All are victims of climate change

North India is now under a siege. Normal life in many states is paralyzed. So far, as many as 41 people lost their lives and the worst affected states are Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The Indian Meteorological Department has also issued a yellow alert for Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. Haryana and Punjab too are experiencing the monsoon furry. As a result, the losses to property, crops, and livestock may run into millions and billions and have a bearing on the Indian economy, when its growth trajectory by the international financial institutions projected as robust. But, what pressed alarm bells due to the recent rain fury is that the national capital is getting flooded with Yamuna waters. The flood waters submerged part of the Raj Ghat and had almost tried to kiss the Supreme Court precincts too! This led to the blame game between the two governments – the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi and the Bharatiya Janata Party in Haryana. Conspiracy theories aired freely pointing accusing fingers at the Haryana government for deliberately letting off water from its barrage to Delhi, only to put the people into difficulties.

But, the fact remains that nature’s fury is also affected Assam along with Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand; all are located through the Himalayan range. Ironically, it is all happening due to climate change globally and India is one among the few which is precariously positioned. Scientists say that South Asian weather is becoming increasingly difficult to forecast as monsoons grow more erratic — and global warming is raising the risks posed by violent rain storms. Precisely, that is what is happening now across the country, more so in north Indian states. And the reasons behind this erratic weather are explained due to global warming, which leads to more moisture held in the atmosphere, causing heavier rainfall, consequently, and inter-annual variability of the monsoon that is bound to increase in the future. Temperatures in India have risen by 0.7 °C (1.3 °F) between 1901 and 2018, thereby changing the climate in India. In May 2022 severe heat wave was recorded in Pakistan and India. The temperature reached 51 °C. Climate change makes such heat waves 100 times more likely. Thus far, climate change can affect the intensity and frequency of precipitation. Warmer oceans increase the amount of water that evaporates into the air. When more moisture-laden air moves over land or converges into a storm system, it can produce more intense precipitation—for example, heavier rain and snow storms.

According to a study published in 2021, for every degree Celsius of global warming, the Indian subcontinent can expect an additional 5.3 per cent of precipitation during the monsoon. The other factor making monsoons worse is poor adaptation. Even a short shower incapacitates most Indian cities. The summer monsoon brings a humid climate and torrential rainfall to these areas. India and Southeast Asia depend on the summer rains. Agriculture, for example, relies on the yearly rain. Many areas in these countries do not have large irrigation systems surrounding lakes, rivers or snow melt areas. The other causes of climate change in India are an increase of greenhouse gases like chlorofluorocarbons, methane, nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide and ozone in the atmosphere. Deforestation sans adequate afforestation measures appears to be the major flaw of successive governments. Excessive usage of fossil fuels without seriously looking for alternatives on a large scale can be another factor. And, India is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change. It has one of the highest densities of economic activity in the world, and a very large number of poor people rely on the natural resource base for their livelihoods, with a high dependence on rainfall. This implies that children in India are among the most ‘at-risk’ groups for the ill-effects of climate change, threatening their health, education and protection. It is also true that excessive rainfall can lead to flooding and landslides, risking human life, damage to buildings and infrastructure, loss of crops and livestock, disrupt transport and communications. Precisely, this is what is being witnessed in all rain-affected states in India, causing colossal losses running into millions and billions of rupees. Future India should be innovative with out-of-the-box thinking and gear up for minimal loss due to climate change disasters which will definitely affect our earth because we are only paying lip service whenever we meet up with different countries to discuss this important issue.

India, by and large, depends on the southwest monsoon as it brings over 80 per cent of the rainfall across the country from June to September. The southwest monsoon originates from the Indian Ocean. The southwest monsoon is divided into two branches: The Arabian Sea branch and the Bay of Bengal branch. As the temperature rises, the air’s capacity to absorb water increases. The upward movement results in cooling of warm, humid air, which triggers heavy rains. The very large amounts of rainfall indeed cause water levels in small rivers and streams to rise rapidly, leading to floods. The heavy rainfall is also due to an interaction between a western disturbance and the monsoon, said M Mohapatra, director-general of the weather bureau. “The interaction is causing heavy to very heavy rainfall over Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, north Punjab, and Haryana, Uttarakhand,” he said.

The southwest monsoon is vital for India, providing about 70 per cent of annual rain and impacting key crops such as rice, wheat, sugarcane, soybeans and peanuts. Agriculture contributes about 19 per cent to India’s $3 trillion economy and employs more than half of the 1.4 billion people. Factors controlling the distribution of rainfall over the earth’s surface are the belts of converging-ascending air flow, air temperature, moisture-bearing winds, ocean currents, distance inland from the coast, and mountain ranges. The summer monsoon brings heavy rains to most of the archipelago from May to October.

Knowing well of climate change, it was  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is expressing concern for a lack of  collective responsibility in taking appropriate measures to all members of the UN and other groups, ever since he took over the reins. Although some may find fault that it was the West and European countries responsible for the change in climate across the world, other matured nations like India feel it is not time for blame game, but work in tandem to find solutions. And, Modi appears to be doing it tirelessly!