the world and the second largest in Asia, with a total geographical area of 329 Mha, of which only 305 Mha has been represented, ie., the area as per the land records of villages and towns. The mainland stretches from 8o4' N to 37o6' N and 68o7' E to 97o 25' E. It has a land frontier of 15,200 km and a coastline of 7,516 km. In developing countries like India, climate change could represent an additional stress on ecological and socioeconomic systems that are already facing tremendous pressures due to rapid urbanization, industrialization and economic development. With its huge and growing population tied to its natural vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
The following changes are scientifically predicted in the event of a major climate change in India and world over. The effect will be in varying degrees based on location and geography.
Unprecedented spells of hot weather will occur far more frequently and cover much larger areas. The west coast and southern India are projected to shift to new, high-temperature climatic regimes with significant impacts on agriculture. With built-up urban areas rapidly becoming “heat-islands”, urban planners will need to adopt measures to counteract this effect. This will be all the more felt in metros round the world.
At 4°C warming, an extremely wet monsoon that currently has a chance of occurring only once in 100 years is projected to occur every 10 years by the end of the century. Such abrupt changes in the monsoon can trigger major socio economic crisis in the form of frequent drought as well as greater flooding in large parts of India. Dry weather can be drier and wet weather still wetter.
Improvements in hydro-meteorological systems for weather forecasting and the installation of flood warning systems can help people move out of harm’s way before a weather-related disaster strikes.
Building codes will need to be enforced to ensure that homes and infrastructure are not at risk.
It is alarming to note that recent studies have shown that droughts are expected to be more frequent in some areas, especially in north-western India, Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh. Crop yields are expected to fall significantly because of extreme heat by the 2040s.
Development of drought resistant crops to some extent alleviate this problem
It cannot be predicted accurately the future of ground water levels. But decrease in the levels of the water tables is almost a certainty since increasing demand for water grows steadily. Population boom along with affluent life styles, as well as the enormous demand from the rapidly developing industrial sectors contributes to this cause manifold.
Immediate regulations on the use of ground water resources can reduce the immediate impact of this spiraling issue.
Changes or deviations in the flow of these rivers could significantly impact irrigation, affecting production in their basins and the livelihoods of millions of people.
Major investments in water storage capacity would be needed to benefit from increased river flows in spring and compensate for lower flows later on.
Sea-level rise and storm surges would lead to saltwater inflow into the coastal areas, impacting agriculture, degrading groundwater quality, contaminating drinking water, and possibly causing a rise in water borne diseases like cholera.
Building codes will need to be strictly enforced and urban planning will need to prepare for climate-related disasters and with primary importance given to ecological impacts. Dykes and embankments needs to be built to prevent inflow of seawater and all CRZ regulations closely followed and enforced.
In addition to the above that can surely be foreseen in the not too distant future, Food, water, energy security along with health and civil disturbances are likely as an aftermath of this change both globally and within India.