Climate Change: The Burning Issue

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Climate change is as much as local as it is global. However, the perceived impacts are not immediately visible.

 Evidences from Kanha and Pench National Parks, India

  • From 1880-2012, the average global temperature on earth increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius, according to US space agency NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. During the same period, India lost about 40% of its forest cover.
  • In Kanha National Park, at least two long-term scientific studies show that grasslands known for hosting diverse populations of herbivorous wildlife are shrinking even as the ranks of the herbivores increase.
  • In Kanha and Pench, due to decreasing moisture conditions and consequent drying up of soil, , weed infestation and the rise of climate-resilient exotic species such as Parthenium hysterophorus, Hyptis suaveolensand Lantana camara have taken place. The exotic species have overpowered the native species.
  • According to a Wildlife Institute of India report, most of the grasslands within the reserves have changed drastically, resulting in the predominance of less palatable and fire-resistant grasses and decrease in cover of perennial fodder species.
  • The plenitude of non-palatable grasses has forced herbivores to move out of grasslands and raid croplands in villages.
  • As these herbivores move towards human habitation, predators like tigers too follow in search of food. This in turn leads to increasing human-wildlife conflict. This poses a huge challenge for the Forest Department to manage and protect wildlife.

What is climate change

Climate change is a long-term shift in the statistics of the weather (including its averages). For example, it could show up as a change in climate normals (expected average values for temperature and precipitation) for a given place and time of year, from one decade to the next. Why is climate changing? Natural causes Climate… Continue reading What is climate change

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Impact of Climate Change

Impact on Environment

 Rising Sea level:

During the 20th century, sea level rose about 15 cm (6 inches) due to melting glacier ice and expansion of warmer seawater. Thermal expansion would continue for many centuries even after GHG concentrations have stabilized causing an eventual sea level rise much larger than projected for the 21st century.

  • Melting of Arctic Sea ice and glaciers:

The melting of sea ice may lead to changes in ocean circulation. Melting sea ice is also speeding up warming in the Arctic. Mountain glaciers around the world have decreased considerably in size.

  • Increase in floods and droughts:

Warmer temperatures have led to more intense rainfall events in some areas leading to increase in flood events. Drought events have also increased in many areas.

 Impact on Biodiversity

  • Climate Change has the potential to cause immense biodiversity loss.
  • According to International World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and National Wildlife Federation in the United States species from the tropics to the poles are at risk.
  • Many species may be unable to move to new areas quickly enough to survive changes that rising temperatures will bring to their historic habitats.
  • WWF asserted that one-fifth of the world’s most vulnerable natural areas may be facing a “catastrophic” loss of species.
  • The Bramble Cay Melomys (Melomys rubicola) is the first mammal to get extinct due to climate changed induced habitat loss.
  • Studies predict that global warming will also lead to extinction of insects in the tropical zone by the end of the century while insects in the temperate zones and the poles could experience a dramatic increase in numbers.
  • Climate change will also affect marine ecosystems adversely. A combined effect of rising sea temperature, changes in ocean circulation and ocean acidification will have catastrophic impact on marine life.

Impact on agriculture

  • Climate change can affect crop yield as well as the types of crops that can be grown in certain areas.
  • It will impact agricultural inputs such as water for irrigation, amounts of solar radiation that affect plant growth, as well as the prevalence of pests.
  • Rise in temperatures caused by increasing green house gases is likely to affect crops differently from region to region.
  • Moderate warming (increase of 1 to 3 o C in mean temperature) is expected to benefit crop yields in temperate regions.
  • However, in lower latitudes especially seasonally dry tropics, even moderate temperature increases (1 to 2 o C) are likely to have negative impacts for major cereal crops.
  • Warming of more than 3 o C is expected to have negative effect on production in all regions.
  • Agriculture is of prime importance for food security. It provides the food and also the primary source of livelihood for large number of the world’s total workforce.
  • If agricultural production in the low-income developing countries of Asia and Africa is adversely affected by climate change, the livelihoods of large numbers of the rural poor will be put at risk and their vulnerability to food insecurity will increase.

Impact on Water Resources

  • A warmer climate will accelerate the hydrologic cycle, altering rainfall, magnitude and timing of run-off.
  • Climate change will reduce water availability, hydropower potential, and would change the seasonal flow of rivers in regions supplied by melt water from major mountain ranges.
  • Rising temperatures will further affect the physical, chemical and biological properties of fresh water lakes and rivers.
  • In coastal areas, sea level rise will worsen water resource constraints due to increased salinisation of groundwater.

Impact on Health

  • Climate change directly impacts human health. How?
  • Climate change and the resulting higher global temperatures are causing increasing frequency of floods and droughts leading to the risk of disease infections.
  • Endemic morbidity and mortality due to diarrhoeal disease primarily associated with floods and droughts are expected to rise in East, South and South-East Asia due to projected changes in hydrological cycle.
  • Climate change is a major factor in the spread of infectious diseases. Diseases, confined to one specific geographic region spread to other areas.
  • Rising temperatures and changing patterns of rainfall are projected to decrease crop yields in many developing countries which will put a great stress on the food supplies. This will ultimately lead to increased prevalence of malnutrition.
  • Also it is expected that, number of deaths related to heat waves and other extreme weather events will increase.

International Initiatives to Combat Climate Change

1979 — the first World Climate Conference (WCC) took place. 1988 — The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up 1992- Countries joined an international treaty, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), as a framework for international cooperation to combat climate change by limiting average global temperature increases and the… Continue reading International Initiatives to Combat Climate Change

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Way Forward

  • Climate Change is one of the most alarming issues of 21st All the countries should address the issue with a shared perspective, keeping aside self-centred and shallow perspectives.
  • What is needed utmost at this time is an inclusive, cooperative, scientific and environmentally sustainable approach to combat the menace of climate change.
  • Sustainable development is undoubtedly call of the hour. Sustainable and optimal use of scarce resources and to cater to the needs of poor is the headway to save Earth from catastrophic effects of climate change.

What is a greenhouse gas?

A greenhouse gas is any gaseous compound in the atmosphere that is capable of absorbing infrared radiation, thereby trapping and holding heat in the atmosphere. By increasing the heat in the atmosphere, greenhouse gases are responsible for the greenhouse effect, which ultimately leads to global warming. Many of these gases occur naturally, but human activity… Continue reading What is a greenhouse gas?

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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a scientific and intergovernmental body under the auspices of the United Nations It was first established in 1988 by two United Nations organizations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) It was later endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly through Resolution… Continue reading Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

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