DC Edit | In next 5 yrs, India to face big challenge as heat rises

Update: 2023-05-18 18:40 GMT
Likewise, a heat wave is expected to hit seven mandalams in Alluri Sitarama Raju district, 13 in Anakapalli, 10 in East Godavari, one in Eluru, six in Guntur and 16 in Kakinada, APSDMA said in a statement on Friday. Similarly, six mandalams in Konaseema district, two in Krishna, four in NTR, three in Palnadu, seven in Parvatipuram, 13 in Srikakulam, three in Visakhapatnam and 24 in Vizianagaram could experience scorching weather. Representational Image/DC

Even more dire warnings may be in store for humanity as the world has been progressively losing control over global warming. It may not be long before the latest UN forecast of the next five years being the hottest years ever on record and which will see the globe hit the 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial age average, the threshold figure that would spell a live and present danger to all. This threshold may be crossed, at least temporarily, a clear decade before it was forecast to do just a few years ago.

Thrown in the coming tougher El Nino years after an extended benevolent phase of La Nina that was said to represent a record-tying triple dip, or three straight years of cooling, and the scenario becomes the equivalent of the worst that has been forecast for humanity. Only reluctantly has man been paying attention to how climate change has been triggered by successive generations having lived way beyond control and depleted the planet’s resources while burning coal for power and extracting fossil fuel for transportation.

Greta Thunberg may sound harshly critical of people in power, but her simplistic goals are so catchily put in slogans like “We have only one Earth, so save it,” which become hugely relevant to our situation. As the Earth gets roasted by El Nino heat years — scientists say 2024 could be worse than 2023 in terms of the El Nino effect — there will be more extreme weather events that will be of greater intensity. Take even the recent Mocha storm and see how it rained destruction and damage on people and places in its path.

The most alarming thoughts are that as La Nina gives way to El Nino, there may be droughts where there were floods before and vice-versa. It is a double whammy that will continue to affect Planet Earth with a kind of reverse glee. What we can do by way of mitigation is little compared to what damage can be wrought by extreme climate patterns. Just imagine the state of the world that will be handed over to the next generation.

What can be done is to burn less coal, use more renewable energy sources and stem the flow of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere by enhancing the sinks that accumulate and store them. Individuals may do well to contribute by taking more public transportation, planting trees, eating less meat and dairy products, reducing waste, etc.  Much mitigation can be attempted at a collective and individual level provided there is a will.

And yet, tragically, more people will die in places like India from the after-effects of extreme heat, certainly so in the five years to come. The IPCC reports have been warning us about the rising heat of summers that seems to come earlier each year and is more intense. What India needs to do even as it awaits the arrival of the monsoon is to ensure that awareness of the dangers of a hot summer reaches the vulnerable population first.

At present the world has been suffering extreme events when climate has lain within a 1.1°C rise above pre-industrial global average temperatures. Imagine the effects if the 1.5°C threshold is breached in the coming years even if the UN report only warns of a kind of passing danger that may ease in five years. To be prepared to face those five hotter years is the challenge right now.


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