India is not prepared to tackle climate change impacts

Warming will slow down economic growth and make poverty reduction more difficult, and further erode food security

By Chandra Bhushan
Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

Warming will slow down economic growth and make poverty reduction more difficult, and further erode food security

change impacts

It is evident from the Working Group II (WG II) report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that climate change will impact the world severely and the risks are intensifying. This is expected to put the lives of the world’s poor at stake. India is especially  vulnerable since it houses 33 per cent of the world’s poorest people.

According to the WG II report, India will experience decrease in seasonal mean rainfall and an increase in mean and extreme precipitation during monsoon. This will increase both floods and draught. Freshwater resources will be affected due a combination of climate change and unsustainable practices.

$7 billion agricultural loss
Projections on agriculture are stark: over US $7 billion loss in agriculture in India by 2030; sorghum yield will reduce by 2-14 per cent by 2020; there will be large reductions in wheat yield in the Indo-Gangetic plain; and substantial increase in heat stress for rice, affecting yield in the country. Agriculture apart, temperature variations will lead to outbreak of diseases as well and disturb the already poor health indicators of the country. Climate change will slow down economic growth and make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security and “prolong existing and create new poverty traps”.

All in all, bad news.

The question is whether India is prepared to face the climate change challenge and develop resilience. The answer is no.


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  • It is sad that it is

    It is sad that it is projected that Indian Agriculture will be in bad shape after 2030. But it is possible to make a change if all the vacant land can be greened with drought-resistant trees. It takes in a lot of community effort but if this becomes a movement , then it can definitely tackle the climate change and its after effects in a sustainable manner.

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply
  • The following was submitted

    The following was submitted to Prime Minister of India on 4th April 2014:

    A note on ÔÇ£IPCCÔÇÖs WG-II AR5 with reference to IndiaÔÇØ
    -- the issue is not global warming but the issue is Climate change & good governance --

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
    Formerly Chief Technical Advisor ÔÇô WMO/UN & Expert ÔÇô FAO/UN
    Fellow, Andhra Pradesh Akademy of Sciences
    Convenor, Forum for a Sustainable Environment

    Summary & Conclusions: The EarthÔÇÖs climate is dynamic and always changing through a natural cycle. What we are experiencing now is part of this system. We expect from this pattern, that areas of India that are under southwest monsoon influence will have to bear the burden of frequent droughts after 2016 for a period of three decades. In this period we expect higher temperatures. The areas with northeast monsoon influence, this period will be six decades. The frequency of occurrence of floods in rivers follows this pattern. This is nothing to do with global warming. We are destroying water resources and agriculture with the new technologies that meet the greed of few MNCs. In IPCC scenario we are not looking at the evil ÔÇ£pollutionÔÇØ but worried more on anthropogenic greenhouse gases as it is easy way to save MNCs. IPCC is looking at number of people supporting their view point. In science number of people has no meaning. It has to be validated from ground realities. Here the quantity over rides the quality. The agriculture issues dealt in the present IPCC report are nothing new. They were discussed since early 90s and also outlined by World Bank in its 2013 report. In fact these issues were discussed elaborately in terms of models, risks & adaptations to climate change in my books relating to global issues in 1993, Indian issues in 2002 and practical issues in 2011. One-third of the production is going as waste and thus the equivalent of natural resources and investments are going as waste. Large share of river flow join seas and oceans. Here politics play the vital role and not the global warming. With the industrialization, the developmental activities moved to coastal zones. This affected severely the coastline that used to protect from weather disasters and thus affecting the livelihood of millions of people. Pollution is affecting the life in the coastal waters. The major culprit is the air, water, soil & food pollution that needs immediate action plan and not the pseudo global warming. We must not forget the fact that climate change is not the de-facto global warming. They are quite different. When we discuss the issues of climate change, this must be kept in mind.

