Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Environment is the most important agenda of the international community due to its far reaching consequences on the survival of human being and other forms of biodiversity on the earth. Climate change is the most important indicator of environment degradation. Climate change is occurring due to increase in the level of green house gases (GHG).

In green house gases, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases are the main contributors. GHG emissions have had a significant impact on the climate , particularly in recent times, with the global-average surface temperature rising studies have revealed that the warming of the planet is closely linked with the build-up in the atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and some other green house gases (GHG).

China is the major contributor of green house gases with 19.5 percent followed by USA (19.2%), India (5.3%), Russia (5.1%), Japan(3.6%) and Germany (2.6%). Climate change affects many natural and human system. According to the Inter Governmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC), the three main causes of the increase in green house gases observed over than past 250 years have been fossil fuels, land use, and agriculture. The increase I greenhouse gases from the late nineteenth century to the present time has resulted in global warming of 1 to 3 °C to the planet . The warming for the next 20years is projected to be about 0.2°C per decade.

Studies indicates that global warming increases the risk for species extinction, especially in bio diverse ecosystems, because extreme weather conditions like hurricanes, draughts and torrential downpours become more frequent. Flora and fauna become extinct at a rate 100-1000 times higher than normal. Climate change is one of the main causes of species depletion. According to a recent study of Stockholm Environment Institute, greenhouse gases can inflicting cost of nearly $2 trillion annually in damage to the oceans by 2100. The estimate is based on the assumption that climate-altering carbon emission continue their upward spiral without a pause. This study indicates that warmer seas will lead to greater acidification and oxygen loss, hitting fisheries and coral reefs. Rising sea levels and storms will boost the risk of flood damage, especially around the coastlines of Africa and Asia.

Warmest Decade

According to the UN weather agency (World Meteorological Organisation), climate change has accelerated in the past decade (2001 to 2010) and it was the warmest decade on record since records began in 1850. This period was marked by extreme levels of rain or snowfall, leading to significant flooding on all continents, while drought affected part of East Africa and North America. The global land and sea surface temperatures estimates at 0.46 degrees Celsius above the long term average of 14.0c. The UN weather agency noted that the world is warming because of human activities and this is resulting in far – reaching and potentially irreversible impacts on our Earth, atmosphere and oceans. According to a government statement in the parliament , there is 1.29 millimeter rise in sea level along the Indian coastline.

Impact on Agriculture:

Climate change will adversely affect agriculture globally. This will have serious impact on food security all over the world. All the studies indicate adverse effect on our food grain production. Changes in production patterns will occur due to higher temperatures and changing precipitation patterns. Agricultural productivity will also be affected due to increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Leading international agencies like Inter-Governmental panel on climate change (2007) and Universal Ecological Fund (2011) have indicated affected of climate change on agriculture, globally. According to these reports, there will be 14 per cent deficit in global wheat production, 11 percent in rice and 9 per cent in maize by 2020.

Research finding coming from different parts of the world indicate that climate change is causing the early ripening of grapes. These finding are based on the harvesting data of last 64 years. Scientists attribute the fruit’s ripening to climate warming and a decline in soil water content, based on a comparison of decades of vineyard records.

There are no conclusive studies in India on the prospective impact of climate change on the agriculture sector including livestock and fisheries. Much of the country’s understanding comes from global data provide by the Inter governmental panel on climate change , the World Meteorological Organization and other world bodies.

However, there are some examples which indicate the adverse effects of climate on crop production. According to report of the Central Government in the Parliament , the productivity of staple grain wheat could decline by up to 18 percent by 2020 due to adverse impact of climate change. The yield of major food crop rice might also fall by up to 6 per cent by 2020. These finding are based on the research conducted under Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)’s Network project on climate change (NPCC). The report further indicates that the productivity of kharif maize and sorghum could also be affected by climate change. In 2002, drought affected food production by 10 percent ; the cold wave in January 2003 hit cultivation of mustard, mango, guava, papaya, brinjal, tomato and potato. High rainfall in 1998 and 2005 affected kharif and late kharif and late kharif onion crops, resulting in price hike. There is urgent need for research to assess the impact of changing climate on agriculture. But , the research should be driven solely by the international agenda the research should clearly focus on the specific region and crops. There is pressing need for honest location-specific research in partnership with small and marginal farmers to assess over a period of time the impact of climate change. Instead of being driven by the needs of farmers.

Adaptation plan:

Scientists are working world over to develop adaptive plants for food , drought and salty conditions of soil and the work has begun to pay off. Recent tests on farms in Bangladesh shown that a new line of rice containing the flood-resistant gene can live under water for two weeks. The period of 7 to 10days is very crucial in case of floods that destroy the crop of paddy in thousands of hectares every year.

The problem of flooding is predicated to worsen as climate change brings more intense rainfall there. These findings are crucial because 70 per cent of the world’s poor live in Asia particularly in south Asia where rice is the staple. Corn is another staple that is going to be affected due to more dry spells or droughts anticipated with the climate change . Recent tests in south Africa Indicate that drought resistant maize plants. Created by breeding, produced 30 to 50 per cent more corn than traditional varieties under arid conditions.

To mitigate the impact of climate change, he Government of India has launched the National Action plan on climate change in 2008. The Central Government has announced its intent to reduce the emission intensity by 20 to 25 percent between 2005 and 2020, thus making a major contribution to mitigating climate change . This commitment is based on GHG Emission profile which is based on five independent studies . The government has also formed an expert Group on Low Carbon Strategy for inclusive Growth under the planning Commission t develop a roadmap for Low-carbon development. The government has also launched the Indian Network for climate change Assessment (INCCA), in October 2009, as a network – based programme with board objectives of measuring ,, modeling and monitoring the change. It bring together over 120 institutions and over 220 scientists from across the country. The fight in the 12th Five-year plan (2012-2017) with the government intending to plough in almost 2 lakh crore Rupees through various mission.

Source: Kurushketra

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