Global Warming-Protector Himalayas Turns Potential Destroyer

-By Lalit Koundaal

Could the climate be a point of discussion? Climate is something we always believe is a result of laws set by the almighty. We have been told and seen too with our own eyes that winter sets in from the month of November onwards and summer follow in March. Like a normal human beings, we are struggling to counter the effects of these seasons and keep our life on track always.

Where is the time to think that year on year the glaciers are melting and sea level is rising because of Global Warming/Climate Change. Yes, scientist, environmentalist can not overlook & let this go. For them, ignorance is NOT bliss.

Climate change became a movement in 1990 when major environmental organizations commenced discussions on climate and the formation of many organizations took place having climate change as their main agenda. Organizations like 350.org, an energy action coalition now known as Power Shift Network came into existence to address the climate change issue. 350.org was named after 350 part per million(ppm) –safe concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

I don’t think there is any country in this world that can say that climate change won’t affect them. If they believe so, then probably they are in the fantasy world, and their scientist & thinkers not doing their job.

Cause & Effect-

Global warming is caused due to greenhouse gases. These gases trap the energy from the sun’s rays and prevent it from escaping the earth’s atmosphere. This causes an increase in the temperature of the earth. Greenhouse gases are carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide. Volcanic eruptions also add to global warming because ash & carbon dioxide is released during the volcanic eruptions. Methane gas, which is released from petroleum systems, landfills, cattle, coal mining, and industrial waste adds to global warming 20 times than carbon dioxide.

Apart from natural causes like a volcanic eruption, a major contributor is a human influence. The industrial revolution, mining & deforestation are examples of human influence because these big names are only to satisfy human needs & aspirations.

Effects of the global warming are scary. A country like Netherland will be in waters if the North Pole is melted. The Sea level would rise about 230 feet if the North Pole melts. Think about all those countries which are sea facing, on all these countries there is danger looming large. More hurricanes, diseases, and economic consequences!!  Remember, the economic consequences of COVID 19. This is going to be on a much larger scale.

Sea level rise – A trailer!!!

Climate Change literacy-

Climate Change Literacy is the key factor to bring about the considerable jump in climate change awareness. The awareness rate for Climate Change was 35% for India. The lowest rate was recorded for Liberia at just 21% and highest at 99% for Japan. The study shows that education is the single predictor of public awareness of climate change. Gallup World Poll collected responses from 119 countries on climate change and this was the largest survey ever conducted on climate change. The poll questions were –

“How much you know about Global Warming or Climate change?”

“How serious a threat is Global Warming to you & your family?”

The researchers believe that as the education level in developing countries increases the awareness levels would increase proportionately and initiatives to curve climate change would start fructifying.

COVID 19 control was possible only because of the literacy about the effects of COVID 19 happening at a lightning speed across the world. Entire humanity was under lockdown, and they kept educating each other about the deadly virus. All were aware of the dos & don’ts. There were advisory messages on the phone which still are continuing, though the vaccines have arrived. There is a need to start the literacy campaign for the general public so that they are aware of Global Warming and the effects of the same cause to the forthcoming generations.

Himalaya, boon or a bane for India-

Recently, the glacier outburst in Uttrakhand has opened Pandora’s Box. Avay Shukla, then Additional Chief Secretary (Forests) a one–man committee set up by the High Courts green bench to study the environmental impact of the upcoming mega hydro projects and suggest possible measures to prevent impending disasters.

In this 69-page report, Shukla now retired, had recommended a complete ban on the projects in the high altitude valleys, particularly Ravi, Chenab, and Sutlej basins. He also warned that the Ravi River in the Chamba district would soon disappear.

Glacier Outburst Floods (GLOF’s) are inevitable in Global Warming. With so many towns situated on the banks of the rivers, the damage which GLOF’s can cause is unimaginable. Sutlej valley flooded when a lake in Tibet burst, the water level in the valley rose so much that Rampur, district HQ, in Himachal Pradesh was almost on the verge of getting washed out.

Himalayan rivers are often hit by floods caused due to failure of glacial lakes and landslide dams. Now when this volume flows down the Himalayas carrying boulders along, eroding the landmass the force is phenomenal and it washes away whatever comes along its path.

Now, the threat is the large number of glacial lakes formed in the Himalayas holding the capacity to inundate villages & hill towns. The only way to dissipate the energy of these melted waters is to have the rivers, clear of obstruction so that flow is not obstructed and water levels do not rise to a level where civilization exists.

But how do we know that what amount of threat lies up there at higher altitudes in the form of glaciers & glacial lakes? In Indian Himalayas, the Tista river basin covers 285 glaciers with a glacier area of 576 Sqm, 266 glacial lakes, and 14 potentially dangerous glacial lakes. Himachal Pradesh region holds 2554 glaciers with glacier area of 4160 Sqm and 229 lakes including 22 potential GLOF’s (Curtsey: Technical Report of APN Project)

Long terms effects of Carbon in atmosphere-

CO2 contributes to 80% of global warming. Carbon Dioxide produced due to fuel emissions is what we call air pollution. CO2 lingers in the atmosphere for hundreds if not thousands of years and so will determine global mean surface warming by the late 21st century and beyond, states the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). “Most aspects of climate change will persist for centuries even if emissions of CO2 are stopped immediately.”

It doesn’t stop just here. CO2 emissions also cause soil & ocean acidifications. Soil gets the PH altered due to carbonic acid formation and the same is true for the ocean. Soil acidification would affect the agricultural produce, forests, grassland, flora & fauna whereas in oceans the ecological life gets disturbed. There are a chain reaction and damage we witness at the end is beyond recuperation.

One study suggests that the Korean Heatwave in the summer of 2013 had become ten folds more likely due to climate change. Another study found the climate change had increased the risk of floods in England and Wales in autumn 2000 by at least 20%. Further, there are drought situations that again can be attributed to climate change.

A recent flooding tragedy in the Tapovan-Reni area of Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district, leading to massive flooding in the Alaknanda river system that swept away anything that stood in the way, is a tragic reminder of the challenges and dangers we face from climate change. This tragedy is believed to have taken place due to the glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF’s). Hydel Projects, bridges, and houses succumbed to the force of the gushing outburst of the glacial lake. Uttrakhand is one of the disaster-prone states in the country.

Conclusion-

Global warming is a global issue which for common mass does not interest so much because of lack of awareness and literacy on the subject.  Larger contribution to global warming is attributed to human influence for their living & ambitious plans for future. We must follow Bhutan’s carbon negative policy. The king here has accorded highest priority to environmental protection by maintaining 60% of the land under forest cover at all times. Awareness and literacy campaigns around world to educate those who do not understand the implications is a must and should follow on larger scale. Else we have to be ready for the disasters we are witnessing every now & then.

References-

https://www.thehindu.com

https://iopscience.iop.org

https://www.airclim.org

https://www.climate.gov

https://www.nap.edu

https://www.emrald.com

https://www.sciencedirect.com

https://www.jstor.org

https://www.degruyter.com

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com

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