    IPCC versus Global Warming versus Climate Change: Is IPCC using global warming synonymous to climate change? The so-called impacts on nature relate to global warming or climate change? Global warming is a trend in temperature and climate change is a trend and rhythmic variations, in which extremes form part, in temperature and rainfall. During drought years the temperature and evaporation goes up and during flood years the temperature and evaporation goes down. My studies in early 80s showed that cube root of precipitation follows the global solar radiation and evaporation. Because of this interrelation between rainfall and temperature, the rhythmic variation present opposite patterns. My studies in late 80s showed that Indian southwest monsoon precipitation and thus the global temperature followed a 60-year cycle. WMO released a press note on extreme weather events of 2013 on the occasion of World Meteorological Day (23-3-2014) in which it observed droughts and warming conditions in Southern Hemisphere Nations. My studies of early 1980s on the rhythmic variations in precipitation data series of stations in Southern Hemisphere Nations and projections showed below the average precipitation during 2013. Though in the Southern Hemisphere nations presented cycles of different periods in the precipitation data series [52 to 66 years], coincidentally majority of them showed below the average pattern during 2013. The higher temperature regime in Southern Hemisphere Nations could be attributed to the dry weather prevailing in 2013. This is not part of global warming but it is a part of climate change ÔÇô natural variation. These influence the water resources availability and thus agriculture.
    IPCC, states that ÔÇ£Global WarmingÔÇØ is the increase in the average temperature of global surface air and oceans since about 1950, and to continuing increases in those temperatures. In the last 17 years there is no such increase in global temperature. IPCC [AR4 ÔÇô 2007] states that ÔÇ£confirms that global warming is now unequivocal and states with more than 90% certainty that increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases produced by human activity very likely has been the primary cause of rising temperatures worldwide since 1950ÔÇØ. IPCC [AR5 ÔÇô 2013] changed 90% and very likely to 95-100% and extremely likely. It also states that ÔÇ£Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes. It is extremely likely that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings togetherÔÇØ. All this means that around 50% of the trend in global average temperature starting from 1950 is termed as global warming. The rest is not associated with global phenomenon but primarily associated with local and regional changes in association with ecological changes ÔÇô land use and land cover changes --. Though they contribute to global temperature in averaging process but their impact is confined to local and regional issues only. Here heat-island effect may be over emphasized in the averaging due to dense network of met stations and less emphasized cold-island effect due to sparse network of met stations. The disparity is growing with growth of population-urbanization and wet-land agriculture -- these are associated with changes in land use and land cover. Because of this, the Southern Hemisphere temperature is lower than that of Northern Hemisphere. Because of this the NASA satellite data showed no increasing trend in global average temperature ÔÇô this was later removed from the internet & I included this in my book.

    Very recently British Royal Society and US National Academy of Sciences brought out an overview ÔÇ£Climate change: Evidence & causesÔÇØ. The report included a figure of annual march of global temperature anomaly along with 10-year, 30-year & 60- year moving average patterns using 1850 to 2010 data series. WMO presented a manual on ÔÇ£Climate changeÔÇØ in 1966; and in this manual presented moving average technique as one of the technique to separate trend from rhythmic/systematic variations. Here, the 60-year moving average pattern showed the trend after eliminating 60-year rhythmic variation. The trend showed less than 0.5 oC raise during 1950 to 2010. After correcting this figure for overestimation and underestimation factors discussed above, is expected to be less than 0.5 oC. As per AR5 summary, around 50% of this [far less than 0.25 oC] is contributed by anthropogenic greenhouse gases, which is termed as global warming. This is insignificant to impact nature. Thus, by 2100, global warming component is expected to rise by less than 0.5 degree Celsius!!!
    Impact on agriculture & related issues: Deccan Chronicle, a daily News paper from Hyderabad dated 20th June 2013 presented a report ÔÇ£World Bank releases report, paints grim picture of future ÔÇô Global warming to dry up rivers, inundate citiesÔÇØ. It observed that IndiaÔÇÖs monsoon will become highly unpredictable if the worldÔÇÖs average temperature rises by 2oC in the next two-three decades. Below this article presented my observations also. Indian agriculture scientists in the same tone and tenor forecasted using El Nino saying that it is destroying agriculture, production is coming down by around 20%, severe losses to dry-land agriculture, affecting northeast monsoon, etc. By looking at yield levels versus El Nino intensity [1ÔÇôweak, 2ÔÇômedium and 3ÔÇôstrong], there is no correlation; and yet they deduced such strange conclusions. In fact the yield is a function of chemical inputs, which I published more than a decade back. Also, reports after reports were published saying that production is less than the demand and thus price rise and affecting food security. At the same time FAO report presents that globally 30% of what is produced is going as waste. This is 40-50% in India. That means to that extent the natural resources & finances used are going as waste. In India, the main reasons for such losses are lack of storage facilities, and timely transport facilities. All these are nothing to do with global warming but it relates to poor governance and business manipulations.

    Political effect: In India, though planned to link-rivers to improve the quality of life in rainfed areas, vote bank politics creating more problems under the disguise of interstate disputes on water sharing on one side and World Bank on the other side. Even Prime Minister, the President & the highest court in India is colluding with the ruling junta on this issue. World Bank and its PR groups are working against building dams in India. Now they say climate change as a culprit. Unfortunately, climate change is a part of dam development. Rainfall variations were taken in to account while building dams. In the case of Andhra Pradesh UPA [this will be the same with NDA government or any other government] government is playing vote bank political game with Polavaram project under the disguise of state bifurcation. This project should have been completed by this time. In the case of Krishna River water sharing UPA government appointed a tribunal consisting of three judges of their choice to favor Karnataka & Maharashtra at the cost of Andhra Pradesh. At present Andhra Pradesh is getting allocated water [by the first tribunal] in 75% of the years. The new tribunal as vote bank package through technical fraud, proposed new allocations. Andhra Pradesh will be getting the allocated water in only 25% of the years. These are nothing to do with global warming but it relates to governance ÔÇô political effect. This will affect the water availability and agriculture.

