IPCC Report in Holiday and Weekend Home Culture
The newest report from the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC ) report that was released in February paints a troubling picture. The report states that Climate change is already impacting every corner of the world, and much more severe impacts are in store if appropriate actions are not taken. Shockingly, everyone in our country has overlooked the serious warning that we can potentially face in future. Yes, the newspapers and various online portals have covered this news, and presented the highlights of the IPCC report, but the seriousness of sensitive issues and the problems presented in the important report, which can be a grave concern for mankind and especially our lives, were marginalized and we remain unaware of the same.
Well, the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, presented its sixth annual report, which discusses the challenges that the world will face in the future with regard to current carbon emissions. The report thus discusses a number of initiatives as well as issues. But what strikes me most as an Indian is that the current IPCC report also makes it clear that if carbon emissions rate remains at this level and not controlled, climate change could have a profound effect on food and agriculture of our country in the next decade or so.
The report says that global warming as well as seasonal changes due to climate change will have the biggest impact on Indian agriculture in the coming decades and will severely affect agriculture from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. If we look at only one figure presented in the report, if global warming causes one to four degree rise in temperature, then rice cultivation in the country will decrease by thirty to thirty five percent and the production of maize will also reduce by twenty five to thirty percent.
Now if we look at the analysis of current agriculture produce in context of the IPCC report, we will notice that agriculture yield in India has been badly affected in recent years. The reasons are many. On the one hand there is unplanned urbanization, if we just take an example and talk about only select cities of India only, like Mumbai, Noida, Surat, Ahmedabad, Indore or Pune then these cities have encroached on the outer areas in last 15 years. The villages or rural areas have all become part of their municipal corporations. One of the figures we discussed earlier was that every year in India alone, 7.5 million people are leaving the villages and migrating to the cities. Hence in both these circumstances i.e. urbanization as well as the craze of living in an cities, in both such situation eventually the farming class sells their land, leaves farming and feeds on some other activity.
Another serious issue is the weekend and holiday homes or club as well as the farmhouse culture. Farmhouse and clubhouse culture is rampant, especially in western Indian states like Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat, Goa, and Karnataka. In this culture, large real estate groups are replacing acres of rural agricultural land with Non Agriculture purpose and setting up expensive holiday homes. Holiday or weekend homes or club memberships are being sold for millions of rupees by promoting natural environment of the village with all modern amenities and facilities to the city dwellers. Do you think that if acres of land are converted to non-agricultural and weekend home culture in this way, it will not have any effect on agriculture? This culture has severly affected our agriculture yield and a huge amount of farmland has been occupied by luxurious clubs and property developers.
Then there is the third problem natural calamities due to climate change. If we do not go too far and look only at the analysis of last three years, we will realize that we have witnessed the many cyclones, due to which twice or thrice in an year, we get unseasonal heavy rain for three to four days. To add to issue, even the monsoon season in our country starts very late and lasts till the time of harvest, that is, till Diwali. Due to which in the last three years only the standing crop has been damaged due to unseasonal rains and the farmers were subsidized for their losses by the state governments.
The agricultural sector and our food are already facing many big problems. And what if the carbon emissions will negatively affect the agriculture yield at thirty to thirty-five percent? A large population of the country, living below the poverty line, lives on cheap or free food. The central government spends billions of rupees every year to provide food to that population. This situation will result in a burden of another billions of rupees on the head of the government. Because even though India is an agricultural country, we still import a lot of agricultural products from abroad. What will we do if production declines according to the effects of climate change?
This may not seem so straightforward. But this is a very serious problem for an agricultural country. And what about those who feed on agriculture? There are millions of people whose only source of income is farming. How will the reduction in their production be compensated at such a time?
The questions are many. But there are very few solutions. As mentioned earlier, carbon emissions will come down, but given that India’s agriculture has been the victim of urbanization and the rate at which non-agriculture is taking place, the days are not far away when the government will have to reserve certain areas for compulsory farming. These places will be owned by private companies, corporations, business groups or even affiliates.
The IPCC report raises a number of issues besides this, but this is one of the most serious issues this year. Until now we have been talking about rise in temperature and depleting underground water levels and worrying. This is the first time that it is clear to us that climate change will affect our food plate as well. The biggest problem on the other hand is that we don’t even realize these problems. How do we deal with these problems if we have no idea about them? Do we really have a policy or action plan to mitigate this issue?
By Viral Desai
(The author is a known environmentalist and the Pioneer of Satyagraha Against Pollution movement.)
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