India's Ministry of Earth Sciences has released a new (and open access!) report assessing impacts on the Indian region.

Can be accessed here: link.springer.com/book/10.1007

Firstly, absolutely love the fact that they made it open access and put up both PDF and ePUB versions for download.

Government reports are often very hard to access and this is a refreshing change. May the tribe of folks in government who do this increase.

Unfortunately, the news isn't good. The report predicts that mean temperatures in India could increase by...wait for it...

2.4 to 4.4. deg C.

compared NOT to pre-industrial levels (which is what the 2015 Paris Agreement uses)

but to average temperatures between 1976 and 2005.

In other words, temperatures may rise by FOUR degrees over the average temperatures of my PARENT'S GENERATION, not the 1800s.

That's just insane.

Just to put things in context. The Paris Agreement wants to limit average global temperature rise to somewhere between 1.5 and 2 deg C compared to pre-industrial revolution temperatures.

Even a 2-3 deg C increase is predicted to drastically transform human settlements around the world.

I can't even imagine what a 3-4 deg C rise over 1976-2005 average temperatures would look like in India.

A 4 deg C rise is closer to the top of the estimated range, of course. The lower bound is about 2.4 deg C. Even so, that's a very high increase.

These findings will be debated and contested and counter-proposals and revisions may take place.

However, what can't be disputed is the temperature increase that has already taken place.

This are temperature bands for India and my home state of Karnataka. Note the angry brick-red stripes toward the end of this decade.

Source: showyourstripes.info

When one combines existing data of increasing temperatures with future projections estimating 3-4 deg C rises...

...and one combines THAT with the crazy number of linked disasters that have taken place in the last ten years (India has had pretty much the full menu of disasters this last decade - floods, droughts, heat waves, cyclones and this year, of all things, a locust invasion)...

...it makes for a very grim picture indeed.

Gloom and Doom related to Climate Change 

Sorry, I should have put a content warning earlier. Didn't occur to me for some reason. Apologies.

Anyway, the bad news gets worse. Because even though there is ample evidence that anthropogenic is going have severe effects on India, the country itself seems very much on business-as-usual mode.

In some ways, we seem to be on business-even-more-than-usual mode at the moment.

Gloom and Doom related to Climate Change 

Unlike say, the United States, this isn't exactly denial. Very few people actually deny the existence of climate change in India, regardless of political affiliation.

I don't quite know what exactly it is however, that prompts people to ignore what's going on.

The best I can come up with is an attitude summed up by "Climate change will come, but we'll find a way to deal with it when it comes. Right now, we've got more pressing problems."

Gloom and Doom related to Climate Change 

In some ways, this is an understandable attitude for many economically vulnerable Indians.

If, say, you're in poverty, at the risk of falling into poverty, or recently risen out of poverty, you can't afford to worry too much about the distant future. You have to focus on survival now.

Of course if you're rich, you may have other reasons to ignore climate change. You may, I don't know, believe you can simply buy yourself protection from .

Gloom and Doom related to Climate Change 

Whatever the reasons may be, climate change, while recognised and acknowledged, hasn't really permeated public consciousness in India the way (for example) economic growth, poverty alleviation, and prosperity have.

Gloom and Doom related to Climate Change 

The slowdown of economic growth in India over the last couple of years, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic has made things worse for climate change initiatives.

There's now a greater focus on getting the economy to grow again, at whatever cost. And I'm afraid I mean, whatever cost.

Gloom and Doom related to Climate Change 

Over the last couple of months, both national and state governments have been accused of fast-tracking environmental clearances for all kinds of new projects at the risk of environmental damage and biodiversity loss.

I haven't been able to keep track of everything, but here are some comics (by Rohan Chakravarthy*) that sort of capture the issue.

*AKA @thetoonguya@twitter.com | @green_humour@instagram.com

Gloom and Doom related to Climate Change 

And just a day ago, the Government of India launched the auction of 41 new sites for coal mining, many of which are claimed to be within some of the largest dense forests in the country.

The move has generated a lot of controversy, with local and state leaders claiming they oppose the opening of coal mines in the region and had written to the Prime Minister.

m.hindustantimes.com/india-new

Follow

Gloom and Doom related to Climate Change 

As an aside, the coal story in India isn't a straightforward tale.

I'll write about this in more detail another day, but there's a long complicated story of an economically expanding India trying to wean itself off oil imports, experimenting with renewables, fighting for more climate funding at international negotiations and basically trying anything to become less dependent on unstable foreign sources of energy.

This has led us down some dark paths.

Gloom and Doom related to Climate Change 

In summary, due to a bunch of complex factors, India is locking itself into some deeply unsustainable trajectories exactly at a point in time when it should be doing the opposite.

Not all of it is apathy, but the lack of public and political consciousness about climate change is a worrying factor. It's time this started to change. If Indians don't start recognising the role of climate change in our lives *today*, we are going to pay for it tomorrow.

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