How Global Warming will affect India
We keep reading about rising temperatures and sea-levels in other parts of the world like United States and the UK, but actually India is one of the most vulnerable countries when it comes to effects of global warming. India has a vast coastal line and the rising sea levels caused by global warming will cause an ecological disaster. This is according to a 1989 United Nations Environment Programme study.
As this article explains:
“In India, the signs already back up forecasts that as the mercury rises the Indian subcontinent, home to one-sixth of humanity, will be one of the worst-affected regions.”
Bengal will suffer
The Himalayan glaciers have started to melt and the average rate of retreat is almost twice (34 metres) per year as compared to the 1971 levels of 19 metres. The melting glaciers will cause temperatures and sea-levels to rise and there will be a cascading effect on the crops and the monsoons. Worse – whole islands are expected to vanish! In fact two have already gone under – two islands in the Sunderbans, an area which India shares with Bangladesh. Temperatures in the group of islands has already gone up by one degree centigrade. You can get the details here. A quote:
“Rising sea levels have submerged two islands in the Sunderbans, where tigers roam through mangrove forests in the Ganges River delta, and a dozen more islands are under threat…official records list 102 islands on the Indian side of the vast Sunderbans…but scientists found that two have been swallowed up.”
And this msn site talks about a six year study which has reported that 10,000 people have already been displaced.
Rising sea-levels will be a disaster
While some climatologists say that sea levels will increase by just 4-35 inches from 1990 levels in another hundred years…some feel that the range could be higher – 20-55 inches. Thats a lot and will affect human habitat in a big way.
In fact, as far back as 1993 a study to evaluate the impact of rising sea levels on India was carried out by JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University). They calculated what would happen if the sea-levels rose by just 1 metre…and they found that as many as 7 million people would be displaced and 5,764 sq km of land and 4,200 km of roads would be lost!
Orissa will suffer too
Orissa is another state which is already being hit hard by global warming. Whole villages in the coastal regions are disappearing. As this article explains:
“As village after village in Orissa’s coastal Kendrapara district vanishes into the Bay of Bengal, one thing is clear: sea levels are rising …the state’s geographical location at the head of the Bay of Bengal, with a landlocked sea and a deltaic plain, makes the state extremely vulnerable to rises in sea level caused by global warming.”
In September 2002, scientists at the National Centre for Agricultural Economics and Policy Research conducted a people’s perception survey on climate-induced natural disasters in the Kendrapara district of Orissa. The results showed that the frequency and intensity of droughts have increased and so have the incidents of flooding. Also, the intensity of cyclones has increased and people believed that the sea-water had become warmer.
These poor villagers do not know why this is happening but climatologists know why. Global Warming. Ironically these poor villages hardly contribute to global warming…they hardly emit any greenhouse gases. There is an interesting chart at this site and it shows that the countries which contribute the maximum to global warming per capita are Australia, Canada and the United States.
Why is the east coast of India being affected more?
This is because the Bay of Bengal is landlocked from three sides and there is a huge delta of the rivers Brahmaputra and the Ganga. These rivers will carry the water from the melting Himalayan snows. However this does not mean that the western coastal regions are immune…just that the eastern coast is more vulnerable at this stage.
So what are these green house gases which are causing the snows to melt?
According to the Wiki greenhouse gases are “include water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and ozonecomponents of the atmosphere that contribute to the greenhouse effect. Some greenhouse gases occur naturally in the atmosphere, while others result from human activities. You can more about the Greenhouse effect here.
Update, October 2009: The recent floods in Andhra are said to have taken place due to global warming. More about the danger from floods in India in this TIME article.
(Picture sourced from msn)