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Himachal and Uttarakhand tragedy: Nature harmed, now harming us

In Himachal Pradesh, heavy rains and landslides led to 75 deaths, prompting a state-level disaster declaration. A similar situation exists

By Ground Report
New Update
Himachal and Uttarakhand tragedy: Nature harmed, now harming us

In Himachal Pradesh, heavy rains and landslides led to 75 deaths, prompting a state-level disaster declaration. A similar situation exists in Uttarakhand.

Experts warn that our destructive actions are leading to the demise of nature, which in turn, poses a threat to our existence. Instead of mourning the destruction of nature in hill states, they emphasize the urgent need to take immediate action against climate change. Scientists assert that the changing climate and our lack of proactive measures are directly accountable for this alarming phenomenon.

Climate change seen in extreme weather

Big rains, powered by climate-altered patterns, are linked to heavy rain. Experts highlight the northward monsoon shift causing heavy rain. Akshay Deoras, a meteorologist and research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Science and the University of Reading, says climate change has played a definite role in increasing the intensity of such events.

He said, "Due to global warming, the air's ability to hold more moisture increases. This relatively high moisture content in warm air during the rainy season can cause similar devastation in the form of heavy rains."

One of the world's most vulnerable ecosystems, the Himalayas bear the brunt of global warming and climate change. Rising temperatures are causing irreversible changes in the cryosphere—glaciers, snow, and permafrost – which is having a severe impact on downstream areas dependent on these water sources.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned of faster warming, faster melting of glaciers and more erratic snowfall patterns in high-altitude areas. As temperatures continue to rise, these changes will have far-reaching consequences, from the loss of biodiversity to water insecurity and an increase in the risk of natural disasters.

Climate Action: If Not Now, When?

The devastating events in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand once again highlight the urgent need for global and local climate action. Experts advocate urgent adaptation and mitigation strategies at the local level, along with concerted efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions globally.

Dr. Roxy Mathew Cole, the senior scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, stresses the need for disaster-proofing at the local level. He says, “Climate action and adaptation at the local level must run parallel to mitigation at the global and national levels. We need to disaster-proof at the local level based on sub-district wise assessment.”

Anjal Prakash, Clinical Associate Professor (Research) and Director of Research at the Bharti Institute of Public Policy, Indian School of Business, points out the connection between climate change and extreme weather events. They state, "As climate change speeds up, the number and seriousness of natural disasters are rising." Professor YP Sundriyal, head of the Department of Geology at HNB Garhwal University, stresses the delicate nature of the Shivalik range. He cautions, "More human-caused pressure will result in only disaster."

Tourism and mountaineering

The effects of climate change go far beyond immediate safety worries. Key tourism and mountaineering spots in these areas could face significant challenges due to rising risks like avalanches, landslides, floods, and Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF). The interconnectedness of climate impacts across various regions emphasizes the need for a comprehensive, unified approach to handling climate crises.

As the death toll from the monsoon's fierceness continues to rise, it's evident that climate change is making these areas more susceptible. Urgent and consistent climate action isn't just a choice but a necessity to safeguard lives, livelihoods, and the delicate Himalayan ecosystem.

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