Warm ice, cold consequences

In the wake of the floods in Uttarkhand, some officials blamed the disaster on global warming which has been linked to a rise in extreme weather events. In this instance, the disaster has been shown to be at least part man-made – the toll reflects the hazards of unplanned development and inadequate disaster preparedness in a region prone to flash floods and landslides.

But there is still good reason to be concerned about the changing climate in the Himalayas. Research suggests that the mountainous region may be on the frontlines of global warming, with temperatures rising faster than average and a host of consequent effects already being observed – from melting glaciers and declining snowfall to shifting plant species and changing seasons.

Click here to read the rest of this June 2013 piece.

Up in the air? Not really

In Maharashtra a few months ago, BJP president Rajnath Singh drew a link between global warming and the ongoing drought in the state, considered the worst since 1972. He wasn’t the only one to make that connection : in an age of volatile weather, it’s become almost common to look for links between global warming and the latest extreme weather event – be it a hurricane, a drought or a heat-wave.

There are at least two problems with using climate change as a catchall explanation for all sorts of disasters. One is scientific. Although research suggests that extreme weather is increasing, it’s difficult to causally link warming to specific events. The second problem is the more important one: it can become too easy to blame bad weather – an anonymous, apparently unstoppable natural force – for the failures of man-made development policies. In the case of the Maharashtra drought, for instance, an analysis found that the rainfall deficit in the state today is no worse than in 1972. The current drought had more to do with poor water management, bad cropping practices (the shift to water-guzzling sugar cane, for one) and unviable irrigation projects.

Click here to read more.

Climate change sends India’s apple farmers up the Himalayas

Warming temperatures, reduced snowfall and erratic weather is affecting Himachal Pradesh’s apple farms. The climatic shifts come at a time when the industry is already struggling to upgrade its infrastructure and productivity to face increased competition from imported apples. Click here to read story.


Bombay duck dying. Blame overfishing

MUMBAI: Overfishing together with climate change is altering the kind and amount of fish found on the Maharashtra coast.

Indiscriminate, excess fishing has significantly reduced the catch of local favourites, like Bombay duck and pomfret, over the past decade, with the drop being up to 55% in some species, according to new data from the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI).

Meanwhile, rising sea temperatures have boosted small fish populations, like oil sardines and mackerels, expanding their territory in the past two decades from their traditional habitat off the southwest coast eastwards up to Kolkata and northwards to Mumbai.
Click here to read article in The Times of India.


Sardines in India latest indicator of how your food is on the move

As cultivation of certain foods shift, especially to the north, how will consumers adapt? A look at the case of Indian oil sardines which scientists say have expanded their territory from the southwest coast eastward up to Kolkata and northward up to Gujarat because of rising sea temperatures. In Mumbai, where catch of sardines has increased greatly in the past five years,  fish-lovers have yet to take to the oily fish and fisherfolk have yet to figure out how to make the most of their new catch. Click here to read story.

Can India sweep up its soot challenge?

An increasing amount of research linking black carbon to global warming could bolster US efforts to make control of the pollutant part of the climate agenda. But with considerable scientific uncertainty persisting over the warming effects of soot, public health not climate change remains the main reason to clean up Asia’s dirty air. Click here to go to story.

India tests ways to help farmers cope with climate change

Concerns about how climate change may be affecting India are bringing fresh urgency – and funding – to longstanding challenges in sustainable agriculture. A number of new efforts are combining water and soil conservation measures along with access to better seeds and information to help farmers cope with more erratic weather. Read story here.


Lessons from superstorm Sandy – for Mumbai

New York’s response to superstorm Sandy holds many disaster management lessons for coastal Indian cities. So does the limitations of that emergency response in the face of changing weather patterns – rising sea levels may mean that cities have to rethink their development policies altogether. Click here to read the piece.