The floods in Kerala six months ago that indundated virtually the entire state, was only one of the several natural disasters that hit the country last year. During the same period the country witnessed other calamitous phenomena similar to, or more terrifing than that. Every month in 2018 was a time of some tragedy: in January, 100 people lost lives in the cold wave that blew across nothern India; in the four months that followed, unprecedented damage was caused by the storm, snowstorm, thunder and dustwind that hit eight states including Delhi. Again during the same period alone, 4.76 lac hectares of agricultural land was destroyed, as revealed by parliamentary records.
The loss of lives in Rajasthan alone is estimated at 230. In the same period, heat wave wrought disaster in regions including Telengana. And after June, it was flood time in the country. In 2018, 18 states were affected by floods of moderate or severe scale. In the months of November and December Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh experienced the worst loss of lives and agriculture seen in ten years due to avalanches. Expert researchers in related disciplines share the conclusion that none of these was a mere 'natural disaster' but were all unusual climatic phenomena. Probably there are danger signals of global warming and climate change in all these calamities, and hence their classification in the same category. In other words, all such occurrences, including the floods in Kerala, are clear warnings about the hazards caused by global warming and climate change. But it is doubtful if those wielding power and authority have viewed them in that perspective.
These happenings have to be assessed as continuation of the disasters happening in different parts of the globe over the last ten years. In 2017 alone, the number of people killed in dangerous climate was 2,300, in addition to 22 lac people being directly hit by them. The number of people who died in heat wave over the last ten years is 8,000. And let us also remember that it was during this period that the phenomena of the five severest heat waves spread across regions. Temperature level is of primary importance in climate formation. The changes in climate caused by the sudden and unexpected fluctuatons in temperature, result in far-reaching consequences. In India, it is also the third biggest natural phenomena causing the highest toll of lives. In spite of that, why is it not included among the government's list of 'natural disasters'? Global warming will primarily be reflected in the oceans. It is in fact the repercussions of the changes in them that get manifested as flood, heat wave and avalanches. Following the unusual rise in sea level, many areas are even vanishing from the earth which is a new reality of the century.
Distinguished researchers of the world say that the same human hands that created this disaster, will have to work hard to resist them. Although it is several years since that has been raised as a political slogan, attempts to implement them are being nipped in the bud by big power nations. It is at least two decades since the consensus for mitigating carbon emissions - which is at the root of global warming - was put forward. But ever since the Kyoto Protocol 1997, countries including America have been torpedoing this suggestion. It is the leaders and researchers from these very countries that set out with the theory of 'global warming fallacy'. Exponents of this theory are working overtly or covertly in Kerala too.
Remember the occasion when a set of people came out against Dr Madhav Gadgil's calling the last flood in Kerala a 'man-made natural disaster'. Gadgil's remarks were pointed at the indifference shown by the governments in matters including protection of the Western ghat. The challenging query by the 'fallacy' theorists was how floods had happened in and around 1924, when the Western ghat was in its resplendent glory. They knowingly gloss over the fact that these floods were caused, among other factors, by the demolition of the mechanisms to block and collect the water that we got in excess of the normal. Our governments also, although not openly, become the advocates of these theorists.
Take a look at the Coastal Zone Regulation Notification, placed before the parliament a few weeks ago. It carries all loop holes for destroying the coasts entirely. Not only that, our coastal region has been leased out to corporates for 'the purpose of development'. How these 'developments' will put at risk the native populations of the region and the natural resources there, has been amply displayed in projects including Vizhinjam. And in the case of high ranges, we hve before us the disaster from the dilution of laws regarding mining for different development programmes. The quintessential principle of protecting nature is that this planet and its resources have been bequethed to us by ancestors to be passed on to posterity. This basic principle, linked to man's existence on the earth, is not to be forgotten at any cost in the hurry to tamper with it. The only means of resisting this 'unusual natural phenomena' is the struggle and awareness creation against the in total disregard of that principle through such human interventions.