Climate change and south AsiaShoaib Rasheed
Climate change is one of the most burning issues of the world. Every year millions of people are dying because of floods, severe earthquakes, cyclones, heat and cold waves. But these extreme weather events are so significant in South Asian region. In the recent report of WMO about the climate change in South Asia is stated that, “The impacts of higher temperatures, more variable precipitation, more extreme weather events, and sea level rise are felt in South Asia and will continue to intensify. These changes are already having major impacts on the economic performance of South Asian countries and on the lives and livelihoods of millions of poor people. The impacts result not only from gradual changes in temperature and sea level but also, in particular, from increased climate variability and extremes, including more intense floods, droughts, and storms.”
South Asia, comprising of eight countries i.e. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, is home to over one fifth of the world’s population and is the most densely populated geographical region in the world. At this time, three hundred and nine million (309million) People are spending their lives under the line of poverty (World Bank report on poverty).
In the recent past, climate change emerged as the single most pressing issue facing society on a global basis, with serious implications for the food security of billions of people in the developing countries. The inter-annual, monthly and daily distribution of climate variables (e.g., temperature, radiation, and precipitation, water vapor pressure in the air and wind speed) effects a number of physical, chemical and biological processes that drives the productivity of agricultural, forestry and fisheries systems.
Projections indicate that climate variations in South Asia will be varied and heterogeneous, with some regions experiencing more intense precipitation and increased flood risks, while others encounter widespread rainfall and prolonged droughts. The impacts will vary across sectors, locations and populations. Temperature rise will negatively impact rice and wheat yields in tropical parts of South Asia where these crops are already being grown close to their temperature tolerance threshold. While direct impacts are associated with rise in temperatures, indirect impacts due to water availability and changing soil moisture status, pest and disease incidence are likely to be felt. The most significant impacts are likely to be borne by small-holder rainfed farmers who constitute the majority of farmers in this region and possess low financial and technical capacity to adapt to climate variability and change.
South Asia suffers an exceptionally high number of natural disasters. Between 1990- 2008, more than 750 million people – 50% of the region’s population – were affected by a natural disaster, leaving almost 60,000 dead and resulting in about $45 billion in damages.
Several studies showed that generally, the frequency of occurrence of more intense rainfall events in many parts of South Asia has increased, causing severe floods, landslides, and debris and mud flows, while the number of rainy days and total annual amount of precipitation has decreased.
Increasing frequency and intensity of droughts in many parts of South Asia are attributed largely to a rise in temperature, particularly during the summer and normally drier months, and during ENSO events. An increase in the frequency of droughts and extreme rainfall events could result in a decline in tea yield, which would be the greatest in regions below 600 mm. With the tea industry in Sri Lanka being a major source of foreign exchange and a significant source of income for laborers the impacts are likely to be grave. On an average during the period 1962–1988, Bangladesh lost about 0.5 million tonnes of rice annually as a result of floods that accounts for nearly 30% of the country’s average annual food grain imports.
Now time has arrived to take major initiatives to prevent our society from diverse effects of Climate change. We have to produce forests as much as we can. By reducing use of greenhouse gases we can save destruction of Ozone layer, which will help us to control temperatures of the Globe and other extreme events. We need to improve quality of vehicles and industries to keep our Environment clean and clear.