Chennai Deluge Proves The Importance Of Stronger Commitments At COP21
Most of us ignore climate change agendas as we think it to be too big for an individual to address. Or it is probably somebody else’s problem. The failure here is to associate climate change with our well-being
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Horror stories of incessant rainfall and the ensuing ordeal of the citizens of Chennai and north Tamil Nadu has been agonizing ‘news at 9’ viewers ever since the first spell struck during November 8-15. Two more cyclonic circulations (feeble rain bearing systems, precursors to cyclones) have left no time for the region to recuperate from the devastation caused by the first. Forecasts hold no respite from the current state of misery as rainfall for another 2-3 days is indicated. In midst of this unprecedented weather triggered natural disaster, echoes of climate change ring loudly, especially for megalopolises by the coast.
Climate change theorists have been predicting the deluge of many large coastal urban sprawls due to rising global temperatures and sea levels. Cities like Kolkata, Mumbai, Dhaka, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Shanghai and Miami are on the top of the list. However, the underlying assumption is a more simplistic function of inflating sea levels. But how about scenarios where such rainfall events compound the problem of a port engulfed by rising seas? At the same time. Very scary indeed.
It is a fact that El Niño is at one of the strongest phases ever since sea surface temperatures in equatorial Pacific Ocean are being recorded. El Niño is also likely to reinforce Northeast Monsoon rainfall (and upset Southwest Monsoon rains, two back to back droughts to prove) as per recent studies. But the interrelationships do not stop here.
Our planet is now warmer by 0.75°C than it was before the Industrial Revolution. El Niño is the warming up of the Pacific sea surface temperatures by 0.5°C than normal. It thus logically transpires that a warmer earth will trigger more El Niño events. Recent studies confirm a trend of more frequent and severe El Niño events. Thus, eventually our troubles boil down to climate change created by us.
Most of us ignore climate change agendas as we think it to be too big for an individual to address. Or it is probably somebody else’s problem. The failure here is to associate climate change with our well-being. We vote for issues like development, inflation, corruption, etc. But who will ensure our natural habitat is kept safe? This is why climate change is absent/underrepresented in political agendas and government policies.
The Chennai deluge should be an eye opener for all of us who think climate change is not our problem. The repercussions of climate change are here at our doorstop. It is now imperative that India makes stronger commitments at COP21 in Paris. The buck does not stop here. Organizations and individuals need to adopt climate smart and green initiatives in every walk of life, much before it becomes illegal to hurt our climate (why is it not so yet?).