Climate Change To Cause More Weather Extremes
The study estimates around 500,000 people will die due to reasons related to dietary changes by 2050
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Mark Twain once famously wrote, ''Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.' Little over a century after the great American author and humourist, we live in times where climate and weather are equally freakish.
Extreme weather events are occurring across the globe even as a major El Niño looks like dissipating by summer. While climate scientists are still assessing if this is the biggest El Niño on record, it has caused devastating floods in Argentina, southern Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay; droughts in southern Africa & India and bleached coral reefs in Florida and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.
That climate change will dangle the guillotine of severe weather over humanity has been known for quite some time now. But it is the manifestations the climatologists are trying to identify. Will there be more El Niño's from now on? More intense La Niña's? Or will we see a greater intensity in every weather event?
The warmth circulated by the current El Niño has ensured 2015 is the warmest year till date on record. Many scientists believe the residual heat propagating through oceans will push the mercury to new highs during 2016.
Scientists are yet to ascertain the relationship of climate change and El Niño & La Niña. But humanity will continue to witness vagarious weather around the globe with extremely heavy rainfall, severe droughts, heatwaves and polar blasts, spread with randomness.
Under the certainty of a dodgy climate and its short term exhibitions through crotchety weather, agricultural productivity and food security are expected to falter. As climate plays a Russian roulette of floods and droughts, crops after crops stand to be devastated. This might sound prophetic but we have already seen grave examples to demonstrate the disturbing trend.
Historical rainfall data over the past century reveals that India faces a severe drought every 8-9 years. This pattern is fast changing. The country witnessed three droughts in the last decade (2002, 2004 and 2009). This decade started with a below normal monsoon in 2012. India observed the fourth event of back to back droughts in 150 years in 2014 and 2015. There are five more monsoons to go in this decade. The recent Chennai floods and the Uttarakhand floods of 2013 are also attributed to climate change. And this is only one country.
A recent study by a group of scientists in United Kingdom has taken a step ahead and tried to quantify the damage due the modifying food situation globally. The alteration in food availability and thus human diets is expected to mutate the mortality factor too. The study estimates around 500,000 people will die due to reasons related to dietary changes by 2050.
The food availability recast may manifest in two forms of malnutrition: one, diseases arising from a change in the type of (right) nutrition and other being problems due less to eat. India and China will be the worst effected as per the study.
The 'Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food' study published in 'The Lancelet' used an agricultural model to assess the effect on mortality due to dietary changes assuming a two degree rise in global temperatures compared to the time period between 1986 and 2005. Interestingly, the scenario modelled without amplified temperature results in higher food production and availability. The premise of stagnating or diminishing temperatures is however unjustifiably bright.
The study accounts for deaths due to food (non) availability only and not due to other climate change triggered catastrophes like floods, diseases, inundation due to rising oceans.
It is imperative for the nations of the world to come together and successfully execute climate mitigation programmes. India however needs to work harder and provide food security to its millions of poor for whom such climate prognosis threatens their already precarious existence.