Even as the world prepares for the grand climate meet at Copenhagen this December, a large part of South India has gone under water. And while talks have already begun on coming up with an equitable deal and the very fear that there may be none, over 300 people have already lost their lives while millions are displaced and missing in this global warming related freak weather event, predicted well in advance by the IPCC in its Fourth Assessment Report in 2007.
In its 2007 Fourth Assessment Report, the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had said that one of the consequences of global warming would be more extreme weather events – droughts, floods and storms would become more frequent and more severe. This has come true for South India – a region which was earlier know for prolonged periods of mild drought.
Now, the droughts do come but are much severe. And these extreme droughts are quickly followed by extreme flooding. The area under water today in the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh was suffering from drought less than a month ago. Whatever was left from that was washed away in the floods only adding to the misery of the dead-dying people. While the above mentioned two states are completely impacted by the floods, the states of Orissa, Maharashtra and Goa are also witnessing continuous rains which earlier caused the flooding in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
The floods have disrupted transportation and communication links and converted farmers into climate refugees who are now seeking shelter in crowded government-run relief camps out of their villages. Millions of areas of croplands have also been destroyed particularly the sugar plantations in the nation’s third-biggest sugar producing state of Karnataka.
The floods are just one example of climate change impacts on developing countries even as the governments of developed world are in a discussion and debate mode. The demand by the ‘south’ to the ‘north’ has been to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels. The shocking reply has been the suggestion to shift the baseline from 1990 to 1995.
The Earth will never come to the negotiating table and the earth will never die. Humans will and thus the need to understand that very strong emissions reductions of the magnitude emitted by leading Northern countries is not just the only way but also not-negotiable.
Image by anandpathak courtesy Flickr, Credit: DESHAKALYAN CHOWDHURY/AFP/Getty Images