New Delhi: Heatwaves, flash floods, cloudbursts – if ever any proof was needed to act urgently on climate change then it is these extreme and devastating weather events that the world is witnessing regularly. The latest report released on September 5 by the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) on behalf of the European Commission has made it clear that the summer of 2023 (June, July and August) was the warmest on record globally by a large margin. The average temperature was recorded at 16.77°C, which is 0.66°C above average.
To tackle climate change and its negative impacts, a Paris Agreement was formed in 2015 which aims at substantially reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature increase in this century to 2 degrees Celsius while pursuing efforts to limit the increase even further to 1.5 degrees. However, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Synthesis Report released earlier in March this year, the world is very likely to miss the target of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Highlights Of Summer (June-July-August) 2023:
- The three months have seen record-breaking high sea surface temperature anomalies in the North Atlantic and for the global ocean. Summer 2023 saw marine heatwaves in several areas around Europe, including around Ireland and the UK in June, and across the Mediterranean in July and August.
- The global temperature anomaly for the first 8 months of 2023 ranks second-warmest on record, just 0.01°C below 2016, currently the warmest year on record.
- August 2023 was the warmest August on record globally, and warmer than all other months except July 2023. The month is estimated to have been around 1.5°C warmer than the preindustrial average for 1850-1900.
How Does Rising Temperature Impact India?
Climate Shift Index, a tool, developed by Climate Central, an independent US-based group of scientists and communicators, measures the influence of climate change on daily temperatures. The index ranges from -5 to +5 with positive levels indicating temperatures made more common by climate change. On the other hand, the negative scores indicate conditions that are becoming less likely.
- In India, Kerala, Puducherry and Andaman and Nicobar Islands experienced warmer temperatures more than 60 days at CSI level of three or higher. They experienced more than three degrees higher temperatures.
- Five Indian states had a summer average CSI of about three, meaning they had higher summer temperatures linked to climate change.
- 11 states experienced average temperatures of one degree Celsius or more above the long-term (1991-2020) average.
NDTV’s Vishnu Som spoke to Dr John Nairn, Senior Extreme Heat Advisor at the World Meteorological Organization to understand the trend of rise in temperatures and its impact. Dr Nairn explains,
The rising trend will impact strongest through the tropics to begin with, even though we are seeing quite significant signals through the mid-latitudes, through Europe and North America and China. We are expecting to see the strongest signals through the tropics and sub-tropics. We must prepare for more of these types of conditions.
Last month, India reported incidents of flash floods and landslides in Himachal Pradesh. Despite intense rainfall in some parts of the country, the overall monsoon numbers are low. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), during August 2023, India received 162.7 mm rainfall, which is 36% less than its Long Period Average of 254.9 mm based on data (1971-2020). Rainfall over India was the lowest (162.7 mm) since 1901 against the previous record of 191.2 mm in 2005.
Dr Nairn believes this is “most definitely” a result of climate change. He added,
For example, the omega block that’s over the Europe right now. Where we see a heat wave with flooding systems on either side. We are looking at a connected world of extreme conditions. Global patterns will mean that we see a chain of heat followed by high rainfall areas. Unfortunately, the warmer globe will produce a higher capacity for rain. For every one degree of warming, we will get between seven and 10 per cent more water vapor held in the atmosphere.
Dr Nairn rang an alarm that we would see a warmer globe in the El Nino season. This will result in mounting pressure in every domestic economy to bring a change and the transfer (of technologies) over time.
Dr Nairn believes that while on the one hand, we need technologies to respond to the crisis, we also need to embrace the change and adapt as we will continue to see these impacts – heat and rainfall – grow. He suggests working with the local and federal government, and through the labor laws to protect people’s livelihoods and come out as a well-functioning community.
Climate Change And Health
According to the Global Fund’s 2023 Results Report released on Monday (September 18), multiple challenges, including climate change and conflict, as well as deepening inequalities and growing threats to human rights, have put the target to end AIDS, TB and malaria by 2030 increasingly at risk. The report states,
Climate change is already having an impact on the epidemiology of infectious diseases. For example, malaria is spreading to highland parts of Africa that were previously too cold for the Anopheles mosquito that carries the parasite. Cyclones, floods and other climate-related extreme events are causing dramatic upsurges in malaria infections, such as in Malawi and Pakistan, while also disrupting lifesaving health infrastructure and services.
The report warns that multiple crises, including climate change, are fueling the spread of malaria and keeping us off track to end the disease by 2030. Climate change is likely to increase the burden of malaria by making environments more conducive to transmitting the disease. It adds,
An increase in ambient temperature means that malaria-carrying mosquitoes can thrive in areas where they once could not. More frequent climate-related disasters, like flooding, create an ideal breeding ground for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.