Climate Crises

THE world is facing an 80 percent chance of an El Niño event between July and September, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). El Niño is a natural phenomenon that warms the ocean surface in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, and is a major driver of the Earth’s climate system. As a result, the world is staring at a likely new spike in temperature. Besides, El Nino events can also cause increased rainfall, which, in turn, triggers floods in vulnerable parts of the world.

While the phenomenon is normal and natural, it could accentuate the prevailing trend of warm temperatures across the globe, which has caused severe disruption in the weather patterns. Last year was an eye-opener. The summer of 2022, the study highlights, was the hottest on record for Europe and China, the second-hottest for North America and Asia, and the fifth-hottest for planet Earth since record-keeping began in 1880.

Heatwaves caused wildfires and humanitarian fallout. Floods, as we already are aware, wrought havoc in Pakistan, upending lives of tens of thousands of people. Climate change is expected to accelerate humanitarian crises around the world in 2023, aggravating the issues created by armed conflict and economic downturns.

In recent years, climate change has become a starker reality which is increasingly manifesting itself in disruptive weather and climate events. In Kashmir, for example, we have also begun to face the adverse fallout of climate change. There has been a noticeable change in our weather patterns in recent years. Though since April, the weather has been rainy and occasionally snow has fallen in high altitude areas, March was very warm. And not just in Kashmir but across the world.  The month was the second warmest since weather record keeping began.  Similarly, winter in the Valley was no different, more so the latter part of the season.  The weather in Srinagar during the last two weeks of February was also like March.

In Kashmir, winter warmth leads to the early melting of snow at high altitudes.  The onset of early warmth potentially disrupts our agriculture, as it will elsewhere in the country and the world.

However, climate change is a global phenomenon and no region or country can fight it alone. It is clear that urgent action is needed to address the ongoing climate crisis and prevent further damage to the planet. This requires a collective effort from individuals, governments, and organizations around the world to take bold and decisive action to reduce emissions and transition to a more sustainable future. However, the prospects on this score don’t look promising. We need more concrete global scale action over an extended period for the weather to change for the better.

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