Hyderabad: Climate change will affect the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, which would mean a decline of 14.4 per cent in Bangladesh, 9.8 per cent in India, and 10.0 per cent in Sri Lanka by 2050. These shocking results have been published in a report released by the World Bank titled ‘South Asia's Hotspots: The Impact of Temperature and Precipitation Changes on Living Standards’.
The report also predicts a fall in living standards for nearly half of the Indian population due to change in temperature and precipitation pattern. A decline in living standards of up to 9 per cent will be seen in most states, including Maharashtra. This can dampen agricultural productivity, leading to a decline in living standards for agriculture-dependent households.
A warmer climate can also increase the propagation of vector-borne and other infectious diseases.
Dr T Unnikrishnan says vector-borne diseases spread more in summer because of the humidity and infected arthropod species, such as mosquitoes and ticks. Diarrhoea, dysentery and skin boils are also most common in summer. Other infections can also spread from unhygienic water that we drink more in humid conditions.
Environmentalist Rajeev M Mathew says that climate change that occurs over a period of time will be “irresistible and the quality of life will be affected. It's not just agricultural produce but the health of many and the flora and fauna that can be severely affected. Despite the new forest policy saying that they will focus on climate change, no serious step on how to do so have been proposed. This report clearly states that there are several hotspots in India and we will face the brunt of climate change.”
The World Bank report also states that changing temperatures and seasonal precipitation patterns have already altered seasons and this theme will require adaptation and that the temperature in many parts of the country is already above optimum value. “The report has found that human based emission is a leading cause of climate change. Telangana and Andhra Pradesh were also found to be climate sensitive,” said Mr Mathew. The report suggests that resources should be targeted efficiently so that vulnerable communities can make use of the same.
Unexpected warming can hit water availability
Unexpected warming caused by climate change will affect the timing and availability of water resources. Mountain areas will not be resilient against natural disasters and coastal areas will experience deterioration with a rise in the sea-level and a likely increase in storms and other such events.
The report states that “India can combat climate change to a large extent by using three options i.e. increasing educational attainment, reducing water stress, and expanding the non agricultural sector.” The analysis conducted for the report predicts that increasing the average educational attainment by 1.5 years would reduce the magnitude of decline in living standards from -2.8 per cent to -2.4 per cent as citizens will be more aware of how to adapt well.
Another suggestion is to reduce water stress by 30 per cent. To do this deterioration of fresh water sources in terms of quantity and quality due to pollution, altered weather patterns, over extraction etc must be curbed. Steps to increase employment in non-agricultural sectors by the same percentage i.e. 30 per cent, would also lead to benefits as there will be less use of water.
Uday Kumar, an environmentalist, says, “Inland central and northern states are said to be most affected by climate change in the report. Of the worst affected states, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are low income states with large tribal populations and severe climate change can have crucial implications for poverty reduction.”
He also stated it is important to develop drought resilient crops and conduct climate risk assessments. "If we introduce pricing for water, energy and others, we can ensure efficient use of the same, especially in the agricultural sector. New technology must be developed in light of climate change," says Mr Kumar....