The drinking water scarcity problem occurring in several regions of India today is due to climate change. The melting down of Himalayan glaciers will pave way for floods in North India whereas irregular monsoon will create droughts in peninsular India. India is very vulnerable to climate change.
Global warming is given the cause for all the recent climate change. Global action against climate change is not enough even if the Paris Agreement is followed in letter and spirit — is weakening further, with countries like the US and Brazil walking away from it. India will have to assume the worst of effects of global warming and fashion its programmes accordingly.
Climate action has globally been mitigation-centric and most of the programmes are aimed at slowing down future global warming. Mitigation is more important to developed countries, but for nations like India the focus should be on adaptation, or measures taken to cope with the inevitable effects of climate change that has already happened, such as nasty storms, floods and droughts. Adaptation is like protecting yourself against a punch that will land. India has also been mitigation-centric; it is time to bring focus on adaptation. And for adaptation, the time has come for two major steps. The first is to give a big push to a 150-year-old idea — inter-linking of rivers.
While corruption may not be new, various versions of this are played out in other countries. Government, corporate cronies and plundering elites, of course, need not be foreign. Environmental laws can be broken by old boys networks with impunity as penalties are cancelled by a party in control. It is the poorest and those without access to power who become victims of the fallout from these situations. Another recent example is the draft Indian Forest Act of 2019, which enhances the political and police power of the forest department and curtails the rights of millions of forest dwellers.
The atmosphere now has concentrations of over 415 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide, compared to 280 ppm in pre-industrial times. But then, fossil fuel companies and politicians have known about climate change for at least 30 years. They have funded misinformation regarding climate directly, taking lessons from tobacco companies that propagated lies for decades about cigarettes being safe. The only solutions that governments and business are looking for are those that enable them to carry on as before. But the planet is well past that point where small fixes can help take us on a long path to zero carbon earth. We are now at a stage where we need major overhaul of our lifestyles and patterns of consumption. We all know the politics of the climate crisis must undergo a radical transformation.
Responsibilities ought to lie in the people’s minds to save our world for their off springs so that the future human beings will think and act sustainably. Countless initiatives needed to be taken to fix our planet rather than to lookout to inhabitants the nearby celestial body. Individual choices have a huge role to play in fighting climate change, but there is no help from the media as well, to those who really want to help. For instance, even after the damning IPBES report, there were only a couple of newspapers that revealed the role between climate change and animal product consumption. The second Biennial Update Report of India to the UNFCCC reveals that emissions due to livestock are more than that due to the entire transportation sector. But dairy, meat and fisheries are never featured in discussions surrounding climate change. Unlike solar energy or green transportation, shifting to a plant based diet is actually cheaper, and has a host of other health benefits. It is time to carry weight on climate change and there is no need for putting blame on global warming for all the changes in climatic conditions.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)