[Answered]‘Current climate crisis has led to an increase in the number of intense ‘hydro-meteorological’ disasters’. Comment. What policy measures can be taken to counter this?

Demand of the question

Introduction. Contextual introduction.

Body. Discuss how climate change is leading to rise in frequency of floods? Suggest some measures to tackle the situation.

Conclusion. Way forward.

Hydro-meteorological disaster is a phenomenon of atmospheric, hydrological or oceanographic nature that cause loss of life, social and economic disruption and environmental damage. It includes floods, droughts, cyclones, avalanches, heatwaves etc.  With climate-change along with decline in ecological assimilative capacities there is an increase in number and intensity of such disasters. Immediate impacts already being felt in form of the increased frequency of climate related hazard events such as floods, increased occurrence of drought, cyclones etc.

Rise in hydro-meteorological disasters:

  1. Floods: Climate change has had extreme impacts in India. Rise in average global temperatures have led to a trend of no rain for long periods and then a sudden bout of excessive rainfall, causing floods. As a result of the changing climate, monsoon rainfall in 2018 was the sixth lowest since 1901, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). In 2019 India saw three major floods in Karnataka, Kerala and Bihar.
  2. Droughts: Higher sea temperatures, linked to climate change, have doubled the likelihood of drought. Regionally, the driest parts of the earth are getting drier, while the wettest parts are getting wetter. Severe droughts in 2011, 2017 and 2018 have repeatedly wiped out crops and livestock.
  3. Cyclones: With climate change frequency and intensity of cyclones have increased. An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report a rise in frequency and intensity of cyclones. The Atlantic and Indian Ocean basins appear to be increasing at the fastest rates. Recent Cyclone Fani, cyclone Okchi, has devastated large parts of and has left behind a trail of massive destruction.
  4. Heatwaves: With rising temperatures heat waves have increased. Across the globe, hot days are getting hotter and more frequent, with fewer cold days. Heat waves are becoming more common, and intense heat waves are more frequent in many parts of the country.
  5. Forest fires: The start of 2020 found Australia in the midst of its worst-ever bushfire. Last year Amazon forests faced forest fires. The fires have burned through more than 10 million hectares, razed entire communities to the ground, taken the homes of thousands of families, and left millions of people affected by a hazardous smoke haze. More than a billion native animals have been killed, and some species and ecosystems may never recover.

What should be done?

  1. Disaster preparedness: As the number of disasters and intensity is increasing, there is a need to change the disaster mitigation approach. A bottom up approach is needed with an emphasis on training of local communities, tribal people, local governments in disaster management. Further, efforts must be made to follow Sendai framework.
  2. Tackling climate change: Without global efforts to reduce climate change, any effort would be in vain. It is important to achieve Paris climate targets as soon as possible. More efforts are needed to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
  3. Afforestation: An afforestation effort is must with an aim to reduce carbon in climate and making impact of disasters minimal. Trees are a natural way to reduce the impact of disasters. It will also help in cooling the planet and reducing heat waves.
  4. Green policies: Government must emphasise green policies and initiatives. Efforts must be made to switch to renewable resources as soon as we can. There is a need to put a carbon tax to reduce carbon emissions.
  5. Policy for forest fires: There is a need to frame forest fire policy. It is important to reduce human activities near forest fires. Camping should be disallowed nearby forest fires. Forest rangers must be trained to prevent and stop forest fires effectively.

With rising temperatures and climate change, the risk of disasters is a cause of concern. It is dangerous especially for poor people as they are one who suffer most. There is a need to put a collaborative effort with emphasis on reducing carbon emission and mitigating immediate risks of increasing disasters.

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