Basics of Climate Change
Climate is the average weather in a particular geographical area over many years. The weather can change in just a few hours whereas climate takes longer to change. Planet earth has witnessed many variations in climate since the beginning.
Climate change’ as a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.
The major characteristics of climate change
• Sea level rise
• Global temperature rise
• Warming oceans
• Shrinking ice sheets
• Glacial retreat
• Extreme natural events
• Ocean acidification
It is a gradual increase in the overall temperature of the earth’s atmosphere generally attributed to the greenhouse effect caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and other pollutants in the atmosphere.
Green House is defined as a glass building in which plants that need protection from cold weather are grown.
Green house effect :
Green House Effect is a phenomenon in which the atmosphere of a planet traps radiation emitted by its sun, caused by gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane that allow incoming sunlight to pass through but retain heat radiated back from the planet’s surface.
Global Warming Potential (GWP)
A measure of the total energy that a gas absorbs over a particular period of time (usually 100 years) compared to CO2.
Impacts of global warming:
Melting of the ice caps
• Melting of the ice caps and glaciers will lead to rise in sea level. Thermal expansion also contributes to sea level rise.
• Fertile agricultural lands on the coast will be submerged and saline water intrusions will degrade the neighboring land. Ground water in such regions will become useless.
• There is evidence that some Himalayan glaciers have retreated significantly since the 19th century.
• Flooding in Himalayas and Ganga plains in wet season and drought in dry season will severely affect the country.
• As a result of thawing of snow, the amount of arable land in high-latitude region is likely to increase by reduction of the amount of frozen lands.
• At the same time arable land along the coast lines are bound to be reduced as a result of rising sea level and saline water inundations.
Extreme Climatic Events
• Increased likelihood of extreme events such as heat wave, flooding, hurricanes, etc. will offset all the economic advancements made.
• Changes in rainfall patterns (E.g. Chennai floods) will severely impact agriculture.
• Reduced hydroelectric power generation due to abnormal behavior of glaciers will further increase dependence on fossil fuels.
• Widespread vanishing of animal populations due to habitat loss will add more species to the ‘threatened’ and ‘extinct’ list.
Rising Health Related Issues
• It is anticipated that there will be an increase in the number of deaths due to greater frequency and severity of heat waves and other extreme weather events.
• Lack of freshwater during droughts and contamination of freshwater supplies during floods compromise hygiene, thus increasing rates diseases like cholera, diarrhea etc…
• Loss of Plankton due to warming of seas will adversely affect marine food chain.
• Bleaching of Coral Reefs will cause great loss of marine biodiversity.
• Rising temperature would increase fertilizer requirement for the same production targets and result in higher GHG emissions, ammonia volatilization and cost of crop production.
• Rising temperatures will further affect the physical, chemical and biological properties of fresh water lakes and rivers, with adverse impacts on many individual fresh water species.
No Food Security
• Climate Change affects crops by impacting irrigation, insolation as well as the prevalence of pests.
• Increased frequencies of droughts, floods, storms and cyclones are likely to increase agricultural production variability.
Deterioration of Carbon sinks
• A carbon sink is anything that absorbs more carbon that it releases, whilst a carbon source is anything that releases more carbon than it absorbs.
• When the permafrost melts due to global warming, it releases carbon in the form of carbon dioxide and methane (Both are GHGs).
• In the 1970s the tundra was a carbon sink, but today, it is a carbon source, thanks to global warming.
Initiative by Government of India to deal with the crisis
The initiatives can be classified into two broad categories:
• Mitigation: Reducing the emission of the greenhouse gases causing the rise in temperature
• Adaptation: Building the capacity of the community through financial, technical and other infrastructural support to minimize the losses due to the climate change.
The major initiative are:
Plans and Policies:
National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC), 2008
• National Solar Mission (MNRE)
Goal for increasing the development of solar technologies such as increasing production of photo-voltaic to 1000 MW/year, Establishing the solar research center and promoting international collaboration.
• National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (MoP)
Energy consumption reduction in industries; trading energy-savings certificates; energy incentives like lower taxes on energy-efficient appliances
• National Mission on Sustainable Habitat (MoHUA)
Better waste management; power from waste; extending energy conservation building code; incentivizing fuel efficient vehicles; energy efficiency as part of urban planning; public transport promotion
• National Water Mission (MoWR)
Improving water use efficiency with the use of pricing and other measures
• National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE)
conserve biodiversity, forest cover, and glaciers of the Himalayan region
• National Mission for “Green India” (GIM)
expanding forest cover from 23% to 33% of India’s territory.
• National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (MoA)
climate-resilient crops, crop insurance, sustainable agricultural practices.
• National Mission on Strategic Knowledge Platform for Climate Change (NMSKCC)
Climate Science Research Fund; better climate modeling; international collaboration; private sector participation in the technologies for the adaptation and mitigation
Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ)
• Notified by the around Protected Areas such as National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
• Objective is to create “shock absorber” for the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities that threaten the forest areas e.g. Western Ghats and Himalayan region.
Other environment related laws:
• The Indian Forest Act, 1927
• Wildlife Protection Act, 1972
• Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974
• Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980
• Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981
• Environment (Protection) Act, 1986
• National Green Tribunal Act, 2010
Environment Impact assessment is also a major step taken by government to reduce the effects of climate change, and you can watch the videos for Environment impact assessment and its process.
Part 1 = https://youtu.be/nrv1zBMAEL8
Part 2 = https://youtu.be/Q_sYi3eBJg?list=PLxJNbXGrHdcVwuZraEbaqI6I15XpTtupB
Part 3 = https://youtu.be/Hi9EZEey8R4?list=PLxJNbXGrHdcVwuZraEbaqI6I15XpTtupB