Brace up for more floods, storms, erratic rains: Warns UN report on climate change

As rains disrupt life all over India with death toll climbing, a UN report on climate change suggests 560 mn people along India’s coastline are at risk of facing floods, cyclones and erratic monsoon

Brace up for more floods, storms, erratic rains: Warns UN report on climate change
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Suchitra

Death tolls are rising due to erratic rainfall allover India, including the latest travesties being from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, however, this was suggested by an IPCC report which recently said that said climate change is causing glaciers to melt at an “unprecedented” rate, leading to a rise in frequency of cyclones and changing global rainfall patterns.

Experts interpreted the findings of the latest climate-change report, released on September 25, 2019, by the Intergovernmental Panel on climate change (IPCC), the United Nations (UN) body that assesses the science related to global warming.

India’s 7,500-km long coastline is dotted with major cities, such as Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, all at risk of flooding. Those living along the coastline are already moving away, as sea level rises, as IndiaSpend reported from the Sundarbans in West Bengal and Honnavar in Karnataka.

The annual south-east monsoons, on which more than half of India’s farms depend because they are unirrigated, are likely to become more erratic than they already are. That is because of changing global weather patterns, such as the periodic Pacific-warming phenomenon known as the El Nino, which is likely to double in frequency over the century.

For India, the major impact will come from the melting of ice in the Hindu Kush region of the Himalayas, which holds the largest reserves of water, in the form of ice and snow, outside the polar regions and is the source of 10 of the largest rivers in Asia.


“For India, which depends on the monsoon rains, a moderate El Niño in itself can result in a deficit and erratic monsoon,” another IPCC-report co-author Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), told IndiaSpend. “So, when an extreme El Niño hit the world in 2015-16, India reeled under back-to-back droughts. Ethiopia and South Africa had one of the worst droughts in 50 years and severe heatwaves, resulting in a 9-million-tonne cereal deficit, leaving more than 28 million in need of humanitarian aid.”

“We will only be able to keep global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels if we effect unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society, including energy, land and ecosystems, urban and infrastructure as well as industry,” said Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II. “The ambitious climate policies and emissions reductions required to deliver the Paris Agreement will also protect the ocean and cryosphere--and ultimately sustain all life on Earth.”

“If one country takes measures it won’t solve the problem," said Prakash of the TERI School of Advanced Studies. "Countries have to collaborate and coordinate for climate action. They have to come together at a global level to flight the unprecedented climate crisis in the history of humanity.”

“In Odisha many cyclone events are occurring but the states have geared to evacuate people,” said Prakash. “It is one of the good examples where the state has worked really well to adapting to the changing climate patterns. But imagine all cities and all the coastal states will have to keep doing this in the future and (imagine) how much it will cost the state exchequer to manage these events.”

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Published: 28 Sep 2019, 8:00 PM