Unprecedented droughts, heat waves claiming more than a hundred lives: the summer of 2019 has made it clear for the whole world that India is in big trouble. How will climate change shape the future of the country?
Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) indicates that India’s future is bleak: part of the country may become unfit for human habitation by the end of the century.
That prediction is particularly ominous given that the current situation is already quite desperate:
The MIT scientists studied two of the scenarios presented by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Under the more optimistic scenario, in which global warming is stopped at around 2.25 degrees Celsius, residents would have to face a number of negative impacts of climate change, but no part of the country would actually become unfit for human habitation. However, if the pessimistic scenario were to play out, the Chota Nagpur Plateau would no longer be suitable for sustaining human life, and large parts of South Asia would be near the limits of survivability.
This year’s was the third hottest summer in Germany since the beginning of regular meteorological records in 1881, according to preliminary data from the Federal Meteorological Service.
In 2011, Laguna de Aculeo, one of the country’s favourite bathing resorts, still covered 12 square kilometres, and the lake was 6 metres deep – but since then, it has completely dried out.
The problem of the water shortages caused by global warming is much more complex than we have thought. In some parts of Africa, people not only need to face thirst but also the fact that the regions impacted by drought emit a quantity of carbon dioxide equivalent to the emissions of two hundred million cars each year.
According to a new report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that focuses on the interaction between climate change, desertification and food security, if present land use habits are maintained, the planet’s capacity to produce food will drop drastically.
The EU is contributing a further 50 million euro to alleviate drought damage in a number of Eastern and Central African countries. According to estimates, more than 4 million children and about 3 million pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers are undernourished in the region.
According to a report from the World Resources Institute, 17 countries are facing extremely high water stress, from India through Israel to Botswana. Many of the countries in question – which, collectively, are home to a quarter of the world’s population – are in the Middle East and North Africa.
Drought in the South African country that largely relies on hydroelectric power is causing not only shortages of drinking water but also power outages of up to 16 hours a day in the capital.
The water yield of the River Nile is becoming increasingly erratic as a result of climate change, which may have very grave consequences for Egypt.
Climate change is increasingly making itself felt in Europe, too: flash floods, heat waves, droughts and forest fires are on the rise on the continent.
Water shortages represent one of the most severe consequences of global warming, impacting growing numbers of people. In 2018, the Cape Town water crisis made global news. This year so far, the situation is the worst in India: millions are struggling to get water day after day.