CLIMATE CHANGE

Prevention is better than cure.

Denying the truth doesn’t change the blatant facts.

What we deny or ignore, we delay. What we accept and face, we conquer.

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A Heavy Downpour Captured At Prime Time

Point I am trying to make is: Global Warming, Rapid Urbanization, Deforestation, Overpopulation, Depletion Of Petroleum are often overlooked due to our assumption or, presumption, if you would like, that we will overcome it in some way, some day (viewing the glass as half full in the present). We have alternative sources of energy, and global warming is affecting mainly the glaciers in the polar ice caps – not my neighbourhood. At least not for the time being. The ‘future me’ will know what to do. The ‘future us’ will know what has to be done. Actually, on a different note, that mindset does remind me of How I Met Your Mother’s first season if I am not mistaken wherein Ted comfortably says ‘The future me will look after that’. Or maybe it was Marshall – my memory betrays me. I can bet you, the ‘future us’ will have greater problems to face – and I am sure many would nod in unison as they read this line.

The universe is rarely too lazy for anything to be mere coincidence. The inter-dependency of global warming, rapid urbanization, deforestation, overpopulation, and depletion of petroleum, hence is no coincidence. They are inter-connected with at least one of the other, if not more.

But wait, there is one other global problem that is often overlooked even more (I just did so myself by not mentioning above there, hypocritical of me): climate change.

Actually the above mentioned problems all narrow down to this single one – climate change.

Causes: Global Warming, Rapid Urbanization, Deforestation, Overpopulation and Depletion of Fossil Fuels

Final Effect: Climate Change

Causes lead to the effect.

Now this is a serious problem and the effects are increasingly being felt world over in recent times.

Let us take the example of India alone in recent times.

Floods in south India in 2015, the massively choked up air in Delhi post-Diwali in 2016, well for the fact the eternal smog in Delhi these days would be better worded, etc are just a couple of the incidents/disasters triggered by abnormal climate change.

Let us break two of these natural calamities down.

South Indian Floods, 2015:

The massive floods that affected Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry caused huge loss to life and property.

State Fatalities
Tamil Nadu 422
Andhra Pradesh 81
Puducherry 3

 

State Property Damage Estimates
Tamil Nadu ₹14,602 crore
Andhra Pradesh ₹4,960 crore
Puducherry ₹333 crore

Now this calamity had many causes. They are enlisted below.

-> Unregulated urban planning and illegal construction

-> Improper design and maintenance of drainage systems

The above two are attributed to human errors. But what we are interested in this piece is:

Was the flooding inherently related to climate change?

Although it was quoted that the heavy rainfall that caused the flooding has not had its attribution to global warming/climate change fully established due to the highly localized nature of it, one cannot completely discount the contribution of climate change. Here’s why:

Every year in October to December, the region experiences heavy rainfall because of the north-east monsoon.

This contributes to 30% of the annual rainfall received.

The north-east monsoon rainfall exceeds other monsoon rainfall by 90%.

So this in itself, naturally speaking, is really excessive rainfall.

That said, here is the game-changer – this rainfall can be further amplified by an El Nino year (2015 was one such).

El Nino:

El Niño and La Niña are terms which describe the biggest fluctuation in the Earth’s climate system and can have consequences across the globe. The fluctuation sees changes in the sea-surface temperature of the tropical Pacific Ocean which occur every few years. (reference http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/learning/learn-about-the-weather/what-is-el-nino-la-nina)

Basically it refers to the increased warm water in ocean and the subsequent climatic changes it brings.

2015 was an El Nino year which caused drought and flood conditions in many parts of the world.

Although scientists say climate patterns like El Niño are not caused by climate change, rising ocean temperatures caused by global warming is believed to impact their intensity and frequency.

So it is safe to assume the flow below (-> indicates ‘caused by’):

Flooding (worst in 50+ years) -> abnormally heavy monsoon rainfall -> El Nino 2015 (worst in 15+ years) -> global warming -> climate change

So we have arrived at climate change ultimately.

Let us check the other calamities.

