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Climate Change: How It Is Affecting India

The effects of climate change are not subtle anymore. The challenges it presents are threatening- not just our way of life, but putting the future of the world on unstable grounds. As a growing country, India needs to focus on how climate change impacts its development and take initiatives that are sustainable in nature.

The Scenario

The increase in mean annual temperature has brought forth unprecedented spells of hot weather across the world, and is affecting countries with warm climate. The shift in temperature is expected to occur far more frequently while encompassing far larger areas than seen before. There has been a recorded decline in monsoon rainfall levels since 1950. And it is suspected that 2°C rise in world’s temperature will make India’s monsoon even more unpredictable. Change in Monsoon could flood certain states in India, while some other states may witness frequent droughts.

Many survey reports show that there has been a frequency of droughts in parts of South Asia since 1970, and it has affected India’s crop production. Areas in north-western India, Orissa, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh have faced significant fall in crop yield and suspected to fall further considering the effects of climate change. Coastal cities like Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata are suspected to be affected due to climate change, which will lead to higher ocean waves.

India is highly depended on agriculture and 60% of India’s agriculture is rain-fed. And due to climate change, 15% of India’s groundwater resources are damaged, and falling water table is suspected to deal a severe blow in progress of agriculture. Also rising carbon dioxide levels due to global warming is suspected to shrink down the amount of protein in crops like rice and wheat, which are primary food source for majority of the population in the country. Leaving populations at risk of malnutrition, low immunity and raising the risk of diseases affecting the population severely.

Heatwaves have already claimed 3,500 lives in South Asia in 2015. And in 2016, India recorded its hottest day in the city of Phalodi, Rajasthan, when the temperature reached 51C. And according to surveys, the frequency of heat waves will continue to rise as climate condition degrades (e.g- according to a research by MIT in the US, heatwave that can kill even healthy people within hours is suspected to reach India soon).

Rising sea-level and surges of storm would also impact agriculture, degrade groundwater quality, increasing the risk of contamination in water, and giving rise to diarrhoea and cholera. Kolkata and Mumbai, are suspected to be affected by sea level rise.

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