    IPCCÔÇÖs WG-II AR5: It is the second of three assessment reports that assesses the impacts of climate change, adaptation and vulnerability of human and natural systems, runs around as highlighted by UN climate change secretariat in Bonn "The IPCC report makes clear that people around the world are already suffering from climate change, as it directly affects their livelihoods, reducing crops, destroying homes and raising food prices, and that this will accelerate if climate change is left unchecked ÔÇô it implies global warming and not climate change --. It provides a detailed assessment of regional aspects, which give a much clearer understanding of climate impacts in different regions." Touching the human conflict aspects, the secretariat said, "Among other things, the report warns that climate change increases the risk of armed conflict around the world because it worsens poverty and economic shocks. Therefore, climate change is already becoming a determining factor in the national security policies of states." All these hypothetical statements are made with political interests; and have nothing to do climate change. We have seen some of these in the above sections. Let me present important paras from three chapters:

    Chapter-3: Fresh water resources -- under the executive summary of key risks at the global scale, IPCC observed ÔÇ£So far there are no widespread observations of changes in flood magnitude and frequency due to anthropogenic climate changes but projects imply variations in the frequency of floods (medium agreement, limited evidence). Flood hazards are projected to increase in parts of south, southeast and northeast Asia, tropical Africa, and South America (medium agreement, limited evidence). Since the mid-20th Century, socio-economic losses from flooding have increased mainly due to greater exposure and vulnerability (high confidence). Global flood risks will increase in the future partly due to climate change (medium agreement, limited evidence. There is little or no observational evidence yet that soil erosion and sediment loads have been altered significantly due to changing climate (medium agreement, limited evidence). However, increases in heavy rainfall and temperatures are projected to change soil erosion and sediment yields, although the extent of these changes is highly uncertain and depends on rainfall seasonality, and land cover, and soil management practices.

    Chapter-7: Food security and production systems -- Though crop production relates to the fresh water resources, under executive summary of this chapter, IPCC observed ÔÇ£The effects of climate change on crop production are evident in several regions of the world (high confidence). All aspects of food security are potentially affected by climate change, including food access, utilization, and price stability (high confidence).

    Chapter-24: Asia ÔÇô under executive summary, IPCC observed ÔÇ£Warming trends and increasing temperature extremes have been observed across most of the Asian regions over the past century (high confidence). Increasing numbers of warm days and decreasing numbers of cold days have been observed, with the warming trend continuing into the new millennium. Precipitation trends including extremes are characterized by strong variability, with both increasing and decreasing trends observed in different parts and seasons of Asia.
    This is exactly what I was advocating (high confidence) since long wherein the observed changes in nature are mainly associated with physical impacts due to human action and natural variations; and not with the anthropogenic global warming. Also, so far the increase of anthropogenic global warming is insignificant to influence nature and weather systems. We are working in a climate system that showed high seasonal and annual variations. We can see this from Climate Normal books. We need to make better and efficient use of the available resources. We must choose technologies that will not destroy our natural resources. We must look at pollution and not at anthropogenic greenhouse gases.

    Concluding remarks: Unfortunately, IPCC and other agencies are attributing all ills of the society to global warming, a phenomenon that is insignificant to influence nature. The issues that are raised under water resources and agriculture by IPCC are nothing to do with global warming but they are primarily related to poor governance and human physical impacts on nature. We must adapt to natural variations in climate. This is what our forefathers did. We need to control pollution [air, water, land & food] and reduce the wastage in food and water resources through better management. We must use local technologies that help in this direction.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply
    • Thank you so much for your effort however same should be re-submitted to PM Office as the government changed just month after you last submitted your views.

      Posted by: Anurag Aryan | 4 years ago | Reply
  • In continuation of my above

    In continuation of my above post -- The Times of India dated 7th April 2014 presented a report "Time running out to meet global warming target: UN Report" -- issued from Oslo. The last sentence of this report is given below:

    The September report raised the probability that human actions, led by the use of fossil fuels, are the main cause of climate change since 1950 to at least 95 percent from 90. But opinion polls show voters are unpersuaded, with many believing that natural variations are the main cause.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

    Posted by: Anonymous | 6 years ago | Reply