2015/2016 Indian Heat Wave:

This is a no-brainer in the sense of its connection to climate change.

Climate Change and Heat Waves are synonymous.

A heat wave is a prolonged period of excessively hot weather.

The Indian Meteorological Department says: ‘Temperatures greater than 45 degrees Celsius are classified as severe heat waves’

And 2015 was a year of severe heat waves.

The period from April 2015 to June 2015 saw intense temperatures.

Place Temperature (degrees Celsius)
Khammam 48
Allahabad 47.8
Chandrapur 47.6
Hyderabad 46
Delhi 46.4

Now these reveal just 5 places. The effects were felt across as many as 8 states.

State Fatalities
Andhra Pradesh 1735
Telangana 585
Odisha 35
Uttar Pradesh 22
West Bengal 13
Gujarat 10
Madhya Pradesh 10
Delhi 5

 

2016 has not been a very friendly year either considering the mercury.

India recorded its highest ever temperature of 51 degrees Celsius in Phalodi, Rajasthan. (reference http://edition.cnn.com/2016/05/20/asia/india-record-temperature/)

Other towns in the state reached 50 degrees Celsius as well.

The capital, New Delhi, crossed 47 degrees Celsius.

The previous temperature record was held by Alwar, also in Rajasthan, at 50.6 degrees Celsius in 1956.

So after more than 60 years, we have had records broken in the country in the same year:

-> Three states being hit by floods caused due to intense rainfall

-> Intense heat waves and temperatures soaring

Coincidence? The universe is rarely lazy for anything to be mere coincidence, especially when it comes to natural calamities.

The next few lines show the shocking facts about heat waves in the United States:

During the past decade, daily record high temperatures have occurred twice as often as record lows across the continental United States, up from a near 1:1 ratio in the 1950s. By midcentury, if greenhouse gas emissions are not significantly curtailed, scientists expect 20 record highs for every record low. The ratio could be 50:1 by the end of the century. (reference http://www.c2es.org/science-impacts/extreme-weather/extreme-heat)

Heat Waves can cause any of the following:

-> Mortality

-> Agricultural loss

-> Power outages

-> Damage to roads

It is therefore shocking to even think of the repercussions if we continue to have the trend of heat waves year on year. 2015 and 2016 were warnings. We need to learn from them and react to heat waves caused definitely by climate change worldwide.

Let me give another example of a climate change flow (-> represents ‘caused by’).

Estimated 1 billion Euros worth of damage -> wildfires destroying 3000 square kilometres of forest and 440 square kilometres of agricultural land -> -> 2003 European heat wave -> climate change

(In)famous heat waves:

2003 European Heat Wave
2006 European Heat Wave
2010 Northern Hemisphere Heat Wave
2010 Sahel Famine
2012 North American Heat Wave
2015 Indian Heat Wave

Alarming frequency in recent times, don’t you think?

Floods and Heat Waves/Famines are the two primary effects of climate change.

And as we can see, the devastation is enormous in terms of human life and property.

As explained at the outset,

Causes: Global Warming, Rapid Urbanization, Deforestation, Overpopulation and Depletion of Fossil Fuels

Final Effect: Climate Change

We need to stop denying that it might not be as bad as it sounds, somebody somewhere will take care of it, etc.

We need to be instruments of change, starting from ourselves.

Let us take the necessary steps within our capability to address the effect by addressing the causes:

-> Go-green initiatives
-> Save paper, save trees
-> Use public transport as much as possible
-> Car pool
-> Purchase electric vehicles if feasible

These will curtail global warming, deforestation and depletion of fossil fuels and mitigate the adverse impact of overpopulation and rapid urbanization so that, ultimately, we will have subdued climate change.

If we don’t take serious measures to curtail this evil weed that has been growing in our garden (read earth), the weed will engulf the garden by multiplying so much that it will consume all the light and oxygen for itself that all the beautiful flowers and plants and animals that the garden lays in its lap will be suffocated.

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Panorama Of The Twilight Sky Captured At Sunset On A Sunday

“We have not inherited the earth from our ancestors, we have merely borrowed it from our children.”

 

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