Saturday, September 10, 2005

Climate change: it’s more real than we thought

Joint study by UK, Indian institutes raises drought, malaria alarm


NEW DELHI, SEPTEMBER 8 The first study on the impact of climate change shows that rainfall and drought will increase by the end of the century, wheat and rice yields will fall, demand for energy will go up and more places in India will be vulnerable to malaria.

The study, conducted in collaboration with the UK Government and many Indian institutes, has taken three years and estimates that temperatures will rise by six degrees by the turn of the century. These are its main findings:

Water: increase in rainfall, drought

Higher annual rainfall and increased drought likely, says Institute of Tropical Meteorology.

Rain in Godavari basin to increase; number of rainy days over Ganga basin to dip, especially in the west.

Plan and design of hydrological structures, river basin management and even urban planning to be impacted.

Agriculture: grain yield to be hit

Indian Institute of Agricultural Research study finds 2 degree Celsius rise reduces potential grain yield.

Areas with low productivity to be affected more than higher productivity regions.

Climate change to result in boundary changes in areas suited for growing certain crops. Warmer areas will have higher crop loss.

Rice yield likely to fall in east. Potential reductions in yield to be offset by higher radiation in the north.

Forests: fear of biodiversity loss

Indian Institute of Science study finds nearly 90 per cent of forests will change character — for instance, a moist Savanna could turn into a tropical dry forest. This could lead to loss in forest biodiversity.

Those dependent on forest produce will have increased timber and fuelwood initially but this will not be sustainable.

Health: malaria on the rise

The National Physical Laboratory finds malaria will rise.

Temperature change will make states like Madhya Pradesh and UP vulnerable.

Energy and transport: demand to rise 9-fold

The Indian Institute of Management took Konkan Railway as a case study. The Konkan Railway Corporation Limited says 20 per cent of repair and maintenance expenses are due to climactic factors like heavy rain.

Frequent disruptions likely as south-west coast will be very sensitive to climactic changes.

Energy demand to increase from 96GW to 912GW between 1995 and 2100. Fifteen per cent more power generation capacity will be required.

These changes have tremendous policy implications. The climate change scenario needs to be integrated into decision-making at local, regional and national levels.



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