Consequences of Climatic Change In India

The impact of global warming, rising temperature and climatic change may be quite serious at the regional levels. The scientists of Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) found that temperatures would increase by about 5oC in many parts of India especially in the Rann of Kachchh and Thar Desert by the end of 21st century, and 3o to 4oC in the Peninsular India. The incidences of violent weather may be increased by about 50 per cent. Some of the important possible consequences of climate change in India are given below:

1. Unpredictable Weather

Global warming and climatic change will lead to more intense rainfall and prolonged dry spells of dry weather. In the opinion of experts of meteorology, the total amount of rainfall in India will increase but the total number of rainy days will decrease. Such extreme events are bound to change the life, economy, society, polity, ecosystems, environment and ecology in the different parts of the country. Against climate change, the Government of India is intending to spend almost Rs.2 lakh crore through various missions in the 12th Five Year Plan.

2. Disappearance of Glaciers

The glaciers of the Himalayas and Karakoram will retreat substantially. The perennial rivers of Northern India have their sources in the Himalayan glaciers. The United Nations Climate Report predicts that by 2035, some of the Himalayan glaciers will disappear with the rising temperature. In fact, the source of the Ganga (Gomukh Glacier ‘Gangotri Peak) is retreating at a rate of about one hundred meter per annum. The reduction in the size of glaciers may affect every aspect of life. It may reduce the irrigation potential, crop yield, and total production. The reduction in the size of glaciers may create severe water shortages which may transform the agricultural typology, and the entire ecosystems of the country.

3. Impact on Multipurpose Projects

Some of the multipurpose projects like Bakhra Dam, Tehri Dam, Kali Project, Kosi Project will overflow, causing extreme devastation to the crops and agricultural areas of the Northern Plains of India. The canal irrigation network of the Northern Plains may also be disrupted on which the agricultural systems of Northern India are largely dependent.

Increase in the frequency of Floods and Droughts

If the global temperature continues to rise, there will be short spells of torrential rains, followed by longer rainless intervals. The sudden floods like that of Mumbai in 2005, of Jodhpur in 2006, Sri Ganganagar, Bikaner, Barmer, and Jaipur in 2012 will become frequent. Both floods and droughts will adversely affect the agriculture, vegetation, mangrove forests, wildlife, economy, society and ecology in different parts of the country.

5. Submergence of Islands

The low-lying coral islands of Lakshadweep may submerge under water. If it happens, the Indian Union will lose one of its seven territories. Lohachara Island (in front of the Sundarban-Delta) is the first island in the world to be submerged due to global warming. About ten thousand inhabitants of the Lohachara Island turned into the first global warming generated refugees in the world.

6. The effect on Indian Agriculture

The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology experiment gave a hint of trouble ‘rain will increase in od-prone areas and decrease in drought prone areas. The unseasonably hot and cold spells, and concentrated heavy rains in short spells will not be good for agriculture and human health. Thus, change in climate may have a devastating effect on Indian cropping pat terns, yield and production of different crops.

7. Frequency of Tropical Cyclones

With increased temperature, there will be a constant rise in precipitation. At present, three to four cyclones hit the coastal areas of the country. In the opinion of India Meteorologists, the number of tropical cyclones may go up by about 6 to 8 every year. If it happens, the coastal areas of West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra and Gujarat will be devastated by floods and sudden deluges.

8. Many of the million cities

There are 53 million cities in India-2011 like Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Cuttack, Kochi, Surat, etc. will experience more floods. Flooding of million cities will also wreak havoc on the hinterlands of seaports.

9. Spread of Diseases

The hot and humid climate will be conducive for the fast growth of mosquitoes. Consequently, there will be increase in the incidence of malaria, dengue, black-fever, etc. The mosquito-borne diseases may spread in higher altitudes of Himalayas, adversely affecting the hill stations like Darjeeling, Mussoorie, Naintal, Shimla, Srinagar, etc.

10. Increase in Biodiversity Hotspots

Biodiversity in the Himalayan region and Western Ghats will decrease. Consequently, the area of the biodiversity hotspots may increase.

11. Increase in the Areas of Mangrove

There will develop more mangrove along the eastern and western coastal areas of the country. Mangrove area will increase in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands also.

12. Reduction in Orchards Production

Temperate fruits and nuts production (apple, peach, litchi, almond, walnut, etc.) will decrease in the Himalayan belt.

13. Change in Altitudinal Vegetation

There may be substantial changes in the altitudinal zonation of vegetation in the Himalayas and Western Ghats. The change in climate may reduce the production of cereal and beverage crops, which shall ultimately affect the export and import of agricultural and other commodities.

Increase in the population below the Poverty Line

The income disparity between the rich and the poor will increase, thereby there will be more number of people below the poverty line, especially in the less developed states of the country.

The National Environment Policy 2006

It states that the Indian Desert Ecosystems (arid and semi-arid regions) occupies 127,3 million hectares or 38.8 per cent of the total geographical area of the country spread over 10 states. In case of climatic change, the fauna and flora of the desert and semi-desert regions of India will be seriously and adversely affected.

Environment and Ecology