Overwhelming scientific evidence has demonstrated that the earth is moving
towards a point of
no return, where ecological catastrophe brought about by climate change will be
Climate change has the potential to undermine human development across many
including India, and may even lead to a reversal of current developmental
progress. Actions taken,
or indeed not taken, in the years ahead will have a huge impact on the future
course of human
India is confronted with the challenge of sustaining rapid economic growth amidst the
increasing global threat of climate change. Evidence has shown that climate change will
distribution and quality of India's natural resources, which will ultimately threaten the
of the most poor and marginalised sector of the population who are closely tied to India's
resource base. More than 56% of workers are engaged in agriculture and allied sectors,
others earn their living in coastal areas through tourism or fishing; indeed most of the
live in rural areas and are almost completely reliant on natural resources for their food and
(UN Human Development Report 2007/8).
There is still opportunity to avoid the most damaging climate change impacts, but time is
quickly running out: the world has less than a decade to change course and it is time to act.
Climate change has brought about severe and possibly permanent alterations to our planets’
geological, biological and ecological systems. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) now contends that “there is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming
observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities ”. These changes have led to
the emergence of large-scale environmental hazards to human health, such as ozone
depletion, loss of biodiversity, stresses to food-producing systems and the global spread of
infectious diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 160,000 deaths,
since 1950, are directly attributable to climate change. Many believe this to be a conservative
Climate change poses a wide range of risks to population health - risks that will increase in
future decades, often to critical levels, if global climate change continues on its current
trajectory. The three main categories of health risks include: direct-acting effects (e.g. due to
heat waves, amplified air pollution, and physical weather disasters), (ii) impacts mediated via
climate-related changes in ecological systems and relationships (e.g. crop yields, mosquito
ecology, marine productivity), and (iii) the more diffuse (indirect) consequences relating to
impoverishment, displacement, resource conflicts (e.g. water), and post-disaster mental health
Beginning in the mid-70s, there has been an
“emergence, resurgence and redistribution of infectious
diseases”. Reasons for this are likely multicausal,
dependent on a variety of social, environmental and
climatic factors, however, many argue that the “volatility
of infectious disease may be one of the earliest
biological expressions of climate instability”. Though
many infectious diseases are affected by changes in
climate, vector-borne diseases, such as malaria, dengue
fever and leishmaniasis, present the strongest causal
relationship. Malaria in particular, which kills
approximately 300,000 children annually, poses the most
The scattering of solar radiation acts to cool the planet, while absorption of solar radiation
by aerosols warms the air directly instead of allowing sunlight to be absorbed by the surface
of the Earth.
>Human activity contributes to the amount of aerosols in the atmosphere in several ways.
>Dust is often a bi-product of agricultural processes.
>Biomass burning produces a combination of organic droplets and soot particles.
>Industrial processes produce a wide variety of aerosols depending on what is being burned or
produced in the manufacturing process.
>Exhaust emissions from transport generate a rich cocktail of pollutants that are either aerosols
from the outset, or are converted by chemical reactions in the atmosphere to form aerosols.
The concentrations of aerosols are about three times higher in the Northern
Hemisphere than in the Southern Hemisphere. This higher concentration is estimated
to result in radiation forcing that is about 50 per cent higher for the Northern
Land use change
Land-use changes (e.g. cutting down forests to create farmland) have
led to changes in the amount of sunlight reflected from the ground
back into space (the surface albedo). The scale of these changes is
estimated to be about one-fifth of the forcing on the global climate
due to changes in emissions of greenhouse gases. About half of the
land use changes are estimated to have occurred during the industrial
era, much of it due to replacement of forests by agricultural cropping
and grazing lands over Eurasia and North America. The largest effect
of deforestation is estimated to be at high latitudes where the albedo
of snow-covered land, previously forested, has increased. This is
because snow on trees reflects only about half of the sunlight falling
on it, whereas snow-covered open ground reflects about two-thirds.